ISSUE: February 2003
Edited by Sharon Fratepietro and Sharon Strong
"You Can't Reason With Them: The Chinese Finger Torture of Reason and Religion" will be Bobbie Kirkhart's theme at the SHL meeting on Sunday, February 16, at 4 p.m. As usual, the meeting will be open to the public and take place at Gage Hall, next to the Unitarian Church, at 4 Archdale St. in downtown Charleston.
National Day of Reason
By Herb Silverman
Many who value the separation of church and state have sought an appropriate response to the federally funded National Day of Prayer, an annual abuse of the U.S. Constitution. Nontheistic Americans (including freethinkers, humanists, atheists and agnostics), along with many traditionally religious allies, view such government-sanctioned sectarianism as unduly exclusionary.
A consortium of leaders from within the Community of Reason recently endorsed the idea of holding a National Day of Reason. This observance will be held in parallel with the National Day of Prayer, on the first Thursday in May (specifically, May 1, 2003). The goal of this effort is to celebrate reasona concept all Americans can supportand to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.
Many organizations are planning special events for May 1. We would like to hear your ideas for what SHL could do to commemorate this day. Once determined, our event will be posted at www.nationaldayofreason.org. If you would like to endorse the National Day of Reason, you may do so at this Web site. There is great potential this year to give voice to our shared concerns about the serious threats to the wall separating church and state.
Herb Silverman Contributes to New Book
The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America, will surely cause a stir when it debuts across the nation on September 1. Written by seven freethought authors, the carefully documented narrative exposes the full spectrum of issues on the Christian fundamentalist agenda. Contributing to this expose is SHL President Herb Silverman, whose chapter, Inerrancy Turned Political, describes frightening attempts to subvert church-state separation by the extreme religious right. It also contains the saga of Herbs candidacy for the office of South Carolina governor in 1990 and his State Supreme Court victory in 1997.
Another chapter in the book addresses the fundamentalist rights oppressive treatment of women and children, as reported by Bobbie Kirkhart, visiting speaker at the SHL meeting on Feb. 16.
The book has drawn enthusiastic endorsements by advance reviewers who include British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong. The Fundamentals of Extremism will be published by New Boston Books (www.NewBostonBooks.com) and distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada by the Independent Publishers Group. For an advance copy in paperback or hardcover, see Herb Silverman, who has a few advance copies for sale at discount prices.
How About a Pickup?
Its time again for our Adopt-A-Highway pickup on Saturday, February 15, starting at 9 a.m. We need all the pickers we can getit makes the job go fastso plan to meet at the small parking lot across from Drayton Hall on Highway 61 a little before 9:00 a.m.
The State Highway Department supplies nearly everything we need, from bags to orange vests and pointy sticks. Gloves are not provided, so if you dont have a trashy pair, stop by Sherwin Williams on the way and buy a cheap pair of painting gloves.
The cleanup never takes more than two hours, and less than that if a bunch of folks help out. And if you work up an appetite, join the folks who go to brunch after the pickup at the Hominy Grill on Rutledge Ave. For more info, phone Gill Krebs at 763-4505, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Humanist Book Discussion Group
By Sharon Strong
Our next meeting will take place on Sunday, February 23, in the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., 3:00-5:00 p.m. We are reading another classic, Bertrand Russells influential 1957 book Why I Am Not a Christian, and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Herb Silverman will lead the discussion. The book includes such provocative essays as Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? and Our Sexual Ethics. It concludes with an account of how Russellone of the most eminent philosophers of the 20th century and a Nobel Laureatewas judicially declared unfit to teach philosophy at the College of the City of New York on the grounds that Russell was an immoral character. The book is available at the West Ashley Barnes and Noble.
The Public is Invitedto the Third Annual observance of Darwin Week in Charleston. Theres an exciting line-up of events on the schedule! All are free. But arrive early - seats fill up fast!
All Talks are Scheduled for late afternoons or evenings on the College of Charleston campus. The CofC Science Center is located at the corner of Coming and George Streets. The address of the Education Center is 25 St. Philip Street. Parking is available in the City Garage on the corner of St. Philip and George. Each talk will be followed by an opportunity to meet the speaker over refreshments. Birthday party for Charles Darwin on Wednesday!
Monday, Feb 10- Dr. Milford Wolpoff: A Neandertal in Your Closet?
Neandertals are the best known of the human fossils, the most widely characterized and caricatured, and Neandertal is the only word from paleoanthropology to work its way into common speech. Most people have an image and an opinion about Neandertals - ask your postman - and there are probably no ancient humans that evoke a wider range of interpretations. Who were these people? Are the swirling conflicts about them, or about the history of their discoveries? And most importantly, is there a Neandertal in your family tree, and is it on a branch, or on the main trunk? Dr. Milford Wolpoff is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has firsthand experience with virtually the entire human and pre-human fossil record, from evidence of hominid origins to the appearance of modern humans and their evolution.
5:30 - 6:30 pm, Science Center Room 123. Refreshments afterward.
Tuesday, Feb 11- Dr. Timothy A. Mousseau: Contemporary Adaptations: Explaining the Past and Predicting the Future.
Recent advances in molecular biology and ecology have generated a wide range of comprehensive case studies that provide tremendous insight to phylogenetic patterns and the evolutionary processes responsible for the generation of biodiversity. Using examples drawn from molecular genetics to ecosystems studies, Professor Mousseau will explore the recent developments in biology that are helping to refine our understanding of past evolutionary events and generate predictions concerning biological responses to environmental change in the future.Dr. Tim Mousseau is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina. His research focuses on the evolution of life history, physiology, and behavior in crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and love bugs.
4:30pm - 5:30 pm Science Center Room 123. Refreshments afterward.
6:40 - Repeat performance at The Citadel, Grimsley Hall Auditorium, Room 117.
Wednesday, Feb 12- Dr. Paul D. Fullagar: Age of the Earth: From Darwins Time to Now
Scientists have determined that Earth is 4,550 million-years-old, based on the decay rates of radioactive isotopes. However, in the 19th century, Charles Darwin and especially his contemporaries, had quite different ideas as to the age of the Earth. We will consider some of the early efforts to determine the age of the Earth, and see how the discovery of radioactivity in the late 1800s changed views regarding Earths age, and led to the development of much improved methods for determining ages. Dr. Paul Fullagar is Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the evolution of the crystalline rocks in the southern Appalachians and elsewhere.
4:30pm - 5:30 pm Science Center Room 123. Birthday cake & refreshments afterward.
Happy 194th Birthday, C.D.!
Thursday, Feb 13- Dr. David S. Mann: In Court: Teaching Evolution and Creationism--Deja Vu all over again
Are public elementary and secondary schools permitted by law to teach two truths: the history of the earth according to science AND the history of the earth according to Judeo-Christian religious theology? Is that question itself a contradiction? Dr. David Mann is Professor of Political Science at the College of Charleston. His research interests include state government policies, judicial politics, criminal justice, and political behavior.
6:00 - 7:00 pm, Education Center Room 118.
Repeat Performance at The Citadel - 6:40 pm, Thursday Feb. 20. Grimsley Hall Auditorium, Room 117.
Thursday, Feb 13 - Inherit the Wind
Join the College of Charleston Film Club for a screening of Inherit the Wind, a dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial. This 1960 Hollywood classic (starring Spencer Tracy) recreates the sensational 1925 courtroom battle betweenWilliam Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow that Bryan called a contest between evolution and Christianity. The defendent was John T. Scopes, arrested for teaching Darwins theory of evolution to his high school biology class in Dayton, Tennessee. This event is held in conjunction with The Jazz Age project at the College of Charleston.
7:00 - 9:20 pm, Education Center Room 118
Tampa means springtime!
It means meeting old friends and finding new.
It means educational experiences, fabulous food, provocative programs, and exciting excursions.*
February 10-13: Darwin Week at the College of Charleston.
Saturday, February 15: SHL Adopt-A-Highway trash pickup, meet opposite Drayton Hall on Highway 61 at 9 a.m.
Sunday, February 16: President of Atheist Alliance International, Bobbie Kirkhart, speaks at the SHL monthly meeting. At Gage Hall, 4 Archdale St., downtown Charleston, 4:00 p.m. Followed by optional dinner at Vickerys.
Sunday, February 23: Humanist Book Discussion Group, Barnes & Noble, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (West Ashley), 3-5 p.m.
April 18-20: Atheist Alliance International Conference in Tampa, Florida.