Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 10 Evolution Stories of 2010


The National Center for Science Education published its list of the top 10 evolution stories for the 2010 year. Several of them were big enough issues to have made national/international news. Others I was not aware of. Most of them had positive outcomes. A couple did not. Overall, it appears to have been a busy year for the NCSE.

To read the complete article, click on the link below.
NCSE's Top 10 Evolution Stories of 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Center of All Things--The Thinking Atheist

The Thinking Atheist recently posted this video as a tribute to Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot. I find it an appropriate and timely remembrance of the late Dr. Sagan (he died Dec. 20, 1996),  and so I thought I'd repost the video here. Enjoy!



Quote of the Day

  The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.
  If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.

--Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 10 Daily Consequences of Having Evolved

I thought this article was well-written and informative; full of lots of fascinating information, some I knew and some I didn't.


The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved
By Rob Dunn
Smithsonian.com, November 19, 2010

Natural selection acts by winnowing the individuals of each generation, sometimes clumsily, as old parts and genes are co-opted for new roles. As a result, all species inhabit bodies imperfect for the lives they live. Our own bodies are worse off than most simply because of the many differences between the wilderness in which we evolved and the modern world in which we live. We feel the consequences every day. Here are ten.

1. Our cells are weird chimeras


Perhaps a billion years ago, a single-celled organism arose that would ultimately give rise to all of the plants and animals on Earth, including us. This ancestor was the result of a merging: one cell swallowed, imperfectly, another cell. The predator provided the outsides, the nucleus and most of the rest of the chimera. The prey became the mitochondrion, the cellular organ that produces energy. Most of the time, this ancient symbiosis proceeds amicably. But every so often, our mitochondria and their surrounding cells fight. The result is diseases, such as mitochondrial myopathies (a range of muscle diseases) or Leigh’s disease (which affects the central nervous system).

2. Hiccups


The first air-breathing fish and amphibians extracted oxygen using gills when in the water and primitive lungs when on land—and to do so, they had to be able to close the glottis, or entryway to the lungs, when underwater. Importantly, the entryway (or glottis) to the lungs could be closed. When underwater, the animals pushed water past their gills while simultaneously pushing the glottis down. We descendants of these animals were left with vestiges of their history, including the hiccup. In hiccupping, we use ancient muscles to quickly close the glottis while sucking in (albeit air, not water). Hiccups no longer serve a function, but they persist without causing us harm—aside from frustration and occasional embarrassment. One of the reasons it is so difficult to stop hiccupping is that the entire process is controlled by a part of our brain that evolved long before consciousness, and so try as you might, you cannot think hiccups away.

3. Backaches

The backs of vertebrates evolved as a kind of horizontal pole under which guts were slung. It was arched in the way a bridge might be arched, to support weight. Then, for reasons anthropologists debate long into the night, our hominid ancestors stood upright, which was the bodily equivalent of tipping a bridge on end. Standing on hind legs offered advantages—seeing long distances, for one, or freeing the hands to do other things—but it also turned our backs from an arched bridge to an S shape. The letter S, for all its beauty, is not meant to support weight and so our backs fail, consistently and painfully.

4. Unsupported intestines


Once we stood upright, our intestines hung down instead of being cradled by our stomach muscles. In this new position, our innards were not as well supported as they had been in our quadrupedal ancestors. The guts sat atop a hodgepodge of internal parts, including, in men, the cavities in the body wall through which the scrotum and its nerves descend during the first year of life. Every so often, our intestines find their way through these holes—in the way that noodles sneak out of a sieve—forming an inguinal hernia.

5. Choking

In most animals, the trachea (the passage for air) and the esophagus (the passage for food) are oriented such that the esophagus is below the trachea. In a cat's throat, for example, the two tubes run roughly horizontal and parallel to each other before heading on to the stomach and lung, respectively. In this configuration, gravity tends to push food down toward the lower esophagus. Not so in humans. Modifications of the trachea to allow speech pushed the trachea and esophagus further down the throat to make way. Simultaneously, our upright posture put the trachea and esophagus in a near-vertical orientation. Together these changes leave falling food or water about a 50-50 chance of falling in the “wrong tube.” As a consequence, in those moments in which the epiglottis does not have time to cover the trachea, we choke. We might be said to choke on our success. Monkeys suffer the same fate only rarely, but then again they can’t sing or dance. Then again, neither can I.

6. We're awfully cold in winter

Fur is a warm hug on a cold day, useful and nearly ubiquitous among mammals. But we and a few other species, such as naked mole rats, lost it when we lived in tropical environments. Debate remains as to why this happened, but the most plausible explanation is that when modern humans began to live in larger groups, our hair filled with more and more ticks and lice. Individuals with less hair were perhaps less likely to get parasite-borne diseases. Being hairless in Africa was not so bad, but once we moved into Arctic lands, it had real drawbacks. Evolution has no foresight, no sense of where its work will go.

7. Goosebumps don't really help


When our ancestors were covered in fur, muscles in their skin called “arrector pili” contracted when they were upset or cold, making their fur stand on end. When an angry or frightened dog barks at you, these are the muscles that raise its bristling hair. The same muscles puff up the feathers of birds and the fur of mammals on cold days to help keep them warm. Although we no longer have fur, we still have fur muscles just beneath our skin. They flex each time we are scared by a bristling dog or chilled by a wind, and in doing so give us goose bumps that make our thin hair stand uselessly on end.

8. Our brains squeeze our teeth


A genetic mutation in our recent ancestors caused their descendants to have roomy skulls that accommodated larger brains. This may seem like pure success—brilliance, or its antecedent anyway. But the gene that made way for a larger brain did so by diverting bone away from our jaws, which caused them to become thinner and smaller. With smaller jaws, we could not eat tough food as easily as our thicker-jawed ancestors, but we could think our way out of that problem with the use of fire and stone tools. Yet because our teeth are roughly the same size as they have long been, our shrinking jaws don’t leave enough room for them in our mouths. Our wisdom teeth need to be pulled because our brains are too big.

