On a Sunday morning at the end of May, Dr. George Tiller, who was well known as one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, walked into Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita Kansas, which he had attended regularly for years. Inside the church, long-time anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder shot and killed him.
Many online abortion opponents could not conceal their delight with Roeder's "street justice." Dr. Tiller had also for years been the object of incendiary attacks from Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, which many blame for inciting Roeder to the murder. Abortion opponents rankle, of course, at the notion that they bear any responsibility for the criminal violence of extremists like Roeder. They point out that the mainline anti-abortion organizations denounced Dr. Tiller's murder, and that few of them would ever engage in violence. Nevertheless, the argument on which religious opposition to abortion is always based, that abortion is murder, is inherently inflammatory. If they insist that Dr. Tiller committed hundreds of murders, they can hardly denounce his own murder as inappropriate or disproportionate punishment. Their arguments justify violating the law by appealing to a higher law.
I know, you're an atheist, you're a skeptic, and you're cynical about these questions. It's totally understandable if it seems like they are bordering on an intrusion of your privacy. You do not, of course, have to answer these questions at all. Please keep in mind, though, there are a few really basic reasons why we'd like to know these two things about you.
This article first appeared in the June 17th edition of the Star Tribune. It is a response to Katherine Kersten's article "Hostility to Religion Bodes Ill for Society," which appeared in the June 7th Star Tribune. The premise of Kersten's article was that religion, Christianity in particular, is necessary to keep scientific progress in check. She argued that without Judeo-Christian beliefs, society would be morally corrupt and incapable of compassion. )
I am convinced that there is absolutely no value to the muddled ramblings of Katherine Kersten. In her recent column, "Hostility to religion bodes ill for society," she shamelessly blames secular freethought and atheism for infanticide, the Holocaust and general draconian attitudes toward social welfare while crediting Christianity for human compassion. In making her assertion she conveniently ignores the numerous Bible passages where the bloodthirsty Judeo-Christian God condones war and ethnic cleansing. In Numbers 31: 17-18, for example, God actively calls for the killing of male children and the raping of female children. That's one of the many Bible passages Kersten is forced to gloss over when she touts that Judeo-Christianity teaches us "universal standards of right and wrong." Also, since she had brought up Hitler, I would like to point out to Kersten, and her atheist-bashing ilk, that the SS belt buckles Nazi soldiers wore during the Holocaust bared the motto: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us).
Kersten ends her article by suggesting that Social Darwinism is a legitimate science that promotes the notion of the survival of the fittest. Therefore, Kersten argues, scientific progress needs to be constrained by religion so that the poor and vulnerable citizens of society are protected. Her position might have merit if Social Darwinism were an actual science, but it's nothing more than pseudo-science just like astrology and intelligent design. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is a biological science that was never intended to be co-opted by the social sciences. In fact, Charles Darwin wrote that human beings could not "check our sympathy even at the urging of hard reason without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature." If Kersten simply understood legitimate science she probably wouldn't be so afraid of it, and she might even tone down her spiteful and erroneous anti-secular rhetoric.
By Crystal Dervetski
On June 20th, Minnesota Atheists met at Lilydale Park in St. Paul for a fossil hunting adventure. Everyone met outside in the parking lot, grabbed an information packet about the park and the fossils, and then made the hike up to the three fossil beds located in the park. Everyone found something, and had a great time sharing their finds with one another. Families were out in full force, and even some of the really tiny ones made the trek up the hill. After the find, everyone came back down and drank some much needed water and munched on granola bars. The adults were entertained by a miming of a light saber battle and a spot-on impersonation of C-3PO, courtesy of a couple of the youngest fossil adventurers. The weather was beautiful, the fossils were abundant, and the socialization couldn't be beat!
Mark your calendars for an easy fossil hunt at the Intergroup Secular Labor Day Picnic on Saturday, September 6th in Northfield, MN. Crystal and Vic will take everyone out to a very easy site after the picnic that is right next to a road; no hiking involved!
By Victor Tanner
Is “Atheist” a strong enough word for skeptical thinkers? It really only denotes a non-belief in gods and, as we all know, there are many more wacky things out there. What's stranger than believing that an invisible friend is watching over your every move? Or than believing that the world is only 6,000 years old despite the evidence to the contrary? How about believing that a race of tiny elves that cannot be seen by human eyes are inhabiting the world all around us?