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Skeptics in the Pub: Question of the Existence of God (rescheduled)

FYI: This meetup was cancelled due to the icy roads and dangerous driving conditions on the day of the SitP meetup in January. This is a rescheduled event.

This month, we will turn the floor over to Christian philosopher, Tom Peeler. Tom will discuss the question of the existence of God from a philosophical point of view. Tom says we either live in a “God universe” or a “no God universe” and the implications of either one are significant. Science or theology often take center stage in this discussion, but according to Tom, both of those enterprises rest upon a philosophical foundation, and so he will start there in trying to answer what he feels is an all important question.

Tom has a B.S. in Accounting (and was a CPA for 20+ years) and M.S. in Systems Management. And 30+ hours of graduate work in philosophy, logic, and theology. He is also a retired USMC infantry officer and spent about 25 years in business, mostly doing consulting (Arthur Andersen) or IT work (EDS and Continental Airlines). He retired in 2012 and considers himself to be pretty much a full time student.

WE HAVE A PERMANENT HOME FOR SitP MEETUPS!!!

This monthly Skeptics in the Pub meetup, as always, takes place at the Stag's Head Pub.

Add it to your calendar.

The Skinny on the Digs

The Stag's Head Pub is located in the old Shepherd Plaza. It's a traditional style pub with a decent selection of beverages and reasonably priced food, with laquered hardwood everywhere you look.

But more importantly, the Stag's Head features a private room called The Oak Room that allows us to avoid any undue bar noise, and to have a good setting for conversation and any guest speakers we may have.

Now here's the important part: The manager usually charges a fee to book the Oak Room, but I explained that our group does not have a budget, and so would most likely not be able to pay the room fee. I assured her, however, that our group is good about ordering drinks and lots of food. We don't just use up space for nothing. And I told her that we could put 20 or more people in the room each month, most of whom would do some kind of business with the bar. And she was kind enough to wave the room fee with the understanding that our business would still make it worth her while.

So, we need to strive for two things to keep this venue at no cost to us:

  1. Put butts in the seats, as they say --- We need to have a good showing of members. Tell all your friends, bring a family member, invite a co-worker, anything. But let's get the word out, and get as many people to attend as possible.
  2. Enjoy the fare offered by the Stag's Head Pub --- Have a few beers. Order some appetizers and a sandwhich, whatever strikes your fancy. No reason to empty your wallet, but let's show Stag's Head a little financial love. Keep them happy and they will keep us happy.

Other Important Information

The Skeptics in the Pub meetups will take place on the 4th Tuesday night of each month. Note the standing meetup posted here.

Driving Tips and Directions

The Stag's Head Pub is in the old Shepherd Plaza, easily accessible from US Highway 59. From Highway 59, take the Shepherd/Greenbriar exit, and go north on Shepherd. Turn left on Portsmouth, and after a block, you will see the stag's head mounted on the building to your left. You have arrived.

Upon leaving, you can exit Shepherd Plaza onto Greenbriar and turn left on Greenbriar to link up with 59.

If you are heading south on 59, turn right at the Greenbriar/59 intersection, and enter the freeway immediately.

If you are heading north on 59, TURN RIGHT at the Greenbriar/59 intersection, stay on the access road toward Kirby Drive. Make a U-turn at Kirby, and enter the freeway to head north.

Hope to see you all there!

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  • Doctor D

    I stated, as a disclaimer, I was not a theist/atheist/agnostic and I enjoyed your dream presentation, because I could suspend dealing with reality and have a good laugh. Now, if I believed atheist I might have gotten angry defending my dream belief in atheism and if I believed agnostic, I might have gotten angry defending my dream belief in God needing not to be known as your dream belief of a theist. But, since I do not believe any of those, I enjoyed a good laugh, as I suspended reality, and had no dream belief to defend.
    So you might ask, what is reality or why did I not state more in my first comment? Simply because this is not a good forum, since it cuts me off at 1000 characters.