9. Obesity


Many of the ways in which our bodies fail have to do with very recent changes, changes in how we use our bodies and structure our societies. Hunger evolved as a trigger to drive us to search out food. Our taste buds evolved to encourage us to choose foods that benefited our bodies (such as sugar, salt and fat) and avoid those that might be poisonous. In much of the modern world, we have more food than we require, but our hunger and cravings continue. They are a bodily GPS unit that insists on taking us where we no longer need to go. Our taste buds ask for more sugar, salt and fat, and we obey.

10 to 100. The list goes on.

I have not even mentioned male nipples. I have said nothing of the blind spot in our eyes. Nor of the muscles some of use to wiggle our ears. We are full of the accumulated baggage of our idiosyncratic histories. The body is built on an old form, out of parts that once did very different things. So take a moment to pause and sit on your coccyx, the bone that was once a tail. Roll your ankles, each of which once connected a front leg to a paw. Revel not in who you are but who you were. It is, after all, amazing what evolution has made out of bits and pieces. Nor are we in any way alone or unique. Each plant, animal and fungus carries its own consequences of life's improvisational genius. So, long live the chimeras. In the meantime, if you will excuse me, I am going to rest my back.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Top-Ten-Daily-Consequences-of-Having-Evolved.html#ixzz16i743yAy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Science Saved My Soul

I was reading through the posts this evening from RichardDawkins.net and came upon this video from philhellenes. He puts out some brilliant and thought-provoking videos and this one is no exception. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chilean miners rescued & 3 rival churches claim the credit - Los Angeles atheism | Examiner.com

Like most people who are aware of this story, I, too, am very glad to see these miners rescued from such a horrible circumstance. It took a great deal of human ingenuity to devise the means of their rescue, and provide them with the nutritional and medical support necessary to keep them alive. It also took a great deal of patience on the part of both the miners and the equipment operators to bring the mission to completion.

What I find absolutely baffling though, (as this article rightly points out), is how, given all of this very human support, these miners, their families, and so many of the interested observers around the world, STILL want to claim this rescue mission as a victory for God. Of course, the 3 clowns claiming victory for their personal version of the Almighty, never once placed blame for the initial catastrophe at deity's door (or the loss of so many other miners' lives at any given time), so why give him the credit for saving these men? I guess I will never truly understand the religious mindset in this respect.

Read the full article below:
Chilean miners rescued & 3 rival churches claim the credit - Los Angeles atheism Examiner.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Bloodthirsty Bible: by The Thinking Atheist

I decided to check out The Thinking Atheist's YouTube channel this afternoon, and happened upon two new videos: Our Bloodthirsty Bible--The Bald Avenger & Hands Off. Like most of his other videos, these take a humorous satirical shot at the Christian religion and in this case, its holy book. I actually learned a few new things too.



Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's All About Me

I just concluded a casual stroll through my Facebook page, checking out the various goings-on with several friends. Given that it is Sunday, naturally, some of my theistic friends have little 'God is Great' cheers posted for status updates today. That is their choice, of course, and I have the option of glancing at them and then scrolling on past.

A few moments ago, however, one caught my eye that aroused in me an involuntary, intellectual & emotional recoil. This was the post:

"So-and-so loves it when God gives me such personal gifts." (emphasis mine)

She then goes on to talk about running into a former roommate in a deli and spending the afternoon together catching up.

So let me get this straight.....running into an old roommate is a "personal gift" from God? And this friend is so wonderful in God's eyes that she deserves such a "personal gift" more than say, a child in a third world country, who needs food, shelter, clothing, medicine, a family, etc, etc, etc....? Or more than a mother of 3 young children needs a cure for breast cancer? Or any number of actual "gifts" which would make life not just a little nicer for someone, but might make the difference between life and death, suffering or relief.

The sheer arrogance of that statement just floors me! It also leaves me wondering if this friend, and the many other believers like her, would be as quick to attribute such personal attention from the Almighty when some inconvenience or greater tragedy strikes. Somehow, I think not.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Sound of Science

This is a really cute song done to the tune of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence".


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atheists/Agnostics Know More About Bible Than Believers

I think the headline here should come as no surprise to many non-believers. After all, a great number of us come to atheism/agnosticism through our study of religion and the Bible. It's just nice to see actual data on a phenomenon that has always been something of an intuitive certainty.


Click on the link below to see the brief NPR article discussing the results of the Pew survey.

Quote of the Day:

"It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity."

--Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Richard Dawkins Speaks at the "Protest the Pope" Rally in London

I don't think the 'Protest the Pope' rally in London got much exposure here in the States, so I thought I'd post the brilliant speech of Britain's "most famous atheist" given at the rally. In it, Dawkins addresses the charges made by the Pope that atheists are responsible for 20th century villains such as Hitler, and levels a few in return at Ratzinger and the RCC as well.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Offend or Not to Offend, That is the Question

I wish I would have had my camera with me this morning on the way to work. There is a fundamentalist church (whose signs I have posted photos of before) boasting this little nugget of wisdom on their marquee:

"The purpose of the Christian life is to fulfill the Master's will."

If I'm not mistaken, that was also the purpose of the slave's life.
As if I didn't already have a pretty good understanding of how slavery was justified by the majority of Southern Christians prior to and during the Civil War, and how obedience was sold to the slaves through the medium of religion, that sentence alone really hammered the point home.

I find this mindset both obnoxious and frightening. The master/slave dichotomy has no place in a free, secular society.
******************************************

On the way home from work, I had a different type of experience. While waiting through 2 cycles of a stoplight, I quickly updated my facebook status with a flippant comment about a bumper sticker I saw on the car in front of me. It was a sticker for a local Christian school in town, whose mascot is a lion. My smart-ass remark went something like this:

"Anyone else find it ironic that a Xtian school has a lion for a mascot? Apparently someone did not think that through completely."

