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Letters Jan Jun 07

Your Published Letters


Your January - June '07 Published Letters

From the June 29, 2007, edition of the Anniston Star:

Folly of evolutionists

Before  reading Joel Hendon's letter, I was sure that the best and brightest  scientists were Nobel laureates. I now find that because these leading  scientists unanimously support evolution when "not one piece of  empirical evidence has been presented to verify evolutionists' wild  assumptions," they are ignoramuses out to "save face, their jobs, their  dignity and pride."

In support of evolution, 38 Nobel laureates asked the Kansas  State Board of Education to reject standards that criticize evolution.  These brilliant scientists said Darwinian evolution was the foundation  of biology, and evolution's role has been strengthened by the capacity  to study DNA.

The National Academy of Sciences, arguably the greatest collection of  scientific brain power in the world, vigorously supports evolution and  states that it stands ready to address attempts to limit the teaching  of evolution.

I know of no Nobel laureate in science who rejects evolution in favor  of creationism. Reason ultimately prevails over superstition.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the June 28, 2007, edition of the Washington Times:

'Wait a minute'

Contrary to Robert Wilcox's assertion ("Creationism and intelligent  design", Letter, June 26) that "faith is required to believe in evolution",  virtually the entire science community -- biologists, geologists,  paleontologists, geneticists, etc -- accepts evolution as fact, based on  many millions of scientific observations and tests by many thousands of  scientists over two centuries. Scientists hold a variety of beliefs about  God and the ultimate origin of the cosmos.

Creationism and intelligent design neocreationism have no scientific  backing, as the US Supreme Court held in 1987 and as Bush-appointed  Pennsylvania federal judge John E. Jones III ruled on December 20, 2005, in  Kitzmiller v. Dover. Those who wish to argue about this may do so in  peer-reviewed science journals or anywhere else except public school  classrooms devoted to science education.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, MD


From the June 28, 2007, edition of the Pensacola News Journal:

Not from James Madison

Certain  Christian conservatives, frustrated because history does not support  their contention that devout Christians established this country as a  Christian nation, insist on rewriting history.

A dishonest Christian apologist has duped William E. Williams.  In his letter ("Did you know?" June 9), Williams unwittingly states  that James Madison once said, "We have staked the whole of our  political institution upon the capacity of mankind for self-government,  upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain  ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

This statement was concocted and widely spread by a Christian  propagandist, David Barton, in the early 1990s. In 1998, under  pressure, Barton finally admitted that he had not been able to find an  original source for this statement; and he actually urged people to  stop using it. William Federer incorporated Barton's bogus statement in  "America's God and Country," revised in 1994.

Researchers at the University of Virginia, where Madison's papers  are kept, searched but were unable to find the alleged quotation. They  concluded that it was fiction.

The text of the U.S. Constitution, which Madison "fathered," makes  no reference to God, Christ or Christianity and countermands the first  four commandments.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the June 14, 2007, edition of the Carroleton Free Press:

Readers Write

Supporters  of Senate Bill 16, which places statewide restrictions on adult  businesses, repeatedly claimed that those businesses cause crime and  other social problems. Little attention has been paid, however, to  research disputing their position and indicating that their extreme  anti-sex attitude is what actually harms society.

The claim that adult businesses cause crime and other problems  has been debunked by a number of studies, including those performed by  Daniel Linz, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the  University of California at Santa Barbara.

In published research, Linz and his colleagues examined the  studies purporting to line negative secondary effects to adult  businesses. They expose the studies as being seriously and often  fatally flawed.

They also report that scientifically valid research shows no  negative secondary effects of adult businesses and sometimes indicates  positive effects on communities. Among the beneficial effects can be  jobs and a stronger economy.

Other research indicates that rabid anti-sex attitudes, such as those displayed by the backers of SB 16, contribute to crime.

Sex therapist and researcher Aileen Goodson says,  "Fundamentalist theological thinking -- which tends to promote body  shame and sexual regression -- is far more prevalent among sex  offenders than among the general population."

