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Skeptics and Atheists of Durango NEWSLETTER April 16, 2014

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Newsletter     April 16, 2014
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use…In the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments and demonstrations.” -Galileo Galilei

*To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate: Debate Rages When Rumor Collides With Facts
Contributed by Marc Masor

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/09/autism-vaccine-widespread/19267/

A new survey finds that 1 in 3 parents continue to believe that vaccines can cause autism despite the link being widely discredited by the scientific community. 29% of adults and 33% of parents with children under 18 are fearful that vaccinations cause autism. Of the people aware that a study once linked vaccines to autism, 50% were unaware that study has been debunked. Read the Reader’s Comments to sample the anger, mistrust and fear in the Land.

*Not Coincidentally, Measles and Mumps Make an Unwelcome Return
Contributed by Marc Masor

http://www.dailyrx.com/measles-outbreak-california-grows-most-infections-orange-county-mmr-vaccine-recommended

Among the patients are unvaccinated children under 18 and some of the health-care providers who became ill despite being vaccinated with MMR. MMR vaccine is 99% effective, but even those vaccinated may be infected by this air borne virus. There are 49 reported cases so far in 2014 vs. 4 at this time last year.

*Report: Taxpayers Funding Creationism in Classrooms

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/education-creationism-104934.html

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

*How Jesus Became God        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/how-jesus-became-god_b_5053136.html
Another plug for Bart Ehrman, religious scholar and popular writer. It’s good to know the FACTS about the origin of Christianity, the religious doctrine that permeates our lives.

*Radio Free Atheist is Coming…Maybe…Stay Tuned!

Members interested in working on a weekly radio show to air on KDUR met last week to discuss the possibilities. The idea originated with member Bill Vana, who hosted a similar show in the past. Bill is unavailable this year due to employment commitments. Members Larry Bollinger and Adrian X have volunteered to anchor the project while another half-dozen members volunteered for duties as producers, researcher/writers, regular guests, as one-time interviewees, etc. At this writing, we are not guaranteed a slot on the station at all. There will be an organizational meeting for the summer radio schedule April 30th at 5:30PM in FLC’s Noble Hall, Rm 125. I (Larry B. and Adrian if possible) will be at that meeting and we will try to secure a two hour slot on Sundays…’our’ show once aired from 3PM-5PM when Bill was the host…I would be happy if we could get that slot again. All interested in participating, please email your information to larrybollinger@comcast.net and/or plan to attend the meeting April 30.

Suggest a name for our new show?

Read this month’s newsletter on-line with active links! Go to:

The Durango Skeptics and Atheists Meetup Group

Durango, CO
148 Skeptics and Atheists

This is intended to be a meetup group for all people who, like me, feel outnumbered in a world dominated by religion and superstition. This will be a casual, open atmosphere f…

Next Meetup

Durango Skeptics and Atheists Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014, 6:00 PM
11 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

OR http://durangofreethinkers.com/2014/04/13/1406/

To contribute content to the Newsletter: larrybollinger@comcast.net

Skeptics and Atheists of Durango Book Club Selections
PLEASE RSVP ON THE MEETUP WEBSITE FOR EACH MEETING..SPACE IS LIMITED!

Sunday, May 4th Rebecca Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction


Sunday July 6, 2014 Cormac McCarthy’s The Road Both selections nominated by Dan
All discussions are 9:30AM at Durango Joe’s 732 E. College Drive
Please DO NOT PARK in Joe’s lot…use the side streets for parking.
And please, if you are buying your books consider buying from a local book seller

PSYCHIC PREDICTIONS FROM 2013…….REVISITED

I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the predictions that were made by psychics for 2013. At least for a good laugh. Does anybody ever go back and call these people out??

Anyway, enjoy the giggle.

(original post from Feb 2013).