    March 29, 2014

  • Doctor D

    That, which you expressed believe to be a non universe being, I know as a pattern of firing and non firing neurons in a human brain and refer to it as “not real”, since it exists only in a human brain and as such a pattern, we call it a thought/concept/construct/belief and once that pattern of neurons stops, the thought ceases to be.
    I am fluent in reality and also belief systems of all philosophies on the planet and have decades of “REALITY” experience alleviating the sufferings of multitudes of my fellow man/woman, who do not know the difference between a dream and reality and suffer as they try to live a real life with a dream.

    March 29, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I hope some of you who were at the presentation will talk with me about it Sunday night over dinner before Cosmos begins. I’m new to skepticism, having spent all my adult life in a kind of weird form of Christianity.

    1 · March 29, 2014

  • Thomas P.

    For my benefit, and perhaps for the benefit of anyone following this thread, if you have a comment about a failing of logic or fact in my talk please be specific about it. That way I can either acknowledge it and learn from it or I can better explain myself. In either case, the conversation is advanced. Thanks.

    1 · March 28, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yes, this would also be much more beneficial to me, as well. Great suggestion.

      March 28, 2014

  • Doctor D

    I enjoyed tremendously the comedy presentation as I do all comedies, because I get to suspend reality and partake, as all, in a good laugh. As a disclaimer, I am not a theist nor atheist and definitely not an agnostic. I am a trained observer, for decades, on the “REAL” functioning of the human brain and am Board Certified by the American Board of Neurology.... I thank the presenter for giving his dream presentation on the functioning of the neuron. A cell in our brains that can do, but one of two things, fire or not fire. He was quite correct in stating that it is incapable of both firing and not firing at the same time. However, all the rest of his conclusions of his dream presentation on the functioning of our billions upon billions of neurons in our brains were pure entertaining laughter.

    March 28, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Would you explain what you mean by your last sentence?

      March 28, 2014

  • Thomas P.

    Another "for the record" comment. I had a great time. I would come back and continue this if given the chance. I hope I started to make some new friends. I love everybody. :-) Jason asked me a question that has led me to two new ideas that I am going to bounce off my epistemology prof tomorrow. So I really enjoyed the back and forth. It's stimulating and I think it has helped advance my thinking. Thanks. See you in May, I hope. Won't be here for the April meetup.

    1 · March 27, 2014

  • Rob

    Tom did a very good job in what I perceived the discussion case from the "other" prospective. It hit a few nerves that may have made some feel uncomfortable but I found this an interesting view of what believers in _od may think of me as a non-believer. Tom thank you for presentation.

    5 · March 26, 2014

    • Rob

      Diane, I found when simplified and take at face value we often look for flaws in the reasons presented - what isn't vs what is. A believer in _of may do the same to our own views and come up with gaps and flaws in our position, regardless of whether we admit we simply don't know the answer *yet*. I have friends who are believers tell me what they think why we question His existence and some examples it closely paralleled with a few of Tom's examples. This is my own personal experience and when a group of believers sees the flaws in the (perhaps overly) simplified nonbelievers case I can see why they may think we are not thinking rationally.

      March 27, 2014

    • Rob

      Dwain, I prefaced it with what I had "perceived" because of my own previous experiences when discussing this topic. I tried to rationalize the information Tom presented and seek further understanding based upon these experiences. I'm sorry if you took the statement as Tom explicitly presenting sides between believers vs non. I agree Tom seemed to enjoy the discussion and prospectives we shared together.

      1 · March 27, 2014

  • Joyce Baier S.

    I can't help but wonder how an unbeliever presenting his/her logic would fare at a believer bible study group of 46.

    1 · March 27, 2014

    • Tom P.

      For most groups, probably about the same reception as Peeler received with us. Energetic but polite disagreement aimed at the augment not the person.

      March 27, 2014

  • Eric

    Excellent work HSS for putting this event on and thank you to Col. Peeler for coming into the skeptics den; it was worth the wait! At the end of the day I wholeheartedly disagree with the presupposition bases for arguments for god and some of the premises used to present arguments against. However, I commend the colonel for having the honesty to stand by some of his beliefs and present them to a venue he knew would not have the most favorable crowd. Instead of going to any church and getting the desired responses, the colonel put his arguments up to his critics and deserves a salute for that.

