Greg Graffin

November 6

Greg Graffin (1965)

It was on this date, November 6, 1965, that the lead singer for punk rock group Bad Religion, and a Ph.D. in Paleoanthropology from Cornell University, Greg Graffin, was born in Madison, Wisconsin. Aside from being co-founder of his own punk-rock group, Graffin is considered one of the five leading bone tissue paleontologists in the world. He made his 2003 doctoral dissertation available online, and in it he discloses statistics vindicating the James H. Leuba* studies (1916, 1934), showing the overwhelming majority of scientists have little or no belief in God.

Graffin's naturalistic/rationalist views carry over into his lyrics for Bad Religion. In "Do What You Want," he sings, "I'll believe in God when one and one are five." In "Don't Pray On Me" he sings, "I don't know what stopped Jesus Christ from turning every hungry stone into bread. And I don't remember hearing how Moses reacted When the innocent first born sons lay dead. Well I guess God was a lot more demonstrative back when he flamboyantly parted the sea." In "God Song," Graffin sings, "Religion is just synthetic frippery unnecessary in our expanding global culture efficiency."

In an April 1998 interview in, "Gabriella" asked about what kind of faith he values. Greg Graffin replied,

Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important. So faith plays an important role, but faith in people you don't know, faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people. ...ultimately you have to base your views on evidence. Evidence comes from your own eyes and ears.**

* Professor James Henry Leuba, Ph.D. (1868-1940) psychologist, Professor at Bryn Mawr and author of several books on religion. Chiefly interesting for a most valuable inquiry which he privately made into the opinions on God and immortality of the leading scientific men and historians of America. The startling results of the first inquiry are given in Beliefs in God and Immortality (1916). The even stronger results of a new inquiry were given in an article in Harper's Magazine (August, 1934). (quote in Joseph McCabe, A Rationalist Encyclopędia, 1920).
** Reported on the Celebrity Atheists Web site.

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Griff Rhys-Jones

Griff Rhys-Jones (1953)

It was also on this date, November 6, 1953, that British comedian Griff Rhys-Jones was born in Cardiff, Wales. A partner and foil of Mel Smith, at one time Rhys-Jones had the distinction of being the richest comedian in British comedy. He is also one of the best educated: he attended Cambridge University and was vice president of the prestigious Cambridge University Footlights Club. His awards for comedy include the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1984 (for Charley's Aunt) and 1994 (for An Absolute Turkey). His comedy programs include "Not the Nine O'Clock News," with Smith and Rowan "Mr. Bean" Atkinson, as well as presenter for the BBC's Restoration program.

In a group interview for a BBC program on religion and politics, broadcast on 28 July 2003, he observes that the once-Christian United Kingdom is now wholly secular:

I'd also like to observe that there is an element of Pandora's box here — that we have entered a secular age and to hope in some way that we can thrust everybody back into those churches seems to me a hopeless task.
And he goes on to say that 19th century anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who was a cleric, but developed his anti-slavery ideas in his skeptical youth, might have had motivations other than religion to work seventeen years for the abolition of slavery:
What I believe is that, intrinsically, there are moral people. And those moral people have, for reason or another, taken up the church, whether they're Wilberforce or whatever. If Wilberforce was only driven by his religious impulses, then somehow I think it would devalue what he did. For me. That's personally. I believe that you can take on a moral stance — and plenty of people do — without reference to, as it were, a series of precepts.
It was Griff Rhys-Jones who said, as part of a response to a reader's question, published in the Independent (a UK newspaper), on 10 April 1999, "I have no belief in god."

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Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance writer.
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