Blasphemous Blogging: The Blog of Edwin Kagin

Blasphemy is the crime of making fun of ridiculous beliefs others hold sacred. This blog is about satire, truth, inquiry, and critical thinking. It is about enjoying life before death. It is about how some try to control many through their notions about a make believe supernatural world and imaginary rewards and punishments after death. This blog says that blasphemy is a good thing, a healthy thing, and a good antidote to harmful superstition. This blog is about freedom. Edwin.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008



Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email:

Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web:

Editor's personal web site:

Editor’s personal blog:

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


To Unidentified Recipients:




March 21-23, 2008 ~~ Minneapolis, MN.

RICHARD DAWKINS, author and scientist, will speak at the 34th National Conference of American Atheists slated for March 21-23, 2008 in Minneapolis, MN.

The venue is the magnificent Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel in the heart of downtown. This year's conference will feature three exciting days of speakers, social events, panels, workshops and other events. You can register on-line using our secure transaction server at .

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. Born in British colonial Africa, he was educated in England, where he now lives. He did his doctorate at Oxford under the Nobel Prize winning zoologist Niko Tinbergen, then was briefly an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1967 to 1969, after which he returned to Oxford, first as a Lecturer in Zoology, then Reader, before being elected to his present professorship.

He is the author of nine books: The Selfish Gene (1976, 2nd Ed 1989), The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil’s Chaplain (2003), The Ancestor’s Tale (2004) and The God Delusion (2006). The God Delusion has sold more than a million copies in English, and is being published in 30 other languages. Dawkins is now editing an anthology of scientific writing for Oxford University Press, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. In 2006, to promote the values of education, science, and critical thinking skills, he established The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) which is now a registered charity in both the UK and USA.

Richard Dawkins has Honorary Doctorates of Literature as well as Science, and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He has been awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the Nakayama Prize, the Cosmos International Prize, the Kistler Prize, the Shakespeare Prize and the Lewis Thomas Prize.

WHO & WHAT: Richard Dawkins speaking at the 34th annual National Conference of American Atheists.

WHEN: March 21-23, 2008

WHERE: Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel


(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


Don’t miss Answers in Atheism, the soon to be award winning live Internet radio call-in talk show.

Next show, January 31, 2008, at 7:00 pm. Eastern Time.

See: for details.

We are still working out technical matters. If you have not been able to access the show, do not despair for the shows are (should be—this is not precise science) archived on the website for your later enjoyment.

See you on the radio.



Traditional Family Values Department (from reader Jan):

"Clean" Movie Maven Arrested For Teen Sex OREM, Utah, Jan. 25, 2008

Utah Man Who Sold R-Rated Films Shorn Of Skin Arrested For Sex With 14-Year-Old Girls

(CBS) A Utah retailer of family-friendly tapes and DVDs - Hollywood films with the "dirty parts"

cut out of them - has been arrested for trading sex with two 14-year-old girls.

Orem police say Flix Club owner Daniel Dean Thompson, 31, and Issac Lifferth, 24, were booked into the Utah County jail on charges of sexual abuse and unlawful sexual activity with a 14-year-old.

CBS Station KUTV in Salt Lake City reports that the shocking discovery came when a mother found a $20 bill in her daughter’s room last week and questioned her about where the money came from.

The girl confessed that she and a friend had been paid for sexual favors by an older male.

Lifferth was additionally charged with patronizing a prostitute and was also in possession of a prescription drug medication without a prescription.

Thompson's Flix Club was one of several Utah-based video outlets that traded in edited versions of

R- and PG-13-rated films, catering to clientele who wanted to watch hit movies without nudity, sex, language or graphic violence.

Such video editing operations came under the gun of Hollywood studios and the Directors Guild of America.

In a case brought by the DGA, a federal judge ruled in 2006 that editing out material (such as Kate Winslet's bare breasts in "Titanic") violated copyright laws. The decision was against a Utah company called Clean Flicks.

Thompson, who was a franchise operator for Clean Flicks, opened Flix Club last year, similarly trading in edited videos but claiming that such editing was for "educational use."

Threats of lawsuits from the Hollywood studios forced him to agree to shut down on December 31.