Later on, I found that I had apparently offended a couple of my Christian friends. Punctuated with exclamation points and question marks, one friend replied "Lion of Judah!!??!?" and another with "Aslan?"


Now, I have to sheepishly admit, I found the idea of Aslan being the mascot rather appealing. I mean, yes, Narnia was nothing but a big old Christian metaphor, with Aslan filling the role of God, but if I was going to create a deity or mascot, what better one than a big, regal, rideable, child-loving lion? Of course, as I explained in my reply, I didn't think Aslan was the reason for the lion mascot.

As to the Lion of Judah, I also have to confess that that particular metaphor did not cross my mind at all as I was sitting at that light. I was more focused on the idea of lions in the book of Daniel, or the lions of Rome to whom many Christians were more-or-less sacrificed for sport. It was with this in mind that I dashed off what I thought was a witty, if a bit snarky, comment. After all, who would want a Christian-eating lion as the mascot of a Christian school, right?

Unfortunately, I did have to concede (on FB anyway) that my friend was probaly correct with his Lion of Judah interpretation. In my defense though, during my own Christian upbringing, although I was familiar with the Jesus as lion metaphor, it was the metaphor of Jesus as lamb that was emphasized, and with which I was most familiar. Who knew that I'd be able to offend Christians with their own simultaneously contradictory metaphors? After all, it's not like I questioned the wisdom of leaving the Lamb of God alone with the Lion of Judah (which would be a truly blasphemous mixing of the metaphors)!


I suppose that is the point of this whole little story (if there is such a point). Christians find it so easy to get offended when their own religious doctrine offers so much contradiction that almost any silly comment made without intent to offend is bound to ruffle somebody's feathers.

As a sidenote, I also find it absurd that religious believers find it necessary to defend their god from irreverent and flippant commenters such as myself in the first place. I really just want to say, "If I've insulted God, I'm sure he'll let me know. After all, look at what he did to Job...and Job was a righteous man." So far, God's been pretty mum on the whole thing, which leads me to conclude that he obviously has a much better sense of humor than those Christian soldiers who feel compelled to defend his honor.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finally, Some Hope for America!

Finally, something to celebrate! Sometimes it's difficult to feel optimisitic about the direction the US is heading when our headlines are filled with stories about obscure, fundamentalist cult leaders burning holy books, we find pundits promoting their religio-political agendas on prime time television, or see high profile elected officials spouting ignorant garbage about the "evils" of stem-cell research.

This brief segment at least provides some hope that the flame of the Enlightenment won't be completely extinguished any time real soon; that the values of freethought and skepticism might one day light even the darkest corners of Louisiana. (cue inspirational music)



Quote of the Day:

"Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too."

--Heinrich Heine

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rowan Atkinson in 'We are most amused'

This is just too darn funny on its own for any additional commentary from me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Richard Dawkins: Faith School Menace

This week, a television documentary entitled 'Faith School Menace?' aired in the UK. Thanks to YouTube, the video is available to us here in the US. It is quite interesting to note that, according to data presented in the documentary, one-third of state funded schools in the UK are "faith schools," which is, of course, what has Dr. Dawkins concerned. In the US, our government doesn't explicitly fund religious private schools, however, through a system of 'faith-based initiatives' and 'school choice' (i.e., private school tuition vouchers), there is also de facto funding being provided by tax-payers to religious schools here in the States. Therefore, many of the issues raised by this documentary apply just as easily to our own secular nation.



Quote of the Day:

"Are faith schools better? Surely God isn't helping pupils with exams."

--Richard Dawkins

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Godless Heathen's Love Affair with a Dead Scientist



Earlier this year, I stumbled upon some videos put out by Symphony of Science, which include several very well-done musical tributes to Carl Sagan and other prominent scientists, as well as the contributions of science itself. (My personal favorite right now is entitled 'We Are All Connected' and features Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Feynman, and Bill Nye. You can check out all of them at the Symphony of Science website linked above.)

Many of the images in the videos were taken directly from Carl Sagan's 1980 series Cosmos. Watching these moving videos stirred vague memories from my childhood of having seen Cosmos before, at least in part, and piqued my interest in experiencing it from start to finish.

Thank goodness for public libraries! At the beginning of the summer, I was fortunate to find that my library had one complete, 13-episode set of Cosmos on DVD and it was immediately available for check-out. From the moment that haunting theme music started and the word Cosmos appeared on the screen, I was hooked. And even though the "look" of the show and many of the special effects are dated, (my kids and I got a good giggle out of the fashions of the day---can anyone say terry cloth, tube socks and afros?), the scientific information was interesting (and surprisingly, little in need of updating) and the timeless humanist message struck such a resonant chord that I don't even remember how many times I found myself choked up or teary-eyed.  

By the end of the first episode, it was pretty clear that I was completely and utterly in love with Carl Sagan.


Like any respectable love-sick fool, I wanted to know more about the object of my affection. Fortunately, when your beloved is a world-reknowned scientist and public figure, it's not hard to find information. I watched clips from old interviews and television appearances, began reading his books, and even downloaded the movie Contact from Netflix and watched it with the family. (I think it should be fairly obvious that I've got a bad case of Saganitis.)



Anyway, in my quest for knowledge about Carl, the first book of his that I chose to read was 'The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark'. As a godless heathen, I figured it would be a comfortable place to start getting to know him better. I couldn't have been more right.

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring," he states in the first chapter (p. 12).

Well, that about sums up my worldview.
At the beginning of chapter 2, I nearly wept when I read the following:
Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time--when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness (p. 25).
How could he have known that I worry about the same basic things today?

Despite being an astronomer and astrophysicist (or maybe because of his profession), it's quite evident that however much time he spent gazing up at the stars, Carl Sagan's feet were quite firmly planted here on Earth. How could anyone NOT love Carl Sagan? Everything that I have learned about him points me to the conclusion that he was (is) the epitomy of the scientific humanist (or is it humanistic scientist?), an incurable optimist, and a hell of a great man.

