Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 22, 1996 Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:51:49 -0700 nn nn AA

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 22, 1996 Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:51:49 -0700 From: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #103 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu7/22/96 In This Issue... * Prayer And Belief In Dixie * A Reader Dissects Creationism * Georgia School District Censors Evolution For Students * TheistWatch: Apologies, Apologies... * Update: Tomorrow's Hearing On "Religious Equality Amendment" * About This List... ALABAMA GOV'S LEGAL ADVISOR USING RELIGIOUS LITMUS TEST ? "Prayer Meetings" Held At Judicial Appointment Meetings... Bill Gray, chief legal advisor to the Governor of Alabama and the man who screens pending judical appointment candidates, holds regular "prayer meetings" in his office and often asks applicants for the bench about their religious affiliations, according to a story in yesterday's Huntsville (Alabama) Times newspaper. Although he denies using a "Christian litmus test" in judging candidates, the paper also reports that of eight judges appointed by Gov. Fob James who have resumes still on file at the governor's legal office, all but one is Protestant, and all hold positions in a church "ranging from Sunday school teacher to officer of an administrative board." The paper quoted attorney Larry Morgan, who unsuccessfully sought a judicial appointment through Gray's office who remarked: "You go down expecting professional treatment but you come out feeling, 'My goodness, something strange is happening'." The Times said that according to Morgan, Gray asked only five questions. "One was about his divorce, one about what church he attends...two about his political affiliation and one about another candidate for the job." Another person seeking an appointment met with Governor Jame's secretary, Beth Chapman, and "came away with the same feeling after talking to Gray." "I hardly got launched into answers about (professional background) when they went into the personal phase of family, church and civic organizations...It seemed obvious to me professional expertise was not what they were looking for...(but instead) electability and religious compatability with the views of the administration." Even more disturbing is a statment attributed to Mr. Gray where he declares: "There is no such thing as a wall of separation between church and state." The Times also quotes an official from the ACLU who says that both the governor and Mr. Gray hold "strong religious views," but added" "That doesn't excuse behavior that doesn't comply with the Constitution." ACLU is presently involved in litigation of a Gadsden, Alabama judge's practice of leading daily prayers and posting the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. The controversial and unconstitutional practice has the strong support of Gov. James, who has also posted copies of the Ten Commandments in his Capitol office. Gray told the Times that questions about religious belief and affiliation are asked to determine a candidate's "electability." The paper asked about an applicate who "says he's atheist or agnostic." What then? Replied Gray: "If you came to me and said 'I don't believe in God,' I'd probably say to you 'That's interesting, why?' But it would probably more personal curiosity than anything else'." ******* (AANEWS thanks LPM for faxes and reports concerning this story...) *** CREATION 'SCIENCE' IS BAD SCIENCE Mary Graham was mad as hell, and wasn't going to take it any more. Her local paper's "letters to the editor" column was fast becoming a repository for every crank religionist in the area, including defenders of so-called "creationism" who argued that accounts found in Genesis were as accurate and trustworthy as scientific endeavors like geology, paleontology and anthropology. Ms. Graham launched her own intellectual salvo and against this religious pseudoscience; her skillful blend of biting commentary and scientific information prompts AANEWS to share her letter with our readers. ******* EDITOR, A Somers Point man, in his July 11 letter, is a premier example of the poor job we are doing in science education here in the United States. This writer would like to distort the facts concerning evolutionary theory and what scientists do or do not believe in order to forward his own Christian agenda proposed from the pulpit. Obviously, a little education is in order. The scientific method involves the objective observation of a phenonomenon or events, statement of the problem, some deduction from the observed data, the formation of a hypothesis, testing of the hypothesis, confirmation, and if the test repeatedly confirm the hypothesis, the formation of a theory. Creation science goes something like this: The Bible is the written word of God and is infallible in every way; therefore, we know that anything that contradicts its validity must be false. Therefore, all examination employed will be toward proving the Bible accurate and disproving any other evidence that might undermine biblical scholarship. How scientific is that, sir? You are using the classic circular argument. Faith based on belief never questions, whereas REAL science is always willing to question, re-evaluate and revise as new information and evidence is studied and examined. I realize it is much simpler to believe in fairy tales than to study and analyze complex scientific principles. That is why most preachers and religionists of your kind misquote and misrepresent what science currently says about evolution. Your agenda is to put creation science alongside evolution in the classroom as an equal theory when there is nothing remotely equal about it. Let's examine some of your claims: (1) "There are giant human footprints in the Paluxy River in Texas that crisscross dinosaur-prints": This classic Fred Flintstone Theory was disproved years ago yet remains one of the most sneaky claims of creationists. Since the stride length (seven feet) and the foot length (three feet) exceed any possible human scale, the creationists call these the giants spoken of in Genesis. In reality these are eroded tracks of smaller dinosaurs and water-worn scour marks. Many of your own creation scientists now admit this, but you haven't kept up in your reading. (2) "There are no transitional fossils": The fossil record of Equidae (horse) spans 54 million years, five continents and thousands of fossils. Archaeopteryx (a transition between reptile and bird) had reptillian features such as toothed jaws, clawed fingers, abdominal ribs and an elongated bony tail. Its birdlike features