From reader Frank:


I am troubled by where (in your email below to J. Stamper at the Herald-Leader newspaper) you wrote:

"Naturally, they will say that this, if true, is not an attempt to unconstitutionally 'establish a religion.'"

Yes, I agree that that is what "they" will likely say. What troubles me is the including of the indefinite article "a" in front of "religion." The Establishment Clause of Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States of America omits the article "a" and simply says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" (as in, of ANY religion, not just of one particular religion over others), which seems to me to be a much stronger, broader statement than proscribing against the establishment of a religion (as in, of one particular religion over others). I do not think it likely that the authors of the 1st Amendment omitted the indefinite article "a" inadvertently, nor that the ratifiers of the 1st Amendment inadvertently overlooked that the article "a" was omitted or casually dismissed the implication of its omission..

I am always troubled (in fact, I downright cringe) when I hear folks like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity include the article "a" in front of "religion" whenever they make reference to the 1st Amendment, because including it subtly but vitally weakens the expressed mandate of the Establishment Clause. If what you predict will be said in defense of the state Senate launching its new work year
by listening to a rendition of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" come to pass, we should not let the defenders get away with (purposely or carelessly) smuggling the article "a" into their reference to the Establishment Clause; we should take advantage of every opportunity to remind such defenders and the public-at-large that -- by thoughtfully omitting the indefinite article "a" in front of "religion" -- the authors of the 1st Amendment rendered the Establishment Clause to be a much stronger, broader mandate than it is often popularly mis-characterized to be.

That said, clearly the song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" is a song of the Christian religion and is not representative of all religions but rather of Christianity over other religions, and so even including the uncodified article "a" in front of "religion" in references to the Establishment Clause, a plea that beginning the state Senate's working year by group-listening to the song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" is not an attempt to unconstitutionally "establish a religion" is prima facie a failed defense. Nonetheless, I still strongly think we (all of us) should take every opportunity to publicly make the point that by omitting the indefinite article "a" in front of "religion" the authors of the 1st Amendment rendered it to be a stronger, broader mandate than it is often popularly mis-characterized to be.

Just a thought, humbly submitted. -- Frank Lovell, Louisville, KY



You are of course correct, and I apologize for the error.

It just seemed that they are in fact attempting to establish a particular religion.

But the omission of the indefinite article was, as you observe, intentional and full of meaning.


With your permission, I would like to publish this correspondence.



From reader Natty:

I'm a brilliant scientist and I fear for the world's fate

"I wish I could have faith -- at least for my daughter's sake if not for mine."

By Cary Tennis

Jan. 24, 2008

Hello, Cary,

I have mastered many advanced scientific and engineering fields and can mostly understand just about every advanced scientific theory or engineering device currently in existence or previously in existence -- like how to build an atomic bomb or an IC (integrated circuit) device from basic raw materials, or create a digital camera array, program a computer, build a complete scientific instrument from basic components, interface a computer and other devices.

Or knowing the physics of how the sun works, or how to make any glass act just like a plastic metal (my thesis), or why the entropy of the universe requires that black holes, contrary to theory, are not really a one-way sink for the universe.

To better teach myself quantum mechanics, I wrote my own text (which the quantum professor at the university reproduced and gave his later classes). I have also studied a great deal of mathematics, philosophy, economics and history. I devour current events and have done many strange jobs: flown jets, worked in intelligence, and done cutting-edge research at a number of R&D laboratories both private and governmental.

However, I do not understand faith, nor how it is even possible to hold such a strange idea in the mind. I do miss this mind drug and how it would provide a childlike answer about "after" death. But such a lie is just a pointless waste of my time. (Yes, I have read the Bible in detail, and studied all the other great religions.)

Yet, more to the point, I am baffled by how I can deal with "knowing" the real future -- we in America are fucked -- at least in our way of life: We cannot control the economic slice of the world pie that we have grown accustomed to, and as is all too clear, our future will be hard and poor.

Worse, we are fast approaching peak oil, and our way of life will soon take an even bigger hit. To see the truth of this, look at the cost of food: It is climbing. The cost of oil has rippled through our economy, caused in part by our stupidity in creating ethanol from corn, but that is just the sign of doom -- peak oil is our real doom and the world's, too.

