Welcome to the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Please Join us. We meet in Duluth on the first Sunday of every month, 9am at the downtown Radisson. Our meetings are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Meetings

November 2014
Jan Reisberg-- “Superstition and the Freethinkers”
December 2014
Mark Woodcock-- “Reflections on what it means to be a free thinker”
Thursday, February 21, 2013

March 2013 Newsletter

March, 2013 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 - Jeanine Williams presents
NAVIGATING THE TRANSGENDER SPECTRUM:
Who’s Who and An Introduction to the Geometry of Gender!

Who are the “transgendered"? How do you relate to people who don’t conform to societal gender norms? Everyone knows a transgendered person, but they just don’t know it! Jeanine Williams is the past outreach coordinator for the Rocky Mtn. chapter of TRI-ESS and an occasional mentor and activist for the transgender community.

The three monkeys of faith-belief
People have been killing each other in wars, inquisitions, and political actions for centuries. These belief-systems, when stated as propositions, appear genuine to the naive, but when confronted by reason, they fail. Faith-belief creates more social problems than it solves and the dangers from it threaten the future of humankind.

Religion has played the largest role in the propagation of faith-based beliefs, which has caused uncritical acceptance of mystical beliefs. Religious support of supernatural events gives credence to other superstitions and the support of belief without evidence and miracles…. Indeed, once a proposition turns to belief, it automatically undermines opposition to itself. Most of the bloodletting has occurred as a result of religions or other faith-belief-systems, NOT from those who reject them. (Author not known.)


In March, I’ll be adding these four books to our library.
Pick ‘em up. Read ‘em and bring ‘em back.
The War Payer – by Mark Twain
Water Wars – by the World Policy Journal
The Trouble with Tom [Paine] – by Paul Collins
In Wisdom We Trust: An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty by Edward and Michael Buckner


Christopher Hitchens

The following is from Hitchens’ ARGUABLY – a collection of his essays on a wide range of topics.

“…it is quite astonishing how irreligious the Founders actually were. You might not easily guess, for example, who was the author of the following words:

‘Do you think that a Protestant Popedom is annihilated in America? Do you recollect, or have you ever attended to the eccle¬siastical Strife in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and every part of New England? What a mercy it is that these People cannot whip and crop, and pillory and roast, as yet in the U.S.! If they could they would— There is a germ of religion in human nature so strong that whenever an order of men can persuade the people by flattery or terror that they have salvation at their disposal, there can be no end to fraud, violence, or usurpation’.”

That was President John Adams, in relatively mild form. He was also to point out that the secret weapon that secularists had at their disposal—namely the profusion of different religious factions:

‘The multitude and diversity of them, you will say, is our Security against them all. God grant it. But if We consider that the Presbyte¬rians and Methodists are far the most numerous and the most likely to unite; let a George Whitefield arise, with a military cast, like Mahomet, or Loyola, and what will become of all the other Sects who can never unite?”

“George Whitefield was the charismatic preacher who is so superbly mocked in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. Of Franklin it seems almost certainly right to say that he was an atheist, … but the master tacticians of church-state separation, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were more opaque about their beliefs. In passing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—the basis of the later First Amendment—they brilliantly exploited the fear that each Christian sect had of persecution by the others. It was easier to get the squabbling factions to agree on no tithes than it would have been to get them to agree on tithes that might also benefit their doctrinal rivals. In his famous "wall of separation" letter, assuring the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, of their freedom from persecution, Jefferson was responding to the expressed fear of this little community that they would be oppressed by—the Congregationalists of Connecticut.

“This same divide-and-rule tactic may have won him the election of 1800 that made him president. In the face of a hysterical Federalist campaign to blacken Jefferson as an infidel, the Voltaire of Monticello appealed to those who feared the arrogance of the Presbyterians. Adams himself thought that this had done the trick.

‘With the Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, and Moravians," he wrote, "as well as the Dutch and German Lutherans and Calvinists, it had an immense effect, and turned them in such numbers as decided the election. They said, let us have an Atheist or Deist or anything rather than an establishment of Presbyterianism."
The essential point—that a religiously neutral state is the chief guarantee a: religious pluralism—is the one that some of today's would-be theocrats are determined to miss. Brooke Allen misses no chance to rub it in, sometimes heavily stressing contemporary "faith-based" analogies. She is especially interesting on the extent to which the Founders felt obliged to keep their doubts on religion to themselves. Madison, for example, did not find himself able, during the War of 1812, to refuse demands for a national day of prayer and fasting. But he confided his own reservations to his private papers, published as s "Detached Memoranda" only in 1946. In those pages, - he expressed the view that to have chaplains opening Congress, or in the armed forces, was unconstitutional.’”

While Washington was president, he attended James Abercrombie's church, but on “sacramental Sundays" left before the taking of communion. When reproached for this by the good Reverend, he acknowledged reproof—and ceased attending church at all on those Sundays that featured the “Lord’s Supper.”


Hypocrisy

Bitching that paying for someone’s birth control “goes against your religious beliefs” while asking non-religious taxpayers to pay taxes that go to the Catholic Church.


Can’t Prove a Negative – Yes? No? Who cares?

From Paul Keller - “There’s a myth going around that "you can't prove a negative" or "negatives cannot be proven." I prove many negatives every day, as does everyone. For example, the light is NOT on, the door is NOT open, there is NOT enough water to drink, the sun is NOT up yet, there are NO whales at the center of the sun, two plus two does NOT equal five, ad infinitum.

"A negative can NOT be proven" is itself a negative. Therefore, according to its own meaning, "a negative can NOT be proven" cannot be proven. When a statement cannot be proven, that means there can never be any accurate or reliable reason to believe it is true. That means "a negative can NOT be proven" can never have any accurate or reliable reason for believing that it is true. What do we do with claims that cannot be proven? We do not believe them.…

"You can't prove a negative" is just a myth - perhaps created by theologians to try to stop atheists from proving that there is NO god. A "perfectly loving infinite torturer" is a contradiction. There is NO Christian god, and it is known with logical certainty that there is NO Christian god.”

Bill Sierichs Jr. responds – “But perhaps the light really is on and leprechauns are preventing you from seeing it. Perhaps the door opened for a brief instant because of a momentary instability in reality, which is why you passed through it without banging your nose.

“Perhaps there is enough water to drink and the sun god Apollo merely increased your thirst to make it seem inadequate. Perhaps the sun is up and a temporal instability is sending its light over your head. Perhaps the sun whales simply have not blown yet….

See, I can think like a theologian. Now, bring on Aquinas and Plantinga! I'll beat them at mind-wrestling as easily as Zeus beats Jesus in arm-wrestling. (The Prophet Homer says Zeus himself proclaimed that he was the strongest of all gods. Homer says it. I believe it. That settles it!)

Editor George Erickson opines – As others have noted, when you allow supernatural critters into an argument, all bets are off.


From David Broman -

A good time was had by all at the Darwin Day celebration at Beaner’s coffee shop in West Duluth. Vicki Sanville played some “Chopin” on the piano, accompanied by Bill VanDruten on the euphonium. Melvyn Magree sang some historical songs from abroad, an enlightening experience. David Broman and Eric Norland each played a few songs on guitar and sang for us. Jeanine Williams surprised us with a stellar comedy routine. Between, before, and after performances, people chatted, drank coffee & beer, and practiced their freethinking skills in celebration of one of the greatest scientists in history – Charles Darwin.