A leading expert on sexual violence, Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins  Medical School, reports that most people who engage in sex crimes are  raised with strict anti-sexual repressive attitudes. He predicts,  "Current repressive attitudes toward sex will breed an ever widening  epidemic of aberrant sexual behavior."

The first International Conference on the Treatment of Sex  Offenders, held in Minneapolis in 1989, included similar predictions.  Key participants there agreed that Western societies with repressive  sexual attitudes and traditional male-female roles are likely to have  higher rates of all forms of sex crimes.

If these experts are correct, SB 16 could harm Ohio's economy and  contribute to higher crime rates. Their research should have been  seriously considered in the debates about the bill.

Joseph C. Sommer
Columbus, OH


From the May 31, 2007, edition of the Mobile Press-Register:

Brilliant minds reject creationism

Kudos  to James W. Maycock. In his May 23 letter, "Evolution has missing  links," he avoids the nebulous statements normally made by  anti-evolutionists, e.g., "many scientists dispute evolution" and from  a recent letter stating that a museum of creationism "gives you the  scientific evidence from real scientists." Maycock gives us a name --  astrophysicist Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

In researching Ross, I found there is such a person who does  have a doctorate from the University of Toronto. However, I could not  find mention of contributions he has made to science. He is a Christian  apologist advocating creationism, without providing empirical evidence  for his claims.

In support of evolution, 38 Nobel Laureates asked the Kansas State  Board of Education to reject standards that criticize evolution. These  Nobel Laureates said Darwinian evolution was the foundation of biology;  and evolution's role has been strengthened by the capacity to study  DNA.

The National Academy of Sciences, arguably the greatest collection of  scientific brain power in the world, vigorously supports evolution and  states that it stands ready to address attempts to limit the teaching  of evolution.

The best and the brightest unanimously reject creationism.

DAVID N. MILES
Orange Beach


From the May 22, 2007, edition of the Pensacola News Journal:

Missionaries: Stay home

Clarence McDonald tells Christian preachers to go to far countries and preach ("Go pastors, go," Letters, May 22).

Declaring Christianity preferable to the religions of other  peoples and nations is an act of naivete and arrogance motivated by  self-interest and often greed. This elicits bitter resentment. If  missionaries had a genuine concern for the people, they would remain  silent as to religion and bring health care, useful skills and  education with its proven rewards -- not more superstition with its  false hopes.

If there were evidence that "the Lord's word" improved the condition  of people already steeped in their own religion, then missionary  proselytizing might be justified. What did "Christian soldiers" do for  the indigenous peoples of North and South America? They relieved them  of their property, brought them disease and kept them largely  illiterate.

Within the first hundred years after Columbus, the Spaniards, with the complicity of Christian missionaries, murdered millions.

In our country Chief Pontiac commented, "They came with a Bible and  their religion -- stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now tell us  we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved."

How would McDonald react to a Muslim missionary asking him to forsake Christ for Mohammed?

David N. Miles
Orange Beach, Ala.


From the May 20, 2007, edition of the Washington Times:

'Commonsense principles'

Mary Manno ("The law and religious tests", letter, May 14) unfairly  criticized Teri Grimwood ("Not a religious test", Letters, May 10) and Edd  Doerr ("Church, state and JFK", Letters, May 5).    Mrs. Grimwood and Mr. Doerr simply wrote that judges and lawmakers should  not put their nonconsensus personal religious views into law, a principle  that most Catholic, Protestant and Jewish judges and lawmakers adhere to in  our country.    Of course that does not affect laws against murder, robbery and perjury,  since prohibitions against those acts are universally condemned for common  sense secular and religious reasons.    In any event, commonsense ethical principles came from human experience and  preceded religious injunctions. Does anyone really think that Hebrews went  around aimlessly murdering each other, stealing and perjuring before Moses  came down from Mount Sinai?    As Mrs. Grimwood and Mr. Doerr pointed out, the five Catholic justices in  Gonzales v. Carhart based their opinion on religious doctrine while ignoring  expert medical opinion and protections of the health of women recognized by  the Supreme Court for 34 years.

John Cole
Hayward, Calif.