We do not and will not for many years have any way to handle peak oil; I know the technology and there is no answer we can hope for in under 10 years (if we get started now, that is) -- my life, yours, that of all middle-class people are doomed to spiral down.

Again, this is only one more piece in the disaster looming over us; environmental degradation, overpopulation, world hunger, war and large sections of third-world states falling into chaos are going to threaten us in the next 10 years. I know this and I know that all this could be avoided if --

1) People gave up faith,
2) Stopped feigning the truth and
3) Stopped listening to the right-wing Republican thugs and their loony mouthpieces that are raping the middle class and poor for the rich elite (themselves).

I know there is zero chance of this happening. So, how can I look my daughter, who is the light of my life, in the eye, smile and continue to follow through with the same things I always do, knowing the truth of the terrible world she will soon live within, which will try to crush her future?

How can I stop caring, turn off my brain, and just enjoy the time we have left in the sun? In other words, give up truth and be like everyone else and live with blinders? Drugs would help, but then I'd miss out on the fun that we have left.

The real truth is that, "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man" is ... an unhappy, depressed man who everyone else thinks is just a troubled, opinionated know-it-all.
One-Eyed Man

Dear One-Eyed Man,

Faith is not the problem. Death is the problem. You are troubled by a vision of planetary death, which stems from fear of personal death. This fear also makes you ache for your daughter, whom you envision being left alone in a dying world. It is not a technical problem. It is a spiritual problem. You seem to find it hard to accept that. Perhaps you can accept this, though:

You need a vacation.

You must go to the ocean and jump in. You must go to the ocean, take your shoes off and walk in the sand. Sit in the sand and look out at the ocean and think of Odysseus. Think of Priam and his ships.

Think of Lear and his madness. Think of Cleopatra, a swarm of locusts, the wisdom of ancient Egypt, Jews wandering 40 years in the wilderness. Think of the spice wars, cholera epidemics, the Great Fire of London, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the rise of Islam, the Nazi phenomenon and the coming Super Bowl contest. Think of George W. Bush sauntering through the capitals of the Mideast like a chastened frat boy on his final field trip.

Think of evolution, our origins in the sea, our miraculous plankton brotherhood, our kinship with kelp that waves serenely in ancient seas. Think of the sand and how old it is; think of our cells and think of our options, how we could be plankton if need be, how we could be gas or liquid, how we could transubstantiate at a moment's notice if only the right force came along. Think of the mutability of atomic structure, how easily matter becomes energy, how we each might fissure into energy at the time of death. Think how many mysteries remain for us and how little we know about the silent, mocking plankton. Think of bombs and timers and the vaporizing flesh of a martyr in his millisecond of victory and doom. Think of mountains, their patient climb of eons to the sky. Contemplate the aurora borealis and the southern lights, simultaneous sunsets down the longitudes of our slow, inherited spinning. Think of a beard growing on your father. Think of the egg that became you. Think of solar cells and leaps of efficiency. Think of Edison and Einstein: Are we fresh out of amazement?

Have we finished finding things out? What preposterous presumption is that? We are finding things out faster than ever. We are about to know our own genes, the true bible of our being. So if we are finding things out more quickly than ever and things have looked much worse in the past and we got over them, where is the justification for your gloom? Why do our little problems seem insurmountable? Where is your faith in science? Where is your wonder? Where is your readiness for the surprise of new knowledge?

I think you're just tired. You're too smart to be talking like this. They must be overworking you in the lab. You need a vacation, man.

I myself am taking a couple of days off. I am visiting my father, an ex-Navy man. I am trying to understand his lifelong interest in UFOs. We are sitting in the kitchen and he toddles in, wearing his tweed jacket and red sweater, his hair tousled and gray, his posture bent with old age and Parkinson's. He carries stacks of books on UFOs, crop circles and the like. He piles them on the table: Would you like to look at some of these books? It is the same old story, his strange superstition, my skepticism.

