February, 2014 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers
Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806
First Sunday -Radisson – 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation
George Erickson, editor, email@example.com
Program - Ed Heisler, the Executive Director of Men As Peacemakers (Duluth, MN) will present a Power Point program that explores the issue of sex trafficking, explains why it thrives in our cities, and proposes a public health approach to preventing it.
May you have many more!
Humanist Challenge revisedWhen we realize there is no such a thing as a god, it is not good enough to stop there, fellow humanists. There is the matter of our culture, ingrained into us over the last 20 centuries - a culture that rests on the premise that there was a deity, created by and serviced by man. This probably worked well as we reached out to form civilizations but has long since been rendered obsolete. Just as we had invented phlogiston and ether, we invented a god to explain away anomalies, but once aware of the properties of gases we no longer needed phlogiston and once Einstein showed us a better theory, we no longer needed ether to explain why planets were not clustering so we dropped those items. We should have also dropped the god thing too, for there was now sufficient evidence to explain our existence without that icon but here is where something ugly occurred.
The culture that had encouraged scientific exploration suddenly became one that rejected science out of hand—examples of Copernicus and Galileo come to mind. Why? I think the power and prestige that the male inherited under the god theory was too much to give up. Our male leaders then set out on an obstinate course to preserve their pretentious image every which they could. The price has been high.
Recently some well-educated professors in a liberal country, all aware of women’s advances in the modern world, still thought it reasonable to segregate women in a hall if the speaker so preferred. I suspect that because of their authority and stature they felt such a decision would be deemed reasonable. Probably said what many guys will say about this that “it’s no big deal”. See how easily culture can distort our view of reality? These are leaders of universities, our highest level of learning and probably half their potential students are going to be women! And all that brilliance cannot see the reality before their eyes. We need to reject that culture.
That culture has been evolving into a more progressive one, but we can see by these actions and those of the Republicans, plus the urge to enforce Shari law, that powerful groups still feel they have the right to privilege based on gender alone, so it looks like it will be a very long struggle to achieve the free and just world that most humanists want.
If we reject that culture out of hand, what will be our rules of behavior, of ethics?. We need to develop our own culture, one created by man AND woman, based on a mixture of experience and scientific evidence, reminding ourselves of our innate empathy towards our own species.
This challenge requires ALL of us to think about what we would like to see in a brand new, refreshing culture that will act as a guideline for many years to come.
Ten Proofs That There is No God - by Valerie TaricoPhilosophers and theologians have been quarreling for centuries over a handful of abstract arguments –ontological, cosmological, teleological, experiential . . .– that some insist prove or disprove the existence of God… The scholars have had their noses so deep in their books that they didn’t notice the obvious.
1. Mosquitos. The world – the whole universe—is fine tuned so that humans, the pinnacle of creation can live here on Earth and spend our time joyously praising God. Oh, and there are mosquitos, but they didn’t evolve. They are part of the perfect plan. Huh.
2. Migraine headaches. - Migraine headaches are about as useful as mosquitos, and they hurt worse. As many as ten percent of kids get migraines; mine started around the time I learned to talk—barf-in-the-bathtub headaches, not the rare-but-benign visual distortions like being on good drugs. Any god who created migraines would be a sadist.
3. Nudibranchs. Nudibranchs are the coolest creatures on the planet. Why would a loving God put them where no-one could see them for the first ten or twenty or thirty thousand years of human history?
4. Prayer. My mother prays for rain in Scottsdale when the tortoises die of thirst in the desert –and my basement floods in Seattle… Is the rain god helpless, or mean, or non-existent? That forced choice sounds like the tired old trilemma that some Christians use to defend Jesus: was he an a. lunatic, b. liar, or c. Lord? It’s possible that Jesus was a legend or a reformist rabbi; and it’s possible that the god of rain is simply geographically challenged, or ignorant rather than mean, or that he exists on alternate Thursdays, even though cognitive scientist Pascal Boyer says my brain structure won’t let me believe this.
5. Babies without brains. Some people think that believers without hearts—like, say Catholic bishops who cover up for pedophile priests– are reason to doubt that there is a god. But I think there’s some wiggle room in terms of who’s at fault in those pedophilia cases. On the other hand – anencephalic babies that are born with literally no brains– babies that are physically incapable of becoming persons–no wiggle whatsoever.
6. Bad marketing. If you were God, would you let Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps, or Anjem Choudary speak for you? Would God really be less marketing savvy than Coca Cola?
