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Internet Infidels Newsletter

October 1996

In this issue:


Internet Infidels Acquire New Domain Name and Server

 

Many of you have expressed interest in the progress being made on moving to a new server. I'm pleased to announce that much progress has been made: we have registered a domain name, selected an internet service provider, and moved to a new server. Thanks to Bill Schultz (the newest co-manager of the Internet Infidels, by the way), infidels.org is now registered to Internet Infidels. The old address will still work until the end of the year, but we ask that everyone who has linked to the Secular Web please update their links immediately to <URL:http://www.infidels.org/>. During the transition period, both the old and the new address will work, but we'd like to get as many people as possible to use the new address now.

Perhaps one of the most exciting new features of our new server is the long-awaited search engine. There is now a link to "Search the Secular Web" at the bottom of every page; we hope that you enjoy this new feature as much as we do.

Please note that one thing that has not yet moved to the new server is our listserver. Assume that all Internet Infidel email lists will continue to run off freethought.tamu.edu until further notice.


New "Freethought Now!" Logo

Jeffery Jay Lowder

 

We frequently receive feedback at the Secular Web from people asking if they may link to the Secular Web, if they may link using the Internet Infidels logo, and so on. We have created a new logo specifically for this very purpose. Designed by the Internet Infidels' very own graphic designer, Andreas Heldal-Lund, the "Freethought Now!" logo is now available at <URL:http://www.infidels.org/images/ft-now.gif>. To use this graphic to link to the Secular Web, you may use the following HTML code:

<A HREF="http://www.infidels.org/"><IMG SRC="http://www.infidels.org/images/ft-now.gif" WIDTH=163 HEIGHT=36 ALT="Freethought Now!"></A>

We ask that this logo be used in place of the Internet Infidels' logo when linking to the Secular Web.

[Andreas Heldal-Lund is also the designer of the Secular Web logo, the Internet Infidels logo, and the Campus Freethought Alliance logo. He may be reached at <heldal>.]


Freethought Email Addresses Available

Jeffery Jay Lowder

 

The Internet Infidels are now offering -- at a price of $20 US per year -- vanity email addresses on the following domains:

atheism.org
freethinker.org
freethinkers.org
freethought.org
infidel.org
infidels.org
secular.org
skeptic.org
skeptics.org

Because all of these domains are hosted on the same computer, having an address on one domain automatically gives you an address on all of the others! (In other words, having (email address removed) automatically gives you (email address removed), (email address removed), etc.)

There are three advantages to purchasing a freethought email address:

  • You are supporting a worthy freethought cause (e.g., Internet Infidels)
  • You are promoting freethought through your email address
  • You will have a permanent email address

By having all mail forwarded from your freethought address to your real address, you will have an email address that will always be valid, no matter how often your real address changes. You can then list your freethought address in your .sig and on your home page, business card, and resume!

To have your freethought email address created, please send a check or money order (payable on a U.S. bank) for $20 US to Internet Infidels, Inc., 711 S. Carson St., Suite 4, Carson City, NV 89701, USA. Please indicate on the check 1) your current email address, 2) the email address you would like to have, and 3) an alternate address in case your first choice is already taken.

Note: Since this issue of the Internet Infidels Newsletter was originally published, Internet Infidels, Inc. has gained the ability to sell e-mail addresses electronically.

[Questions about freethought email addresses may be sent to <contact>]


Editoral: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Bill Schultz

 

Atheists and other freethinkers are a notoriously diverse and independent group. It takes a fairly strong mind to be able to adopt and accept a freethought point of view, and that degree of commitment to your individual view of what is a "proper" belief system will, unfortunately, usually bring freethinkers into conflict with one another on what would otherwise be relatively minor matters.

As a minority of one in this group of mosly atheists, I am probably more sensitive to the need to at least "get along" with the rest of you in order to achieve our common goals. And we do have common goals which are worthwhile for all of us to achieve. Jeff Lowder and I both believe that the Internet Infidels ought to be an *INCLUSIVE* group of those who believe in spreading a freethought point of view, not an *EXCLUSIVE* group for a particular brand of atheist (or other freethinker) to promote one particular point of view. The former ideal leads us towards the sort of strength in numbers which has traditionally led to social change. The latter policy would be one of ruin for the group, as one or two people would eventually drive the rest of us away to follow our own paths.

