Welcome to Fall

Welcome to the beginning of fall, defined by the autumnal equinox (in the northern hemisphere) or the southward equinox (hemisphere-neutral).

Equinox

On the day of the equinox, the Sun appears to rise “due east” and set “due west”.  In Denver, the equinox this year occurs at 7:03:34 pm MDT on September 22, 2022.

Vernal equinox and autumnal equinox: these classical names are direct derivatives of Latin (ver = spring, and autumnus = autumn). These are the historically universal and still most widely used terms for the equinoxes, but are potentially confusing because in the southern hemisphere the vernal equinox does not occur in spring and the autumnal equinox does not occur in autumn. The equivalent common language English terms spring equinox and autumn (or fall) equinox are even more ambiguous. It has become increasingly common for people to refer to the September equinox in the southern hemisphere as the Vernal equinox.  Confusing!

To avoid confusion use northward equinox and southward equinox, names referring to the apparent direction of motion of the Sun. The northward equinox occurs in March when the Sun crosses the equator from south to north, and the southward equinox occurs in September when the Sun crosses the equator from north to south.

Welcome to Fall in Denver!  Just remember, winter is coming, otherwise known at the December solstice, also known as the southern solstice on December 21 (in Denver).

National Day of Reason

Expressing support for the designation of May 4, 2022, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognizing the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity.

Another resolution was introduced to the United States House of Representatives by Jamie Raskin and others on April 29, 2022 to designate May 4, 2022 as the National Day of Reason.

The resolution states:

Expressing support for the designation of May 4, 2022, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognizing the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity.

Whereas the application of reason has been the essential precondition for humanity’s extraordinary scientific, medical, technological, and social progress since before the founding of our country;

Whereas reason provides vital hope today for confronting the environmental crises of our day, including the civilizational emergency of climate change, and for cultivating the rule of law, democratic institutions, justice, and peace among nations;

Whereas irrationality, magical and conspiratorial thinking, and disbelief in science have undermined the national effort to combat the COVID–19 pandemic, contributing to the deaths of nearly 1,000,000 people in the United States;

Whereas America’s Founders insisted upon the primacy of reason and knowledge in public life, and drafted the Constitution to prevent official establishment of religion and to protect freedom of thought, speech, and inquiry in civil society;

Whereas James Madison, author of the First Amendment and fourth President of the United States, stated that “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty”, and “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives”; and

Whereas May 4, 2022, would be an appropriate date to designate as a “National Day of Reason”: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) supports the designation of a “National Day of Reason”; and

(2) encourages all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing on the central importance of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to resolving social problems and promoting the welfare of humankind.

This resolution was immediately referred to United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform and will probably die there.

Meanwhile, last year the Governor of Utah is praying for rain.  Gov. Spencer J. Cox stated  “I’ve already asked all Utahns to conserve water by avoiding long showers, fixing leaky faucets, and planting water-wise landscapes. But I fear those efforts alone won’t be enough to protect us,” Gov. Cox said. “We need more rain and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer June 4 through the 6th.”  They did not get rain until June 25, 2021.

We need less prayer and more reason to resolve the mountain of issues facing the world today.

Vaccines Required!

Help us protect our community members and comply with this Public Health Order by bringing your proof of vaccination.

PHO signageThe Secular Hub has decided to become a Fully Vaccinated Facility to allow our community to attend events without face masks.

To comply with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) Public Health Order (PHO), we are required to confirm the vaccination status of every person entering the Secular Hub.

Help us protect our community members and comply with this PHO by bringing your proof of vaccination including one of the following:

  • your original vaccination card,
  • a digital pass via smartphone application like the MyColorado App,
  • or digital photos or photocopies of your original vaccination cards,
  • or an official copy (digital or paper) of your COVID-19 vaccination record from the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS).

Any changes to this policy will be published on our COVID-19 Policy page.

Besides the legal requirement of PHO compliance, the science is very clear, vaccination decreases the rate of infection, serious effects of COVID-19 illness, and death.

CDC graph COVID cases
CDC data posted 11/22/2021

If you are not vaccinated, you are putting everyone around you at risk of getting sick and dying, so do not be selfish and get vaccinated.  Vaccines are free and readily available, and no documentation or insurance is needed. To learn more and find out where to get a free vaccine:

If you have some reason you cannot be vaccinated, you can attend some Secular Hub events remotely via Zoom.  Check our calendar for events that are virtual or hybrid events and RSVP on Meetup.com to get the Zoom link.

Mars 2020 – Countdown to Landing

On Thursday, February 18, 2021 at about 1:55pm MST the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter drone will land on Mars! The NASA TV broadcast from Mission Control starts at 12:15pm MST. 

Watch live online the events on Earth with “some” delay from Mars.

