I’ve long been involved in the local atheist student group. I really mean “long”–through both undergrad and grad school. I perpetually complain about the group, but never leave, and never lift a finger to help. This is probably important to understanding Who I Am As A Person.
Well, the leadership said they were looking for more discussion topics. I can help with that. I e-mailed them thirty topics that I came up with off the top of my head. If you run an atheist group anywhere, you are free to borrow any of these.
- Atheist characters and themes in fiction.
- Growing up in a religious or non-religious household.
- Sex and secularism: how does religion or leaving religion affect our sex lives? See this study.
- Effective Altruism
- Science and religion: enemies or strangers?
- Does religion fulfill any human needs?
- California propositions! (we want to discuss presidential candidates, why not local politics too?)
- Share your favorite stories from your favorite sacred text
- Why aren’t atheists sad like Nietzche? Some people are confused.
- Why are atheists so focused on Christianity (or are they)? What about other major religions, and minor religions?
- “Belief in belief” – how nonreligious people often come to the defense of religion
- Religion vs reproductive health
- Religion vs queer and trans people
- “Sinning” and other models of morality
- Consciousness and the afterlife (are people agnostic or opposed?)
- Labels – How many people think of themselves as atheist, agnostic, godless, heathen, skeptic, humanist, etc.?
- Atheism and mental health – When atheists often say religion is caused by mental illness, where does that leave mentally ill atheists?
- Dealing with your family as an atheist
- Are you “out” as an atheist?
- Testing the paranormal – psychics, parapsychologists, Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge
- Cosmological arguments
- Was Jesus, as depicted in the bible, a good person, or kind of a jerk?
- Objectivism (ie Ayn Rand) – An atheistic philosophy that I presume most of the group dislikes.
- Conscientious objectors to blood transfusions, vaccines, birth control, and other health care
- Teleological arguments (ie from “design”)
- New religions, like Scientologists or Moonies (may require research)
- Atheist assholes – Why do people keep on telling me about that one atheist jerk they knew in high school?
- Is it okay to lie to kids about Santa?
- Different varieties of creationism (you can find some hilarious arguments between young-earthers and old-earthers)
- Do we have a responsibility to counter religion?
Readers are invited to suggest any other topics in the comments.
One major constraint is that it can’t be a topic that requires research. Some topics are interesting enough that there’s a critical density of students who have already read about it on the internet. But for other topics, students simply won’t invest the time. Sometimes they just find articles during the meeting and bring them up on a projector, but this isn’t great. Possibly some of my topic proposals have this problem.
Most of these are also viable blogging topics. If you’re interested in any particular one, let me know and I might write about it.