Rest in Peace

For those of you who may not have read the obituary, George Richter has passed away. George never really understood our group or what we were about, and one of his purposes in coming to our meetings seems to have been to convert us. But George was harmless, and was 86 years old, so much can be forgiven. In any case, I kind of liked him.

And now for something completely different

We pause briefly in the bloody history of what happens when the church has governmental power and turn to the prosaic task of cleaning up the trash on Hwy. 169. We now have our date picked (providing the weather cooperates) and the winner is June 15th. The time is 9:30 AM at the Grand Rapids Library and we will carpool from there to the site where our new sign has been erected.

Since some of our members may not have been able to attend the last monthly meeting and see the safety video provided by MNDOT, a copy is embedded below. It is about 12 minutes long and has all the basic information you need.

There may be some pretty gross stuff out there, but fortunately, MNDOT prefers to keep all that stuff to themselves. Who the heck drives around with containers of urine that they toss into the weeds?

Hope the weather is good and we can have a productive morning. See you on Saturday!

Read a review of Dan Allosso’s new book

You can go here to read a brief review of Dan’s book “An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of his Philosophy: The Life of Dr. Charles Knowlton” written by Scott Lohman who is a member of Minnesota Atheists. Another longer review is available here.

I’ve heard there are other reviews available, but I haven’t had time to look for them yet. A member of LSF said he saw another favorable one on either the Wall Street Journal site or The Economist, but searches on those sites turned up nothing. If you find one, let me know where it is and I will post a link.

Andrew Seidel

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, this is notice that Andrew Seidel from the legal staff of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), will be speaking at Davies Hall Theater on Wednesday, May 1st at 12 noon and again at 7:00 PM. The title for his presentation is “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: America’s Judeo-Christian Heritage”.

Andrew is an expert on constitutional law and will address the persistent myth that the U.S. was founded on the basis of religious principles and specifically Christian ideology. As a staff attorney for the FFRF, Andrew works daily on responding to violations of the first amendment in the form of religion in our public schools, prayers at public meetings and religious displays in public spaces. The FFRF does a lot of the heavy lifting for all of us who value the freedom of religion, including none at all, that is the singular achievement of our governmental system.

Join us for an interesting and informative presentation on our nation’s history and legacy as the first with a purely secular government.

Eddie Tabash

In case there are any blog readers who are not GRAF members and haven’t heard, Eddie Tabash, Los Angeles attorney and atheist activist, will be speaking in Davies Theater on the campus of Itasca Community College on Wednesday April 24 at noon and again at 7:00 PM. His talk is titled “Why There Really is no God.”
Eddie is an interesting person. He is the son of Holocaust survivors; his father was an Orthodox rabbi from Lithuania, and his mother an Auschwitz survivor from Hungary. After a long period of searching, Eddie concluded that the evidence strongly supports a naturalistic worldview in which there are no gods or supernatural entities.
Eddie has visited this community before; in 2006 he spoke at an ICC ethics conference on goodness without God. He is an excellent speaker and an engaging and likable person. I encourage everyone to come and hear him!

A Reminder

GRAF members are well aware of this, but because there are at least some non-GRAF members who read this blog, as well as some members who may have been out of the loop for a while, remember that on Wednesday, April 24, atheist activist and renowned orator Eddie Tabash will be here to speak in Davies Theater, first at 12:00 noon and then again at 7:00 PM, and the topic “Why There Really is no God.” Eddie is an interesting man. His father was an orthodox rabbi from Lithuania who survived the Holocaust before immigrating to the country; his mother, from Hungary, endured the horrors of Auschwitz, survived against all odds, and also made it to the United States after the war. After a lifetime of spiritual searching, Eddie concluded that the evidence strongly points to a naturalistic worldview in which there are no gods or supernatural beings. Eddie is a captivating speaker and an excellent debater, having taken on the likes of Christian aopologist William Lane Craig to good effect. He models his speaking style on the orations of Robert Ingersoll, about whom some of you have recently read in the new Jacoby book.

I met Eddie in 2006 when he was here for an ICC ethics conference. He is a delightful man with a refreshing sense of humor, but he is all business when behind the podium. I know he will be much appreciated; please mark the date on your calendars!

Still looking for anyone in FFRF or willing to join

I sent out an email to the GRAF mailing list after our last monthly meeting seeking feedback from members who are already members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), or willing to join. The goal is to get enough FFRF members to qualify as a chapter of the FFRF (10 are required). We get a small financial return because a portion of the FFRF membership fee is returned to chapters and we get a big boost in credibility by being associated with the largest atheist organization in the country. Helping to support the FFRF in its battles on church/state issues is another reason to join. Membership is tax deductible.

So far we appear to have at least 5 current members of the FFRF. We might have as many as 7 already, but I can’t be sure since I haven’t heard back from everyone regarding the email request. So, I’m nagging again. If you are already a member, let old GB know. If you are willing to become a member ($40 per year or $25 per year for students), let me know. I would like to be able to have the chapter application in the works by the time Andrew Seidel comes a month from now on May 1st to make his presentation.

There is no penalty for having more than 10 FFRF members, so what’s holding you back? You get a monthly newspaper with your membership and its a fun read. The black collar crime report is worth the price if your stomach isn’t easily turned. Come on you guys. Let’s do this!

Anyone Interested?

In case anyone is interested, Dr. Kevin Sharpe, chair of the St. Cloud State Philosophy Department, will be at ICC at 12:00 on Monday March 25 in Davies Theater to speak on the topic of dualism vs. physicalism. Lest anyone be frightened away because this sounds esoteric, think of how common dualism is and how heavily Christianity and other relgions rely on it (dualism, by the way, is the belief that there is some sort of ethereal “soul” which exists apart from the physical body). Of course, most of us have presumably made up our minds on this issue, but in our discussions with religionists it would be very helpful to be able to apply sophisticated argument.

Professor Sharpe’s intent is not to be polemical or argumentive, but to explore the question from an academic perspective. Having said that, the arguments for physicalim are simply much stronger than the very weak arguments for dualism. In any case, everyone is welcome!

The GRAF Calendar

An event calendar has been added to the blog. You can click on the “Calendar” link in the menu at the top of the page or click here. You can check this calendar for upcoming meetings and events as we get time to add them. If you have something you would like to see added to the calendar, let me know via a comment or send me an email. If you see an error and you don’t have access to correct it or aren’t sure what to do, let me know and I will get it fixed.

Our speakers for March and April will be added to the calendar as soon as we have details about the exact dates settled. I will also post information about larger events such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation convention which should be in Madison, Wisconsin this year; probably in October. I haven’t heard anything about it yet, but information should be showing up soon.

Darwin Day

Well, all things considered, I think our Darwin Day celebration was a success, though on a small scale. We had a couple new students there; GB gave a good presentation before the film; and we had a little bit of time for discussion afterward. It was fun.

One of our SSA studens who is also a GRAF member wants to do “tabling” on February 20 at ICC. Basically, this involves sitting at a table and passing out atheist literature. If anyone would like to join him (or contribute cookies or other treats) please let us know.