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Kentucky News from Edwin Kagin

KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: November 28, 2008

Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 666, 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

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

What Is An ATHEIST?

“ANOTHER THINKING HUMAN ENGAGED IN SEEKING TRUTH” (Edwin Kagin, 2008)

To Unidentified Recipients:

American Atheists now has official pages on MySpace and Facebook.

If you are a member of Facebook or MySpace we would be honored if you sent us a Friend Request!

MySpace: http://myspace.com/americanatheists
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51502800791

ACTION ALERT:

Please note, heed, and react to the following outrageous situation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Anyone who is a resident of Kentucky and might be interested in being a plaintiff in a major legal challenge to this attempt to establish religion in Kentucky is invited to contact me.

You are also encouraged to write letters to members of the Kentucky Legislature, the Governor of Kentucky, and to Kentucky newspapers.

See: http://www.lrc.ky.gov

For other resources, see: www.edwinkagin.com

Edwin.

Edwin Kagin
National Legal Director
American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 666
Union, KY 41091
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (859) 384-7000
Fax: (859) 384-7324

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http://www.kentucky.com/471/story/608641.html

Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2008
Kentucky law requires Homeland Security credit God
The Associated Press
Kentucky’s Homeland Security office must publicize God’s benevolent protection of the state in its reports under the 2006 law that organized the department.
Under the law, Homeland Security’s religious duties come before anything else the department does, including distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and analyzing possible threats.
The law lists the office’s initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
State Rep. Tom Riner of Louisville, who pushed for the religious requirement, told The Lexington Herald-Leader it was appropriate because government alone cannot protect the state.
State Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington said the religious requirement takes away from the department’s mission.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
© 2008 Kentucky.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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http://www.kentucky.com/181/story/608229.html

Posted on Fri, Nov. 28, 2008
Anti-terror law requires God be acknowledged
By John Cheves
[email protected]
Under state law, God is Kentucky’s first line of defense against terrorism.
The 2006 law organizing the state Office of Homeland Security lists its initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”
Specifically, Homeland Security is ordered to publicize God’s benevolent protection in its reports, and it must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”
State Rep. Tom Riner, a Southern Baptist minister, tucked the God provision into Homeland Security legislation as a floor amendment that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved two years ago.
As amended, Homeland Security’s religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.
The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.
“This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said. “Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government.”
Nonetheless, it is government that operates the Office of Homeland Security in Frankfort, with a budget this year of about $28 million, mostly federal funds. And some administrations are more religious than others.
Under previous Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a lay Baptist preacher, Homeland Security interpreted the law at face value, prominently crediting God in its annual reports to state leaders and posting the required plaque.
Under Gov. Steve Beshear, officials this week said they didn’t know about the plaque until the Herald-Leader called to ask whether it’s still there. (They checked; it is.) The 2008 Homeland Security report, issued a month ago, did not credit God, but it did complain about a decline in federal funding from Washington.
Thomas Preston, Beshear’s Homeland Security chief, said he isn’t interested in stepping into a religious debate, and he hasn’t given this part of his duties much thought.
“I will not try to supplant almighty God,” Preston said. “All I do is try to obey the dictates of the Kentucky General Assembly. I really don’t know what their motivation was for this. They obviously felt strongly about it.”
There is no reference to God in Homeland Security’s current mission statement or on its Web site, which displeases Riner.
“We certainly expect it to be there, of course,” Riner said.
But state Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said Homeland Security should worry about public safety threats instead of preaching religious homilies.
“It’s very sad to me that we do this sort of thing,” said Stein, a frequent critic of efforts to mix religion and government. “It takes away from the seriousness of the public discussion over security, and it clearly hurts the credibility of this office if it’s supposed to be depending on God, first and foremost.”
© 2008 Kentucky.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kentucky.com

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Here is the relevant Kentucky Law:

39G.010 Kentucky Office of Homeland Security executive director — Duties — Delegation of duties — Notification of disaster or emergency.

(1) The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security shall be attached to the Office of the Governor and shall be headed by an executive director appointed

by the Governor.

(2) The executive director shall:

(a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by

including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for

prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3). . . . .

And KRS 39A.285 (3) says:

39A.285 Legislative findings.

The General Assembly hereby finds that:

(1) No government by itself can guarantee perfect security from acts of war or terrorism.

