#0012 RRS Newsletter for June 12, 2007

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Good day all. For you Science enthusiasts, I would like to point your attention to the Documentary I posted at the top of the section. Very interesting. In the Entertainment section, I added a video of Amanda Bloom at the photo shoot for the pictures in her newest album, with, of course, one of her songs playing along.

As always, your input and feedback are always welcome. Wanna see something I haven't mentioned, let me know!

Later all,
Jack,
and the RRS MI team

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Just found this awesome interactive documenary on human evolution! A must see, for sure!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From:
now.with.50%more.smartass
Date: Jun 12, 2007 10:31 AM

here you go flatlanders




holy shit 2107 called

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jun 12, 2007 10:33 AM

---------------- Bulletin Message -----------------

From: www.pathofreason.comDate: Jun 11, 2007 7:51 PMCheck out our latest article, Simple Steps to Combat Global Warming, on Path of Reason.*Also, check out our Donate page for details on our Flying Spaghetti Monster auction!

The A-Team and we approve this message.

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----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 12, 2007 12:45 PM

GD & Miss [live in "The City that Works" Date: Jun 12, 2007 11:51 AM

just for some historical perspective:

The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense founded on the Christian religion

by Jim Walker
Originated: 11 Apr. 1997
Additions: 26 Dec. 2004

Many Religious Right activists have attempted to rewrite history by asserting that the United States government derived from Christian foundations, that our Founding Fathers originally aimed for a Christian nation. This idea simply does not hold to the historical evidence.

Of course many Americans did practice Christianity, but so also did many believe in deistic philosophy. Indeed, most of our influential Founding Fathers, although they respected the rights of other religionists, held to deism and Freemasonry tenets rather than to Christianity.

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The U.S. Constitution

The United States Constitution serves as the law of the land for America and indicates the intent of our Founding Fathers. The Constitution forms a secular document, and nowhere does it appeal to God, Christianity, Jesus, or any supreme being. (For those who think the date of the Constitution contradicts the last sentence, see note 1 at the end.) The U.S. government derives from people (not God), as it clearly states in the preamble: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...." The omission of God in the Constitution did not come out of forgetfulness, but rather out of the Founding Fathers purposeful intentions to keep government separate from religion.

Although the Constitution does not include the phrase "Separation of Church & State," neither does it say "Freedom of religion." However, the Constitution implies both in the 1st Amendment. As to our freedoms, the 1st Amendment provides exclusionary wording:

Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. [bold caps, mine]

Thomas Jefferson made an interpretation of the 1st Amendment to his January 1st, 1802 letter to the Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association calling it a "wall of separation between church and State." Madison had also written that "Strongly guarded. . . is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States." There existed little controversy about this interpretation from our Founding Fathers.

If religionists better understood the concept of separation of Church & State, they would realize that the wall of separation actually protects their religion. Our secular government allows the free expression of religion and non religion. Today, religions flourish in America; we have more churches than Seven-Elevens.

Although many secular and atheist groups fight for the wall of separation, this does not mean that they wish to lawfully eliminate religion from society. On the contrary, you will find no secular or atheist group attempting to ban Christianity, or any other religion from American society. Keeping religion separate allows atheists and religionists alike, to practice their belief systems, regardless how ridiculous they may seem, without government intervention.

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The Declaration of Independence

Many Christian's who think of America as founded upon Christianity usually present the Declaration of Independence as "proof" of a Christian America. The reason appears obvious: the Declaration mentions God. (You may notice that some Christians avoid the Constitution, with its absence of God.)

However, the Declaration of Independence does not represent any law of the United States. It came before the establishment of our lawful government (the Constitution). The Declaration aimed at announcing the separation of America from Great Britain and it listed the various grievances with them. The Declaration includes the words, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America." The grievances against Great Britain no longer hold today, and we have more than thirteen states.

Although the Declaration may have influential power, it may inspire the lofty thoughts of poets and believers, and judges may mention it in their summations, it holds no legal power today. It represents a historical document about rebellious intentions against Great Britain at a time before the formation of our government.

Of course the Declaration stands as a great political document_ Its author aimed at a future government designed and upheld by people and not based on a superstitious god or religious monarchy. It observed that all men "are created equal" meaning that we all get born with the abilities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." Please note that the Declaration says nothing about our rights secured by Christianity. It bears repeating: "Governments are instituted among men."

