THE FOCUS
centerforatheism.org
        
  
  
  
  
 
        
  

JULY 1, 2011
Volume 7, Issue 25
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

Atheism in the land of a thousand gods
GlobalPost
~Aarti Tikoo Singh, a member of Delhi Freethinkers Years later Chawla is an atheist. And he is not alone. Spurred by online social networks, atheist and "free thinker" support groups are mushrooming in India's major cities. ...
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/110531/india-atheism-religion-non-believer

ATHEISM

British physicist's 'No heaven' comment continues to spark debate
NewsOK.com
Fuller said he would like to see more atheists share their worldview. He said there is still a stigma attached to atheism because some people mistakenly view atheists as lacking in morals because they do not believe in God. “We just have to change the ...
http://newsok.com/physicists-no-heaven-quips-spark-discussion/article/3571875

Is there scientific evidence to prove the presence of God?
Herald Sun
It concluded that both theology and atheism were reasoned responses to a basic impulse of the human mind. But just because we find it easier to think in a particular way doesn't mean it is true. Meanwhile, British neuroscientists compared MRIs of fans ...
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/sunday-heraldsun/is-there-scientific-evidence-to-prove-the-presence-of-god/story-e6frf92o-1226064573772

'Debaptism' certificate gaining popularity
Toledo Blade
Dan Barker, the foundation's president and a minister who turned to atheism, said many hang a framed copy on the wall and mail the other to the church, asking to be removed from the rolls. Ms. Gaylor said many who reject their childhood religion resent ...
http://www.toledoblade.com/Religion/2011/05/28/Debaptism-certificate-is-gaining-popularity-among-nonreligious.html

Scholarship fund started for student protester
Bastrop Daily Enterprise
By Mark Rainwater Almost as soon as news that a graduating senior at Bastrop High School who is an atheist notified school officials that he intended to file a complaint if prayer were included in the school's May 20 graduation ceremony, Hermant Mehta ...
http://www.bastropenterprise.com/news/x800623089/Scholarship-fund-started-for-student-protester

Dublin hosts first atheist congress
Irish Times
UP TO 350 international delegates are expected to attend Ireland's first World Atheist Convention in Dublin this weekend. Organised by Atheist Ireland, the event, from Friday to Sunday, will also see the launch of a newly restructured umbrella group ...
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0601/1224298206528.html

Bay Area Atheists Keep Focus On Polk School Board's Prayer Issue
The Ledger
By Merissa Green BARTOW | Since February, atheists from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have made appearances before the Polk County School Board requesting that it no longer pray at its meetings. But they have not challenged the school districts in ...
http://www.theledger.com/article/20110531/NEWS/110539902/1134?Title=Bay-Area-Atheists-Keep-Focus-On-Polk-School-Board-s-Prayer-Issue

DIVERSITY PLEDGE MAKES ROOM FOR ATHEISM
redbankgreen
Mitchell, an atheist, pointed out that 15 percent of Americans are religious non-believers, and thus the statement should reflect that. So the council amended the statement to include the group. Diversity, when it is accepted and respected, ...
http://www.redbankgreen.com/2011/06/diversity-pledge-makes-room-for-atheists.html

Atheists Sue Little Rock's Transit Authority for Rejecting Godless Bus Ads
Heber Springs Sun-Times
UnitedCoR is a national organization, headquartered in Washington DC, which focuses on organizing local atheist and agnostic groups into coalitions and funding their bus and billboard ad campaigns. Legal services were donated by the Appignani Humanist ...
http://www.thesuntimes.com/newsnow/x724664776/Atheists-Sue-Little-Rock-s-Transit-Authority-for-Rejecting-Godless-Bus-Ads

Arkansas Atheist Group Claims CATA Asked For $36K Damage Deposit
KUAR
A spokesman for the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason says the Central Arkansas Transit Authority asked for a $36000 damage deposit before it would accept $5000 worth of bus ads promoting atheism. That's a key reason the group sued CATA this week. ...
http://www.kuar.org/kuarnews/24935-arkansas-atheist-group-claims-cata-asked-for-36k-damage-deposit.html

Atheist Group Takes CATA to Court
KATV
By Stephanie Simoni - bio | email The United Coalition of Reason (United COR) filed a federal lawsuit today against the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) along with their advertising agency On the Move advertising claiming their First Amendment ...
http://www.katv.com/story/14824066/atheist-group-takes-cata-to-court