The Perseverance rover has four science objectives that support the Mars Exploration Program’s science goals:

Looking for Habitability: Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life.
Seeking Biosignatures: Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time.
Caching Samples: Collect core rock and “soil” samples and store them on the Martian surface.
Preparing for Humans:

Test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

  • Mission Name: Mars 2020

  • Rover Name: Perseverance

  • Main Job: The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth.

  • Launch: July 30, 2020, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

  • Landing: Feb. 18, 2021

  • Landing Site: Jezero Crater, Mars

  • Mission Duration: At least one Mars year (about 687 Earth days)

  • Tech Demo: The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration, hitching a ride on the Perseverance rover.

More information and other stuff at NASA Mars Landing Toolkit.

National Day of Reason

Expressing support for the designation of May 7, 2020, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognizing the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity.

National Day of ReasonThe National Day of Reason is a response to the Federal Government’s National Day of Prayer which is enshrined in law.  Donald Trump, being the law-abiding President dutifully proclaimed today for prayer.  What about the approximately 23 percent of people in the United States who aren’t religious and don’t pray.  That is why we need the National Day of Reason!

With about 80% of the nation presumably praying for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, why does it continue?  Basically because there is no evidence that prayer ever work for anything, aside from the benefit of meditation.

Only science and reason will defeat the pandemic.  It is science that is used to create a vaccine.  It is science that creates the tests for the disease to help manage the pandemic and help our economy to recover.  So where is our commitment to science and reason by our representative government?  Buried in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.  In the spirit of the day, I give you H.Res.947  that states:

Expressing support for the designation of May 7, 2020, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognizing the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity.

Whereas the application of reason has been the essential precondition for humanity’s extraordinary scientific, medical, technological, and social progress since the modern Enlightenment;

Whereas reason provides vital hope today for confronting the environmental crises of our day, including the civilizational emergency of climate change, and for cultivating the rule of law, democratic institutions, justice, and peace among nations;

Whereas irrationality, magical thinking, and superstition have undermined the national effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and reason is fundamental to creating an effective coordinated response to beat the virus involving the Federal Government, the States, and the scientific and medical communities;

Whereas America’s Founders insisted upon the primacy of reason and knowledge in public life, and drafted the Constitution to prevent official establishment of religion and to protect freedom of thought, speech, and inquiry in civil society;

Whereas James Madison, author of the First Amendment and fourth President of the United States, stated that “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty”, and “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives”; and

Whereas, May 7, 2020, would be an appropriate date to designate as a “National Day of Reason”: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives

(1) supports the designation of a “National Day of Reason”; and

(2) encourages all citizens, residents, and visitors to join in observing this day and focusing on the central importance of reason, critical thought, the scientific method, and free inquiry to resolving social problems and promoting the welfare of humankind.

Well said!

Science @ the Hub: Human Evolution

The Global Dispersal of Homo Sapiens and the Archaeology of Computational Complexity

Dr. John Hoeffecker, from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder was November’s featured speaker for the science talk.

The Hub specializes in creating moments and situations where folks representing diverse viewpoints and backgrounds mingle.  The exchange of ideas is essential to culture and society and at the Hub we do our part to help in the free flow of ideas.

Dr. Hoeffecker’s talk was wide ranging and deep and possessed a great deal of interaction with the event’s attendees.  He took all questions seriously which helped make the talk feel more like a conversation.

Below is an excerpt from elsewhere on secularhub.org, copied and pasted here because they say it better than I ever could:

Anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) dispersed out of Africa several times after 300,000 years ago, but only one of the dispersals (beginning ~60,000 years ago), was ultimately global in scope, including Australia, the Eurasian arctic, and Western Hemisphere. The global dispersal entailed occupation of habitats and climate zones never previously occupied by earlier forms of Homo, probably because of relatively low plant and animal productivity and extreme winter temperatures. Adaptation to these habitats and climates required technologies of structural and functional complexity
comparable to those of recent hunter-gatherers in similar settings, including mechanical artifacts and insulated clothing. Archaeological evidence of such technologies is found in Africa after ~100,000 years ago and associated with the spread of modern humans into Eurasia and beyond. The quantum jump in technological complexity suggests an
increase in the complexity of the computations that underlie the design of artifacts, which in turn suggests that changes in human cognitive faculties underlie the global dispersal of Homo sapiens.

