FreeThought Fort Wayne

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FreeThought Fort Wayne’s March Meeting

Posted by Skeptigator on February 11, 2009

What: FreeThought Fort Wayne March Meeting
When: March 11th, 2008 7PM-9PM
Where: Main Branch, Allen County Public Library, Meeting Room B
Desc: If you have any ideas or questions please feel free to shoot me an email below or post a topic in the forums. As usual the discussion will be moved to a local pub. Public is always welcome. Please check the website in case there are changes to meeting rooms.
For more information go to http://FreeThoughtFortWayne.org or email us at contact@freethoughtfortwayne.org

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FreeThought Fort Wayne’s February Meeting

Posted by Skeptigator on January 14, 2009

What: FreeThought Fort Wayne February Meeting
When: February 11th, 2008 7PM-9PM
Where: Main Branch, Allen County Public Library, Meeting Room B
Desc: If you have any ideas or questions please feel free to shoot me an email below or post a topic in the forums. As usual the discussion will be moved to a local pub. Public is always welcome. Please check the website in case there are changes to meeting rooms.
For more information go to http://FreeThoughtFortWayne.org or email us at contact@freethoughtfortwayne.org

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Temporarily Closed For Renovations

Posted by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg on January 9, 2009

FreeThought Fort Wayne will be undergoing renovations today so we’ve temporarily disabled comments so nothing gets lost while we shuffle things around. As soon as the new site is fully up and running we’ll turn comments back on.

Depending on how fast your ISP updates its DNS records, you should start seeing the new site later this afternoon. Hopefully no later than Sunday morning. We’ll see you all at our new digs shortly!

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AIDS in Uganda, the Rick Warren Connection

Posted by dystressed on January 7, 2009

This is an amazing story from The Daily Beast.

Rick Warren has been working closely with the Martin Ssempe, the charismatic leader of a booming born-again minister promoting abstinence only AIDS eductaion in Uganda, more or less scrapping all the success of the previous, hugely successful ABC program of the Ugandan government.

Ssempe enjoys close ties to his country’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House.

Ssempe is a close ally of Warren and even gave the keynote speech at Warren’s 2005 AIDS conference at the Saddleback Church.

Another amazing insight is that Ssempe believes in witches and arresting homosexuals.

Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who authored the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We’re Losing The Fight Against AIDS In Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria. “Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women,” Epstein said. “He seemed very personally terrified by their presence.”

It’s interesting to see the parallel between witch paranoia and born-again Christians. Now compared to Ssempe, Warren is a dream choice to pray at the inauguration. I just hope that people realize his record on AIDS has an ugly, evil side.

Posted in Politics, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

If You’re Going to Seattle…

Posted by dystressed on January 6, 2009

…visit the Discovery Institute!  (if you can)

Skepticality had a fantastic interview with Kate Holden and Tiana Dietz, the skeptic activists who conned their way into the Discovery Institute.  You can download the MP3 of the podcast here.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the visit was the fact that the two have engaged in a lengthy blog discourse with the Discovery Institute, which claims to welcome all people with open arms.

While lying is hardly ever called for, Holden and Dietz maintain that they only did what the producers of Expelled did when they conned their own ways into interviews with Michael Shermer and PZ Myers. They kind of have a point.

The question of morality aside, the chutzpah of Kate and Tiana is admirable. They also urge fellow skeptic activists to go to the Discovery Institute and take the tour… that is, if the Discovery people will let you in.

Posted in Humor, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

She and her exes live in Texas

Posted by Andy Welfle on January 2, 2009

Marquis LaFortune and Benjamin Stakes

Benjamin Stakes and Marquis LaFortune

Score one for the Catholics. A Catholic high school teacher was fired for getting divoriced.

The reason for her termination turns on a theological tenet. According to Catholic doctrine, participants in a marriage must be an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. LaFortune told the principal that her fiance had been divorced – a proceeding not recognized by the Catholic Church.

The deacon was concerned with whether the first marriage of LaFortune’s fiance, Benjamin Stakes, had been declared invalid by a Catholic tribunal and thereby annulled. His concern, however, did not sit well with LaFortune, who refused to resign from her job or seek an annulment – a process that could reach to Rome and take more than a year.

It’s no secret the Holy See has a problem with change. They didn’t officially apologize for the imprisonment of Galileo until 1992. Hell, I remember when girls couldn’t be servers (altar boys). So the fact that they refuse to recognize divorice isn’t surprising.

