THE   FOCUS
centerforatheism.org
          
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
         
 
          
 
  
 
  
 
  
 
 
 
         
          

FEBRUARY 15, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 4
Published by the Center For Atheism (CFA)
Editor: David Birnkrant
 
The Focus provides links to articles collected from major newspapers and magazines, and is emailed weekly.

This Week in Atheism is a cable show that discusses the articles featured below, every Wednesday at 6:30 PM (EST), Manhattan Cable station 57. 
Live streaming is available at: 
http://www.mnn.org
         
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
         
 
          
 
  
 
  
 
         
 
  
 
         
 
          
 .

Comments, suggestions and subscription:
info@centerforatheism.org
          
 
 
 
 
 
         
 
 
 
         
 
      
 
  
 
         
 
      
  
 
         
 
          
 .


===================================
FEATURED ARTICLES 

Non-believers stick to their conviction 
Jakarta Post 
JP/Ricky Yudhistira Now Restu takes his atheism seriously. He is the administrator of an online discussion group called Angkatan Muda Ateis Indonesia ... 
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/12/18/nonbelievers-stick-their-conviction.html 

ATHEISM 

Christopher Hitchens and me 
Montreal Gazette 
Then he launched into his opening statement, wielding his atheism against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's faith (the debate subject was the role ... 
http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Christopher+Hitchens/3997097/story.html 

Why I Chucked My Mormon Faith and Became an Atheist 
AlterNet 
My own story highlights the role that technology and information play in my transition from faith to atheism. To illustrate that, let me back up a couple of ... 
http://www.alternet.org/belief/149261/why_i_chucked_my_mormon_faith_and_became_an_atheist/ 

An atheist view of December 
CNN (blog) 
By Katie Glaeser, CNN “Christians don't deserve a monopoly on holiday cheer," reads a simple yet loaded statement on the American Atheists' website. ... 
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/23/an-atheist-view-of-december/ 

Atheists split on whether it's 'appropriate' to celebrate Christmas 
Montreal Gazette 
But Fiddes, who is a member of the Centre for Inquiry, the nation's atheist organization, says she is, at times, criticized for participating in holiday ... 
http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Atheists+split+whether+appropriate+celebrate+Christmas/4015642/story.html 

Christians' Worries About So-Called 'War on Christmas' Ignore Holiday's Pagan ... 
AlterNet (blog) 
The League, angered by what it saw as an anti-Christmas billboard put up by the atheist group at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel that connects ... 
http://blogs.alternet.org/theskeeterbitesreport/2010/12/21/christians-worries-about-so-called-war-on-christmas-ignore-holidays-pagan-roots/ 

Santa Isn't Coming to Town 
New York Times (blog) 
... from an early age the importance of benevolent respect for their peers with other beliefs: the Jewish friends, the Muslim, the Atheist, the Christian. ... 
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/santa-isnt-coming-to-town/ 

Atheist ads spur Fort Worth transit to ban religious ads on buses 
LubbockOnline.com 
By AP FORT WORTH - Fort Worth buses will no longer carry religious advertisements because of a furor sparked by an atheist group's ads that proclaim, ... 
http://lubbockonline.com/faith/2010-12-17/atheist-ads-spur-fort-worth-transit-ban-religious-ads-buses 

Atheist Group Requests Permission For Holiday Sign At Canonsburg Borough Hall 
WPXI Pittsburgh 
One week after a nativity scene was brought back to the Canonsburg Borough Hall, an atheist group has requested permission for their own display at the ... 
http://www.wpxi.com/news/26209659/detail.html 

Fort Worth transit agency bans faith-based ads 
CNN (blog) 
Atheist groups and the Catholic League had a billboard brawl in New York late last month, and now the fight has reached Texas. The Board of the Fort Worth ... 
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/21/fort-worth-transit-agency-bans-faith-based-ads/ 

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE 

Bill Maher's Christmas Message for Oprah 
Gather.com 
Bill Maher on the other hand has been called an atheist and has what some believe are controversial spiritual beliefs. Despite being a fan or not, ... 
http://entertainment.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978823997 

A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I'm An Atheist 
Wall Street Journal (blog) 
As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don't think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, ...http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/ 

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas 
Financial Times 
The remarkable rise in religious fundamentalism over the past decade has been matched by a similarly energetic surge in atheism. And while no one has yet ... 
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/17e574da-07cf-11e0-8138-00144feabdc0.html 

