Durango Skeptics and Atheist NEWSLETTER MARCH 2015

Durango Skeptics and Atheists       March 2015

“Be born anywhere, little embryo novelist, but do not be born under the shadow of a great creed, not under the burden of original sin, not under the doom of Salvation”.

(Pearl S. Buck, 1892-1973) 

Next general meeting, Wednesday  March 18, 2015

Meetings are at Irish Embassy,                                                                                            900 Main Street Durango

Dinner, for those interested, from 5:30PM.  Meeting starts at 6:30.

The topic for this monthThe Believers at the Door.  The first days of spring time mean blooming crocuses, the resumption of Daylight Savings Time and the gentle tapping of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the front door.  It happened at our house just two days ago as Carolyn and I confronted two middle-aged JW women who sought to bring ‘Good News’ to our little corner of the world.  Carolyn is the more diplomatic and conciliatory one – she mentions that she’s an Atheist and is not interesting in ‘finding Jesus’.  She listens for a while and finally congratulates them on finding ‘something that works for you’.  Her goal is to leave them with a positive impression of their encounter with an actual Atheist.  I, on the other hand, am more aggressive in challenging their beliefs and dogma directly.  I want to push back against their self-righteous presumptiveness…I want to dent their self-confidence, to beat them at their own game.

So, WHAT IS the best way to deal with missionaries at your door?  What goals do you have for such a conversation?  What tactics do you employ?  How do you feel afterward?   Kathleen has invited a friend, a former Jehovah’s Witness door-to-door proselytizer, who may be able to shed some light on the mindset of The Believer at the Door.

Tom the Dancing Bug: Your reward for scrolling through this entire document is Tom the D.B. at the very tail end.  This month, enjoy the further adventures of God-Man.



Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist….March 20, 2015

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Nietzsche…and more!      Hosted by Dan McGuinness                                                                    1100 Goeglein Gulch Road #258, Silver Peaks, Durango (6:30PM)

Limited seating!  PLEASE RSVP AT MEETUP.COM 

UPCOMING BOOKS FOR THE BOOK CLUB:  The Dove Keepers , by Alice Hoffman          Friday April 24, 2015                                    Hosted by Carolyn and Larry Bollinger 


Oklahoma Lawmakers Move to Ban AP HISTORY…Think It Can’t Happen Here? Think Again!

http://thinkprogress.org/education/2015/02/17/3623683/oklahoma-lawmakers-vote-overwhleming-ban-advanced-placement-history-class/      “An Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History class, persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students “what is bad about America.” Other lawmakers are seeking a court ruling that would effectively prohibit the teaching of all AP courses in public schools”….”.

Efforts by conservative school board members in Colorado to make the Advanced Placement U.S. History course “more patriotic,” prompted a walk-out by students. Under the changes proposed in Colorado “students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent.”


And Then This Happened: From the Durango Herald

“The Colorado House of Representatives is considering two rather incredible measures that would allow businesses and individuals to withhold services when providing them would infringe upon individuals’ religious beliefs. When considered at a very cursory level, this might sound acceptable. When examined slightly more deeply, though, it is unconscionable.”  Read the entire editorial:  http://durangoherald.co.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=29da2f335

And Then There Was This:  The following Letter to the Editor appeared last week.  It is begging for a response from the members of our group!

Death w Dignity001


The American Values Atlas

http://ava.publicreligion.org/highlight     Here is a fascinating catalog of demographics, trends, and fun facts.  A sampling of the highlights:


Public Policy Polling, Feb 24 2015…


Polls reveal the current mindset of Republican voters.

  • They have a very positive opinion of Dr. Ben Carson’s potential Presidential candidacy
  • More than half still do not ‘believe in’ evolution or are ‘not sure’.
  • 2 out of 3 do not ‘believe in’ global climate change.
  • 3 out of 5 Republicans want to adopt Christianity as the ‘National Religion’.

PPP evolution PPP National Religion ppp global warming


Nearly 1/3 of College Freshman Do Not Identify With Any Religion

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/religion/college-students-zero-religion/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Post&utm_campaign=College+Religion (Suggested by Kathleen O’Conner)




Ricky Gervais Explains The Book of Genesis   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oH0ReL3Cew                                                     In case you are confused and are starting to wonder if the Religious Right is…you know…right….take a Bible lesson from the Right Reverend Gervais!


The Map of Contempletive Practices: Get Your Head Straight!




Recurring Discussion #1: GMOs 

Bill Nye (aka, The Science Guy) Has Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love GMOs    http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/03/what-did-monsanto-show-bill-nye-make-him-stop-worrying-and-love-gmos               Bill Nye has been leery of GMOs but, after visiting with scientists at Monsanto, he has changed his tune.  So much so that he is going to revise a chapter in his book that questioned GMOs.  “When you’re in love, you want the whole world to know!”

More on GMOs: How Modern Day Foods Have Changed Genetically Over Time     http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/02/02/how-your-food-would-look-if-not-genetically-modified-over-millennia-2/   

How your food would look if not genetically modified over millennia:Genetially un-altered foods photo


Recurring Discussion #2: In the Vaccine Wars This Month…

( all contributed by Marc Masor)

http://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/15119568-113/harry-j-wander-vaccines-are-safer-than-diseases      Thoughts about vaccines from a pediatrician with 50 years in practice:  “Most people are not aware that in the days before vaccines and antibiotics parents expected that one out of every three or four of their children would die from infectious diseases…. I have never seen a child die from a vaccine. I have never even talked with a physician who has seen a death from a vaccine.”

Do you think the recent measles outbreak is no big deal?  Besides threatening human lives, the return of measles costs BIG $$$.  An example from 2011, when there were 107 cases reported in that year’s outbreak, the cost to local and state health departments was estimated to be $2.7 million to $5.3 million.  Read more here:   http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/02/11/measles-outbreak-in-dollars-and-cents-it-costs-taxpayers-bigtime/ 

The history of anti-vaxxers…”…nothing short of attempted murder…” http://jezebel.com/nothing-short-of-attempted-murder-a-brief-history-of-a-1684813571#


And While We Are Re-Visiting Old Discussion Topics, It’s Been a Bad Month for the Supplements Industry  

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2015/02/16/a-really-bad-week-for-the-supplements-industry/    (Posted on Atheists United FB)     Our group has discussed the world of ‘alternative medicines’ before…this new study slams the door on any thought that supplements are ‘good for you’.  In fact, many nutritional supplements don’t even contain the ingredients listed on their labels!  But if supplements don’t work anyway, I guess it doesn’t really matter what the manufacturers put in them! 



If You Don’t Know Him Already, It’s Time You Met Tim Minchin     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZeWPScnolo      (suggested by Kathleen O’Conner)      He’s pretty much a genius (defined as a crazy person with an audience)…listen as Tim takes on ‘miracles’.


 HBO’s Scientology Film “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”

http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/going-clear#/documentaries/going-clear/synopsis.html    Only two more weeks to the premiere of a new HBO documentary about Scientology.  I read the book and I can’t wait to see the documentary which highlights interviews with 6 ‘apostate’ Scientologists.  It promises to be an entertaining and enlightening film.  Premieres Sunday March 29, 8PM, on HBO.  (Sorry, an incorrect date was published in the February newsletter.)

Of course, the ‘Church’ of Scientology is none too pleased and is mustering push-back against the documentary.  Go here for more details of the counter-offensive:  http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/15/media/scientology-documentary-alex-gibney/index.html


Pope Watch:  A Preview of the Pope’s Encyclical on Global Climate?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/10/pope-francis-climate-change–encyclical_n_6843424.html     “A Vatican official who helped write a first draft of Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on climate change acknowledged disagreement over the causes of global warming but said “what is not contested is that our planet is getting warmer” and Christians have a duty rooted in “ancient biblical teaching” to address the problem.”


News of the Hopelessly Insane: Killing CALIFORNIA Gays with the ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/02/lawyer-killing-gays-sodomite-suppression_n_6786776.html      “The act outlines seven measures relating to those who engage in same-sex sodomy, “a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha (sic)….”


News of the Insanely Cute

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg           It is said that being mindful and expressing gratitude is a healthy habit for adults…even better when you start at age 4!  If you are not one of the 3,000,000 people who have already viewed this on YouTube, take :50 out of your day and check it out!


News of the Really, Really Stupid:  Republicans on Climate

·         http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/florida-republican-doubts-carbon-dioxide-causes-pollution-god-gave-us-co2-to-grow-plants-for-us-to-exhale/       Florida Republican doubts carbon dioxide causes pollution: ‘God gave us CO2 to grow plants, for us to exhale’.

·         http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/03/04/3629466/snowball-inhofe-meet-the-press-climate/    James Inhofe, the Republican Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (in charge of dealing with global climate change), brings a snowball into the Senate as a visual aid, claiming that global climage change is a ‘big hoax’.

·         http://wonkette.com/466620/okie-sen-james-inhofe-no-climate-change-because-bible-told-him-so#1Iqi0OPdgdFJbTrT.99     Quoted on a Christian radio program,  Sen. Inhofe further explained his ‘reasoning’:  “Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” In yer face, Science!


And here it is, your moment of Dancing Bug…

Tom the Dancing Bug

See more Tom the Dancing Bug at http://gocomics.typepad.com/tomthedancingbugblog

Are there any announcements, activities, opinions or other news items you’d like your fellow Skeptics and Atheists to know about?   Drop an email to larrybollinger@comcast.net with your information so that it can be included in the next newsletter! 

Thanks to  Marc and Kathleen for contributing to this month’s newsletter!


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