From the May 19, 2007, edition of the Anniston Star:

Re James L. Evans' credibility

Letter  writer Philip Rowe feels that Baptist pastor and Star columnist James  L. Evans has lost his credibility. Why? Because Evans lets evidence and  reason prevail over blind faith. Apparently, Rowe finds it virtuous to  accept a notion as fact without evidence that it is true. Evans  understands that by relying on empirical evidence and rejecting  unsupported ideas, science cures diseases, gives us modern conveniences  and answers myriad questions. Religionists like Rowe reject evidence  that conflicts with their beliefs and refuse to update their thinking,  even in the face of facts and reason. This dogmatic intransigence makes  it impossible for religion to solve problems and progress as science  does. It only fosters irrational intolerance leading to hatred and  violence. While Evans is willing to consider evidence provided by  science that homosexuality is a genetic trait, Christian conservatives  reject these findings because a book written by ancient tribesmen who  never heard of biology or psychology proclaimed that homosexuality was  abhorrent to their deity. Christianity is in dire need of the wisdom  and understanding demonstrated by Evans.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the May 14, 2007, edition of the UticaOD:

Religious tolerance an important goal

I commend the organizers of the recent interfaith potluck meal which invited discussion between local Muslims and Christians.

The benefits are invaluable to the entire community and help to  promote pluralism. Considering the current state of religious affairs,  tolerance and open-mindedness are hard to come by. I find it reassuring  to know that there are those with the intellectual maturity to realize  the importance of communication amongst different faiths.

It is unfortunate that so many misunderstandings and  stereotypes exist but it is a reality we must face and actively  address. When people die or are discriminated against because of this  misinformation, we are all affected, regardless of religion. I suggest  continuing these interfaith events and to include not only Christians  and Muslims but Jews, Buddhists, etc. as well. Other local churches,  mosques, and temples should take notice and join in the effort. We have  much to learn from each other.

ADAM JOSKER
Stittville


From the May 14, 2007, edition of the Tuscaloosa News:

Professors reject epistemology

Dear  Editor: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and  will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." I Corinthians  1:19. In his May 8 letter [Faculty cold to Christians, study says],  David Sloan demonstrates this unfortunate attitude toward knowledge. He  complains that college faculties have a higher percentage of atheists  and individuals who don't embrace religion than the general public. In  other words, these faculty members in pursuing and imparting knowledge  tend to utilize reason and experience rather than authoritarianism and  divine revelation.

Religious conservatives have such fear of secular knowledge and  education that they have even attacked atheists from the floor of  Congress. Rep. James Traficant Jr., (D-Ohio) made the following  comments on Aug. 3, 1998:

"Mr. Speaker, a new report says that only 7 percent of  scientists [members of the National Academy of Sciences] believe in  God. That is right. And the reason they gave was that the scientists  are 'super smart'. Unbelievable. Most of these absent-minded professors  cannot find the toilet. My colleagues, all the education in the world  is worthless without God and a little bit of common sense."

Professors are not attacking Christians as Sloan alleges. They  are merely rejecting an invalid epistemology. Those finding this  offensive should avoid universities where knowledge is based on  empirical evidence and attend a faith-based institution. How does Sloan  feel about "most unfavorable feelings" toward atheists that emanate  from the pulpit?

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the May 12, 2007, edition of the Montgomery Advertiser:

Letter indicts writer's beliefs

Gary  Hardin's letter "Natural things not beyond judgment" on May 9 is an  indictment of his religion. He lets us know that "definite proof" that  a religious belief is false would not destroy his faith. Why is it a  virtue to accept a notion as fact without requiring proof?

While science has provided evidence that homosexuality is an  innate trait, Hardin rejects these findings because a book written by  ancient tribesmen who never heard of biology or psychology proclaims  homosexuality is abhorrent to a deity. This deity appears to be cruel,  irrational, vindictive and capricious.

Science rejects ideas not supported with evidence; then proceed  to cure diseases, give us modern conveniences and solve a myriad of  problems. Religion rejects evidence that conflicts with its beliefs and  refuses to change even in the face of facts and reason.