{Completely Irrelevant Sidenote: If there was an award for "Sexiest Mouth on a Scientist" my vote would definitely go to Sagan. I just love to watch him talk. Ann Druyan was one very lucky woman!}


Quote of the Day:

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

--Carl Sagan


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The War on Brains

I have a confession...

I've never been one of those people that is big into national flag waving, and I never have felt the compulsion to proclaim my superiority as a citizen of America over the citizens of other countries, or my homeland's innate superiority over someone else's. In fact, nationalism hasn't much figured into my perceptions of the world in general. It's just not something I've ever cared anything about.

Perhaps the blame for this tendency should be laid at the doorstep of the public schools I attended, which apparently failed in their patriotic duty to indoctrinate me fully into the culture of American exceptionalism. Or, maybe it's actually my parents' fault. After all, they were bleeding-heart liberals who consistently reinforced the radical notion of social equality and the ideas that "people are people," regardless of where they come from or how they look, and that each individual should be judged on his/her own merits. From them, I also learned to appreciate the (clearly un-American) value of helping those less fortunate than myself. The nearest I've ever come to national pride is cheering for the American athletes competing in the Olympic games. (Of course, personally, that's not nearly as emotionally vested a loyalty as say, rooting for my university football team on any given Saturday during the fall season, but at least it's something.)

I'm making this first confession of absence of homeland hubris only to highlight a second confession...

While I've never been exactly overtly patriotic, until this past decade or so, I've never been ashamed of being an American either. However, the more I see how grass roots, conservative, or tea party "common sense" is being marketed to and accepted by the general public at the expense of actual knowledge and reason, (and the more material that enlightened, rational-minded individuals from other countries have to poke fun at), the more I find being identified as American to be an embarrassment. 

Case in point: This segment by Rachel Maddow simply highlights what lies at the root of my discomfort and discontent. In the U.S., there is a ferociously raging war on brains; or more specifically, a war on knowledge and intellectualism. As an educator, a parent, and yes, even as an American citizen, I am shamed to my core to have anyone think that the cretins highlighted here speak for me. 


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Topic of Cancer: Christopher Hitchens

It is a sad day for this godless heathen to find out that one of the "Four Horsemen" has been diagnosed with cancer. True to form though, Hitchens provides his readers with the news in his singularly straight-forward and witty style.

Keep fighting the good fight, Christopher! We're not ready for you to depart this world just yet.

Topic of Cancer


One fine June day, the author is launching his best-selling memoir, Hitch-22. The next, he’s throwing up backstage at The Daily Show, in a brief bout of denial, before entering the unfamiliar country—with its egalitarian spirit, martial metaphors, and hard bargains of people who have cancer.

Read the entire article here: Topic of Cancer Culture: vanityfair.com

Quote of the Day:

"I am not even an atheist so much as an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion, I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually true....There may be people who wish to live their lives under a cradle-to-grave divine supervision; a permanent surveillance and monitoring. But I cannot imagine anything more horrible or grotesque."

--Christopher Hitchens

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Militant Atheist

I know I post a lot of videos on my blog. Some are posted simply for humor's sake, some simply to rant about what I perceive as political/societal, or other injustice, and others provide something upon which to reflect. The video I am posting today falls in that third category. While I disagree with the videographer on a couple of minor points, I still think the message is well worth repeating.



Saturday, July 31, 2010

Suggested Explanation for a Physiological Role of Religion

This is an interesting look at anthropologist, Lionel Tiger's explanation of his theory of a physiological role of religion in humans.

Friday, July 30, 2010

'God in the Constitution' by Col. Robert Ingersoll

Thanks to the Atheist News for the posting of this speech by The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll. Reading through this speech, I was struck by just how timely the subject matter continues to be. If only he were alive today to combat such nitwits as Sarah Palin (among others), with his moving style of oratory and his reason and common sense. For my small part, I will merely re-post Ingersoll's speech here, in the hope that more people will read it and recognize the truth and continued relevance of his message.


 Published in "The Arena" - Boston Mass. January 1890






GOD IN THE CONSTITUTION. “All governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” By Col. Robert G. Ingersoll


"IN this country it is admitted that the power to govern resides in the people themselves; that they are the only rightful source of authority. For many centuries before the formation of our Govern­ment, before the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, the people had but little voice in the affairs of nations. The source of authority was not in this world ; kings were not crowned by their subjects, and the sceptre was not held by the consent of the governed. The king sat on his throne by the will of God, and for that reason was not accountable to the people for the exercise of his power. He commanded, and the people obeyed. He was lord of their bodies, arid his partner, the priest, was lord of their souls. The government of earth was patterned after the kingdom on high. God was a supreme autocrat in heaven, whose will was law, and the king was a supreme autocrat on earth whose will was law. The God in heaven had inferior beings to do his will, and the king on earth had certain fa­vorites and officers to do his. These officers were accountable to him, and he was responsible to God.


The Feudal system was supposed to be in accordance with the divine plan. The people were not governed by intelligence, but by threats and promises, by rewards and punishments. No effort was made to enlighten the common people; no one thought of educating a peasant-of developing the mind of a laborer. The people were created to support thrones and altars. Their destiny was to toil and obey-to work and want. They were to be satisfied with huts and hovels, with ignorance and rags, and their children must expect no more. In the presence of the king they fell upon their knees, and before the priest they groveled in the very dust. The poor peasant divided his earnings with the state, because he imagined it protected his body ; he divided his crust with the church, believing that it protected his soul. He was the prey of Throne and Altar-one deformed his body, the other his mind-and these two vultures fed upon his toil. He was taught by the king to hate the people of other nations, and by the priest to despise the believers in all other religions. He was made the enemy of all people except his own. He had no sympathy with the peasants of other lands, enslaved and plundered like himself. He was kept in ignorance, because education is the enemy of superstition, and because education is the foe of that egotism often mistaken for patriotism.


