Welcome to the LAKE SUPERIOR FREETHINKERS


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.

MONTHLY SPEAKER & TOPIC INFO IS TO THE RIGHT
            Co-Host: David Broman - (218) 349-7455
            Co-Host: Jim Lyttle - (218) 464-1652
             Videographer - Jan Resberg


ADMISSION TO LSF EVENTS IS ALWAYS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

June 2013 Newsletter

June, 2013 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

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

First Sunday - Holiday Inn this month – 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation

 

George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

 
Program - Charles Gessert and Ken Kollodge – “Gun Ownership - Are there any limits”


From Edd Doerr – former AHA president and president of Americans for Religious Liberty
To the editor – Washington Post


             Is religion in America so weak that government has to tell us which religious practice to engage in and on which day of the year to do so? Over 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin wrote that a religion is “bad” if it has to call on the “civil power”, government, to help it. Was this too hard for Congress in 1952 to understand?

The National Day of Prayer is at best a distraction. What needs attention are the threats to religious freedom and our constitutional heritage of separation of church-state separation such as the conservative/Republican war on women’s freedom and rights of conscience on reproductive matters, the conservative/Republican assault on public education and religious liberty in their nationwide, and the incessant drive to divert public funds to religious private schools through vouchers and tax credits.

America’s religious institutions do not need government to prop them up.

Persecution and denigration of dissenters have been the hallmarks of Christianity for 1500 years. Is this the American way?  —Rod Sheffer

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Faith Is Not Reasonable
Religions ought to share the blame when their adherents act unreasonably.

Science is not a “thing,” a doctrine or a set of beliefs — it is a mode of thinking and method of inquiry. There is no Book. Once this concept is grasped, the errors in reasoning committed by the writer of the May 3 letter to the editor entitled Muddying the Waters ought to become obvious. But, because an understanding of these errors will, invariably, continue to elude some, I fear it necessary to bring more to bear upon the subject.

There is an unsettling fact I think most religiously inclined readers will be loath to accept: Religion is not reasonable. I mean this in the most analytical sense, of course, in that religious belief is not based upon reason, but upon authority. The claims to “Truth” by Jesus or Mohammad rest entirely upon the basis of their assertions to have been (in the case of Jesus) the son of God, or (in the case of Mohammad) to have communed with God through an intermediary: These are not reasons — these are simply further claims. This is precisely why such doctrines are called “faiths.” It takes an active willingness to suspend one’s otherwise critical faculties in order to believe — on the basis of no evidence — that the claims proffered by such men are true. This is, incidentally, the very definition of irrational behavior.

Science, however, is unlike religion. The only basis for its claims is that they are reasonable — that is, reason-based. Our belief in the accuracy of the statement “the Earth goes round the sun” is not premised upon who utters the statement, but upon what reasons we are given for believing it to be so.

There is no falsity to the dichotomy offered by Scott Thompson in his April 30 column entitled Terror in the Name of God. Reason, and the application of reason to the discovery of truths about our world (a process we commonly call “science” or “scientific”), really is on one side of the equation, while superstition and unreason really are on the other.

The question posed by Thompson as to whether those who support and promote an unreasonable view of the world ought to be, in some way, held accountable for the actions of followers who take religious texts seriously, is a pressing one. Apologists for religion, such as the writer, want everyone to believe that it’s simply the work of a few extremists — a few bad apples — who bring a measure of disrepute to religion.

But this, surely, is a faulty, ahistoric, myopic view that betrays a certain naiveté about the true nature and effect of religion (as systems of irrational beliefs) upon the minds of otherwise morally decent people.

Religious observance — which is simply another way of saying “a dogmatic and unreflective fidelity to the dictates of an authority that demands obedience” — really is linked to the 9/11 attacks, the Boston bombings, the denial of condoms to AIDS-ravaged sub-Saharan African communities, the genital mutilation of girls (and boys), and to the deaths and enslavement of millions in a way that a mode of thinking or method of inquiry can never be.

I grant without reservation, of course, that for the majority of followers, faith has not entirely dulled their moral faculties. Despite, for example, the Koran’s (and the Bible’s) endorsement of such inhuman practices as slavery, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and murder, most religiously inclined folks have found a way to navigate around these less-noble parts of their faith in order to act decently toward others. But this feat has always been achieved in spite of religion, not because of it.

In this respect then, it should come as no surprise that those who are attracted to unreasonable claims in the first place will include highly unreasonable people who are utterly incapable of reasoning their way out of their faith’s commandments to, for example, murder infidels, subjugate women or kill homosexuals.

And so, contrary to the writer’s assertion that all faiths should get a free pass, I would suggest that any system of unreasonable claims — whose leaders actively recruit and retain people who are themselves apt to believe such things — ought to share some of the blame when things go, as it were, entirely by the Book.