But among the books is "Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies," by Carl Jung. Is this an instance of synchronicity? Is it just a coincidence that your dire fears of planetary collapse come to me as I am reading Jung's meditations on the symbolic meaning of flying saucer reports? Writing to a friend in 1951 he said, "At a time when the world is divided by an iron curtain -- a fact unheard-of in human history -- we might expect all sorts of funny things, since when such a thing happens in an individual it means complete dissociation, which is instantly compensated by symbols of wholeness and unity. The phenomenon of the saucers might even be both, rumor as well as fact. In this case it would be what I call a synchronicity."

You are dying to protect your daughter from the end of the world but you cannot. Nor can you protect her from your own death. Nor can you prevent your own psyche from struggling to provide you with lifesaving symbols of renewal. Scoff if you must. But take a vacation and your psyche will renew itself in spite of you.

Indeed, "but this is wondrous strange," says Horatio.

"And therefore as a stranger give it welcome," says Hamlet. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


Rachel Corrie lives.
Pass it on.

Saturday, January 12, 2008



Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email:

Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web:

Editor's personal web site:

Editor’s personal blog:

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


To Unidentified Recipients:

Just couldn’t believe it, so I wrote to the reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader thus:

From: Edwin Kagin []
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2008 8:01 AM

: Turn your what upon who?


Could you please verify?

First line of today's story about the start of the 2008 Senate < > :

"The political squabbles started less than an hour after the state Senate kicked off its work year listening to a rendition of 'Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.'"

Naturally, they will say that this, if true, is not an attempt to unconstitutionally “establish a religion.”

Are these the words?

”O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu'rors we are!


His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


If that is not religious, one wonders just how it might look if they were religious.

We are a nation of laws, not a nation of sins.

Thank you.


Edwin Kagin,
National Legal Director
American Atheists, Inc.
: 859-384-7000

Toll Free: 877-814-9287
Fax: 859-384-7324

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


Well, it was true.


And if that is not enough of a dose of constitutional awareness for Kentucky, consider this:

Bill in the works for public school prayer



FRANKFORT -- A Northern Kentucky lawmaker is working on legislation designed to allow public school students to openly pray in school.

Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge, said he is working on the bill at the request of a Grant County church that claims to have collected more than 25,000 signatures on petitions supporting the effort.

Adams said the bill is not yet drafted and he would not divulge further details.


Should the Ky. Legislature worry about prayer in schools?

"It's a work in progress as we speak," Adams said Tuesday morning about an hour before the Kentucky General Assembly opened its 2008 legislative session.

Adams acknowledged the bill is apt to raise constitutional concerns.

"That's what we're looking into," he said while walking through the tunnel that connects the Capitol Parking Garage with the Capitol Annex. "Hopefully we'll have something that will meet the needs (of the supporters.) I really believe that part of the problem is we've already got some things on the books that most people don't realize are there. So we are trying to take all that into consideration before we draft a bill."

Adams would not expound on his comment that there may be an existing law or provision in a state statute that would allow open prayer in school.

"I'm not ready to give a lot of information, because like I said, it's a work in progress."

"But I think I have to come up with some type of legislation because I've got quite a few (people) in my district that are interested in this," Adams said.

He said the Lawrenceville Baptist Church in Corinth in southern Grant County initiated the petition drive. In a statement issued by the Rev. Jay Holt, pastor, the church said it had "collected more than 25,000 signatures ... to put prayer back in Kentucky schools."

"Through door-to-door signature drives, booths at local events and letters to hundreds of churches all over the state, the congregation of Lawrenceville has caught the attention of legislators in Frankfort," according to the statement.

"People want this," Adams said. "I've been working on this for a couple of months. We'll have something on this down the road."

Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, who often clashes with conservative lawmakers over religious-oriented legislation, said Adams is "pandering" with the bill and said the General Assembly should be focused on other issues.

"We're facing a $400 million hole in the budget," Stein said in an interview.

"We have more than likely cuts in (public education) we are going to have to make.

"We are not properly funding our universities, yet (Adams) wants to get us all in a tizzy about prayer in school.

"Children can pray in school right now so long as they aren't disruptive to the class," said Stein, a lawyer.

"This is just - the word pandering comes to mind."


And while that scoff law behavior is going on:

Kentucky makes the New York Times, with “In Kentucky’s Teeth, Toll of Poverty and Neglect”:



But fear not, for in Kentucky:

From reader Jan:

Subject: 10 C’s back in Garrard County Courthouse

Here we go again.

