American Atheists Essential Reading List Books on this list have been selected to provide introductory information on topics of interest to Atheists. They address a wide range of important subjects such as: the history of Atheist thought, the origins of modern religion, the role religion plays in modern culture and politics, Atheist parenting, and the ongoing battle for the separation between church and state. While these titles represent only a fraction of the books available from American Atheist Press, collectively they provide a broad overview of Atheist thought. stock# 5902 $18.00 352 pp. Natural Atheism by David Eller Our best-selling book. A great overview of Atheist philosophy from the perspective of a “natural” Atheist.
Christianity before Christ by John G. Jackson Christian doctrines are traced to their origins in older religions.
The Case Against Religion by Albert Ellis A psychotherapist’s view of the harmful aspects of religious belief.
Living in the Light by Anne R. Stone stock# 5588 $12.00 157 pp. Subtitled “Freeing Your Child from the Dark Ages,” this book serves as a manual for Atheist parents.
Our Constitution: The Way It Was by Madalyn O’Hair stock# 5400 $6.00 70 pp. stapled American Atheist Radio Series episodes about the myth that our founding fathers created a Christian nation. What on Earth Is an Atheist! by Madalyn O’Hair stock# 5412 $18.00 American Atheist Radio Series episodes on various topics of Atheist philosophy and history.
The Bible Handbook by G. W. Foote, W. P. Ball, et al. stock# 5008 $17.00 A compilation of biblical absurdities, contradictions, atrocities, immoralities and obscenities.
An Atheist Epic by Madalyn O’Hair stock# 5376 $18.00 302 pp. paperback The personal story of the battle to end mandatory prayer and bible recitation in schools in the United States. 65 Press Interviews by Robert G. Ingersoll stock# 5589 $15.00 Ingersoll’s 19th-century newspaper interviews as a Freethinker and opponent of superstition.
An Atheist Primer by Madalyn O’Hair stock# 5372 $6.00 A humorous look at god concepts will help children (and adults) have a clear view of religion.
An Atheist Looks at Women & Religion by Madalyn O’Hair stock# 5419 Why attempts to reconcile religion with civil rights for women are self-defeating.
The Jesus the Jews Never Knew by Frank R. Zindler stock# 7026 $20.00 544 pp. A search of ancient Jewish literature yields no evidence for the existence of any historical Jesus.
The Great Inﬁdels by Robert G. Ingersoll stock# 5197 $7.00 How nonbelievers and Atheists have contributed to civilization and enriched our lives.
Our Pagan Christmas by R.J. Condon stock# 5064 The non-Christian origins of common Christmas customs are explored.
Sex Mythology by Sha Rocco stock# 5440 $8.00 55 pp. A scholarly study explores the sexual origins of religious symbols including the Christian cross.
Morality without Religion stock# 8310 Atheist leaders and philosophers give their views on godless ethics.
Please see the order form located in the center of the magazine for member discounts and shipping & handling.
JANUARY 2008 Vol 46, No.1
American Atheist Magazine ISSN 0516-9623 (Print) ISSN 1935-8369 (Online) Editor, American Atheist Press Frank Zindler Editor, American Atheist Magazine Ellen Johnson Designer Elias Scultori
Published monthly (except June & December) by American Atheists Inc. Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5733 Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733 phone — 908.276.7300 FAX — 908.276.7402 email@example.com www.atheists.org ©2008 by American Atheists Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. American Atheist Magazine is indexed in the Alternative Press Index. American Atheist Magazine is given free of cost to members of American Atheists as an incident of their membership. Subscription fees for one year of the American Atheist magazine: Print version only: $40 for 1 subscription and $25 for each additional gift subscription Online version only: $35 (Sign up at www.atheists.org/aam.) Print & online: $55 Discounts for multiple-year subscriptions: 10% for two years 20% for three or more years Additional postage fees for foreign addresses: Canada & Mexico: add $10/year All other countries: add $30/year Discount for libraries and institutions: 50% on all magazine subscriptions and book purchases
Enlighten The Vote by Ellen Johnson
Cover Design Tim Mize Editorial Assistants Gil and Jeanne Gaudia
From The President
Apartment Full Of Jesus Stuff Brings Date To Screeching Halt The Onion
God for President
by Jim Gerard
by Frank R. Zindler
The Trouble With NOMA
A Personal Story
by George A. Ricker
How Religion Kicked Me To The Curb by Aaron Weaver
The Myth of Christianity Founding Modern Science And Medicine by Jim Walker
“God’s Warriors” Or The Devil’s?
Texans Rally For First Amendment
by W.E. Gutman
by Joe Zamecki
Monkey Girl – by Edward Humes by Ben Edward Akerley
from the president
Enlighten The Vote Ellen Johnson The momentum that we Atheists have been building this year through publication of books by Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins and Harris, plus my own appearances on national television, makes 2008 ripe for a major, sustained, voter-mobilization program to educate and move large numbers of non-religious voters to the polls. It’s time to capture this dynamic force and begin to exercise the power we wield through the voting process. Then we will have more inﬂuence in the discussion of public policy issues. We want the President and the Congress to be concerned about issues of concern to us, and those issues are; the civil rights of Atheists and other non-religious Americans in the workplace, the public schools, the military and in the prisons; the separation of religion and government including religious displays on public property, government sponsored religious rituals in the public sphere, and government ﬁnancing of organized religion in the form of direct grants and tax exemptions.
ccording to Time Magazine, 55 million Americans are not religious and not afﬁliated with any particular religion and this group includes Atheists. This is a signiﬁcant number of American voters. We non-religious Americans constitute a huge voting bloc that politicians should be courting. Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists and “Nones” (people who answer “none” to questionnaires asking about their religious afﬁliation) are mostly Democrats and Independents. We are mostly liberals. Yes, I know that some of us are conservatives and Republicans, but most of us vote for liberal politicians and the politicians know this. Independents are the most secular voters and it is the “Independent” voter who is the key voter to win over in the general election. Any candidate who wants more votes should court this voting bloc. However, the Democrats seem to take us for granted because they assume that we will automatically vote for them. They are actively courting “religious” voters in order to siphon some votes from the Republicans and tip the scales in their favor. But what happens if anyone of those Democrats actually becomes President and then it’s payback time? You know the answer; it will translate into more beneﬁts for the religious, in a yet to be determined way. We need to send a message to the Democrats. They can’t expect to get our votes simply because they are Democrats. We can get their attention, and stop being ignored, if we non-religious Americans solidify and mobilize our voting base. This means that we all have to get behind candidates who support us on the issues — regardless of party. And we have to get our base out to vote for them on Election Day. 4
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The Congress makes the laws and conﬁrms the Justices to the United States Supreme Court, so the most important thing that Atheists can do between now and November 2008 is register Atheists to vote, get them out to vote, and then vote their Atheism ﬁrst in November. If we Atheists make our issues our primary concern on Election Day then we can make our voting power work for us. Find out where your candidates stand on our issues and send them to the GAMPAC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some more ways you can help to Enlighten The Vote. Visit www.atheists.org and click on Enlighten The Vote icon at the home page and register to vote if you are not now registered. Set up registration tables at your college, university and Atheist or other Freethought group meeting. For rules on registering voters please call your League of Women Voters or go to www.declareyourself.com. Put a link to www.gampac.org at your website and in your newsletters. Volunteer to work on the campaigns of a politician who supports us on the issues. Get out the vote on Election Day. Remind your friends to vote. If someone needs a ride please volunteer to drive him or her to the polls. Thank-you. Together we can Enlighten the Vote! ❋
Get ready now to join us for
The 34th Annual National Convention of AMERICAN ATHEISTS March 21-23, 2008 — Minneapolis, MN
AMERICAN ATHEISTS returns to historic Minneapolis, MN. for our 34th National Convention! Join us for a weekend of workshops, panels, talks by noted speakers and other activities. Minneapolis is also one of the premier tourism destinations in this part of the nation, so you’ll want to consider making your Convention visit an extended weekend. The venue is the new, luxurious Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel in the heart of downtown. It oﬀers everything from stunning views to magniﬁcent accommodations, and you’re within walking distance of many regional attractions. There are also convenient mass-transit and other connections to spectacular destinations including THE MALL OF AMERICA, the world-class Minneapolis Institute of Art and so much more! The special convention room rate for the American Atheist convention is only $99 per night (single, double, triple or quad). Reserve your room now. Be sure to say you are with American Atheists 2008 to qualify for the special room rate… and don’t forget to ask about “shoulder dates” if you want to extend your stay before or
after the convention weekend! You can visit the YAHOO! Travel web site for the Marriott City Center at http://travel.yahoo.com/p-hotel-345643-marriott_ city_center_minneapolis-i to learn more about the hotel and the local tourism sites and amenities. The hotel web site is at http://www.marriott.com/hotels/ travel/mspcc-minneapolis-marriott-city-center/ . Remember, you must make your reservations directly with the hotel at: Minneapolis Marriott® City Center 30 South 7th Street Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402 USA 1-612-349-4000 (phone) 1-612-332-7165 (fax)
GETTING THERE… Major airlines service the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport. Once there, you can take a cab or private shuttle, or for only $2.50 hop the light rail which takes you downtown to the Marriott! Visit http://www.mspairport.com/msp/Airlines/passenger. aspx for information on ﬂying to the convention. SPEAKERS, EVENTS AND MORE… Check forthcoming issues of the American Atheist Magazine, and the American Atheists Convention web site at http://www.atheists.org/convention for updates on Convention events! We promise you a blockbuster line-up of speakers, fun social events and so much more – what you’ve come to expect from this annual Convention bash. Make reservations now!
We’ll see you in Minneapolis! january 2008 — American Atheist
Apartment Full Of Jesus Stuff Brings Date To Screeching Halt by the onion—www.theonion.com (Humor) PAWTUCKET, RI – A ﬁrst date that “actually seemed to be going pretty well” came to a screeching halt Saturday, when area resident Kyle Richman stepped into Melinda Tulle’s Christ-packed apartment. “Immediately upon walking into the living room, I spotted that framed Last Supper hanging above the couch,” said Richman, 32, speaking from the safety of his own non-Jesus-themed apartment. “It took me about half a second to realize that it just wasn’t going to happen for the two of us.” Richman expressed regret that the evening turned sour, but also relief that he “found out when [he] did.” “It was only our ﬁrst date, but I’d been thinking I might have actually found someone nice for a change,” Richman said. “But when I saw all those Jesus eyes staring down at me, I realized I’d made a mistake–a big mistake.” Among the other Christian decorative items Richman encountered were rosary beads, a St. Peter statuette, several glass angels arranged on an end table, and a gruesomely detailed Christ-on-thecruciﬁx painting casually placed above the television. Excusing himself to the bathroom to collect his thoughts, Richman found a Virgin Mary night light and a heavily highlighted book titled Living Your Faith. “The book sealed it,” Richman said. “She wasn’t just a Christian; she was one who actually ‘lived her faith.’ There was no way to make it work between us.” Just minutes prior, an excited Richman had been driving Tulle home as the two energetically discussed music. “All of Melinda’s favorite bands were ones I’d never even heard of–Footprints, Garden’s Edge, Everybodyduck, Concrete Jesus–so I ﬁgured they must be some of those alternative bands I don’t know anything about,” Richman said. “When she asked me if I wanted to stop up to her apartment and borrow some CDs, I said sure. I was like, wow, this date must be going even better than I thought if she’s asking me up to her place.”
letter to the editor COMPETITION 2008 The Letter to the Editor Competition 2008 is open only to members of American Atheists. To enter, send the uncut and complete newspaper page containing your published letter to: Neal Cary P.O. Box 828 Glen Allen, VA 23060-0828 Letters must be published between January 1 and December 31, 2007. Entries need to be received on or before January 30, 2008. Include your address and telephone number, and your e-mail address should you have one. Letters can cover any issue of importance which advances the Atheist cause. Letters will be judged by educational content, persuasiveness, and how well they portray Atheism in a positive light. Members of the board, ofﬁcers, and State and Regional Directors are ineligible to enter. The winner will be announced at the National Convention 2008, receive an American Atheist award certiﬁcate, and one free year of membership in American Atheists. All entered letters will be displayed at Convention 2008.