This dogmatic intransigence makes it impossible for religion to  solve problems. It can only foster intolerance, leading to hatred and  violence. Religions cannot even resolve internal disputes; and these  disputes have consistently led to war. Religions proclaim their beliefs  are the only true beliefs.

Hardin cannot give one valid reason why protected homosexual  acts between consenting adults are wrong. The best he can do is quote  his particular moral authority. Without religion we would have less  ignorance, superstition, bigotry and violence, but we would still have  hospitals, schools, charities, caring, understanding, knowledge and a  rational code of ethics.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the May 11, 2007, edition of the Idaho Statesman:

Bring troops home

Imagine a Virginia Tech massacre occurring in this country every day  in every major city with no end in sight. Such endless violence would  probably bring down governments at every level.

This is the terror that is visited upon Iraqis every day thanks  to the war for oil that the Cheney-Bush junta illegally and deceitfully  inflicted on Iraq.

By failing to provide enough troops Bush allowed the looters to  take over. (But the tax cuts for Bush's uber-wealthy masters were  preserved.) By failing to provide jobs for the Iraqi army, which Bush  disbanded, the insurgency was ignited. By failing to provide a working  government and police force the sectarian civil war was launched.

Bush and the neoconservative zealots who supported this war  have said they wanted to change the political map of the Middle East.  They may get their wish. Over dinner recently, a professor from Iran  told me that he fears that the Bush-Cheney assault will lead to the  complete takeover of the Middle East by Islamic militants. Even Turkey  and Pakistan may fall, he fears.

It's time to bring home the troops - Bush's incompetence lost the war against Iraq before it ever began.

Gary L. Bennett, Emmett


From the May 5, 2007, edition of the Washington Times:

'Church, state and JFK'

John Yoo's slam at critics of the Supreme Court's April 20 abortion  rights ruling in Gonzales v Carhart ("Silly or sad", Culture, etc, May 2)  was way off target. John F. Kennedy was right in 1960 in saying that "I do  not speak for my church on public matters", but the five rather  unrepresentative Catholics on the Court who put their church's official  position ahead of legal precedent, ahead of informed medical opinion, and  ahead of the rights, health and dignity of women, veered 180 degrees away  from JFK's sincere respect for freedom of conscience and church-state  separation. Their behavior was inexcusable.

Edd Doerr, President
Americans for Religious Liberty  Silver Spring, MD


From the April 30, 2007, edition of the US News & World Report:

'Schools and Scripture'

Stephen Prothero is right about religious illiteracy in the US, but  teaching about the Bible and world religions in public schools is a  questionable remedy. Teachers are not trained for the task, there are no  adequate textbooks, scholars and educators cannot agree on what should be  taught, fair and comprehensive teaching would offend too many people, and  there are other curricular inadequacies that should be addressed first.  Colleges, however, are free to offer elective courses for those who want  them.

Edd Doerr


From the April 24, 2007, edition of the Baltimore Sun:

'Use flags to salute the troops in Iraq'

In many places, flags have been lowered to half staff for the 32 people  murdered at Viginia Tech on April 15. Yet 100 times as many Americans have  been killed and tens of thousands wounded in Mr Bush's mistaken war in Iraq.  Shouldn't we keep all our flags at half staff until those who are left come  home?

Our soldiers and Marines can come home with heads held high for doing  their duty, but Mr Bush and his enablers should be hanging their heads in  shame.

Edd Doerr


From the April 19, 2007, edition of the Concord Monitor:

Don't look to religion for values

The  New Hampshire Humanities Council's "Shifting Ground" project is a  peculiar backdoor attempt to bring religion into New Hampshire's  secular political life. This is consistent with the stealth strategy of  promoting Jesus while talking about something else adopted by Christian  evangelicals. No doubt the sneaky saved are behind it.

Selden Strong (Monitor, March 31) astutely pointed out that  the one model omitted from the program was any view that "religion is a  fraud and intentional enslavement of human minds." The program is  stacked with speakers afflicted with a god delusion, and I'm confident  Odin, Zeus and other Great Spirits get the short end of the god stick.

