2009 Secular Student Alliance Conference

watland_gardens12.jpgBy Bjorn Watland

On Friday, August 7, 300 atheists descended onto the Creation Museum in Petersberg, Kentucky.  The Creation Museum, an Answers in Genesis project, is designed as a more traditional science museum than some carnival ride (as other "creation museums" have been).  It presents evidence to support their pre-drawn conclusion that all that has ever happened in the past is contained in the Christian Bible.  Since the Christian Bible contains lineages and ages of people, they conclude that that scientists who have used material evidence to come to the conclusion that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old must be mistaken about atheism.


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Obama Makes Health Care a Religious Issue

george_head_small.jpgBy George Kane

With his health insurance reform initiative bogging down in the face of declining public support, President Obama is calling on religious leaders to turn it into a moral crusade. On one day in August he held two teleconferences to this end. In the morning he asked about 1,000 rabbis to preach his political agenda in their sermons on Rosh Hashanah, while that afternoon he spoke to a mostly Christian audience of about 140,000 religious leaders in a conference call and webcast.


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The Sunny Skeptic: Surveying the Survey

crystal_small.jpgBy Crystal Dervetski

Recently, Minnesota Atheists sent out a survey to gauge interests and opinions of our membership. The response was absolutely overwhelming, mostly in a good way. There appear to be many questions regarding what Minnesota Atheists as an organization actually does, what we offer, and who we are as a group of people. I had already started answering some questions in previous articles. In one, I had discussed why we ask new members how they found out about Minnesota Atheists, and why they chose to become members, as there seemed to be some confusion in this area as well. Now that we have the survey data fairly complete, I'm going to start tackling some of the bigger issues that were brought up in the free form responses.


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Ireland's Blasphemy: A Relic of the Dark Ages

vic_head_small.jpgBy Vic Tanner

On July 9, the Republic of Ireland passed a law against material that is "abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion". Why would the government of an enlightened secular country choose to enact a blasphemy law at this point in history? Though many countries, some of which  may surprise you, still have blasphemy laws on the books, these laws are often vague to the point of meaninglessness and are seldom enforced. For instance, the Greek Penal Code defines a  blasphemer as "one who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God" yet makes no attempt to clarify who "God" is or what these malicious acts may consist of. Whether these laws were intended to placate religious individuals or to protect religious institutions, they accomplish neither.


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Book Review: Disbelief 101

disbelief.jpgBy James Zimmerman

You're not going to learn anything new reading this book.  But that's not an indictment of the book, no, it's a comment on your age.  Disbelief is intelligently designed to appeal to the tween/early-teen crowd, and it does a superb job.  Indeed, it is the best book on the topic of disbelief available for young people.

The author begins right away (well, after an introduction by Tom Flynn) by assuring young people who may be nervous reading such a book that he understands their fears. S. C. Hitchcock (writing under a pseudonym for the safety of his family) tells such readers that, if they take nothing else from the book, and if they are unable or unwilling to read anything else, to remember that there is no God.  "Religion," he says, surely striking a nerve with everyone in his intended audience, "survives and is a huge force in the world because it relies on the indoctrination of children." It was this observation, Hitchcock noted in an interview, that drove him to write the book.


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