Editorial opinions and story selection do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the leadership or members of DS&A.
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Thanks to Robyn Baxendale and Wray Boswell for contributing to this month’s Newsletter
“For The first time ever, everything is in place for the Battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ ” -Ronald Reagan (1911 – 1989)
Next general meeting:
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 16
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:
Group Co-Founder Kathleen O’Conner will make a presentation regarding the First Amendment and the separation of church and state…when it’s followed and when it’s not. Kathleen says: “Some members expressed an interest in becoming more politically active, so we thought this topic would be a good segue way into discussing the possibilities for promoting secularism here in Durango”
News of General Interest to Atheists
It’s Worth Repeating: We Can Help Endangered Secularists
Member Robyn Baxendale’s suggestion from last month bears repeating. She would like Skeptics and Atheists of Durango to consider supporting the Center for Inquiry and contributing (as individuals or as a group) to CFI’s Secular Rescue which helps to relocate free-thinking individuals whose lives are endangered by repressive regimes and radical religious fundamentalists.
Robyn points to a recent Secular Rescue ‘success story’: “Atheist blogger and free speech activist Shammi Haque, relocated from Bangladesh to Germany after seeing her name on an extremist Islamist hit list that claimed the lives of five of her colleagues: Faisal Arefin Dipan, Niloy Neel, Anata Bijoy, Oyasiqur Rhman & Avijit Roy. “When I was targeted I was so afraid. Every day I thought this may be my last day. I may not see the next day’s sunrise.” By relocating people like Shammi, we not only save a life but enable that person to continue their important work.”
“Join me in standing up for freedom around the world. Please give to SECULAR RESCUE today.” – Richard Dawkins
I am repeating this item since it is time-sensitive because EVERY DONATION to CFI, including Secular Rescue and the Richard Dawkins Foundation, will be matched by Louis Appignani IF individual donations reach $250,000 collectively by December 31, 2016. It’s hard to imagine an organization or cause that could be better aligned with the goals of Skeptics and Atheists of Durango! So please consider making a donation!
If you would like more information about how to contribute to Secular Rescue, look here: https://secure.centerforinquiry.net/secular-rescue
Secular Voters and the Need to Re-Group
First of all, to members of Skeptics and Atheists of Durango who supported Donald Trump, congratulations on your victory. We can only hope that President Trump will be a more thoughtful Chief Executive than he was a campaigner.
http://religionnews.com/2016/11/09/dealt-a-body-blow-atheists-and-humanists-regroup/ (contributed by Wray Boswell) For those who supported a candidate other than Trump, the above link is a sobering election post-mortem. It notes that Evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump’s bid for the Presidency, dealing a ‘body blow’ to Atheists, Humanists and other secularists who have worked hard to organize an effort to blunt the power of the religious right. The secular effort now must turn its attention to the mid-term elections, just two short years away. There was some good news for secularists: two Atheists won seats in the Arizona legislature. In Oklahoma, a measure that would have torn down the ‘wall’ between church and state was defeated. Quoting the article: Paul Fidalgo, director of communications for the Center for Inquiry, said the election of Trump will send the organization back to its roots — the promotion of evidence-based reasoning and provable facts. “It is time for the secular community to gear up big-time (bigly?) because we should expect, once again, the basic tenets of secularism are going to be challenged very, very hard,” Fidalgo said. “That is the reality.”
If you were disappointed by the Presidential election (and worried about what a Trump-appointed Supreme Court might do), there is an interesting and frightening essay written by the ED of The American Humanist Association in HufPo http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ignorance-won-can-we-return-to-reason_us_58233104e4b0334571e0a3a0 Here’s a small sample: Those who are optimistic that this will be a temporary struggle, a four-year test of our will, better start bracing themselves for the long haul, because one of Trump’s more specific proposals has the power to derail progress for many years to come. Trump plans to make churches into a secret funnel for future conservative campaigning that can keep the far right stranglehold on power in place. As you may be aware, churches and other religious organizations don’t have to reveal their annual finances to the government, and donations to them are tax free. But in return, they are not allowed to influence political elections. Trump wants to change that. He said, “I am going to work like hell to get rid of that prohibition and we’re going to have the strongest Christian lobby and it’s going to happen.” This would open a dangerous loophole in campaign finance reform efforts and allow millions of dollars to secretly fund political candidates through churches.
Trump has even gone on to suggest that Christianity should be the state religion. He’s said, “I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current president.” And he added, “We’re going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct. We’re going to protect it.”
How Religious Legislators Derailed Potentially Life-Saving Research
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/eugene-gu-research-congress_us_581a3d79e4b01a82df6460de On the verge of a scientific breakthrough, a research scientist is forced to halt his work, which uses fetal tissue in an effort to correct life-threatening birth defects. But a subpoena from a US House of Representatives Investigative Panel on Infants’ Lives put a halt to it for now. Republicans in Congress have made it their mission to end the use of fetal tissue as a result of the bogus video that implicated, falsely, Planned Parenthood for ‘selling’ fetal tissue.