What makes the project even more mysterious is the council's  avowed mission, which includes the unfettered pursuit of knowledge. The  American Humanist Association suggests that humanism includes ethics,  reason and progressive values. Religion cares little about any of  these.

Religion involves the fettering of the pursuit of knowledge,  a certainty based on ancient texts, a preference for faith over  reality, applications of moral law over ethical behavior and archaic  values over progress. This is what it means to be a Bible believer.

Consider George Bush's rationale for not pursuing the  knowledge that would come from stem-cell research: "We recognize in  every human life the image of our creator." This is nothing but the  support of ignorance over progress.

Or consider Republican state Rep. Dan Dumaine (Monitor, April  11), who remarked on the difference between "manmade" religion and  Christianity as he attempted to deny homosexuals a humanistic and  progressive rite of passage.

So, Humanities Council, welcome to the influence of religion  on secular policy. Here's hoping the women in your group and your  daughters will have access to reproductive health care in the future as  you let the papist in the back door of the courthouse and the  statehouse.

JEFFREY METZGER
Loudon


From the April 13, 2007, edition of the Washington Examiner:

'Don't blame Planned Parenthood for unstable families'

John Naughton's April 10 letter blaming Planned Parenthood for unstable  and/or single-parent families has it exactly backwards. Planned Parenthood  exists to promote responsible, non-exploitive sex and reproductive health.  It does not promote extramarital sex. Without Planned Parenthood we would  see far more unwanted children, unstable families, poverty, and social  disorganization.

Our country and the world need more Planned Parenthood activity, not  less.

Edd Doerr


From the March 31, 2007, edition of the Washington Times:

'An important message'

Al Gore's film and book "An Inconvenient Truth" have been suffering the  slings and arrows of outraged conservatives. But certain facts are  undeniable.

Melting polar and Greenland icecaps will not only raise sea levels,  though by precisely how much is hard to predict, but also reduce the  reflective power of the ice-cap areas and warm the oceans and contribute to  global warming and climate change. Climate change is already being blamed,  in part, for the tragedy of Darfur and for the spread of harmful plants and  insects to more temperate climes.

Switching from oil to ethanol is not a very good answer. It produces too  little power and will inevitably lead to more soil depletion, more  deforestation, more desertification, and much higher corn prices.

Developing country overpopulation, warned against by President Ford's  1975 NSSM 200 report that was classified and suppressed for nearly 20 years,  is further contributing to climate change while condemning countless  millions to poverty and misery.

What is obviously needed is immediate action to stabilize Third World  populations, reduce dependence on fossil fuels through conservation and  development of renewable nonpolluting power from wind, solar and geothermal  sources. Rather than costing jobs, these measures will create a great many  new jobs.

Three cheers for Al Gore!

Edd Doerr


From the March 09, 2007, edition of the Idaho Statesman:

Pseudoscience

Science is the process of the best humanly guess possible. It is a simple process that can be applied to all ideas:

1st step: Scientists minimize personal, cultural and religious biases.

2nd: They observe the world on its own terms.

3rd: Based on these observations, they propose ways the world works (hypotheses).

4th: Then, they test these hypotheses for accuracy.

5th: With reliable data and tested hypotheses, they propose the best humanly guess to explain "why." This is scientific theory.

6th: To make sure it's the best humanly guess, and to be held  accountable for biases, scientists publish their work in respected  academic journals so that others can criticize - and replicate - their  work.

Pseudoscientists for "intelligent design," "young Earth,"  "homosexuality-by-upbringing," "healthy Earth climate," and several  others, usually fail before the third step. They rarely, if ever,  achieve the sixth step. Instead, these pseudoscientists must publish  their work in books, mass media, cheap Web sites, political thinktanks,  and letters to the editor.

So when "youth Earth" charlatans like Allen Marsh write their  letter, you know that you are witnessing pseudoscience at its humanly  best.

Anthony Rasmussen, Boise


From the March 02, 2007, edition of the Las  Vegas Sun:

Letter: 'Faith' not needed to care about people

It's sad that University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos would  express such bigoted and irrational ideas in his defense of  discrimination against atheists in his Feb. 28 column headlined, "Why  faith, or a lack of it, is relevant to political life."

