Dec 292020
 

For now, until Covid-19 restrictions are removed, we will continue online meetings into 2021.  We have 4 regular meetings that you can attend, but please check the events page for Highway Clean up events (which can still be socially distanced) or extra events like Solstice parties.

Coffee Night – 7pm every Sunday via the JITSI app.   Seacoffeenight | Jitsi Meet

Trivia Night – 8:30pm every second Tuesday via the JITSI app Seatrivianight | Jitsi Meet

Secular Humanist Meetup – 7pm every second Thursday  Secular Humanists of Alberta | Jitsi Meet

Westwood Unitarian Book Club – 7pm the last Wednesday of the month until May  via ZOOM:
Launch Meeting – Zoom

 Posted by at 11:05 AM
Aug 092015
 

With many members out of town (and other various reasons) book club will be cancelled for this evening.

We will discuss the entire book at the meeting on August 23rd instead.   It’s a short book, just over 200 pages, so if you want to join us there is still plenty of time to source a copy and read it before the 23rd.    Hope to see you then!

Think_t580

 Posted by at 1:31 PM
Jan 032015
 

In June, ECongrats EPLdmonton Public Library (EPL) was named the 2014 Library of the Year. And it is a pretty awesome organization. The SEA has been holding our monthly Roundtable meetings at the downtown branch since 2009.

You may have looked through the catalogue or shelves at one point and thought that there wasn’t much relating to atheism or leaving religion. Donald, a local atheist and library fan, has been using his monthly allotment of book requests to stock up the shelves with atheist/secular books that he’s interested in.

If you want to see more of these types of books* on Edmonton shelves, there are two easy things you can do to help that happen: Continue reading »

Feb 112014
 

We are reading Christopher Hitchens –  The Missionary Position (Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice) for our next book club meeting on February 23rd.   There is one copy available through the book library and it’s a short book so definitely readable in a hour or two.  Please email vicepresident@edmontonatheist.ca if you’d like to borrow the extra copy.

The book library is open to current members only, if you are interested in a membership check out our membership/merchandise tab.

the missionary position christopher hitchens

 Posted by at 9:49 PM
Jan 202014
 

We started off a year ago, Jan 20th 2013, with Richard Dawkins book : ”The God Delusion”.   We crowded into the Second Cup at the Library downtown and discussed the book over coffee and tea, surrounded by people playing chess.  A few months went by, we settled on a format of one book per month,  and even had a bit of a run in once with some of the patrons of the store.   The location’s limit was met when we struggled to fit everyone in the area when we discussed Christopher Hitchens ”God is Not Great”, so a  move was made to the Oliver Square Second Cup, which we still call home.  Although it can sometimes be a waiting game, space isn’t as hard to come by and we have regularly been able to have 10 or more people.   The move was a good one for us, we regularly hand out business cards or have people come by to stop and chat.  The availablity of an announcement board also makes it possible for us to advertise our bi-weekly meetings there.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:52 AM
Oct 232013
 

Freethinkers Susan Jacoby FULL

 Tom Flynn, Executive Director of the Counsel for Secular Humanism and editor of their Free Inquiry magazine, is a 30-year veteran in the humanist/atheist struggle. A few years ago in an article titled, Why I don’t Believe in the New Atheism, he relayed some useful insights.

The article corrects the record by establishing Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism as the forgotten opening salvo in the literary debut of the New Atheism.

However, his article’s main thesis is that the only thing “new” about the New Atheism is its source. The anti-religious arguments found in their books have been made by generation after generation of freethinkers. Nevertheless, regarding New Atheism:

“Something new was afoot, but it was only this: for the first time, uncompromising atheists writing was coming out from big-name publishers and hitting best-seller lists. You could buy it at the airport.”

Flynn does not dig into what caused this change in mainstream media strategy nor does he identify the media conglomerates behind New Atheism. Moreover, he neglects to mention that coterminous with New Atheism’s literary debut was the appearance of a spate of pro-atheist stories in network television programs and in the pages of glossy magazines. This coverage focussed on the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism (Harris, Dennett, Dawkins and Hitchens) and was often rationalized with references to the popularity of their respective recent books.

Suffice it to say: circa 2003 Big Media embraced Big Atheism big time. The books forming New Atheism’s Pentateuch are:

Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers (May 2004, Holtzbrinck)

Sam Harris’s The End of Faith (August 2004, W.W. Norton)

Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell (February 2006, Bertelsmann-Pearson)

Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion (September 2006, Houghton Mifflin)

Christopher Hitchens’s God is not Great (May 2007, published by Atlantic but distributed by Lagardere)

Of the above publishing ventures only Harris’s W.W. Norton claims to be a smallish independent firm – putting out a paltry 400 titles a year. (In any event, Harris quickly jumped ship; his subsequent books being published by CBS and Bertelsmann.) The remaining books were projects of huge diversified media concerns whose book publishing divisions carry on business through hundreds of different imprints.

Evidence of Big Media collusion is found in the fact that the first three books were written simultaneously while the latter two must have been at least in the planning stages before the ink of the first three had dried.

While the main target for ridicule in these books is America’s “Religious Right” (i.e. the Republican Party’s voter base), the corporate towers from whence these books emanated are mainly situated in Old Europa.

Nonetheless Jacoby’s Freethinkers remains a must-read and not merely because it was the first of the Pentateuch. Freethinkers provides something none of the other four books even attempt to assay – a history of America’s non-believer movement.

