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By George Kane

Head shot of George, smiling in jacket and tie.

Presentation on Religious Indoctrination On Sunday, July 25, Grant Steves gave perhaps his last public presentation for Minnesota Atheists, before he moves to Wisconsin in September. Speaking to about 40 attendees at the Golden Valley Library, Grant deconstructed the processes of religious conversion and deconversion, based on his personal journey as a Jehovah’s Witness, Roman Catholic, and finally an atheist. He spoke in particular detail of the emotional context of conversion, and how cults are adept at manipulating new adherents with fear and release from crises in their lives.

After Grant’s presentation, several members of the audience recounted their personal conversion and deconversion stories.

PZ Myers visits the Twin Cities
Paul Zachary (PZ) Myers, atheist activist and writer of the fabulously popular science blog Pharyngula, spoke to packed houses (attendance in the high 60s) at two Critical Thinking Club meetings in early August. His presentation to the St. Paul chapter was ironically titled “Science and Atheism: Natural Allies.” His exposition showed that the two were in fact antithetical. He argued that no new facts could ever be discovered that will disprove evolution; rather, in the future there will be “Evolution Plus,” that adds new mechanisms to current theory. Further, no facts can be advanced that could ever prove the existence of a god, since that discovery would merely be another entity in the natural world, amenable to the empirical investigation of science.

The next night in Stillwater he presented an introduction to the mechanisms driving evolution, much as he would to one of his classes at the University of Minnesota at Morris. He discussed how the importance of mutation is overestimated in the popular understanding, as genetic assimilation, accommodation and the Baldwin effect are more important for changing the distribution of genes in a population in response to an alteration in the environment.

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