Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This ISSA it! The spring semester's almost over!

Good day, frazzled freethinkers!

The final weeks of this term are upon us! We know things are getting stressful, but you shouldn't let the hustle and bustle keep you from these last few ungodly gatherings!

THIS WEEK (READ ME!) ---------------------------------------------------

The final meeting of the semester will be in the usual place at the usual time: Thursday, April 28th at 7pm in Mechanical Engineering Building, room 253. Click here for a map.

On the Agenda
PARTAYYYYYYY! It's the end of the year, and we're gonna celebrate the right way -- with pizza and South Park! Don't miss it.

ISSA at Murphy's

After the meeting, we will adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome anyone and everyone who can make it, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. You don't want to miss those final special moments of secular camaraderie before classes get out!


THOR -- May 7th
A movie about gods, one of whom has giant hammer. Enough said! Join us for this one last night out, or FEEL HIS WRATH... Feels like head trauma. You can expect a Facebook message with more details later in the week.


UPCOMING EVENTS -------------------------------------------------------

Camp Quest -- TBA

This extraordinary secular summer camp is looking for counselors in Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio -- among other places! We want to get a group together to participate wherever we can. It's a great opportunity to help instill a sense of reason and skepticism in some impressionable young minds! More details to come. In the mean time, please email us if you're interested in participating.


Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
The semester may be coming to a close, but secular issues never seem to take the summer off. If you've got something on your mind, BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome -- email illiniSSA@illinois.edu if you've got something in mind!


<3
ISSA

_______________________________________________________

Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!

ISSA Blog: http://www.illinissa.com

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The 10 Most Median Things About Easter

I'm not a big fan of "top 10" lists. Sometimes I want to hear about the average items that end up in lists. So here is my list of the 10 most median things about Easter. They aren't the best or worst things to be said.. in fact they should all fall within one standard deviation of the most average thing that might be said of the holiday.
Also, I want Easter to also be about celebrating Central Limit Theorem.







Bad stuff
10. Human sacrifice is a disgusting, barbaric concept. Doesn't matter if this one case really happened or not.

9. You probably didn't need to gain those 5 pounds.

8. One thing the Earth doesn't need? More fertility. There are 7 billion of us. We can probably stop celebrating our reproductive success now.

7. If you know you can't die, then resurrection is a parlour trick, not a meaningful event.

6. Parents lying to their children sometimes leads to said kids developing more skepticism, but it almost always increases mistrust and resentment, which no family needs any of.

Good Stuff
5. Confirms my Cocoa-Deity Superiority hypothesis. Whenever God and chocolate compete, God always loses. See also: Halloween, Christmas.

4. You get to learn who the fair-weather Christianity fans are through the magic and idiocy of Facebook.

3. Necessarily, if subconsciously, connects Catholicism with the innocent amusement of children. Thus, Easter serves as a subtle psychological reminder of the Vatican's unworldly opinion of child rapists.

2. Eggs are fucking delicious. It's surprising we let any of them turn into chickens.

1. More concerned about celebrating sex than any other holidays (especially you, Arbor Day. Yeah, I went there. Fuck you Arbor Day!)

Happy Easter, kids.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ask an Atheist Day @ Larkin High School

Hey guys, Becca here! This is a first, but we've got a guest blogger this evening! A few weeks back we got an email from an eager young atheist at a local high school asking how he could get involved. Franklin replied with information about the Secular Student Alliance and National Ask An Atheist Day, and these guys were all over it! Unfortunately, their event was not well received by at least one local parent... Without further ado, here's Joaquin from Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois to describe his first "Ask An Atheist" experience!

When these people saw the tri-fold, some of their eyes widened. I could see the look on their faces. They wanted to ask if we ate babies. We read that across their faces and we clearly stated "We don't usually eat children."

I'm no athlete by any means, but I still am one of the most personable characters at my school, so when friends saw this booth up they were shocked.

"Joaquin!? Atheist!? But he's such a nice guy."

Alright, I may be gloating a bit but a lot of reactions leaned that way. At the end of the day, I was happy I could do something where the sociable me came out. I talked to people I've never meet before and I came out as an intellectual bad ass. As did my other friends that helped me. My parents, too. They're wonderful and I'm glad they could support me with or without seeing eye to eye. If I didn't have them with me this would have been a rough day for me.

I want to thank all my friends who came up to support us, atheistic or otherwise, I love you all.

Surprisingly, we had an overwhelmingly positive response by the kids of Larkin, and I was thinking about starting a club even if I could lay the foundation for it. Truth be told, I'm not offended by what the article reads. At first I told my friends that we wouldn't get a big response, I couldn't be more wrong. By 6th period I knew there'd be trouble afterwards.