Suit Filed After City Rejects Atheist Ad
Fort Smith Times Record
LITTLE ROCK - A national organization filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Central Arkansas Transit Authority over its rejection of an atheist ad the group wanted to place on the sides of city buses. The Washington-based United Coalition of ...
http://www.swtimes.com/state_news/article_0202d4b0-8d20-11e0-b159-001cc4c03286.html

BOOKS, FILM, THEATRE, TV, YOU TUBE

Sundance/IFC's The Ledge -- God as Opiate
Huffington Post (blog)
With the plot set in motion the film sets out to thrill us and take on the ever conflicting subject of faith vs. atheism. Not just religious faith, but faith in people, marriage, and an examination of life's uncontrollable tragedies. ...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melody-breyergrell/sundance-ifcs-the-ledge-g_b_867842.html

Thomson's Book Analyzes Why People Believe in God
Media Newswire (press release)
The founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were adamant about the separation between church and state, he said. Part of what motivates suicide terrorists are the strong bonds that develop among the mostly male members of small ...
http://media-newswire.com/release_1151118.html

How to Raise an Atheist Family
Big Think
It can be tough, especially with young kids, because people understand atheism so poorly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNoh1dd_19I

Sam Harris's Journey to Atheism Sparked by 9/11
Big Think
9/11 sparked Harris's interest in religion, and his journey to atheism.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEzGekC1044

Richard Dawkins's Faith
Big Think
Surrounded by a puzzling and often frightening world, people from almost every culture have come to trust in the improvable and supernatural. Here Richard Dawkins remembers when he broke with this pattern and became an atheist, outlining his vision o.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm220Q5wks4

EVOLUTION, CREATIONISM, I.D.

Arkansas science teachers add their voice for evolution
National Center for Science Education
The statement discusses the scientific invalidity of "creation science" and "intelligent design" as well as the constitutional barriers to teaching them as scientifically credible in the public schools, recommending that "[s]chool boards, ...
http://ncse.com/news/2011/05/arkansas-science-teachers-add-their-voice-evolution-006687

17-Year-Old Challenges Michele Bachmann on Law Allowing Creationism To Be ...
AlterNet
... students are concerned about their grades or getting into a good college, but 17-year-old Zack Kopplin is focusing on conducting a national campaign to challenge a congresswoman on her basic understanding of the separation of church and state. ...
http://www.alternet.org/news/151120/17-year-old_challenges_michele_bachmann_on_law_allowing_creationism_to_be_taught_in_public_school_science_classes?page=entire

Texas "intelligent design" bill dies
National Center for Science Education
... to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms. ...
http://ncse.com/news/2011/05/texas-intelligent-design-bill-dies-006689

SCIENCE

Significant Role Played by Oceans in Ancient Global Cooling
ScienceDaily (May 28, 2011) — Thirty-eight million years ago, tropical jungles thrived in what are now the cornfields of the American Midwest and furry marsupials wandered temperate forests in what is now the frozen Antarctic. The temperature differences of that era, known as the late Eocene, between the equator and Antarctica were only half of what they are today. A debate has long been raging in the scientific community on what changes in our global climate system led to such a major shift from the more tropical, greenhouse climate of the Eocene to the modern and much cooler climates of today...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526141406.htm

New Hope of Detecting Gravitational Waves: Final Piece of Einstein's Jigsaw Puzzle
ScienceDaily (May 28, 2011) — Direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves is something that has long eluded researchers, however new research has suggested that adding just one of the proposed detectors in Japan, Australia and India will drastically increase the expected rate of detection...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526205101.htm

Chameleon Magnets: Ability to Switch Magnets 'On' or 'Off' Could Revolutionize Computing
ScienceDaily (May 28, 2011) — What causes a magnet to be a magnet, and how can we control a magnet's behavior? These are the questions that University at Buffalo researcher Igor Zutic, a theoretical physicist, has been exploring over many years...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110527162509.htm

Physicists Explain the Long, Useful Lifetime of Carbon-14
ScienceDaily (May 28, 2011) — The long, slow decay of carbon-14 allows archaeologists to accurately date the relics of history back to 60,000 years...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526122913.htm

Astronomers Unveil Most Complete 3-D Map of Local Universe
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011) — Astronomers have unveiled the most complete 3-D map of the local universe (out to a distance of 380 million light-years) ever created. Taking more than 10 years to complete, the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) also is notable for extending closer to the Galactic plane than previous surveys -- a region that's generally obscured by dust...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110527082038.htm

