Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It wouldn't be advISSAble to miss this week's meeting!

The weekly email of the Illini Secular Student Alliance!
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Illini Secular
Student Alliance
Greetings, rambunctious rationalists!
We had a blast at the Flying Spaghetti Monster Spaghetti Dinner last Friday, and we hope you did too! Don't fret -- there's more food comin' your way with this month's Food for Freethought! Read on for details...

Weekly Meeting
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, February 2nd at 7:30pm (NOTE THE NEW TIME!) in Noyes 165 -- click here for a map.

On The Agenda
ISSA's beloved advisor (and leader of the local group Champaign-Urbana Freethinkers) Phil Ferguson tackles how to break the cycle of religion. Phil's presentations never disappoint. You won't want to miss it!

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!

Food for Freethought
Don't worry, you can still sleep in! But be sure to join us this Sunday, February 5th for some good times and a whole lot of pizza at Jupiter's! Need a ride? We'll be leaving from the Illini Union at 1:00pm -- just meet us out front! RSVP via the Facebook event page.
~Upcoming~
Darwin Day on the Quad
(Friday, Feb. 10th)

Darwin's birthday comes early this year! We'll be on the quad celebrating the life and times of the closest thing to a god we've got! And there's more... CAKE! Delicious, nerdy cake! You won't want to miss it.
~Upcoming~
ISSA Party
(Saturday, Feb. 18th)
First party of the new semester, and it's gonna be off the chain! That's an expression, right? More info to come. Stay tuned!
Freethought Library
Read our blog!
 Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.
ISSAwear
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.
~Upcoming~
Bleedin' Heathens
Blood Drive
(Saturday, Feb. 25th)

WE WANT YOUR BLOOD! No, really... Every two seconds, someone in the US requires a blood transfusion. And roughly 20% of all blood used in transfusions is taken from college age men and women just like you! Do your part to help save a life! Details to come.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Man Behind the Atheist Temples

It has recently been announced that Alain de Botton has plans to build a series of temples specifically for atheists in the UK. It is, if nothing else, an interesting idea, so I thought it might be worth learning a bit more about Alain to get some background on why he's doing it. It seems like this guy is kind of everywhere- In addition to being a writer (and apparently an architect), he and his colleagues set up something called the "School of Life." Instead of describing it to you I'll just copy a blurb from his own description:
The School has a passionate belief in making learning relevant – and so runs courses in the important questions of everyday life. Whereas most colleges and universities chop up learning into abstract categories (‘agrarian history’ ‘the 18th century English novel’), The School of Life titles its courses according to things we all tend to care about: careers, relationships, politics, travels, families. An evening or weekend on one of its courses is likely to be spent reflecting on such matters as your moral responsibilities to an ex partner or how to resolve a career crisis.
The School offers communal meals, holidays and a beautiful shop with fascinating gift vouchers and other items. It also has a division offering psychotherapy for individuals, couples or families – and it does so in a completely stigma-free way. For the normally reserved British, it must be a first to have an institution that offers therapy from an ordinary high street location and moreover, treats the idea of having therapy as no more or less strange than having a haircut or pedicure, and perhaps a good deal more useful.
The School attempts to put learning and ideas back to where they should always have been – right in the middle of our lives.
So, the idea is that the "School" offers different workshops that could be useful for people, not in a spiritual sense, but a more rational one. Examples of courses include "How to Find a Job You Love," an Urban Wilderness Retreat,  and "Photographing London." Each of these are led by people who have some sort of expertise in the area they are discussing. It seems to touch upon the less obvious aspects of things we should value and go towards the more abstract.

The School of Life also offers "sermons" where experts talk about a wide variety of topics, such as one sermon where Tony Buzan, who claims to be the inventor of Mind Mapping (and at the very least has written a book on the subject), discusses the value of daydreaming, and how to hone your daydreaming skills (or something along those lines).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Religious People Have Sex, Too? Whoa, Man. Whoa.

For the last few centuries, apparently, religious folks have had absolutely no problem making families through totally ordinary, non-kinky, Sunday-school appropriate copulation. I'm talking about every married couple in history, ever. But... Recently they've gotten into some more 'modern' stuff. Since apparently consummating your deity of choice's everlasting love in the back of Dad's pickup followed by a hastily arranged shotgun wedding is becoming passé, over the past few years there's been a sharp rise of websites offering advice and products for the sexually entrepreneurial religious couple, be they Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. And these are not basement-quality shady back alley vendors, folks, these are successful online storefronts in a growing industry. So, why is it suddenly acceptable for pious folks to have a desire for anything beyond the sexual vanilla?
Any attempt at a relevant image would be very, very naughty, so use your imagination. 
One possible reason could be the growing trend of churches that offer and encourage couples counseling services, and even the amount of Christian schools that have a bare minimum of sex education. Hardly due to pressure from the inside, mind you, but because of extensive pressure from parents, who are perhaps not too eager for their children to have the same sexual misadventures and bad experiences as they did. Their sex ed programs are still usually based on the idea of abstinence as the only method of birth control, of course, instead of discussing birth control. As for counseling, there's a whole list of sites that eagerly put religious couples in touch with mediators, and these services, too, are expanding. Just as in their treatment of sex (and of little boys, perhaps), it seems that some of our larger religious institutions may have finally come to the conclusion that ignoring problems doesn't solve them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Magic of Reality--What We Should be Reading Next

As many of you may know, ISSA has created its own freethought library to help educate members with the  wisdom of some of skepticism's brightest minds. The latest book I hope to soon add to our collection is The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins, which was published only a few months ago.

