New Website and Twitter!

Greetings Heathens,

With our newly improved name (don’t worry, we’ll still be UGAtheists at heart) we’ve decided to move our blog to Tumblr, for easier following and blogging options. Be sure to follow us at Tumblr here!

We have also created a Twitter account for faster information and easy access 24/7! To follow us on Twitter, click here!

You’ll still be able to find us on Facebook, where you will be able to say whether you are going to meetings or not. The Facebook group is set to private so that your friends and family will not know that you’ve joined if you don’t want them to.

 

And don’t forget, our first official meeting will be next Monday at 6:15pm. We are still discussing where we will meet, so be sure to follow us on one of the three mentioned in this post in order to keep up!

Until later,

ugAtheist

Welcome Back, Heathens!

A new semester is upon us here at the University of Georgia. We hope everyone is settled back in from their (hopefully relaxing) summer.

The Secular Student Alliance will be having its first official meeting of the Fall 2013 Semester next Monday at 6:15 at a soon-to-be determined location.

So check up with us on our Facebook group to stay up to date on all of the latest events!

– your friendly neighborhood ugAtheist

It’s Secular Student Alliance Week!

 

We are ending the semester off just right! Welcome to SSA Week 2013! “This has been an amazing year so far for the Secular Student Alliance. To celebrate all of the wonderful work our students are doing, the SSA is celebrating SSA Week from April 29th-May 6th! This is a week devoted to celebrating secular student activism.” As a part of the Secular Student Alliance, UGatheists are thankful for their help and we will be thinking of them as we hunker down for our finals!

On their page, linked above, is a schedule of online bloggers that will be discussing SSA Week, so be sure to check in!

Last Meeting of the Semester – Election Results

At the end of this semester, we will be saying goodbye to many familiar and beloved faces and some of whom are on our very own Executive Board.

In our last meeting, on April 22, elections were held to vote in our new Secular Student Alliance – UGA  Executive Board!

President: Rachel Smith

VP: Jake Moscowitz

Secretary: Rhianna Bennett

Treasurer: Kevin Rabb

Enjoy this awesome photo of our favorite people.

Image

Monday’s Meeting 2-11-13

At tonight’s meeting we prepared for Darwin Day by making posters and watching videos about Darwinism.  At Darwin Day awareness about evolution and Charles Darwin will be raised and baked good will be sold in order to help fund the SSA’s operations.  Participating in Darwin Day is one of the many ways in which SSA members can support the group.  Jack Kelly also announced that the next opportunity to help beautify Dudley Park will be on February 24.  Please participate in that if you are available to do so.  Also, SSA shirts are available for sale for $15 each.  Please buy one if you have not already.  The shirts are creative and well designed and would help raise awareness about the SSA.

Here are the videos that Rachel showed us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROwKq3kxPEA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmphlbRhLu8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSxgnu3Hww8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb9_x1wgm7E

Monday’s Meeting 1/28

At Monday’s meeting Rachel gave a presentation about Atheist Activism.  In this post I outlined the presentation then wrote my opinions about Atheist Activism.

Atheist Activism is divided into two camps: one camp believes that “the primary goal of Atheist Activism is to reduce anti-Atheist bigotry and discrimination, and to work toward a more complete separation of church and state.”  The other camp, which is commonly associated with New Atheism, believes that “[Atheist Activism’s] primary goal is to persuade the world to move away from religion.”  These different opinions of what Atheist Activism’s function should be have caused conflict within Atheist organizations and communities.

Another issue that Atheist Activists experience is the discrediting of their own causes.  For example, the American Atheists made this blog post: “One thing we need to keep in mind is that Muslims are particularly barbaric and primitive even more so than their comparative mythologies.”  Such claims do not make Atheism attractive to outsiders and some insiders.

Here is a list of some famous Atheist Activists:

James Randi – “Former magician and paranormal investigator who debunks psychics, mediums, and others who claim to have supernatural ‘powers.'”

