April 2016 Newsletter

Editorial opinions and story selection do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the leadership or members of DS&A.

Discussion topic for this month: Violence and the Human Condition
Presented by Adrian Tillery


Adrian writes:
“What motivates violence? 
Why do compassionate people kill others, or themselves? 
Most acts of violence are actually committed by people that feel they are doing the right thing.  What role does violence have in regulating our social relationships/contracts? 
When speaking of violence, the issue is not black and white, but grey.  I want to explore violence in our history, in our society, and in our lives.

Book Club for June. COMPOSIT

The Fault Is Not In Our Stars But In Our … Neurons?  Possible Neurological Roots of Conflict Between Science and Religion. Are Atheists More Likely To Be Psycopaths?       


Research reveals that human brains use two separate and conflicting neural circuits to make sense of our world. One circuit promotes empathetic thinking and is more closely related to ‘religious’ sentiments than the purely analytical neural circuit which is related to ‘scientific’ thinking.

“‘Analytic thinking and moral concern represent two cognitive modes which our neural architecture causes to be in competition with each other,’ conclude the Case Western Reserve University and Babson College researchers. However, their results also suggest a darker side to our thinking brains. In terms of a general personality profile, the non-religious are aligned with the psychopaths, reporting higher levels of self-centered impulsivity and coldheartedness than their faithful peers.”





But Not So Fast: Study Claims Atheists Are More Religiously Tolerant Than Christians (Contributed by Wray Boswell)

Radical Islam composit


With regard to radical Islamists, Atheists (with some exceptions such as Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris) claim a higher level of tolerance for the civil liberties of anti-American Muslims than Christian believers of all stripes. “The least tolerant were respondents who identify as Baptists or with other exclusivist sects (e.g., Churches of Christ, Nazarene, Pentecostals), and American Catholics demonstrate considerable hostility to civil liberties for politicized Muslims, despite the plea for tolerance from Pope Francis.”islamophobia-cartoon3





Climate Change, Guns, GMOs

Climate Change … Or Not

Climate Change Denial Gets Boost From Sarah Palin & New Film   http://www.salon.com/2016/04/15/bill_nye_is_as_much_as_scientist_as_i_am_sarah_palins_latest_delusion_is_dangerous/

Part-time Governor Sarah Palin took aim at Bill Nye (the Science Guy) at a Washington D.C. gathering hosted by Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The former Vice Presidential candidate on the 2008 Republican ticket said: “Bill Ney is as much as (sic) scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor, he’s not a scientist”.palin - nye

Palin was in DC to take part in a panel discussion to kick off a new film entitled Climate Hustle which is premised on the notion that climate change is not attributable to human causes. Read more about the film and Palin’s role here:

Sarah Palin to headline ‘Climate Hustle’ panel in D.C.

climate hustle

The film is billed as a refutation of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Here is a link    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/12/08/climate-hustle-perfect-antidote-al-gores-inconvenient-truth/  to a glowing review of the film by Breitbart News, which says in part: “By the end of this jaunty, likeable, fact-rich journey through the history of the “global warming” the viewer will be left in no doubt that climate change is one of the most egregious political and scientific hoaxes in history.”

Here is a link to a trailer for the movie which seems to say that since the oceans haven’t yet risen high enough to drown the Statue of Liberty, global warming is a hoax. Oh, and that Al Gore is Evil  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbC82_5YZtA

And, finally, here is a link to a three minute video in which Bill Nye discusses the film with its creator, Marc Morano   https://tamino.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/bill-nye-and-marc-morano-discuss-climate-hustle-documentary/

Summary: no one convinces anyone of anything…and so it goes.


Climate Change May Be Causing Earth’s Poles To Shift   http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/4/e1501693.full

A study published in the journal Science Advances points to the melting polar ice sheets, fueled by climate change, and the changes caused by humans in water storage on land for the dramatic shift of the Earth’s axis since the year 2000. “If you considered a spinning top, and then placed a piece of chewing gum on the top, it would start spinning around a new axis.  On the Earth, since water can be transported in and out of the oceans to the land — affecting global mean sea-levels — this also changes the moments of inertia, in exact analogy to the piece of chewing gum on a spinning top,” said Erik Ivins, senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the study published this month.earth axis