(2) The security and well-being of the public depend not just on government, but rest in large measure upon individual citizens of the Commonwealth and their level of understanding, preparation, and vigilance.

(3) The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic

March 30, 1863, Presidential Proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security

speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’ ”

Effective: March 28, 2002
History: Created 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 82, sec. 2, effective March 28, 2002.

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Go Prez!

American Atheist President Ed Buckner exchanges electrons with a writer who, in the battle of wits, goes largely unarmed.

Just how should one answer a person who calls them a “weasel worder?”

I do not think C.S. Lewis would have cared much for this Paul person.

This hostile control freak is welcome to design his own symbols and start his own organization.

What is truly frightening is that these people are permitted to vote and to sit on juries.

Try to get all of the sane people you know to join American Atheists while they still can.

For your own safety’s sake.

Edwin.

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Well, Paul, you’re making me see red–see below for an example or two. But you’re not making enough sense to be worth continuing to “exchange” thoughts with. (Fiercely asserted assertions don’t count for much.) I’ve read Mere Christianity and found it singularly unpersuasive. Please let us not waste each other’s time any further–please don’t reply until and unless you can keep a civil tongue in your head, as my mother–a big fan of Mere Christianity, for what that’s worth–used to say.

Ed B.
——————————————————-
On Nov 26, 2008, at 6:06 PM, Paul Trombley wrote:
Let’s try this again, Ed: You think that materialism is true and that atheism is entailed by it. Right? Ok, so, if you were disabused of your materialism or were shown that (gasp) it’s false, then you’d start believing in a god. That’s the structure and the content of your thought, isn’t it?
 
Now, if you abandoned your materialism right now, what then would you have? Well, before you came around to theism you’d have an amoral, rudderless belief in nothing, and probably an aversion to any suggestion that there is an objective right and wrong. Isn’t that right? And since you aren’t trained in philosophy you’d be groping in the dark throughout the experience and flip-flopping around from one vague idea to the next.
 
Ever heard of C.S. Lewis, author of Mere Christianity? He indicates that before his conversion to Christianity he was an atheist like your selves, thinking: either (1) there is a creator god  or a ruler god or (2) materialism is true, and, furthermore, since materialism (in your view) is true, all religions are wrong all through. But you haven’t let Jesus into your heart yet, so all you really have (apart from the unsubstantiated exclusive disjunction) is epistemic nihilism. That, nihilism, is the real agenda and goal of AA. So the comment “not all the answers are in” is misleading, for you think that no matter what the subject, the answers aren’t and won’t ever be in. The trouble with Lewis is that even after his conversion, he was still slippery, as reading the preface and just a few pages of that book reveals. You’ll be the same way if you convert.
 
So, do you believe that there is an objective right and wrong (whether grounded on absolutist, consequentialist, or other grounds)? Do you believe in anything…anything at all..other than repeating insipid rhetoric about free inquiry? Or are you just a weasel worder who refuses to take a stand on anything but wishy-washy uncertainty? In fact, you have an embarrasing motive for your nihilism. That motive is just pride, Ed. You find it irksome to suppose that you have ever done something seriously wrong or have a character flaw, so you run what amounts to Nihilistic American Materialists. Pride is also what keeps you from changing the logo.
 
You wrote that your “symbol is…not intended…to be a depiction of how electrons work”, but that comment, too, was mealy-mouthed claptrap. The “atomic whirl” is a depiction–an innaccurate, irresponsible one–of how electrons were once thought to work. Your self-absorbed, idiosyncratic thinking to the contrary doesn’t change that fact, and you are simply instilling a false and misleading impression in the minds of people who don’t know any better than to look to you for guidance. Now, if the “atomic whirl” is not meant to depict how electrons work, then why don’t you change the logo to a tree or an automobile wheel and then claim that that isn’t supposed to depict how electrons work? Scientists study trees, and engineers make use of scientific discoveries. So you’d still get to claim that it’s meant to suggest or evoke ideas and commentary. Even better, pines and spruces have the shape of an ‘A’, and you could just put a subscript below it to indicate nationality. Or you could make the logo a montage of a microscope, the fundamental theorem of calculus, and a book. Wouldn’t that evoke commentary and suggest the spirit of inquiry? Well, yes. But you don’t change the logo, and the reason is obvious: You want to evoke materialism and equate it with atheism (which itself doesn’t entail materialism). This is how I know that your reply is deceitful nonsense.
 