And true, since over half of all marriages end in divorice, some of them should never have been married in the first place. But divorice protects people every day. It saves peoplel from spousal abuse, rape, exploitation, and even suicide. None of this matters to the Vatican — they live in a black and white world, with no room for exceptions.

No wonder their numbers are rapidly declining. They need all the teachers they can get.

Posted in Religion | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

FFW Top Ten Blog Posts of 2008

Posted by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg on January 1, 2009

Father Time and Baby New YearIt’s New Year’s Day which means all over the internet you’ll be seeing top ten lists from bloggers of their most popular posts from the past year. Why should we be any different? Well, we are a little bit different in that this blog didn’t exist until last year. In fact, the first blog post here didn’t even appear until February 27th and that was just an announcement of our upcoming meeting. So really, this blog has only been active for ten out of the past twelve months. And if I recall correctly, FreeThought Fort Wayne itself didn’t even exist until late in 2007.

Yet we’ve come a long way in the past few months. We’ve produced 14 great episodes of our public access telvision show The Enlightenment Show, featured talks by author John Loftus of the popular blog Debunking Christianity as well as biblical scholar and author Robert M. Price. We’ve grown as an organization, had a variety of meetups in addition to our regular monthly meetings, developed a constitution and we’re about to elect officers. Additionally, we’ve taken this blog from nothing to almost 110,000 visitors, thanks to a couple of very popular stories and a couple of links from the most popular science blogger on Earth, PZ Myers.

So before we move on to bigger and better things in 2009, here’s a look back the most viewed posts of 2008.

And there you have it. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are always good for a big laugh, although I’ve got to say Mark Souder might have been more of a contender if he had made his ridiculous remarks earlier in the year. Of course, Andy Welfle’s deconversion story is not to be missed. 2008. What a year. And for FreeThought Fort Wayne, 2009 is only going to be better. No, strike that. It’s going to be fantastic!

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Yellowstone Earthquakes and the Importance of Science

Posted by dystressed on December 30, 2008

Earthquakes have been swarming in Yellowstone. The significance? Possible future volcanic activity. Though not an immediate threat, this is a good illustration of why we need good, rational science.

…[T]he Yellowstone Caldera, formed in a giant volcanic eruption 640,000 years ago that blasted 240 cubic miles (1,000 km3) of molten rock (magma) into the atmosphere-more than 1,000 times the volume erupted at Mount St. Helens in 1980. Later eruptions largely filled the caldera and pushed up two resurgent domes within it—the Sour Creek and Mallard Lake Domes. No actual volcanic eruption has occurred in the Yellowstone region for about 70,000 years. [USGS Fact Sheet 100-03]

Get that picture? 240 CUBIC MILES of molten rock. That’s 5,280 feet by 5,280 feet by 5,280 feet. Of molten rock. Honey, this ain’t a barbecue, it’s the apocalypse.

According to a section on the PBS NOVA website “Mystery of the Mega Volcano,” that would mean as much as a third of the U.S. would be uninhabitable (and no one would probably want to live in the rest). More than that, other mega volcanoes in history are believed to have brought on Ice Age(s). Well that’s comforting. At least we wouldn’t totally screw up the planet all by ourselves, we can blame the mega volcano that will kill millions of people and make life on earth a literal hell.

Now I’m not out to preach for reckless hedonism in the face of possible disaster. I would rather you take away a desire to learn more about what science can and should do to prepare us for this. In fact, earthquakes are not new to Yellowstone, but they are scary when they happen in a “swarm.” Theories abound as to whether the next Yellowstone eruption would be as big as the formative eruption 640,000 years ago, but an eruption of some magnitude could be coming around the corner.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory collects tremendous amounts of data to help monitor the caldera and keep watch for major eruption dangers. Though their jobs must be very uneventful most days, these people have to properly analyze the data and come up with risk reports which tell us what’s next.

Intelligent Designers take note: Humans aren’t designed to survive volcanoes. If the human race is to survive, we must teach good science. If you believe in an intelligent designer, that’s fine, but you cannot ignore the threat of destruction and wait for divine intervention. Please don’t stand in the way of real science.

This photograph shows a horizontal view of the 2 May 2000 eruption of Steamboat Geyser. Photograph courtesy of Tom Cawley, NPS.
This photograph shows a horizontal view of the 2 May 2000 eruption of Steamboat Geyser. Photograph courtesy of Tom Cawley, NPS.

