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Rationalists of East Tennessee is an organization created to benefit people by expanding understanding of the universe through the use of empirical and rational methods. Our purposes are as follows:
To foster an environment suitable to free speech and exchange of ideas.
To promote free inquiry into the nature of the universe and of human societies.
To encourage critical thinking on all aspects of human life.
To emphasize the importance of the scientific method.
To explore ethical and intellectual alternatives to supernatural beliefs.
To model humanistic ethics through service to the greater community.
To provide a fellowship for people who share these purposes.
How Do I Join RET?
We welcome you to attend our meetings to find out more about us. Find out what we're doing next by browsing the calendar at left or by sending email to info at rationalists.org.
Once you've decided we're a group you'd like to associate with, either download our brochure and fill out the blank or print the HTML application found here.
Recent News and Events
Skeptik Book Club for December Please join the Rationalists of East Tennessee Book Club meeting this Sunday, December 8. The meeting will be held at 4:00 pm at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike. The book of the month is "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture"
By Naomi Cahn and June Carbone.
Red Families v. Blue Families identifies a new family model geared for the post-industrial economy. Rooted in the urban middle class, the coasts and the "blue states" in the last three presidential elections, the Blue Family Paradigm emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready. By contrast, the Red Family Paradigm--associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America--rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis. In this world, the prospect of teen childbirth is the necessary deterrent to premarital sex, marriage is a sacred undertaking between a man and a woman, and divorce is society's greatest moral challenge. Yet, the changing economy is rapidly eliminating the stable, blue collar jobs that have historically supported young families, and early marriage and childbearing derail the education needed to prosper. The result is that the areas of the country most committed to traditional values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls to reinstill traditional values.
Featuring the groundbreaking research first hailed in The New Yorker, this penetrating book will transform our understanding of contemporary American culture and law. The authors show how the Red-Blue divide goes much deeper than this value system conflict--the Red States have increasingly said "no" to Blue State legal norms, and, as a result, family law has been rent in two. The authors close with a consideration of where these different family systems still overlap, and suggest solutions that permit rebuilding support for both types of families in changing economic circumstances.
Incorporating results from the 2008 election, Red Families v. Blue Families will reshape the debate surrounding the culture wars and the emergence of red and blue America.
Posted by risler Dec. 06, 2013
Skeptic Book Club for November Please join the Rationalists of East Tennessee Book Club meeting this Sunday, November 10. The meeting will be held at 4:00 pm at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike. The book of the month is "The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism" by A.C. Grayling.
What are the arguments for and against religion and religious belief--all of them--right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and for all will show what is at stake in this debate?
Equally important: what is the alternative to religion as a view of the world and a foundation for morality? Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people--those who wish to live with intellectual integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good--that does not interfere with people's right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression?
In "The Case Against Religion", Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in-depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person. (Amazon Review)
Posted by risler Nov. 08, 2013
RET Reflections Meeting for October Please join us this Sunday for the Rationalists of East Tennessee October 27 Reflections Meeting, which will be held at the home of Carol & Stephen Tokay, 8905 Garrison Drive Knoxville, TN 37931. We will begin with our traditional pot-luck lunch starting at 2:00 pm (note the time). Bring a bag, box, or dish and meet with us us for a late lunch followed by discussion beginning around 2:30pm. The discussion will center on All Hollows Eve, the paranormal, and whether some people have mysterious knowledge or powers. Call 865-691-681 for directions.
Posted by risler Oct. 25, 2013
RET Third Sunday Meeting Please join us for the Rationalists of East Tennessee Third Sunday meeting on October 20. We will view and discuss a DVD presentation by Dr. Dr. Christoff Koch from the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series titled “Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist”-
What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Neuroscientist Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest—his instinctual (if “romantic”) belief that life is meaningful. Koch describes his own groundbreaking work with Francis Crick in the 1990s and 2000s and the gradual emergence of consciousness (once considered a “fringy” subject) as a legitimate topic for scientific investigation. Koch gives us stories from the front lines of modern research into the neurobiology of consciousness as well as his own reflections on a variety of topics, including the distinction between attention and awareness, the unconscious, how neurons respond to Homer Simpson, the physics and biology of free will, dogs, sentient machines, and Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Please join us in the Goins Cafeteria Annex, Pellissippi State Community College, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
Posted by risler Oct. 18, 2013
Skeptic Book Club for October Please join the Rationalists of East Tennessee Book Club meeting this Sunday, October 13. The meeting will be held at 4:00 pm at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike. The book of the month is "The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates" by Frans De Waal.
For many years, de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. Now he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals. In doing so, de Waal explores for the first time the implications of his work for our understanding of modern religion. Whatever the role of religious moral imperatives, he sees it as a “Johnny-come-lately” role that emerged only as an addition to our natural instincts for cooperation and empathy. Rich with cultural references and anecdotes of primate behavior, The Bonobo and the Atheist engagingly builds a unique argument grounded in evolutionary biology and moral philosophy. Ever a pioneering thinker, de Waal delivers a heartening and inclusive new perspective on human nature and our struggle to find purpose in our lives.(Amazon Review).
Posted by risler Oct. 11, 2013
RET Meeting - Sept. 15 Please join us for the Rationalists of East Tennessee Third Sunday meeting on September 15. We will have an open roundtable discussion on “Is the American Experiment with Democracy Over?”
Recent recognition of gay rights, including marriage, and legalization of marijuana in many states seem to indicate that America is becoming a more liberal and democratic society. But in other more important areas, recent years have witnessed regressive changes, which can profoundly affect individual freedom and opportunities. The income gap and wealth between the rich and the middle class has grown steadily with globalization, the demise of labor unions, and the transformation from a high-wage manufacturing economy to a low-wage service economy. Voter suppression laws not seen since the days of Jim Crow are now being enacted in most Republican controlled states, especially since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. The move to destroy the public school system is in full swing with states enabling voucher programs that will be a windfall for religious academies. These points and many others will be discussed. Please join us and present your own concerns about the direction of the country. Goins Cafeteria Annex, Pellissippi State Community College, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.