Jessica Ahlquist – “Rhode Island teenager who won a court battle to remove a prayer banner hanging […] in her public high school.”

Dan Baker – FFRF co-president

Matt Dillahunty – “Public speaker and internet personality.”

Richard Dawkins – One of New Atheism’s four horsemen.

I think that both camps should share each other’s goals and form one solidified Atheist and secular community.  Reducing anti-Atheist and other anti-secular sentiments, and creating understanding and awareness are key for Atheists becoming accepted and given credit by the rest of society.  Persuading others of Atheism’s validity through reasoned argumentation will function to achieve many goals such as; separating church and state, reducing anti-Atheist and other anti-secular sentiments, falsifying other discriminatory beliefs that originate from interpretations of biblical texts, creating awareness and acceptance for Atheists and other secular persons, as well as other goals.

Furthermore, militant Atheism and other forms of militant secularism thwart their own goals of appealing to and being accepted and understood by the rest of society.  Militance leads to xenophobia and the creation of something that is equivalent to religion.

Featured Atheist: Catherine Backus

Catherine Backus, a 2nd year Music Therapy major at UGA, has a contagious love of life!  She hopes that “the whole songwriting/performing gig will pay the bills,” but she would also love to work as a music therapist with psychiatric adult patients.

Catherine, who identifies as a “gaytheist,” may not adhere to religion, but she certainly knows how to find and create beauty in the world!  She’s a bibliophile (Ralph Waldo Emerson is her intellectual crush!) and has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture.  Vocalists Sporty Spice and Brandi Carlile are important sources of inspiration for her.  Catherine doesn’t limit herself to being a vocalist: she also plays a mean trumpet and guitar.  She and her sister, natives of the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee, perform as a “folk-music-for-pop-culture” duo called the Skipperdees.  (Hear them here!: http://music.theskipperdees.com/)  When Catherine isn’t making music or losing herself in a good book, she is probably making REALLY GOOD PANCAKES!

Her philosophy of life is very much informed by Le Petit Prince.  To Catherine, being an atheist “means following beauty – focusing not on things eternal, but on things ephemeral.”

Demosthenian Speech: Creationism-Evolution

On February 2nd, Rachel Krinick, member of the UGAtheists, presented a speech during a meeting of the Demosthenian Literary Society at UGA. The topic of that meeting was whether creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.

She argues that “creationism should not be taught as a counter-theory to the theory of evolution in public schools because it is not based in scientific research and supports a specific religious doctrine.”

The debate as to whether or not to teach the so-called theory of creationism alongside the theory of evolution is nothing new. From the landmark trial of the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, otherwise known as the Scopes Trial, in 1925 to Indiana’s Creationism Teaching Bill, which passed Indiana’s Senate Education Committee on January 25th of this year. As I’m sure many of you may know, creationism is the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being. This belief conflicts with the theory of evolution, which is an atheistic process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms throughout history. Despite the furor that surrounds evolution and creationism, one question must be asked. How can creationism be taught within public schools when it advocates Abrahamic religions, and, by its very own definition, cannot be a scientific theory? Be it resolved: Creationism should not be taught as a counter-theory to the theory of evolution in public schools because it is not based in scientific research and supports a specific religious doctrine.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses. This criterion necessitates that a theory must both be testable and compatible with natural law; neither of these requirements is met by the idea of creationism. As I said earlier, creationism cannot be a scientific theory by its very own definition. This is because, to many people, God is an omnipotent and omniscient perfect being that transcends both space and time. There are no empirical testing methods that can be used to investigate this type of divinity and supernatural power. Without the ability to test the existence of God, let alone the ability to test whether or not God created life, the universe, and everything, the main idea of creationism cannot be scientifically proved or even disproved. Creationism’s inability to be tested is detrimental to its moniker of theory.

