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Apr 16 2014

A Note for My Transgendered Fans…

Are you a trans woman? (Or otherwise gender queer or trans feminine?) Then you might be interested in supporting our colleague Zinnia’s petition (if you agree with her), to have your voice counted. See her Open Letter: 100+ Trans Women Stand Against Calpernia Addams and Andrea James. Her analysis is sharp and thorough.

 

 

Apr 14 2014

Major Godless Chicago Conference: Last Chance to Get Discount Rate!

From Ed Brayton: The Foundation Beyond Belief, the nation’s largest humanist charitable organization, is holding its first national conference, “Humanism at Work,” this July 18-20 (2014) at the Hilton Rosemont in Chicago, Illinois.

This conference, the first of its kind in the freethought community, centers on how nontheists can put their compassionate humanism to work for a better world. It will include TED-style presentations on philanthropy, volunteering, and community building, as well as practical workshops, panels, and hands-on volunteer opportunities.

Speakers include:

  • Evidence-based giving expert CAROLINE FIENNES
  • Nigerian humanist and human rights activist LEO IGWE
  • Atheist homelessness activist SERAH BLAIN
  • HEMLEY GONZALEZ, a humanist at work with the poor in Calcutta
  • Atheist authors HEMANT MEHTA and GRETA CHRISTINA
  • Social psychologist DR. BRITTANY SHOOTS-REINHARD
  • THE PATHFINDERS, three humanists just returned from a year of global service

To register, go to the Humanism at Work website. We’ve worked hard to keep the conference affordable at $129 up to April 15 and $149 after that date. Included in that price is a formal dinner at which we will give away the Heart of Humanism awards to those who have put humanism into action in their local communities and around the world.

This is definitely worth attending! Especially if you–or any atheist, humanist, or secularist group you are a part of (and thus can report back to)–want(s) to get more involved in humanitarianism and philanthropy, or community or other charitable work, or just engage with that realm of activity more as atheists.

If you can afford to go, I recommend it!

Even if you miss the deadline tomorrow, the price bump after that is only twenty dollars.

Apr 12 2014

I’ll Be at ReasonCon: North Carolina

Photo of the Crowne Plaza Hickory Hotel. Looks like a one-floor but fascinatingly modern structure, including a beautuful glass-enclosed arched walkway at front..Although it’s almost sold out already, I will be the keynote speaker at ReasonCon in Hickory, North Carolina, in early May. Details here (also tickets and wait-list options there). As I write, there are only VIP tickets left, and those include the VIP launch party Friday night (9pm, May 2, 2014). However, the option exists to submit your name to a wait-list for a free spot at the one-day con on Saturday (9am-5pm, May 3, 2014, with an after-party that night for everyone, starting at 7pm).

If you still want to attend the conference, and can’t afford the VIP ticks or even they get sold out, it can’t hurt to submit a wait-list request to tell them what the demand really was, so if they do this again next year they might be able to accommodate more people, or (less likely but a dim possibility) they might find a way to make room this year and let you know you can get in after all. They also might succeed in streaming it live or recording it for YouTube (that is still in development), but they could still benefit from hearing how many wanted to go but couldn’t. Otherwise, there is some VIP access still available. As I look this moment there are 26 of those left at $65 and 22 more at $100 (the latter comes with free booze, if you are of legal age to take advantage of that). I’ll be at the launch party if my flights meet no delays (although, all told, I will be arriving at the party almost exactly when it starts, after traveling the whole day, so I’ll be on my second wind!).

This event is being put on by the MythUnderstood Alliance, and is the brainchild of Atheists on Air with Cash and Love. It will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hickory (1385 Lenoir Rhyne Blvd SE).

What’s unusual about this event is that I am going to do a marathon Q&A on the historicity of Jesus (up to 90 minutes, unless the audience runs out of questions first), after another 90 minutes of presentation (or near to…don’t worry, there are some breaks in there). I shall be endeavoring to make the latter at least as engaging and entertaining as a bad movie. So it won’t just be dry lecture. I’ll be playing up as many of the funny bits of the bible and modern scholarship as I can. My focus won’t just be on the historicity question, but on the whole broader question of the origins of Christianity: its context, but also what it looks like really happened, what its founding Jews actually thought they were doing by inventing it, and what they invented it for.

And I’m just the keynote! Also speaking that day will be Tracie Harris (of Atheist Community of Austin, Atheist Experience TV show, and Godless Bitches podcast fame) and Ryan Bell (of A Year Without God fame) and teen cult escapee Phoebe Cahours (who has an amazing story of getting away from the Amish, the Mennonites, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses–it seems her mother dragged her through several infamous Christian cults). Cash & Love will also have some things to say to the crowd. Overall it sounds like a very interesting and engaging day.