The pursuit of happiness does not mean a guarantee of happiness, only that we have the freedom to pursue it. Our Law of the Land incorporates this freedom of pursuit in the Constitution. We can believe or not believe as we wish. We may succeed or fail in our pursuit, but our Constitution (and not the Declaration) protects our unalienable rights in our attempt at happiness.

Moreover, the mentioning of God in the Declaration does not describe the personal God of Christianity. Thomas Jefferson who held deist beliefs, wrote the majority of the Declaration. The Declaration describes "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." This nature's view of God agrees with deist philosophy and might even appeal to those of pantheistical beliefs, but any attempt to use the Declaration as a support for Christianity will fail for this reason alone.

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The Treaty of Tripoli

Unlike most governments of the past, the American Founding Fathers set up a government divorced from any religion. Their establishment of a secular government did not require a reflection to themselves of its origin; they knew this as a ubiquitous unspoken given. However, as the United States delved into international affairs, few foreign nations knew about the intentions of the U.S. For this reason, an insight from at a little known but legal document written in the late 1700s explicitly reveals the secular nature of the U.S. goverenment to a foreign nation. Officially called the "Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary," most refer to it as simply the Treaty of Tripoli. In Article 11, it states:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." [bold text, mine]

Click here to see the actual article 11 of the Treaty

The preliminary treaty began with a signing on 4 November, 1796 (the end of George Washington's last term as president). Joel Barlow, the American diplomat served as counsel to Algiers and held responsibility for the treaty negotiations. Barlow had once served under Washington as a chaplain in the revolutionary army. He became good friends with Paine, Jefferson, and read Enlightenment literature. Later he abandoned Christian orthodoxy for rationalism and became an advocate of secular government. Joel Barlow wrote the original English version of the treaty, including Amendment 11. Barlow forwarded the treaty to U.S. legislators for approval in 1797. Timothy Pickering, the secretary of state, endorsed it and John Adams concurred (now during his presidency), sending the document on to the Senate. The Senate approved the treaty on June 7, 1797, and officially ratified by the Senate with John Adams signature on 10 June, 1797. All during this multi-review process, the wording of Article 11 never raised the slightest concern. The treaty even became public through its publication in The Philadelphia Gazette on 17 June 1797.

So here we have a clear admission by the United States in 1797 that our government did not found itself upon Christianity. Unlike the Declaration of Independence, this treaty represented U.S. law as all U.S. Treaties do (see the Constitution, Article VI, Sect.2: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.") [Bold text, mine]

Although the Treaty of Tripoli under agreement only lasted a few years and no longer has legal status, it clearly represented the feelings of our Founding Fathers at the beginning of the American government.

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Common Law

According to the Constitution's 7th Amendment: "In suits at common law. . . the right of trial by jury shall be preserved; and no fact, tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law."

Here, many Christians believe that common law came from Christian foundations and therefore the Constitution derives from it. They use various quotes from Supreme Court Justices proclaiming that Christianity came as part of the laws of England, and therefore from its common law heritage.

But one of our principle Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, elaborated about the history of common law in his letter to Thomas Cooper on February 10, 1814:

"For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law. . . This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it."

". . . if any one chooses to build a doctrine on any law of that period, supposed to have been lost, it is incumbent on him to prove it to have existed, and what were its contents. These were so far alterations of the common law, and became themselves a part of it. But none of these adopt Christianity as a part of the common law. If, therefore, from the settlement of the Saxons to the introduction of Christianity among them, that system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians, and if, having their laws from that period to the close of the common law, we are all able to find among them no such act of adoption, we may safely affirm (though contradicted by all the judges and writers on earth) that Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

In the same letter, Jefferson examined how the error spread about Christianity and common law. Jefferson realized that a misinterpretation had occurred with a Latin term by Prisot, "ancien scripture", in reference to common law history. The term meant "ancient scripture" but people had incorrectly interpreted it to mean "Holy Scripture," thus spreading the myth that common law came from the Bible. Jefferson writes:

"And Blackstone repeats, in the words of Sir Matthew Hale, that 'Christianity is part of the laws of England,' citing Ventris and Strange ubi surpa. 4. Blackst. 59. Lord Mansfield qualifies it a little by saying that 'The essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law." In the case of the Chamberlain of London v. Evans, 1767. But he cites no authority, and leaves us at our peril to find out what, in the opinion of the judge, and according to the measure of his foot or his faith, are those essential principles of revealed religion obligatory on us as a part of the common law."

Thus we find this string of authorities, when examined to the beginning, all hanging on the same hook, a perverted expression of Priscot's, or on one another, or nobody."