The intelligent and good man holds in his affections the good and true of every land-the boundaries of countries are not the limitations of his sympathies. Caring nothing for race, or color, he loves those who speak other languages and worship other gods. Between him and those who suffer, there is no impassable gulf. He salutes the world, and extends the hand of friendship to the human race. He does not bow before a provincial and patriotic god-one who protects his tribe or nation, and abhors the rest of mankind.


Through all the ages of superstition, each nation has insisted that it was the peculiar care of the true God, and that it alone had the true religion-that the gods of other nations were false and fraudu­lent, and that other religions were wicked, ignorant and absurd. In this way the seeds of hatred had been sown, and in this way have been kindled the flames of war. Men have had no sympathy with those of a different complexion, with those who knelt at other altars and expressed their thoughts in other words-and even a difference in garments placed them beyond the sympathy of others. Every peculiar­ity was the food of prejudice and the excuse for hatred.


The boundaries of nations were at last crossed by commerce. People became somewhat ac­quainted, and they found that the virtues and vices were quite evenly distributed. At last, subjects be­came somewhat acquainted with kings-peasants had the pleasure of gazing at princes, and it was dimly perceived that the differences were mostly in rags and names.


In 1776 our fathers endeavored to retire the gods from politics. They declared that “all govern­ments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This was a contradiction of the then political ideas of the world; it was, as many believed, an act of pure blasphemy-a renunciation of the Deity. It was in fact a declaration of the independence of the earth. It was a notice to all churches and priests that thereafter mankind would govern and protect themselves. Politically it tore down every altar and denied the authority of every “sacred book,” and appealed from the Providence of God to the Providence of Man.


Those who promulgated the Declaration adopted a Constitution for the great Republic.


What was the office or purpose of that Constitution ?


Admitting that all power came from the people, it was necessary, first, that certain means be adopted for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the people, and second, it was proper and conveni­ent to designate certain departments that should exercise certain powers of the Government. There must be the legislative, the judicial and the executive departments. Those who make laws should not execute them. Those who execute laws should not have the power of absolutely determining their meaning or their constitutionality. For these reasons, among others, a Constitution was adopted.


This Constitution also contained a declaration of rights. It marked out the limitations of discre­tion, so that in the excitement of passion, men shall not go beyond the point designated in the calm moment of reason.


When man is unprejudiced, and his passions subject to reason, it is well he should define the limits of power, SO that the waves driven by the storm of passion shall not overbear the shore.


A constitution is for the government of man in this world. It is the chain the people put upon their servants, as well as upon themselves. It defines the limit of power and the limit of obedience.


It follows, then, that nothing should be in a constitution that cannot be enforced by the power of the state-that is, by the army and navy. Behind every provision of the Constitution should stand the force of the nation. Every sword, every bayonet, every cannon should be there.


Suppose, then, that we amend the Constitution and acknowledge the existence and supremacy of God-what becomes of the supremacy of the people, and how is this amendment to be enforced? A constitution does not enforce itself. It must be carried out by appropriate legislation. Will it be a crime to deny the existence of this constitutional God? Can the offender be proceeded against in the crimin­al courts ? Can his lips be closed by the power of the state? Would not this be the inauguration of reli­gious persecution ?


And if there is to be an acknowledgment of God in the Constitution, the question naturally arises as to which God is to have this honor. Shall we select the God of the Catholics-he who has es­tablished an infallible church presided over by an infallible pope, and who is delighted with certain ce­remonies and placated by prayers uttered in exceedingly common Latin? Is it the God of the Presby­terian with the Five Points of Calvinism, who is ingenious enough to harmonize necessity and respons­ibility, and who in some way justifies himself for damning most of his own children? Is it the God of the Puritan, the enemy of joy-of the Baptist, who is great enough to govern the universe, and small enough to allow the destiny of a soul to depend on whether the body it inhabited was immersed or sprinkled ?


What God is it proposed to put in the Constitution ? Is it the God of the Old Testament, who was a believer in slavery and who justified polygamy ? If slavery was right ’ then, it is right now ; and if Jehovah was right then, the Mormons are right now. Are we to have the God who issued a command­ment against all art-who was the enemy of investigation and of free speech ? Is it the God who com­manded the husband to stone his wife to death because she differed with him on the subject of reli­gion? Are we to have a God who will re-enact the Mosaic code and punish hundreds of offences with death ? What court, what tribunal of last resort, is to define this God, and who is to make known his will? In his presence, laws passed by men will be of no value. The decisions of courts will be as nothing. But who is to make known the will of this supreme God ? Will there be a supreme tribunal composed of priests ?


Of course all persons elected to office will either swear or affirm to support the Constitution. Men who do not believe in this God, cannot so swear or affirm. Such men will not be allowed to hold any office of trust or honor. A God in the Constitution will not interfere with the oaths or affirmations of hypocrites. Such a provision will only exclude honest and conscientious unbelievers. Intelligent people know that no one knows whether there is a God or not. The existence of such a Being is merely a matter of opinion. Men who believe in the liberty of man, who are willing to die for the hon­or of their country, will be excluded from taking any part in the administration of its affairs. Such a provision would place the country under the feet of priests.


To recognize a Deity in the organic law of our country would be the destruction of religious liberty. The God in the Constitution would have to be protected. There would be laws against blas­phemy, laws against the publication of honest thoughts, laws against carrying books and papers in the mails in which this constitutional God should be attacked. Our land would be filled with theological spies, with religious eavesdroppers, and all the snakes and reptiles of the lowest natures, in this sun­shine of religious authority, would uncoil and crawl.


It is proposed to acknowledge a God who is the lawful and rightful Governor of nations; the one who ordained the Powers that be. If this God is really the Governor of nations, it is not necessary to acknowledge him in the Constitution. This would not add to his power. If he governs all nations now, he has always controlled the affairs of men. Having this control, why did he not see to it that he was recognized in the Constitution of the United States ? If he had the supreme authority and neg­lected to put himself in the Constitution, is not this, at least, prima facie evidence that he did not de­sire to be there?


