By Eric Jayne
It’s been another great year for the Minnesota Atheists! Since January 2013 we’ve added over 400 members on our Meetup site and held over 200 events in the Twin Cities area. Our paid membership has increased by more than 10 percent, which brings us up to almost 250 paid members—each of whom plays an integral role in helping us finance our endeavors and administrative costs. With all of the exciting stuff we have planned for 2014, I don’t see any reason why we can’t expect to get our Meetup membership to over 2000 by the end of the year, and more importantly, our paid membership to over 300. Before we look at the exciting stuff 2014 has in store, let’s briefly review 2013.
Read more: President's Column: 2014 Will Be An Unbelievable Year With Your Help
By Lewis Campbell
Book Review: The Messiah Game: A Comedy of Terrors, Part I by Tom Flynn. See Sharp Press.
In a far distant future, humans have colonized 42,000 planets in the Milky Way galaxy through a process that is no longer remembered. Only 2,000 of these planets have technologically advanced civilizations. On the other 40,000, people live in essentially neolithic conditions. These planets are designated as Enclave planets and are protected by law from the introduction of outside technology. They constitute a sort of wilderness area for the galaxy.
Read more: James Bond Meets Darth Vader
By Charity Campbell
The Minnesota Atheists November meeting featured small-group discussions on topics such as dealing with religious relatives, death and dying, and morality.
Read more: Small Group Discussion Format Generates Ideas in November
At our January meeting, Minnesota Atheists will be revisiting the issue of Minnesota’s law on marriage celebrants, which August Berkshire discussed briefly at our September meeting and at length in the October issue of The Minnesota Atheist. Since then, we have met with Minnesota state senator John Marty and have requested further feedback from our community on this issue.
At the January meeting, August will report on our talk with Senator Marty, and Stephanie Zvan will present preliminary results from our feedback survey and discuss the various options for action presented under the survey. If you haven’t shared your opinions with us yet, please take a few minutes to complete our survey.
Read more: Marriage Celebrants Law to be Topic at January Meeting
By August Berkshire
On October 20, 2013, I debated Rev. Scott McMurray on the topic of “Can We Be Good without God?” at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. The debate was sponsored by the La Crosse Secular Student Society and the La Crosse Area Freethought Society.
Following is my fifteen-minute opening statement. As I always do in debates like this, I open with a “prebuttal.” I argue what is wrong with the religious point of view before I say what’s better about the atheist point of view. I do this for three reasons:
First, in rebuttals a person is only supposed to address what the other person raised in their opening statement. There are often anti-religion points I want to make but I can’t count on my opponent raising these issues in their opening statements, so I do so myself in my opening statement. Second, the default in this country is religious belief, so if I can discredit religion right away it should make people more open to the atheist viewpoint, if only out of curiosity. Third, I like to put my opponent on the defensive right away. On to my opening statement:
We are all concerned with morality. Without it, we might not even be here. And I understand the fears of some religious people that, without a god to create or enforce morality, we would degenerate into a lawless species, torturing and murdering each other with nothing to hold us back. But we don’t get our morality from the gods, we create it ourselves, and then ascribe it to the gods as sort of an invisible policeman. But the thing is, you don’t need the gods to justify good behavior, you only need the gods to justify bad behavior.
Read more: Opening Statement from "Can we be Good without God" Debate