The Encyclopedia Britannica, also describes the Saxon origin and adds: "The nature of the new common law was at first much influenced by the principles of Roman law, but later it developed more and more along independent lines." Also prominent among the characteristics that derived out of common law include the institution of the jury, and the right to speedy trial.

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For another article on this subject visit The Early America Review: http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html

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Note 1: The end of the Constitution records the year of its ratification, "the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven." Although, indeed, it uses the word "Lord", it does not refer to Jesus but rather to the dating method. Incredibly, some Christians attempt to use this as justification for a Christian derived Constitution. The term simply conveys a written English form of the Latin, Anno Domini (AD), which means the year of our Lord (no, it does not mean After Death). This scripted form served as a common way of dating in the 1700s. The Constitution also uses many pagan words such as January (from the two-headed Roman god, Janus), and Sunday (from the word Sunne, which refers to the Saxon Sun god). Can you imagine the ludicrous position of someone trying to argue for the justification of a pagan god based Constitution? The same goes to any Christian who attempts to use a dating convention as an argument against the Constitution's secular nature, and can only paint himself as naive, or worse, as dishonest and deceiving. (For a satire on using calendar words to support pagan Gods, see The United States: A Country founded on paganism.)

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Sources (click on an underlined book title if you wish to obtain it):

Robert Boston, "Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church & State, "Prometheus Books, 1993, pp. 78-79

Morton Borden, "Jews, Turks and Infidels," Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1984)

Charles I. Bevans, "Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949," Vol. II, [ICCN 70600742 // x763]

Merrill D. Peterson, "Thomas Jefferson Writings," The Library of America, 1984

Hunter Miller, ed., "Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America," Vol. 2, Documents 1-40: 1776-1818, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1931

Paul F. Boller, Jr., "George Washington & Religion," Southern Methodist University Press: Dallas, 1963, pp. 87-88

George Seldes, "The Great Quotations," Pocket Books, New York, 1967, p. 145

James Woodress, "A Yankee's Odyssey, the Life of Joel Barlow," J.P. Lippincott Co., 1958

Encyclopedia sources:

Common law: Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 6, "William Benton, Publisher, 1969

Declaration of Independence: MicroSoft Encarta 1996 Encyclopedia, MicroSoft Corp., Funk & Wagnalls Corporation.

Internet sites:

By Ed & Michael Buckner: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_buckner/quotations.html

The Founding Fathers Were NOT Christians: http://dim.com/~randl/founders.htm

Treaty of Tripoli from the American State Papers, Senate, 5th Congress, 1st Session Foreign Relations: Volume 2, Page 18, Page 19

Nearly 100 million Americans don't attend church...

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 12, 2007 9:19 PM

From the Barna Group by way of Atheist Nation

Life in America has changed greatly since 1994, with massive changes in technology, global politics, lifestyle choices and family dynamics. But one constant has been the proportion of adults in the population who are unchurched. During that period there have been noteworthy shifts in religious behavior, but the percentage of adults who have steered clear of churches for at least the past six months has remained stable since 1994.

A new survey released by The Barna Group, which has been tracking America’s religious behavior and beliefs since 1984, reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched - meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months. While that figure is considerably higher than the one out of five who qualified as unchurched in the early Nineties, it is statistically unchanged since 36% were recorded as having avoided religious services in the company’s 1994 study.

Some Groups Avoid Churches

Some population segments are notorious church avoiders. For instance, 47% of political liberals are unchurched, more than twice the percentage found among political conservatives (19%). African Americans were less likely to be unchurched (25%) than were whites (32%) or Hispanics (34%). Asians, however, doubled the national average: 63% were unchurched! Single adults continued a historic pattern of being more likely than married adults to stay away from religious services (37% versus 29%, respectively).

Residents of the West (42%) and Northeast (39%) remain the most church resistant, while those in the South are the least prone to avoid religious services (26%). Sexual orientation is closely related to church status, too: while about one-third of heterosexuals are unchurched (31%), half of the homosexual public (49%) met the unchurched criteria.

Within the various faith communities residing in the U.S., Christians are the most consistent church goers. A majority of the adults (61%) who are associated with a faith other than Christianity had not attended any type of religious service in the past half-year. In fact, people aligned with a faith other than Christianity are two-and-a-half times as likely as self-designated Christians to be unchurched (61% versus 24%, respectively).

