#0034 RRS Newsletter for July 25, 2007
Well, firstly I'd like to point out that I was unable to access one of my main resourses, but I had enough material in reserve, and enough material that Brian wanted me to include to warrant a good post. I also did a little digging, and found some other interesting stuff I thought you all would like to know about.
You will, no doubt, notice some changes in the near future, that is due to my getting used to the new home, and my collaboration with Sapient to hone this project to be the best that it can!
I would like to draw your attention to the RRS News section, as there are a few things that you all will be interested in seeing. Also, the Religion section is quite enthralling today, as well! My personal favorite is always the Science section, so I need not go into my opinions on that, lol.
and the RRS MI team
Table of Contents
RRS has changed a life!
"Liberty University Seminary President Ergun Caner challenged his students to research the claims of the RRS. One student researched... and it changed his life."
Greetings, this is my first post here, but I've been lurking for quite some time.
This site and the ideas put forward here have profoundly changed my life.
I am a Liberty University student. My first exposure to the RRS was through the Blasphemy Challenge videos and then again a few months later when Ergun Caner implored LU students to listen to his debate. We listened. A large facebook group formed to discuss it. The questions raised by the RSS were excellent. Caner's answers were not, frankly. Nonetheless, most LU students who listened felt Caner had come out ahead. Many had a hard time hearing past the perceived "intellectual snobbery" in order to listen to the content of the discussion. Be that as it may, I listened. My beliefs were up for grabs because they were not founded on faith, but were founded on evidence. Prior to the debate, I believed that what I believed was factually true. After the debate, I was on the fence considering the new evidence (or lack thereof). After a month, I gave up trying to talk theology with the students around me. They clearly had too much riding on Christianity. It was too big of a mental hurdle for them to consider the possibility that everything they believed could be false. I gulped and decided to continue basically alone. I devoured Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and the like. I also read Christian books to understand the counter arguments. A Case for Christ. A Case for Faith. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. A Ready Defense. Letters From A Skeptic.
Rational Response it´s ALL your fault!! Aah the Romance!!
In a stirring turn of events, the open invitation set out by our own lovely, and intelligent Jude for a potential husband to "submit his application" via Youtube has paid off for her!
But I will let her tell the story in her own words!
....and don't forget to visit Aesthetic Argentina.org, this is Judes charity foundation to help the children of Argentina that are born with physical handicaps and deformities such as cleff pallates, who would not otherwise be able to afford the corrective surgery. A most worthy cause, we all hope you can help them out! It is also featured on the Atheist Volunteers page, a daughter organization of the RRS. Surely you can all afford $5 or $10 for each of these charities, can't you?
"Rooks Nook newest show"
Tuesday July 24th at 4 pm Rook Hawkins hosted John Dominic Crossan on his new show "Rooks Nook." Currently the only way to receive Rooks show is by virtue of being a gold member(make this clickable so that it goes to our subscription page) to the Rational Response Squad radio show, or listening live. This show will be in the gold members archive soon. John Dominic Crossan is one of the heads of the Jesus Seminar, writing from a position of a historical Jesus. Some of his books include:
The first monthly meeting of RRS MII have decided that I will host monthly RRS MI meetings and/or outings in an effort to build a better sense of community. These will be held on the last Thursday of every month. This means the first one will be held on July 26th, and we will be watching the movie "The God Who Wasn't There". If you all have seen this, please let me know, we can choose another, but I thought it fitting to start with that one, and I WILL start the evening off with a group discussion on where and what we would like to see come out of this local chapter (something that was never really talked about in depth at the last meet). Other activities under consideration are things like scientific exhibition outings, protests where needed, and possibly the planning of political activism as our state is concerned.
More Negativity Found in SpaceLarry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
July 24, 2007 — Two teams of astronomers have identified the signal of a new negatively charged molecule, or anion, in space — only the third found in the cosmos. About 130 neutral and 12 positively charged molecules have been detected in space.
Along with its two siblings, the newfound anion, called octatetraynyl, could be among the building blocks of the organic molecules that make up living things. Even more interestingly, the two teams found the anion in entirely different cosmic locales.
Octatetraynyl is an odd little string of eight carbon atoms and a single hydrogen atom, written as C8H-. Its negative charge comes from the molecule having one electron more than is needed to balance the positive protons in all the atoms' nuclei.
It's not the sort of molecule that would last long on Earth, where there are all sorts of reactive molecules ready to make it neutral.
"Some of the things we're detecting in space you'd never find on Earth," said Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).
That's what makes them hard to find in space, he explained: Not having them here, we are hard put to know what they will look like. That has made the hunt a long and multi-disciplinary process.
The search began in the 1990s, when radio astronomers surveying the sky noticed some unusual lines showing up in spectrums of radio signal, Remijan explained.
Such lines are usually the calling cards of specific compounds, which absorb or emit very narrow radio bands. But in this case, no one knew of any compounds that produced such lines.