This is a movement without a memory. Wave upon wave of atheistic activism has crashed upon the shore yet few within the contemporary movement are cognizant of this. Time after time, such as in the wake of the 1925 Scopes monkey trial, American secularists have celebrated the slaying of the theocratic dragon only to have the next generation of secularists ride out afresh to confront the same dragon.

Not even the amnesia is new. The leader of the mid-19th century surge of anti-religious activism, William Garrison, was unawares Thomas Paine led a similar crusade sixty years before. Fifty years later an even greater wave of agnostic activism was led by the hugely popular Robert Ingersoll – a man since christened: “the most famous American no one ever heard of.” Collective amnesia does not just happen; it is caused.

Freethinkers also chronicles the interaction between America’s feminist and atheist movements. Women have always played prominent roles within the freethinking milieu and freethinking women have been among the most effective feminist agitators.

As well, only by reading Freethinkers can one properly ponder why Susan Jacoby was not welcomed into the corporate boy band billed as the Four Horsemen…

Back in tha’ day the common dismissive about the New Left was: “it is neither.” As one circumnavigates New Atheism one wonders whether the same quip might again apply.

 

Book Club will be reading Freethinkers in November.   Our book club tab has more information. 

 Posted by at 8:56 AM
Oct 072013
 

A Reasonable Response

We are currently reading William Lane Craig’s latest offering ”A Reasonable Response” for book club.   Here is a little run down on the guy if you aren’t familiar with him:

 Explaining Dr. Bill

 The world’s preeminent Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, has written 30 books. His most recent triumph, A Reasonable Response, reads like a first-year university text  and sports glowing endorsements from several Christian academics and student leaders. Explaining why this should be so goes a long way toward explaining the phenom that is Dr. Bill.

The book’s co-author, Joseph Gorra, is the Manager of Academic Programs and Research at Biola University. William Craig’s main gig these days is as a Research Professor at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. (Craig only deigns to teach a few weeks a year at Biola’s Los Angeles campus, pining “the classroom is not my calling.”)

Biola U (a.k.a. Bible Institute of L.A.) is a fully accredited, private Christian university offering 145 academic programs of “Biblically-centered education” to 6,000 students.

Although prominent in its field, Biola is hardly unique. The USA’s 900 accredited religiously-affiliated, post-secondary educational institutions claim a cumulative enrolment of 1.7 million students. Of these institutions 200 are Bible colleges, 150 are seminaries and 255 are Catholic universities or colleges.

The main lobbyist for the USA’s Protestant post-secondary schools, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, lists 106 member institutions 17 of whom are accredited up to the granting of PhDs. (Accreditation means more than authorization to issue broadly recognized degrees; it also means tax exemptions, government grants and the right to participate in subsidized student loan programs.)

Nor is the USA a unique bastion of “faith intentional” higher education. Globally there are 1,358 Catholic institutes of higher learning orbiting the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy of Science and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. These 1,358 institutes vary from full-campus affairs like Washington DC’s Catholic University of America to small colleges embedded in larger secular universities like St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta.

While still in his late teens Craig enrolled in a Christian college and soon became active in the debating team and later in the continent-wide Campus Crusade for Christ. The thesis earning Craig his PhD in Philosophy sought to prove God’s existence using modern cosmological arguments i.e. the Big Bang theory and the Second Law of Thermodynamics etc.

Dr. Craig then spent several years at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) acquiring a PhD in Theology. Here his thesis concerned the historicity of Jesus. His advisor, Professor Pannenberg, argued the resurrection was historically factual even if the Gospel accounts of it were fictional.

LMU was launched in 1472 after Bavaria’s Duke Ludwig received the appropriate papal concession. LMU repaid this debt by playing a major role in the counter-reformation. Today, LMU is a taxpayer-funded 18-faculty, 48,000-student colossus employing 3,600 academics including 700 full professors. Its founding Theology faculty has been bifurcated into Catholic and Protestant faculties which in turn compliment a separate omnibus Philosophy/Science/Religious Studies faculty. The Protestant Theology faculty boasts of structured collaboration projects with the Cultural Studies faculty and with the Philosophy of Science sub-faculty; the latter project being facilitated by the German Research Foundation (GRF). Incidentally, LMU is an internationally renowned theoretical physics powerhouse employing some 300 researchers (GRF-financed) to agonize over astro-physics, quarks, quantum theory and abstract mathematical physics.

After leaving LMU Dr. Bill spent 1987 to 1994 as a researcher at Belgium’s Catholic University of Louvain. This notorious reactionary forge was co-founded in 1425 by the Duke of Brabant and Pope Martin V. Louvain U is currently home to 28,000 students and a staff of 5,600 including 2,000 with PhDs. The university’s core “Organizing Authority” is a cabal of four Bishops the most senior of whom (and Louvain’s Chancellor) is Cardinal Leonard.

In 2011 Louvain hosted a yearlong exhibit honouring their illustrious alumnus, Georges Lemaitre. Monseigneur Lemaitre was a student and later physics prof at Louvain before ascending to the Presidency of the Pontifical Academy of Science. As the exhibit proudly advertised, it was Lemaitre who concocted the Big Bang theory.

Leaving Louvain Dr. Bill returned to the USA with nary a thought of forsaking the Christian-academic mothership. His 100 published articles are mainly in Christian-academic journals. His much-vaunted debates and speeches are mostly at Christian colleges. Students and professors at these institutes form the target market for A Reasonable Response.

If you are interested in joining book club check out the tab above to get more details.

 Posted by at 11:47 AM