John F. Hoffecker ● since 1998, research faculty at Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder
● BA in archaeology (Yale 1975), MA in anthropology (University of Alaska 1979)
● investigated archaeological sites in central Alaska related to early occupation of Beringia during 1980s (Science paper in 1993)
● PhD in anthropology (U of Chicago 1986) with focus on Paleolithic archaeology of Russia and Ukraine
● research scientist at Argonne National Laboratory (1984–1998)
● researched Neanderthal sites in northern Caucasus with Russian colleagues in 1990s (including Mezmaiskaya Cave, which yielded Neanderthal skeletal remains)
● author of Desolate Landscapes: Ice-Age Settlement in Eastern Europe (Rutgers U Press, 2002)
● researched earliest known modern human occupations in Eastern Europe (central plain) with Russian colleagues during 2001–2009 (Science paper in 2007)
● author (with co-author Scott Elias) of Human Ecology of Beringia (Columbia U Press 2007)
● researched early Inuit sites in northwest Alaska during 2000–2011
● researched early modern human sites on East European Plain with Ukrainian and Russian colleagues during 2012–2018 with focus on geochronology
● author of Modern Humans: Their African Origin and Global Dispersal (Columbia U Press 2017) (Choice “outstanding academic title” 2019)

EDITOR:  Jesse Gilbertson  Logo Design: Terry Kirkham

The views and opinions expressed are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Secular Hub.
***
The Secular HubCast: The Voice of Denver’s Secular Hub.
Become a member of the Secular Hub today!
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow the Secular Hub on Facebook
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Music: A Himitsu – Adventures (unedited, used under Creative Commons License)

Building a Moral Foundation: Moral Landscaping Part 1 Episode 72

In this week’s episode your host Paul Schilling looks to set the foundation of a useful and functional moral code. In doing so he discusses the main cornerstones to a useful moral code: the subjective elements, the objective elements, the moral continuum and basic human rights. After listening to this episode you should have a clear understanding of the moral framework Paul sets out and how to use it in your life. This is the first part of a multi part series where Paul will focus on the different elements of a useful moral code. Future episodes will focus on basic human rights, modern day mythology, clarification of the moral code and deep dives where we answer moral questions. The goal of this podcast is to give the listener a solid moral foundation from which to build on and use in real world situations.

 

HOST, EDITOR:  Paul Schilling

Logo Design: Terry Kirkham

The views and opinions expressed are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Secular Hub.
***
The Secular HubCast: The Voice of Denver’s Secular Hub.
Become a member of the Secular Hub today!
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow the Secular Hub on Facebook
Follow the Secular Hub on Twitter: @SecularHub
Email the show at: podcast@secularhub.org
Music: A Himitsu – Adventures (unedited, used under Creative Commons License)

Episode 70: CFI Conference Interview featuring Becky and Ruth from the Hub

In this episode of the Secular Hubcast we interview two Secular Hub members to get their perspective on the recent Center for Inquiry’s conference held in Las Vegas. Becky and Ruth describe their experiences, tell us about the different speakers they saw and encourage us to attend such conferences ourselves.

 

HOST, EDITOR:  Paul Schilling

Logo Design: Terry Kirkham

The views and opinions expressed are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Secular Hub.
***
The Secular HubCast: The Voice of Denver’s Secular Hub.
Become a member of the Secular Hub today!
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow the Secular Hub on Facebook
Follow the Secular Hub on Twitter: @SecularHub
Email the show at: podcast@secularhub.org
Music: A Himitsu – Adventures (unedited, used under Creative Commons License)

Episode 67 – A Conversation with a Theist

In this episode of the Secular Hubcast we take a deep dive into the mind of a theist. Our special guest Nathan Spears discusses his problems with the scientific world view and attempts to demonstrate how science falls short in its search for truth, reality and consciousness. This is the first part in a multi-part conversation where we hit on a variety of topics. In this episode we focus on the short comings of science as it pertains to our world view, human’s place in the world and morality.

HOST, EDITOR:  Paul Schilling

Logo Design: Terry Kirkham

The views and opinions expressed are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Secular Hub.
***
The Secular HubCast: The Voice of Denver’s Secular Hub.
Become a member of the Secular Hub today!
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow the Secular Hub on Facebook
Follow the Secular Hub on Twitter: @SecularHub
Music: A Himitsu – Adventures (unedited, used under Creative Commons License)

 

Episode 36 – Thinking About Thinking

We are all thinking all the time.  With some of us it might not always appears so, but our minds are running constantly.  Opinions, beliefs, evidence,  facts; all these elements combine and form in our minds.

Critical thought is a manner of thinking that will lead to greater and more factual understanding of the universe.  It relies on measurements and evidence and avoiding problems in thinking to reveal truths and separate them from falsehoods.

But truth is an ongoing process.  Truth is always tentative.  In this discussion Jesse and Paul get into the complexity of it all to break it down and simplify it.

In this episode we rely pretty heavily on a piece of writing called “A Field Guide to Critical Thinking” by James Lett.  Check it out and let us know what we got wrong in this episode.

Hosts:  Jesse Gilbertson, Paul Schilling

Editor: Jesse Gilbertson

Thanks to Robin for help with announcements

Logo Design: Terry Kirkham

The views and opinions expressed are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Secular Hub.
***
The Secular HubCast: The Voice of Denver’s Secular Hub.
Become a member of the Secular Hub today!
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow the Secular Hub on Facebook
Follow the Secular Hub on Twitter: @SecularHub
Music: A Himitsu – Adventures (unedited, used under Creative Commons License)