    2 · March 26, 2014

  • Suzanne

    My apologies for getting a little heated. I think the speaker -- and some in the audience -- place too much importance and effort on defining "once and for all" the unknowable. You can't start with the premise of "there is a metaphysical god because that's what everyone I know and love believes and that is what's comfortable for me" and then work backwards to wrangle all the philosophical and scientific notions to fit that. Or NOT fit that. We can say "here is what we think we know now, given what we've discovered so far and given the point to where our consciousness has evolved to understand the evidence before us." Again, the thought leaders in the 16th century were sure they knew what was going on with the plague -- God's punishment on the wicked -- and with that definition they proceeded to do things that only compounded the problem. We need to embrace the questions, and let the answers evolve. Time shows they have, and I believe they will continue to do so.

    1 · March 26, 2014

    • Thomas P.

      Actually, I thought I made a pretty big deal out of starting with the fact of my own existence and reasoning from there. My personal desires about how I want the universe to be or not be are completely irrelevant with respect to how the universe actually is. My point about loved ones and so on was only to point out that there are potentially serious implications for all of us to consider. To reiterate, there are many things that we may never know. There are many things about which we learn more and more. But there are also some things that we can certainly know, like the fact of our own existence, and from certain facts like that I suggest that it is possible to "do the math" and make reasonable inferences about what is unseen. Science does this all the time in the physical realm. No one has ever seen a neutrino, for example, but they leave some trace else we would know nothing of them. I apologize for any confusion regarding this point.

      2 · March 26, 2014

  • Dwain C.

    good discussion, good interaction, good presentation, speaker was well prapared.

    1 · March 26, 2014

  • Thomas P.

    Thanks for coming out and engaging in this important conversation with me. I had a great time and look forward to seeing you again. Thanks.

    3 · March 26, 2014

    • Tom P.

      Thanks for the excellent presentation. It was certainly an energetic evening.

      March 26, 2014

    • Rob

      Thank you for your time and insight.

      March 26, 2014

  • Sam O.

    Yes, thanks again, Tom, for making the presentation! We really appreciate your time. . . . I thought many of the points raised by some of our members were right on the money, although perhaps the setting wasn't ideal for the "back and forth" that such a subject can trigger. Still a very engaging evening.

    2 · March 26, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    too much heckling from the crowd...

    2 · March 26, 2014

  • Lewis K.

    Thought-provoking, but logic is flawed.

    2 · March 26, 2014

  • Tom P.

    Peeler is a personable, engaging and interesting speaker who has obviously given his presentation a great deal of thought. But in leaving his definitions sufficiently undefined, he makes an argument that can be applied to practically anything.

    4 · March 25, 2014

  • Linda Chiugo I.

    Is it still going on just got off work

    March 25, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yup. Wrapping up.

      March 25, 2014

    • Linda Chiugo I.

      Uh oh...I guess it'll be useless at this point to try and make it :/

      March 25, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    unfortunately I can not make it, I have an emergency.

    March 25, 2014

  • Jamie

    Won't be able to make it.

    March 25, 2014

  • Thomas P.

    I got the idea for presenting this talk from Sam’s talk last October on Critical Thinking. I agreed with just about everything he said and thought this group might be interested in a talk that took the concepts of critical thinking/rational thought/logic and applied them to the question of the existence of God. I think this is an important question to try to answer and it should be answered rationally. I’ll review what reason demands of us and discuss a few of the arguments for the existence of God and against the existence of God. As (arguably) the father of modern skepticism Michel de Montaigne said, "All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” I fully expect for some of what I say to be challenged and I look forward to that as I may learn something. I will be happy to try to answer questions as long as there are any.

    2 · March 11, 2014

  • Jonetta C.

    I will attend, and look forward to meeting the group.

    March 11, 2014

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