American Atheist — january 2008
Even after seeing the Jesus-laden apartment, Richman said he still clung to the faint hope that the religious items belonged to a roommate. Tulle conﬁrmed, however, that the Jesus stuff did belong to her and was not there for any kitsch value. “My faith is very important to me,” Tulle told Richman. “It makes me feel at home to know the Lord’s presence is near. Please, sit down. I’ll get you something to drink.” Said Richman: “I honestly never saw it coming. I mean, she was wearing a cross around her neck, but I ﬁgured it didn’t mean much. Lots of Christians wear those, not just Christian Christians.” The pair met on Mar. 12 when Tulle came into the Eastgate Mall B. Dalton where Richman works to buy a book for her niece. The purchase led to a brief conversation between Richman and Tulle about their own favorite childhood books, and he asked her out to dinner. Richman reported that the date began well. He and Tulle enjoyed dinner at a local Italian restaurant, enthusiastically discussing their shared love of dogs, camping, and The Wizard Of Oz, and then stopped by a nearby ice-cream shop for sundaes. “It was going great: She was laughing at all my jokes and said I had ‘wonderfully deep’ eyes,” Richman said. “At one point, I suggested that we go to a dance bar, but she said she didn’t really like dancing. Now I see it’s probably not so much that she doesn’t like dancing but is against dancing. And when she said most movies and TV shows are awful these days, she didn’t mean lame or dumb, but sinful.” The evening ended approximately 10 minutes after Richman entered the apartment, when Tulle mentioned she was going to church the following morning. “Before she could get a chance to invite me, I said I thought I left my car door unlocked and got the hell out of there,” Richman said. “The worst part is, I can’t even just avoid her because I have all these CDs I have to return. Christ.”❋ © Copyright 2007, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.
Identical Mistakes by Lloyd Foster
You have probably never seen issues of religion or race in this light before. Never looked at politics, corporate life or the threat of terrorism from such a unique angle either. And just in case you are thinking that this is a collection of boring essays by a disturbed academic… This is a novel! A mystery novel, no less. A bona ﬁde mystery that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Go out and grab a copy. You will see. Available on amazon.com (Not available from American Atheists.)
God for President
Finally, A Candidate Who is More than the Lesser of Two Evils by Jim Gerard
s Arianna Hufﬁngton wrote in a recent post on her blog, “As is usually the case in a Republican debate, the big winner of the night was God.” She was speaking metaphorically when describing how the GOP candidates turned their recent debate into a holierthan-thou-palooza, an “American Idol Worshipper” free-for-all of bogus Christian piety. But if I were Karl Rove and wanted to secure the party’s base and lock up the election, why would I mess around with mortal candidates, especially the motley crew of unhinged megalomaniacs currently vying for the presidential nomination? Why not tap a higher power? That’s right — God himself. God — and I’m talking about the wrathful, Old Testament Lord, not Jesus or the Holy Ghost - is the perfect Republican candidate. First of all, his Q rating is off the charts. Everybody knows God. So Rove and the Gang don’t have to spend any time making him known to the American people. No campaign trail, no baby kissing, no press conferences. He’ll do even less than Bush. Second, according to every poll, God has an approval rating of probably 80 percent. Besides, millions of voters pray to this guy whenever they have a problem. Don’t you think they owe him something in return? Third, there is no better candidate to carry the Republican’s fear-based message than the omnipotent power who threatens ﬁre and brimstone whenever mortals displease him. Moreover, He could use his intimidation tactics on independent voters, centrists — even cardcarrying Democrats. (Sample campaign slogan: “Vote Democratic and spend the rest of eternity in a burning pit listening to John Kerry’s stump speech.” Yikes. That’s enough to scare even Noam Chomsky into jumping parties.) Fourth, God backs up his threats with action — mostly smiting. He turns women into pillars of salt, and rains down plagues Al Gore can’t imagine in his worst nightmares. He makes rivers of blood out of his victims, which are often his own people. (This part may have to be downplayed. On the other hand, his fratricidal rage could prove a further proof of his machismo: “If he’s this tough on his base, think of the ass-whupping he’ll give the Dems!” And you know he’s pro-Israel.) When it comes to projecting bellicosity, God makes McCain and Giuliani look like a couple of candy-assed ﬂower children. He’s the uber-hawk. And you know nobody — not the Democrats, not the media and certainly not the Ancient Roman Veterans for Truth — is going to be prying too deeply into his past. Fifth, he comes with his own built-in, ideologically counterbalancing running mate — Jesus. A tough-talking hawk for the men, a
sensitive martyr for the women. Good God, Bad God. An unbeatable ticket. (Although like most VP candidates, Jesus would be kept out of the limelight, to prevent him from making potentially embarrassing “socialistic” comments about the meek inheriting the earth.) Sixth, imagine how the Lord would cut up Democrats in a debate. Let’s say he disagreed with John Edwards’ position on Iraq. He’d just — poof! — turn him into a braying donkey! Rove would run attack ads focused directly on Satan, thus equating the Democratic candidate — let’s say Hillary — with the Evil One. The ads would go something like this: Republican God’s Attack Ad OPEN ON: Sodom and Gomorrah. Its residents dance, drink, gamble and wench. NARRATOR: Satan voted to support casino gambling in Sodom and Gomorrah... CUT TO: Shot of God hurling lightning bolts from the heavens and destroying the cities. NARRATOR: God destroyed both cities. CUT TO: A Husband leaving his distraught wife and embracing his neighbor. NARRATOR: Satan encourages you to covet your neighbor’s wife. CUT TO: God striking the adulterous husband dead and casting him into ﬂaming hell. NARRATOR: God punishes evildoers with eternal torment. CUT TO: Bill Clinton as President at the White House. NARRATOR: Satan supported Bill Clinton for president. CUT TO: Clinton impeachment hearings. NARRATOR: God smote Slick Willie. GRAPHIC: Satan in a Nehru jacket at a disco, with a beautiful blonde on each arm. NARRATOR: Satan says, “If it feels good, do it.” SHOT of God holding up the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments NARRATOR: God believes in right and wrong. NARRATOR: Satan – dyed-in-the-wool liberal. GRAPHIC: Hillary’s image superimposed on the Devil’s. Then CUT to: God in Heaven, looking suitably godly. NARRATOR: God – tough on crime. Vote God. CUT TO: CLOSEUP of God. GOD (addressing camera): Hi, I’m God – and I approved this ad. I mean, you would hear the air going out of Barack Obama all the way from Washington. As for his platform, that wouldn’t be hard: The Ten Commandments, plus maybe a few new Commandments giving the Bush Administration a blanket pardon, approving the beating of ploughshares back into swords and maybe something like, “Thou shalt not make amateur adult videos.” I’m telling you: It’s a slamdunk. ❋ Jim Gerard is a journalist, playwright and the author of Beam Me Up, Jesus and Who Moved My Secret? His website is www. gangof60.com and blog at www. gangof60.blogspot.com january 2008 — American Atheist
From Jehovah’s Metabolism to the Cloning of Christ A satirical address given by Frank R. Zindler at the 33rd National Convention of American Atheists Seattle, Washington, Saturday, April 7, 2007
ood aftuh-noon Ladies and Gentuhmen! I am Professor Duane T. Fish. I’m from Answers in Genesis Ministries. Welcome to Theobiology 101! I’m pleased to see so many students enrolled in this co-wahs. As you know, this class is a joint extension co-wahs sponsored by both Liberty University and the Bob Jones University Postgraduate School of Apocalyptic Studies. All who successfully complete this co-wahs — that is, all who have paid theyah tuition — will receive a certiﬁcate signed by Dr. Jerry Falwell and the Right Revuhrend Bob Jones Jr. — by theyah own han’s on simulated parchment. The certiﬁcate is suitable for framin’ and will qualify the holder to minister to high school biology students in public schools in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and – of co-wahs – Kansas. Momentarily, this certiﬁcate won’t work in Ohio, but as soon as we regain control of the State Board of Education theyah, you’ll be able to minister theyah again too. Hallelujah! Praise Jeezus’ Name! As with all branches of true biology — indeed, as with ALL branches of TRUE SCIENCE — theobiology’s fundamentalist method involves reasonin’ from First Principles. Weeyah not goin’ to confuse ouwah reason with mere theories from the world around us. Aftuh all, it is a FALLEN WORLD in which we live — a world in which Satan the Deceiver has marred and corrupted that which the Lord God of Sabaoth and Jeezus originally created perfect and without blemish. REAL science should deal with the REAL creation, not the devil-disguised imitation of creation that atheist scientists chase aftuh like it was a whore in heat. Hallelujah! Praise Jeezus! Weeyah not goin’ to deceive ouwahselves with uniformitarian theories. Evuh notice how similar “Uniformitarian” is to “Unitarian”? Evuh notice how 100% of those heathen Unitarians are uniformitarian evolutionists? Teachin’ uniformitarian dogma in ouwah schools is the same thing as teachin’ Unitarianism — the ree-lidg-eeun of evolution! Well now, ladies and gentuhmen, in this co-wahs weeah not goin’ to deceive ouwahselves with uniformitarianism or devilish deceptions like the so-called geeolodgick column. Imagine! Tryin’ to use this demon-corrupted world and the 8
American Atheist — january 2008
yuna-forma-tarian mantra “The Present is the key to the Past” to try to understand the REAL world, the world before the devil designed the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the world that now is hidden from the sight of worldly-wise men who, as St. Paul once told me, see only “as through a glass darkly.” Now St. Paul wasn’t talkin’ about sun glasses. He was talkin’ ’bout the blinders that prevent the atheist members of the National Academy of Sciences from seein’ the Genesis ﬁrmament when they look in theyah telescopes! No, mah friends! Weeyah not goin’ to go to false nature to understand God’s biology, still less to understand the biology of God himself! No, we are goin’ to get ouwah facts from the source of ALL knowledge, the source of all truth, the source of all justice, the source of all morality, the source of all true history, the source of the American Govuhment, the source of all wisdom,and the source of all TRUE science. Ladies and gentuhmen, youwah text in this co-wahs is goin’ to be THE HOLY BIBLE in the 1611 English edition in which, by the grace and direction of God Almighty, the chosen of the Lost Tribes of Israel were ﬁnally given the only absolutely correct wordin’ of God’s message. So what exackly IS Theobiology? Biology is the study of livin’ things. Now we know that God lives. He lives in ouwah hearts. He lives in ouwah hopes. He lives in ouwah wishes. He lives in ouwah kidneys. He lives in ouwah parathyroid glands. He lives in ouwah abscesses. He lives in every organ of ouwah body — except, maybe not in ouwah brains. You might nevuh have noticed the fact, but not even once can you ﬁnd any mention of ouwah brain in the Good Book! You can check it out in Young’s Concordance. It goes right from BRACELET to BRAMBLE. There are no brains in the Bible! Thus, the Holy Bible is a completely brainless book! What does that tell you about the devilishness of the wisdom of this world?
