Posted February 12, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
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Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 180919 April 1882) was an English naturalist.[I] After becoming eminent among scientists for his field work and inquiries into geology, he proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from one or a few common ancestors through the process of natural selection.[1] The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s,[1] and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical explanation for the diversity of life.[2]

Darwin developed his interest in natural history while studying first medicine at Edinburgh University, then theology at Cambridge.[3] His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838.[4] Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, his other work had priority and he needed time for extensive research to meet anticipated objections.[5] He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described a similar theory, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.[6]

His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. He examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.[7]

In recognition of Darwin’s pre-eminence, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.[8]



Posted February 12, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
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Ritual of Dealing

With Demons

Undergoes a Revival

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 11, 2008; A09

POCZERNIN, Poland — This wind-swept village is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan.

The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a “spiritual oasis” that will serve as Europe‘s only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said.

“This is my task, this is my purpose — I want to help these people,” said Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years. “There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace.”

Exorcism — the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls — is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists.

About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe’s corps of demon-battling priests.

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Posted February 11, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
Categories: Uncategorized


Alex Godden (OJ), Viewpoints Editor

Issue date: 2/11/08 Section: Viewpoints & Humor

This is going to be a real rant. Today I am really, really angry. So angry that I’m afraid this article probably won’t be funny (at least, not intentionally).

Over the past few six months, the Atheists and Agnostics Group has been hacked, restricted and twice deleted from MySpace because they professed views that upset various religious groups. With over 35,000 members this was thought to be one of the largest self-organized groups of atheists and agnostics in the world (atheists being by nature a group not given to large-scale organization). This group has been insulted and threatened, despite doing nothing but openly discussing their beliefs with others who share them in a forum that everyone else is quite at liberty to ignore, if they wish.

So why, you may ask, has there not been an uproar? When major search engines started censoring content in China at the behest of the Chinese government, newspapers and pundits across the world started screeching from the rooftops about freedom of speech and the role of the internet. So why, when MySpace (part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire) starts effectively curtailing people’s freedom of religion, is there not more fuss? Why are the only articles so far in the Boston Globe, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and now in an obscure and irrelevant business school newspaper?

I would hope that a country that prides itself on upholding freedom of religion would be equally concerned about people’s right not to have a religion, but it seems not. In a 1999 Gallup Poll more Americans said they would vote for a Presidential candidate who was Mormon (79%) or Jewish (92%) than one who was openly atheist (49%). Given that these percentages are far higher than the proportion of Mormons or Jews in the population it seems that people are far more distrustful of people who choose not to believe in God than those who believe in a different one.

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Posted February 11, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
Categories: Uncategorized

Do you believe in God?
Thanks for voting. You chose ‘No’

Yes (16%)
No (84%)

Total so far: 25146



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Posted February 11, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
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Posted February 11, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
Categories: Uncategorized

Nigel Willmott

Here’s the scenario. The church has overwhelming social and cultural power and influence through its incorporation into state institutions, its performance of ceremonies such as marriage and funerals, delivery of education and participation in legislative councils. But many of its adherents are unhappy at the failure of the church to live up to its precepts, or to include everybody within its communion. A rapidly growing population and economic expansion, coupled with globalisaion of trade, has fuelled inequality, undermining many of the basic social structures of which the church is a part. A growing humanist movement is critical of many of its doctrines and practices, and an explosion of scientific activity is threatening its world view. Meanwhile Islam threatens to make inroads into its European heartlands.

It is, of course, the situation in Christian Europe in the early 1500s, just before a driven and intellectually remorseless critic, Martin Luther, posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, setting in train what we now call the Reformation, which was to cleave Europe in two – not just religiously and politically, but socially, culturally and intellectually.

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Posted February 10, 2008 by palmspringsatheist
Categories: Uncategorized

Atheists have a sense of humor…