Apr 10 2014

Online Course on Naturalism in May

Back by popular demand, I am teaching my online course on naturalism as a philosophy and worldview this May (just a few weeks away). Learn about all aspects of naturalism as a philosophy of life, and how to use it in practical ways and improve on it. In the process you will learn many of the basics of college-level philosophy.

The course begins May 1 and ends May 31. You study and participate at your own pace, as much or as little as you like, and you get to ask me any questions you want about the course topics all month long, and read and participate in online discussions with me and other students. I will direct and comment on readings each week and give weekly course assignments which consist of answering questions about what you’ve learned and what you think about it. The course text you have to buy is Sense and Goodness without God. All other readings and media will be provided to students free of charge (all you have to provide is access to the internet).

Course Description: This one-month course builds the foundations for practical philosophy. Learn how to develop and defend your own naturalistic worldview from studying a model example, and how to employ it in your daily lives and your understanding of the world. Learn the basics of how to develop and test a philosophy of epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics (theory of existence), ethics (theory of morality), aesthetics (theory of beauty), and politics (theory of government), using logical, evidence-based reasoning. Based on assigned readings, lectures, and weekly class discussion online with Dr. Carrier (Ph.D. in the history of philosophy).

Tuition: $59

Must register by April 30
. And the course could fill quickly so register sooner rather than later. It may be a year before I offer it again.

More details here.

This time I’ve signed up with a new educational project, SecularActivism.org. As a growing consortium of teachers and experts, we will be offering an increasing array of college-quality mini-courses in many diverse subjects for the benefit of the secularist, skeptic, humanist, and atheist communities. We aren’t offering this for college credit (so it’s not for pursuing a career). We are offering this for the mere benefit of making this kind of knowledge and learning accessible to more people, in an age when college is becoming prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to a hard working public, and yet precisely when sophisticated knowledge needs to be more widely available.

SecularActivism.org lists several other courses of interest taught by other experts this May (and soon for June and so on), and those offerings will increase in coming months. The site link also contains an option to join a dedicated mailing list that will notify you of new course offerings as they are announced. My own courses I will announce on my blog here.

Participating is not only a good way to add to your learning and exploration of philosophy (and naturalism in particular), it is also a way to help support my continued work in all fields. If we can keep this educational project successful, it may finally bring me some income security. And do our community some valuable good in the process, by making courses of all kinds available to more and more people who most want to keep learning, for their own good and the good of the world.

Apr 09 2014

Appearing in San Luis Obispo

On Saturday, April 19 (2014), at 4pm (until 6pm), I will be presenting my case that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist for Atheists United of San Luis Obispo (California), and taking questions from the audience. They say seats are limited, so it would help to join their meetup group and RSVP or let the organizers know you are coming (details for either here). Donations will be greatly appreciated (they rely on them to cover expenses). This will be held at the Senior Citizens Center-San Luis (1445 Santa Rosa Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401: map).

I will be selling and signing copies of Proving History and Hitler Homer Bible Christ. (Unfortunately On the Historicity of Jesus will not be printed until June.) Of course I’ll also sign anything you bring. See you there!

Apr 02 2014

I Support the SSA, MRFF and MAAF. So Can You, So Easy to Do!

Today I renewed my support for the Secular Student Alliance as a Bronze Member. Just a mere $35. Many of us in the US can afford that per year for the things we value most. So everyone who can do even so little as that, and believes in what the SSA does for our future, please Bronze up! (Or even more, if you can.) If you aren’t already jumping to, please check out why I think the SSA is important and why everyone should be supporting them even if only modestly.

I give small amounts like this to a large number of organizations, because every little bit helps. Two others I support that often get overlooked are the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF). I just gave each $35 as well. As I try to do every year. And I hope many of you can do something along the same lines. They also do extremely important and much needed work. As I’ve explained before (including why we need them both, because they do different things). If you want to join me in their support, you can donate here (MRFF) and here (MAAF). They request only $25 a year. I give a little more. But if you can only give the minimum, it helps.

Apr 01 2014

Scripture Index Madness

For the moment I am afflicted with SIM (Scripture Index Madness). And I’m only up to Matthew. For a 684-page book mainly about the New Testament. Bible geeks will get the joke. And nod their head in commiseration.