I’m tellin’ you, brothers and sisters, ouwah brains are greatly over-rated by those atheistic eevil-yushunists! But we need to get on with this co-wahs. Since God is a livin’ bein’, biology quite properly is the study of God — as well as the study of ameebas and yelluh-belli’d sap-suckuhs. The branch of biology that studies God is THEOBIOLOGY — the subject of this co-wahs. In this co-wahs we’ll employ the REAL scientiﬁc method, not the fake one used by the atheists in the 90%-atheist National Academy of Sciences! No, weeyah not goin’ to fall for theyah left-wing, communist propaganda. Weeyah goin’ to follow the method that all TRUE scientists use. Weeyah goin’ to look it up in the BIBLE. So let’s get out ouwah Bibles and get started. Jehovan Biology The ﬁrst thing we ﬁnd of biological signiﬁcance is in Genesis chapter 1, verse 27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Now if God created men and women in his own image, that means he must look just like us — only maybe handsomer and prettier. For God must have a body just like ouwahs — only I b’leeve a composite of male and female. God must be a morphuhdaite! Praise God! Hallelujah! Jehovah must have a face and han’s and feet and all the organs humans have — only better ones, incorruptible ones. Now I know that there are some miscreeants who think God is made of cellulose, chlorophyll, and paper-pulp, an’ they cite the scripture Exodus chapter 3, the story about Jehovah in the burnin’ bush. Let me tell you, they are completely wrong about God bein’ a bush. No bush can be a god. No bush can even be godly! Of co-wahs, I’m not talkin’ about ouwah beloved PRESIDENT Bush, I’m talkin’ about the leafy kind, not the commanduhin-chiefy kind. Yuh see, when Exodus says Jehovah was in the bush, it doesn’t mean he was part of the tissues of the bush. Far from it. Jehovah was simply haidin’ amongst the leaves and branches and ﬂames of the bush. He wasn’t the bush itself. No, ladies and gentuhmen, God is just like us, only much better. God has eyes and ears. Exodus 3:7 tells us “the Lord said, I have surely seen the afﬂiction of my people which are in Egypt and I have heard theyah cry…” Now I ask you, Ladies and Gentuhmen, how is God goin’ to see and heah without eyes and ears? Oh yeah, left-wing heretics who dai-loot the word of God to con-foahm with science so-called and the wisdom of this world claim that these passages are not to be taken lit’rally, that Gawd sees and heahs only in some metaphorical sense. Evuh notice how those worldly-wise fools just love to sling around fancy words like metaphor, paronomasia, and sainecdotchee? Well, weeah goin’ to be scientiﬁc here.Weeah goin’ to use Occam’s Razor, the rule of logic which tells us to use the simplest assumptions. If scripture tells us God sees and heahs, the simplest assumption is that he has eyes and eahs — not television and radio!
Let me assure you, Jehovah has a nose too. The Hebrew word for nose is aph, which is used in Ezekiel 38:18, that says “my fury shall come up in my face/nose” and in Deut. 32:22 that exclaims “for a ﬁre is kindled in my nose” (ki-eysh qad-cha b’-api, for those of you who are ﬂuent in Hebrew like me). You see, some times you have to go to the Hebrew text in order to understand what the Blessed King James Version really means in some places. Anyway, Jehovah uses his nose to smell with: Gen. 8:21 tells us “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour.” God has a nose, Ladies and Gentuhmen! Moreover, he uses his nose to breathe, although I’m sure some times He breathes through his mouth – but I’m certain he nevuh snores. (Ya see, Gawd nevuh sleeps, he just rests once and a while.) In Genesis chapter 2, we learn that Jehovah BREATHED into Adam’s nos-trill’s “the breath of life.” Now I don’t suppose God and Adam were rubbin’ noses here. They weren’t like Eskimos. I think it was mouth-to-nose respiration — not artiﬁcial respiration, but supernatural respiration usin’ ordinary air. Now the fact that God breathes means he carries on some sort of respiration and possesses some sort of energy metabuhlism. God has metabuhlism, Hallelujah! Of co-wahs, this metabuhlism must be extremely high efﬁciency, since God can breathe oxygen only when he is here on earth. When he’s in outer space when he’s in most of the rest of the universe he cain’t breathe because theyah’s no free oxygen in most of the universe. And of co-wahs, weeyah talkin’ about divine aerobic metabuhlism when God is here on earth. All the rest of the time, he must be carryin’ out anaerobic metabuhlism — sort of like cancer cells an’ tetanus germs. Even so, he must have a way to store up energy for his anaerobic periods. Now I ask you. What is the best way to store energy in the body? Anybody? Why, yes, FAT cells are the way to do it best. It seems clear as the Book of Revuhlayshun: Gawd must have adipose tissue. Of co-wahs, God’s fat deposits are nevuh unsightly or unattractive. I’m sure God doesn’t have a beer-belly or cellulite. No, I’m sure God’s fat deposits are located somewhere they don���t show – maybe in the place of some useless organ — like the brain. The scriptures tell us about many organs and components of God, but nowhere do they say that God has a brain. So although I am only theorizin’ now, I suggest that God’s fat deposits are prob’ly stored in his head. As Genesis tells us, Jehovah has a body like ouwahs. He has
Atheist Bling! Rhinestone Atheist symbol pin. 1” diameter #15011 $12.00
january 2008 — American Atheist
legs, because that can be deduced from Job 22:14, “He walketh on the vault of heaven.” We know from the Bible that the vault of heaven is solid — a FIRMAMENT. The pointy-headed atheists at the National Academy of Sciences just cain’t see it with theyah eyes of matter. They don’t know how to use the eyes of faith, brothuhs and sistuhs! Any how, if Jehovah walks upon somethin’ solid like the sky, he must have legs. This certainly isn’t a metaphor as unbelievuhs would contend. Jehovah does have legs — two of ’em. But Jehovah also has han’s and but-tocks. In Exodus 33:23, where God moons that overweeningly proud Moses to put him in his place, we read “And I shall take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” Now some people think this is embarrassin’ and deny the text says what it says. But they forget that Moses was a Jew, not a Presbyterian. You see, brothuhs and sistuhs, Jehovah is sendin’ us a powerful message in this verse. It’s lookin’ forward to the comin’ of ouwah savior and lord, Jesus Christ. It’s tellin’ us what God thinks of the people who rejected him and put him to death! To get back to understandin’ ouwah text: It is clear that God has a HAND, which covuhs Moses, and a FACE that Moses doesn’t get to see but its existence can be deduced from the text with certainty.
And yes, Jehovah has but-tocks. The Hebrew word is achor, and the Greek Septuagint renders it as ta opíso. Both words, brothuhs and sistuhs, mean BUT-TOCKS. Now if God has legs, he has to have powerful muscles attached to them to help him stand erect. That’s what the glootes are for, aftuh all — standin’ erect and thrustin’ the pelvis. Now yew will remember that I told yew that God has metabolism. I deduced that from the fact that he breathes. See how I’m applyin’ the scientiﬁc method here! Now it is a blessin’ and a wonder how Gawd wrote the Holy 10
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Bible – the Authorized Version – in such a way that different parts not only nevuh contradict each other but can be used to reinforce ouwah understandin’of entirely different books. We know that Jehovah has metabolism not only from the book of Genesis, but from the book of Isaiah as well. Isaiah 16:11 – that’s the same year the KJV was published we may note! – tells us “Wherefore my bow-els shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.” So you see, God has bowels, in-tes-taines. Now why would he have intestaines if not to digest food needed to support metabolism? See how this all ﬁts together? Hallelujah! Praise God! As I’ve said before, sometimes we have to go to the Hebrew translation in order to understand the KJV better. Although the bowels are clear enough, it’s not entirely clear what is meant by “sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.” Scholars who realize that every biblical verse has to be studied in its context tell me that what this means is that Jehovah is FARTING at Moab and Kirharesh to show his disdain for them — sort of like his moonin’ of Moses in the book of Exodus. Now if God can cut the cheese, so to speak, we know that he has intestinal bacteria and other microorganisms that produce the gas that he passes so musically. Now we know that when cattle break wind, they release great amounts of methane —a greenhouse gas. Atheist members of the National Academy of Sciences claim that cattle ranchin’ is a cause of global warmin’ and that the GOP (God’s Own Party) is responsible for the meltin’ of the icecaps. But I’m tellin’ you, brothuhs and sistuhs, if God is passin’ gas very often, he must be puttin’ a lot more methane into the atmosphere than cows are. Aftuh all, ouwah God is much greater than the cows those heathen Hindoos worship. Gawd is the cause of global warmin’. Global warmin’ is an Act of Gawd! Hallelujah! Praise Gawd! Those who resist global warmin’ are ecoterrorists who are ﬁghtin’ against Gawd! Is it any wonder that all the agitation to stop global warmin’ is from the Dems — the Devil’s Evil-yushion-Mongers? — the party that wants to kick God out of ouwah schools and wants to legalize sodomite marriages? If God can generate greenhouse gases in his in-tes-taines, it is obvious that he must eat beans at least occasionally to produce the raw material for the theobacteria to work on. Now if God can eat and bleat, he is usin’ his bowels to do what
we do with ouwah bowels — produce ex-cree-ta. If God is producin’ ex-cree-ta, He must be eliminatin’ it somewhere. Now we have nevuh found any God-poop here on earth — not even any daiapah-dumpin’s from his son, baby Jeezus. He prob’ly has been eliminatin’ his ex-cree-ta someweyah in outer space, up above the ﬁrmament. We don’t know how many thousands of years God has been eliminatin’ his ex-cree-ta, but it must be at least six thousand. So there must be a whole ex-cree-ta-load of ex-cree-ta up theyah somewhere. If ouwah brothers in faith at NASA can extract some money from this inﬁdel Democrat congress, maybe they could send a rocket up to search for God’s ex-cree-ta. As I have already shown, Jehovah-God has breath. You may not realize it, howevuh, but Jehovah’s breath is achsu’lly the third member of the Trinity! Yes indeed, if we jump ahead to the New Testament, we see that the Holy Spirit – the third member of the Trinity – in Greek is hagion pneuma. Hagion means holy or sacred. Panama – I mean Pneuma – means breath. The word is related to the word pneumonia, a breathin’ disease. Incident’lly, this brings up the question of the mystery of the Holy Spirit. Liberal theologians have got it all wrong. This mystery is not a mystery of psychology or philosophy. No, brothuhs and sistuhs, it’s a mystery of physics. If the Holy Spirit is breath, and if breath is a gas, and if God spends most of his time in the vacuum of outer space, how does the breath remain all-together? Why doesn’t it dissipate to the farthest galaxies, thou-zands and thou-zands of miles away? So theyah’s a mystery here that ouwah Intelligent Design theorists right heyah in Seattle might proﬁtably investigate. (This is just one more case where the inﬁdels at the National Academy of Sciences are wrong when they claim that Intelligent Design isn’t real science because it doesn’t lead to investigation and research. As you shall see, there are lots of research projects theobiologists can work on.) Any way, before we proceed to the biology of the second member of the Trinity, Jeezus Christ, there are a few more things I need to tell you about Jehovah’s metabolism. First of all, remembuh how I told you that God must have bacteria in his bowels in order to generate the gas that makes him generate that ﬂatuosity? Well, if he has bacteria in his intestaines, what’s to keep them from comin’ out and gettin’ on his skin when he produces ex-cree-ta? It seems only reasonable that theyah must be bacteria on God’s skin feedin’ upon his sweat. There is a miracle here, Ladies and Gentuhmen! When bacteria live off the sweat on OUWAH skins,they produce a body odor. But when bacteria live on God’s sweat, he still comes off smellin’ like a rose. A miracle I tell yuh! Anothuh thing about Jehovah: In Psalms 76:4 we read: “Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.” So you see, God is gloowreeous! Glorious means glowin’.What this means, brothuhs and sistuhs, is that ouwah God glows in the dark! Hallelujah! Glory Jee to Beezus! Now if God glows in the dark and is radiatin’ light, we should be able to ﬁgure out what kind of metabolism he carries on in order to produce the light. Does he generate his holy glow the way ﬁreﬂies do? Or the way some deep-sea bacteria do? Or the way some woodrottin’ funguses do? I don’t know the answer to this yet, but I might suggest to my
friends at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture – they’re right here in Seattle, remembuh – that they look into it. Theyah’s no use in askin’ the atheist astronomers at the National Academy of Sciences to aim theyah telescopes to scan the skies for glory radiation. They’re too busy lookin’ for little green men on Mars and tryin’ to prove that the earth goes around the sun and that the Holy Bible is wrong about who’s doin’ the movin’ here. Biology of Jesus We must now move along to consider the biology of JehovahGod’s son, Jeezus Christ! — the second member of the Trinity. What do we know about his biology? First of all, we know from scripture that Jeezus was born of the Virgin Mayry. No man was his father. Mayry was a virgin pure and undeﬁled when she gave birth to Jeezus. Jeezus was the result of what we creation scientists like to call “partheeogenesis.” Now heathen eevil-youshunists classify humans as mammals, and we might as well play theyah game for the sake of argument. In mammals, they tell us, sexual gender is determined by chromosomes. If you get two X chromosomes you’re female. If you get one X and one Y chromosome you’re a male. Since females have no Y chromosomes, all theyah eggs contain only X chromosomes. So a baby’s sex is determined by the fahthuh —the only one who’s got a Y-chromosome to give. Since there are no sperms involved in partheeogenesis, theyah cain’t be any Y-chromosomes involved either. So the atheists tell us that all the babies produced by partheeogenesis in mammals have to be females.They claim that Jesus would have had to have been a woman. Some, like that damned-to-perdition Doctor Massimo Pigguleeyoochee, claim that the verse Matt 4:19, which reads “Follow me, and I will make you ﬁshers of men” either means that Jesus was
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january 2008 — American Atheist
