Re: "Duff Love" by Duff McKagan (Feb. 11) Great tips, Duff! It's good to see that at least some men know the classic ways of making a girl happy on a date. —Carina Texting!!!! What is it with grown men that they actually have the nerve to ask you out on a freaking text? Are you kidding me? And when you ignore that, they resort to e-mail and then IM! A real man will call you! —Thumbelina, Bothell Having dated lots of poor and cheap guys, I really appreciate a guy at least springing for a cup of coffee...it shows that he's thoughtful and interested. I'm glad you agree, and there is some chivalry left! —Kate, Seattle There's some excellent advice here...I especially love the part about courtesy, attention, and affection—a bit of those old-fashioned romantic values can go a long way. I would add the following as well: Please don't text or be on the cell phone with OTHER people WHILE you're out on the date. —Stari, San Francisco Duff, how sad that in sobriety, you've become just another one of those annoyingly boring "now that I'm sober" blowhards. —Steve Elliott, Kingston I liked all of it...except for maybe point number one. Become a rocker? LOL, you're only going to be "cool" to a segment of the population. What about the rest of us? —Angela, Aberdeen Re: "The M.F. Truth: Hot Topic" by Mark Fefer (Feb. 11) Humans live for meaning and order. Patterns out of chaos, that's what we search for and that's what we cling to. Nothing to be ashamed of—that is how we had to develop in order to survive. However, belief structures, religious or secular, tend to reward a "blind follower" mentality. I'd love to see humans favor outward-facing rational thought instead of inward-facing faith. I think we're more likely to thrive as a species if we can fully understand our physical place on this planet. Faith helps humans face death and comforts us during times of fear. Science and rationalism give us a better grip on survival, and a better chance to actually conquer those things we fear.—Carla, Seattle "Man (human) is inherently evil" provides the basis for this columnist's argument. Without religion, human beings would descend into evil and chaos. Using the Cambodian Khmer Rouge and Stalinist Soviet Union as examples is specious at best. Both were totalitarian dictatorships, ruled and controlled by single individuals, and supported by "true believers" in the philosophy. They both took their examples from the centuries of religious totalitarian rule. The historical record reflects [that] the worst evils perpetrated on humans began and ended with religious beliefs. Blind obedience to any entity, human or invisible, results in the same totalitarian system dysfunction. The only truly communal systems were found in small tribal/family organizations subsequently destroyed by religious adherents to justify conquest for land. Atheists are the true patriots committed to the Constitutional Republic in this country. All others serve a false master to justify the continuation of evil deeds. —Dick, Bellingham While it's fashionable to take swings at religion, especially in Seattle, a lot of ignorance inhabits the turf of the self-professed rationalists. Religious wars, if the bodies are tallied, count for only a percentage of the total killed. Romans, Mongols, Nazis, Mao, Pol Pot, or Napoleon—the body count for nationalism, tribalism, and political ideology matches or exceeds that of religious reasoning. It was Spanish Catholic theologians who put forth the proposition that all human beings have natural rights before God, an idea adopted by John Locke and others centuries later. In spite of the sometimes-cruel Spanish conquests, there is a large volume of writings by priests and bishops condemning the Spanish treatment of Indians. Who knows how many lives have been saved by Protestant and Catholic medical missions in the last 200 years? Abolitionism, both in the U.K. and the U.S., was spearheaded by religious fervor; certainly they were among Lincoln's staunchest supporters. Black churches led the civil-rights movement in the '50s and '60s. Religion can suck, suck bad at times. But even for atheists (or agnostic Catholic types like me), churches and their members can and have done good. I'm willing to cut those kind of believers some slack. —Kickeroe, Seattle You say that "plenty of religious communities are huge supporters of gay rights." I'm sorry, but there aren't. There are a few, but the two largest religious communities—the Catholics and the Southern Baptists—have homophobia built into their dogma. Both sects have spoken out against homosexuality publicly and often. The Catholics far outnumber any other religious sect in the United States, and the Southern Baptists are a good chunk of the rest, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. That said, I agree that homophobia exists outside of religion, since I've seen it in atheists as well (but to a far lesser degree than with religious people). As far as those who want to stamp religion out, I can understand their perspective, because I was one of them about 16 years ago, when I first gained confidence as an out-of-the-closet atheist. The problem—and it's the reason why you see the anti-religion campaigns—is that so many religious people can't keep their matters of private conscience out of government, so we have their god on our currency, in our national motto, in the Pledge of Allegiance, in matters of personal choice for women...the list goes on. One last bit of disagreement: You say that a lot of Nobel Prize winners have been Jews. There's a huge difference between a cultural Jew and an observant Jew. Do you know how many of the Jewish Nobel Prize [winners] have been observant? I'm not sure of the number, but I do know that around 75 percent of scientists are not religious.—Greg Reich, Michigan Atheists State Board of Directors Mark Fefer responds: Many readers wrote to me making Reich's last point. No doubt many of the Nobel winners were atheists, and were Jewish only in "culture." But this culture emerged from the religion. In fact, for the families of these scientists, religion probably was the all-consuming culture as recently as one generation back. So they are unquestionably a product of the religion as far as I'm concerned, even if they never set foot in a synagogue their entire adult lives. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online!