The funny new face of atheism? 
Salon 
By Mary Elizabeth Williams The most dynamic, persuasive atheist in the world isn't Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. It's not a scientist or Pulitzer ... 
http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/12/21/ricky_gervais_greatest_atheist/ 

Does God Exist? Ricky Gervais Takes Your Questions 
Wall Street Journal (blog) 
Have you had any moments of doubt about your atheism? Atheism isn'ta belief system. I have a belief system but it's not “based on” atheism, it's just not ... 
http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/22/does-god-exist-ricky-gervais-takes-your-questions/ 

Album: Saint Etienne, A Glimpse of Stocking (Foreign Office) 
Independent 
There's an excellent book, just published in HarperCollins paperback, called The Atheist's Guide to Christmas. With all profits going to the Terrence ... 
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/album-saint-etienne-a-glimpse-of-stocking-foreign-office-2164627.html# 

'Freud, Lewis' fascinating as they debate heady issues 
Palm Beach Post 
... Freud's Last Session, a fictional meeting of the minds between Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and a staunch atheist, and CS Lewis, ... 
http://www.pbpulse.com/arts-and-culture/2010/12/21/freud-lewis-fascinating-as-they-debate-heady-issues/ 

Ricky Gervais gives emotional, atheist Christmas message 
3News NZ 
The comments came in an article in which Gervais was fielding questions on his atheist beliefs, following an earlier article on the Wall Street Journal's ... 
http://www.3news.co.nz/Ricky-Gervais-gives-emotional-atheist-Christmas-message/tabid/418/articleID/192319/Default.aspx 

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D. 

Five years ago, "intelligent design" ruling in Dover case set a legal landmark 
Philadelphia Inquirer 
Eleven residents of Dover, 25 miles southwest of Harrisburg, sued over their school board's decision to introduce "intelligent design" into the high school ... 
http://articles.philly.com/2010-12-20/news/25292249_1_intelligent-design-movement-eric-rothschild-dover-school-board-members 

A new Gallup poll on evolution 
National Center for Science Education 
A new Gallup poll on public opinion about evolution hints at a slightly higher rate of acceptance of evolution in the United States over the years. ... 
http://ncse.com/news/2010/12/new-gallup-poll-evolution-006373 

Astronomer Says His Religion Cost Him a Job 
New York Times 
C. Martin Gaskell, who currently works at the University of Texas, says he is not a creationist and does not deny evolution. That search turned up evidence ... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/us/19kentucky.html?_r=1 

4 in 10 Americans still hold creationist views 
msnbc.com 
Democrats: 40 percent agree with evolution through a God-guided process; 20 percent say God had no part in the process; and 34 percent held the creationist ... 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40732028/ns/technology_and_science-science/ 

SCIENCE 

African elephant is two species, researchers say 
BBC NEWS 
Genetic researchers may have resolved a long-standing dispute by proving there are two species of African elephant... 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12054343 

Rise in Oxygen Drove Evolution of Animal Life 550 Million Years Ago 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2010) — Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the University of Oxford have uncovered a clue that may help to explain why the earliest evidence of complex multicellular animal life appears around 550 million years ago, when atmospheric oxygen levels on the planet rose sharply from 3% to their modern day level of 21%... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217145647.htm 

Emotional Intelligence Peaks as We Enter Our 60s, Research Suggests 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2010) — Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found. But they're better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101216142534.htm 

Where Unconscious Memories Form 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — A small area deep in the brain called the perirhinal cortex is critical for forming unconscious conceptual memories, researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain have found... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215151307.htm 

More Than 100 New Species Described by California Academy of Sciences in 2010 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — Global biodiversity surveys over the past few years have provided increasing evidence that our planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. Plants, animals, and microorganisms are disappearing thousands of times more rapidly than they have for more than 65 million years, and for the first time in Earth's history, human activity is the predominant force behind this mass extinction. As governments and conservation organizations around the world attempt to stem this tide of disappearing species, they face a number of formidable challenges, but perhaps the greatest among them is this -- we have only documented and described an estimated 10 percent of the species on Earth, and it's hard to save a species when you don't know that it exists... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101216190515.htm 

The Birth of Time: Quantum Loops Describe the Evolution of the Universe 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — What was the Big Bang and what happened before it? Scientists from the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw have attempted to answer the question. Within the framework of loop quantum gravity they have put forward a new theoretical model, which might prove useful for validating hypotheses about events prior to the Big Bang. This achievement is one of the few models describing the full Einstein's theory and not merely its greatly simplified version... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101216095014.htm 

