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Re: [atheists-518] Discussion nights

From: Katherine
Sent on: Monday, February 18, 2008 7:24 PM
Thanks Ulrich for organizing this, I think it's going to be a big hit. Rebecca's coffehouse is also an option for discussions, as it's not as noisy as the Urban Grind. I didn't realize you could reserve the Bamboo lounge.


On Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 6:18 PM, Ulrich <[address removed]> wrote:
Hi everybody,
After not having book discussions for so long we were thinking it would be nice to start them again.
This time we would like to do it a bit differently than before. Instead of just discussing one book -- which sometimes is a bit hard to do anyway, since some books don't lend themselves to be discussed or people don't have time to read the books -- we will debate questions/topics. If possible we will suggest some books or articles that people can read as a preparation. But weather people read one book or two or none doesn't matter, everybody who is interested in the topic and would like to debate it is very welcome.

The first 'discussion' will not be a discussion at all but an opportunity to drink tea or coffee together and exchange stories. And the story we would love to hear is: What made you decide to become an atheist?

The second discussion will be about the question "What are the roots of moral behavior?"
Sub-questions to be debated are:
(1) Was/is religion important for the development of morality? (Even if we most likely all agree that we don't need religion TODAY to act ethically, is it conceivable that religion was needed for the 'genesis' of ethics at one point in the distant past?)
(2) Or can moral behavior be explained entirely via biology, sociology or psychology?

Biological view:
-Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong by Marc Hauser
-Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved by Frans de Waal.
(Both de Waal's and Hauser's books seem to be easy reads)
-Evolutionary Origins of Morality: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives by Leonard D Katz (This book consists of many articles by different authors who 'dissect' the topic from different angles. More scientific but since the single articles are not all that long maybe an option anyway.)
Other views:
-50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It Is and Why We Need It by Charles E. Rice
-Prospects for a Common Morality by Gene H. Outka and John P. Reeder
-God and Morality: A Philosophical History by John E. Hare
-Ethics Without God by Kai Nielsen

The third discussion will be about the question: Is science on its way to become a surrogate religion?
Sub-questions to be debated will be:
(1) Do more and more people believe in scientific theories the same way they believe in religious dogmas?
(2) Is acceptance of a scientific worldview without critical thinking on the rise? And if yes, is that a problem?

-Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and its Meaning by Mary Midgley
-Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears also by Midgley
(Midgley is a non-religious philosopher and critic of Dawkins et al.)
- A Free-for-All on Science and Religion. New York times article
-'Science' Series: Essays on Science and Society: Science and Religion: Lessons from History By John Brooke

We might have the discussions at 'Urban Grind' in North Park. Our other options are to either reserve a space at the 'Bamboo Lounge' in Hillcrest or we do it at somebody's home. Since its still some weeks away, we can decide that later.

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