KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: January 29, 2008
Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]
Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/
Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com
Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com
Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.
I WAS BORN AN ATHEIST JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE
To Unidentified Recipients:
RICHARD DAWKINS LEADS SPEAKER
LINE-UP AT AMERICAN ATHEISTS CONFERENCE
March 21-23, 2008 ~~ Minneapolis, MN.
RICHARD DAWKINS, author and scientist, will speak at the 34th National Conference of American Atheists slated for March 21-23, 2008 in Minneapolis, MN.
The venue is the magnificent Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel in the heart of downtown. This year’s conference will feature three exciting days of speakers, social events, panels, workshops and other events. You can register on-line using our secure transaction server at http://www.atheists.org/conference .
Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. Born in British colonial Africa, he was educated in England, where he now lives. He did his doctorate at Oxford under the Nobel Prize winning zoologist Niko Tinbergen, then was briefly an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1967 to 1969, after which he returned to Oxford, first as a Lecturer in Zoology, then Reader, before being elected to his present professorship.
He is the author of nine books: The Selfish Gene (1976, 2nd Ed 1989), The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The Ancestor’s Tale (2004) and The God Delusion (2006). The God Delusion has sold more than a million copies in English, and is being published in 30 other languages. Dawkins is now editing an anthology of scientific writing for Oxford University Press, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. In 2006, to promote the values of education, science, and critical thinking skills, he established The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) which is now a registered charity in both the UK and USA.
Richard Dawkins has Honorary Doctorates of Literature as well as Science, and
is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the Nakayama Prize, the Cosmos International Prize, the Kistler Prize, the Shakespeare Prize and the Lewis Thomas Prize.
WHO & WHAT: Richard Dawkins speaking at the 34th annual National Conference of American Atheists.
WHEN: March 21-23, 2008
WHERE: Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel
MORE INFO & REGISTRATION: http://www.atheists.org/ conference
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)
Don’t miss Answers in Atheism, the soon to be award winning live Internet radio call-in talk show.
Next show, January 31, 2008, at 7:00 pm. Eastern Time.
See: www.answersinatheism.net for details.
We are still working out technical matters. If you have not been able to access the show, do not despair for the shows are (should be—this is not precise science) archived on the website for your later enjoyment.
See you on the radio.
Traditional Family Values Department (from reader Jan):
“Clean” Movie Maven Arrested For Teen Sex OREM, Utah, Jan. 25, 2008
Utah Man Who Sold R-Rated Films Shorn Of Skin Arrested For Sex With 14-Year-Old Girls
(CBS) A Utah retailer of family-friendly tapes and DVDs – Hollywood films with the “dirty parts”
cut out of them – has been arrested for trading sex with two 14-year-old girls.
Orem police say Flix Club owner Daniel Dean Thompson, 31, and Issac Lifferth, 24, were booked into the Utah County jail on charges of sexual abuse and unlawful sexual activity with a 14-year-old.
CBS Station KUTV in Salt Lake City reports that the shocking discovery came when a mother found a $20 bill in her daughter’s room last week and questioned her about where the money came from.
The girl confessed that she and a friend had been paid for sexual favors by an older male.
Lifferth was additionally charged with patronizing a prostitute and was also in possession of a prescription drug medication without a prescription.
Thompson’s Flix Club was one of several Utah-based video outlets that traded in edited versions of
R- and PG-13-rated films, catering to clientele who wanted to watch hit movies without nudity, sex, language or graphic violence.
Such video editing operations came under the gun of Hollywood studios and the Directors Guild of America.
In a case brought by the DGA, a federal judge ruled in 2006 that editing out material (such as Kate Winslet’s bare breasts in “Titanic”) violated copyright laws. The decision was against a Utah company called Clean Flicks.
Thompson, who was a franchise operator for Clean Flicks, opened Flix Club last year, similarly trading in edited videos but claiming that such editing was for “educational use.”
Threats of lawsuits from the Hollywood studios forced him to agree to shut down on December 31.