New Procedure to Make Brain Surgery Safer
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011) — To increase patient safety in clinical practice and minimize risks and damage that may arise during surgery, computer support and digital medical imaging are key technologies. Before brain operations, neurosurgeons can now evaluate patient-specific surgical risks, achieve increased safety, and avoid unacceptable risks...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110527100134.htm

Does Our Personality Affect Our Level of Attractiveness?
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011) — Part of what determines how much success you will have in the dating world is whether you have a good sense of whether people find you attractive. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that certain personality traits contribute to being a good judge of whether someone else thinks you're worth meeting again...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110527123426.htm

Spitzer Sees Crystal 'Rain' in Outer Clouds of Infant Star
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011) — Tiny crystals of a green mineral called olivine are falling down like rain on a burgeoning star, according to observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526142957.htm

Drug May Help Overwrite Bad Memories
ScienceDaily (May 27, 2011) — Recalling painful memories while under the influence of the drug metyrapone reduces the brain's ability to re-record the negative emotions associated with them, according to University of Montreal researchers at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital. The team's study challenges the theory that memories cannot be modified once they are stored in the brain...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526064802.htm

SEPARATION CHURCH / STATE

ACLU asks for removal of high school prayer banner
Boston Globe
The plaintiff is sophomore Jessica Ahlquist, a 15-year-old atheist who says the banner is offensive to non-Christians. The banner encourages students to strive academically and begins with "Our Heavenly Father" and ends with "Amen. ...
http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2011/05/27/aclu_asks_for_removal_of_high_school_prayer_banner/

UPDATED: Groups seek apology to student who raised graduation prayer issue
Bastrop Daily Enterprise
... United for Separation of Church and state and Freedom From Religion Foundation, the groups state they are “deeply troubled” by the issue arising from a complaint lodged by an atheist graduate who objected to prayer being included in the ceremonies. ...
http://www.bastropenterprise.com/newsnow/x1148655178/Groups-want-apology-to-student-who-raised-graduation-prayer-issue

Efforts to tax churches rise
Danville News
Colin Hanna, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors' Network and Let Freedom Ring, said Friday: “Government is all about separation of church and state when churches want to speak out about public policy matters, but when they see an opportunity to take ...
http://dailyitem.com/0100_news/x1326414369/Efforts-to-tax-churches-rise

Choice of 'God' poll stickers in Ohio will make atheists cringe, say voting ...
TruthDive
Columbus, May 31 (ANI): A move made by the Ohio government that offers all voters regardless of their religious beliefs, a sticker with the word “God” has stirred the hornet's nest, as some voting rights activists believe it would make atheist groups ...
http://truthdive.com/2011/05/31/Choice-of-God-poll-stickers-in-Ohio-will-make-atheists-cringe-say-voting-rights-activists.html

Election Day Sticker Change Is Causing A Stir
NBC4i.com
In 2001 federal courts ruled the Ohio state motto, "With God All Things Are possible," was a biblical verse and was not a separation of church and state issue. One local group, Ohio Citizen Action said, a voting sticker with the state motto is not ...
http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2011/may/31/election-day-sticker-change-causing-stir-ar-513071/

Maine Private School Tuition Bill Moves Forward
MPBN News
Berry also argued that the measure violates the constitutional separation between church and state. But that's not how Republican Rep. Gary Knight, of Livermore Falls, sees it. "The Supreme Court actually ruled back this very April, 5 to 4, ...
http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/16578/Default.aspx

Motion to cover Cranston school prayer to be heard Aug. 31
Providence Journal (blog)
Jessica is an atheist. The suit also asks the court to award compensatory damages, including interest, for Jessica's injuries along with attorney's fees and related costs. In an affidavit filed with the motion for preliminary injunction, ...
http://newsblog.projo.com/2011/06/motion-to-cover-a-cranston-sch.html

School district plans appeal on prayer ruling
San Antonio Express
“The plot thickens,” said Don Flanary, a San Antonio lawyer for the Schultzes who is helping the Washington, DC-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Legal experts said the only likely place with jurisdiction to hear the appeal is ...
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/School-district-plans-appeal-on-prayer-ruling-1405002.php

MISCELLANEOUS

Atheists have 'better sex'
iAfrica.com
Ray's respondents were either atheist or agnostic, many formerly religious, but those who grew up in secular homes were the ones who claimed to have the best sex of all. His study fingered guilt as an influencing factor when it came to how good a ...
http://lifestyle.iafrica.com/love_sex/love_and_sex_news/730587.html
===============================================