For one, I am not in favor of the God who has “ordained the powers that be.” What have we to say of Russia-of Siberia? What can we say of the persecuted and enslaved? What of the kings and nobles who live on the stolen labor of others? What of the priest and cardinal and pope who wrest, even from the hand of poverty, the single coin thrice earned ?


Is it possible to flatter the Infinite with a constitutional amendment? The Confederate States acknowledged God in their constitution, and yet they were overwhelmed by a people in whose organ­ic law no reference to God is made. All the kings of the earth acknowledge the existence of God, and God is their ally; and this belief in God is used as a means to enslave and rob, to govern and degrade the people whom they call their subjects.


The Government of the United States is secular. It derives its power from the consent of man. It is a Government with which God has nothing whatever to do-and all forms and customs, inconsist­ent with the fundamental fact that the people are the source of authority, should be abandoned. In this country there should be no oaths-no man should be sworn to tell the truth, and in no court should there be any appeal to any supreme being. A rascal by taking the oath appears to go in partnership with God, and ignorant jurors credit the firm instead of the man. A witness should tell his story, and if he speaks falsely should be considered as guilty of perjury. Governors and Presidents should not issue religious proclamations. They should not call upon the people to thank God. It is no part of their offi­cial duty. It is outside of and beyond the horizon of their authority. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States to justify this religious impertinence.


For many years priests have attempted to give to our Government a religious form. Zealots have succeeded in putting the legend upon our money : “ In God We Trust ; ” and we have chaplains in the army and navy, and legislative proceedings are usually opened with prayer. All this is contrary to the genius of the Republic, contrary to the Declaration of Independence, and contrary really to the Con­stitution of the United States. We hare taken the ground that the people can govern themselves without the assistance of any supernatural power. We have taken the position that the people are the real and only rightful source of authority. We have solemnly declared that the people must determine what is politically right and what is wrong, and that their legally expressed will is the supreme law. This leaves no room for national superstition-no room for patriotic gods or supernatural beings-and this does away with the necessity for political prayers.


The government of God has been tried. It was tried in Palestine several thousand years ago, and the God of the Jews was a monster of cruelty and ignorance, and the people governed by this God lost their nationality. Theocracy was tried through the Middle Ages. God was the Governor the pope was his agent, and every priest and bishop and cardinal was armed with credentials from the Most High and the result was that the noblest and best were in prisons, the greatest and grandest per­ished at the stake. The result was that vices were crowned with honor, and virtues whipped naked through the streets. The result was that hypocrisy swayed the sceptre of authority, while honesty lan­guished in the dungeons of the Inquisition.


The government of God was tried in Geneva when John Calvin was his representative ; and un­der this government of God the flames climbed around the limbs and blinded the eyes of Michael Ser­vetus, because he dared to express an honest thought. This government of God was tried in Scotland, and the seeds of theological hatred were sown, that bore, through hundreds of years, the fruit of mas­sacre and assassination. This government of God was established in New England, and the result was that Quakers were hanged or burned-the laws of Moses re-enacted and the “witch was not suffered to live.” The result was that investigation was a crime, and the expression of an honest thought a capit­al offence. This government of God was established in Spain, and the Jews were expelled, the Moors were driven out, Moriscoes were exterminated, and nothing left but the ignorant and bankrupt wor­shipers of this monster. This government of God was tried in the United States when slavery was re­garded as a divine institution, when men and women were regarded as criminals because they sought for liberty by flight, and when others were regarded as criminals because they gave them food and shelter. The pulpit of that day defended the buying and selling of women and babes, and the mouths of slave-traders were filled with passages of Scripture, defending and upholding the traffic in human flesh.


We have entered upon a new epoch. This is the century of man. Every effort to really better the condition of mankind has been opposed by the worshipers of some God. The church in all ages and among all peoples has been the consistent enemy of the human race. Everywhere and at all times, it has opposed the liberty of thought and expression. It has been the sworn enemy of investigation and of intellectual development. It has denied the existence of facts, the tendency of which was to under­mine its power. It has always been carrying fagots to the feet of Philosophy. It has erected the gallows for Genius. It has built the dungeon for Thinkers. And to-day the orthodox church is as much opposed as it ever was to the mental freedom of the human race.


Of course, there is a distinction made between churches and individual members. There have been millions of Christians who have been believers in liberty and in the freedom of expression-mil­lions who have fought for the rights of man-but churches as organizations, have been on the other side. It is true that churches have fought churches-that Protestants battled with the Catholics for what they were pleased to call the freedom of conscience; and it is also true that the moment these Prot­estants obtained the civil power, they denied this freedom of conscience to others.


Let me show you the difference between the theological and the secular spirit. Nearly three hundred years ago, one of the nobles’, of the human race, Giordano Bruno, was burned at Rome by the Catholic Church-that is to say, by the “ Triumphant Beast.” This man had committed certain crimes-he had publicly stated that there were other worlds than this-other constellations than ours. He had ventured the supposition that other planets might be peopled. More than this, and worse than this, he had asserted the heliocentric theory-that the earth made its annual journey about the sun. He had also given it as his opinion that matter is eternal. For these crimes he was found unworthy to live, and about his body were piled the fagots of the Catholic Church. This man, this genius, this pioneer of the science of the nineteenth century, perished as serenely as the sun sets, The Infidels of to-day find excuses for his murderers. They take into consideration the ignorance and brutality of the times. They remember that the world was governed by a God who was then the source of all authority. This is the charity of Infidelity -of philosophy. But the church of today is so heartless, is still so cold and cruel, that it can find no excuse for the murdered.


This is the difference between Theocracy and Democracy-between God and man.


If God is allowed in the Constitution, man must abdicate. There is no room for both. If the people of the great Republic become superstitious enough and ignorant enough to put God in the Constitution of the United States, the experiment of self-government will have failed, and the great and splendid declaration that “all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the gov­erned” will have been denied, and in its place will be found this: All power comes from God; priests are his agents, and the people are their slaves.