Thankfully, for reason and science, there is no such Book — and so far as I know, no downside to being “extremely” reasonable.
The Hamilton Spectator - by T. DAVID MARSHALL

from Bill Van Druten - Strokes now have a 4th indicator - the tongue!

If a neurologist can see a stroke victim within 3 hours, he can reverse the effects of a stroke. You can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

#s 1-3. Ask the person to SMILE, SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE or RAISE BOTH ARMS.
#4 - Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If it goes to one side, think “stroke.”
If the person has trouble with ANY of these tasks, call 911.
: If you email this to ten people, you might save a life.

End religious exemption - Paul A. Offit

The Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State generated a public outcry for stronger laws against child abuse and neglect. Several bills have been introduced that purportedly provide a "complete overhaul" of Pennsylvania's child-protection laws...

Unfortunately, one group of children has been left behind.

The bill states that "if a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the child's parents ... the child shall not be deemed to be physically or mentally abused." In other words, if parents decide not to give their children antibiotics for meningitis, or insulin for diabetes, or chemotherapy for cancer, or surgery for intestinal blockage, they won't be held accountable. According to the bill, parents are abusive if they slap their 1-year-old child, but not if they withhold lifesaving therapies.

The problem of religious-based medical neglect in Pennsylvania isn't theoretical.

I was a young attending physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 1991 during a massive measles epidemic - one that occurred almost 30 years after the invention of a measles vaccine. The outbreak centered on two fundamentalist churches in the city - Faith Tabernacle and First Century Gospel - which didn't believe in medical care. None of the children of church members was vaccinated. Among members of those two churches, 486 people were infected and six died from measles. The virus also spread to the surrounding community. Among non-church members, 938 people were infected and three died. The nine who died were all children. Church members had made a decision for their own children as well as those with whom their children had come in contact.

The spread of highly contagious diseases hasn't been the only problem.

Philadelphia parents Roger and Dawn Winterborne let five children die of pneumonia without medical care because of their religious beliefs. Only after the fifth death did child protective services become aware of these tragedies and briefly monitor the family. Later, the couple moved to Harrisburg, where a sixth child died of untreated pneumonia.

In 2002, an anonymous caller alerted authorities to the neglect of 9-year-old Benjamin Reinert. Benjamin's father, Paul Reinert, was a member of Faith Tabernacle. Child-protection workers visited twice and instructed the father to seek medical care if the boy's condition worsened. One day later, Benjamin Reinert was dead. An autopsy revealed that the boy had died from a treatable form of leukemia.

In 2009, Herbert and Catherine Schaible chose prayer instead of antibiotics for their 2-year-old son, Kent, who died from bacterial pneumonia. The Schaibles received 10 years' probation. Recently, their 8-month-old son died without medical care. Their other seven children have now been removed from the home.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Children whose parents hold certain religious beliefs shouldn't be afforded less protection than other children. That the commonwealth has allowed children to die from measles, bacterial pneumonia, or leukemia in the name of religion is inexplicable. That it continues to allow such abuse in the face of recent deaths is unconscionable.

Pennsylvania should repeal its religious exemptions for medical neglect. Otherwise, children will continue to suffer and die needlessly.

Paul Offit, M.D., is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia



Famous Freethinker

Born in France, Stephen Girard settled in Philadelphia where he became a wealthy ship-owner. During the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793, Girard opened his pocketbook and helped as a nurse and hospital manager for two months. Girard, an arch-critic of clergy and Christianity, named his sailing ships after thinkers such as Voltaire. Girard left nearly his entire estate to charity, willing some $5 million for the construction and endowment of a college for orphans, instructing that there should be no sectarian control or instruction. But Girard's provisions were "shamefully violated," with the college under Christian supervision.

“… no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect shall hold or exercise any station in the said college; nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises. . . .” —Girard's bequest terms in endowing a college for orphans


We reach a higher level of intellectual maturity when we accept the reality that natural phenomena are governed and explained by natural law, and not the consequence of supernatural miracles. Barbarians explain natural phenomena by invoking the deity du jour.  —Rod Sheffer

Ralph Waldo Emerson became a Unitarian minister in 1826. He rejected traditional ideas of deity in favor of an "Over-Soul" or "Form of Good," ideas which were considered highly heretical. His books include Nature (1836), The American Scholar (1837), Divinity School Address (1838), Essays, 2 vol. (1841, 1844), Nature, Addresses and Lectures (1849), and three volumes of poetry.

"Men's … creeds a disease of the intellect. - The most tedious of all discourses are on the… Supreme Being". - The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant."
McKellen came out as a gay man in 1988. McKellen was knighted in 1991 for his contributions to theater.

“I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction.”

1 comment:

  1. Amazing Article from T. David Marshall!

    ReplyDelete