It is not a new concept that a group of relatively diverse individuals should band together to achieve an important common goal. During the American revolution, there was that famous quote: "Gentlemen, we must all hang together, or surely, we will all hang separately." As the fundamentalists strive for power in this country, the possibility arises, once again, of people being put to death for their adherance to disfavored religious views. Surely each of us must recognize that freethinkers are the group most likely to be suppressed by any sort of dictatorial government, and the fundamentalists are the "leading edge" of a movement towards a dictatorial government in this country.

(You don't believe this? Try reading: "The Twilight of Democracy" by Patrick E. Kennon. A former CIA analyst, he claims democracy is obsolete, and should be discarded.)

The title of this piece comes from the famous plea of Rodney King during the Los Angeles riots. The target then was the racial and economic divisions which had torn the minority community apart, but the message is just as applicable in the context of a religious "holy war." As the clearest religious minority in this country, the atheist/freethought movement simply cannot afford to destroy itself with internal bickering.

I'm not advocating that we cease exchanging our points of view. I'm advocating a return to respect and civility in any of our discussions, both within our community and with outsiders. There are groups which advocate the creation of the image of "your friendly neighborhood atheist." That image will self-destruct if the atheist(s) in question can't "get along."

In my opinion, there is a clear way to distinguish our enemies from those with whom we should strive to "get along." The method involves only an inquiry into a person's epistemology. If somebody believes in facts derived from scientific inquiry, and the interpretation of those facts through the processes of logic and reason, then that person is NOT our enemy, and we should make every effort to "get along" with that person. On the other hand, if somebody believes in the supremacy of "revealed truth," and in particular, that "revealed truth" takes precedence over facts and conclusions derived from scientific truth, logic, and reason, then that person is our declared enemy. Our only weapons in the coming war of ideas are scientific facts, logic, and reason, and those who will not even accept the premises derived from that base cannot be remonstrated into an acceptable point of view.

You only need to look at other civil rights organizations to know that a policy of inclusiveness is the proper way to achieve change. The groups which advocate exclusiveness are seen as racist and bigoted, whether they are the KKK or the Nation of Islam. The groups which strive for inclusiveness are seen as the leaders for a new tomorrow.

So, from now on, whether we are debating among ourselves, or even more importantly, when we seek to engage others outside of our community, let us adhere to the old rule: you can catch more flys with honey than with vinegar. Advocate your point(s) of view, and you can even advocate them forcefully. All you have to do is to maintain a respectful and tolerant tone about your advocacy so that the listener need not feel that they are being personally attacked. Do not engage in "name calling" because you will never help somebody to see "the truth" in that way. Instead, challenge them with ideas. Challenge them to grasp the truth of our universe and the insignificance of mankind to the overall scheme of things. Challenge them to expand their minds with facts, logic, and reason. Name calling will only advance the date of the eventual "holy war" between the fundamentalists and those who would oppose them.

If we follow this path, we should gradually become an acceptable alternative "religious group" in the minds of the community-at-large. If we do not, we will continue to marginalize ourselves by dividing ourselves into ever-smaller groups which can be attacked and destroyed at will, some time in the future. We should not allow ourselves to destroy ourselves in this fashion. Instead, we should recognize any who adhere to the supremacy of scientific fact, logic, and reason as our "spiritual brothers" to one degree or another, and we must strive to "get along" with all of them.

[Bill Schultz is a co-manager of Internet Infidels. He is also founder and webmaster of the Agnostic Church (<URL:http://www.agnostic.org/>). He can be reached at <Agnostic Pope>]


In Memoriam: Gordon S. Stein

[Originally printed in "The Buffalo News," August 30, 1996.]

 

Gordon S. Stein, 55, an author and editor on secular humanist and paranormal subjects who was internationally known among freethinkers, died of cancer Tuesday (Aug. 27, 1996) in Buffalo General Hospital.

Stein, a member of the Center for Inquiry in Amherst for the last four years, was the senior editor of Free Inquiry, a bimonthly magazine with a circulation of 20,000.