You know a book is good when it has a sexy cover like this one!
While this book is written for older children, adults will find it just as engaging. As a lifelong atheist, I was impressed at the amount I learned from it. Possibly its greatest strength is the clarity with which it explains concepts like evolution: Why there are no “in between” species, as creationists are so fond of pointing to as “checkmate, atheists!” Dawkins asks us to imagine a stack of pictures—one of us, one of our father, one of his father, so on and so forth until we hit our 185 millionth great grandfather - a fish.

The resemblance is striking...I think I have his eyes.
Dawkins then directs us to the first hundred or so pictures…they are all clearly human, but each is a little different. He then explains that this is the idea behind evolution—gradual change, each child being the same species as its parents, but a little bit different, and eventually the 50,000th or so great grandchild would be unable to create viable offspring with the original. That is when we consider it a different species.
Not quite.
When creationist friends of mine brought up the “in-between” argument, I was always awful at explaining why exactly they were wrong. The argument was there in my head, but expressing it in clear, concise terms was always difficult for me, But in Dawkins' book, I have found foundational scientific concepts explained in a straightforward manner, helping me articulate the evidence for unduly controversial science. Not only atheists looking for a great way to express concepts, but religious people wondering what science has to offer, will find this book fascinating.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Have you been touched by hISSA noodly appendage?

The weekly email of the Illini Secular Student Alliance!
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Illini Secular
Student Alliance
Greetings, propitious pastafarians!
This week is all about those among us that follow the gospel of Flying Spaghetti Monster (praise him), so break out that ritual headwear and get ready for an awesome week! Read on for further details...

Weekly Meeting
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, January 26th at 7:30pm (NOTE THE NEW TIME!) in Noyes 165 -- click here for a map.

On The Agenda
Fresh off Activity Day, this meeting will be devoted to getting to know our new members! We'll play super fun games and review ISSA's accomplishments from the last year. You won't want to miss it!

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!

Flying Spaghetti Monster Spaghetti Dinner
Join us this Friday, January 27th at 7:00pm for a eucharist unlike any other. Pasta sure beats communion wafers... Praise FSM! He boiled for your sins, so you better eat up. RSVP via the Facebook event page.
~Upcoming~
Darwin Day on the Quad
(Friday, Feb. 10th)

Darwin's birthday comes early this year! We'll be on the quad celebrating the life and times of the closest thing to a god we've got! And there's more... CAKE! Delicious, nerdy cake! You won't want to miss it.
~Upcoming~
ISSA Party
(Saturday, Feb. 18th)
First party of the new semester, and it's gonna be off the chain! That's an expression, right? More info to come. Stay tuned!
Freethought Library
Read our blog!
 Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.
ISSAwear
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.
~Upcoming~
Bleedin' Heathens
Blood Drive
(Saturday, Feb. 25th)

WE WANT YOUR BLOOD! No, really... Every two seconds, someone in the US requires a blood transfusion. And roughly 20% of all blood used in transfusions is taken from college age men and women just like you! Do your part to help save a life! Details to come.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The spring semester ISSA here, and we've got a new meeting time!

The weekly email of the Illini Secular Student Alliance!
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Illini Secular
Student Alliance

Greetings, affable atheists!
We're baaaaa-aaack. Welcome to the spring semester! ISSA has loads in store for you this term, and it all begins this Thursday with our first weekly meeting of 2012! Read on for further details...

Weekly Meeting
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, January 19th at 7:30pm (NOTE THE NEW TIME!) in Noyes 165 -- click here for a map.

On The Agenda
An awful lot happened while we were away! We'll take some time to remember the late Christopher Hitchens, then it's onto discussion of secular wunderkind Jessica Ahlquist's recent legal victory and its repercussions.

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!
~Upcoming~
Flying Spaghetti Monster
Spaghetti Dinner
(Friday, Jan. 27th)
Pasta sure beats communion wafers... Praise FSM! He boiled for your sins, so you better eat up! Details to come.
ISSA Ladies' Night
(Saturday, Feb. 18th)
Us godless girls gotta stick together! Last semester's Ladies' Night was so much fun, we thought it was high time we had another. Bon bons, bonding and non-theism -- stay tuned!
~Upcoming~
Darwin Day on the Quad
(Friday, Feb. 10th)

Darwin's birthday comes early this year! We'll be on the quad celebrating the life and times of the closest thing to a god we've got! And there's more... CAKE! Delicious, nerdy cake! You won't want to miss it.
Bleedin' Heathens
Blood Drive
(Saturday, Feb. 25th)

WE WANT YOUR BLOOD! No, really... Every two seconds, someone in the US requires a blood transfusion. And roughly 20% of all blood used in transfusions is taken from college age men and women just like you! Do your part to help save a life! Details to come.
Freethought Library
Read our blog!
 Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always welcome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.
ISSAwear
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.

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Illini Secular Student Alliance · 1401 West Green Street · Urbana, IL 61801
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