Fossil Fuel Industries Charged With Misleading Public About Climate Change   Michael Mann, Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, argues that fossil fuel companies should be held financially accountable for  “…misleading the public and policy makers about the risks of their products for decades.”    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-e-mann/wall-street-journal-climate-change-denial_b_9551482.html  As far back as the late-70’s, Exxon scientists tried to raise a red flag about the accelerating global use of fossil fuels and the reality of global climate change. They were ignored…

climate denial cartoon



Peabody Coal, World’s Largest Private Coal Producer Files for U.S. Bankruptcy Protection    http://www.wsj.com/articles/peabody-energy-files-for-chapter-11-protection-from-creditors-1460533760      Sharp decline in coal prices sinks Peabody Energy Corp. which finds that it cannot service a recent debt-fueled expansion into Australia. The bankruptcy filing exempts the company’s operations in Australia.Peabody JPG



Climate Change Denier, Lawyer and Frequent Fox News Contributor Revealed As Coal Company Employee   https://theintercept.com/2015/08/25/chris-horner-coal/


”Christopher Horner, an attorney who claims that the earth is cooling, is known within the scientific community for hounding climate change researchers with relentless investigations and public ridicule, often deriding scientists as “communists” and frauds.  Horner is a regular guest on Fox News and CNN, and has been affiliated with a number of think tanks and legal organizations over the last decade. He has called for investigations of climate scientists affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and NASA, and inundated climate researchers at major universities across the country with records requests that critics say are designed to distract them from their work. New court documents reveal one source of Horner’s funding: big coal.”big coal



Colorado Legislators Threaten to Shutter Air Pollution Control Division    http://durangoherald.co.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=6b98aec2e    A last minute compromise has saved the jobs of 95 employees of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…at least for now. This came as the US Supreme Court temporarily stayed the implementation of federal carbon emission standards.coal train

“We fired a shot across the bow and we’re going to be watching very carefully…if they do anything to try and put my coal miners out of business, I’m going to be all over it”, said Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale). “For me this is just a small step, a small victory”.


Guns in the U.S.A.

The Latest Must-Have Item For Gun Enthusiasts: The Cell Phone Guncell phone gun

But Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) isn’t having any…he’s demanding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigate the phone-that-is-really-a-gun saying, “…what’s next, a gun made to look like a chocolate bar? Enough is enough”. Schumer is worried that this weapon will make it easier for people intent on committing violence to evade law enforcement.     http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/05/smartphone-gun-investigation-schumer-ideal-conceal-pocket-pistol



Support for GMOs Rises With Education Level  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gmo-poll-education_us_570ea20de4b0ffa5937e0124    According to a Huffington Post/Yougov poll, support for GMO products doesn’t depend on political affiliation…rather, it depends more on education and income level. The more educated and the higher income demographic views GMO products as ‘safe’.  However Republicans ‘trust’ Science in general less than Democrats.


Religion and Atheism

Mother Teresa? A Saint? Not So Much!     http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/udem-news/news/20130301-mother-teresa-anything-but-a-saint.html 


Pope Francis has fast-tracked the canonization of Mother Teresa to sainthood (she will be an official ‘saint’ as of September 4, 2016) in what some call a very effective media campaign. But questions revolving around her political affiliations with Haitian dictator Duvalier, accusations of forced conversions of the dying, and shadowy accounting practices continue to dog her headlong rush to sainthood. Hitchens and Teresa compositThomas Cheng/AFP/Getty Images

The late Christopher Hitchens called her “…a fanatic, a fundamentalist and a fraud.” Read his searing essay about Mother Teresa here:   http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2003/10/mommie_dearest.html   This is what Hitchens has to say about the alleged ‘miracle’ which the Roman Catholic Church has cited as part of the beatification process: As for the ‘miracle’ that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican’s investigators? No.”


Atheists Propose ‘Genocide and Incest Park’ to Counter Noah’s Ark   http://www.follownews.com/atheists-propose-genocide-and-incest-park-to-counter-noahs-ark-attraction-yzzz

The biblically themed “Ark Encounter” is scheduled to open this summer in Kentucky. But an Atheist group, Tri-State Free Thinkers, has plans of its own. The group is planning a counter-protest which will celebrate “reason and logic” over “superstition and myth”. They intend to erect billboards on the road leading to the attraction which will mock the Noah’s Ark bible story which they contend is a fable about genocide and incest. The proposed billboard will look like this:  Ark 2 Tri-State Freethinkers is accepting donations to make their dream a reality….


