Hi everyone, hope the first month of school has gone well. Here’s some notes from the first few meetings.
At our our first meeting, we met some new faces, lots of new people from all different majors and fields. We also talked about dogma and how it applies to both religious and secular people. Conclusion: dogma makes everyone an asshole, atheists included.
At our second meeting we talked about what makes an explanation an explanation, and what its purpose is, depending on the situation. We did not really reach a consensus, other than to agree that explaining something in simple terms to a child or the uninformed is a very different thing from explaining in accurate, scientific or technical details to a group of peers with basic knowledge of the topic. We also explored the question of whether it was appropriate to give a simplified explanation if factually the information was incorrect, but functionally it explained phenomena in a way that could be understood or applied, even if not 100% accurate. Examples included the gravity equation, and the currently accepted model of the atom with orbitals.
At the third meeting we discussed what defines a moderate versus a fundamentalist, both in religious and non-religious terms. We seemed to agree atheists could not possibly be moderately religious. We discussed reasons why people might lean toward moderate attitudes, for example in order to better fit into society, lack of commitment to either belief or non-belief in God, a movement or an idea, etc. We also got into quite a fuss discussing the various dimensions of moderation particularly as it concerns religion. We compared devout believers with strict observances of faith, such as Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, with proselytizers such as Mormons, Baptists and other groups with an emphasis on missionary work. Conclusion: we don’t know about the rest of this, but Quakers and Amish are pretty cool.
At the fourth meeting, we discussed how politicians and lawmakers use their religion to guide their decision-making, whether or not this is appropriate, what they should use in place of religion, and how we distinguish from moral and religious influences in policy-making. We considered what a completely secular government would look like, whether it already exists and whether or not someone atheist or from a minority religion could ever become president. We grumbled about Republicans using God as a rationale for their laws and policies and talked about dictatorships which have suppressed religion. (Or at least, this is how I assume the conversation went as I was at work.)
We (and by “we” I mean like five of us) also participated in a lecture called “A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam”, declined an offer to attend a political debate because the host appeared to want to militantly convert others, and did a spaghetti dinner with Seattle Atheists to support Washington United For Marriage. Upcoming events are a trip to the Reptile Zoo the first weekend of November (how appropriate, for godless sinners like us), and Interfaith’s “In God We Trust” event Thursday Oct 25th at 5:30 in some as yet unspecified location and phone banking in support of the Approve R-74 movement at Hillel in conjunction with Seattle Atheists. Also, a reminder to vote (not like you’ll be able to escape politics for the next fifteen days).
Sincere heartfelt closing message to people who are not actually reading this,