PLEASE JOIN US!   We meet on the first Sunday of each month in downtown Duluth at the Radisson Hotel (Location Map)
            Socializing begins at 9:00 am.
            Optional breakfast buffet at 9:30 am.
            Presentation from 10:00 until about 11:30.

            Co-Host: David Broman - (218) 349-7455
            Co-Host: Jim Lyttle - (218) 464-1652
             Videographer - Jan Resberg


October 2012 Newsletter

October, 2012 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806

First Sunday - Radisson Hotel – 9:00 AM Social – 10:00 Brunch


George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

Program - PZ MYERS of Pharyngula fame will speak on creationism, which “emerged in the 60s and became progressively more strident and deranged….Creationists were once concerned about reconciling scientific reality with their religion, but the new brand openly denies basic scientific facts.

"There has never been a tyranny as malignant, anti-social and anti-human as the tyranny of religious absolutism. Religious absolutism is intellectual stasis in a rapidly evolving culture…. Religious absolutism is, therefore, a kind of intellectual suicide. The sooner that we understand this, the sooner we can divest ourselves from this baleful intellectual error." Rodney Sheffer

 Bill Maher: My New Rule for Todd Akin and the Republican Party

Republicans would like to pretend that Rep. Akin's substitution of superstition for science is a lone problem but it's not: they're all magical thinkers on nearly every issue. They don't get their answers on climate change from climatologists, they get them from Genesis. Hence Sharia Law in America is a dire threat, and global warming a hoax.

How do they get away with it? They know that, because we're already such a religious country, our minds are primed for magical, fantasy thinking. They've learned that you appeal not to an American's head, but to his gut -- it's a much bigger target.

But here's the problem: life is complicated. The Republicans must now admit that the difference between a GOP convention and Comic-Con is that the people at Comic-Con have a much firmer grasp of reality.

My October addition to the LSF library will be a small-but-potent
book by E. O. Wilson titled

The Creation: An Appeal To Save Life On Earth

The Creation:, by E. O. Wilson, one of the world’s pre-eminent biologists, is written as an appeal to a fictional representative of the religious world in an attempt to enlist the power of religion in a campaign to save Creation from a crescendo of current and coming extinctions.
Wilson argues that if human-caused habitat destruction continues at the present rate, HALF of the species of plants and animals could be gone or nearly extinct by the end of the century, and a full quarter would disappear by 2060 due to climate change alone.
So why appeal to the clergy?
"Because religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world. If religion and science could be united on the common ground of biological conservation, the problem could be solved."
And according to current science, a loss of biodiversity that severe would be as devastating to the planet and human life as the Yucatan asteroid strike was to the dinosaurs.
“The list of species erased is already long. Since 1973, when Congress passed the Endangered Species Act to stem the hemorrhaging, over one hundred U.S. species have nevertheless vanished…. The United States leads the world in the number of bird species lost during the past quarter century…. Many other countries rival and probably far exceed the United States when all kinds of plants and animals are included. For example, 266 species of the exclusively freshwater fishes of peninsular Malaysia have been extinguished,… and 50 species of fish of Africa's Lake Victoria."
"The decline of Earth's biodiversity is an unintended consequence of many factors that have been enhanced by human activity. They can be summarized by the acronym HIPPO, with the order of letters corresponding to their rank in destructiveness.
H - habitat loss, including that caused by human-induced climate change.
I - invasive species.
P – pollution.
P - human overpopulation, a root cause of the other four factors.
O - overharvesting (hunting, fishing, gathering)"
The Creation is a grim-but-much-needed reminder that by pushing other species over the brink – including insects that pollinate our food and clean up our messes - we are soiling our nest and raiding our larder in a way that is non-sustainable. Everyone should read this book.

Ed Raymond quotes LSF editor:

In George Erickson’s latest book “Eyes Wide Open” he has a one-page essay called “Blind To A World Of Wonder” which perfectly describes Republicans who assembled the Republican Party Platform from Tea Party drivel, Libertarian excess, and religious nonsense. None of these creatures lives even close to Lake Wobegon, where everyone is good-looking and academically way above average. Republicans such as Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint have evidently studied in Swamp Stupidacious and were left behind as children. It’s getting to be a Republican tradition to ignore science, history, and logic.
"Living In A World In Which Things Makes Sense, But Never Learning Why"
Erickson, in "Blind To A World Of Wonder", describes how dull life can be if you never wonder "why": "What a shame it is that so many people plod through life with a muted sense of wonder, never asking why ice always floats, why biscuits rise, and how an east wind brings rain with a storm from the west. Some ask the questions, but never root out the answers, living in a world in which things make sense, but never learning why."
Due to the coming election that is partly based on religion, I now offer one of the best solutions to the problem I’ve ever seen. (ed)
When I was a kid, I was taught that the Pilgrims fled to the New World to escape religious persecution. Somewhere in there, I learned that we don’t have a national religion and people were free to practice whatever religion they wanted. That was kind of it as far as religion went in my history classes and overall education. Sure, Jews were mentioned in the context of the Holocaust but more as a race than a religion. I did, however, attend Synagogue for a few years as an adolescent. I viewed it more as learning my heritage as opposed to actively worshiping. Even then, I was not inclined towards belief. Probably because my parents were more interested in making sure I was curious about stuff instead of learning any particular dogma. Religion was, for me, just something that other people did. It would be many years before I understood I was an atheist and even more years until I stumbled across Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al and learned how to verbalize it.
It never occurred to me that I would ever have to worry about a particular set of religious values being forced upon me. I always assumed that religion was a private thing, practiced in one’s home or place of worship. That was it. Even in college, I rarely came across any real religious zeal. I once took a trip down to Washington DC with the Young Republicans club because they were my friends and they invited me to go. I got to meet Oliver North (yay me?) who was so exact in his pose with each of us, from me at 6’2” to little Jen, all of 5’1”, that to this day, I cannot convince people the pictures are not of us next to a cardboard cutout.
But even with the Young Republicans during that first Bush presidency, I wasn’t assaulted with any kind of religious politics. I did find a good deal of racism which gave me a big clue about how Republicans see the world. I was totally apolitical at the time and had no idea what the difference between a Democrat and a Republican was. I didn’t read, or watch, the news and no one had ever mentioned it in any of my classes. My political education was also sorely lacking. It irritates me when I think back on it.
Fast forward to the G W Bush years. I had been aware of the Evangelical movement in the 80s but Creationism still wasn’t being taught in schools and Roe v. Wade hadn’t been overturned. But during Bush’s tenure, I started hearing the more than occasional remark about how not believing in God makes you a bad American and if you were a LIBERAL that didn’t believe in God? Scum of the Earth!
Wait a minute. Not believing in a very specific version of God) makes me a bad American? How does that even work? This country was founded on religious freedom and the explicit separation of Church and State, wasn’t it? And that’s when I became acquainted with Republican JesusTM. Who the hell is Republican JesusTM
Republican JesusTM is very different than the Jesus you and I are familiar with. First off, he is White. Not just white, but WHITE. Republican JesusTM has a special place in his heart for America. Specifically, White America. Do you doubt this? Ask yourself why anyone who believes in a colorblind Jesus would even conceive of praying for the death of Obama? No, only those who follow Republican Jesus™ would even think that such a prayer could, or should, be answered. If you are currently thinking that racism has nothing to do with the unprecedented hatred of Obama, go away, I’m talking to the grownups.
Republican JesusTM, by the way, is a big supporter of the Confederacy. Why he let them lose the War of Northern Aggression is a mystery. But all "real" Americans know that the South will rise again and Republican Jesus™ will lead the way back to glory. How the Northern and Mid-western Red states fit into this Southern revival is also a mystery.
Republican JesusTM loves guns. Loves them! Never mind all that silly talk of beating swords into plowshares! Every good member of the church of Republican JesusTM should have, at minimum, enough armament to hold off an invasion by those commie Nazi liberal hordes that are coming any day now. Or the ATF, whichever shows up first. Or maybe just enough to wipe out a schoolroom filled with kids when their excellent parenting skills manifest themselves in the next Columbine tragedy.
Remember, conservatives, to complain about anti-bullying programs being government overreach afterwards! Republican JesusTM loves the rich. Ignore that whole "camel through the eye of a needle" garbage. Republican JesusTM wants you to be prosperous! It’s called "prosperity theology" and it percolates throughout the conservative religious fervor. God rewards the faithful with material wealth. Very spiritual stuff. If your idea of spiritual is a McMansion.
But Republican JesusTM is not just about love. Republican JesusTM also hates!
Republican JesusTM hates the poor. This is the flip side of “prosperity theology”. If God rewards the faithful with riches, than the poor are obviously NOT of the faith and deserve what they get. This is, in part, why conservatives hate the social safety nets of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Those people don’t worship Republican JesusTM and are unworthy of help. Besides if you feed them, they’ll just breed! Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of South Carolina actually said that.
Republican JesusTM hates The Gay. They’re sinners, after all. It says so right there in the Bible next to the part about shellfish being an abomination. Nothing demonstrates the compassionate conservatives’ dedication to the teachings of Republican Jesus™ like blocking legislation for same sex marriage and calling homosexuals pedophiles while enjoying a nice shrimp cocktail before a delicious lobster dinner.
Also, Republican JesusTM gave us AIDS, and STDs in general, as punishment for homosexuality. Of course, this ignores the fact that lesbians have the lowest rate of STDs, including AIDS, among all adult population groups. So as far as punishment goes, half of the “sinners” are better off than the rest of us, statistically speaking.
Republican JesusTM hates Muslims. Muslims are scary because some of them do bad things to innocent people. That makes them all evil terrorists. This is not to be confused with White Christian Militia types who blow up abortion clinics or plot political assassinations in Republican Jesus’TM name. Those people are martyrs and heroes. Or they were crazy lone wolves having nothing to do with Republican JesusTM. It depends on which channel you’re viewing, Fox or MSNBC.
Republican JesusTM hates Liberals. Liberals are the pawns of Satan George Soros trying to destroy the greatest country ever made on this 6000 year old planet. Compromising with a Liberal is a terrible sin in the eyes of Republican JesusTM and must not be tolerated.
Finally, Republican JesusTM hates science. With a passion bordering on obsession. And that’s the topic of my next ivory tower snobby liberal thesis: "Why DO conservatives hate science so much?" Or "How I learned not to learn and trust my beer gut instead."