Online Access With a Fingerprint 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — A new service developed by a researcher at the University of Southampton makes it possible for users to maintain multiple online accounts using a scan of their fingerprint as a password...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101215082942.htm 

Looking Back in Time to See Stars Bursting Into Life 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — A UK-led international team of astronomers have presented the first conclusive evidence for a dramatic surge in star birth in a newly discovered population of massive galaxies in the early Universe. Their measurements confirm the idea that stars formed most rapidly about 11 billion years ago, or about three billion years after the Big Bang, and that the rate of star formation is much faster than was thought... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101217083237.htm 

An Answer to Green Energy Could Be in the Air 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — In Mark Moore's world, long nanotubes reach into the clouds, serving at once to tether a turbine-vehicle flying at 2,000 feet, or 10,000 feet, or 30,000 feet (610, 3,050 and 9,150 meters); and also to conduct the power that vehicle can harvest from the wind back to Earth... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101213111127.htm 

Nanotechnology: Tiny Channels Carry Big Information 
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2010) — They say it's the little things that count, and that certainly holds true for the channels in transmembrane proteins, which are small enough to allow ions or molecules of a certain size to pass through, while keeping out larger objects. Artificial fluidic nanochannels that mimic the capabilities of transmembrane proteins are highly prized for a number of advanced technologies. However, it has been difficult to make individual artificial channels of this size -- until now... 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214142739.htm 

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE 

Nativity Scene Stirs State Vs. Church Controversy 
WAPT Jackson 
A nativity scene in the state capital's rotunda is stirring an age-old debate over the separation of church and state. ... 
http://www.wapt.com/news/26168174/detail.html 

Ind. county under fire for nativity display 
NECN 
... erected in front of the county's courthouse will remain on display despite a challenge from a group advocating for the separation of church and state. ... 
http://www.necn.com/12/17/10/Ind-county-under-fire-for-nativity-displ/landing_politics.html?&blockID=3&apID=df69e8c18dd44929a246d68ae1d091e0 

Ark park gets preliminary OK for tax breaks; Speedway given green light 
Lexington Herald Leader 
But some groups concerned about the separation of church and state have said they may sue the state if the incentives are ultimately granted. ... 
http://www.kentucky.com/2010/12/21/1574230/ark-park-gets-preliminary-ok-for.html#more 

Displaying displeasure with nativity scenes 
Santa Monica Daily Press 
... be found just south of the nativity scenes that features quotes from the founding fathers about the importance of the separation of church and state. ... 
http://www.smdp.com/Articles-c-2010-12-23-70986.113116-Displaying-displeasure-with-nativity-scenes.html 

County Board Ten Commandments monument dispute continues 
Harrisburg Daily Register 
... county and opposition from at least one corner -- Rob Sherman, an atheist activist from Buffalo Grove who has become involved in several such proposals. ... 
http://www.dailyregister.com/news/x1651490372/Ten-Commandments-monument-dispute-continues-at-County-Board-meeting 

Feisty Indiana Commissioner defends county crèche 
The Underground 
A commissioner in Indiana refuses to be cowed by an atheist organization that is taking issue with a nativity scene that is being displayed on the Franklin ... 
http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2010/12/feisty-indiana-commissioner-defends-county-creche-14856 

City Council fights for the right -- to pray 
Yakima Herald-Republic 
Gonzalo Guillén, the local resident who filed the complaint, described himself half-jokingly as an "atheist Mexican" and said he's been a member of the ... 
http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2010/12/18/city-council-fights-for-the-right-to-pray 

MISCELLANEOUS 

My Take: Religious Cities are Among the Most Violent 
CNN (blog) 
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN In one of the more jarring passages in God is Not Great, the celebrated atheist Christopher Hitchens writes of being ... 
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/20/my-take-religious-cities-are-among-the-most-violent/ 

Fort Worth transit agency bans faith-based ads 
CNN 
The message from Fort Worth, Texas: no more religious advertisements allowed, at least on its transit system.  The pro and anti-religious ad battle has been front and center this holiday season. Atheist groups and the Catholic League had a billboard brawl in New York late last month, and now the fight has reached Texas... 
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/21/fort-worth-transit-agency-bans-faith-based-ads/?iref=allsearch 

===============================================