Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 22, 1996 Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:51:49 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 22, 1996
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:51:49 -0700
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
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
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
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
(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.
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.
* 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
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 tragedy....is 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."
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