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


November 2012 Newsletter

November, 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 – 9:30 Breakfast


George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

Program - "Election 2012: Which Path? Predictions and Discussions" with Charles Gessert and Joan Peterson
The following image and text is courtesy of Pat Condell’s Godless Comedy website: http://www.patcondell.net/index.html. As Pat says, “I don’t respect your beliefs, and I don’t care if you are offended. Cheers."
Q: Why do you hate faith?
Pat: Why do you hate reality?

Q: What do you think of Buddhists/Hindus/Sikhs/Jedi etc.?
Pat: I have no problem with them, as they aren't trying to take over the world.

Q: Why shouldn’t I be allowed to raise my kids religious if I want to?
Pat: The same reason that you shouldn’t be allowed to beat them with a knotted rope.

Q: I'm a moderate Muslim and I'm offended by your comments about my religion.
Pat: Then you're not moderate enough.

Q: By antagonizing religious people, aren’t you making it unlikely they’ll agree with you?
Pat: I don’t want them to agree. I want them to shut up and maybe see a doctor.

Q: Why do you attack Christianity when Islam is a bigger threat?
Pat: Because our indulgence of Christianity has encouraged Islam to claim equal status and threaten our freedom.

Q: Why is multiculturalism a racist ideology?
A: Because it discriminates on the basis of ethnic origin, encouraging immigrant cultures to tread on the values of the indigenous majority, while calling any reciprocation racist.

Q: I live in the Bible Belt, and I’m afraid of repercussions if I tell people I’m an atheist.
A: Well, I guess you’ll have to spend the rest of your life living a lie. Good luck with that.

Q: No, seriously. People would treat me like some kind of leper.
A: Take it as a compliment.

Q: Prove God doesn’t exist.
A: Prove that Zeus and Apollo don’t exist, and I’ll use your method.

 The 20 Weirdest Religious Beliefs By Valerie Tarico

It’s easy to dismiss the beliefs of some people, but those we’ve been exposed to since childhood seem not so odd. Virgin birth? A fig tree shriveling on the spot? Dead people walking around?

All of the following beliefs are found in respected religions today. Some are ensconced in sacred texts. Others are traditional. All have had the sanction of church authorities, and many still do.

How many of them can you match up with a familiar religious tradition? (The answers are at the bottom.) [6s are Mormon – 2s are Catholic, and 1s are Fundies.]

1. The foreskin of [a holy one] may lie safeguarded in reliquaries made of gold and crystal and inlayed with gems--or it may have ascended into the heavens all by itself. (2)

2. A race of giants once roamed the earth, the result of women and demi-gods interbreeding.

(1, 6). They lived at the same time as fire breathing dragons. (1)

3. Evil spirits can take control of pigs. (1)

4. A talking donkey scolded a prophet. (1, 3)

5. A righteous man can control his wife’s access to eternal paradise. (6)

6. Brown skin is a punishment for disobeying God. (6)

7. A prophet once traveled between two cities on a miniature flying horse with the face of a woman and the tail of a peacock. (4)

8. [The Holy One] forbids a cat or dog receiving a blood transfusion and forbids blood meal being used as garden fertilizer. (7)

9. Sacred underwear protects believers from spiritual contamination and, according to some adherents, from fire and speeding bullets (6)

10. When certain rites are performed beforehand, bread turns into human flesh after it is chewed and swallowed. (2)

11. Invisible supernatural beings reveal themselves in mundane objects like oozing paint or cooking food. (2)

12. In the end times, [the Holy One’s] chosen people will be gathered together in Jackson County, Missouri. (6)

13. Believers can drink poison or get bit by snakes without being harmed. (1)

14. Sprinkling water on a newborn, if done correctly, can keep the baby from eons of suffering should he or she die prematurely. (2)

15. Waving a chicken over your head can take away your sins. (3)

16. [A holy one] climbed a mountain and could see the whole earth from the peak. (1, 2)

17. Putting a dirty milk glass and a plate from a roast beef sandwich in the same dishwasher can contaminate your soul. (3)

18. There will be an afterlife in which exactly 144,000 people will live eternally in Paradise. (8)

19. Each human contains alien spirits that were trapped in volcanoes by hydrogen bombs. (5)

20. [A supernatural being] cares tremendously what you do with your penis. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8.

Key: 1-Evangelical or “Bible Believing” Christianity, 2-Catholic Christianity, 3-Judaism, 4-Islam, 5-Scientology, 6-Mormonism 7-Christian Science 8-Jehovah’s Witness

The underlying belief is something like this:

The process that produced this world and human life is best unveiled not by the scientific method but by the musings of iron age herdsmen (1,2,3,4,7,8) or science fiction writers (5), or con artists (6) whose theories are best judged by examining only assertions that cannot be falsified.

We humans are astoundingly susceptible to handed down nonsense. Children are dependent on their parents, which is why nature made children credulous. When parents say, eat your peas, they’re good for you, kids may argue about the eat your peas but they don’t usually question the assertion about nutrition. When parents say Noah put all of the animals into the ark, it is the rare child who asks, Why didn’t the lion eat the guinea pigs?

Even as adults, we simply can’t research everything we hear and read, so unless something isn’t working for us, we tend to accept what we are told by authority figures. Religion exploits this tendency by establishing hierarchy and by ensuring that believers are in a certain mindset when they encounter religious ideas.

A friend once gave me a button that said, Don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church. I didn’t want to wear a button that said “I’m an arrogant jerk,” but the reality is that even the best churches aren’t optimized for critical thinking. The pacing, the music, are designed for assent and emotion, for an aesthetic experience, for the dominance intuition and gut feel rather than rational, linear analysis.

Some of our ancestors were doing the best they could to understand the world around them but had a very limited set of tools. Others were simply making stuff up. Mormonism and Scientology fall in the latter camp. But when it comes to credulity, the difference matters little. For example, Mormonism is more easily debunked than most other religions because of its recency and because it makes so many historically or scientifically wild claims, yet it is one of the fastest growing religions in proportion to its membership.

 In My Opinion by George Erickson

Were it up to me, a candidate’s religious beliefs would be fair game. Why shouldn’t they be open to scrutiny? Setting that issue aside is just one more way that the religious are favored over the millions of people who easily live productive, caring, responsible lives without leaning on supernatural beliefs.

If I were to ask a Buddhist, Catholic or Protestant about some facet of their religion, I’d probably get a civil reply. But once that person becomes a candidate, their beliefs suddenly become “the thing that cannot be discussed.”

That’s pure baloney, and it’s also evasive, so to provide an update on Mormonism, I now re-offer Mormonism 101, a brief summary of yet another hocus-pocus, holy-smokus religion, which is based on my review of The Mormon Cult, by Jack Worthy, a former Mormon missionary.

It all began in 1820 when a 14-year-old named Joseph Smith Jr. claimed that Jesus and God had appeared before him, in what would be vision # 1, to tell him that all of the existing churches were wrong. (L Ron Hubbard, the Scientology guy, later advised,”If you want to get rich, start a new religion.”)

Three years later, the angel Moroni, a supposed prophet originally from America appeared and told Joseph of a book with pages of gold that was conveniently buried nearby. Joseph was allowed to see those plates once a year for 4 years, and on the 4th year he took them home, where he translated them into the Book of Mormon (which Mark Twain called “chloroform in print”), by occasionally using a Thummimm and a Urim that consisted of 2 seer stones in silver bows attached to a breastplate.

Jack Worthy, a former Mormon missionary and author of The Mormon Cult, wrote that Smith would “place the seer stones into the bottom of a top hat while he hid behind a sheet. He would then stick his face into the hat containing the stone. Buried inside pitch blackness of the hat, he would then wait.”

According to Smith,” A spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character from the gold plates would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.”

Smith would then dictate the translation to an assistant on the other side of the sheet. The assistants, of course, never saw the plates. However, to convince them that the plates were real, Smith allowed his assistants to hold them while they were wrapped in a cloth.

During one “translation”, Smith and an assistant claimed to have been visited by John the Baptist who conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon them. A week or two later, Peter, James, and John conferred another priesthood upon them.

Jack Worthy again: “The first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed on March 26, 1830. Less than two weeks later, the LDS as church was officially organized. The Book of Mormon is considered by the Latter Day Saints to be divined scripture. So is the Bible. So is a book called the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a collection of Revelations that Jesus personally gave to Smith. And so is a book called the Pearl of Great Price, part of which Joseph Smith translated from some Egyptian papyri that the church had purchased along with a couple of mummies. However, the papyri have subsequently been translated by Egyptologists, showing that Joseph Smith had no clue whatsoever as to what was actually written on them.

“The book of Mormon begins with a story about a family of Israelites who were committed by God to go to America in 600 BC. We learn from the book that the American Indians, who were unfortunate enough to be discovered in 1492, are cursed, black-skin descendants of one of those Israelites named Laman. Because he was bad, God made his descendants black. Laman’s descendants, who are known as Lamanites, were lazy and wicked, and they killed all the white people, who were the descendants of Laman’s brother Nephi.… All of this explains why Columbus found no white people when he landed on the shores of America - only black-skinned, ‘loathsome’ people.”

God later commanded Joseph Smith to marry lots of women, which he reluctantly did because he was forced to do so by an angel with a flaming sword.

Smith was eventually murdered by a mob, and Brigham Young, who believed that people lived on the moon and the sun, took his place. Soon after that, there was an incredible, deadly, painful exodus of Mormon pioneers to the Utah Territory.

The success of Mormonism is largely due to a three-step program of child indoctrination. First, parents are committed to indoctrinate their children. Second, Parents and others responsible for teaching children are given detailed instructions on how to instruct them. Third, they do it. Finally, Mormon children are taught that truth is proved through feelings, which means that conflicting empirical evidence can never prove the church or its leaders to be wrong.

Genealogy: According to Mormons, they all began on a planet that revolved around Kobol, a giant star at the center of the universe. On that planet lived the Heavenly Father, a polygamist (whom everyone lived with as “Intelligences”), who created the earth – and indicated that those who followed the Mormon rules would become Gods.

God’s first two children were Jesus and Lucifer, who had “issues,” and from there on, it’s pretty much variations of Old Testament stuff. As time passed, the church forbade the drinking of alcohol, coffee and tea. Tobacco is also forbidden, and any disagreement with or criticism of church leaders is absolutely out of bounds. As apostle N. Eldon Tanner said, “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over.”

When Utah wanted to become a state, the prophet du jour received a convenient revelation: polygamy would no longer be required. Statehood followed. The Mormon Church expanded, and now fields 50,000 missionaries at all times.

Among the many things these missionaries promise is an attractive, three-tiered, end-of-life reward that trumps the Christian scheme. First of all, there’s no hell, and even the bottom tier, which is called the Telestial Kingdom, and is reserved for serious sinners, is a paradise compared to earth.

The middle tier, the Terrestrial Kingdom, houses the more devout, who can look forward to occasional visits from Jesus and the even more saintly believers who inhabit the Celestial Kingdom, the Penthouse, one might say. How cool is that!

That said, even for Mormons, there really is a hell, and it appears when members attempt to leave the Church, an adventure that Jack Worthy experienced – and aptly describes in the final 140 pages of The Mormon Cult.