He also was the director of the two libraries at the Center of Inquiry, one that deals with secular humanism and the other with paranormal experiences.

He was the editor of the "Encyclopedia of Hoaxes" and the "Encyclopedia of the Paranormal."

He was the author of "The Sorcerer of Kings," a book about D.D. Home, a 19th century spiritualist medium who duped wealthy people; a book about Robert G. Ingersoll, the 19th century American agnostic; and the "Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism".

Joseph Nickel, a Center of Inquiry colleague, described Stein as a bibliophile with his own collection of rare books on spiritualism, which he debunked, and secular humanism.

"He lectured widely, enjoyed debate and did not suffer fools," Nickel said.

Stein held degrees in library science and management from the University of Rochester, Adelphi College and the University of California at Los Angeles, and a doctorate in physiology from Ohio State University. For a time, he taught at the University of Rhode Island.

Stein had been a consultant to the Committee of Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Surviving are his first wife, Barbara, and daughter, Karen, both of Atlanta; a second wife Eve Triffo of Los Angeles; and a sister, Irna S. Jay of Baltimore.

A humanist ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. today in the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

[Gordon Stein was also a supporter of Internet Infidels. --editor]


Press Release Announcing the Formation of the Campus Freethought Alliance

With great joy, we issue this press release announcing the formation of the Campus Freethought Alliance!

Derek Araujo, CFA PRESIDENT
Ali Aliabadi, VICE PRESIDENT
Keith Augustine, SECRETARY
Brie Waters, TREASURER
Chad Docterman, PUBLICITY COORDINATOR

Paul Kurtz, Chairman of the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York
-Council for Secular Humanism
-Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)

Jeffery Jay Lowder, Internet Infidels, <http://www.infidels.org>

--------------------------------------------------

The Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) was founded August 9, 1996, at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. The founding was a collaborative effort of representatives from the Council for Secular Humanism, CSICOP, and seven student representatives from five universities.

The Campus Freethought Alliance was created to encourage and support the foundation of campus freethought groups across the nation, and to eliminate the discontinuity and isolation which have plagued groups of the past. CFA will offer practical guidance, literature, speakers, publicity, financial assistance, and a greater sense of community to campus freethought groups. Delegates from affiliated CFA organizations will be invited to the annual CFA convention in Amherst to join student freethinkers from across the nation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

1) Distribute this message to others.

2) Link to the CFA homepage:

<http://www.SecularHumanism.org/cfa/>

To create a graphical link, use the logo attached to this message.

3) Subscribe to the CFA email newsletter. See the above web page for details.

4) If your campus freethought group would like to join the Campus Freethought Alliance, send a message to Vice President Ali Aliabadi at <(email address removed)>. A representative from your campus group may also add his or her signature to the Declaration of Necessity below.

Thank you for your support!
Chad Docterman, CFA Publicity Coordinator

-----------------------------------------------

A DECLARATION OF NECESSITY

We as representatives of various student skeptical, secular humanist, atheist, agnostic, and freethought campus organizations have assembled out of concern. As members of a small but significant minority, we often have been forced to reside in a social environment caustic to our needs, interests, and convictions. Instead of diminishing, opposition to free thought is now increasing with ominous rapidity.

  • We have witnessed a resurgence of religious fundamentalism, hand-in-hand with growing belief in mysticism, the paranormal, and the occult.
  • We have witnessed a growing disdain for science and a flight from reason and the principles of the Enlightenment, both in popular media and in the halls of academe.
  • We have witnessed a deplorable onslaught by religious factions upon personal liberties.
  • We have witnessed their concomitant effort to undermine secularist ideals in government, law, and education -- striving to replace science with pseudo-science, knowledge with ignorance, tolerance and pluralism with prejudice and oppression.

The very core of our rational, secular, free, and democratic society has been brought under attack in our communities, on our campuses, even in our classrooms. We cannot afford to endure this development with indifference. A resolute defense of the principles of reason is necessary as never before. Organized student opposition is necessary as never before. Though the tide of unreason is rising, we have taken it upon ourselves to stand in union against it. We have resolved to confront our difficulties directly, whenever and wherever they might arise. Our task is to actively defend and fight for the rational principles and ideals we hold so dear and to demonstrate, by argument and practice, that it is possible to lead a good and meaningful life without religion. Ethics and morality can be based on rational and humanistic ideals and values.