So, here goes the story on how I found this out myself.

I was cruising through the atheism board on reddit, when I saw "Parent complains about high school students' "Ask an Atheist Day" booth because it opposes her beliefs. A Christian with no tolerance...imagine that!" I was interested and I clicked the link without reading it. I was just scrolling through when I read my Principle's last name. My jaw dropped and I gave out a "whaaaa?" quite loudly. I posted up my response on the same thread.

This was my orignial post I put on reddit:

This was MY high school, I started this. I wanted to do this for some time and finally did it. Let me tell you how it went.

We put the table up during the lunch periods. First let me say we did not want to troll people, we did all we could to let people know who we were and how we felt. We had candy, a bunch of quotes on a trifold, and willful ambition.

4th period lunch went by slowly, a few friends came up that had little to no knowledge of my spiritual beliefs, or lack off. It was a very nice conversation I' had with a few girls that were ignorant(not in any bad way) of our info. A few friends joked at us but that was really it.

5th period, some people came over and congratulated us on our efforts, we appreciated all the kind words they had. We talked to the school nurse and she gave us some insight about her thoughts, we thanked each other and we handed her a lollipop. She was a Christian woman and was very kind to us. Again, mainly friends came over. A lot of people were certain we just wanted to get out of our classes.

6th period. A bit more lively, more people started being skeptical of us, no problem, we talked a lot and people saw things our way. One of my friends during that lunch period said something about announcing what we were doing, I said they knew but they did little or nothing. He went up to the lunch lady. She talked to Tuin(our principle) and said he knew about it. She said there was a booth back there and people ran by after the announcement. People stopped asking questions and started watching me and my three friends debate. Another senior and us debated about the real life of Jesus. The wrestling Coach for our school came by and talked to us. I knew he was a very devout Christian, and I had no problem with him. He was pure bro actually. We talked a lot, he had the most intelligent argument we heard all day. However it still fell short we felt. His ideas went as follows: If we found a building, already made perfectly built wouldn't we think there would be a creator behind it? He then said the same thing about existence and the universe. Truly a good point I thought, but still had a misguided view on reality we felt.

7th period: This is when it flies. We have an Academy at our school, The Visual and Performing Arts Academy. Which holds a lot of Christian kids. One girl came up and we talked a little bit. She had a very misguided view on secular beliefs. She had a very ignorant view of how biology(especially Evolution) worked. One of her friends came by and she joined her side, it was literally trying to explain colors to a blind man. They couldn't believe anything other than the bible they were taught. One incident an African American Female came up and flatly said: "Thats bullshit! If God ain't real, how you breathin'?" I figured that was beyond repair. One of the girls even said to my good friend Clacos that he had no morals. Offensive, is it not?

I could not argue the morality of the Bible because they did not want to hear it. We tried, oh lord did we try. All attempts were shot down by other Bible passages. Take away ALL stereotypes, the most common people to be offended were African American Females. They were the most confrontational when we said we don't believe in any gods of any sort. Females too overall were the most angry about our stand. By the end of this period we were pushed back with our table a good foot.

Throughout the entire day, close Christian friends came by and gave us high fives, hugs, and bro fists. These were people we personally knew and had a much friendly relationship with. It was mainly people who did not know us ask us questions.

Most commonly asked questions:

Q: What do you think happens when you die?

A: I figure it's a lot like when before you were born, nothing. Less than closing your eyes and seeing black. It's scary to imagine I know.

Q: Why don't you believe in God?

A: The question is, why don't I believe in ANY gods? It varies from person to person. Mine evolves from family problems. Which then soon evolved into me thinking for myself. Which therein changed into digging for information. Once you start looking for yourself, you may get startled.

THE PROBLEMS WE FACED:
People took this as an exact threat to Christianity. We had no obligation to talk ONLY to Christians, but the lack of other faiths made it impossible for them to think that way.

Arguing Bible morality is almost impossible. Unless of course you know your Bible quotes that are either: Sexist, homophobic, irrational or violent. Read up on your Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

The majority of people believe that Atheism is a group of people that spend the day discussing immorality. People think that a pantheon of Atheists gather around the ye olde baby altar and after a sacrifice to our dark old gods we discuss our ideas. An outrageous claim no doubt, but one nonetheless. I explained there was no written document that all nontheists refer back to.

I said to a group of people: 'Open your minds, you live in a reality trapped in a box, imagine that you could see outside it. Literally, think OUTSIDE the box. Don't listen to what your parents say. Come up with your own conclusions." They took me saying this as "Rape, pillage, and be sure to loot on Sundays!"

To the point of the following: “They were here to talk about atheism,” said Shavon Stanback of Elgin. “That’s totally unacceptable to me.”