From reader Frank:
I am troubled by where (in your email below to J. Stamper at the Herald-Leader newspaper) you wrote:
“Naturally, they will say that this, if true, is not an attempt to unconstitutionally ‘establish a religion.’“
Yes, I agree that that is what “they” will likely say. What troubles me is the including of the indefinite article “a” in front of “religion.” The Establishment Clause of Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States of America omits the article “a” and simply says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (as in, of ANY religion, not just of one particular religion over others), which seems to me to be a much stronger, broader statement than proscribing against the establishment of a religion (as in, of one particular religion over others). I do not think it likely that the authors of the 1st Amendment omitted the indefinite article “a” inadvertently, nor that the ratifiers of the 1st Amendment inadvertently overlooked that the article “a” was omitted or casually dismissed the implication of its omission..
I am always troubled (in fact, I downright cringe) when I hear folks like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity include the article “a” in front of “religion” whenever they make reference to the 1st Amendment, because including it subtly but vitally weakens the expressed mandate of the Establishment Clause. If what you predict will be said in defense of the state Senate launching its new work year by listening to a rendition of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” come to pass, we should not let the defenders get away with (purposely or carelessly) smuggling the article “a” into their reference to the Establishment Clause; we should take advantage of every opportunity to remind such defenders and the public-at-large that — by thoughtfully omitting the indefinite article “a” in front of “religion” — the authors of the 1st Amendment rendered the Establishment Clause to be a much stronger, broader mandate than it is often popularly mis-characterized to be.
That said, clearly the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” is a song of the Christian religion and is not representative of all religions but rather of Christianity over other religions, and so even including the uncodified article “a” in front of “religion” in references to the Establishment Clause, a plea that beginning the state Senate’s working year by group-listening to the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” is not an attempt to unconstitutionally “establish a religion” is prima facie a failed defense. Nonetheless, I still strongly think we (all of us) should take every opportunity to publicly make the point that by omitting the indefinite article “a” in front of “religion” the authors of the 1st Amendment rendered it to be a stronger, broader mandate than it is often popularly mis-characterized to be.
Just a thought, humbly submitted. — Frank Lovell, Louisville, KY
You are of course correct, and I apologize for the error.
It just seemed that they are in fact attempting to establish a particular religion.
But the omission of the indefinite article was, as you observe, intentional and full of meaning.
With your permission, I would like to publish this correspondence.
From reader Natty:
I’m a brilliant scientist and I fear for the world’s fate
“I wish I could have faith — at least for my daughter’s sake if not for mine.”
By Cary Tennis
Jan. 24, 2008
I have mastered many advanced scientific and engineering fields and can mostly understand just about every advanced scientific theory or engineering device currently in existence or previously in existence — like how to build an atomic bomb or an IC (integrated circuit) device from basic raw materials, or create a digital camera array, program a computer, build a complete scientific instrument from basic components, interface a computer and other devices.
Or knowing the physics of how the sun works, or how to make any glass act just like a plastic metal (my thesis), or why the entropy of the universe requires that black holes, contrary to theory, are not really a one-way sink for the universe.
To better teach myself quantum mechanics, I wrote my own text (which the quantum professor at the university reproduced and gave his later classes). I have also studied a great deal of mathematics, philosophy, economics and history. I devour current events and have done many strange jobs: flown jets, worked in intelligence, and done cutting-edge research at a number of R&D laboratories both private and governmental.
However, I do not understand faith, nor how it is even possible to hold such a strange idea in the mind. I do miss this mind drug and how it would provide a childlike answer about “after” death. But such a lie is just a pointless waste of my time. (Yes, I have read the Bible in detail, and studied all the other great religions.)
Yet, more to the point, I am baffled by how I can deal with “knowing” the real future — we in America are fucked — at least in our way of life: We cannot control the economic slice of the world pie that we have grown accustomed to, and as is all too clear, our future will be hard and poor.
Worse, we are fast approaching peak oil, and our way of life will soon take an even bigger hit. To see the truth of this, look at the cost of food: It is climbing. The cost of oil has rippled through our economy, caused in part by our stupidity in creating ethanol from corn, but that is just the sign of doom — peak oil is our real doom and the world’s, too.
We do not and will not for many years have any way to handle peak oil; I know the technology and there is no answer we can hope for in under 10 years (if we get started now, that is) — my life, yours, that of all middle-class people are doomed to spiral down.
Again, this is only one more piece in the disaster looming over us; environmental degradation, overpopulation, world hunger, war and large sections of third-world states falling into chaos are going to threaten us in the next 10 years. I know this and I know that all this could be avoided if –
1) People gave up faith,
2) Stopped feigning the truth and
3) Stopped listening to the right-wing Republican thugs and their loony mouthpieces that are raping the middle class and poor for the rich elite (themselves).