Ed, the world does not need your amorality, your nihilism, your slippery rhetoric, or your misguided materialism. Please do the right thing: Shut down your operation.
 
By the way, my own position is irrelevant for the purpose of determining the position of AA, or rather, the postion of American Materialists, and the reason for my inquiry (1) is that you invited it by publishing an e-mail address, and (2) is evident from the questions which you didn’t answer. Why can’t you comprehend that?
 
Thanks,
 
Paul

————————————————————— 

From: prez buckner
To: Paul Trombley
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 9:51:38 PM
Subject: Re: a few questions: please reply

Paul Trombley,

Our philosophies vary somewhat, but most of us could reasonably be called materialists, in the sense a philosopher would use the term. We like the term “Atheist” just fine, however, and don’t our think our name mis-describes us at all. We find no evidence or logic that supports any beliefs in any gods, including those alluded to in the Christian Bible. If you want more than that, I suggest you spend a few days browsing our website and reading any of the many fine books from Atheist Press (you might start with Atheism Advanced by David Eller–which I’m now reading and enjoying). If you have any serious follow-up questions, please include a synopsis of your own position and your reason(s) for your inquiries.

Our symbol is a symbol–not intended, of course, to be a depiction of how electrons work, but rather intended to evoke or suggest ideas and commentary:

THE AMERICAN ATHEISTS SYMBOL
An international symbol for Atheism has long been needed. When American Atheists was formed in 1963, a contemporary scientific symbol was chosen; this acknowledges that only through the use of scientific analysis and free, open inquiry can humankind reach out for a better life.

Recognizing the new atomic era, but also emphasizing the truths of older scientific findings, the atomic whirl was chosen. The atom is still a distinguishing unit of all matter, the smallest particle of an element that can exist and still retain the properties of that element.

You may notice that one of the orbital in our symbol is broken, or open-ended. This demonstrates that while Atheists rely on the scientific method for learning about the cosmos and increasing our knowledge about nature, we know that “not all of the answers are in.” We recognize that with new knowledge come new questions and areas for human inquiry and exploration.

That open orbital forms an “A” to represent Atheism. The small letter in the center represents of the first letter of the country in which an affiliated group is located. In our case, the “A” signifies American, and the symbol thus represents American Atheists.

Be well,

Ed B.
Ed Buckner
President
American Atheists
www.atheists.org
[email protected]

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On Nov 20, 2008, at 8:33 PM, Paul Trombley wrote:

> Hello, AA.
>  
> Please clarify your conception of atheism.
>  
> (1) Does the management of American Atheists believe more or less as follows?
>  
> (P1) If materialism is true, then there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1.
> (P2) Materialism is true.
> (C) Therefore, there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1.
>  
> Furthermore, does the management of AA believe that if given P1 above, then if materialism were not true, then it would not be true that there is no god such as that of Genesis 1:1?
>  
> (2) Does AA believe that either materialism or theism (as of Gen. 1:1) must be true? and that there are no other options available to the ontologist?
>  
> (3) Are the management and staff of American Atheists basically materialists (in the philosopher’s sense of the term) and atheists second such that a more accurate name for AA would be “American Materialists”?
>  
> (4) Why does AA use as its logo a  depiction of the planetary hypothesis of electron orbits? Is that how electrons really work or is it misleading? Wasn’t that conception rejected during the lifetime of Rutherford? College-level physics and chemistry textbooks published as long as 20 years ago did not use such a depiction but rather the concept of a cloud. Does AA think that incorrect?
>  
> Thanks,
>  
> Paul
>
>  
>
> —– Forwarded Message —-
> From: Paul Trombley
> To: [email protected]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:49:10 AM
> Subject: refutation of Aquinas’ five ways and other questions
>
> Dr. Buckner,
>  
> Do you know of a succinct refutation of each of Aquinas’ five ways (in Latin: quinque viae) of proving the existence of God? If so, please let me know. Wikipedia has a short introduction the five ways at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinquae_viae.
>  
> Also, why does AA use as its logo a depiction of the planetary hypothesis of electron orbits? Rutherford, as I recall, advocated it, but it was shown to be inadequate to explain atomic behavior. Of course, there is also the concept of orbitals (s, p, d, f,…) to describe the wave-like character of electron orbits.
>  
> Finally, did O’Hair believe that atheism entails materialism, the doctrine that matter is the only reality or the foundation of reality, or something akin to either of these ideas?
>  
> Thanks,
>  
> Paul
>

And then we have this exchange, which should be helpful to many of our readers who doubtless encounter similar inquiries.