I would much rather talk about this in a video than write it out, I'm getting writer's cramp.

We would LOVE to thank our school for not stepping down for us, I doubt that they feel the same way we do but that was thrown out the window with this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Without God in your life, it's all just stochastISSAty!

Good day, affable atheists!

Between Michael Shermer's talk (standing room only!) and the first National Ask An Atheist Day (ISSA's doing!), last week was pretty epic. We saw the front page of reddit THREE times in one week and experienced record blog traffic -- AWWWWWWW YEAHHHHHHH!

That being said, the spring semester is quickly winding down. Can you believe it's almost over? We certainly can't.

Read on for details of the remaining few weeks...

THIS WEEK (READ ME!)---------------------------------------------------

This week's meeting will be at the usual time in the usual place: Thursday, April 21st at 7pm in Mechanical Engineering Building, room 253. Click here for a map.

On the Agenda
Darwin's Soul: Skepticism & Evolutionary Psychology. ISSA "newcomer" Ed Clint explores the controversy in mind science using his own research project as a skeptical lens!

ISSA at Murphy's

After the meeting, we will adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome anyone and everyone who can make it, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. It's a great chance to get to know us -- your officers -- better!


Interfaith Panel Discussion of Homosexuality in Society -- April 20th

Our own Sam Shore will be representing the secular, sex-positive side (...we shudder to think what the other perspectives will be, really) so you better come out and show your support! The discussion will be this Wednesday, 7-8:30 pm in 319 Gregory Hall.


UPCOMING EVENTS -------------------------------------------------------

Election Day -- April 28th

It's that time again! The last meeting of the semester will be devoted to choosing our officership for the coming academic year! And everyone knows that democracy and pizza go hand in hand, so come prepared for a pizza party! 


Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome and wanted -- email illiniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.



<3
ISSA

_______________________________________________________

Can't get enough of us? ISSA online! 

ISSA Blog: http://www.illinissa.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[INTER]national Ask An Atheist Day 2011 is here at last!

We've distributed over 150 stickers in preparation, and folks are on the quad as we speak! Pictures to come! In the mean time, here's a pre-distribution sticker photo. Woot!


As an aside, we had a request to translate the posters/stickers into Spanish for an atheist abroad. Here they are! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ever wonder why people believe bISSAare things?

Good day, sexy secularists!

Get ready for what may be our most epic week of the semester! Tuesday April 12th we are having Michael Shermer come and speak (he's kind of a big deal), and then the very next day is "National Ask an Atheist Day," with over 500 people from more than 50 campuses participating! Make sure to attend both events if you can. You can see the details for both events at their respective Facebook event pages (Shermer and NAaAD), and if you want to be on the quad for National Ask an Atheist add your name to the spreadsheet hereLastly, this Friday we are planning on having a board game night, with not only ISSAers but also our friends from the Navigators! More details to come.

Because we are doing so much this week, there will be no meeting this Thursday. I repeat: There will be no meeting April 14th. So don't come or you'll feel silly! Although we will still be meeting at Murphy's at around 8:00 for those who want to participate.

Also, don't forget about 
elections for next year! If you're interested in running for a position take a look at our blog post about it and send us an email by this Thursday!

THIS WEEK (READ ME!)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


ISSA at Murphy's

Despite not having a meeting, we will still adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome anyone and everyone who can make it, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. It's a great chance to get to know us -- your officers -- better!


Michael Shermer -- April 12th
Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, is coming this Tuesday! The talk will be held in MSEB 100 at 7pm Tuesday, April 12th. Join the Facebook event!


National Ask An Atheist Day 2011 - April 13th
Following the success of our first whack at Ask An Atheist last month, we decided to turn it into an international event for the nonreligious around the world! Read about National Ask An Atheist Day (Wednesday, April 13thhere, RSVP via the Facebook event page, and sign up to be at our table! For additional amusement try googling it!  There are already more than 500 people attending worldwide, and you should too!

Board Game Night - April 15th
Do you like board games? Well, lucky for you, we are planning on having a board game night this Friday! More details to come, probably via Facebook.


UPCOMING EVENTS (NEW THINGS ADDED!)-------------------------------------------------------

David Fitzgerald -- April 25th
We are quite happy to be bringing in David Fitzgerald, New Testament scholar, to talk about the Bible and the origins of the Jesus myth. It is sure to be a truly fascinating event! We'll have a room to give you very soon.

Election Day -- April 28th

It's that time again! The last meeting of the semester will be devoted to choosing our officership for the coming academic year! And everyone knows that nothing goes as well together as elections and a pizza party, so expect some (relatively) freshly-delivered pizza at the door. If you're interested in running take a look at our blog post about the election and all the positions.


Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome and wanted -- email illiniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.



<3
ISSA

_______________________________________________________

Can't get enough of us? ISSA online! 

ISSA Blog: http://www.illinissa.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Be sure to partISSApate in National Ask an Atheist Day!

Hello again, freethinking friends!

This has been a big week for ISSA! In case you haven't heard, our pet project "National Ask An Atheist Day 2011" has gone viral, with around 400 people attending! I guess what I mean to say is -- *straightens tie* -- we're kind of a big deal...

...No, really. Read on for details of the jam-packed week ahead! And if you're interested in running for a position next year take a look at our blog post about it.


THIS WEEK (READ ME!)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This week's meeting will be at the usual time in the usual place: Thursday, April 7th at 7pm in Mechanical Engineering Building, room 253. Click here for a map.

On the agenda...
Next week promises to be quite a ruckus (the good kind!) and we thought it necessary to prepare you accordingly. First, we'll be handing out snazzy "Ask An Atheist" stickers and discussing the format of National Ask An Atheist Day 2011. Then, we'll be giving you a little Michael Shermer teaser, in the form of his TED talk!


ISSA at Murphy's

After the meeting, we'll adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome anyone and everyone who can make it, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. It's a great chance to get to know us -- your officers -- better!

Interfaith Bake Sale -- April 8th
We'll be teaming up with the Navigators and possibly the Muslim Student Alliance to hawk scrumptious baked goods and raise money for the Japanese tsunami relief effort! All proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Michael Shermer -- April 12th
We could not be more pleased to announce Michael Shermer as one of this semester's speakers! Mr. Shermer is a very active member of the skeptic community, author of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, and even gave a rousing TED talk a few years back (but, if you haven't seen it, don't watch it, since we'll be seeing it in the meeting Thursday)! The talk will be held in MSEB 100 at 7pm Tuesday, April 12th.


National Ask-An-Atheist Day 2011 - April 13th
Following the success of our first whack at Ask An Atheist last month, we decided to turn it into an international event for the nonreligious around the world! Read about National Ask An Atheist Day (Wednesday, April 13thhere, RSVP via the Facebook event page, and sign up to be at our table! There are already almost 400 people attending, and you should too!



UPCOMING EVENTS (NEW THINGS ADDED!)-------------------------------------------------------

David Fitzgerald -- April 25th
We are quite happy to be bringing in David Fitzgerald, New Testament scholar, to talk about the Bible and the origins of the Jesus myth. It is sure to be a truly fascinating event! We'll have a room to give you very soon.

Election Day -- April 28th

It's that time again! The last meeting of the semester will be devoted to choosing our officership for the coming academic year! And everyone knows that nothing goes as well together as elections and a pizza party, so expect some freshly-delivered pizza at the door. If you're interested in running take a look at our blog post about the election and all the positions.

Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome and wanted -- email illiniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.


UNAFFILIATED EVENTS --------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lunch on Interfaith Cooperation -- April 8th
The UIUC Diversity and Social Justice Education office is hosting a lunch talk on interfaith cooperation, and specifically mention non-believers as a part of this. If you're interested, you can find more details on Facebook.


With much love,
ISSA

_______________________________________________________
Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!

Elections!

It's election time! While we gave a talk last week about all the officer positions, we're putting this up for reference and in case people missed the meeting. You must EMAIL illinissa@illinois.edu if you want to run by April 14th. Just telling an officer that you are planning to run is not sufficient.

So, without further ado, here are the executive positions:

President

  • Face of the organization
  • Ultimately, everything is on you
  • Delegate tasks to officers
  • Leader in direction and planning for the group

Vice President

  • Does everything the President does
  • Lead point on educational events
  • Write the weekly emails
  • Regularly runs meetings

Secretary

  • Maintain the internal organization of the group
  • Does most of the documentation
  • Administrative functions
  • Organize publicity for all events

Outreach

  • Interfaith chair for the group
  • Create/run activism and service events
  • - Darwin Day
    - Blasphemy Day
    - Blood drives
    - Service trips
  • Has influence in what kinds of outreach events we do

Treasurer

  • Manage multiple bank accounts
  • Process paperwork for events and speakers
  • Work with SORF to fund and reimburse members for activities
  • Maintain financial records

Those are all the executive positions! Non-executive positions will be handled by appointment at the start of next year. Again, if you're interested in running, make sure to send an email to illinissa@illinois.edu so we officially know you're running. The deadline to email us is April 14th, and you can run for multiple positions if you so desire. If only one person is running for a position, elections will not be held for that position and the position will be appointed later after an interview process.

Good luck! If you have any questions feel free to talk to any of your local ISSA officers. See you all Thursday!