Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creationist lecture this Sunday

When was the last time you stopped to think about why you believe in evolution? Join Nathaniel Jeanson, Harvard PhD in Biology, THIS SUNDAY in Boston, an in-depth look at his reasons for thinking that modern biology has failed to substantiate Darwin's evolutionary hypothesis. Q&A to follow.

Free admission and free parking available at the center -- look for signs.

Jeanson has given this presentation before -- get a full report from a BA member, at

You can download full audio files for the lecture and Q&A session at

The Boston Atheist Examiner wrote it up ( and a letter I circulated about the lecture was posted at Richard Dawkins' website (

The Institute for Creation Research thought we Boston Atheists weren't very open-minded last time: This time around, we can be even more open! Open, that is, to establishing ties with members of the congregation, and being open to finding ways to help them avoid being misled by Creationist flimflam.

Where: Longwood Galleria Conference Center, 42 Longwood Avenue Boston, MA (accessible via the mall food court)
When: Sunday, March 27, 2011, 6:30 PM

Sponsored by


STOP [praying]

As seen on Dwelly Street in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Photo by Katie Goldman.
NB: This blog does not condone gratuitous graffiti.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Something like the Golden Rule

Stefan Collini, in his new, small book, That’s Offensive! Criticism, Identity, Respect:
Where arguments are concerned—that is, matters that are pursued by means of reasons and evidence—the most important identity we can acknowledge in another person is the identity of being an intelligent reflective human being. This does not mean assuming that people are entirely—or even primarily—rational, and it does not mean that people are, in practice, always and only persuaded by reasons and evidence. It means treating other people as we wish to be treated ourselves in this matter—namely, as potentially capable of understanding the grounds for any action or statement that concerns us. But to so treat them means that, where reason and evidence are concerned, they cannot be thought of as primarily defined by being members of the ‘Muslim community or ‘Black community’ or ‘gay community.’
Says Isaac Chotiner in his review of this book:
What is crucial here is the ability of people to evaluate and to criticize, and to not feel as if their doing so is given more or less respect based on the groups to which they belong. Their words do not gain force or lose force—or “credibility,” to deploy a nonsensical and overused term—because of their specific identities.
Collini's suggestion -- that we treat others in a high-minded way, as if they had the capacity to be reasonable, is a a good rule for engagement for Atheists hoping to engage believers in discussions critical of their beliefs. (As is DBAD).If you hold to that high standard, you can hardly be faulted if the other person backs out of the tete-a-tete. Hey, all you were doing was giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tell your rep: Support SOCAS and Vote No on "In God We Trust"

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will vote today on whether to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto of the United States, and encourage its public display in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions. The text of the resolution says in part, "... in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection, wisdom, strength, and direction." Some Americans have found in their religion the strength to bear up against difficult times; others have found reason in their religion to deny medical care to children, to commit murder, to collude with terrorism, to deny other Americans their equal part of civil liberty, and other anti-social behavior.

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) is behind this resolution -- it may be said that he's leading the current legislative effort to confuse church and state. He and 64 co-sponsors (nearly all Republicans -- see list below) are hoping that the resolution's passage will encourage public display of "In God We Trust" in public schools and buildings -- a wholly unsavory practice that establishes one religious perspective (that of theism) as official, national, and patriotic, and promotes the notion that another religious perspective (that of atheism) is subversive, elitist, and un-American. Forbes is known for his promotion of Judeo-Christian doctrines and values, and for equating theism with patriotism e.g. "Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism."

The same bill failed last year -- can we do it again? How excellent it would be good if a significant portion of the large and growing population of secular Americans, would come forward and ask their Congresspeople to represent them just as well as their theistic neighbors, by voting against this resolution.

Congressman Forbes recently told Politico, "to a lot of people, the fact that this country was built on faith, the fact that faith is important, 'In God We Trust' is important." Of course, to a lot of people, that sounds like balderdash. This country was built on a Constitution, and according to that Constitution, the government use its authority to promote any position on the questions of religion, theistic or atheistic.

On this subject, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State challenges the notion that efforts to change the national motto are motivated by anything other than the intention to adopt a slogan that represents ALL Americans. "No organization or group of graffiti artists is going around trying to cover up" the motto, Lynn told CNN, "the motto should be 'In God, or in no God, or in multiple gods we trust.'"

The text and status of House Continuing Resolution 13 can be found online at

Americans United has a webform which will allow you to instantly contact your Congressperson, at

The following U.S. Representatives have co-sponsored Randy Forbes' bill to reaffirm the national motto. Is your rep listed below? If so, please call 202-224-3121 today and say, "I'd like you to reconsider your co-sponsorship of House Continuing Resolution 13. The national motto 'In God We Trust' is a statement of religious belief, contrary to the letter and spirit of the First Amendment, and fails to adequately represent the diversity of views present in America. I want you to represent my interests, and the interests of all your constituents, by not affirming a divisive national motto."


  • Rep Aderholt, Robert B. [AL-4] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Akin, W. Todd [MO-2] - 3/3/2011
  • Rep Alexander, Rodney [LA-5] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Bachus, Spencer [AL-6] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] - 3/3/2011
  • Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Black, Diane [TN-6] - 3/3/2011
  • Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Boren, Dan [OK-2] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Camp, Dave [MI-4] - 2/11/2011
  • Rep Canseco, Francisco "Quico" [TX-23] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Chaffetz, Jason [UT-3] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Coffman, Mike [CO-6] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Crenshaw, Ander [FL-4] - 2/11/2011
  • Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Ellmers, Renee L. [NC-2] - 2/16/2011
  • Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Flores, Bill [TX-17] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Gingrey, Phil [GA-11] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Goodlatte, Bob [VA-6] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Griffin, Tim [AR-2] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Griffith, H. Morgan [VA-9] - 2/16/2011
  • Rep Hall, Ralph M. [TX-4] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Harper, Gregg [MS-3] - 3/3/2011
  • Rep Huizenga, Bill [MI-2] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Jenkins, Lynn [KS-2] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep King, Steve [IA-5] - 2/28/2011
  • Rep Kingston, Jack [GA-1] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Kline, John [MN-2] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Lankford, James [OK-5] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Latta, Robert E. [OH-5] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Manzullo, Donald A. [IL-16] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 2/11/2011
  • Rep Miller, Candice S. [MI-10] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Miller, Gary G. [CA-42] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] - 2/16/2011
  • Rep Neugebauer, Randy [TX-19] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Nunnelee, Alan [MS-1] - 2/16/2011
  • Rep Pence, Mike [IN-6] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] - 3/16/2011
  • Rep Pompeo, Mike [KS-4] - 2/17/2011
  • Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Roe, David P. [TN-1] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Ross, Dennis [FL-12] - 2/8/2011
  • Rep Ross, Mike [AR-4] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Shuster, Bill [PA-9] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Simpson, Michael K. [ID-2] - 2/8/2011
  • Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Turner, Michael R. [OH-3] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Upton, Fred [MI-6] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Walberg, Tim [MI-7] - 2/8/2011
  • Rep Westmoreland, Lynn A. [GA-3] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10] - 1/26/2011
  • Rep Young, Don [AK] - 3/11/2011
  • Rep Young, Todd C. [IN-9] - 3/3/2011

Is your Congressman listed above? If so, please call 202-224-3121 and encourage him or her to defend freedom of conscience and the separation of church of state, by voting against this resolution.

Use this webform,, to instantly contact your Congressperson.

NB: NB: A petition campaign to support this resolution is being led by Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt. More about him at (and elsewhere online).

[Please circulate.]

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Who Killed More in the Bible?

From Brazilian advertising agency, Abacaxi Atomico.