This display features ONLY stuff on the 10 C's - and they evidently think that makes it more

kosher? Oh, yeah, it is the business of the Garrard County Court to educate citizens on the 10

C's. Guess Garrard County doesn't have churches to do this and they need to rely on tax payer

funded entities to do the church's job.


According to Garrard County Judge Executive, John Wilson, this display is supposed to “educate the

public on the history of the 10 commandments.” That publicized statement alone just lost them

their case.

Wilson must have gotten his law degree in aisle 6 at KMart during a blue light special.


10 Commandments Hung Monday In KY Courthouse

The halls of the Garrard County courthouse now look a little different than before.

A new ten commandments display was unveiled Monday morning, after the fiscal court voted

unanimously to place it in the courthouse.

Garrard County Judge Executive John Wilson says this one is much different from a display that had

to be removed last year, after it landed the county in court.

"The other display hung by previous administration and was a collection of historical documents,

one of which was the 10 commandments," he said. "This is a different one; it is educational. It's

to educate the public on the history of the 10 commandments."

Wilson says the new display chronicles the commandments from the beginning to the current day

court battles. He says it shows both sides of the controversy.


Note: all of this can be easily avoided, and persons desiring the Ten Commandments are invited to go to , where it is written,

“…Those who feel they cannot refrain from robbing, murdering, raping, stealing, etc. without this Bronze Age code to guide them can now have their very own copy by printing out this thoughtfully offered document in ready- to-print-and-frame form, which can be easily enlarged or reduced as desired.

Readers can now "Hang Ten" everywhere they can find wall space to do so.

If everyone has their own copy to read or worship, and every child has one to put on the front of their school binder, we should not need to have further fuss over such debated issues as unlawful postings in schools, court houses, and other public places. Some may want to paper their homes with them.

And, if the theory of those who want them displayed everywhere is correct, then crime, immorality, and all nature of bad things should soon disappear….” Edwin.


Also from reader Jan:

Some other Kentucky background that might be helpful:

In 2000, The Association of Religion Data Archives reported[55] that of Kentucky's 4,041,769


33.68% were members of evangelical Protestant churches Southern Baptist Convention (979,994 members, 24.25%) Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (106,638 members, 2.64%) Church of Christ (58,602 members, 1.45%) 10.05% were Roman Catholics 8.77% belonged to mainline Protestant churches United Methodist Church (208,720 members, 5.16%) Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (67,611 members, 1.67%) 0.05% were members of orthodox churches 0.88% were affiliated with other theologies 46.57% were not affiliated with any church.

Today Kentucky is home to several seminaries. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville is the principal seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention. Louisville is also the home of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Lexington also has a seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary is located in nearby Wilmore. In addition to seminaries, there are several colleges affiliated with denominations. Transylvania in Lexington is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. In Louisville, Bellarmine and Spalding are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Louisville is also home to the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and their printing press. >>> Louisville is also home to a sizable Jewish population. <<<


(46.57% UNchurched! Woo Hoo!!!)

Also, Kentucky is the home of Charles C. Moore - one of the last people in America to be jailed for blasphemy < >:


Charles Chilton Moore (1837 - February 7, 1906) was an American atheist, and the editor of Blue Grass Blade, one of the United States' first journals promoting atheism.

C. C. Moore's grandfather was the 19th century religious reformer Barton W. Stone. Moore became a preacher, in his grandfather's tradition, but came to doubt the Bible and its teachings. He left the church, passing through deism and agnosticism before becoming an atheist. He founded the Blue Grass Blade in 1884 in Lexington, Kentucky. Due to financial and legal problems, he was only able to publish it sporadically. The journal contained articles advocating such positions as agnosticism, women's suffrage, and prohibition.

Moore spent time in prison for his outspoken opposition to religion and The Bible. He was even jailed for blasphemy, but was * pardoned by president William McKinley. His autobiography, written in prison, is called Behind the Bars.