born of a virgin and was a female hooker trainin’ pimps to hunt for customers, or, he was a male resultin’ from ordinary sexual intuhco-wahs but was a little bit light in the loafers and was teachin’ his groupies how to cruise. Pigguleeyoochee blasphemes ouwah Lord and Savior further by sayin’ that virgin birth (partheeogenesis) can produce male offspring only in birds, and he cites the example of turkeys. He even goes so far as to suggest that ouwah redeemer —the son of Gawd Almighty—might have been a moultin’ turkey — “the other featherless biped,” to quote his blasphemin’ tongue. Doesn’t Pigguleeyoochee know that turkeys can’t be born by virgin birth? Doesn’t he know that turkeys lay aiggs? And he claims to be a great atheist scientiﬁc authority! Well, apart from turkeys, Pigguleeyoochee thinks he has us on the horns of a dai-lemma. Like all the other scientists who are doomed to Hell, Piggly-Wiggly is unable to read the scriptures with the eye of faith. Let me tell you, my friends, this isn’t a dai-lemma. Theyah’s a third possibility — the correct one. You see, the fact that Mayry nevuh had sex with a man and was a virgin in the ordinary human sense doesn’t mean she wasn’t able to get a Y chromosome from Gawd. If men were created in the image of Gawd, doesn’t it stand to reason? …that if God is a male – as scripture proves – wouldn’t God have to have chromosomes too? One X and one Y? You see, when God impregnated Mary, he didn’t do it in the normal way. Mayry was impregnated through her ears. We know from Scripture that women have to protect themselves from bein’ impregnated through theyah ears by angels —so this isn’t at all far-fetched. St. Paul admonishes women in I Cor 11:10 “and theyahfore it is a woman’s duty to have a veil on her head, out of regard for the angels.” Surely, if mere angels can impregnate women who leave theyah ears uncovered, the God of the whole Universe can do it even if her ears are covered! So if you should see that Pigguleeyoochee, you just tell him that Jeezus wasn’t a fairy and he wasn’t a fairy godmother either. He was completely against same-sex marriage. He was a macho man who just happened to have long, blond hair and baby-blue eyes. He just happened to walk a little bit funny, an’ the limpness in his wrists an’ softness of his skin was just so that later on they could get the nails through ’em usin’ only standard-issue Roman soft-nails made of coppuh. Theyuh is one last thing for us to consider in tryin’ to teach theobiology. That is, we must ask ouwahselves what are the consequences of God becomin’ a real man — a real man just like me. 12
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For one thing, we have to consider what biological remnants Jeezus might have left behind. For another thing, we have to ask ouwahselves is this: Does the fact that Jeezus was incorruptible mean that the things he left behind when he left the earth were also incorruptible? For example, can we expect to ﬁnd his daiapuh-dumpin’s still preserved somewhere in the Holy Land or even in a Cath-lick monastery someplace? If he chewed his ﬁngernails, would they have been digested? Or would they still be in his ex-cree-ta? Surely, he must have trimmed his toenails from time to time. Are his toenail parings still here on earth? We know that when Jesus was eight days old, on January ﬁrst, he was circumcised. Surely, when he ascended into heaven thirtysome years later, he didn’t take his fowahskin with him.That fowahskin must still be here on earth —just like those idol-worshipin’ Cathlicks claim! Ladies and Gentuhmen, this is not just a bunch of idle questions.This is of great practical importance! If any part of Jeezus’es body is still here on earth, even if it’s his ex-cree-ta,it has mighty implications for the theological sciences and for us scientiﬁc specialists at Answers in Genesis Ministries.
Cloning of Christs Now I have just received an alarmin’ report from a source inside the Vaty-can. Right now, the Vaty-can Institute of Molecular Genetics is negotiatin’ secretly with the Archbishop of Turin to extract DNA from the bloodspots in the Shroud. They also are secretly negotiatin’ with the nuns known as The Sistuhs of the Sacred Snippet to try to get whole chromosomes out of one of the foreskins of Jeezus that they worship like an idol. You see, brothuhs and sistuhs, the Cath-lick Church is worried about the inroads bein’ made by Protestant and Mormon missionaries all around the world. They think the only way to stop us is to bring owhn the Second Comin’ of Christ. They must think that Christ himself is a Cath-lick! The scary part is that Opus Dei’s goin’ to try to clone Christ.
Worse yet, they’re plannin’ to do it the way they cloned the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. They plan to ﬁll in gaps in the godly DNA with unclean DNA from African Clawed Frogs! Brothuhs and sistuhs, be afraid! Be very afraid! If they precipitate the Second Comin’ by clonin’ Christ, they could produce a dozen copies of Jeezus just as easily as they could make a single one. Not only would that force us all to become polytheists just like those ﬁlthy Hindoos, there is the likelihood that the Jeezus’es they produce could turn out like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. You see, it’s those unclean African Clawed Frogs. For some reason, theyah DNA could negate the sex-determinin’ properties of the Y-chromosomes extracted from the fowahskin. In that case, the Jeezus population might undergo some sort of sex-ratio rearrangement. Some of the Jeezus’es might turn into girls – goddesses. Wouldn’t that make the Hindoos happy! Worst of all, the boy gods and the girl gods might be attracted to each other – yuh know what I mean? What if they reproduced amongst themselves? What if they produced a second generation? Wouldn’t that give new meanin’ to the term “a godly generation” ? Ladies and Gentuhmen, the future of Christianity is in danger! Be afraid! Be very afraid! We have to stop this before it gets off the ground. We at Answers in Genesis Ministries are able to sabotage the Vaty-can research an’ stop it dead in its tracks. But we need youwah help. Weeyah goin’ to need a lot of money to launch ouwah mission to the Vaty-can. Theyah’s not much time! The Vaty-can project is in full swing right now! I want you all to ask youwahselves “How much can I give?” And when you’ve answered youwah own question, I want you to give twice what you answered. Jeezus needs you to give more than what you think is possible.Reactivate youwah faith in miracles! We need you to do more than simply clean out youwah wallets or write us checks. We need for you to take out a second mortgage on youwah home. The ushers have loan application forms you can ﬁll out before you leave. You can give us youwah weddin’ rings to help save the Christian faith from Cath-lick persecution. You don’t need those rings any more anyhow. Everyone knows you’re married Everyone knows you are faithful to youwah spouse. Show now that you are faithful to youwah savior as well! Remember, he died for youwah sins! God bless you, one and all! Will the ushuhs now please take up the collection? ❋ Frank R. Zindler is the managing editor of American Atheists Press and the author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, a book that argues that the ancient Jews never heard of Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, they had never heard of Nazareth either. Formerly a professor of biology and geology, for many hears now he has worked as a linguist and science writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
NEW Life Members AMERICAN ATHEISTS Welcomes New Life Members Gil and Jeanne Gaudia, Eugene, OR Edward Stephens, White Plains, NY Bart Meltzer, Seattle, WA Charlotte S. Barkley, Prescott, AZ
So many of you help American Atheists with donations and other ﬁnancial support—and we want to ﬁnd a way to say “Thank You!” We are pleased to announce the re-establishment of an American Atheist tradition—The Founders’ Friends, begun by the Murray O’Hair family. Those contributing $50 or more to American Atheists will have your name and amount entered in subsequent issues of the AA Magazine. Just ﬁll out the blue card with the information requested, include your gift, and mail it back to us in the enclosed envelope. Be sure to check the appropriate box authorizing us to thank you by printing your name and contribution amount in the Magazine. Mailing addresses will not be mentioned. This is our way of saying THANK YOU to an extraordinary group of people—those of you who want to “do more” and ﬁnancially support the critical work of American Atheists! American Atheists Thanks The Following Persons For Their Generous Contributions To Our Cause.
Ariel Thomann, TX - $50 Jim Rawls, FL - $50 Shane W. Roper, AZ - $70 Ian Whatley, SC - $100 James E. Fletchinger, PA - $100 Frank H. Titus, OK - $50 Richard D. Hogan, TX - $150 Jeffrey D. Borelli, OH - $50 William Cook, TX - $50 Robert Finch, NY - $100 David God Koller, OR - $75 Martin L. Bard, PA - $50 Joseph Wenner, CA - $50 Michael Barkley, PA - $100 Mel Brooks, VA - $50 january 2008 — American Atheist
The Trouble With NOMA Why science and religion come into conﬂict by George A. Ricker
ately there seem to be a number of people asserting the essential harmony between science and religion and insisting the two are not in conﬂict but are, in fact, complementary views about the nature of reality. Advocates of this view assert that, while science deals with the natural world of matter/energy and the forces that drive it, religion deals with underlying realities and eternal verities that are not amenable to a scientiﬁc approach. The late Stephen Jay Gould spoke of “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” or NOMA to describe the two realms. He introduced the concept in an essay with that title in Natural History magazine in March, 1997.* Ten years later (give or take), the idea still attracts some attention. Gould wrote, “NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions.” Science could speak with authority on matters of fact and interpretations of physical phenomena, Gould opined, but could not and should not address questions about the existence of a god or the matters of faith and belief claimed by religions. By the same token, religions should not presume to address scientiﬁc matters like the evolution of life on this planet. 14
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However, it seems to be so much wishful thinking to proclaim such a separation between religions and science. While many scientists are reluctant to express opinions that run contrary to the prevailing religious orthodoxies in a given society, religious practitioners have never shown the slightest unwillingness to comment on matters that, under NOMA, should belong to the magisterium of science. No no-man’s land between magisteria Since the modern scientiﬁc revolution began with the publication of Copernicus’ observations, the ﬁndings of science in cosmology, biology and a host of other ﬁelds have been attacked and undermined by religionists. During its four centuries of existence, the Index Librorum Prohibitorium (the Index of Prohibited Books) of the Catholic Church included more than 4,000 volumes, many of them now regarded as classics of science, literature and philosophy. Catholics were forbidden from reading books on the Index. The list was abolished in 1966. Nor was the practice of suppressing alternative views conﬁned to Catholics, as various Protestant sects throughout Europe and the Americas have banned—or sought to ban—books as well. There is, after all, no great no-man’s land between the two magisteria. Gould acknowledges as much in his essay. What he fails to acknowledge, and what dooms the concept from the outset, is that science is constantly expanding the knowledge base and constantly intruding into areas that previously might have been regarded as belonging in religion’s domain.
Consider the battle over embryonic stem cell research. How would the NOMA concept apply here? The best available scientiﬁc evidence suggests that embryonic stem cells may offer potential therapies and even cures for some of the most debilitating diseases known to humankind. There are other sources of stem cells, to be sure, and research constantly adds more options to the list. Nonetheless, embryonic stem cells appear to offer the most potential. However, in order to take advantage of this potential the embryos (which are 3 to 5 days old) must be destroyed. The embryos that will be used are excess embryos from fertility clinics that are no longer needed or wanted by the donors and are donated for use in the research. These are embryos that will be discarded eventually. There are currently an estimated 500,000 such embryos in cryogenic storage in various locations around the United States. Yet, because of religious opposition, this resource cannot be utilized in any program that depends on federal funding, in spite of the overwhelming consensus of the scientiﬁc community and the American people at large that it should be. In the ﬁrst veto of his presidency, one that came halfway through his second term, President George W. Bush rejected a bill that would have allowed federal money to be used in experiments that required the harvesting of stem cells from some of those unwanted embryos. The president’s veto was based in large part on his own religious faith. As of this writing (the summer of 2007) President Bush has vetoed three pieces of legislation, and two of those vetoes have been to reject virtually identical bills approving federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Where would NOMA come into play? Should science back away because its research is intruding on the religious sensibilities of some? Should religionists stand down because this is, after all, a scientiﬁc issue? Is it a scientiﬁc or religious question whether morality is on the side of those who would preserve the embryos at all costs (in the name of preserving human life) or those who insist it’s far more moral to use the embryos for this potentially lifesaving research than to allow them to be wasted by being stored and ultimately discarded? A ﬁctional boundary This is not an isolated issue. As our understanding of genetics continues to increase, many difﬁcult moral questions are being raised. Must science stand mute on these questions because morality, after all, belongs in the magisterium of religion? Is it not the case that much of our scientiﬁc progress in the last ﬁve centuries has happened only to the extent that scientists were willing to address questions previously thought to be religious in nature? So NOMA imposes a boundary that does not exist in reality and cannot exist hypothetically. As science continues to advance, the magisterium of science will continue to grow and that of religion will continue to shrink and, in an effort to survive, redeﬁne itself. Science does not seek conﬂict with religions, but as science progresses it will inevitably poach on areas previously thought to be within religions’ domains. What about the study of religions? Is this area of human experience to be off limits to scientiﬁc investigation because it lies outside the magisterium reserved for science? May we not ask factual questions about the possible origins of religions, the evolutionary forces that led to their development, the contributions, both good and bad, that religions have made to the development of human cultures? These are just a few of many areas of potential investigation, and if we are to take NOMA seriously, every one of them would be out of bounds for scientiﬁc inquiry.