Other researchers, including Eric Herbst of Ohio State University, had already done some calculations and made models about what sorts of compounds might produce certain radio lines. But it took actual laboratory tests on manmade versions of the molecules to verify what kind of radio lines anions would make.
For octatetraynyl, that lab work was completed only last year.
Finally, radio astronomers went looking specifically for octatetraynyl's laboratory-tested lines. A Harvard team looked at a cold, dark gas cloud and a team from NRAO looked in the tenuous outer envelope of a dying star.
Both teams used the National Science Foundation's giant Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, which sees the universe in radio waves. Both found octatetraynyl.
"It's not so different physically," said Herbst of the two space environments. They have similar temperatures and densities, he said, though the way the anion was created could be different.
Which raises a big question: How do the molecules get their extra electron?
"One mechanism is a two-body process," said Herbst. In other words, a free-flying electron simply slams into a molecule and sticks.
As for whether more anions will be discovered in space, "There are many other candidates," Herbst told Discovery News. "But they have to be measured in the laboratory first." Then radio astronomers will know what to look for.
How to Be Negative Astronomers using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia found the negatively charged molecule octatetraynyl (C8H-) in a cold interstellar cloud (middle left) and in the gaseous envelope surrounding an old, evolved star (middle right). It is the largest negatively charged molecule yet found in space. The scientists believe it probably is formed in steps, illustrated here, proceeding downward. 1. A molecule of C2H attaches to a molecule of C6H2, producing a molecule of C8H2 and a hydrogen atom. 2. Radiation (squiggly line) breaks one hydrogen atom from the C8H2, leaving C8H and a hydrogen atom. 3. Finally, an electron attaches itself to the C8H molecule, freeing a burst of radiation (overall glow seen around the molecule) and leaving the negatively-charged ion C8H-.
Modern Humans Came Out of Africa, "Definitive" Study SaysJames Owen for National Geographic News July 18, 2007
We are solely children of Africa—with no Neandertals or island-dwelling "hobbits" in our family tree, according to a new study.
Scientists who compared the skulls and DNA of human remains from around the world say their results point to modern humans (Homo sapiens) having a single origin in Africa.
The study didn't find any evidence to suggest that human species living elsewhere in the world contributed to our direct ancestors' make-up.
A team led by Andrea Manica at the University of Cambridge, England, combined analysis of global genetic variations with comparisons of more than 6,000 skulls from more than a hundred ancient human populations.
The team found that loss of genetic diversity was very closely mirrored by reduced physical variation the farther away people lived from Africa.
Only Out of Africa
The new data support the single origin, or "out of Africa" theory for anatomically modern humans, which says that these early humans colonized the planet after spreading out of the continent some 50,000 years ago.
In the past, experts have also argued a "multiregional" theory, which held that Homo sapiens arose from different human populations in different areas of the world.
"The origin of anatomically modern humans has been the focus of much-heated debate," lead author Manica said.
"We have combined our genetic data with new measurements of a large sample of skulls to show definitively that modern humans originated from a single area."
Previous studies have found that genetic differences in human populations can be explained by distance from Africa.
The new study also looked at 37 measurements from male and female skulls from around the world. The chosen skulls were all less than 2,000 years old, making them better preserved and more likely to give accurate measurements than older skulls.
Many skull features were determined by the different environments where the humans had lived.
But distance from Africa was still found to account for up to 25 percent of variation in the features.
The researchers made sure that the DNA analysis used the same framework as the analysis for the skulls—so the two could be fully compared, Manica said.
"I would argue we had two independent shots at getting the same answer, and remarkably, the answer is exactly the same," he added.
The lowest amount of variation was found in ancient populations from South America and Australia, the two main inhabited regions most remote from Africa.
The study team, writing in the latest issue of the journal Nature, argues that this low variation in remote regions relative to Africa would be expected if Homo sapiens arose solely in Africa.
That's because populations built up genetic and physical diversity for some 150,000 years before the fossil record suggests the first pioneers started spreading elsewhere.
But it wasn't until between about 20,000 and 30,000 years ago that modern humans reached South America and Australia, the team noted.
"The more you move away from that center of diversity where you started, the less diversity you have," Manica said.
This pattern was remarkably consistent globally, the researchers found.
The study places the original roots of modern humans in south-central Africa. In the middle of this region lies the Great Rift Valley—often referred to as the "cradle of humanity." (See a map of Africa.)
Some researchers believe that modern humans are at least in part the product of non-African species descended from Homo habilis, which left Africa at least 1.5 million years ago. (Related: "China's Earliest Modern Human Found" [April 3, 2007].)
Such groups include the Neandertals of Europe and western Asia, archaic human types in eastern Asia and Australia, and perhaps even the controversial hobbit humans from the Indonesian island of Flores. (Related: "Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia" [October 27, 2004].)
'No Other Source'
"What we can confidently say is that there has not been a wave [of anatomically modern humans] starting from somewhere else, because then you'd find a second area with more variability," Manica said.
