Heres a quote by Barack Obama
“Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”
I said something similar in my presentation yesterday, and in a previous blog. I was a little disappointed to hear someone else said it first.
So, yesterday I we went to a separation of church and state rally at the Denver State Capital building. Joel, our President, was originally scheduled to give a presentation but had to cancel at the last minute so I filled in. We should have some footage of the event early next month. We filmed an interview of another guest speaker, best selling author and physicist Victor Stenger, by Elles, author of the blog Splendid Elles, for Skepchick. We should be posting that early next month too. Anyway, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the separation of church and state, including some of the stuff I covered in my presentation.
The separation of church and state is a gap intended to accomplish two primary things. The first is freedom from religion. Our government is based not on the values of any one ideology, but on the innate qualities and aspirations that unite every human being. As such, the government should be unable to enforce laws based on the beliefs of any one religious group. No one should be subject to the restrictions of a religion that is not their own. Ours is a government for the people, by the people, and I mean all the people. This is not a utilitarian majority rules type of democracy. Our government is suppose to represent everyone, not just the great in number. The only restrictions the government should impose is to prevent one person from impinging on the basic natural rights of another human being. Your government should protect you rights, and protect you from being subjected to the restrictions of any religion, whether your rich or poor, black or white, big or small, dumb or smart.
The second purpose of the separation of church and state is to guarantee freedom of religion. In the same way that you should not be subject to the restrictions of other ideologies, so to should you be able to choose which restrictions, beyond those minimal ones imposed by the government, you should be subject too. For example, if your don’t believe in blood transfusions, you don’t have to get one. However, you have no right to impose your principles on others via the government. Those who do not share some religious value should not, do not, have to follow them.
Whenever I debate this particular subject with others, one of the misunderstandings I hear is that a secular government is somehow anti-religious. In reality, a secular government is simply non-religious. In reality, a secular non-religious government is the only government with any realistic probability of guaranteeing the individuals right to practice their own religion. This is not a atheistic nation, and secularism and atheism are not synonymous. I often hear people say that we are a Christian nation, which, in a sense is true. Though our government is not based on Christian values, it is a nation of Christians. However, to say that we are just a Christian nation is absurdly reductionist. We are also a nation of Jews and Muslims, rich and poor, believers and non-believers, men and women, and so much more. Our nation is a melting-pot, and only a secular government can accuratley represent and effectively govern such a diverse populace.
The rights your government guarantees you are based on your humanity, not your religious affiliation and the laws you are subject too are to prevent you from impinging on the basic human rights of others.
In order to answer this question I will examine the claim that truth is relative. This claim must be true, false, or neither true nor false. Consider the condition in which it is true that the truth is relative. The claim can not be true because, if it is absolutely true, the statement must be subject to the very principle it asserts. If truth is relative then it is meaningless to say of any claim that it is either true or false. Because accepting the claim leads to an inherent contradiction, it can’t be true that truth is relative. Thus, we must accept that it is not true.
Short and sweet
“…at the Australian National University, Marie Dacke and Mandyam V. Srinivasan trained European honeybees to pass a particular number of colored stripes in a tunnel to get a food reward, which was placed by a stripe. When they removed the food, the bees still returned to the same stripe.”
This is one of the favorite pictures. It just seems so three dimensional.
So, right now there is a Denver ballot initiative for and “Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission”. I’ll be calling it EAC for short. You can check out the campaign website here. According to the campaign site, 57 extraterrestrial humanoids have been classified, the government has not only conspired to cover up the presence of extraterrestrials but the clean energy technologies they have offered us as well, and that photos from NASA are doctored to remove evidence of extraterrestrial life. For the evidence of these claims, they give a link to the Star Trek Institute The Disclosure Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to uncovering the truth about our alien life. The Men In Black big bad U.S. government, though, is standing the way. Here is a copy of the bill itself.
If your from Denver, I urge you attend David Grinspoon’s lecture on the ballot initiative before you consider voting for this bill. The title of his lecture is “Alien Life: The Science and the Hype: Why Denver Doesn’t Need an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission”. David Grinspoon is the curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, author of “Lonely Planets” and “Venus Revealed”, and winner of the Carl Sagan Medal. The lecture will be on the Auraria campus, 9000 Auraria Parkway, Denver CO 80217, in the North Classroom Atrium A/B from 3pm to 5pm on October 23rd. His personal web page is David Grinspoon’s Word. Metro State Atheists is hosting the event, the Center For Inquiry will be co-sponsoring, and Elles of Splendid Elles will be presenting David Grinspoon.
The following was written by Riki Mathews, our friend and mentor. Check out her blog, The Trickster Tells.
When I look at McCain’s advisors, the same ones that shaped the Bush/Cheney White House, I realize that nothing will change, only the top names stamped on the policies. And the more I watch the invectives spewing out of the GOP humanity grinder, as they count on us to mistake our baser selves for the best in us, I am sickened by the stench emanating from their lies, innuendoes, and true disgust for all of us who have tried to help each other through the catastrophes and hard times made worse by the Bush administration. McCain, Maverick no more, in 2007 voted for Bush-favored policies 95% of the time. Nor will I ever forget that as Katrina, at category 5-level hit, as people clung to rooftops, as governors from Louisiana and Mississippi pleaded for more government help, Bush and McCain orchestrated a madhatter’s tea party—with cake instead of jam. Forty Senators and 100 members of Congress visited New Orleans before McCain did; he finally got there in March 2006.