The only legitimate statement by Campos is that "the human race  has existed for an eye-blink of cosmological time and will certainly  cease to exist in another eye-blink or two."

But then Campos comes to the strange conclusion that a "genuine  atheist" (whatever that means) would respond by saying, "So what?"  implying that atheists are not concerned with extinction of the human  race. That is sheer nonsense.

An atheist might say, "So what," regarding the cause of the  existence of the human race. But we certainly care about the future of  humanity.

Almost all atheists (which includes those who call themselves  humanists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc.) believe we must be proactive  in delaying the extinction of our planet. We cannot wait for some deity  to intervene. If we don't act to save ourselves we will truly be doomed  sooner, rather than later.

Campos asserts that the desires to save ourselves "don't make  sense without a belief ... in God." Well, it should make sense to any  rational person.

We believe that the future of the human race depends on the  present actions of the human race. This makes us, according to Campos,  unqualified to be president of our country. That is nothing more than a  lame attempt to excuse bigotry.

Mel Lipman, Las Vegas
The writer is president of the American Humanist Association.


From the February 16, 2007, edition of the Tuscaloosa News:

Belief in a cruel God helps no one

Dear Editor: In her Feb. 13 letter, writer Linda Spiller asks,  "Where will you spend eternity?" I am frequently admonished: "God says  those who refuse to place their trust in Jesus Christ will be cast into  a lake of fire and experience its torments for all of eternity." I  ignore this threat knowing that a deity as cruel, vindictive,  egomaniacal and irrational as the one described above could not exist  except in the fiendish minds of religious fanatics.

Other than for personal gratification, why is it imperative that I  "trust in Jesus Christ?" There is no evidence that believing in God or  Christ makes one a better person. Many of America's most ethical,  law-abiding and productive citizens are nonbelievers -- often found in  the bastions of higher learning. Only the God-fearing are members of  the KKK, and many believers subscribe to the homophobic hate that spews  forth from the likes of the Rev. Fred Phelps.

After two millennia, threats delivered by God's minions have  convinced less than one-third of the world's population to accept  Christ as their lord and savior. If God and his fiery lake do exist,  it's time for God Himself to come out of hiding, confront me and ask me  to revere Him. Until then, I cannot embrace a notion unsupported by  proof.

Furthermore: Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man -- Thomas Paine.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach


From the January 14, 2007, edition of the Los Angeles Times:

Atheists in Politics and War

I appreciated Dan Neil's column "Atheist Chic" (800 Words, Dec. 17). So I  only offer one small critique. He wrote, "There are no atheists in foxholes  or in Congress." We know why there aren't any in Congress: It's difficult  for atheists, or even agnostics, to get elected to most public offices.

But as for those foxholes, it simply ain't so. Atheists have had foxhole  duty in nearly every war, though they've usually been in the closet at the  same time.

Fred Edwords
Director of Communications
American Humanist Association
Washington, D.C.


From the January 13, 2007, edition of the Pensacola NewsJournal:

Oath on Constitution

The swearing into office of an elected official using the Quran has  prompted some to question why Americans should show respect for a book  that "promotes hatred and violence." I suggest that those who find  Quran-inspired violence and intolerance unacceptable take a critical  look at the Bible.

The Bible's penalty for worshiping any deity but its God is  death. "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he  shall be utterly destroyed." (Exodus 22:20.)

Biblical terrorists and Islamic terrorists are promised the  same reward -- virgins. The Bible declares, "Now therefore kill every  male among the little ones, and kill every women that hath known man by  lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known man by  lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." (Numbers 31:17,18.)

The height of dogmatic intolerance is expressed by, "He that  believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16.) This religious absolutism  is not the foundation for impartial governance or fair trials.

If a prop is deemed necessary in oath taking, make it a  document of reason -- the United States Constitution. Any object that  places irrational belief and behavior above reason neither inspires nor  assures integrity.

David N. Miles
Orange Beach

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