Creationists’ attempts at having creationism received as a theory are again thwarted by the fact that the idea of creationism is not founded in natural law. God’s very own attributes and actions, like miracles, are incompatible with natural law. Miracles in themselves are not supposed to be explainable by natural causes and are outside the realm of science. If that’s the case, then how can creationism be considered a theory? Also, why would creationists even want creationism to be bound by natural law when God’s actions are only inspiring because they cannot be explained? If the purpose is just to mix science and religion, then saying, “God did it” does nothing to advance our knowledge of the world around us. We have no clear idea what God is or how God is supposed to do anything, except that, however he does things, it does not conform to known laws of nature, and therefore, the actions of God can never be within the realm of science like the theory of evolution is.

Aside from creationism’s incapability to ever become a true scientific theory because it lacks two basic benchmarks: testability and compatibility with natural law, it also conflicts with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, this was not always seen as the case. Prior to 1925, Creation Science was the prevailing belief. That was until the trial of the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes.

The Scopes Trial began when biology teacher, John Scopes, was accused and found guilty of teaching evolution. John Scopes was in violation of Tennessee’s Bulter Act, which prohibited any theory that denied the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible. However, the Scopes Trial was a seminal moment in the evolution-creationism controversy because the Supreme Court of Tennessee deemed the Butler Act to be unconstitutional. This case started the precedent that would begin the shift toward the following of the Establishment Clause in public schools.

In 1968, in Epperson v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court held explicitly that it is unconstitutional to restrict a public school teacher’s right to teach evolution. More recently, in Aguillard v. Edwards in 1987, the Court decisively held that it is unconstitutional to require educators who teach evolution to also teach creationism. Based upon the outcomes of these three trials, the United States Supreme Court considers the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to be an integral element in public school education.

Because creationism cannot be scientifically tested and does not act in accordance with natural law, creationism cannot be deemed as a theory. Without credibility within the scientific community, and the fact that creationism promotes specific religious ideas, which is in violation of the First Amendment, it should not be taught within public schools.

God re-bless America

Michael Long, member of UGAtheists, shares his thoughts on one church’s message for Independence Day.

He questions if “America is morally backslid and out of favor with God,” and reminds us not to wait for divine intervention when “we can change our world for the better.”

God and Country: A church’s 4th of July message

“God re-bless America”

Normally I don’t pay much attention to church signs.  Flimsy, backwoods aphorisms about heaven and hell are not my thing.  But this one caught my eye as I sped past in my ramshackle Camry, windows down, blasting some blood-stirring Bach.  It seemed offensive yet so utterly meaningless.

God re-bless America?  What could that possibly mean?  Did his first blessing not take?  Are we at present too corrupt to be blessed?  Is it a call to resume being the Christian nation that many conservatives think we were and still should be? Continue reading

Logic never lets you down.

Lisa Lansing, current President of UGAtheists, writes an informal argument expressing how science and reason influence her lack of belief in God.

She says “we need not fear the unknown,” and claims “I really am free without religion.”

Logic never lets you down – an explanation of my atheism

Logic never lets you down.

I do not wish to force atheism on anyone; I simply wish to explain my position.

Science is based on evidence.  The accepted scientific view is just that, accepted.  The accepted scientific view is based on the mountains of evidence supporting it.  The theory of evolution is like the theory of gravity.  All the evidence we have proves these theories are correct, and until we come across evidence contrary to the theories, the theories will remain, as they are, verified and true.  Every piece of knowledge is based on evidence.

Just think, how do you base your own system of epistemology?  How do you know what you know?  In the simplest terms, what you know is based on evidence.  You learn things from experience, and some behaviors might be partially innate, but your knowledge consists of facts you (or someone else specialized in a certain field) can verify as being true.  Nothing can ever be objectively proven 100%, but if the evidence supports my existence as a thinking thing, for example, I believe I must exist as this thinking thing.

There is no sound and valid argument for the existence of a god.  That could mean that an argument doesn’t exist, or that it hasn’t been discovered yet, even though philosophers over thousands of years have arduously argued back and forth trying to prove or disprove the existence of god.  So either a god exists, or it doesn’t.  Is there any objective evidence supporting the existence of a god?  Any evidence to support anything religion has claimed, including miracles? Continue reading