included feathers, a furcula (wishbone) and a bird's pelvis. Let's not forget the ape-human trasitional form of Australopithecus (read some Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin), and Eusthenopteron shows transitional characteristics between amphibians and lobe-finned fishes. I know, most creationists claim it's just a bird or just a reptile, but saying it ain't so won't make the evidence go away. (3) "The second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution": This completely ignores the fact that you can get order from disorder if you add energy. The sun is the energy source that allows the Earth's living systems to evolve. The more complex oak tree develops from the simple acorn when energy from the sun is added. Your arguments are outdated, and frankly you missed some of the more creative and recent arguments put out to further the religious agenda. If you would like children nonsense instead of sound scientific principles in the classroom, be my guest. Just make sure it isn't in the public schools arena and not with MY TAX DOLLARS. Finally, I hope you will the time to read some fine books and publications put out by legitimate sources such ad Discover, National Geographic, Scientific American, etc., and don't just take the word of one authority. Take the scientific approach and examine the evidence. I'm sure you will become truly enlightened. (signed) MARY GRAHAM ****** * AANEWS readers are urged to send us samples of their published letters to papers and magazines on subjects of interest to this list. ** GEORGIA SCHOOL CAVES IN, DELETES EVOLUTION CHAPTER IN TEXT A school board in Cobb County, George, has voted to order a special edition of a fourth grade science textbook, "Changing Earth", following complaints about references to evolution. According to the latest edition of Church & State magazine, creationism has become a point of contention in the community; three parents complained about the contents of the text, and one of them objected to "evolution theories" and the lack of mention of so-called creationism. Last year, the school board adopted a policy statement on "Theories of Origins" which ended all instruction from an evolutionary point of view throughout the entire elementary and middle school levels, and ruled that the subject would be "optional" even for high school students. Church & State reports that "The policy also states that students should have the opportunity to study 'creation theory'." ******************* THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. Is this just more PR, or what? Religious groups seem to finally be getting the somewhat delayed message that for hundreds of years they have been supporting oppressive, authoritarian, even ridiculous practices, and have finally started to apologize to the many groups whose rights (and lives) they violated under the banner of religious intolerance and stupidity. Let's see...where do we begin? The Southern Baptists have finally apologized for slavery (although we understand some of the die-hard still like to think that keepin' black folks on the plantation reading the Good Book was preferable to allowing them to run free in Africa). The Papacy has been going to excruciating lengths to all but admit that it waffled on the Nazi Holocaust and the extermination of Jews. They DID kill Christ after all, did they not? Now, the Catholic Church has apologized for its part in an assimilation policy directed at Australia's Aboriginal peoples, including the creation of an entire "stolen generation" of kids who were abducted and stolen from their families. This inhumane policy lasted from the mid-1800's through the 1960's; government authorities physically grabbed Aboriginal children and placed them in institutions often run by religious groups, as part of an "assimilation" process. As a result, the Aboriginal population in Australia now stands at about 300,000; there were about 2,000,000 native peoples on the continent when the first White settlement was formed in 1788. "We sincerely regret that some of the Church's child welfare services...assisted government's implement assimilationist policies and practices (sic)," declared the Catholic Bishops of Australia in a statement released last Friday. All well and good -- apologies are required. But doesn't this say a great deal about the claim of "Mother Church" to be some sort of infallible institution in directing the fate of humanity? ******* CAMPAIGN BUILDS TO HAVE ATHEIST REP ADDRESS SUBCOMMITTEE Efforts continued over the weekend and into today to persuade members of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee to hear personal testimony from representatives of American Atheists about a proposed Religious Equality Amendment. Members and supporters of the organization began their drive to have Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, placed on the list of those scheduled to testify beginning tomorrow morning, July 23. Hundreds of e-mails, faxes and personal phone calls had reached the offices of Committee members, although as of this afternoon at 4 p.m. Eastern, there was no official word inviting Ms. Johnson to the hearing. Meanwhile, Ron Barrier, the National Media Coordinator for American Atheists, has prepared an official statment for release to the press and the Judiciary Committee later this evening. Barrier notes that the proposed Religious Equality Amendment "is the primary objective of the Ten Commandments handed down by the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed to the members of Congress under the rubric of a 'Contract With the American Family'." He adds that "The that this amendment, while claiming that students can pray 'without government sponsorship or compulsion,' is is fact government sponsorship of prayer." This afternoon, AANEWS spoke with Spike Tyson, Office Manager for American Atheists; he reported that despite personal phone calls to legislative aides, he received no firm committal that Ms. Johnson or any Atheist would be permitted to testify."It is our understanding that the only individuals who be speaking tomorrow both for and against this Amendment will be religious people, " said Tyson. It's a systematic effort by some in Congress to discriminate against Atheists." *************** About This List... AANEWS is a free service from American Atheists, a nationwide movement founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion. For information about American Atheists, send mail to:, and include your name and postal address. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and the American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to:, and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank