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“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science”.
– Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)
Next general meeting: WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 21
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: MOVIE NIGHT!
We hope. That’s the plan, anyway. We are hoping to stream a YouTube video entitled The Atheist Delusion (which, you may recognize, is a spoof of the title of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion). This video promises to ‘demolish atheism with a single question’. If all goes as planned, we will screen the movie starting at 6:30 and then (those of us who are not entirely ‘demolished’) will have a discussion in which we will critique what we’ve just witnessed. If you would like to get a head start, you can view the movie here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM It has a running time of 1:11:00.
The video is brought to us by ‘Living Waters Publications’ and writer/producer Ray Comfort. Mr. Comfort has a number of books and videos to his credit including The Way of the Master series, 180: Changing the Heart of a Nation, Evolution vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith and many others too stupid too numerous to mention.
As an example, in one famous episode of The Way of the Master, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron blundered their way into the Infamy Hall of Fame. (Comfort has since disavowed this scene by saying that atheists have taken his words out of context). The link below is a clip that shows the entire incident, in context. Holding up a banana, Mr. Comfort proclaims that it represents ‘…an atheist’s nightmare’ because it has ridges in its skin which match the ridges in the human hand and is shaped perfectly for human consumption. His point being that the banana could only have been designed for human use by The Great Watchmaker, God Almighty Himself. Here’s the clip: https://youtu.be/BXLqDGL1FSg
His own words, as you can see from the above clip, belie his later desperate denials. Mr. Comfort was hoist on his own petard. To add insult to injury, Cameron then chimes in to say that the human eye was obviously ‘designed’ by God because of its complexity. To think otherwise, Cameron chirps, goes against ‘common sense’. The clip then features a quote from Charles Darwin which, unlike Comfort’s banana slip up, was truly and actually taken out of context by Mr. Comfort and Mr. Cameron. Here is Darwin’s quote as it appears in Comfort’s film: “To suppose that the eye could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
OH NO! Is Charles Darwin saying that natural selection is absurd?!? Are atheists living a lie?!? Not so fast. Here is the actual quote in context which, if read in its entirety, completely refutes Cameron’s point that we should trust our ‘common sense’ over Science:
“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms, in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.
Of The Atheist Delusion, Mr. Comfort says this, “Having to prove the existence of God to an atheist is like having to prove the existence of the sun, at noon on a clear day. Yet millions are embracing the foolishness of atheism. “The Atheist Delusion” pulls back the curtain and reveals what is going on in the mind of those who deny the obvious. It introduces you to a number of atheists who you will follow as they go where the evidence leads, find a roadblock, and enter into a place of honesty that is rarely seen on film.
We hope you can attend…it should be fun!
“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.” – Isaac Asimov (1920 -1992)
News of General Interest to Atheists
Why Texas is Becoming a Major Anti-Vaccine Battlefield
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/12/why-texas-becoming-major-antivaccine-battlefield Although Texas has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country (97.4%), non-medical exemptions (granted because of parents’ personal beliefs) are soaring. As a result, experts in the field worry about a possible measles outbreak there as early as 2018. One reason for the concern is that non-vaccinated children are not randomly spread throughout the population but are, instead, concentrated in enclaves. In such cases, outbreaks of infectious diseases can occur when the vaccination rate drops below 95%.
But don’t be smug! Some counties in Colorado have even higher rates of non-vaccination! Immunologist Diane Griffin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “I don’t think that Texas is any worse than a number of other states, but pointing out the problem and the solution is important.”
“In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again… It happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”
– Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)
How to Handle Your Post-Election Angst
Most, but not all, members of the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango have experienced symptoms of shock, denial and anxiety since the recent election. To wallow in negative thoughts invites an entire slate of physical and mental health problems. So how can you cope with your feelings and get your emotional life back on track for the New Year? Check out Cosmo’s list of suggestions at the above link. Breathe. Remember that this too shall pass.
A Timeless Prayer for Patriots
“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;
Help us to cover the smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead;
Help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain;
Help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;
Help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;
Help us to turn them out, roofless, with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travails, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it
– for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask of one who is the Spirit of love and who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset, and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.
Grant out prayer, O Lord, and Thine shall be the praise and honor and glory
now and ever, Amen.”
– Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) War Prayer
How to Recognize ‘Fake’ News Sites
Fake news is all the rage these days…so how can you tell if the story you are reading about Hillary Clinton and John Podesta running a child sex-slave ring out of the basement of a pizza shop is true or not? I mean, it sounds plausible enough….but a pizza shop? C’mon, that’s just silly! One sure bet that you are reading a fake news story is if the URL contains the words ‘Brietbart News’; another is if you are hearing the words come out of Sean Hannity’s mouth.
Here are some other tips to help you sort out fact from fiction! http://www.redstate.com/kiradavis/2016/11/18/6-tips-identifying-fake-news-site-story/
Pop Quiz: Are the online ‘news’ stories shown below True or False?Click the Snopes link below each headline to check your answers!
Bernie Sanders Suggests Election is Rigged, Unedorses Hillary Clintonhttp://www.snopes.com/bernie-sanders-rigged-unendorse/
Russia Has Amassed Troops to Surround the U.S. Borders
Obama Signs Executive Order Allowing Military to Fight U.S. Citizens
George Soros Funded Ferguson Protests and Black Lives Matter
Classy Shirt with an Atheist Slant
(Contributed by Mark Diamond)
Yes, TWO Tom the Dancing Bug cartoons…A gift for you this holiday season. So, Cheerful Winter Solstice…Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays…or Whatever!
(Trump voters, simply skip the first one and go directly to News of the Times, below.)
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”