In his recent work, Breaking the Spell, philosopher Daniel C. Dennett makes the case that religion is a natural phenomenon and should be studied with the same tools and methodology as other natural phenomena. He rejects the argument that religion should be studied only by those who treat it affectionately because only those who are, at least, sympathetic can truly understand it. If religion is as important as religionists claim it is, then surely it deserves serious consideration by our best scientiﬁc minds. Surely we need to ask the kind of questions that were asked by the child in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes. And what of the god idea itself. May it not be considered by science at all? Those who insist that questions about the existence of a deity should be off limits would more than likely change their tune if there were some genuine evidence to investigate in support of the idea. If we cannot test the reality of a god, can we not, at least, test the likelihood of one’s existence, as Richard Dawkins suggests in The God Delusion? The real battle In today’s world, while fundamentalist religions are being held up in many nations as the standards to which all must rally and religions are either causing or contributing to some of our most serious human problems, we simply cannot afford to leave religions to the religionists. When religions attempt to dictate how modern secular societies should conduct themselves and claim to represent a moral authority who must be obeyed, we cannot simply leave the ﬁeld and resign ourselves to allowing religions to dictate our laws and moral codes because, after all, such things fall within the magisteria of religions. The so-called “harmony” between religions and science can exist, but only when understood properly. The personal beliefs of religionists are their business. The afﬁrmations of religious congregations are their business. So long as neither threatens or harms other human beings, then they may coexist with all other aspects of human existence, including science. There are, after all, many scientists who still follow religions or worship a deity of some description. So science and religions need not be at war. However, science cannot yield the ﬁeld on matters of fact, no matter what conclusions those facts may suggest. Religionists may speak on such matters as they see ﬁt. However, they should not expect to do so with impunity. In studies of human morality, human consciousness, human psychology, and so on, science is learning more and more about how we function. Areas that once were thought much too esoteric for science are now beginning to yield their secrets. Through the rational application of the methods and tools of science, we have begun to unlock some of humankind’s deepest mysteries. We must not, we can not turn away from that quest because it discomﬁts the religious sensibilities of some people. In reality the war between science and religions is a continuation of the age-old battle between reason and superstition. Though superstition has had the better of it for much of human history, modern science has given us powerful new weapons to aid in our struggle to advance rational alternatives and understanding for human societies. NOMA cannot aid in this effort because it attempts to create a boundary that does not exist and glosses over important differences between religions and science in an effort to keep a peace that is more honored in the breach than in the observance. It also ignores the compelling truth that for many among the religious, modern science is an enemy that threatens their dearest beliefs and undermines the faith of their children. In their view, science can only exist in subservience to january 2008 — American Atheist
their religions and may not contradict or challenge the teachings of their respective faiths. While it is certainly true that we must respect the rights of the religious to hold their beliefs, as we should honor the rights of conscience of all of humanity, that respect cannot translate into automatic respect for the beliefs themselves. Just as it is unfair to dismiss all religionists as superstitious idiots, so is it unwise to ignore the truth that much religious teaching really is superstitious nonsense. Conclusion Gould was a kind man and preferred to think the fundamentalist attacks on science were safely restricted to a small fringe among the religious. That sentiment is clearly stated in his essay and is echoed by many in the scientiﬁc community, some of whom may fear a confrontation with religionists because they fear such disputes may cost them valuable allies and because they know they are badly outnumbered in such struggles. However, by failing to speak with clarity and conviction on these issues, scientists have themselves left the ﬁeld to the fundamentalist minority who have no such scruples and have no hesitation about attacking science that does not appear to conform to their religious ideology. With the exception of a few able champions like the late Dr. Carl Sagan, Dennett, Dawkins and Gould himself, most scientists have been content to stay in their labs and focus on their own concerns. They have left the public perception of the scientiﬁc enterprise and scientists themselves at the mercy of the popular media. The media, in turn, are easily exploited by a constant campaign of disinformation and misinformation from the advocates of religious fundamentalism, who are experts at skewing the information to suit their purposes and have no qualms about distorting the ﬁndings of science or the words of scientists. When the advocates of reason are willing to leave the ﬁeld to the champions of superstition, they can have no real cause for complaint if superstition carries the day. By ceding important areas of human understanding to the magisterium of religion, NOMA actually aids the purveyors of superstition by making it more difﬁcult to counter their claims. Learning science, after all, requires some work. Doing science demands even more. It’s much less taxing to spend one’s time on those pursuits in the magisterium of religion where there are no facts and one opinion is as good as any other. And why should we not, since the clear implication of NOMA is that both are of equal value? ❋ * Gould, Steven Jay, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria,” Natural History, (#106; March, 1997; pp 16-22), online at http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/ gould_noma.html. © 2007 by George A. Ricker
George Ricker is an award-winning weekly newspaper reporter and editor, now retired. He has done some freelancing and has had articles published in both local (Florida) and national media. He is the author of Godless in America: conversations with an atheist, and runs the web site “Godless in America” (http://www. godlessinamerica.com). 16
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10/2 — Ellen Johnson was interviewed by Brian Sapient at the American Atheist Center as part of a documentary being ﬁlmed about the Rational Response Squad. 10/7 — Florida State Director Greg McDowell had a letter to the editor, on the rights of minorities, published in St. Augustine.com. 9/7 — Texas State Director Joe Zamecki gave a phone interview to WOAI Radio in San Antonio, and KTRH News Radio in Houston on his “Rally For State Church Separation” and Texas laws regarding religion. 9/7 — Joe Zamecki gave a phone interview to the UT Daily Texan College Newspaper on The Rally For StateChurch Separation. 9/8 — Joe Zamecki gave interviews with KLRU Austin and KEYE Austin on the Rally For State-Church Separation. 9/9 — News 8 Austin printed an article on the Texas Rally For State-Church Separation. 10/7 — Florida State Director Greg McDowell had a letter to the editor, on the rights of minorities, published in St. Augustine.com. 10/8 — The Texas Rally For State-Church Separation was reported on NEWS 8 Austin website. 10/8 — Ellen Johnson gave an interview to a student reporter from the Penn State Daily Collegian on Atheists in the military.
a personal story
How Religion Kicked Me To The Curb by Aaron Weaver
ou rarely hear about it here in America: parents shunning even their own children who have chosen to diverge in their own religious beliefs. Many people seem to think that it is reserved for third-world countries, where you can be killed for showing interest in another person from a neighboring tribe, or threatened with torture and death for drawing up a “blasphemous” cartoon. For me, the conﬂict between family and religion has been present throughout my entire life. I grew up in numerous church settings, from the private Catholic schools to Pentecostal summer camps, to Mormon institutions, and non-denominational schools. I had been exposed to more than enough nonsense and imaginative rubbish to realize that my being a Freethinker and an Atheist was going to provide me with a rough path through life. I have been an Atheist for the vast majority of my life (well, the parts of my life in which my brain functioned independently of my parents and authority) and have never been shy about expressing my views; but in this eggshell-ﬂoored society in which we live such an outgoing attitude and bright personality has proven to be a hindrance to my success in many areas, on many occasions. More speciﬁcally, my speaking out against unprovoked, inhumane behaviors seemed to throw a few wrenches into the turning wheels of my life. For example, I attended a Christian school in Elyria, Ohio, called “Open Door Christian School.” During a biology class, the instructor put in a video tape that a student had supplied, which was entitled “Prairie Dog Be Gone.” It was a group of rednecks that had unfortunately gotten their hands on high-powered riﬂes, and were shooting prairie dogs at random, in attempts to exterminate the colonies. For whatever reason, it seems as if a colony of prairie dogs is more of a nuisance to the earth than land-clearing, planet-polluting, inconsiderate, and ungrateful colonies of humans. The entire class responded in a disturbingly sadistic manner: they laughed—and they laughed harder and harder as more were slaughtered. Not just the young men were in an uproar of hilarity; even the young women were taking notice, quite attentively like fans in the ﬁnal seconds of an action-packed football game, and laughing all the same. At one point, a young man stated, “and that’s why God gave the earth to man; to do with it as we please.” How infantile; how irresponsible; how ignorant that claim is. After about twenty minutes of watching this, I knew I had to say something. I addressed the class and said, “Why is that funny to you? These creatures have a community, family, and other individuals that they depend on! Would it be funny if someone blew apart your family with a riﬂe? Would it be laughable if a crazed lunatic came into this classroom and blew your friends away?” Not thirty minutes later, I was expelled from the
school. I had, according to my classmates, “made a bomb threat.” No one stood up for me, or rather with me, because no one wanted to be associated with an Atheist. The principal had told me that they had received numerous “alarming” complaints about my behavior there. One reason he gave was that I did a speech about the beneﬁts of Yoga in my Oral Communications class. This to them was strange, as they were not too knowledgeable about just how secular Yoga has been for decades. Consequently, it was deemed “demonic,” as my English teacher had professed. What could I have done, at age 17—outnumbered by Christians; what could I have done to defend myself? Nothing. I was expelled, and forced to switch to a fourth school in my four years of high school. As I rode in the car home from just being expelled, my mother expressed how disappointed she was in me, and how I needed to learn how to just “keep quiet.” When I met with my father (whom I only saw about once every other week, due to a custody decision that certainly was not up to me), he told me how proud he was of me that I had done the right thing by standing up for what was right. While it was refreshing to be supported, rather than scolded, it showed me something frighteningly real; to my mother—a Christian—the end always justiﬁes the means. If you have to be silent and a doormat all your life, only to wind up with a smooth path to a cushiony job, then that would be the way to live. This misguided, apathetic, and ultimately cowardly way of thinking, affected my mother’s actions towards me in many more ways. When I told her that I wanted to pursue sociology and evolutionary psychology, she was relentless in her ridicule and disapproval. She wanted me to go into healthcare, like she did, and that was that. I decided to compromise. I applied for the healthcare program as she requested, but decided to study sociology and biology on my own time. I bought books about evolution, DNA, and about social relations and conﬂicts, and read them in my spare time. A compromise was not what she was looking for. Suddenly, I was “isolating” myself from the family. I explained that watching “American Idol” and “Desperate Housewives,” along with other television shows, for hours and hours (which is how my mother and step-father spent their free time) was not my idea of spending time with the family. I explained that I was doing what I needed to be doing, i.e. getting good grades, staying out of trouble, working to keep paying for my own schooling, etc., and that I feel that I should be allowed to pursue my own interests on my own free time. january 2008 — American Atheist