McCain voted against establishing a Congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local responses to Katrina in mid-September 2005. He repeated that vote in 2006. He voted against allowing up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to people affected by the hurricane, and in 2006 voted against appropriating $109 billion in supplemental emergency funding, including $28 billion for hurricane relief. Shortly after the disaster in New Orleans, McCain did introduce a bill that sought to improve communications mechanisms for first-responders and authorities. The bill failed to go anywhere, and McCain later voted against other bills that had similar provisions.
And McCain’s economic policy, which he tries so hard to hide—with good reason—is to eliminate ALL regulatory agencies along with unemployment benefits, Medicare and Medicaid while making tax cuts to the wealthy permanent and funding only the military industrial complex. Stripped to the minimum now, thanks to Republican ideology, the agencies that are there to come to our aid during natural disasters, to prevent food contamination, to research and contain disease, provide vaccines for our children, and so on, would be axed under the McCain/Palin administration. McCain claims country first, but I must ask whose country does he mean? Certainly not the country of the poor, the workers, single women, minorities, the sick, or those trying to get an education.
I worked for 30 years teaching college and high school (recognized in Who’s Who for my contributions to the US, to education, to women) before I became disabled; now I depend on a poverty level pittance from Medicare to survive. Myself and others like me, despite what we have given to our country, would eventually be cut off with no government support under the McCain/Palin ideology, even veterans—as McCain has repeatedly voted against bills to help them, still, McCain runs on his story of being a POW as qualifying him to be president while denying veterans further benefits, and so I ask again, just what kind of country does he mean? Those willing to give their lives for this country get slaughtered or maimed for a pittance while those who got their money through inheritance or by investing, those living off the money others make …. get government subsidies.
Now McCain has chosen Sarah Palin for VP, the anathema of feminist and humanist values. As many before me have said, I yearn for qualified, independent, thinking women in all roles—but Palin has none of these qualities. A person, man or woman, with Palin’s record, being sheltered from the press, needing to be protected from questions crucial to the direction of this country, is not an appropriate candidate. We are told Palin’s religion, record, and family are off limits by the same people that demeaned Obama’s family, clamored he was racist, a sexist, that his religion was not the “right” kind of religion, even attacked his patriotism and his qualifications. That she should be held to an entirely different set of standards is despicable.
She has lied about lobbying congress for earmarks, for supporting the bridge to nowhere. She wants to force her beliefs upon the entire country, throwing out wholesale the concepts of liberty and freedom, ignoring the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Of course she is the darling of the extremist right; she believes that a grouping of undifferentiated embryonic cells is of more value than the living, breathing, thinking, laughing, crying female in which the cells reside. Make no mistake; she is not interested in educating women in order to reduce the need for abortion; she is against helping women make wise choices, helping them have the tools to prevent abortion, but when it comes to once the damage is done, she is all for forcing a woman to give birth even if the woman was raped, a victim of incest, or, yes, the woman will die from the pregnancy. I believe, as do all women, that abortion is tragic. But I do not see the extreme right taking on the burden of prenatal, natal, and postnatal care—including the millions of dollars it now costs to raise a child—due to their extremist, toxic mix of no education regarding birth control, no access to birth control, and then forcing a woman to give birth against her wishes. I simply cannot see that this helps women or children, and while[now wile] the majority of Americans are against it, the Federal government under the Republicans and the conservative judges they’ve gotten appointed, is forcing the rest of us against our will to follow.
And for the brave women raising their children alone, Palin’s brand of religion and GOP ideology has plenty of names for them: irresponsible, lazy, immoral, unworthy of help. But far be it for anyone to make a judgment about Palin’s family “choice.” Where I come from, that is called hypocritical, and it most certainly is not feminist, compassionate, or the type of country I want to live in. It is not a country that respects all women, that recognizes all women’s contributions to the fabric of this land.
In an age where anyone being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan makes you VP material and thus potential presidential material makes me cry for the future of this country. If I sent out a resume claiming I had foreign affairs experience because I lived “close to” Russia, I wouldn’t get even a first look from any capable business. In an age where the man running for President blatantly lies and when caught continues to lie (just like George Bush), who believes smearing his opponent with the most vile pejoratives passes for “straight talk” yet has the gall to talk about honor and duty to his country clarifies for me the problems we face: we can choose to descend back into the Middle Ages of chronic warfare (the cost of Iraq alone is clocking close to $545, no 6, billion as I write), abject poverty, financial ruin, pettiness, ignorance, narrow-minded hateful rage, and extremist religious rule—or we can choose to rise out of the muck, work together, and leave a better world for all.
Perhaps McCain’s contempt toward everyone but those who weave his webs of deceit comes through best in his exchange with a concerned citizen who asked him a legitimate question about his ability to lead given his age; McCain, rather than simply answering the question, called the man a “little jerk.” As a life-long educator, I know that there is a calling to become our better selves. Let this be the time that we realize it is critical to answer that call.
“All of us are in the gutter; only some of us are looking at the stars”-Oscar Wilde
I saw this done in my Organic Chemistry lab once. Concentrated sulfuric acid is mixed with regular sugar. Essentially, the acid is dehydrating the sugar. Sugar has a lot hydroxide groups, which become protonated and leave as water, leaving behind a pillar of black porous carbon.
I mentioned this in the previous post, and then found the video. A banana being used to hammer a nail into a board.