_______________________________________________________

 

So I thought it would be interesting to make note of some of the predictions that a few psychics made for this coming year. Of course, at the end of the year, we will return to the list and see how well said psychics did.

gi-psychic-crystal-ball

Here are some of the 2013 predictions (cue eerie music……….)

From Lamont Hamilton- ordained Minister and Reiki Master healing Practitioner:

  • A mind-to-mind telepathic telecommunication device will be developed for the mentally ill to help people communicate better.
  • A truce is seen in the Middle East before late summer after one or more spiritual leaders emerge in the region to bring stability to several countries now in conflict.
  • Prince William and Kate will have a baby girl, whom many will believe is the reincarnation of Princess Diana. (well, he’s got a 50/50 chance on the sex of the baby).

From Maine-based Psychic Vicki Monroe:

  • It is going to be a milder-than-usual winter, although we will get more of a mixed precipitation.
  • Tom Cruise will leave the church of Scientology. It has something to do with his daughter and recent divorce.
  • Expect an upset at the Academy Awards: Bradley Cooper for best actor over Daniel Day Lewis. Sally Field for best actress. Lincoln for best picture and Quentin Tarantino for best director.

“Nikki”- Psychic to the Stars:

  • Nuclear attack on New York.
  • Experimental monkeys escape from a lab causing a pandemic. (Apparently she’s a fan of the movie “28 Days  Later”).
  • An earthquake of great magnitude wiping out Mexico City.
  • The map of the world will change due to catastrophic events happening around the globe.
  • Giant prehistoric sea monsters under the sea.
  • A possible landing of a spaceship.

Blair Robertson:

  • Another very large earthquake for Japan and subsequent tsunami within 60 days.
  • It will be revealed that Vice President Joe Biden has been under medical care for senile dementia. I predicted his ailment back in 2012.
  • Watch for news of mine disaster in China within 3 months. Many deaths.
  • Rihanna and Chris Brown will get engaged.

So there you have it. It looks like 2013 is going to be full of some crazy stuff going down. Sea monsters? Spaceships landing?? Hold on to your seats- we may be in for a bumpy ride.

Or not.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow…….

good_bye_by_whispered_nightmares

As most of our members know, we are losing our faithless leader, Clayton, as well as our good friend, Jana. This is a HUGE bummer for everyone who knows Clayton and Jana. Despite our sadness, we are very excited for them as they embark on a new and exciting chapter.
Clayton was our founding member who began the group back in 2011. I remember the first meeting I attended. Is was downstairs at Lady Falconburgh’s and there were, maybe, six people there. We all fit at one table! Our group member count is now at 150 people and growing……

None of this would have been possible without Clayton. We are so grateful to him for starting this group and I look forward to watching as the group continues to grow and develop in the coming years.

That’s where you members come in.

How would you like to see our group develop? What, if any changes, would you like to see? I’m asking for input from everyone. Let me know what you think by commenting below or sending me an email. This is the time to see what we can do as a group presence in the Four Corners Region.

Most importantly, I want to thank Clayton for everything he’s done for Durango Skeptics and Atheists.  Clayton, you have created an outlet for so many people. For that, we will be eternally grateful. Thank you! Thank you!

(We will be having a “sending off” party for Clayton and Jana as soon as we iron out the details. I will keep everyone posted on that.)

 

Choose ye this day…

So somehow Sarah Palin thinks that a television network putting a show on hiatus is an abridgment of 1st Amendment rights.  Because everyone has a right to their own TV show.  Especially if they are spewing antiquated bigoted ideas.  It’s not about A&E apparently.  It’s about the Bill of Rights.

But one has to ask why A&E would make such a drastic move with a show that is one of the highest rated on television.  At the end of the day, this is a business after all.  Just because it’s unintelligent doesn’t mean that it doesn’t attract viewers.  And it’s not like Phil Robertson doesn’t have the right to his most ungraceful mutterings.

It’s because television networks, like all of us, have a choice to make.  They can choose the old ways of thinking that are rooted in ideas that are old, tired, and on the wrong side of history.  Or they can choose progress and modernity.

