Saturday, January 26, 2008

Darwin Day

February 12th is Darwin Day, a holiday celebrating the scientific contributions of Charles Darwin and the contributions to humanity of science in general. The evolutionary concepts that Darwin introduced are as important now as they were in the 19th century. The theory of evolution is the basis for a rational, scientific understanding of all life on earth, and therefore a consideration and appreciation of evolutionary thought is essential for the formulation of a thorough secular world view. Darwin put himself on the line for his work, rejecting reasonless beliefs and dogmatic faith in favor of critical reasoning and the search for objective truth. Please celebrate this remarkable scientist's upcoming 199th birthday by taking some time to reflect on his contributions and those of subsequent evolutionary scholars and theorists.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Candidate Swears to Undermine the Constitution

If there' s still any doubt that Gov. Mike Huckabee is unfit to be President, in Michigan he declared the Constitution should be changed to "God's standards."

Besides the clear problem that there are thousands of opinions on what God's standards are, and probably hundreds within Christianity alone, there's also the small problem of how - if Huckabee were to somehow win the Presidency - he could swear to uphold the Constitution, which he believes should ignore the laws of man.

Here's more on the story.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Next Up: "Irreligion"

It looks like the next book in the recent series of atheist books has arrived. It's called "Irreligion," by John Allen Paulos, and there's a review in the NYT Books section. I haven't read it so I can't comment yet, but it seems what distinguishes this one from those of Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. is that the author is a mathematician, and uses probability and other mathematical concepts to make his arguments.

There's also a link on the Times website to the book's first chapter.

If anyone's read it, share your review here!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Say A Prayer for Rudy

Apparently the desire of religious people for others to reaffirm their questionable beliefs is wide and deep. And political candidates are now learning that if they kneel in the same way or pray in the same church, they can get a pass on just about anything.

Enter Rudy Giuliani. He asked churchgoers in Florida to pray for him (and Rudy didn't mean Him, he meant pray for him, i.e., pray for his campaign). If prayers mean anything to religious people, why didn't Giuliani get any criticism for pushing past starving children and dying patients on the way to the front of the prayer line?

I think this is why - when someone makes adeliberate show of being religious, they're not so much saying, "This is what I believe;" rather they're saying, "I am one of YOU." And the desire of many religious people to see their beliefs affirmed is so strong that they will give the genuflecter a pass on everything else.

The inevitable result is pandering politicians who have learned to clasp their hands together as reflexively as a canine sits for a treat.

Here's my recent post on it including Rudy's remarks, at Political Relief.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coming to a Parish Near You: Christian Sharia Law

I'm sure that anyone reading this has heard about the Rev. Huckebee's latest pronouncement. What follows is the full quote:
"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards,"

Well, if anything can motivate us to become active IN SUPPORT of the CONSTITUTION AS IT STANDS it's comments like that. Statements such as Huckabee's should serve as a great rallying cry for all Americans who do not want to see christian sharia law run rampant here in the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Victor J. Stegner's God: The Failed Hypothesis

I read this book this past December, and it was excellent. If you've already read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, then Stegner's book will be a nice follow-up. He's an astro-physicist, and he pursues God as a scientific hypothesis.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Questions for Candidates

Here is a list of interesting questions for political candidates which I origionally posted on the Santa Cruz Atheist blog. It comes courtesy of the American Humanist Association.

Pointed Questions for Presidential Candidates.

Over the past seven years we've watched as the president and congress have repeatedly breached Thomas Jefferson's wall of separation between church and state. But now you can act to prevent a continuation of this process. At every opportunity you have, ask the candidates pointed questions on this issue. Or call on your local media to ask such questions. Write letters to the editor expressing church-state concerns. Request that your friends ask such questions. Let's make 2008 the year we begin to set things right as we publicly hold the feet of all presidential candidates to the proverbial fire.

Here are ten questions to draw from or to modify in your own words.
1. Leaders of the religious right often say that America is a "Christian Nation." Do you agree with this statement?
2. Do you think houses of worship should be allowed to endorse political candidates and retain their tax exempt status?
3. Do you think public schools should sponsor school prayer or, as a parent, should this choice be left to me?
4. Would you support a law that mandates teaching creationism in my child's public school science classes?
5. Do you think my pharmacist should be allowed to deny me doctor-prescribed medications based on his or her religious beliefs?
6. Will you respect the rights of those in our diverse communities of faith who deem same-gender marriage to be consistent with their religious creed?
7. Should "faith-based" charities that receive public funds be allowed to discriminate against employees or applicants based on religious beliefs?
8. Do you think one's right to disbelieve in God is protected by the same laws that protect someone else's right to believe?
9. Do you think everyone's religious freedom needs to be protected by what Thomas Jefferson called "a wall of separation" between church and state?
10. What should guide our policies on public health and medical research: science or religion?

These suggested questions were developed by First Freedom First, a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation. First Freedom First is cosponsored by the American Humanist Association and its allies in the community of reason. So we urge you to use one or more of these questions if you attend a Town Hall meeting or another event where candidates for office will be gathering.

You may also want to copy and paste these questions into an e-mail message to the candidates, an e-mail message to your friends, or a posting on an Internet discussion group or blog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Imagine that!

Remember Barbara Bush's comments about the huddled masses at the Superdome after hurricane Katrina? Well with that in mind check out this video of Burak Obama's granny. What a paradigm shift!

U.S. last in preventable death rate

The following story from UPI says all that needs be said about the sorry state of US healthcare. Imagine the "richest country " with the "best healthcare system in the world" (Rudy Giuliani - Jan. 5, 2008 New Hampshire Republican Debate) has the worst record amongst industrialized nations in preventing unnecessary deaths. Rudy and others of his ilk are always touting the fact that people come from all over the world to take advantage of our advanced healthcare services. Well, duh. If you have the money and resources. If not die baby die. And what about all the stories I hear on NPR about US citizens going to India for operations they can't afford stateside? And I forgot to ask - where are the pro-life activists when real live people's lives are on the line?

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented.

The report by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the journal Health Affairs, said 101,000 deaths per year could have been prevented by access to timely and effective healthcare. The top performers were France, Japan and Australia.

Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at deaths "amenable to healthcare before age 75 between 1997-98 and 2002-03."

The researchers found that while other countries saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16 percent, the United States experienced only a 4 percent decline. "It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.," said Nolte, lead author of the study.

Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen said the finding that other countries are reducing preventable deaths more rapidly with less money "indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Support Proposition 92

Well, my last semester's grades are in and the winter break is over so I'm once again posting to the blog. I encourage others to do so as well. My topic today relates to my profession as an educator within the California Community College system. While I'm not a great fan of the Santa Cruz Sentinel they have taken a bold step in supporting Proposition 92 which will ensure equitable funding of community colleges and lower students fees. The community colleges are a key link in the educational system in California serving as a transmission belt between the K-12 and CSU and UC systems. We've been the step-child of California education for too long. For Secular Humanism's sake please support Proposition 92!!