Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 6 August 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Overheard August 2011

So where does morality come from, if not from God? Two places: evolution and secular reasoning. Despite the notion that beasts behave bestially, scientists studying our primate relatives, such as chimpanzees, see evolutionary rudiments of morality: behaviors that look for all the world like altruism, sympathy, moral disapproval, sharing — even notions of fairness. This is exactly what we’d expect if human morality, like many other behaviors, is built partly on the genes of our ancestors.
Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago ecology and evolution professor, “As atheists know, you can be good without God”
USA Today, 73111

If public officials are keen on erecting monuments to important values, they would do well to check out mybillofrights. org. This organization is committed to installation of Bill of Rights displays in public spaces across the country. Saluting the Bill of Rights doesn’t violate the separation of church and state; in fact, it celebrates it.
Ken Paulson, First Amendment Center president, “Localities, save on legal bills: Don’t post the Ten Commandments”
First Amendment Center, 71911

Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, and we’re glad to be able to offer it and make a difference. Our principal message this year is that atheists and nontheists can be “Good without God,” with events oriented toward public service, volunteering and charitable work.
Cory Derringer, University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers president, on UNIFI’s participation in storm clean-up in Vinton
Vinton Today, 72311

I think it’s a testament to the power of belief and the difference between belief and science. She is asking that the physical laws of the universe be changed to accommodate her views.
Donald Waller, University of Wisconsin-Madison botany professor, dismayed by creationist Mary Weigand’s Dane County Fair booth claiming the universe is only 6,000 years old
Wisconsin State Journal, 71911 [Editor’s note: Weigand’s husband is on the School Board in West Bend, Wis.]

Clearly the exotic ideas and news and reports on your show and elsewhere about how exotic and unorthodox some of these religious views are, has caused heartburn inside the Perry camp, and has really threatened to distract from what they wanted to do, which is say, “Look we’re just having a prayer rally, people are going to show up, they’re going to pray, they’re going to sing.” And then when you have the guy who has sex with the sun goddess as part of the story, it’s not helpful.
Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater, on removal of a link on Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer website to controversial endorsers
“The Rachel Maddow Show,” 72111

The reason Governor Perry is apparently pushing prayer and fasting as a solution for what’s wrong with Texas is because he hasn’t been able to fix Texas the ordinary way, through governing effectively. His state is falling apart. When you abandon actual governing, you’d better hope Jesus is coming soon to solve your problems.
Professor Susan Brooks Thislethwaite, Chicago Theological Seminary
The Washington Post, 71311

From 2000, when he became governor, through 2009, he earned $2.68 million. And his total faith giving? $14,243
— about half of 1 percent. Kind of a widow’s mite.
Columnist Steve Blow, on tax records showing Gov. Rick Perry’s charitable donations
Dallas Morning News, 62611

In recent years, scientists specializing in the mind have begun to unravel religion’s “DNA.” They have produced robust theories, backed by empirical evidence (including “imaging” studies of the brain at work), that support the conclusion that it was humans who created God, not the other way around. And the better we understand the science, the closer we can come to “no heaven . . . no hell . . . and no religion too.”
Op-ed by psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson and medical writer Clare Aukofer
Los Angeles Times, 71811

The tendency of some religious conservatives to see themselves as a political minority under siege has even been given its own cheeky moniker, Christian Persecution Complex.
Reporter Michelle Cottle
The Daily Beast, 71611

I’m an atheist, personally. But I don’t get angry at other people for believing in God. I respect them. But sometimes I rub them the wrong way.
Jacob Maxfield, 12, participant in Camp Quest Chesapeake in Virginia
The Washington Post, 72611

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