What’s SIM? A thing that doesn’t exist that I just made up.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 27 2014

Help a Leading Skeptic Fight Her Sexual Harasser

Photo of Karen Stollznow wearing a necklace by Surlyramics.Karen Stollznow has been harassed for years by an ex-boyfriend, who was eventually disciplined by his employer for it (CFI), and she finally wrote about her experience, and apparently to harass her further, he is suing her. It looks like he is counting on the fact that defending herself in court will bankrupt her and has used that to try and intimidate her into issuing a retraction, but she refuses to retract what she says is simply the truth. If you think this is appalling and want to help her, I would very much like you to. I am donating to her defense fund, and am ready to give more if it’s needed. Their target is $30k but legal experts say a case like this could cost $40k, and in any event, all money not used for the case will be donated to Colorado’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center, so no matter what, your donation goes to a good cause. I want to see this fund grow to equal what he is spending. So she can have her day in court, effect discovery (and thus get a hold of documents he and CFI may have been keeping from her, and depose witnesses under oath), and be fairly represented and not unfairly trumped by wealth.

I think it is a fundamental injustice in this country that people have to pay for their own legal representation in courts. This is not only the case in civil trials, but contrary to popular myth, you even have to pay for your own legal defense in a criminal trial–if the government “decides” you can afford it, you have to pay. This is appalling. It thus turns especially civil cases, but even many criminal trials, into a plutocracy where the one with the most money wins (and in criminal cases, that’s the state), rather than the one with justice actually on their side. But alas, this is the system we are stuck in. So please support the justice our government won’t: help someone get a fair trial. And in the process help fight sexual harassment: because if the precedent is set that harassers can intimidate their victims into shutting up by exploiting the injustice of our wealth-based justice system, well, I’ll let you do the math on that…

Read Karen’s explanation and appeal here.

Donate to her legal defense fund here.

And for backstory on the case, read this (and this).

Mar 26 2014

I’ll Be Debating the Historicity of Jesus in Ottawa, Canada

The Center for Inquiry Canada is hosting two events with me in early April in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), sponsored by CFI Ottawa.

The first will be a debate between myself and Zeba Crook, professor of religious studies at Carleton University, on whether it’s likely a historical Jesus existed. Details here. (Although, amusingly, we certainly aren’t debating whether “a man named Jesus live[d] in Palestine 2000 years ago,” since plenty of men named Jesus did; of course, we’re only debating the particular Jesus claimed to be the author of Christianity). The next day I’ll be taking questions and speaking on various matters of philosophy for the Philosophy, Phood, and Phriends meetup. Details here.

The debate will be held on Saturday, April 5 (2014), at 7:30pm, at the Centrepointe Chamber Theatre (101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, ON K2G 0B5; the theatre is located at the back). Admission is $15 (or just $5 if you are a CFI member; and new members can also get a free ticket). The format will be something like 20/20-10/10-5/5 (openings-rebuttals-closings), with the first to speak chosen at random on the day. Written questions will be taken from the audience.

The philosophy meet will be on Sunday, April 6 (2014) at 11:00am, in the CCOC Meeting Room (OPSEU Local 464, 2255 St Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa, ON K1G 6C4 464 Metcalfe St., near the Museum of Nature). $10 admission includes food and drinks ($5 for members of CFI). “Bring your questions–suggested topics include: metaphysics, naturalistic philosophy, morality, counter-apologetics.”

There may be copies of Proving History for sale at the first or possibly both events. But I will sign anything you bring (so you can buy any of my books online now and have them in time for that).

Mar 25 2014

Appearing in San Jose Next Week

I will be speaking and taking questions on the best case to be made that Jesus didn’t exist, for the Atheist Community of San Jose next week, Wednesday, 2 April 2014, from 6:30 to 9:30pm (although I’d love to hang out later with anyone who’s free to do so, even though it’s a weeknight). Details here. We’ll be meeting in a banquet room at Harry’s Hofbrau (390 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose, CA).

Description:

Dr. Carrier’s new groundbreaking book On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt is the first book extensively challenging the historicity of Jesus to be published by a peer reviewed academic press (through the University of Sheffield). He also has several peer reviewed academic papers on the subject, which are now reprinted (along with many other papers of interest) in his other new book, Hitler Homer Bible Christ: The Historical Papers of Richard Carrier 1995-2013.

Dr. Carrier will briefly summarize his thesis and argument, explaining why he suspects Jesus never even existed as a historical man but was always imaginary. He will then answer questions from the audience.

The latter as well as Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus will be available for purchase. The latter demonstrates the invalidity of the methods and arguments used to argue for historical facts about Jesus, and presents a more reliable and testable way to argue for historical facts, using Bayes’ Theorem (in a way explained for non-mathematicians).

I will of course sign anything you bring, too.

Unfortunately, Sheffield-Phoenix is running behind in its production, so I won’t have copies of On the Historicity of Jesus to sell yet. But I will be talking about it.

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