Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hitler Was Not An Atheist


by John Patrick Michael Murphy

The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 19, Number 2.


In George Orwell's 1984, it was stated, "Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past." Who is going to control the present-fundamentalism or freedom?

History is being distorted by many preachers and politicians. They are heard on the airwaves condemning atheists and routinely claim Adolph Hitler was one. Hitler was a Roman Catholic, baptized into that religio-political institution as an infant in Austria. He became a communicant and an altar boy in his youth and was confirmed as a "soldier of Christ" in that church. Its worst doctrines never left him. He was steeped in its liturgy, which contained the words "perfidious jew." This hateful statement was not removed until 1961. "Perfidy" means treachery.

In his day, hatred of Jews was the norm. In great measure it was sponsored by two major religions of Germany, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. He greatly admired Martin Luther, who openly hated the Jews. Luther condemned the Catholic Church for its pretensions and corruption, but he supported the centuries of papal pogroms against the Jews. Luther said, "The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows, seven times higher than ordinary thieves," and "We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them." "Ungodly wretches" he called the Jews in his book Table Talk.

Hitler seeking power, wrote in Mein Kampf, "... I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work." Years later, when in power, he quoted those same words in a Reichstag speech in 1938.

Three years later he informed General Gerhart Engel: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." He never left the church, and the church never left him. Great literature was banned by his church, but his miserable Mein Kampf never appeared on the index of Forbidden Books. He was not excommunicated or even condemned by his church. Popes, in fact, contracted with Hitler and his fascist friends Franco and Mussolini, giving them veto power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain, and Italy. The three thugs agreed to surtax the Catholics of these countries and send the money to Rome in exchange for making sure the state could control the church.

Those who would make Hitler an atheist should turn their eyes to history books before they address their pews and microphones. Acclaimed Hitler biographer John Toland explains his heartlessness as follows: "Still a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite the detestation of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jews was the killer of god. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of god. ..."

Hitler's Germany amalgamated state with church. Soldiers of the vermacht wore belt buckles inscribed with the following: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us). His troops were often sprinkled with holy water by the priests. It was a real Christian country whose citizens were indoctrinated by both state and church and blindly followed all authority figures, political and ecclesiastical.

Hitler, like some of the today's politicians and preachers, politicized "family values." He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it. If past is prologue, we know what to expect if liberty becomes license.

As a young child, I remember my late father, Martin J. Murphy, practicing a speech and loudly quoting the following: "Light up the mountain. Bring out the wild and fiery steed. Let it be known, that I, Gustavus, have insulted the King." Thinking for yourself and speaking your true thoughts - now that's a real family value.

John Patrick Michael Murphy, a retired attorney and a member of Freethinkers of Colorado Springs, co-writes a freethought column for an alternative weekly newspaper.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Pale Blue Dot


On October 13, 1994, the famous astronomer Carl Sagan was delivering a public lecture at his own university of Cornell. During that lecture, he presented the photo seen left.

This photo was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance. Having completed it primary mission, Voyager at that time was on its way out of the Solar System, on a trajectory of approximately 32 degrees above the plane of the Solar System. Ground Control issued a command for the distant space craft to turn around and, looking back, take photos of each of the planets it had visited. From Voyager's vast distance, the Earth was captured as a infinitesimal point of light (between the two white tick marks), actually smaller than a single pixel of the photo. The image was taken with a narrow angle camera lens, with the Sun quite close to the field of view. Quite by accident, the Earth was captured in one of the scattered light rays caused by taking the image at an angle so close to the Sun. Dr. Sagan was quite moved by this image of our tiny world. Below
is an enlargement of the area around our Pale Blue Dot and an excerpt from the late Dr. Sagan's talk:


"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."


I feel that the late great Carl Sagans
view is felt in this recent picture to the right of saturn. In this image from cassini you can see the earth on the left of saturns rings as a small dot just like in the images above.

Given these images it seems amazingly arrogant and egotistical of us to have a geocentric bound view of the universe.
The universe is a fantastically vast place and for more than 13.699 billions years at least, it got by without humans. For about 10 billion years it got by without the earth. To think that we are somehow special and it was created for us is just absurd. We are just a cosmic grain of star dust in the vast stretches of the universe. When I contemplate such things like we are literally made of stars and that for the large portion of the universe no human at least on this planet was even in it, most of what the universe is made of (dark energy, dark matter), we don't know what it is but can detects its effects. The fact that everything on this pale blue dot I call home was created by a natural process of evolution with natural selection and that I share a common ancestory with everything else on the planet. All of this astounds me in such a way I can't describe. Who needs religion for awe and wonder. No thank you.

I have the real thing. Life, the universe and everything.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Famous Quote

When Napoleon asked the physicist Laplace where God fitted into his model of the universe, the scientist’s answer was: “II ne me faut pas de cette hypoth√©se-la” (I have no use for that hypothesis which you mention).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Do fish have lungs?

No. They have gills.

Gills consist of dense networks of thin-walled blood vessels over which water is pumped. This allows carbon dioxide in the blood to move into the water, and oxygen from the water to move into the blood.

The gills are arranged into a "counter current" system so the water flows through in the opposite direction to the blood. This means that oxygen will always be picked up via the blood, and carbon dioxide will always be picked up by the water.

The oxygen gets into the water in the first place in several ways. The most important sources are marine plants, which photosynthesise and produce oxygen as a by-product, and also oxygen from the air dissolving in the water.

The carbon dioxide entering the water, on the other hand, makes perfect plant food - the marine plants and plankton absorb it and, again using photosynthesis, turn it into sugars and oxygen

-Courtesy of thenakedscientists.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The most evil character in all of fiction

God

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolvent bully."

excerpt from The God Delusion By Richard Dawkins (p31)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A History Of Medicine

A HISTORY OF MEDICINE

2000 BC - Here, eat this root.

1000 AD -
That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.

1850 AD -
That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.

1920 AD -
That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.

1945 AD -
That pill is ineffective. Here, take this penicillin.

1955 AD -
Oops ... bugs mutated. Here, take this tetracycline.

1960 -1999 AD -
Thirty-nine more "oops" ... Here, take this more powerful antibiotic.

2000 AD -
The bugs have won! Here, eat this root.

Anonymous - Quouted in "Overcomming Antimicrobial Restistance" - World Health Report on Infectious Disease 2000.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"WHY IS THE SKY BLUE ?"

The sky is blue due to an effect of the earth's atmosphere on the light reaching us from the sun.

Although sunlight looks 'white' it is actually made up of a whole spectrum of colours which you can see in a rainbow, or with a prism. The different coloured lights have different wavelengths ranging from blue light (which has the shortest wavelength) to red light which has the longest.

The Blue light is strongly scattered by the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, whilst the other colours, with longer wavelengths, are not affected.

This means that when light waves arrive from the sun, some of the blue light is bounced about and scattered in all directions by the air so that it no longer seems to be coming just from one place - the sun - and instead the whole sky seems blue. But the rest of the light (with longer wavelengths) passes unaffected straight through the atmosphere to your eye and hence the sun looks a yellowy red colour (white minus some of the blue).

So why does the sun go red at sunset ?

This is because as the sun 'sinks' the light has to travel further through the atmosphere to reach your eye meaning that more of the blue (and shorter wavelength light) is scattered (removed) than when the sun is high in the sky, making the sun look even more red.

courtesy of thenakedscientists.com