I know there is zero chance of this happening. So, how can I look my daughter, who is the light of my life, in the eye, smile and continue to follow through with the same things I always do, knowing the truth of the terrible world she will soon live within, which will try to crush her future?
How can I stop caring, turn off my brain, and just enjoy the time we have left in the sun? In other words, give up truth and be like everyone else and live with blinders? Drugs would help, but then I’d miss out on the fun that we have left.
The real truth is that, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man” is … an unhappy, depressed man who everyone else thinks is just a troubled, opinionated know-it-all.
Dear One-Eyed Man,
Faith is not the problem. Death is the problem. You are troubled by a vision of planetary death, which stems from fear of personal death. This fear also makes you ache for your daughter, whom you envision being left alone in a dying world. It is not a technical problem. It is a spiritual problem. You seem to find it hard to accept that. Perhaps you can accept this, though:
You need a vacation.
You must go to the ocean and jump in. You must go to the ocean, take your shoes off and walk in the sand. Sit in the sand and look out at the ocean and think of Odysseus. Think of Priam and his ships.
Think of Lear and his madness. Think of Cleopatra, a swarm of locusts, the wisdom of ancient Egypt, Jews wandering 40 years in the wilderness. Think of the spice wars, cholera epidemics, the Great Fire of London, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the rise of Islam, the Nazi phenomenon and the coming Super Bowl contest. Think of George W. Bush sauntering through the capitals of the Mideast like a chastened frat boy on his final field trip.
Think of evolution, our origins in the sea, our miraculous plankton brotherhood, our kinship with kelp that waves serenely in ancient seas. Think of the sand and how old it is; think of our cells and think of our options, how we could be plankton if need be, how we could be gas or liquid, how we could transubstantiate at a moment’s notice if only the right force came along. Think of the mutability of atomic structure, how easily matter becomes energy, how we each might fissure into energy at the time of death. Think how many mysteries remain for us and how little we know about the silent, mocking plankton. Think of bombs and timers and the vaporizing flesh of a martyr in his millisecond of victory and doom. Think of mountains, their patient climb of eons to the sky. Contemplate the aurora borealis and the southern lights, simultaneous sunsets down the longitudes of our slow, inherited spinning. Think of a beard growing on your father. Think of the egg that became you. Think of solar cells and leaps of efficiency. Think of Edison and Einstein: Are we fresh out of amazement?
Have we finished finding things out? What preposterous presumption is that? We are finding things out faster than ever. We are about to know our own genes, the true bible of our being. So if we are finding things out more quickly than ever and things have looked much worse in the past and we got over them, where is the justification for your gloom? Why do our little problems seem insurmountable? Where is your faith in science? Where is your wonder? Where is your readiness for the surprise of new knowledge?
I think you’re just tired. You’re too smart to be talking like this. They must be overworking you in the lab. You need a vacation, man.
I myself am taking a couple of days off. I am visiting my father, an ex-Navy man. I am trying to understand his lifelong interest in UFOs. We are sitting in the kitchen and he toddles in, wearing his tweed jacket and red sweater, his hair tousled and gray, his posture bent with old age and Parkinson’s. He carries stacks of books on UFOs, crop circles and the like. He piles them on the table: Would you like to look at some of these books? It is the same old story, his strange superstition, my skepticism.
But among the books is “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies,” by Carl Jung. Is this an instance of synchronicity? Is it just a coincidence that your dire fears of planetary collapse come to me as I am reading Jung’s meditations on the symbolic meaning of flying saucer reports? Writing to a friend in 1951 he said, “At a time when the world is divided by an iron curtain — a fact unheard-of in human history — we might expect all sorts of funny things, since when such a thing happens in an individual it means complete dissociation, which is instantly compensated by symbols of wholeness and unity. The phenomenon of the saucers might even be both, rumor as well as fact. In this case it would be what I call a synchronicity.”
You are dying to protect your daughter from the end of the world but you cannot. Nor can you protect her from your own death. Nor can you prevent your own psyche from struggling to provide you with lifesaving symbols of renewal. Scoff if you must. But take a vacation and your psyche will renew itself in spite of you.
Indeed, “but this is wondrous strange,” says Horatio.
“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome,” says Hamlet. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Rachel Corrie lives.
Pass it on.