7. Endometriosis. According to the Bible, God retooled women’s reproductive tracts after Eve ate the apple. The idea was that we would want sex and get pregnant, and then having babies would hurt like hell. If the story were true, mightn’t you think God would have gotten the design right? Why have some of us bleed every month like sacrificial goats and then not get pregnant so we can actually live out Eve’s curse?
8. The Ten Commandments. How neither set of Ten Commandments in the Bible (here and here) says, “Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.” Or “Don’t have sex with anyone who doesn’t want you to.” Epic fail. Imagine if wash your hands had replaced, say, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Just think how many lives could have been saved! Or how about that non-PC commandment about not coveting your neighbor’s ox or ass or wife or other valuable stuff. Really? Implicit endorsement of wife as chattel? Some people say that the Ten Commandments are just evidence against the Jewish or Christian God. But would any omnipotent, omnibenevolent extant deity have let them stand unedited for 3000 years?
9. Stars. There are too many of them and they are too far away. Efficiency is part of good design. If God designed the universe for us, seems like he could have simply put a firmament above the earth, with little holes where the waters could come through, and where angels could lower down lights– say a greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night. It would be kinda like the Truman Show. Who needs deep space?
10. Chocolate. If there was a God, would chocolate make you fat? I rest my case. Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light.
Kids with Guts, Brains and CompassionLast December, the beloved vice principal at Eastside Catholic School in Washington state was fired when he married a man. Similar incidents have been happening at other Catholic schools. But this time was different: hundreds of high-school students walked out of class and held a rally outside to demand that the Catholic archdiocese reinstate their vice principal, and students at other schools are holding solidarity protests and alumni are threatening to withhold donations.
Junk Bonds for JesusAnswers in Genesis, which has printed a series of children's books and built a creationist museum, plans to enter the bond market to fund a creationist amusement park centered around a "life-size" reconstruction of Noah's Ark, for which it will need to raise $73 million. AiG has raised only $13.6 million privately since proposing the park, but a Georgetown Univ. professor, contacted by Slate.com, said that the bonds' terms place them in the high-risk "junk bond" category (perhaps better described as "faith-based," having virtually no resale value and without an independent bond rating).
Irish atheists increase 400 percent in ten yearsIslam will be Ireland’s second biggest religion inside the next 30 years
By PATRICK COUNIHAN, IrishCentral Staff Writer
The number of Irish people with no religion - atheists and agnostics - increased by 400 percent in Ireland between 1991 and 2011 to a total of 277,237. The increase is due to a huge breakdown in trust between the Catholic Church and many of its constituencies.
The sex scandals and cover-ups have impacted the church with record numbers embracing atheism. The latest figures confirm a 2011 a Gallup poll which showed Ireland now ranks among the top ten atheist nations, in a huge shift from the 2005 poll.
The Gallup poll, titled the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, asked 50,000 people in 57 countries: “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”
In 2011, 47% of Irish respondents said they considered themselves religious, 44% not religious, and 10% convinced atheists. The global average has 59% self-identifying as religious, 23% as not religious, and 13% as convinced atheists. In 2005, 69% identified as religious, 25% as not religious, and 3% as atheists. The 2011 poll reflects a 22% drop in Irish identification as ‘religious’ in the six years between polls, with a corresponding increase in the ‘not religious’ and ‘convinced atheist’ categories. The U S saw a 13% drop in identification as religious over the same period.
Ireland is tied with Austria, Iceland and Australia with ten percent of respondents in the ‘convinced atheist’ category. That puts all four countries behind just seven others for the top percentages of convinced atheists. China was the least religious nation surveyed.
The Irish Independent reports that population growth and immigration will increase the number of followers of Islam. The data comes a year ahead of the construction of the country’s largest mosque on the north side of the city at a cost of over $50 million…. Islam will become Ireland’s second religion in the next 30 years.
The mosque will cater for more than 3,000 people and will feature two minarets, a prayer hall, a cultural center, offices, bookshop, a library, a mortuary, a crèche, a 600-seat events center, school, a state-of-the-art fitness center and apartment blocks.
Islam soared from 0.1 percent of the population to 1.1 percent by 2011, when 49,204 Muslims resided in Ireland. Protestants accounted for 5 percent of the population.
2014 will see several Biblical epics hit the theaters, inspired by Mark Burnett & Roma Downey's multipart series on the Bible for the “History” Channel. We should be prepared to remind the general public that these are fictional tales- especially tales like the story of Noah – that even a believer like Maimonides did not believe.