Religion is an individual matter, and each soul should he left entirely free to form its own opin­ions and to judge of its accountability to a supposed supreme being. With religion, government has nothing ,whatever to do. Government is founded upon force, and force should never interfere with the religious opinions of men. Laws should define the rights of men and their duties toward each other, and these laws should be for the benefit of man in this world.


A nation can neither be Christian nor Infidel-a nation is incapable of having opinions upon these subjects. If a nation is Christian, will all the citizens go to heaven ? If it is not, will they all be damned ? Of course it is admitted that the majority of citizens composing a nation may believe or dis­believe, and they may call the nation what they please, A nation is a corporation. To repeat a familiar saying, “it has no soul.” There can be no such thing as a Christian corporation. Several Christians may form a corporation, but it can hardly be said that the corporation thus formed was included in the atonement. For instance: Seven Christians form a corporation-that is to say, there are seven natural persons and one artificial-can it be said that there are eight souls to be saved ?


No human being has brain enough, or knowledge enough, or experience enough, to say wheth­er there is, or is not, a God. Into this darkness Science has not yet carried its torch. No human being has gone beyond the horizon of the natural. As to the existence of the supernatural, one man knows precisely as much, and exactly as little as another. Upon this question, chimpanzees and cardinals, apes and popes, are upon exact equality. The smallest insect discernible only by the most powerful micro­scope, is as familiar with this subject, as the greatest genius that has been produced by the human race.


Governments and laws are for the preservation of rights and the regulation of conduct. One man should not be allowed to interfere with the liberty of another. In the metaphysical world there should be no interference whatever. The same is true in the world of art. Laws cannot regulate what is or is not music, what is or what is not beautiful-and constitutions cannot definitely settle and determ­ine the perfection of statues, the value of paintings, or the glory and subtlety of thought. In spite of laws and constitutions the brain will think. In every direction consistent with the well-being and peace of society, there should be freedom. No man should be compelled to adopt the theology of another; neither should a minority, however small, be forced to acquiesce in the opinions of a majority, however large.


If there be an infinite Being, he does not need our help we need not waste our energies in his defence. It is enough for us to give to every other human being the liberty we claim for ourselves. There may or may not be a Supreme Ruler of the universe-but we are certain that man exists, and we believe that freedom is the condition of progress; that it is the sunshine of the mental and moral world, and that without it man will go back to the den of savagery, and will become the fit associate of wild and ferocious beasts.


We have tried the government of priests, and we know that such governments are without mercy. In the administration of theocracy, all the instruments of torture have been invented. If any man wishes to have God recognized in the Constitution of our country, let him read the history of the In­quisition, and let him remember that hundreds of millions of men, women and children have been sac­rificed to placate the wrath, or win the approbation of this God.


There has been in our country a divorce of church and state. This follows as a natural sequence of the declaration that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The priest was no longer a necessity. His presence was a contradiction of the principle on which the Re­public was founded. He represented, not the authority of the people, but of some “ Power from on High,” and to recognize this other Power was inconsistent with free government. The founders of the Republic at that time parted company with the priests, and said to them : “You may turn your atten­tion to the other world we will attend to the affairs of this.” Equal liberty was given to all. But the ultra theologian is not satisfied with this-he wishes to destroy the liberty of the people-he wishes a recogni­tion of his God as the source of authority, to the end that the church may become the supreme power.


But the sun will not be turned backward. The people of the United States are intelligent. They no longer believe implicitly in supernatural religion. They are losing confidence in the miracles and marvels of the Dark Ages. They know the value of the free school. They appreciate the benefits of sci­ence. They are believers in education, in the free play of thought, and there is a suspicion that the priest, the theologian, is destined to take his place with the necromancer, the astrologer, the worker of magic, and the professor of the black art.


We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian gov­erned the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins-they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones, The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveni­ences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of to-day-of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago.


These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and ex­perience-and for them all, man is indebted to man.


Let us hold fast to the sublime declaration of Lincoln. Let us insist that this, the Republic, is “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.“

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Can Atheists Celebrate

I found this video on another website and thought it was interesting enough to include here. It really drives me nutty that theists truly think that life is not worth living, or in this case, celebrating, without proscribed religious holy days based on half-truths and fairy tales. It seems to me that Christians and Muslims (to name only 2) have it completely backwards. What on earth do they possibly have to celebrate if all they are doing is marking time until they can be raised up for a second, eternal life in Heaven? To my way of thinking, those of us who are focused on the here and now have much more reason to celebrate, because we know just how precious this one shot we've been given at life really is.



Quote of the Day:

"The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live--moreover, the only one."

--Emil Cioran

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Universe Not Made for Us

This is just a really lovely video put together with Carl Sagan's words. I find it inspiring and it reaffirms for me just how much we've lost with Sagan's death.



Quote of the Day:

"Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy."

--Carl Sagan

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Annual Atheist Solidarity Day--June 21,2010


Today marks the first annual Atheist Solidarity Day. To read more about this event, what it stands for and how you can participate, click here.

I'm showing my support by changing my profile pic to the black/red Atheist Solidarity ribbon and including it on my blog.

Louisiana Lawmakers Propose Day of Prayer to Stop Disastrous Oil Spill


(CNN) -- While cleanup crews and technical teams continue efforts to stop crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana lawmakers are proposing a different approach: prayer.


State senators designated Sunday as a day for citizens to ask for God's help dealing with the oil disaster.


"Thus far efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail," state Sen. Robert Adley said in a statement released after last week's unanimous vote for the day of prayer. "It is clearly time for a miracle for us."

Above is just the teaser. Read the complete CNN article at the link below:
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/06/20/gulf.oil.spill/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn


Quote of the Day:

(I have posted this one before, but it seems apropos here)

"Hands that help are far better than lips that pray."