Moore's legacy is that of a father of American atheism. His Blue Grass Blade was widely circulated, gaining him notoriety among the religious and non-religious alike. He helped to promote arguments against much that is contained in the Bible, for example, geological evidence that Earth existed far before the date of October 23, 4004 BC, calculated by James Ussher from the Old Testament. His legal trials helped establish precedents in free speech law, as it relates to religious dissent. The Blue Grass Blade continued to be published after his death by James Edward Hughes until 1910.

Charles Chilton Moore is buried in Lexington, Kentucky.

[*Jailed in Lexington for prison in Ohio later for charges of publishing "free love" statements in the Blade - with the Ohio sentence being the one pardoned by McKinley.]


Also, AA held their 1984 convention in Lexington, with Moore's 3 books being republished by AA - Madelyn Murray O'Hair writing the forward to each. Madelyn's son, Bill, picketed outside the hotel where the convention was held. AA members went to Moore's grave in the Lexington Cemetery to plant a "Devil's Hosta" in front of the gravestone < >.



Addendum from reader Jan:

Might note that those stats are from 2000. I'm sure the religion demographics have become even more varied since then.

We have a fairly good sized Muslim population in Kentucky < > with 22 mosques in the state and between 5,000 and 6,000 Muslims in Lexington alone, according to the September 2007 article.

Lexington has the "Bharatiya Temple and Cultural Cente" < > and Louisville has the "Hindu Temple of Kentucky".

There are numerous Pagan/Wicca groups all over Kentucky too < >.

The Baha'i have churches in Lexington, Frankfort, Louisville, Richmond and Bowling Green.

HELL (pun intended) even the Kentucky Satanists are trying to organize MeetUps < > and < >.

So, there are a lot of "others" out there besides the Gawdless Infidels. And those good legislators are supposed to be representing ALL of us.



From Samantha of England (a country about the size of Kentucky—for details, ask someone who went to school when geography was still taught):

Subject: Blasphemy law 'may be abolished'

"The government has signalled that it will bring

forward plans to repeal the law of blasphemy, in an

effort to head off a rebellion by Labour MPs.

Ministers are hoping to persuade backbenchers against

backing a motion calling for the immediate abolition

of the ancient legislation.

They say they want to talk to the Church of England

before scrapping the offence of blasphemous libel.

But Labour MPs have been told the government is

sympathetic in principle."

Perhaps there is hope yet for us...



It is suggested that copies of “Baubles of Blasphemy,” by Edwin Kagin, be sent to this poor county in missionary boxes to aid in the emerging enlightenment. Edwin.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Answers in Atheism radio show tonight.

“Answers in Atheism,” the Internet radio call-in talk show.

LIVE. Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm, Eastern Time.

See: for access, for call in information, and for previous shows.

Tonight's guest is John Armstrong from Louisville, Kentucky.

John Armstrong is the author of "God vs the Bible" which skeptically examines the

Bible from a deist’s point of view. The book is available online at He also has a podcast on YouTube in a series called "Skeptic

Bible Study". John is also one of the co-founders of the Louisville Atheists and

Freethinkers. He hopes to bring about a more rational world by opening up dialogues

which may lead people to a safer and more sane form of spirituality. We will talk

about his efforts and what it means to be a deist.

Y’all listen and call in y’hear.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Edwin on Time, or New Year’s Eve, 2007 Fades to New Year’s Day, 2008, or Vice Versa


Edwin F. Kagin is a lawyer‑poet. He believes that, through grace and faith,

this will be a regular column and, if events are predestined, that whatever

he believes makes no difference whatsoever. He can be reached in care of

this publication, or through e‑mail at:

Permission for non-profit reproduction is given, so long as credit is given,

so the villagers will not go after the wrong person with pitchforks and torches.

Edwin on Time, or

New Year’s Eve, 2007 Fades to New Year’s Day, 2008, or Vice Versa

Time like an ever-flowing stream   
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the break of day. (Isaac Watts, 1719)

There once was a girl named Miss Bright,
Who could travel much faster than light.
She left one day,
In a relative way.
And returned the previous night. (Anon)

My brilliant, beautiful, and single (email available upon appropriate request) daughter Heather is, at this writing, in the People’s Republic of China. This frolic and detour logically follows my child’s previous adventures, which include, inter alia, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on one occasion and chatting with the Buddhists of Katmandu on another. The fact of this sojourn is mentioned only to explain why I came to realize that while it is New Year’s Eve at Kagin Manor in Union, Kentucky, it is now New Years Day in the space-time that hopefully still contains my Heather.