Apparently I was wrong. It took very little time for all of my mother’s dissatisfaction with me to surface—and by surface, I mean explode. To her, because I was an Atheist (something she found out shortly after I told her that I never believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy), my logic and ability to reason and morals were all ﬂawed. I argued that I did not need to believe in her god to be moral, or to think straight. Night after night, it was one argument after another, yet often the same argument arose continuously, in the end: I was a bad, misled person (according to her) because I was an Atheist, and not a Christian. Arguing turned to ﬁghting; ﬁghting turned to screaming. My mother’s proposed solution was that I get rid of all of my books, stop associating with my friends, and—above all—keep quiet about my being an Atheist. When she caught wind that I was thinking about starting an Atheist group at the college I was attending, she made it quite clear that “if you do that, you won’t be living here.” Nothing is more insulting than to have your own family threaten to stop supporting you, on the basis of belief or disbelief; to be treated as a child, without independent thought, or without adequate ability to think and act for yourself responsibly. But I had grown used to being treated that way; and by “grown used to,” I do not mean that I had accepted that that was the way that it always had to be. I had accepted that that was the way my mother was going to be. I fully accepted the reality that the social institution of family had been broken by the social institution of religion. It hit me the hardest during one of the last ﬁghts my mother and I had: I looked my mother in the eyes and asked, “Can you accept me as your son, if I am an Atheist?” She paused, and a minute passed ... “You need to believe in God” is all she replied. I wasn’t sad—no, that wouldn’t be productive. I didn’t shed a tear that night she let her idea of a “god” get in the way of loving, supporting, and accepting her own son. I was angry. I was ﬁred up. I took no moment of hesitation when she stated that I needed to ﬁnd some other place to live, while my stepfather pointed towards the front door. I got out, just as she had wanted. While it certainly has halted my progress (or at least slowed it down signiﬁcantly, due to a decrease in time for school, which has been replaced by working more than full time just to scrape by) in the realm of obtaining my schooling, it only furthered my attainment of a true education. I realized that if religion could in that way affect my own mother—who could only be described as a “cherry-picking” Christian, not a fundamentalist—then it certainly poses a more signiﬁcant, large-scale problem when it affects individuals in powerful positions (like the leader of a country, who has access to nuclear weapons of mass destruction). My mother succeeded in something. While she forfeited her integrity as a mother, she managed to further fuel my already devoted and intense interest in religious atrocity and the necessity of pushing it down and out of a functioning society. She only made it seem more pertinent, more absolutely necessary, to address the delusions of the masses, and to stand up for myself, as well as for what is right. Even though the situation was uncomfortable, and I had spent many years being chided and belittled for simply thinking (but not thinking simply), it did me some good. So Mom, if you are reading this: thank you. Thank you for bringing the failure of humanity close to home and personal. And Dad, if you are reading this as well: thank you. Thank you for telling me that you are proud that I stood up for myself. You truly succeeded as a parent, and as a person. Now it’s my turn. ❋
American Atheist — january 2008
Atheist Singles 01-01-08 – I am 32 y/o, single, never been married, no kids. I am 5’6”, very slim. I am into writing poetry, music, and reading about religion and philosophy. My friends would say I have a good sense of humor, and I don’t take myself too seriously. I speak ﬂuent Spanish. I’m looking for a woman between 25-35 who is ready to settle down, but who is not in a great rush to do so, either. I am very laid back, and I like to adapt to the situation at hand. If you are the type that needs to have everything just so, in a speciﬁc way, or else you get upset, please move on. Life is too short to get caught up on trivial details. Looking for someone in Central/Western Florida, ideally. 01-02-08 – 36 years old. Lives in Buffalo, NY. 6’4” tall, large build, short dark brown hair but balding. Green eyes, cigarette smoker. Interests: Most forms of heavy metal music. (But I’m a very decent human being who isn’t a freak because I like metal music, trust me!) NHL hockey (Buffalo Sabres), smart comedy, TV shows like American Chopper and Mythbusters. I am a Playstation 2, but I’m not too hard core of a gamer. Looking for attractive, tall, white woman aged 25-45 w/same interests. All letters answered. 01-03-08 – Gay Black Female lives in New York City. I am 50+, medium build 5’5” very good health and physical condition. I am college educated, have a great sense of humor, and I have no children. I enjoy travel to unusual and challenging places. I am seeking a feminine gay woman 40+, for a committed relationship. Race is unimportant character and loyalty is. I will answer all replies 01-04-07 – Female. Hello from Michigan. I am 51, never been married who enjoys single life. I am seeking Atheist pen pals for friendship, as there are few of like mind where I live. I enjoy books, music, movies, nature and gardening, outdoor fun, going to art fairs, concerts, and an Atheist meeting some distance from here. We are too geographically scattered here and only a few attend meetings. I hope to hear from you.
The “Atheist Singles” service is a beneﬁt of membership in American Atheists. It is intended to help members ﬁnd that special someone. If you are a member and wish to participate in this service, please limit your “Atheist Singles” ad to 100 words or less. Please include your name and postal address so we will know where to forward your replies when they come in. Entries should be mailed to: Atheist Singles, P.O. Box 5733, Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733. Members of American Atheists who wish to communicate with any of the Atheist singles who placed ads should do the following: Write your response and place it in a stamped, self-addressed, sealed envelope. On the back of the envelope, place the notation, “A.S.” and the reference number (for example A.S. 00-05-03) of the entry to which you are responding. Place the envelope inside another envelope, seal it, and mail it after addressing it to the Atheist Singles address in Parsippany listed above. When your letter arrives at the American Atheist Center, the outer envelope will be removed, the inner envelope extracted, and the address corresponding to the reference number you wrote on it will be written on the front of the envelope. The envelope will then be mailed forthwith. Please include your phone number or e-mail address in case we have questions with your ad. American Atheists reserves the right to reject any singles ad.
ver the years I have received several letters from Christians who attempt to salvage their religion by claiming that Christianity established modern science and medicine. Without Christianity, they claim, we would not have modern science, medicine or hospitals. Almost invariably, they mention scientists such as Isaac Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Boyle, Haller, Euler, Vesalius, or others who believed in a Christian god. Moreover, some love to report that the Church continues to ﬁnance and encourage experimental science, including the Vatican Observatory as one of the oldest astronomical institutes in the world, and the Trinity College at the University of Cambridge which claims many alumni scientists. Therefore, from these examples (don’t you see?) Christianity established modern science. Nothing about these arrogant Christian claims could stand further from the truth. Please understand that these kind of Christian apologetic arguments fail for several reasons which fall into the trap of several well known fallacies including: appeal to ignorance (failing to understand the history of Christianity in how it barred scientiﬁc thought, and in many cases still does); confusing correlation with causation (just because a
scientist accepted a religion doesn’t mean his science derived from it); and non sequiturs (it doesn’t follow that just because a few scientists believed in God that science resulted from it). The myth also spreads through the bandwagon fallacy (appealing to
the popular notion that Christianity began modern science), and confirmation bias (list all the Christian scientists, but exclude their rejection of dogmas that conﬂicted with their science). Just because some Christians did scientiﬁc work or that the Church helped fund scientiﬁc research has nothing to do with the founding or even the advancement of science. january 2008 — American Atheist
Not only does it not follow, but the historical record shows that science progressed in spite of Christianity, not because of it. From its very beginning, the Church has served as the largest stumbling block against scientiﬁc progress in the history of mankind. When Constantine established orthodox Christianity in 325 CE (at the Council of Nicaea), scientiﬁc investigation virtually stopped. Up until that time, Greek and Roman science and medicine stood at the pinnacle of reasoned thought. With the aimed destruction of any thought that went against religious dogma, the Christians tried to destroy every pagan and scientiﬁc literature including the great libraries of the world. The destruction of the library of Alexandra (the greatest learning center in the world) and the murder of Hypatia by Christians in 415 CE, marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As Ruth Hurmence Green once wrote, “There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as The Dark Ages.” The Priests of Christianity kept the public from education, including the study of their own Bible. Only the hierarchy of the Church allowed education for themselves, and when their thoughts went against their own dogmas (as eventually it would have to) they barred it as heresy. It came from the Church itself that tried to destroy free scientiﬁc inquiry, even amongst its priests. When Christianity took over Europe, scientiﬁc and engineering advancement virtually stopped. The great Roman aqueducts represented one of the greatest engineering feats of the ancient world and provided clean water to cities and industrial sites for centuries. When the Christians took over they no longer supported these great public services and the aqueducts became ruins — monuments of the past glory of Rome. Christianity banned the Roman bath houses and bathing itself became an act of sin. The ancient Roman sewers no longer worked. For centuries after, Christians lived in ﬁlth, ignorance, and disease. During the Black Death in the 1300s, the masses turned to the Church instead of medicine. The Church explained that the plague came as an act of God, not nature, as a punishment for sins of not obeying Church authority. The Church banned Greek and Roman medicine to ﬁght the plague and considered it heresy. After the plague, the Church banned any formal discipline of medicine. Christians love to believe that Christianity invented the ﬁrst hospitals in the name of Christian charity, but the history of medical care betrays this belief. The earliest known institutions that claimed to provide cure came from the ancient pagans, long before Christianity. The earliest mention of cure centers came from Egyptians where they aimed to provide medical care in their temples. The Greeks also used their temples dedicated to the healer-god Asclepius where they
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American Atheist — january 2008
admitted the sick (the medical profession still uses the Rod of Ascelepius, a serpent wound around a staff, as its medical symbol. The serpent, of course, represents Satan in Christian culture). In India, King Ashoka founded hospitals in 230 BCE, that included physicians and nursing staffs. The Romans created valetudinaria for the care of sick slaves, gladiators and soldiers at around 100 BCE. Some credit the Sinhalese (Sri Lankans) as responsible for the introduction of the ﬁrst dedicated hospitals (Sivikasotthi-Sala) to the world at around 4 BCE. The ﬁrst teaching hospital came from the Persian Empire where physicians taught students, at the Academy of Gundishapur in 6th and 7th centuries. The ﬁrst Christian hospitals, on the other hand, did not aim to cure the sick through scientiﬁc medicine at all, but rather to condemn or to save the sick through religious practices. They used these hospitals more as asylums to put away sinners, lepers, and the diseased to isolate them from the rest of the populace. Medieval Christian hospitals represented religious institutions, run by monks and nuns, not by trained physicians. At its very best, Christian medicine did not advance past that of Galen, the Greek physician of 2nd century who wrote medical texts and whose theories dominated Western Christian medicine for over 1300 years! Many early heretic physicians hid their knowledge of Galen to prevent others of accusing them of heresy. Not until the 1530s (during the Renaissance when people began to question religious authority) did the physician Andreas Vesalius translate Galen’s texts to Latin. The history of Christianity shows that it did everything in its power to suppress the advancement of medicine. As for the scientists, Christians burned the priest Giordano Bruno to death for the charge of holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith. They imprisoned Galileo for his heretical ideas of heliocentric solar system, and rejected his science (by the way, The Greek thinker, Aristarchus, developed the ﬁrst heliocentric theory in 270 BCE, not Copernicus as many Christians falsely believe). Isaac Newton studied occult religion in secret, something that Christian authorities, had they known, would have labeled him a heretic (Newton also studied the pseudo-scientiﬁc practice of alchemy), but his scientiﬁc work stood separate from his religious investigations. And how revealing to realize that although Newton made great advancements in science, not one of his religious investigations bore the slightest fruit, not to mention the valuable time he wasted that might have gone further to scientiﬁc advancement. Recently, scholars found an ancient text written by Archimedes that revealed that the Greeks knew about the concept of inﬁnity and calculus long before the advent of Christianity. Ironically a monk had used the Archimedes papers to create a prayer book. The monk washed out the Archimedes text and wrote supernatural nonsense in its place. The Archimedes text remained hidden for centuries until modern scientists found a way to retrieve the washed out text. Without religion hiding and destroying ancient scientiﬁc texts, imagine how different the world would look today if the Church had not suppressed, just calculus alone, hundreds of centuries before Isaac Newton published the idea in 1693. To say that a few successful scientists happen to believe in the tenants of Christianity says nothing at all about religion supplying the fuel for science. To do so would constitute a grand non sequitur. Should I dare credit quantum physics to Nazism because of the many great scientists that came from fascist Germany that included Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Wernher von Braun, among many others, who founded their science with the help of Nazis? Of course not. Should I honor communism for post-modern science
