Michigan Atheist Convention (12/07) in Ann Arbor

MichiganAtheistsOn Saturday, December 7th, the annual Michigan Atheists convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in Ann Arbor.  There will be a series of speakers/presentations starting at 10am.  Registration is $30, plus $16.50 for a private lunch.  However, the registration is  free for any organizers and student members of high school, college and university on-site campus secular organizations.

You can register by printing out this form (27TH ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION) and mail it in with your fee.  There is also a free reception on Friday evening from 7pm to 11pm for those who register.

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

The Michigan Atheists are a group that fights for the separation of church and state.  When policy-makers overstep, the Michigan Atheists try to inform the secular community so that an appropriate reaction can take place.MI717A1

Michigan Atheist Convention (12/01) in Ann Arbor

On December 1st, the annual Michigan Atheists convention will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, in Ann Arbor.  There will be a series of speakers/presentations starting at 10am and ending at 5pm.  Registration is $30, plus $16.50 for a private lunch.  However, the registration is only $5 for students, and it’s free for any organizers and student members of high school, college and university on site campus secular organizations.

You can register by printing out this form (pdf) and mail it in with your fee.  There is also a free reception on Friday evening from 7pm to 10pm for those who register.

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is located at 2900 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

The Michigan Atheists are a group that fights for the separation of church and state.  When policy-makers overstep, the Michigan Atheists try to inform the secular community so that an appropriate reaction can take place.

Theocrats Are Not (And Should Not Be) Authorities On Morality

Guest Contributor: Lee Helms (Communications Director for the Michigan Atheists)

A reply to Cal Thomas’s op/ed piece titled “Rick Santorum could still achieve “the impossible dream”

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Published on May 4, 2012

In “Santorum could still achieve an impossible dream,” Cal Thomas lamented Rick Santorum’s withdrawal from the presidential race, complaining that “Santorum is a decent man in an indecent age, preaching to a largely hedonistic culture about old-time values abandoned by many…”  Thomas also speculated that a Romney administration might put Santorum in charge of Health and Human Services, “where he could focus on those moral and cultural issues about which he cares so much.”

That kind of thinking is typical of theocrat pundits and politicians.  They see their own religious opinions and culture as the only possible source of morality, and yearn for enough power to impose them on as many other people as they can.  It’s for their own good, of course.

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The Problem With Cultural Moral Rules

Guest Contributor: Lee Helms (Communications Director for the Michigan Atheists)

A reply to Cal Thomas’s op/ed piece titled “Atheists don’t realize that faith is a gift from a God who exists.”

(edit: on Jan. 10, this reply was published in the Oakland Times)

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In “Atheists don’t realize that faith is a gift from a God who exists,” Cal Thomas criticized Atheists’ insistence on credible, objective evidence, saying, “Two people presented with exactly the same information can respond in opposite ways.  Faith is not based solely on facts.”  The “gift” of faith, then, is a credulous acceptance of assertions that aren’t supported by verifiable evidence.  It’s no wonder that the world’s religions can still assert claims that obviously contradict.

Thomas also questions the idea of godless morality and standards of conduct, saying that godless charitable acts are “devoid of meaning and purpose,” godless people have no standard beyond “survival of the fittest,” and “To object to God is to create morality from a Gallup Poll.”  Baloney.

Humans survive best when we live in groups, and group living requires a certain level of trust.  “Survival of the fittest” says that tribes in which people refrained from behaviors that cause distrust were probably more fit to survive than tribes that ended up dispersing because of distrust.  What causes distrust?  At the most basic level, violence and dishonesty.  Those are universal.  Even chimpanzees and wolves generally refrain from killing or disabling tribe/pack members.

Basic morality is Darwinian.  The survival, or not, of the tribe is the godless “standard by which to judge wrong” that Thomas fails to recognize.  Charity toward tribemates helps the tribe survive.

Men claiming to speak for gods created additional moral rules about tribal worship, sexual, costume and dietary practices.  These cultural moral rules vary randomly, defining tribal identity without enhancing survival.

The down-side of these random, cultural moral rules becomes evident when people are conditioned to see their own particular tribal, cultural morality as equal to, and inseparable from, basic morality.  Such people believe that anyone who would ignore or violate their tribe’s cultural rules must be suspected of being capable of violating basic moral rules.

This paranoid, tribalistic suspicion of “outsiders” matches well with Thomas’ attitude toward Atheists.  Apparently, he can’t imagine that Atheists, with no belief in any afterlife, might obey basic moral rules because spending time sitting in prison would waste our precious, limited years.

We no longer have the luxury of living in separate, homogenous tribes.  Our communities include people representing many cultures, and expecting everyone to adopt Christian culture is unrealistic.  If Cal Thomas’ sense of community does not extend beyond those who share his own tribal worship rules, he is a relic of the past.

Evidently True

Guest Contributor: Dan Kiskis from Some Forgotten Corner

Published on September 18, 2011

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I grew up in a Catholic household in a predominantly Christian part of the rural Midwest.  It seems like there’s a church on every street corner of my hometown.  The Christian world view was part of our culture and our identity.  As a young boy interested in science, it’s therefore no surprise that one of the sources of information that I was given was a cassette tape that talked about all the evidence of God’s work in nature.  I listened to this cassette repeatedly.

It’s been many years, so I only really remember one particular part.  The preacher (I assume he was a Christian preacher or minister that made the tape) was talking about the fact that when you look at the branch of a tree, you’ll notice that the side branches do not grow out of that branch in a random pattern.  In fact, they follow a repeating pattern where, for example, every fifth branch is pointing in the same direction.  This order was evidence of God’s hand in the creation of a tree.   God made the tree with a certain logic, and this was evidence of the creator’s work.

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GOVTRACK.US: Staying Informed and Speaking Up

On March 17th, a U.S. House bill that reaffirms “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encourages and supports the public display of the national motto in all public buildings came out of a committee.  It has not yet been voted on.

The organizer of the Humanist Society of Monroe, Ernie Whiteside, notified me by e-mail about a way to track this bill (and similar legislation), which is by using govtrack.us.

You can find out what govtrack has to say about this particular bill by clicking here:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hc112-13

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