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Can you proved Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't the one true God?

To The Editor,

Bob Meade claimed I said things I actually didn't say in my letter on the decline of religion. Conservative letter writers to The Sun do this all the time which makes one wonder if they actually read or understand the letters. The letter contained three sets of statistics on religion. One was that church attendance has significantly dropped. Only 14 percent of those born after 1956 attend church services. I never said not going to church meant not believing in God. Mr. Mead said I did. Regarding the "nones," the Pew survey puts it this way: "Religious "nones" — a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is "nothing in particular" — now make up roughly 23 percent of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16 percent of Americans were "nones."

The other statistic I mentioned was that only 45 percent of people 18-30 are sure there is a God. That would mean 55 percent are agnostic at the outset. This is a major generational shift. In fact, under 18 it gets worse. In one survey, only one in 10 high school seniors said religion was important in their lives.

In debates regarding science or religion, it is the responsibility of the person who makes a positive claim of something's existence to provide the evidence. The burden of evidence is always with the positive claimant. I don't have to believe anything if there is no evidence for it. Doubt is a logical default position for any claim whether it be scientific or religious until evidence arises that suggests otherwise. This is critical thinking. Asking someone to prove a negative only proves one has no cogent response. Can Mr. Meade prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't the one true God? Of course he can't. Demanding the proof of a negative is a logical fallacy that is the last defense of one with no answer.

James Veverka

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Why is LHS changing this time-honored way of teaching music?

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing to sound an alarm about the plans to change our LHS band from the model it has followed since band began at Laconia High School many years ago to the "new" after-school band program.

I am in full support of Debbie Gibson and in agreement with her concerns presented at the recent school board meeting, but my own fear does not involve musical or academic concerns.

I have taught Health at the LHS for over 20 years. Health classes address alcohol and drug abuse — and my experience in this in Laconia goes back even longer then 20 years as a mother of four sons who graduated from LHS.

We are all aware that Laconia is nearly ground zero for drug problems and as teachers we see all the pain and collateral damage to families that drug abuse brings to a community.

Our district has been the recipient of several huge grants that have goals that address substance abuse and mental health. To meet these goals we try to provide experiences that are proven protective factors against drug use.

One of these factors is learning about drugs in school. My students will tell you I am a broken record on the dangers of drug abuse. I would literally stand on my head if I thought it would keep kids off drugs. However facts can only influence so much and many of our students understand these facts very deeply from sad experience in their own lives with the toll drugs can take.

In combination with drug education some of the strongest protective factors include social factors — and I take these following right from the list:

— Feeling connected
— Strong commitment to school
— Doing activities
— Adult and peer disapproval of drug use.

These are science based facts.

We could get a grant for 10 million dollars to create a program that would greatly deter drug use in Laconia but we already one — our band.

My students note in writing people who have had a positive impact on them when we study relationships and Mrs. Gibson's name comes up more then any other. With 173 students enrolled in music classes this year (then add the drama students who are part of the music groups affected by these cuts) our band director effects more students then any other adult in the school — bar none.

We will never replace Ms. Gibson with another educator of her stature but make no mistake, a band director who is a music teacher in the school and present all day in the building is a powerful positive force. If I had a dollar for every student who comes back to thank Ms. Gibson for her impact on their lives we could balance the budget right now.

I wish every citizen could drop in unannounced to our band room- it is a place of joy and learning where the students are at home as they are in no other area in our school. If permitted they would be there 24/7.

Why are we changing this time-honored way of teaching music when no other surrounding schools have done this? Why are we cutting off this strong anti-drug presence in our school at a time when we need it most?

If our music program dwindles 40, 50 or, as feared, 75 percent, one of the unintended consequences of this change will be young people lost to drug use. I hate to say this but it is a statement I will stand behind and then, for what its worth, we can take that to the bank.

Patty Thibeault
LHS Health Educator

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