RET Newsletter                        June2008

June 1 - Tremont

Around noon would be a good time to picnic but come as early as you like forthe atmosphere. -

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont - Beginning of Camp Quest

Plan to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy hiking and fellowship in a beautifulmountain setting. The program is rather informal, but some of you may want todrive up to Tremont for a morning of fresh air, some exercise and just plain,good socializing in a beautiful, mountain environment. It's the beginning ofour annual Camp Quest. Our coordinators can also provide an informal overviewof the camp.


FROM THE NORTH: I-75 S to Knoxville. Continue on 275/ I-40 W for a shortdistance. Follow airport exits to 129 S. which takes you towardAlcoa/Maryville. From Maryville, take 321 N through Townsend. Do not turntoward Pigeon Forge. Follow signs straight into the Cades Cove entrance toGreat Smoky Mountains National Park.

ONCE IN THE PARK: When coming in from Townsend, follow the road to theY-intersection with signs to Gatlinburg or Cades Cove. Turn right towards CadesCove, then immediately you will see a sign indicating the road to the GreatSmoky Mountains Institute. Turn left just past the bridge and follow theTremont road 2 miles to the Institute turning left  to cross a 1-lanebridge into the Institute. Office is on the left. The campers and staff will bemeeting in the Council House directly across the entrance road from the office.


Book Club

June 8, 2008 ; 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

 Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike

The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines ourProsperity / Robert Kuttner


Philosophy Sunday

June 15, 2008 10:30 AM
The Current Israeli/Palestinian Conflict in its Historical Context

 A brief presentation followed by an open round table discussion.

Moshe Siman-Tov will lead our discussion.


The bias of position

When some of us were protesting the Creationist Museum in Kentucky back a yearago,  two very insulting and bent-on-making trouble Christians came overto the protestors and quickly found the least stable person in the group toharass. It was obvious that they were trying to generate an unpleasantconfrontation to make bad atheists look bad.

There were many of the protestors trying to settle the rising rhetoric betweenthe Christians and one or two protestors. There were also some college-agedprotestors chanting, "Who created god? Man did." in response. As theemotions rose I quickly went over to the mounted police and told one of themthat there were some people who came over to try to cause trouble and could thepolice intervene? The response was, "That's why they are here." Hethen turned and rode off. I just stood there for a moment and then realizedthat he was probably referring to the protestors not the real agitators. Itseemed like he actually wanted a blow-up. That was my perspective any way.

Fortunately the rational voices were able get the poor unstable protestor toleave the confrontation before it got out of hand. The Christians then did someproselytizing and left.

What brought up this memory was a recent Billy Graham article of 5-22-08,Knoxville News Sentinel. The questioner asked if Graham believed in death-bedconversions and related the story of an uncle "who never wanted anythingto do with God" but the day before he died had a Christian friend visitwho said that he (the dying man) wanted Christ to come into his life. Thequestion then was, "Was he faking it."

My first thought was the Christian friend was faking it. Claims of deathbedconversions by atheists are a historically common ploy used by Christians. EvenDarwin was alleged to have made one. Of course all the evidence was to thecontrary with respect to Darwin.

As I read on, though, it was obvious that my perspective was not the same asthe questioner and Graham's. (No big surprise there.) Graham's reply was,"Only God knows his heart, of course, and whether or not he was sincerewhen he prayed to receive Christ. But I seriously doubt if he was 'faking it'... when someone realizes that they are about to die, they have little reasonto put on an act."

Or more likely, when someone with an agenda realizes that another is about todie and can't contradict an unwitnessed claim, "faking it" may work.

Not to go into all of the illogic of Graham's statement I will mention the flawthat he himself realized. This allows the ability to do what ever you wantuntil just before you die and then cash in the "Just got Saved" card.Then you can have your cake and eat the wafer too.

Carl Ledendecker


RET Newsletter submissions
Feel free to submit news or opinions of interest. Submissions are welcomed butmay be limited by space and topic relevance. The format may vary depending onthe amount of information submitted. Short submissions are preferred but longerones may be accepted if they can be published as a series over two or moreissues. Text or Word format are best for submission. Text may also be includedin an E-mail.
Carl Ledendecker at:   (       2123 Stonybrook Rd., Louisville, TN37777   982-8687 evenings

The Newsletter can also be found online at our Web site: Philosophy (Michael Lance); Round tables (Carl Westman); Book Club (John McCaffrey) Newsletter: (Carl Ledendecker),982-8687        

Material published in The RET Newsletter represents the views of the individualauthors.  Publication does not constitute an endorsement by theRationalists of East Tennessee or its members.