Eugene Gu, a surgical resident at Vanderbilt University, is being investigated by Congress over his use of fetal tissue for research. He has temporarily suspended his research after the “harrowing” ordeal, and is looking to transfer to a medical school in California
Is It Just Me Or Is It Getting Hot In Here? Global Climate Change UPDATE
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/news/20161017/ September, 2016 was the hottest September in 136 years of record keeping. September surface temperatures were nearly 1oC warmer than the mean temperature from 1951 – 1980. In fact, 11 of the 12 months dating back to October 2015 have set new high temperature records.
Data is gathered from 6,300 meteorological stations, ship and buoy instruments measuring sea temperatures and from Antarctic research stations. More details and interactive maps here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/
U.S.Students Lag in Science Learning…Small Gains Noted
http://bigstory.ap.org/062d074d0e42418bae7556dbdf7bb596 The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card, released Thursday shows only about a third of fourth and eighth graders demonstrated strong academic performance in the sciences. Among 12th graders, just one in five were proficient or above in science. The problem is even worse for high school students.
“We still are not at a place as a country where we are preparing the future STEM workforce that we need,” Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said referring to science, technology, engineering and math courses. “We think there’s significant work still to do, but we are heartened by the progress that we see in these results.”
Humans Are Practically Blind
http://www.icrar.org/gleam/ Human eyesight is limited to a narrow range of the light spectrum which is called, not surprisingly, the ‘visible light spectrum’. But what if you could see the night sky using the full radio spectrum? Where humans see light in three primary colors, a new survey of the universe can take in 20 primary colors. A telescope (pictured below) located in the Australian outback has produced a catalog of 300,000 galaxies as seen in frequencies from 70 to 230 Mhz. An interactive image of our Milky Way Galaxy is now available that allows users to view our home galaxy as seen in gamma ray, X-ray, infrared and microwave radiation. The above link takes you to several interesting interactive graphics…go to the end of the article to see the ‘GLEAM-O-SCOPE’.
A ‘radio colour’ view of the sky above a ‘tile’ of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, located in outback Western Australia. The Milky Way is visible as a band across the sky and the dots beyond are some of the 300,000 galaxies observed by the telescope for the GLEAM survey. Red indicates the lowest frequencies, green the middle frequencies and blue the highest frequencies. Credit: Radio image by Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin) and the GLEAM Team. MWA tile and landscape by Dr John Goldsmith / Celestial Visions.
https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/10/23/do-aliens-have-the-answers-to-life/ Worried about an alien invasion of Planet Earth? You needn’t be, according to Ken Ham of Noah’s Ark Experience and Answers In Genesis fame. While many scientists expect to find evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the vast universe, Ham says they are wasting their time. “Real alien data will never exist because, well, aliens aren’t real”, Ham says. “…when people deny the true creator of the universe, they’ll look for anything to try to replace Him – no matter how ridiculous their ideas are…only a life pursuing our Creator will give us the answers and purpose we seek.”
So, you see, Science is a big waste of time.
92 Year Old Evangelical Cartoonist Called the Dr. Seuss of ‘Hate Lit’
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/30/evangelical-cartoonist-jack-chick-was-the-dr-seuss-of-hate-lit.html?via=ios If you’ve never heard of Jack Chick and his ‘Chick Tracts’ you’re in for a (sort of) treat! His work is so awful, that it’s great! Check out Hugo and Jake at The Bible Reloaded as they explore the odd world of Mr. Chick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPltQKkqsIw&list=PLCgW8bgP5lDEJ3c-YenVG6DkNZIHjT0Rh or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPltQKkqsIw&list=PLCgW8bgP5lDEJ3c-YenVG6DkNZIHjT0Rh In addition to these two, there are a dozen or so Chick Tracts reviewed by the Atheist duo on their YouTube channel. Sadly for the evangelical world, Jack Chick died last month. And sadly for Rationalists and Humanists, his body of work is still in circulation around the world. Read about it on The Daily Beast, link above.
A Good Exorcist is Hard to Find…and Getting Harder
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37676977 For some reason, young priests are not flocking to take up the centuries-old art of exorcism, the rituals that expel demons from the bodies of believers. The above link will reveal the world of the Catholic Church’s most prolific exorcist. Working just 3 days a week, Father Vincenzo Taraborelli sees up to 30 demon-possessed clients each day!
The Exorcist Corps…looking for a few good men.
Vatican Scolds Radio Station for Behaving Like Pat Robertson
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37877395 Remember when Pat Robertson once famously blamed Hurricane Katrina on gays in New Orleans? When an Italian radio station tried the same obnoxious scapegoating after the recent Italian earthquake, the Vatican came down hard on them, calling the comments ‘offensive and scandalous’. In fact, the comments were termed downright ‘pagan’, having nothing to do with Catholic theology.
Amatrice town center was destroyed by the earthquake.
And now, Tom the Dancing Bug!
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”