Time to help out Camp Quest Texas!

Camp Quest Texas keeps growing each year. This year, The Atheist Community of Austin has just o sponsor four campers at a cost of $2500. If you would like to help support the ACA in this effort, please visit http://www.atheist-community.org/donate/ and send us a memo with your donation indicating you’d like the money to be earmarked for Camp Quest. Anything we raise in excess of the original $2500 will also go to support additional campers.

If you’re not familiar with Camp Quest, they run a summer camp for secular kids every year. As the camp has been running for a number of years, more and more of the original camps are growing up to become qualified campers and future leaders. They’re a great organization and we hope you’ll do what you can for them.

Off-topic thoughts about Fifty Shades of Grey

CONTENT WARNING: I am about to discuss Fifty Shades of Grey, which is not only a bad movie but also has a lot of sex. This is not typical content for The Atheist Experience blog, but hey, I have a soapbox, so why not. If you do not like hearing about sex or bad movies, please don’t read it. Thanks!

Ok, so… my wife Lynnea and I had a date last night, and we agreed that we were both curious enough about Fifty Shades of Grey that it was worth seeing. Ideally we would have wanted to see it with the comforting support of Rifftrax or Master Pancake, because we were not planning to like it. But it’s too new, so we thought we’d see the movie on its own terms. We’d both read plenty of material leading us to expect a thoroughly bad movie.

And it was bad, make no mistake. But the thing is, I was prepared for much worse, and with the benefit of low expectations, I was able to enjoy some of it. Some of the discussion that follows emerged from our animated conversation immediately after the movie, so a lot of this material is as much hers as mine.

[Read more…]

Statement on the Chapel Hill shootings

On February 10 a man named Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in to the police after fatally shooting three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC. According to news reports, Hicks was a fan of The Atheist Experience, and had been critical of religion on his Facebook page. The precise motivations of Hicks are not currently known.

The Atheist Community of Austin strongly opposes violence in all forms, whether it is motivated by hatred of someone else’s religious convictions, or a parking dispute. Acts of unprovoked violence may be inspired by a complex combination of factors that include ideology, mental disposition, and the social acceptability of various attitudes. It is overly simplistic to reduce the cause to any one factor. It is vital for believers and non-believers alike to draw a sharp distinction between criticism of someone’s philosophical positions, and the use or threat of deadly force.

We condemn this senseless act of murder, and extend our condolences to the families of the victims.

FTBCon 3 panels

Tune in this weekend for hours of live panels featuring the bloggers of Freethought Blogs and numerous guests. Here are the panels I’ll be participating in:

Secular Cults

by Russell GlasserAdam LeeKaren StollznowVyckie D. Garrison and Angie Jackson

Not all cults are religious. Attributes of a cult include traits such as: unquestioning commitment to one or more leaders, who are considered unaccountable to any authorities; punishment of dissent; mind-altering practices such as meditation and chanting; and deceptive recruitment practices. Many organizations that are not overtly religious still exhibit many of these traits. In this panel we will discuss some examples of this phenomenon, such as the Amway and other multi-level businesses, the self-help movement, and some homeschooling organizations.

5:30pm to 7:00pm, Saturday 24th January

 

The True Version of the False: Can Atheists Argue Over the “True” Version of Religion?

by Dr. Richard CarrierRussell GlasserDan FinckeAlex Gabriel and Kaveh Mousavi

A debate about the issue of “true” religion: some atheists claim that we can say that some versions (like fundementalists) of a religion are the “true” version of those religions becuase of their relative consistency and loyalty to the scriptures, while other atheists bring different reasons to refute this, for example the subjective nature of the religion. This panel is a debate between the proponents of these two positions.

10:00am to 11:00am, Sunday 25th January

For the most recently updated full schedule, visit FTBcon.org.

Embrace Your Inner Skeptic 7: Some advice on community building

This is the final section of the talk I gave at St. Charles Community College on December 2, 2014.

  1. Amazing news!
  2. Nobody loves a critic
  3. Why skepticism is healthy
  4. What about religion?
  5. Evaluating information in the internet age
  6. Is Skepticism Right For YOU?
  7. Some advice on community building
  8. Q&A

With all that in mind, I also want to say something about social awareness. Managing a group like the Secular Student Alliance is a big challenge. The Campus Crusade for Christ is a massive organization that represents one of the largest religions in the world. To many Christians, participating in a group like this can supposedly influence whether or not you will have eternal happiness. For clubs that promote skepticism and secularism, the rewards are much more abstract.

[Read more…]

Embrace Your Inner Skeptic 6: Is Skepticism Right For YOU?

This is a partial transcript of the talk I gave at St. Charles Community College on December 2, 2014.

  1. Amazing news!
  2. Nobody loves a critic
  3. Why skepticism is healthy
  4. What about religion?
  5. Evaluating information in the internet age
  6. Is Skepticism Right For YOU?
  7. Some advice on community building
  8. Q&A

I’ve pitched the value of skepticism for a lot of reasons: Being skeptical keeps you from being conned, it can be a safety issue, it prevents wasting taxpayer money on bad ideas, it protects you from jumping to unwarranted conclusions. But in a time where there are all these people and web sites and fake news sources who are actively trying to lie to you, how do you figure out what’s true and what’s not?

[Read more…]