What Manica can't say is "that matings with the Neandertals never ever happened, but if it did happen, none of the descendants stayed around." Effectively, any mating had no contribution whatsoever to modern humans, he added.
Anthropologist Erik Trinkhaus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, has found fossil evidence suggesting that Homo sapiens and Neandertals did interbreed. Trinkhaus is critical of the latest findings. (Related: "Neandertals, Modern Humans May Have Interbred, Skull Study Suggests" [January 16, 2007].)
Certain genetic and anatomical traits "cannot be explained as a simple and complete expansion of modern humans out of Africa," he said.
"The idea that humans get more uniform further from Africa is simply ludicrous," he added, noting that modern-day Chinese and Australian Aborigines look no more similar to each other than do Africans and Europeans.
Fred Smith, an anthropologist at Loyola University of Chicago who is unaffiliated with the research, agrees that the findings confirm there is an African origin for modern humans.
Smith nevertheless argues that the study is not at odds with the idea he first proposed in 1989 that there was "some low-level assimilation of archaic peoples into these modern populations."
And Charles Roseman, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said: "It could very well be that there was a recent out-of-Africa expansion, coupled with some either small or large amount of genetic exchange with humans outside of Africa."
Christopher Hitchens -- ReligionI may have posted this video in the past, but it bears repeating! I've seen it enough to almost know it verbatim, lol!
Father Matthew Moretz, and his veiw on the Blasphemy challengeThis guy will soon be featured on the RRS show, in an attempt to open rational dialog between atheists and the religious.
Theist Vs Atheist Debate: "Does God Not Exist" (Part 1 of 2)
I received this video link from a local member that has been a wealth of usefull information. This debate was held just a few miles from my house, actually, and I am very sorry I missed it, especially since Richard Carrier was present. It was held in the city of Dearborn, Michigan, which is widely known to hold the largest concentration of people of Arabic decent in the world, outside of the middle east, of course. Thusly, it also has an enormous Muslim population.
This video is a bit long, though, and you can skip over the first 15 minutes or so, it's all prayers and blessings and such.
If you so wish, check out part 2 on Youtube here.
Impeachment must begin, contact your Congressman!
To contact your Congressman click the link below! This insanity HAS TO END!
Atheist Blood Drive
In an attempt to show the world that atheists are every bit as charitable as the religious of society, and that we need no "divine warrent" to be so, the RRS has set up a daughter organization called Atheist Volunteers. We hope you will all chip in. The most prominent of it's projects is the Atheist Blood drive.
Two receive death sentence for adultery
An URGENT message from out affiliate, EARTHWARD
Two receive death sentence for adultery, to be carried out soon. ACT NOW!!!
An Iranian man and woman have committed the atrocious "crime" of conceiving a child out of wedlock. Since that heinous act, they have been allowed to live in prison for the past eleven years, but finally they will receive the justice they deserve. Two deep pits have already been dug, where they will be buried up to their necks, while their heads are pelted with heavy stones until they are dead. Justice will be served, right? You don't agree? Then do something about it NOW, before it's too late. Sign this petition. Send letters to Iranian officials and contact your local Iranian embassy. Do whatever you can to help save these individuals from an excruciating death, for a victimless "crime". We at EARTHWARD are appalled at a system that condemns those who commit such minor transgressions to horrific deaths, while extolling those who murder thousands of innocent victims as heroes and martyrs. There has been some delay in carrying out this sentence, which was originally scheduled for June 21, but we do not know how long.
CU biologists get death threatsBy PAULA PANT Colorado Daily Staff Writer Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:26 PM MDT
Last weekend more than a dozen envelopes bearing the image of skull and crossbones and containing letters threatening the lives of CU-Boulder evolutionary biology professors were slipped under the doors of CU-Boulder buildings.
According to a reprint of the letter posted online, the threat reads: “every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”
“EBIO (evolutionary biology) professors are terrorists against America and Š intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students Š the EBIO department not only blasphemes God, who is invisible, but it blasphemes His Only Begotten Son and our Messiah, Jesus Christ, which is more unforgivable Š for all these reason all God-fearing and Truth-loving persons must say, They must go!”
CU officials won't name a suspect, but numerous sources close to the case say the letters - as well as a barrage of threatening e-mails - were signed “Michael Korn.”
Menacher “Michael” Korn is a 49-year-old Israeli national and former Messianic Jew who says he was baptized into Christianity in the Sea of Galilee seven years ago and is now on a mission to convert Jews and Muslims. His blog, JesusOverIsrael. blogspot.com, references CU-Boulder specifically and says he lives in Denver, although he has a North Carolina area code.
Christopher Hitchens -- Free Speech Part 1Yet again, I believe I've posted this before, but it bears repeating.
Stewart bags on Bush on Letterman!
Bill Maher interviews Christoper Hitchens
Atheist ComedianI've posted this before, I'm sure, but this is the first time in the new home for this Newsletter. This is a Youtube video of our very own Keith Lowell Jenson. I found this guy right here in our forums, so check it out.
The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.