Looking at the distinctions within the Christian population, evangelicals are the most reliable church goers: just 1% is unchurched. Born again Christians who are not evangelical also had a pretty formidable attendance record: only one out of every six (16%) were unchurched. However, adults who call themselves Christian but are not born again were by far the least reliable church goers within the Christian realm (32% were unchurched).

Catholics have traditionally been more consistent in church attendance than Protestants. However, in the mid-nineties that trend reversed course, and Catholics have been more likely than Protestants to earn the unchurched label throughout the past decade. Currently the gap between the two segments of Christians is five percentage points, with a higher percentage among Catholics (25% are unchurched) than Protestants (20% are unchurched).

Within the Protestant community, people who typically attend a mainline church were nearly twice as likely as those who attend non-mainline Protestant congregations to be unchurched (26% versus 16%, respectively). Also, church size was related to attendance patterns: 24% of the people who attend small churches were unchurched, compared to 15% who usually go to a mid-sized congregation, and just 5% of those who affiliate with a large church (defined as attracting 500 or more adults on an average weekend).

Massive Numbers

When these statistics are projected across the aggregate adult population, the numbers are staggering. An estimated 73 million adults are presently unchurched. When teens and children are added, the total swells to roughly 100 million Americans.

To put that figure in context, if the unchurched population of the United States were a nation of its own, that group would be the twelfth most populated nation on earth (trailing only China, India, the churched portion of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Japan and Mexico).

Included among the unchurched is an estimated 13 to 15 million born again adults and children.

Insights from a Unique Project

These results coincide with a unique book released this week by Tyndale House Publishers, entitled Jim and Casper Go to Church. That book describes the experience of a former pastor and an avowed atheist who together visited a dozen significant churches across the nation. Jim Henderson, who has been a pastor of small and large churches, interviewed the atheist (Matt Casper) during and after each church service they attended to gain insights into what it’s like for an outsider to attend such churches. Among the congregations visited were well-known ministries such as Willow Creek (pastored by Bill Hybels), Saddleback (led by Rick Warren), Lakewood (featuring Joel Osteen), and The Potter’s House (home of T.D. Jakes).

Many of the insights drawn from the experiences of "Jim and Casper" parallel the findings of Barna Group studies among the unchurched. Some of the critical discoveries were the relative indifference of most churched Christians to unchurched people; the overt emphasis upon a personal rather than communal faith journey; the tendency of congregations to perform rituals and exercise talents rather than invite and experience the presence of God; the absence of a compelling call to action given to those who attend; and the failure to listen to dissident voices and spiritual guidance to dig deeper in one’s faith.

For more information about the new book, Jim & Casper Go To Church, by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper, or to purchase a copy click here

Research Details

This report is based upon telephone interviews with a nationwide survey by The Barna Group with a random sample of 2006 adults, age 18 and older, conducted in January 2007. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±2.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The total number of unchurched adults interviewed was 661, which has a maximum sampling error of ±3.9 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. Statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.

"Born again Christians" are defined as people who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents are not asked to describe themselves as "born again."

"Evangelicals" are people who meet the born again criteria (described above) plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as "evangelical."

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Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians

... and here's a response to that article...

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 12, 2007 1:34 PM

From Jeff

Update:

I just talked with a Mr. Terry Gorka of the Barna Group (he works directly with David Kinnaman who wrote the main article for Baran in regrards to the poll/study)

Study Sizes Up Gaps Between Christians, Atheists and Agnostics

Mr. Terry Gorka admitted to me he was the one who put up the picture of a sniper's scope taking aim at a church. He said he bounced it off a few people and said that he got no negative feedback, and then I asked him if any of them were atheists or agnostics or even secularists, and he tap danced around that answer, and basically said "no" but we don't try to purposefully exclude, or alienate atheists/agnostics.

I also remarked how overtly ambiguous the phrases were like "active in the community". I asked him what that meant, and he said those who donate or work with charitable organizations has being a criteria for active in the community...and I asked him to give me an example of one...and the first one was, guess what, Salvation Army (an evangelical organization). I immediately pointed this out to him, and he began to back track and say he meant to say "Habitat for Humanity".

Mr. Terry Gorka, seems vastly unprepared for the backlash he and Mr. Kinnaman will be receiving from this, and I detect that there was carelessness in their investigation. Mr. Gorka said that he wasn't about to remove the picture, but would have a "serious" conversation with Mr. Kinnaman about it and they would call me back either today or tomorrow.

You're welcome to call Mr. Gorka as well ...(805) 639-0000 (ext. 202).