because of the great communist scientists such as Kovalev, Landau, Tsiolkovski, Kapitza, and many others? These men, nurtured in the communist belief system, ﬁnanced by communism, and believed in its ideological foundations, produced great science. Have I made a case for communism or a connection between great science and communism? Of course not. Well, neither can one support the notion that scientists derived their science from Christianity. Almost all the scientists and physicians that Christians love to tout practiced their science as heretics or did their science in secret. These scientists had to ﬁght, tooth-and-claw, against Christian dogma to get their ideas accepted. You had to live as a Christian believer (pretend or not) in those days or else fear ostracism, or ridicule. Interestingly, every one of the the scientists that Christians love to cite, lived during the Renaissance or the Age of Enlightenment when the Church began to lose its power and the populace began to wake up from its religious stupor. None of them lived during the Dark Ages. It came from scientiﬁc and enlightenment reason that inﬂuenced religion to bend its ways to concede to science, not the other way around. The Renaissance and the period of the Enlightenment came as a result from people who rejected certain religious beliefs. Not only the scientists but the scientiﬁc institutions that Christians love to cite also came well after the Dark Ages. The Trinity College in Cambridge didn’t come into existence until 1546 and only because King Henry VIII wanted to close down the universities. Catherine Parr, the queen, intervened and convinced her husband not to close two of them but to combine them to create a new college. (Catherine Parr, by the way, held heretical and reformed ideas about religion that would have had her put to death by the Church only a few years earlier.) The British Kingdom conﬁscated the lands from the Church to establish the college, thus, the Trinity College only pays an indirect homage to religion in the name “Trinity” (of which Isaac Newton, by the way, did not believe in, among many other scientists). The Vatican Observatory didn’t come into existence until 1891, and not for scientiﬁc inquiry as much as for establishing a better calendar to determine the time to celebrate religious events. Today it hardly stands as the best example of astronomical observation and I suspect that its Church support comes mainly as a propaganda ploy to say in effect: “See, we support science too,” when in fact, it still opposes many scientiﬁc truths, or utilities god-of-the-gaps thinking to justify only the most obvious scientiﬁc facts (such as planets, heliocentricity, etc.) The Greek, Roman, and Arabic names for the stars, planets and constellations also shows the absence of Christian inﬂuence (not too surprising when you consider that the Bible believing Christians thought the stars represented peep-holes for their god to look through). Science never needed religion or any ideological system for its support or advancement, and the best scientiﬁc research centers today have nothing at all to do with religion. On the contrary, any faith-based system opposes any scientiﬁc inquiry that relies on evidence, free investigation, and reason. It also bears importance to reveal the fact that throughout the history of science, not one scientiﬁc formula contains the variable of god or any supernatural agent. On religion’s end, it bears equal revelation to understand that religion has never uncovered a single workable fact about nature or the universe. Not one. Everything we know about the universe comes from scientiﬁc inquiry. Scientiﬁc facts have never derived from religion, but religion has conceded to science. But even here, the Church’s concessions to
science have come through bitter delay and sometimes reverses its concessions. Not until 1993 did Pope John Paul II acquit Galileo, 360 years after his indictment of heresy! The Pope even conceded to the idea of evolution “as an effectively proven fact,” over 130 years after Darwin’s ﬁrst publication of the fact. Unfortunately the present Pope does not accept evolution, so I guess for Catholics, it comes down to a belief of which pope possesses the most infallible position. Nor did Catholicism alone stand against scientiﬁc progress. Protestant Christians like to point out that the Reformation changed Christianity for the better and they love to blame Islam for its backward scientiﬁc and political progress because it never went through a reformation as did Christianity. But the Reformation did nothing of the sort to improve Christianity or scientiﬁc advancement. Protestantism, from its very beginning, abhorred scientiﬁc reasoning. Martin Luther, its founder, condemned using reason and taught that faith alone should ﬁll the minds of Christians. The Reformation only set Christians against Christians which resulted in hundreds of years of wars and intolerance. The only reason why Christianity appears more modern than Islam comes from the historical fact that Christianity conceded to science and reason through heretical enlightenment thinkers. Islam needs an Enlightenment, not a Reformation! It also bears importance to realize that Christianity never accepts science on scientiﬁc facts alone but always with the condition that an invented theological explanation must accompany a scientiﬁc fact. Thus theists can only accept evolution by hypothesizing that god uses evolution as his creation method. The Big Bang theory can only earn acceptance when it accords with the belief of a Creator invented universe (although many quantum physicists today think that the Big Bang didn’t serve as an absolute beginning and probably never had one). These religious excuses use God-of-the-gaps thinking which, if you think about it, has as much relevance to factual knowledge as do Tinker Bell and Captain Hook. And who represents the best and most honorable person of charitable medical care that religionists love to point to? Mother Teresa, of course. Unfortunately once one looks closely at her brand of care-giving, the idea of proper medical care goes out the window. Mother Teresa’s donated income went mostly to religious institutions, not the poor and suffering. Moreover, she wanted to keep the poor in poverty because of her faith of “Christ in the broken body,”
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january 2008 — American Atheist
and that to come close to Jesus, the poor must suffer like Jesus. Even more damaging, her Church belief that condoms and birth control went against God, allowed the poor to get infected with the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted diseases. More people died as a result of dangerous Church beliefs than Mother Teresa could ever have hoped to save. Unfortunately, Christian church authorities and Christian political leaders today, continue to place barriers against science. Many fundamentalist Christians reject modern biology, geology, and physics. Many deny global warming, birth control, stem cell research and other scientiﬁc advances that could save millions of people, if not the entire human race. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that George W. Bush’s administration which cowtows to the Religious Right has reduced scientiﬁc research in place of faith based initiatives. Many fundamentalist Christians want to eliminate Darwin’s theory of evolution and replace it with theological Creationism. Some have even succeeded in using political means to change school boards across America to ban evolution from biology books and to teach Intelligent Design (an oxymoronic euphemism for Creationism) in its place. Christian faith healers still go around the world preaching that their god can immediately cure hidden diseases, blindness, arthritis, and many other disorders (except, oddly, for the visible ailments such as compound fractures, amputations, or even a simple pimple). When modern medicine does happen to cure them, they thank god instead of the doctors who actually saved them. Devout Christians believe in miracles over modern science. I don’t know about you but when I search for a doctor to cure me, I don’t want one who believes in superstitions, miracles, or divine intervention (for how could I ever know if he resorts to his faith rather than his medical training?). I want a doctor who uses the best scientiﬁc medical knowledge and that means a doctor who doesn’t hold Christian or any religious beliefs. When I want to understand how nature and the universe works, I read from scientiﬁc literature, not holy scripture. Scientists reveal the workings of nature, not priests, ministers or shamans. The Christian Dark Ages represents the only time in the history of Europe where scientiﬁc advancement not only halted but went backwards. The hole left by the Dark Ages bears the imprint of scientiﬁc intolerance. Imagine where scientiﬁc advancement would stand today if not for the scars left by Christianity. During the Age of Enlightenment, people began to wake up. Many freethinkers and scientists rejected orthodox religion and replaced it with unitarianism, deism, or non-theistic philosophy. During the 1800s and after, scientists no longer had to fear religious persecution in any
form. As never before in the history of mankind, scientists began to reject theocracy entirely. And what happened as a result of the freedom from Christian inﬂuence? Science literally exploded with new discoveries! Since the early 1900s, the majority of the world’s productive scientists held no theological beliefs, and the percentage of nonbelievers continued to rise every decade. The idea that Christianity founded modern science and medicine comes from pure arrogant myth. Christianity, by its very biblical nature, represents the antithesis of science. ❋ Further Sources Leading Scientists Still Reject God New Survey: Scientists “More Likely Than Ever” To Reject God Belief The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, by Christopher Hitchens Penn & Teller on Mother Teresa [video, 5 min.] Sir Isaac Newton on the Bible by Dr. A. Zahoor Christianity, llike Islam before it: back to the dark ages [video, 4:39]
Jim Walker, an independent researcher from Miami Florida, started perhaps the ﬁrst computer Freethinker site in America in the early 90s called Freethinkers BBS, and now runs the website, NoBeliefs.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Devil’s Game by Rober Dreyfuss How The United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Robert Dreyfuss Devil’s Game delves into the complex history of Islam, and exposes the failure, particularly of the Bush administration, to comprehend the dynamics of fundamentalist Muslim religious ideology. He demonstrates the disastrous (and little publicized) history of how western powers, including the British and Americans, sought to achieve elusive foreign policy goals by subsidizing fundamentalist extremism. The catastrophic results became clear on 9/11.
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An Atheist Primer by Madalyn O’Hair This children’s book explains what religion and what Atheism are all about. It is a great introduction to Atheism for readers of any age.
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American Atheist — january 2008
“God’s Warriors” Or The Devil’s? by W. E. Gutman
come from a culture where god was never mentioned—except as a token exclamation—and death or the hereafter did not dominate conversations, either in a religious or ontological context. I was never given a religious education (nor deprived of such) and the notion of an invisible, omnipotent creator/arbiter/destroyer seemed to me ludicrous even as a child. By the time I was old enough to understand the enormity of my parents’ suffering, particularly during and right after WWII, they had turned agnostic—my father’s early rabbinical studies and my mother’s genteel, pseudo-assimilation into a Christian mainstream, notwithstanding. Struck with pancreatic cancer, my mother endured several months of martyrdom and died convinced that religion is a travesty and a fraud. Heartbroken, my father, a physician, cried out against the fragility of the human body and the failings of medicine, and spent the rest of his days perusing and annotating the Bible—the Old Testament (he considered the New Testament a fantasy)—not for inspiration but to vilify it, to highlight the contradictions and the aberrations, to point to god’s unfathomable cruelty and to underscore man’s inhumanity, corruption and propensity for evil. He and I had long, animated conversations about religion, not in pursuit of an ideological abode but as an exercise in pure reasoning. We agreed that the underpinnings of religion—mysticism, the supernatural, blind faith (credo ad absurdum, “I believe BECAUSE it is absurd,”) in an entity that never shows its face, the perfunctory rituals, the taboos and strident proscriptions—were all contrived to enslave man, not liberate him. We acknowledged the nobility of the “Golden Rule”—the Ethic of Reciprocity— present in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (but probably of more ancient Buddhist provenance) yet were aware of man’s inclination to ignore it, even violate it, in the name of Yaweh, Theos and Allah. Together, we quoted from Hillel the Elder, the 1st century BCE rabbi who summed up the Torah with the expression “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” We then read Luke (6:31), which teaches, “Treat others as you want them to treat you.” Last, we turned to the Kuran’s lofty counsel, “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” But “others,” “neighbor,” and “brother,” we understood, have a parochial meaning that, history has shown, signiﬁes “those of our own kind—us, not them.” This travesty of an otherwise overhyped “guiding light” was recently placed under the unfailing microscope of distinguished journalist Christiane Amanpour. Aired two weeks ago on CNN, the three-part “God’s Warriors: The Clash Between Piety and Politics,” offers a disturbing rendering of the three major religions’ susceptibility to intolerance in the service of deity and of their pugnacious penetration of the body politic. Indeed, carried to its demented extremes, religion is a dangerous aberration that renders men insane. Only religious delirium could inspire a Muslim father to plot the “honor killing” of his own daugh-
ter, or to bomb a disco ﬁlled with Jewish youths. Only numinous rapture could lead a self-styled Christian to murder doctors performing legal abortions. Only a Jewish zealot could torch cars on the Sabbath, assault members of a peaceful Gay Pride parade and threaten “bloodshed” if the Jerusalem police chief allowed the parade to continue. This is the bare face of religion; this is how organized religion, if allowed, can transform society into a citadel of intolerance and an incubator for hatred and persecution. The record shows that the prime target of sectarian hatred is “heretics,” a one-size-ﬁts-all label that describes those who hold different beliefs than one’s own, or who grant themselves the inalienable right to hold none. Within that conﬂict lays an unresolved tension between the command to love one’s enemies and the equally strong injunction to reject any alien or divergent dogma. In the ﬁnal analysis, neither Jew, nor Christian or Muslim knows which of the two commands to follow at any given time. By attacking “heretics” as tools of Satan, religious fanatics seize the rhetorical high ground and shift the focus from loving one’s enemies to the escapist option of waging war against an imaginary source of iniquity. This was the preeminent rationale for the Crusades; the St. Bartholomew massacre; the Inquisition; the 30-Years War; the centuries-old strife in Northern Ireland; the Armenian and Jewish Holocausts; the Hutu-Tutsi reciprocal slaughter; the Hindu-Moslem conﬂict in India and Kashmir; the bloodbath in Sudan and the current Shia-Sunni carnage. Nor has hatred of “heresy” spared America. All one has to do is look at the proliferating dynasties of Elmer Gantrys who are hijacking the nation’s psyche (while riﬂing through its pockets), in short at a maniacal, snarling phalanx of soul-robbers, to ﬁnd all the raw materials that coalesce into intolerance, intransigence, vindictiveness and, ultimately, lunacy. What is new, and alarming, is the religious fundamentalists’ mission to inﬁltrate and exploit the coercive power of government. The U.S. has a long implied tradition of separating church from state, but it has never done anything to protect against the intrusion of religion into the body politic. The past generation has seen religion woven more deeply into the fabric of governance than ever before. Although the Constitution guarantees the non-involvement of government in religion, it has failed to hinder religion from muscling in on the affairs of state. Such laissez-faire, in the long run, invites theocratic control. ❋ W. E. Gutman is a veteran journalist on assignment in Central America since 1991. He lives in Southern California and can be reached at email@example.com. january 2008 — American Atheist
Texans Rally For First Amendment by Joe Zamecki Texas State Director, American Atheists
theists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other nonbelievers came together September 8 on the steps of the Capitol in Austin for the ﬁrst ever “Texas State-Church Separation Rally.” Over 150 people ﬁlled the South steps in front of the building for a peaceful but enthusiastic three-hour event to promote the civil rights of non-religious Americans, and the efforts of David Croft and his family from Carrollton, Texas. The Crofts have challenged two state laws which require youngsters in public schools to swear “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and to declare that they “Honor the Texas ﬂag.” The impetus for our ﬁrst Texas State-Church Separation Rally was a series of ﬁve religious “enabling” laws enacted over the past year by the 80th State Legislature. The primary and most notable target of the religious lawmakers was Texas public schools, or rather the students of the Texas public school system. Texas House Bill 1034 added the words “under God” to the Texas Pledge of Allegiance to the Texas State Flag. The new version requires that students and teachers declare at the beginning of the school day that they: “Honor the Texas ﬂag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.” When religion ceases to be optional, all religious liberty disappears, along with our freedom from religion.” It doesn’t sound like a choice, does it? Texas House Bill 3678, which started out as the “Religious Expression in Public Schools Bill,” and ended up as the “Religious Viewpoint Antidiscrimination Act,” was also passed by state legislators. According to this new law, public school policies must contain language which: • Protects a student from being punished due to expressing a religious viewpoint verbally or in a class assignment • Creates guidelines for student speakers at graduation ceremonies and other school-wide events • Allows students to organize religious groups and activities. This may sound very benign on the surface, but in practice the legislation promotes government endorsement of religion and 24
American Atheist — january 2008
“prayer bullying.” A great deal of religious expression has taken place in inappropriate situations, especially where students or members of the general public are a “captive audience.” Our Rally tried to underscore the fact that public schools are for education. Giving religious students total immunity for doing whatever they want in the process of “expressing” their religion is unconstitutional and unfair to others. . This assumes that all religious expression is good, and beneﬁcial, or, at least, not disruptive or harmful. We know this is not the case. Texas House Bill 167, the “Protection of Bibles from Government Seizure Bill” was passed and became effective Sept. 1, 2007. This law now protects Texas owners of Bibles and other religious books sacred to those Texans, from government seizure. There are several reasons why the state government would take someone’s possessions; for example, in divorce, bankruptcy, or in criminal cases where restitution is sought. This law will apply when the government seizes something for the satisfaction of debts. It prevents the Texas state government from seizing Bibles “and other religious books sacred to the owner.” This is an unfair protection, applied selectively, which ignores the ownership rights of secular Texans. Why should religious property be exempt? Senate Resolution 141, the “IN GOD WE TRUST” bill, was passed and, like the House version, added the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” to the wall behind the lecterns in both the House and Sen-
ate chambers in the Texas Capitol Building. The slogans were painted in GOLD paint, and large caps. How much more obvious a state/ church violation could they possibly enact? How much more inaccurate can a statement be? This is one of the more glaring material breaches of state/church separation this year, and the actual ﬁnancial cost of this action is still elusive. The Texas State Preservation Board handles actions like this at the State Capitol Building, and their answer to my inquiry as to the cost of this project was “We don’t know exactly. It would be nearly impossible to ﬁnd out.” I’m still working on this. House Bill 1287, “the Bible Classes in Public Schools bill,” was passed and requires all Texas public high schools to provide a Bible class if there are 15 or more students in the school who wish to enroll. The big sales pitch for this law has been that it is a “voluntary” or optional activity. Upon closer examination, however, this program is only optional for parents wanting their youngsters to receive religious instruction. The public schools are required to provide the classes, and the taxpayers are required to pay for the classes. It’s not so optional after all. It’s also curious that a Bible class is a priority, but not a comparative religions class, or a class on any other religion’s holy book.
TAKING ACTION: Enter the 2007 Texas State/Church Separation Rally This surge of new religious laws and other religious actions by our state government inspired us to do something about them. We decided to stage a rally, and we succeeded in turning out over 150 people from lots of different local, state, regional and national free thought groups. As a “ﬁrst time” event, this was a pleasant surprise! Blair Scott, the Alabama State Director for American Atheists who has had plenty of experience with public school religion being pushed on his children, was among the speakers. Hearing about so many similarities between Texas and Alabama was a sobering wakeup call. Other speakers included Nicholas Paschall, president of the University of Texas at San Antonio Chapter of the Secular Student Alliance; Marsha Corriera, Texas civil rights activist; Patrick Greene, Atheist activist in San Antonio; Derek Jones, co-founder of the website “Path Of Reason,” (www.pathofreason.com); Becky Robinson, founder and president of the Freethinkers of the University of Texas at Arlington; Nick Lee, President of the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas; Terry McDonald, Chairman of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex Atheists; Meghan Regis, the President of the Atheist Agenda (another free thought group at the University of Texas at San Antonio); and Joe Broome, an Atheist musician. From Austin. Joe played his acoustic guitar for us, including the hit tune “Imagine” by John Lennon. He also closed the rally, giving us a stirring perfor-
mance of his original song, “Atheists, Stop All Wars.” We had two speakers from the Rational Response Squad (RRS) in Pennsylvania. R.A. Anderson (also known as “Rabid Ape”) is that group’s representative in Houston. “Stephen” who is another Houston member of the RRS also spoke. We also got a lot of advance advertising from the RRS headquarters in Pennsylvania, and Brian Sapient interviewed me on the RRS Stickam show before the rally. That generated a good deal of attention before the day of the rally. Many others worked hard to make the ﬁrst Texas Rally for StateChurch Separation a success! My girlfriend, Marla Repka, helped with research and supported me by putting up with my out-loud worrying and my seemingly non-stop networking online. When things seemed to go completely wrong, Marla helped to solve problems and pushed me to keep a happy attitude, and drive on. At the rally, Marla helped me with logistics, and talked to lots of people in the crowd, making sure everyone was having a good time. In all, I couldn’t have done much of this work without her help. Bart Meltzer from the American Atheists Center Staff helped me organize logistics, assisted in publicizing the event, and helped “spread the word.” He also provided a good deal of very valuable advice. Dick Hogan, the Assistant State Director for Texas helped by bringing signs sent to him from American Atheists in New Jersey. He, too, gave us important and useful advice. Blair Scott delivered a rousing speech, living up to his reputation as a much-sought-after speaker at Atheist events throughout the country. He has a positively arresting appeal when he speaks. Including Blair in the speaking roster to discuss religious laws in another state really put things in perspective. Marsha Corriera, Texas civil rights activist, not only spoke at the rally, but also assisted us by helping with research on the religious laws. Also, my good Youtube friend here in Austin, who goes by the name “Deafsoundguy” took video of the rally and provided lots of encouragement in the weeks leading up to that day. Many people took video and photos of the rally, and this will be made viewable online. We greatly appreciate those who helped document this very special event. Thanks are due to all of the speakers and everyone else who came to the rally. We made news, met new friends, and sent a message to our state government – Texans stand by their First Amendment rights, and oppose government promotion of religion. Also something very important: we had fun!. ❋
Natural Atheism by David Eller Everything is here to help those who already are Atheists better understand the logic of their lives and see Atheism’s social and political implications. Those who are not yet Atheists will be helped by this scientist’s common-sense analysis of the so-called ‘proofs of God’ to see the irrationality—indeed, the meaninglessness—of god-beliefs. What is belief? What is knowledge? As Pilate is alleged to have asked,“What is truth?” Understandable and clear answers to these questions are in this book.
$25.00 stock # 16003 january 2008 — American Atheist
Monkey Girl by Ben Edward Akerley
n July of 1925, the Baltimore Sun assigned its crack reporter, H.L. Mencken, to cover the trial in Dayton, TN, of John T. Scopes, the young science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of state law. Mencken quickly realized that he had arrived in an area that is a pocket of belief in the Bible as the literal word of God. This belief was coupled with the strong but fallacious suspicion that evolution held that we humans are descended from the apes. The clever Mencken coined the terms “Bible Belt” for that area of the country, and “Monkey Trial” for the forthcoming event (neologisms which are still in the lexicon). It is an incredibly regrettable commentary on the appalling scientiﬁc ignorance of most Americans, that in 2005, 80 years and a new millennium later, evolution was again on trial in Dover, PA. Even more outrageous, is that two of the parents who opposed the introduction of Intelligent Design (ID) into the high school curriculum had a daughter who was taunted and ridiculed by her classmates who called her “monkey girl” in anticipation of the start of “Monkey Trial II.” Many of the plaintiffs in the controversy were even labeled “Atheists,” although many of them were devout Christians who simply rejected any attempt to inject religion into their public school classrooms. The trial is kown as Kitzmiller v. Dover. Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Edward Humes meticulously dissects the courtroom proceedings and, with the precision of a neurosurgeon, lucidly unmasks the features of ID which belie its fundamentalist roots by substituting “design” for “creation” and “designer” for “God.” With a spellbinding prose style, he offers bonus chapters on the history of other challenges to evolution (most notably in Kansas and Ohio). He includes a mini-biography of Darwin and a fascinating look at the people who are most responsible for the ID movement, which is really fringe science that invokes the supernatural. In the aftermath of Judge John E. Jones, III’s ruling against ID, which resulted in the ouster of all eight school board members, there were so many serious death threats made against the jurist that the U.S. Marshal’s Ofﬁce placed him under 24-hour guard. The infectious sense of humor of this genial judge came through most notably when a lawyer pointed out that the trial had lasted exactly 40 days and 40 nights (corresponding to the identical time period of the mythical Noah’s ﬂood). To which, the jurist wryly replied, “That is an interesting coincidence, but it was not by design.” His only regret about Kitzmiller v. Dover was that he had not allowed TV coverage for the entire world to observe the triumph of science and reason over the forces of superstition and ignorance. He later compensated for that lapse of judgment by posting all 139 pages of his decision on the Internet. ❋ 26
American Atheist — january 2008
Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion And The Battle For America’s Soul by Edward Humes HarperCollins Publishers. 1/07. 380 pages. $25.95 (not available from American Atheist Press)
Ben Edward Akerley is a retired teacher and longtime AA member and author of THE X-RATED BIBLE: AN IRREVERENT SURVEY OF SEX IN THE SCRIPTURES available from American Atheist Press. He can be reached at Benakerley@aol.com.
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American Atheist — january 2008
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American Atheist — january 2008
state director listing MILITARY DIRECTOR Kathleen Johnson CMR 422, Box 910 APO AE 09067 email@example.com http://www.atheists.org/mil ALABAMA STATE DIRECTOR Blair Scott PO Box 41 Ryland, AL 35767-2000 (256) 513-5877 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.atheists.org/al/ ALASKA STATE DIRECTOR Clyde Baxley 3713 Deborah Ln. Anchorage, AK 99504 (907) 333-6499 email@example.com http://www.atheists.org/ak/ ARIZONA STATE DIRECTOR Monty Gaither P.O. Box 64702 Phoenix, AZ 85082-4702 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.atheists.org/az/ CALIFORNIA STATE DIRECTOR Dave Kong (415) 771-9872 email@example.com And CALIFORNIA ASSISTANT STATE DIRECTOR Mark W. Thomas (H) (650) 969-5314 (C) (650) 906-1095 firstname.lastname@example.org 900 Bush Street, Unit 210 San Francisco, CA 94109 http://www.atheists.org/ca/
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