If you want to choose the Duck Dynasty world-view, here is what you are choosing:

  • Whatever the common values were 50 years ago, let’s stick with that (be those values enslavement, burning witches, or bigotry)
  • Whatever them city-folks is doing, let’s not do that (especially if it’s things like science)
  • Let’s talk to Yahweh and pretend he talks back to us
  • Let’s make sure them women don’t start getting all spoiled and authoritaritative on us
  • We ain’t judging queers, we’re just saying they’re ruining this country

Alternatively, you can choose a set of ideals that are in line with a modern view of the world:

  • Only values that are based on logic and empathy have any kind of authority
  • Civilization has led to the advancement of our knowledge and the betterment of our condition
  • Them queers is actually pretty good people (well, in about the same percentage as non-queers)
  • This life is amazing and wondrous…let’s not waste it looking forward to the next one (that won’t be there)
  • Human life on this planet, contrary to so many popular notions, is improving in almost every way in almost every part of the world

If you choose the more progressive side of the equation you get things like TED Talks, Seattle, Carl Sagan, and Trader Joe’s.  On the other side you Larry the Cable Guy, trucks with big tailpipes, Alabama, and camouflage.

On our side you get to look to the future, understand the problems facing the world, and do what you can to make the world a brighter place.  In the future.  On the other side, you get to lament that black kids and white kids are going to school together and that things ain’t as good as they used to be.

In the past.

I agree, A&E.  Let’s do some book-learnin’ and go with the one about the future.

The New Cool

Quick post here…

Our friend Jess just moved to Boise and texted us this picture with the tagline: “Boise just got a lot cooler!”

imagejpeg_0

I agree Jess.  Knowing that you are in the midst of people committed to rational thought is indeed a cool feeling.

A Letter to Oprah From an Atheist

Image

Dear Oprah,

I heard your interview with Diana Nyad, a self-proclaimed atheist, the other day. As someone who has respected and admired you for all the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your life, I was saddened and disappointed by your inaccurate characterization of atheists. After Ms. Nyad told you she was an “atheist with awe”, you said this:

“Well, I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, then that is what God is.” 

Of course, the implication here is that atheists are incapable of experiencing feelings of wonder and awe.

This could not be more false.

Do you really think atheists never watch sunsets or admire a desert sky at night? Do you honestly believe atheists are incapable of feeling the amazement of life as they witness, for example, the birth of their child? Or marvel at the ever-present contradictions between beauty and suffering in Nature?  All of these things and more elicit a sense of wonder and awe that is not the exclusive right of those who claim to be spiritual and/or religious.

It only takes being human.

Not all of us humans buy into the whole god thing. But so what? How a person treats themselves and others is far more important than whether they believe in supernatural beings. I get the feeling you think that a person who does not believe in a god is missing something from their life. Let me assure you that we are not. If one of us is indeed missing something out of life, it most likely has more to do with ourselves. Not whether we believe in a god. Seeking truth instead of relying on faith has its own beauty and rewards.  Astronomer and atheist Carl Sagan once said,

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

Does this sound like the musings of a person who does not experience the wonderment of life? He puts it more eloquently than I ever could.

I think back to the early morning hours when my son was born. The feelings associated with seeing him for the first time, holding him during his first moments of life- those emotions were exploding with the awe and wonder! No belief in a god was necessary to experience that. Perhaps you would say, as you did to Ms. Nyad, “well, then I don’t consider you an atheist.” My response to this would be, “why do you get to create your own personal definition of what atheism is?” Atheism is defined as lacking a belief in a god or gods. It’s really that simple. Why must you mold Ms. Nyad’s atheism into something more palatable for you to digest? Perhaps you need to get to know more atheists. I think you would find that we are not all that different from you. We love, we cry, we feel deeply, we fear, we get angry, we admire, we stand out looking at the world and, yes, we do feel the wonder and awe of it all.