Thus, it is with great pride and enthusiasm that we convene to establish the Campus Freethought Alliance, dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of freethought, skepticism, secularism, non-theism and humanism, and to the national consolidation of campus resources for that end. It is our hope that by pressing to create campus environments more friendly toward the rational viewpoint, we might aid in ameliorating the negative condition of society at large.

Given the fact that student religious organizations exist on virtually all college and university campuses (Campus Crusade, Newman Centers, Hillel, Muslim organizations and the like) -- and that corresponding freethought, secular humanist, and unbeliever groups generally do not -- we think it vitally important that freethought organizations be formed on every campus. Too many secular humanists, atheists, and skeptics face the demands of college life alone. A campus freethought organization can provide much-needed support, and when necessary, help to defend unbelievers' rights.

We call upon our fellow students to establish skeptical, secular and freethinking organizations on college and university campuses across this land.

We invite our fellow students to loft high the banner of rationality and to join us in this most necessary endeavor.

Signed this day, 9 August 1996
Amherst, New York

Derek Carl Araujo of Harvard University
Chad Stephen Docterman of Marshall University
Etienne Rios of State University of New York at Buffalo
Alireza Aliabadi of University of Maryland at College Park
Keith Justin Augustine of University of Maryland at College Park
Brianna Kathleen Waters of University of Maryland at College Park
John Muhrer of Webster University
Selena Brewington of University of Oregon
Jason Erickson of University of Minnesota
Nicholas J. Rezmerski of University of Minnesota
John Simons of Western Washington University
Adam Butler of University of Alabama at Birmingham
Chris McDougal of University of Alabama at Birmingham
Jason Roylee Tippitt of University of Tennessee at Martin
Vincent Bruzzese of StonyBrook University
Michael S. Valle of University of Illinois at Chicago
Diana Carter of University of Guelph
Jason Pittman of Kalamazoo College
John F. Kennedy of New Mexico State University

Institutions are shown for identification purposes only.


Free the Darwin Fish

Gary Betchan

 

Have you seen the neat little Darwin Fish? The one that really gets the Christians' goat? Of course you have. The image has been the rage of the freethought community for several years now. You might even have one on your car. Or you might have a T-shirt with the Darwin Fish on it.

But do you know where it come from..? Do you know who invented it? Do you know that a corporation is trying to own it..??

Two long-term members of the Freethought community claim to have first put the word Darwin in a fish in 1983. (Al Seckle and John Edwards, Atheist United). They say it was their intent that the image be in the public domain, so they didn't file a copyright on it.

Today, a small corporation in Texas is using law suits and legal threats to solidify their claim to ownership of the Darwin fish image. They recently got the better of Seckle and Edwards through a legal technicality. Today, they are on the verge of knocking two other Darwin fish sellers out of business.

If this corporation, which has no known contact with the freethought community, locks up their ownership of this image, they will have the right to sell, or refuse to sell it, to whomever they want. They could even sell all rights to the Darwin Fish to some group like the Christian Coalition, or your local christian millionaire preacher.. . On the other side, many freethinkers are trying to keep the Darwin fish free. To prove that it is in the public domain. Would you help us?

What we need are examples of Darwin fish produced before 1990. We know that many were made as buttons, bumperstickers, t-shirts, etc. They appeared in newspapers , newsletters, books, etc.. We need to find those images. Preferably on dated items (like newspapers). And we need the names and contact information of any company or group that made or sold them in the 1980s.

If you have such an item or information, or know where one is, please send an email to <Gary (EvolveFish)>.

Please forward this message to all freethinks, atheists, humanists, or anyone who might help us...

NOTE: This message is not intended to create a negative opinion or image of any entity. Nor is it intended to support or denigrate the validity of any entity's claim to creative or legal rights. The sole purpose is to solicit information.

[Gary Betchan is the President and Founder of the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs. He may be reached at <EvolveFish.com>.]


What's New on the Secular Web

 

The following is a partial summary of items added to the Secular Web since our last newsletter:


The opinions expressed in the Internet Infidels Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Internet Infidels.

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