Time, you see, is not a real thing. It is something we make up. This may well come as a stunning surprise to some readers, who may be equally amazed to learn that there are not really lines on the ground between Kentucky and Tennessee, such as are shown on maps. Nor are there really lines of latitude and longitude—concepts that are doubtless familiar to readers who went to school when geography was still taught. They are all imaginary constructs—things that we accept by agreement as true because it is useful for us to do so and permits things like permitting us to sail around the world rather than causing us to fall off of the edge of the earth.

It must be so, otherwise how could it be January 1, 2008 in what we used to call China (and that is what it is called on almost every widget now sold in Wal-Mart and such) and at the same time (pardon the expression) be December 31, 2007 in Union, Kentucky?

If one had a fast enough means of transport, and a car (and other needed details nit-picking critics will point out in this work instead of writing their own essay), one could in theory celebrate the coming of the New Year at midnight tonight in Union, and then go celebrate New Year with Natty Bumppo, County Lawyer, in Central Time, and then speed to Yuma, Arizona to do New Year’s with Lisa Clark, the repentant witch of Camp Quest, and from thence to the Pacific Time Zone where David Kong, Bart Metzler, and other Atheists will surely be celebrating the coming of 2008 in an excess of revelry an hour later. If they are there that is. If they are in another time zone, they will not have New Year happen when it should.

So what is time anyhow, if all of these places can be at the same time at different times?

Time has certainly not always been done the way we do it now. In ancient (from our perspective) times, literate, intelligent people broke the day into 24 hours, a custom we of course follow. However, the day was further divided into 12 hours for daylight and 12 hours for the dark. Yeah. So an hour of daylight would last longer in the summer than in the winter, and an hour of darkness would last longer in December than in June. And, except perhaps at the two annual equinoxes, hours of day and night would be of different objective lengths. But each hour would still be an hour. I reckon anyhow. So, if one were disposed to visit a brothel of Pompey, and if the services offered at such mercantile establishments went by the hour, a clever customer, at this time of the year, might well conclude that one could get more bang for the buck by visiting during one or more of the longer twelve evening hours rather than during the shorter daytime hours. The reverse would, in this hypothetical, apply in the summer months.

Problems of a more family friendly nature might have occurred in things like cooking. If, say, the cookbook (if any) said to bake the roast beast for two hours, the same beast might be more or less done depending on the time of year it was cooked and whether it was prepared in the day or in the evening.

Of course, the problem with clocks was epidemic. Some wit observed that there were more opinions on some hot issue than there were different times on the clocks of Rome. Making accurate clocks is one of the great obsessive compulsive achievements of human kind. The clock on my computer faithfully shows the date, changes the year more accurately than Time Square does, and even adjusts itself for that human invented phenomena “Daylight Savings Time.”

We don’t have to base time on the movement of the earth. We could base it on lots of other things, and maybe have years lasting for thousands of days or weeks that were over in only a few minutes. It all depends on just what system we either agree upon or have forced upon us. On point is the present system, with the year 2008 supposed to be 2008 years since the birth of Jesus, presumed-by-many-to-be the Christ. That is not accurate of course, even if there really was a Jesus. King Herod is known to have died in 4 BCE If the book of Matthew in the Bible is to be believed, and the Magi consulted with Herod about the child Jesus before visiting his house in Bethlehem, then Jesus could not have been born after the date of Herod’s death. Oh, well, a mystery of faith. More on point, someone picked the dates and, to make sure everyone was on roughly the same temporal page, the system was adopted. At least in places frequented by most of our ancestors. Others people’s ancestors followed different roads and days.

Our year 2008 will be year 4705 by the Chinese calendar (4706 according to a few astrological/zodiac opinions). The Chinese New Year is the second New Moon after the winter solstice. If this sounds silly, check out how the date for Easter is calculated.

2008 is, of course, also a Leap Year. This means that it has one more day, February 29th, than last year or next year, when the last day was, and will be, February 28th. It also means we have a Presidential Election (thank dog) and an Olympics this year. These are unrelated facts.

