Home / News / Retired high school teacher who had sued school for 'teaching the religion of atheism' in biology classes claims that atheism is the new 'flat earth society'
Retired high school teacher who had sued school for 'teaching the religion of atheism' in biology classes claims that atheism is the new 'flat earth society'

Retired high school teacher who had sued school for 'teaching the religion of atheism' in biology classes claims that atheism is the new 'flat earth society'

Remember Tom Ritter, the retired high school physics and chemistry teacher who sued the Blue Mountain School District in a federal court in Pennsylvania because it was allegedly violating the First Amendment by teaching the "religion of atheism" using taxpayer dollars?  The theory of evolution, he claimed, was the "religion" of atheists.

As far as we can tell, nothing has happened in his lawsuit, but today Ritter issued a press release accusing atheists of being members of a modern day flat earth society because they "ignore the second law of thermodynamics."  Here's his press release in its entirety:

The Second Law says we are constantly converting useful energy into waste heat. There is plenty of evidence for this, none for the contrary and this is ongoing. The First Law says the amount of total energy is fixed. We may safely predict, therefore, that at some point in the future the universe will run out of useful energy and all reactions will stop for want of energy.

What will happen then?

And why the interval of this present existence?

Like those who dismiss photographs of a round Earth, those who say there is no God (Atheists) are the modern home of the Flat Earth Society.

Tom Ritter

(Tom Ritter taught academic physics and chemistry for over a decade in a Pennsylvania public high school and was, to hear his students, a great teacher.)

P.S. Atheism is properly capitalized because it is a religion, that is something based on an article of faith, which in turn is something important that cannot be proved. The existence of God (or not in the case of Atheists) is a good example.

Ritter's argument about the second law of thermodynamics is a common one held by biblical creationists, but he does not really explain in his press release what the law is or why it means that atheists are ignorant.  One of the most succinct explanations of the law appears in Evolution Frequently Asked Questions website:

The second law states that "In a closed system (one in which energy cannot enter), Entropy will not decrease." Since Entropy often refers to disorder, this law is often taken to mean that order cannot arise from disorder. How then would life, which is highly ordered, form naturally? The answer, simply, is that life is not a closed system. Energy is constantly being added to the Earth from the Sun, which fuels the plants, which in turn fuel other life. This is how plants, for example, can have more energy than the seeds they originally sprouted from. But life is not the only example of order from disorder. Snowflakes, crystals, lightning, and sand dunes are all examples of non-living matter organizing into complex structures.

About D.

  • I don't even know where to begin with this article. Evolution is NOT the same as atheism. The question of theism vs atheism addresses ONE claim, and ONE claim only. "A god or gods exist." Simply put, if you believe this statement is true, you're a theists, if you don't believe this statement, you're an atheist. To say an atheist, necessarily, believes in evolution, is false. Most atheists, however, believe that science has, time and again, proven to be our best tool for understanding reality and determining fact from fiction. Science(NOT atheism) has determined, through investigation, research, and study, that evolution is supported by evidence and is the best exploitation for the diversity of species. Until we find a better system, we're going to stick with the best system we have.

    Atheist is lowercase in my response, unless it's at the beginning of a sentence, because not collecting stamps is NOT a hobby.

    • skater60

      LOL! Good point with the stamp collecting analogy – I love it.

  • This just goes to show that Ritter does not know what atheism is nor does he know what Evolution is. I won't repeat what Secular Skeptic Steven said, because he said it well.

    • And for that matter he has little knowledge of Thermodynamics and Physics! He needs to be stripped of his credentials.

      • Yeah, I noticed that too, but I don't have as much confidence of my knowledge of Theromodynamics and Physics as I do my biology, chemistry, and Evolution.

  • Alex W

    No wonder the US public education system is so bad, if they hire teachers like this guy.

    • Teuast

      To almost quote Beyond the Fringe, "I managed to get through the teachin' exams all right. They're not very rigorous. There's no rigor involved, really, there's a complete lack of rigor. They only ask you one question, they say 'Who are you?' and I got seventy-five percent on that. I was allowed right in."

  • awol

    atheism is a religion, like OFF is a tv channel

  • Silver_Foxx

    For the record, if atheism is a religion, that makes 'off' a TV channel.

    • Gobsmacked

      Just as Bald is a hair colour.

  • Gobsmacked

    Tom Ritter, What can I say "…….."

    What about those poor students he has mislead!!! Although frankly speaking most of his students natural thirst for knowledge would quickly outstrip this Ateachers misunderstanding of…..everything

    • OUCH! Please don't hurt your face due to Ritter's stupidity.

  • Shederman

    "CLOSED SYSTEM". Hmm, I wonder if he's noticed that big yellow hot thing in the sky? You know, the thing pumping 1300 watts of energy into every square meter of the Earth.

  • Ritter's suit was summarily dismissed by the court for failure to state a cause of action less than four months after he filed it.

    • Deborah_B

      Excellent. Do you have a link for that?

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  • I had to double check to make sure I wasn't reading the Onion. It is a shame to humanity that our citizens understand so little about basic science.

  • skater60

    Evolution is the tool the Creator used to make all this crap, er… stuff. How's that? Feel free to be Theist or Atheist because what difference does it make? People still have to be compassionate, forgiving and merciful to make this Life thing work, right? So any serious discussion of what one believes is mostly, if not totally, irrelevant to Life. Atheists and Theists, Evolutionists and Creationists all take aspirin for a headache, right?

  • Peter

    He sounds like a creationist. If so, he believes in the literal "truth" of his bible. If he bothered to read it he would come across many passages talking about "the four corners of earth." Earth has four corners? Sounds like a flat earth to me.

  • plankbob

    You should stick to writing about business because way too much of what you say here is pure, unadulterated bunk.

  • snaxalotl

    just another creationist who can't be bothered understanding the second law of thermodynamics. it sure SOUNDS a little bit like it's talking about changes in complexity – when you phrase it the right way – but the simple fact is that, despite the complicated maths, 2LOT is only a very formal way of saying heat flows from a hotter to a cooler body. if your understanding of 2LOT tells you something different, you don't know 2LOT. it's part of the general problem that a stupid argument SOUNDS like a good argument if you're not smart enough to follow what's going on. think about how often conservatives use the vague expression "is linked to" to stand in for a concrete chain of reasoning that would actually prove something, and how often their audience assumes they're saying something clever. the kicker to all this, is that 2LOT is literally a straightforward mathematical formula (with two versions: classical and statistical mechanical), which you will rarely if ever see mentioned by creationists, who generally think 2LOT is a vague english-language statement about order; you will never see a creationist use that formula to demonstrate whatever pompous statement they are making about possibility and impossibility

  • colourmegone

    Only in America!

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