September 2013 Newsletter

Thanks to Larry B.  for working on this!

Why I am an Atheist

I have faith in The Human Spirit…and

…I know that the future of human-kind is our

        responsibility…

…Therefore, I cherish my friends and family…

…as I value and cherish all life.

I am Good without God.

I believe in reason and I strive for a rational perspective of the human condition.

I believe in the self-correcting Scientific Method of discovery and the ability of humans to eventually

        understand the fundamental forces of the universe without invoking the super-natural.

I believe that extraordinary claims must be backed by extraordinary proof.

I am not superstitious. I no longer believe in fairy tales.  I do not believe in an ‘after-life’.

I do not believe in demons, devils, sprites, leprechauns, angels, gods or ghosts.

 

 

DESIDERATA © Max Ehrmann 1927

 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

 

DETERIARATA by NATIONAL LAMPOON

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!   Full 4:18 version is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCGRDnTySCI

 

 Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.   Be Kind.    Always.

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Kenneth Copeland, Texas Televangelist, Under Scrutiny After Measles Outbreak

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/31/kenneth-copeland-measles_n_3850299.html

 

“To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear – that you doubted God would keep you safe, you doubted God would keep you healthy. We simply didn’t do it…”

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Christian School With Creationist ‘Science’ Quiz Closing Down

 

http://www.trtribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6736:upstate-christian-school-wont-open-for-2013-14-supplies-sale-to-be-held-tuesday&catid=42:rokstories&Itemid=219

 

The school, in South Carolina, taught that humans and dinosaurs co-existed in the Garden of Eden.  A ‘science’ test from the school’s fourth grade went viral for its True and False questions.  See the test here:

 

http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1crzuz/actual_4th_grade_science_test_from_a_school_in_sc/?limit=500

 

The controversy raised $15,000 from donors…sadly $200,000 was needed to keep the doors open…

 

****************************************************************************************************************

Does Exposure to Science Boost ‘Morality’?

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057989#s1

 

“Science has stood as a powerful force in shaping human civilization and behavior.  Thinking about science leads individuals to endorse more stringent moral norms and exhibit more morally normative behavior…”

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Christian Man Shoots Atheist ‘Friend’

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/09/03/oakland-man-guilty-of-murdering-friend-during-argument-over-existence-of-god/

 

No cheek-turning Christians in this story!  But, really, cross the Line of Decency at your own peril…

****************************************************************************************************************

Antonin Scalia: ”Capitalism & Society Need

Traditional Christian Morality  to Survive”

 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/At-Houston-lecture-Scalia-explores-Christian-4794443.php

 

“…in order for capitalism to work – in order for it to produce a good and a stable society – the traditional Christian virtues are essential…”

 

SUGGESTED ON-LINE VIEWING:

This link is to another TED Talk.  This one by Pamela Meyer, the author of Liespotting.  Both her book and her presentation deal with tell-tales that alert a listener when he or she is being lied to.  According to her, we are lied to between 10 and 200 times in any given day!  It depends on the caliber of friends you keep, I guess….spend 18 1/2 minutes and learn what kind of friends YOU have! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE

  

SUGGESTED READING, for the well-rounded Atheist: 

The Bonobo and the Atheist by Frans de Waal.  Our group will hold a discussion of this book, Sunday October 27, 10AM at Durango Joes    732 E College Dr.

Also: 

  • The Particle at the End of the Universe: The Hunt for the Higgs Boson by Sean Carroll.

       Describes the research into the ‘God Particle’ for the lay person.

  • The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins; lavishly illustrated, this lays out the Theory of Evolution in a very readable fashion.
  • Or any other book by Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The God Delusion
  • Any book written by Bart D. Erhman (Misquoting Jesus, God’s Problem, Lost Christianities, Did Jesus Exist?    And many others); I like to know more about the historic Jesus than the average Christian.