This is what happens when you don't ask enough questions, or bounce things off the appropriate people (you know like US, atheists and agnostics)....this amounts to journalistic irresponsbility, disregard for a minority group, and lack of a sensitivity monitor.

They should be held accountable for their mistakes.

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Editorial note: I really dislike "sensitivity monitors", they always seem to get out of hand and end up pointing fingers at perceived slights. I do agree with the author of this article though, but we have to temper our "offense buttons". We must keep that in mind at all times, because if we start getting offended at every single perceived slight against us, people WILL begin to tune us out. Calling us "whiney" and "over-reactive" as has already begun. In short, we need to use our forsight, and choose our battles wisely. At least that's my humble opinion, and in the words of Christopher Hitchens, "... and anyone who disagrees with me can take a number, and get in line to kiss my ass." That was, of course, a joke. Anyone with an opinion on that matter, feel free to send me a message. I am curious to know the opinions of others on this.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 12, 2007 4:41 PM

ATHEISM SAVED A LIFE

From Welcome to the Jesterspace with much thanks and appreciation.

Stan Nelson of the Pueblo Chieftan penned this article .

I responded thusly:

In an article you wrote, you asked whether Atheism has ever saved a life. Yes. Mine.
Over the last summer, I was in a dark place mentally, my fiance and I had broken up after 5 years, my Multiple Sclerosis was acing up, and due to it, I was rapidly becoming paraplegic, with no feeling in my legs and unable to even stand, let alone walk. I was basically bedridden. I will be totally honest here, I was contemplating suicide, I even worked out how I was going to do it. A few people (both friends and family) had told me they were praying for me. The promise of dying to relieve the pain (I was on percocets and oxycontins because the pain was intense, as well as several epidural shots in my lower spine) was tempting. During the pain, I still participated in the Toledo MS walk, using a Powerchair to get around. I was a Team Captain and couldn't let my teammates, and everyone who was fighting MS, down. I had a mission to do, and it needed to be done. So I gritted my teeth (literally) and went. The prayers did not work. After my spinal surgery, and cortical steroids (which reduce swelling in the brain and spinal cord), and aggressive and intensive physical therapy, today I can walk, using just a cane sometimes. Science, along with friends and family and doctors did work. I tend to try to stick with that which is effective.

I was lying in my bed, holding the bottles of pills. I had researched. The combination of pills I had would have easily shut down my body permanently. And the pain was amazing. I wanted it to stop. Then, as I am known to do, I thought about what I was getting ready to do. I've been an Atheist long before the recent heightened awareness of Atheism in the media (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the Rational Response Squad, etc). I combined this knowledge with some common sense. As an Atheist, I believe (with evidence to back it up) that this life is the only one we get. Getting off this ride now means you don't get another ride. No Heaven, no Valhalla, no Happy Hunting Ground. I thought about how my act would affect my own family and friends. I thought about how it would affect the people with MS who I'd be depriving of my ability to raise funds and awareness for the fight.

I'm too much of an actor. I'm not ready for the final curtain call.
Now, through a lot of work (both my own, my friends, and my doctors) I can get along with my life. My ex and I have patched our friendship. Yes, we're no longer engaged. But the friendship to me was what mattered. And we have that. I was going to marry her. I'd HOPE we were friends, irregardless of the love. Now.. I can walk. I can get to my Rocky Horror shows, my coffeehouses, my MS Walks. Every day isn't perfect. But it's the best I got.
I think that most religions call suicide a sin because, let's face it, Heaven to many sounds pretty good. If suicide wasn't considered a sin guaranteeing that other place (Hell, or as we like to call it,, Hoboken), your day might go like this..

"Hey Steve, who went on eternal vacation today?"
"Alex, Tami, Amberlynn, and.. um.. um.. Mark"
"Cool.. lucky bastards.. how did they get the ticket?"
"Let's see.... ate a shotgun, downed 3 bottles of pills and washed it down with vodka, skydiving without a parachute, and lied down on railroad tracks."
"Sweet! I'm gonna miss them all.. Hey.. wanna go see them? I got some rat poison at home."
"Let's go, dude.. I'll drive!"

Yes, I'm treating suicide pretty flippantly. As an Atheist, suicide strikes me as the ultimate waste. We're only here for a short time on the cosmic scale. I'm not going to waste it on my knees. Prayer has already been proven to be ineffective. I love how the faithful state that prayer cannot be evaluated scientifically. It amuses me that these same people will evaluate everything else logically, except their god. Imagine if you decided that you didn't need to evaluate your car logically. "I don't need to get gas. God will make this car run forever if I just pray hard enough!" Honest question.. would you laugh at someone who did that? If it would work...Jesus Christ.. OPEC would collaspe overnight.

