May 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:
Grief Without Belief
Presented by Maria Doucette

grief

Maria says: “I would like to do a contrast and comparison of the stages of grief and how they relate to people who do not have a higher power to rely upon. I have seen firsthand how believing in a higher power makes grief easier in some ways. Atheists often comment that the only thing they envy about people who have a faith in God is their belief that they will be able to see their loved one later and that it is part of God’s plan.”

man and universe

“Of all the systems of religion that were ever invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief…it produces only atheists and fanatics”.      -Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Next general meeting, May 18

Meetings are at Irish Embassy, 900 Main Street Durango

Dinner, for those interested, from 5:30PM.

Discussion starts at 6:30

The discussion topic for this month: Grief Without Belief

Presented by Maria Doucette. Atheists must come to terms with the reality that when a loved one dies, we will not be reunited with them in a golden after-life in heaven. Non-believers face the fact that we humans are not the center of – or the reason for – the ‘creation’ we see around us. grief cartoonWe accept that our time is limited, that all life is precious and that the loss of loved ones is an inevitable part of our existence. Easy to absorb in the abstract, but extremely difficult when the time comes for us to grieve the loss of someone who is dear to us.  Maria says: “I would like to do a contrast and comparison of the stages of grief and how they relate to people who do not have a higher power to rely upon. I have seen firsthand how believing in a higher power makes grief easier in some ways. Atheists often comment that the only thing they envy about people who have a faith in God is their belief that they will be able to see their loved one later and that it is part of God’s plan.”

Atheist Outlook: Poetic Naturalism and Our Place in the Universe http://www.salon.com/2016/05/12/there_is_just_no_such_thing_as_god_a_physicist_searches_for_meaning_in_the_natural_world_partner/ (Contributed by Wray Boswell)

hand and universe Atheists must forego the comfort of belief in a supernatural life-after-death. But most of us feel that the loss of that false security is less important than the centeredness that comes from honestly understanding our place in the vast universe. Wray Boswell sent the above link to a Q&A with California Institute of Technology theoretical physicist, Sean Carroll. Carroll sums it up: All I can say at the end of the day is we should all be trying as hard as we can to guard against our individual cognitive biases, the things we want to be true. The existence of life after death, for example, I would love that to be true. My cognitive bias is in favor of that. And yet I don’t think it is true. The best we can do is try to be honest. I think there’s a bunch of people who still, because they just haven’t thought about it that much, have the informal idea that science can explain what happens when two atoms bump into each other, but it can’t explain how the universe started or how life began. I hope people get the idea that we’re well on our way to answering those questions. There’s no obstacle in our way that says we’re just not going to be able to.”

FOLLOW-UP ON LAST MONTH’S DISCUSSION OF VIOLENCE

Emotional Problems Persist When Preemies Reach School Age (Contributed by Marc Masor) Last month, we discussed violence, human nature and morality. Marc Masor sent a link to a study that indicates differences in early brain development may cause emotional and behavioral problems that persist later in life. Marc says: “Here’s an example of how behavior can be biologically influenced irrespective of morality. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-preterm-emotional-behavioral-idUSKCN0XI2K6   preemieBeing born prematurely dramatically affects brain development and, as this study shows, social interactions.  The fact that it persists at least until age 5 suggests a permanent effect.  I found a large study showing that 19% more infants born between 34-37 weeks gestational age (late preterm) were likely to be suspended at school age compared to full-term infants (39-41 weeks gestational age).”

 

Just War” Doctrine Used Too Often to Justify Violence http://theweek.com/articles/619107/pope-francis-dump-just-war-doctrine  As we discussed last month, humans (and nations) find it all too easy to justify their own, violent, actions. But at a Vatican conference this month, participants called on Pope Francis to issue an encyclical that would advise Catholics to stop using the traditional concept of a ‘just war’ in favor of Jesus’ ethic of non-violence.

just war

Participants in the Vatican conference are right to highlight this moral defect within the just war tradition, arguing in a statement that too often it “has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war.” They’re also right to point out that Jesus Christ was a teacher of nonviolence who taught us to love our neighbors, to turn the other cheek, to forgive enemies their transgressions against us, and (with apologies to Donald Trump) to refrain from responding to an attack by taking a perfectly proportional ‘eye for an eye’.”

Local News

Time Is Running Out For Public Comments About the Lake Nighthorse Master Plan   http://durangoherald.co.newsmemory.com/?selDate=20160501&startEdition=The+Durango+Herald&goTo=C01

The Master Recreation Plan for Lake Nighthorse is plodding along…right now the issue that is most contentious is the matter of power boats on the lake. Personally, not being a boat person, I would prefer to see power boats banned from the lake due to its small size. However, although it seems that power boats must be permitted, the size of the motors is still something that can be negotiated. The above link is to an op-ed article that appeared in the Durango Herald on Sunday May 1.

Lake Nighthorse

Many feel that the lake is too small for water skiing and that large motor boats on the lake would dominate other, quieter, activities such as fishing, wildlife observation, paddle boarding, etc.