--Robert G. Ingersoll

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You Picked the Wrong Day to Discuss Suffering

It's been a while since anyone from the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses has come a-knockin' on my front door. For a couple of years, it was the same lady, with different "assistants" who would show up on a Monday morning, go through their spiel for the topic of the month in the Watchtower, read Bible verses to me, and leave the literature.  At the time, I was homeschooling my children, so I think that fact alone served as some sort of sign that I was amenable to their apocalyptic evangelizing. (I guess she wasn't aware that a sizable number of homeschoolers are irreligious.) Anyway, I never bothered to correct my visitors, as I don't like to be rude, but I never really engaged in discussion with them much either.


Today, everything changed....

This morning, my daily ritual of perusing Facebook friends' statuses was interrupted by the tell-tale ringing of the doorbell. Instead of the familiar face of the previous disrupter-of-my-morning-routine, a different woman with 2 young girls was standing there. As I've done every other time in the past, I listened to the woman's pitch, nodded my head where expected, and remained rather passive in the hope that she would finish quickly and just go away. Not so, this time.

We were having a pleasant, albeit decidedly one-way monologue passing for conversation, when I started to feel a definite burning indignation. The woman was rambling on with her explanation of human suffering based on the Genesis story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. She started explaining that if Eve had just been submissive to God's authority rather than making her own decisions, the world would not be experiencing the level of suffering we see today. Then she continued on to explain how the Bible assures us that the occurrence of catastrophes such as the massive oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is part of God's plan, and ultimately will have a positive effect on humanity at large, much as personal suffering has a positive and transformative effect on individuals.

Well, as luck would have it, I finished reading a book on this very subject, written by a well-known Biblical scholar, just last night, so the subject matter was still quite fresh in my mind. Perhaps that's why I finally broke my silence and engaged a believing stranger in debate. I usually reserve such arguments for my intellectual friends, who know me well enough not to take personally any argument I might express against their religious beliefs.

I won't bore anyone with the trivial details of our discussion. Mostly I simply tried to gently but firmly direct my guest to references found in the Bible itself that counteracted whatever point this nice woman was raising about the Bible confirming the necessity and benefits of having a 'loving' God who permits such abundant suffering in the world due to the concept of 'original sin' (Thank you, Dr. Ehrman!). This lasted about 10 minutes, with the poor woman bobbing and weaving gallantly, but never really addressing the 'evidence' disproving her claims that I provided from within her own holy book. Near the end of our discussion (which she abruptly cut off with something of an 'agree to disagree' remark), her elder daughter, who appeared to be about 11 or 12 years old, started asking me questions, which I have to admit to feeling a great deal of personal satisfaction in answering. (I suspect this is truly what prompted the end of our discourse.) She made a statement about how I obviously have spent a good deal of time exploring the subject. We parted on congenial terms and I wished them all a pleasant day.

Now, I realize the regaling of this encounter might come off as a bit pompous--like a smug tale of how I 'took down' the religious lady with her own weapon. That is not the intent. I look at it more as an opportunity to evangelize the merits of scholarship and skepticism to the evangelist, and perhaps sow a small seed of doubt in the mind of this woman's obviously inquisitive child. As for the mother, I figure this experience will simply strengthen her resolve, given the expectations and belief system of those sent forth to spread the Word. At a minimum, it might just save me from future Saturday morning interruptions.

Quotes of the Day:

"It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity."

--Abraham Lincoln

"The Bible is a mine rich in the ore of cognitive dissonance."

--Delos B. McKown

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Baptist Church Buys Public School for a Mere $5K

To anyone who actually follows this blog, it's been some time now since I last posted anything. As the school year drew to a close, the stress of wrapping things up at work by predetermined deadlines sort of sucked the "piss and vinegar" (as my dad would say) out of me for a while. Now, however, after a few weeks off, I have regained said P and V and feel the need to come out and rant a bit.

The first thing that has me up in arms is a recent article regarding a school in my home state that is clearly tearing down the wall of separation between church and state. Below is an exerpt. You can read the entire article here at
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704875604575280422614633564.html

By JENNIFER LEVITZ and STEPHANIE SIMON



"LAKELAND, Fla.—When his budget for pencils, paper, and other essential supplies was cut by a third this school year, the principal of Combee Elementary School worried children would suffer.


Then, a local church stepped in and "adopted" the school. The First Baptist Church at the Mall stocked a resource room with $5,000 worth of supplies. It now caters spaghetti dinners at evening school events, buys sneakers for poor students, and sends in math and English tutors.


The principal is delighted. So are church pastors. "We have inroads into public schools that we had not had before," says Pastor Dave McClamma. "By befriending the students, we have the opportunity to visit homes to talk to parents about Jesus Christ."


Here, the pastor prays with the principal before handing out gifts of shoes to students.

Am I the only one who finds anything wrong with the fact that the church pastor openly admits that any financial aid provided to the school comes with the explicitly stringy condition that he (and other church representatives) be able to evangelize to students and families attending the school? Even worse is the school principal who is quoted as saying, "My personal conviction is that I hope through this they'll know Jesus and they'll get saved."


WHAT THE HELL!?!? Isn't that the purpose of privately funded parochial schools? I thought the idea was that some organization would help provide the basic necessities that the school cannot afford to provide due to severe budget cuts. Silly me. Obviously, preparing students for real life in the here and now is secondary to saving their souls for the afterlife and filling church pews and coffers.


Would any other school "business partner" be allowed such privileges for such a small donation (or any donation, for that matter)? I find it difficult if not impossible to believe that the store manager of the local Wal-Mart would be able to plunk down $5,000 worth of school supplies and then have the opportunity to visit with students and their families at their homes in order to share the "gospel" of saving money by shopping at Wal-Mart. Of course, I could be wrong....

Quote of the Day:

"The rivers of America will run with blood before they take our holy, God-inspired Bible from the schools."

--William "Billy" Sunday