In all seriousness.. I can say my Atheism has literally helped me save my own life. Atheism didn't save me. I did. It was just a tool that helped me not do something stupid. I don't need a god to tell me I shouldn't go and kill people. And as we've seen throughout history, gods demand a lot of killing. From people strapping bombs to their chests and walking into a public square, to telling people in Africa (With an AIDS epidemic) that condoms are a sin that you'll burn forever for. I'm not saying that religion is the only cause of suffering. As you mentioned Stalin and the others, you are correct on that. We might want to BELIEVE that religion does more good than harm. The evidence points in the opposite direction. Religions have tenets. Ways of action and thought which bind them together. Beyond a lack of God-belief, we are all individuals. Talking about Stalin as an Atheist representative is the same as saying OJ Simpson is a representative of all African-Americans.
I've been accused of being angry at god. A few problems with that theory. I didn't believe in a god when my life was going great (ran a successful party house, was getting more in the way of girlfriends that ANY man has a right to, had dozens of great friends). Yes, my life has turned in different directions. But dammit.. it's still pretty cool. And being mad at god is, to me, the same as being mad at Spider-Man for not saving his uncle Ben. I use this analogy because BOTH are stories. I'm willing to examine any evidence you have that leads to another belief. I'm not angry at the Easter Bunny for not bringing me chocolate either.

Penn Jilette said it better than I could.
"Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have."
But I must disagree on one point.
I don't really like Jell-O.

I got a response from him

"Jameson,
I've had quite few e-mails from atheists on this column. Some made me sort of wish I'd never written it. But not this one. It's the only one I've gotten that makes sense. You're the only one who talked to me instead of at me.
You're a damn good writer. And a good guy, who understands more about what life is for than a lot of Christians I know. And, from what I've seen so far, at least some atheists.
Thanks. I mean it.
Stan"

Later he wrote:

'Jameson,
I'm glad you e-mailed back. Mind if I use you for my next column? For an atheist, you sure operate according to a lot of the best -- and most under-represented -- principles that Jesus talked about, and pointed out examples of (quite often in the negative).

stan'

I might have just scored a point for the good guys here.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Rational Response Squad So. California
Date: Jun 12, 2007 6:54 PM

Hey everyone,

We get asked all the time about having a RRS So Cal get together. Well our next one will be this Friday the 15th.

If you live in Southern California/LA area and are looking for something to do this Friday night come out and support one of our RRS members. This is a fantastic show put on by Jesus himself and a cast of other characters you will love.

A few months ago we met up with some RRS So Cal members at a Comedy Jesus show and we did not stop laughing all night. Come support a fellow member of the RRS crew and met up with some other RRS members for a night of laughter.

You cannot beat $10.00 and that includes free beer and wine. Yes that is correct. How could you afford not to go?

Steve and Jinxi
RRS So Cal

Are atheists charitable?

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From: Dangerous Talk
Date: Jun 12, 2007 7:34 PM

PROVE IT!!!!
Donate NOW!!! As in, RIGHT NOW. Donate at least $10, it is a pittance and it's tax deductable.
This image links you to a good cause as well as an efficient means of proving that atheists can give to charity just as much as Christians can. If we can raise enough money, we can get some really positive media attention.
Please donate and re-post. Don't just re-post if you aren't willing to put a little money where your mouth is.

A sad day

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From:
Welcome to the Jesterspace
Date: Jun 12, 2007 9:20 PM

http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/4488

'Don Herbert, who as television's "Mr. Wizard" introduced generations of young viewers to the joys of science, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Herbert, who had bone cancer, died at his suburban Bell Canyon home, said his son-in-law, Tom Nikosey.

"He really taught kids how to use the thinking skills of a scientist," said former colleague Steve Jacobs. He worked with Herbert on a 1980s show that echoed the original 1950s "Watch Mr. Wizard" series, which became a fond baby boomer memory. '

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jun 12, 2007 8:30 PM

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From: Rational Response Squad Colorado
Date: Jun 12, 2007 7:00 PM

sorry bout the daily bulletin today (the pics didn't come up for some reason) so i'll post a video too Smiling...

Al Shaprton VS Christopher Hitchens

The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.