Texas Man Finds Marine Fossils in Backyard. He Says, “They Are From Noah’s Flood”  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3501393/Creationist-finds-marine-snail-fossils-Noah-s-flood-Texas-backyard.html    A Texas creationist claims to have found remnants of Noah’s flood in his aunt’s backyard.Noah Fence Taken



One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?  Atheists Distribute Literature from The Satanic Temple in Delta, CO   http://www.westword.com/news/delta-schools-will-get-satanic-coloring-books-on-april-1-no-joke-7751794?utm_source=Newsletters&utm_medium=email 

http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/schools-give-the-devil-his-due  (contributed by Wray Boswell)      It was April 1, but it was no April Fool’s joke. That was the day that the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, in conjunction with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, distributed The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities to schools in Delta, Colorado. The groups also distributed guides to Atheism and other materials in response to the Delta School District’s earlier distribution of ‘free’ bibles in the public schools. Personally, I regret that the Atheist group chose to mix ‘Satanic’ materials with other pamphlets which challenged religious assumptions in an attempt to dispel myths about Atheism. Satanic ‘worship’ is often conflated with Atheistic philosophy in the public’s mind and our ‘free thinkers’ movement was not helped by this mudding of the intellectual waters. What do you think?satanic-coloring-book-1-570_opt_opt_2_

Of course, death threats against the Atheists were proffered by those who objected on religious grounds to the materials on display.

See the entire contents of the Satanic Temple’s kid’s book here:




Cruz-Aligned Pastor Calls for Executing Girl Scout Leaders http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/cruz-aligned-pastor-execute-girl-scout-leaders-promoting-homosexuality    Kevin Swanson, who called for the execution of gay people in his Iowa introduction to Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, says that Girl Scout leaders should die for ‘promoting lesbianism’ and ‘communism’.Ted and Kevin compositSwanson has also denounced the movies Frozen, How to Train Your Dragon, and all of the Harry Potter books/movies for indoctrinating children to be homosexuals and devil worshippers (see above RE: Satanic Temple materials being disseminated by a Colorado Atheist group).



Congressman Introduces Bill for National Day of Reason http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2016-04-representative-mike-honda           The National Day of Reason is an initiative by the American Humanist Association to promote reason as a secular alternative to the National Day of Prayer. The bill, which died in committee last year, has once again been proposed by Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA).National Day of Reason



Armed Right Wing Activists Plan to Shred Quran, Pictures of Obama, Clinton and Loretta Lynch In Atlanta  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/04/12/3768665/anti-islam-protest-atlanta/   “You are hereby notified that the protest organizers have encouraged participants to carry loaded long guns…” reads a statement from Capitol Police Director Lewis G. Young to law enforcement officials.Atlanta protesters

As of this writing (mid-day Monday April 18) there is no update available…but what could go wrong?



Multi-Media Section!

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead 2


(Contributed by Wray Boswell) This film has it all: Bitter and angry, angry atheists making life miserable for the poor, persecuted evangelical Christians. This review is a conversation between a Harvard-trained Master of Divinity and Think Progress’ LGBT Editor. It’s an interesting read…but I’m still not likely to pay cash to see it!gods-not-dead-2-trailer

Here is a link to the movie trailer:

I guess they didn’t make a strong enough case in GND 1? Man, who knew Atheists were this EVIL?



Samantha Bee: There Is No God at CPAC! http://samanthabee.com/episode/07/clip/there-is-no-god-at-cpac/   This was a great story that aired recently on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee…I thought it was funny, but then again I am easily amused.CPAC


And now, here it is…you moment(s) of Dancing Bug:

Tom the Dancing Bug 1283 republican house of horrors

Tom the Dancing Bug 1280 trump republican monster 2

Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Durango Skeptics and Atheists Newsletter with the permission of its creator, Reuben Bolling.  See more TtDB cartoons at http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug. Help support Reuben Bolling’s “Inner Hive”

If you have an item that you would like to see included in the next newsletter, please send the link and your comments to larrybollinger@comcast.net

Thanks to Wray Boswell for contributing to this month’s newsletter