That is because, in 30 BCE, Julius Caesar’s successor Augustus changed the Egyptian calendar to make it as long as the Julian calendar by adding a day every four years. The Roman year did not start on January 1st as we know it should. Those Romans had the year begin on July 1st or on September 1st, depending on which century you are talking about.

Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar, on February 23, 1582, with a revised one. His main motive was to make Easter more stable in holy calculations, and the “Gregorian calendar” is the one we use at our moment in history, despite the pantheon of non-Christian deities therein memorialized. Not all countries adopted this calendar at the same time, and this caused some interesting confusions. Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on April 23, 1616. But in “real” time (whatever that may “really” mean), Cervantes died ten days before Shakespeare died. That was because Cervantes died under the Gregorian calendar, while Shakespeare had the Julian calendar on the wall.

Here are a couple of things you can use to really impress some people. The Platonic Year (or Platonic Cycle), reflects the 25920 years of the precession of the equinoxes, and the Long Count calendar of the Maya marks a given day in time by counting the number of days that have gone by since August 11, 3114 BCE on the Gregorian calendar. I don’t have any idea why either. Yes, that is plagiarized information. Most information is.

Bruno is the unreasonably large English Mastiff that serves as the seminal mascot for Camp Quest. He is in the first line of defenses at Kagin Manor, standing guard against the terrorism of faith based initiatives, of whatever flavor, that might be hurled against it. This massive animal was born on February 12, 2000. February 12th is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and of Charles Darwin, and February 2000 is four hundred years to the month after that great hero of our heritage, Giordano Bruno, was mercifully burned alive by the Christian Inquisition for saying the Earth went around the sun. Our Bruno’s full name is “Abraham Bruno Charles Darwin.” Just “Bruno,” or the “ABCD Dog,” for short. His four given names fit perfectly into the preassigned blocks and spaces on the American Kennel Club purebred dog registration form. Rarely has random chance been so clearly seen operating in our favor.

Bruno gets into this writing because, on February 12, 2008, he will be eight years old. And that means our Bruno is now an old dog. He has gray hairs on his muzzle, and he does not move as spryly as in his youth, displaying, despite his continued heart, and his bark that still makes the earth tremble, signs of advancing age, preferring nothing more than just lying around—a trait admittedly shared with certain human adolescents. Nevertheless, eight years old is old for his breed of dogkind. My grandson was born a month before Bruno, but he is still properly a child and will remain so until after well Bruno has gone the way of all dogs. Don’t seem fair to Bruno do it? Well, neither he nor I made the rules. Lots of dogs didn’t make it to eight. Even more potential dogs never even got born. Same is true for people. So don’t whine. Whatever is happening in your life more than likely beats the alternative.

The way we experience time is not the same for all events of our lives. You can prove this easily to yourself. Get something to measure exactly three minutes, like an egg timer. Then set the timer and have some attractive human of the opposite sex give you a nice hot oil massage for exactly three minutes. Then, get into a boxing ring with someone of about your same or greater skill level and vigorously box with them for exactly a three minute round, also precisely timed. Now, which experience seemed longer and which seemed to consume less time?

And if one twin stays on earth and the other twin goes off at a very fast clip from our planet and returns some years later, as we view time here, the twin on Earth will be much older that the twin who went off into space. Yes. It is true, and yes it has been proved.

Time is clearly not an absolute and time is clearly relative. Bruno almost certainly experiences time differently from humans. While Bruno, the retired Camp Quest mascot, is now old, a human born the very same day as Bruno will not be old enough to attend Camp Quest until February 12, 2008 CE (If you don’t know what BCE and CE, as used herein, mean, look it up—don’t have time or space to explain it just now). Whether Bruno feels as if he has lived as long as I feel I have lived is something that cannot be known, at least at this time in this dimension of this universe.

And during Bruno’s time in the flesh, we might wonder how many generations of gastrotriches have written their memoirs. And just how complex might such autobiographical ramblings be in their own terms? Gastrotriches have three day life cycles. Makes Bruno seem downright ancient.

Anyhow, it is time to stop for now. Don’t take life too seriously. You won’t get out of it alive anyway.

Happy New Year, Y’all!