However, we still await Mr. Ed Buckner’s proof, if any he has to offer or can offer, that there are not two invisible unicorns at Camp Quest.

Edwin.

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On Nov 28, 2008, at 3:14 PM, Nathan Smith wrote:

> Dear Sir, or Mrs.
>  
> It has come to my attention that nothing on your site has any proof
> to disproving the existence of God. How would you explain to someone
> who used the Ontological Argument against your theories? that’s all
> you have are theories. That’s all Evolution is, a theory. Descartes
> provided the existence of the external world very well, by saying
> that; 1. God exists, 2. as All-Perfect God is truthful, and cannot
> deceive, 3. we have a natural belief in the external world, 4.
> Therefore, since God cannot be a deceiver, our natural belief in the
> external world MUST be true. How do you respond to something like
> that? Descartes also said that we (humans) must make a wager. Heads,
> God exists. Tails, God does not exist. If you say why must you wager,
> you must; your life will reflect your choice. This is how it comes
> down, If God exists, Atheists=Infinite Loss, Theists=Infinite Gain. If
> God does not exist, Atheists GAIN NOTHING. Theists LOSE NOTHING. I
> thank you for your time. please reply if possible.
>  
>
>                                                                        
>                                                        Sincerely,
>
>                                                                        
>                                                 Nathan Smith

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Mr. Smith,

You need to work on both your logical thinking and on your knowledge of the history of philosophy. You cannot prove, no matter how hard you try, that the 5,000 cubic meters at the core of the planet Mars is not made of low grade uranium mixed 50/50 with popcorn salt–but that hardly counts as evidence that the proposition is true, does it?

And, while Descartes did draw some of the conclusions you cite (his conclusions have been refuted long since), it was actually Blaise Pascal who is famous for the bogus wager you propose (though he didn’t originate it, either–see below). I’d suggest you do some reading–start with David Eller’s excellent recent book from American Atheist Press, Atheism Advanced–and some critical thinking.

You can also consider a very short essay I wrote on the subject years ago–I’ve pasted it in below.

Read. Think.

Regards,

Ed B.
Ed Buckner
President
American Atheists
www.atheists.org
[email protected]

———————————————

“Why not believe in God, since the only way you lose is by not
believing?”

The short-hand description for the claim behind this question is
“Pascal’s Wager.” Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and mathematician
of the 1600s, gets credit for this one, though it probably was asked in
various forms long before him. The essential claim is that we should
all believe in God, since not believing can cause us to go to Hell if
we’re wrong, while believing is harmless if we happen to be wrong in
doing so.

There are many problems with this claim so there are many answers to
the question:

·        It’s not really a fifty/fifty choice at all. There are
thousands of religions/gods, and presumably you’d have to pick the
right one if there is a right one. So your odds are thousands to one
against you, no matter what the truth is.

·        Belief is not really something you can simply choose to have
or not have. Any omniscient god worth his salt would know if you were
just pretending to believe, and surely that would void your contract,
as it were. Sincere belief can only be held by someone who has been
convinced (by evidence, emotion, or just by not questioning what one
was taught as a child).

·        There is in fact a great deal to lose by believing in a
non-existent god: aside from time and money wasted in religious
activities, self-delusion can be quite destructive, potentially leading
to many mistakes, lack of self-reliance, and considerable unhappiness
in one’s life. If we only have one life, we can make the best of it
only by recognizing that.

·        And my favorite answer, initially implausible but in fact no
more illogical than Pascal’s Wager: What if “God” in her almighty
wisdom only wants to have in her heaven (to keep her company and
entertain her) curious, skeptical, intelligent beings? People who are
wise enough to not accept her existence without good reasons or
evidence? Then, of course, all of us secular humanists and freethinkers
will be “in” while D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson
will only make it if they are in fact charlatans who don’t really
believe any of the baloney they peddle.

For more on the subject, see Section II, pp. 55-104, in An Anthology of
Atheism and Rationalism, edited by Gordon Stein and published by
Prometheus Books, 1980.

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