Carolyn and I wrote a comment to the effect that the lake is too small to accomodate power boats, jet skis, etc. and that power boat enthusiasts already have their pick of many area lakes. The proximity of Lake Nighthorse to downtown Durango presents an interesting opportunity. a narrow depth of field image of a user typing at a keyboard with focus on the handsBy banning or severly limiting the motorized recreation we could create a unique natural wildlife & human sanctuary. It would be an attraction for tourists and a retreat for local residents. We fear that motorized recreation on such a small lake will dominate other uses such as paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking, non-motorized fishing and the like. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on most hiking trails for reasons of safety and quality of the user’s experience. Why not apply the same reasoning to Lake Nighthorse?

Public comments regarding the Draft Master Plan (found here: www.usbr.gov/us/progact/ ) will be accepted through May 25. Comments can be emailed here: jliff@usbr.gov.

 

Napoleon quote

Atheists, Prayers and Praying Atheists

Atheists File Lawsuit Against Congress  http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/26489-ffrf-sues-congress-for-banning-atheist-from-delivering-house-invocation   The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Congress for banning Dan Barker from delivering an invocation before the U.S. House of Representatives. In order to deliver the invocation, one must be an ordained minister and must reference a ‘higher power’ in his or her comments. While Barker, co-founder of FFRF, is an ordained minister (he keeps his credential current in order to perform wedding ceremonies) he is also an avowed atheist. And that’s the hang-up. Atheists are not permitted to lead the House invocation…hence, the lawsuit. Past guest speakers have been Christian 97% of the time, Jews led the invocation 2.7% of the time, while Hindus and Muslims account for less than 0.5% each.

Invocation Congress

FFRF is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that barring atheists and other nonreligious individuals from the position of guest chaplain violates the Constitution and RFRA, and that requiring guest chaplains to invoke a supernatural power violates Article VI. The organization is also bringing an Establishment Clause claim under the First Amendment of the Constitution, pointing out the chaplain’s office is showing an unconstitutional preference for religion over non-religion.”

 

Meanwhile, An Atheist Leads ‘Prayer’ at Waterloo, IA City Council Meeting…And the World Kept Spinning http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/atheist-prayer-waterloo-iowa_us_5732170ae4b016f3789737ae    And, as a kicker, the Mayor declared May 5 to be “A Day of Reason” to coincide with the “National Day of Prayer”.

Waterloo Atheist Prayer

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, center, reads a proclamation declaring May 5 a Day of Reason, following a secular invocation delivered by Justin Scott, right. (Photo Credit Justin Scott)

Religion and/or Politics

Evolution and Climate Science Denial Are Predominant on the Political Right; There Is No Equivalent On the Left http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/apr/28/can-the-republican-party-solve-its-science-denial-problem?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1 (contributed by Wray Boswell) “…public trust in science has not declined since the 1970s except among conservatives and those who frequently attend church.”

Inhofe

The End of the Religious Right?http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/10/opinion/campaign-stops/is-this-the-end-of-the-religious-right.html?emc=edit_th_20160510&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=9553502&referer=(Contributed by Mark Diamond) The Religious Right has supported the Republican Party for decades but they have little to show for their loyalty. Issues that move this demographic range from opposition to abortion and contraception to the current anti-gay backlash which followed the legalization of gay marriage. Religious RightThe Republicans take this group for granted but have been unable to deliver results that match their rhetoric. Now, with the nomination of Donald Trump, will Christians once again rise to support the Republican nominee or will they sit out this election? (See below)

 

Jim Wallis and Other Christian Leaders Condemn Donald Trump’s Candidacy.    http://www.christianpost.com/news/donald-trump-manipulates-hatred-jim-wallis-christian-leaders-resist-bigotry-163021/    Sojouners founder Jim Wallis and other left-leaning Christian leaders have issued a statement that condemns Donald Trump’s candidacy for US President. “The ascendancy of a demagogic candidate and his message, with the angry constituency he is fueling, is a threat to both the values of our faith and the health of our democracy,” the declaration reads. “This is no longer politics as usual, but rather a moral and theological crisis, and thus we are compelled to speak out as faith leaders.”

Trump kiss

“At significant times in history, however, Christians from across the political spectrum come together around political realities that threaten the fundamental integrity of Christian faith and the well-being of society itself,” the declaration explained. “Sometimes what is called politics raises moral crises, in which our faith is literally at stake in the way we respond.”

 

Secular Parents Turn to Home Schooling to Escape Religious Bullying    http://www.thenation.com/article/as-the-religious-right-forces-its-gospel-into-public-schools-some-secular-parents-are-opting-to-homeschool/ (Contributed by Wray Boswell) It’s tough being a non-Christian in today’s USA. Especially if you are a child in an overwhelmingly Christian school.BNKID16When ‘free’ Bibles were delivered in Delta Colorado this year, students who did not take one of the books were subjected to peer pressure and taunting. Atheists fought back by distributing materials that promoted Atheism. But many parents are turning to home schooling as a way to avoid unpleasant confrontations with Believers.

 

And now, your moment of Dancing Bug(s)….

Tom the Dancing Bug 1287 republican montser experiment

Tom the Dancing Bug 1285 nate - appendectomy

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”

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

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, Marc Masor, Mark Diamond and ‘Uncle’ Bob Smith for contributing to this month’s newsletter

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