Posted in Events, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Post-Partisan Invocation

Posted by dystressed on December 29, 2008

Much has been made of Rick Warren being invited by Obama to give the invocation at the innauguration. I didn’t much care until I ran across the news that Rick Warren calls his critics “Christophobes.”

I take exception to that. I am not phobic of Christ, but of his followers. I am in fact, a Rickophobe. I am wary of people who wield tremendous power over the hearts and minds of Americans, regardless of their political leanings, but I am especially wary of the religious ones. Religious tyrranny is something the founders of this nation are known for escaping, but it is also something that we have inadvertantly perpetuated. Though we have enshrined religion with freedom and kept it marginally separate from government, we have given it de facto establishment, giving it freedom to abuse its non-profit-tax-exempt status as a billy club against dissenters and non-believers.

The rise of the Christian Right has raised the visibility of the Evangelical Agenda: Make Everyone Believe in Jesus.

If the Rick Warrens of this country have their way, there would be no religious freedom, and indeed no dissent. There would be one country ruled by those who claim to know the will of God. A quick glance back to high school literature class and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible can give you chills when you think about the end result of a theocracy. When there is no freedom of ideas, there is no freedom.

While it pains me to admit this, I believe that Rick Warren should be heard. But let him be heard for what he is, a religious fascist. There are few evangelicals who do not pray for a totalitarian Christian state that would be devoid of freedom of thought.

What Obama has done for the FreeThought community is actually a backhanded favor. By inadvertantly stirring up the embers of a long smoldering fire, he has ensured that religious moderates and liberals can be reminded how dangerous the Evangelical Agenda truly is.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Couldn’t have said it better myself

Posted by Eye4Cards on December 28, 2008

I was reading some Bertrand Russell on Christmas (doesn’t everybody?).  What can I say, it was a slow day and religion is on everyone’s mind that day.

I found his short essay on The Essence of Religion.  It struck a chord with me.  Many people have said most of what he wrote, but Russell managed to say so much in such a concise manner.  In case you are interested, I got this out of The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, 1961, Touchstone.  I’m sure you can hunt down nearly all of his work online though, if you google him.  He might as well be required reading for everyone because he touched on so many facets of human thought, not just religion.  It is striking how little his works have aged:

THE ESSENCE OF RELIGION

The decay of traditional religious beliefs, bitterly bewailed by upholders of the Churches, welcomed with joy by those who regard the old creeds as mere superstition, is an undeniable fact.  Yet when the dogmas have been rejected, the question of the place of religion in life is by no means decided.  The dogmas have been valued, not so much on their own account, as because they were believed to facilitate a certain attitude towards the world, an habitual direction of our thoughts, a life in the whole, free from the finiteness of self and providing an escape from the tyranny of desire and daily cares.  Such a life in the whole is possible without dogma, and ought not to perish through the indifference of those to whom the beliefs of former ages are no longer credible.  Acts inspired by religion have some quality of infinity in them :  they seem done in obedience to a command, and though they may achieve great ends, yet it is no clear knowledge of these ends that makes them seem imperative.  The beliefs which underlie such acts are often so deep and so instinctive as to remain unknown to those whose lives are built upon them.  Indeed, it may be not belief but feeling that makes religion :  a feeling which, when brought into the sphere of belief, may involve the conviction that this or that is good, but may, if it remains untouched by intellect, be only a feeling and yet be dominant in action…

The animal part of man, being filled with the importance of its own desires, finds it intolerable to suppose that the universe is less aware of this importance;  a blank indifference to its hopes and fears is too painful to contemplate, and is therefore not regarded as admissable.  The divine part of man does not demand that the world shall conform to a pattern :  it accepts the world, and finds in wisdom a union which demands nothing of the world.  Its energy is not checked by what seems hostile, but interpenetrates it and becomes one with it.  It is not the strength of our ideals, but their weakness, that makes us dread the admission that they are ours, not the world’s.  We with our ideals must stand alone, and conquer, inwardly, the world’s indifference.  It is instinct, not wisdom, that finds this difficult and shivers at the solitude it seems to entail.  Wisdom does not feel this solitude, because it can achieve union even with what seems most alien.  The insistent demand that our ideals shall be already realized in the world is the last prison from which wisdom must be freed.  Every demand is a prison, and wisdom is only free when it asks nothing.

(The Hibbert Journal, Vol. II, October 1912.)

Posted in FreeThought, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »