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Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter
February 2009

Round Table
February 1, 2009, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm, Roundtable, Pellissippi State, Goins Administration Bldg., Cafeteria Annex
(Come early for coffee and fellowship.)
Speaker: Joe Barnhart, retired Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Topic: "Nonoverlapping Magisteria" (Do science and religion address exclusive domains?)
Let each domain go about its business and then study each on its own terms. Is religion primarily the individual's emotional experiences and the religious community's self-reinforcing ritualistic behavior? So viewed, the theological claims may be taken as verbal rituals that make no cognitive claims.
Traditionally, however, religions have in fact made strong cognitive claims that produced a wide range of metaphysical theories-from the origin of the universe to the status of a human fetus. I will show how rational thinking went into the development of theology. In short, metaphysics can be rationally debated.
So, where does science enter the picture? I conjecture that science, too, seeks to create metaphysical theories. So, where does it differ from religion? Karl Popper argues for falsifiability as the line of demarcation. If theology is not falsifiable, can it have what I call "simulated falsifiability" of its own?
Children's Program led by Dave Buck: The Mitten by Jan Brett
In the story, a boy loses his white mitten in the snow and animal after animal squeezes inside to keep warm. Eventually the mitten can't stretch any more, and the animals are expelled and go about their business. The boy finds his stretched out glove but never knows what happened to it.
Skeptic Book Club
February 8, 2009 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Skeptic Book Club; Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike
"The Virtue of Selfishness," by Ayn Rand
Discussion Leader: Thomas Knapp
You might be able to download a copy for free.
Third Sunday Meeting
February 15, 2009, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm, Roundtable, Pellissippi State, Goins Administration Bldg., Cafeteria Annex
Speaker: Bob Colins
Topic: My Favorite False Bible Prophecies
Bob is an ex-Christian who has made a thorough study of the errors and contradictions in the Bible, and is writing a series of books on the subject. One of the most fruitful areas of Bob's study is prophecies that are obviously and demonstrably untrue. These are a lot of fun to share with your Bible believing friends or use in letters to the editor, and prove conclusively that the Bible is just what Freethinkers say it is: a collection of myths assembled by a bunch of guys who tried to look like they were getting supernatural help but actually were pretty clueless.
(Come early for coffee and fellowship.)
Digital Cameras needed
Camp Quest in the Smoky Mountains will be providing photography seminar to the campers and could use any of your older digital cameras. If you have an old one in the drawer that doesn't get used because of your nice new one, consider bringing it to any of our meetings and donating it to Camp Quest. Jonas will be collecting them.

RET Minutes
Annual Business Meeting – January 25, 2009
The meeting was called to order at 10:35 a.m. by President John McCaffrey
RET members and friends present:
John McCaffrey (President)
Dave Buck (Vice Pesident)
Phil (Treasurer) and Sharron King
Margaret Klein (Acting Secretary)
Anne Little (Board Member)
Jonas Holdeman (Board Member)
Carl (Board Member) and Aleta Ledendecker
Dale Haste
Jeff Kincaid
Joan and Chuck Omarzu
George Patterson
Andy Shor
Carl Westman
Michael Lance
Andree Miller
Donna Maxwell
Schera Chadwick
Beth Cooper
John Croxton
Mary Robbins
Jack Harrison
1. John welcomed those present and began by reading RET's purposes (see attached Meeting Agenda, item 2). He then gave a recap of 2008 events, first with regard to the membership (over 100 for the first time) and the make-up of the Board of Directors, second with regard to meetings and activities throughout the year (see attached Agenda, items 3 and 3.2).
2. John thanked those members who fulfilled key roles in 2008, other than those of Board Members and Officers (see attached Agenda, item 3.3). He noted that Board Member Eric Richter is stepping down from his long-time role as audio-visual coordinator and asked for a volunteer or volunteers to take over this responsibility. Jonas Holdeman suggested that it would be helpful for as many people as possible to learn how to operate the system until a dedicated person agrees to fill the role. Carl Ledendecker is turning over the Newsletter function to Dave Buck; Ralph Isler has succeeded Carl Westman as Roundtable Coordinator.
3. John reviewed other accomplishments and events during 2008, including the new host/server for RET's website, the Circle of Donors program to fund special speakers and events, the long-term strategy planning meeting, and the Board's approval of expenditures for a billboard (see attached Agenda, item 3.4, for a full description).
4. John outlined the current situation with regard to the proposed billboard, located on Oak Ridge Highway near Pellissippi Parkway. The billboard company has agreed to rent the space for two months at $400 per month. FreeThoughtAction will provide the vinyl free, with shipping and installation costs totaling $200. Dave Buck is awaiting a response (i.e. approval) from the owner of the property where the billboard is located.
5. Michael Lance expressed concern for members' safety—in light of the TVUUC shooting last summer—if RET draws attention to itself in this way. Joan Omarzu and Andy Shor asked if there was any other choice of wording available (no, not at this time). Dave said it would be hard to get universal agreement as to content. Carl L. said this issue has been discussed for many years; in his view, it's time to make a statement to get some attention in the community. John reiterated that the Board has voted to approve the expenditure. Aleta stated that she trusted the Board's intelligence and efforts in this matter.
6. After further discussion, Andy moved that a non-binding vote be taken re: approval of the Board's action on the billboard. Michael seconded. After more discussion, Beth Cooper moved at 11:20 a.m. to call the question, seconded by Carl L. Beth's motion passed by majority voice vote, and members proceeded to the underlying motion. Result: 14 members voted to approve of the Board's action, and 5 were opposed.
7. John then reported on "missed opportunities"—items planned but not accomplished during the year, such as the Day of Reason picnic, setting up a secular student group at UT, conducting a membership survey, and conducting a fund-raising drive (see attached Agenda, item 3.5). He also noted previous suggestions for community involvement and expansion of RET's activities (see attached Agenda, item 3.6).
8. Minutes of the previous Annual Business Meeting on January 20, 2008, were given out at 11:30 a.m. Dale Haste moved that the minutes be approved, seconded by Anne Little. The motion passed.
9. At 11:35 a.m. Phil King presented the Treasurer's Report, discussed the contents, and answered questions. Phil noted RET does not currently have enough funds to afford its own building; rent at PSTCC is $50 per meeting, which is reasonable, but we need a sufficient number of dues-paying members each year (in addition to the 25-30 lifetime members) to cover rent. Up to this point, 67 of 100 members have paid dues. Keeping track of dues takes constant effort. Andree Miller asked if members making a donation may designate it for a specific purpose, such as WUOT, Speakers Fund, etc. (Yes—for example, Jonas gave $60 for 2 years' membership in the Greenway Coalition.) Jonas asked if the A/V equipment is depreciated (no.) Chuck Omarzu wondered whether it was appropriate to keep half of RET's assets tied up in a CD (the Board feels this is more fiscally responsible—a policy followed for several years now. Enough is kept in the checking account for operating purposes). Dale commented that the Board is obligated to meet once a year to establish a budget. If members wish to change the policy, they need to make it clear to the Board. Phil stated that Minutes of Board meetings are put on the website. Dave encouraged all members to voice concerns to the Board at any time re: budget or other issues.
10. Andree asked if the monies in the building fund could be accounted for separately; she may wish to make a future bequest to RET for the fund. (Yes, but it would require going through past minutes and would take some time. In addition, if a special fund were set up, provision would need to be made for returning such donations if RET ceased to exist.) Joan asked how much RET receives from purchases on Amazon.com. (around $50—less than $100). Dave will make a regular announcement in the Newsletter reminding members to access Amazon through RET's website. Dale moved that the Treasurer's Report be approved, seconded by Aleta. John asked if there were any objections. None being made, the motion passed.
11. At 12:10 p.m., John read Article IV of the Bylaws concerning the composition of the Board of Directors. There are currently 8 people on the Board. The President and Board members decide when Board meetings shall be held. John read the job descriptions of officers and Board members. Dale stated, as a member of the election committee, that Beth Cooper had withdrawn her name from the proposed slate and Schera Chadwick had agreed to be nominated. Ballots were accordingly passed out with the proposed slate. Dave moved that the number of Board members be set at 9, seconded by Sharron King. The motion passed.
12. Dale asked if there were any nominations from the floor (none). Jonas moved to accept the slate by acclamation, seconded by Carl Westman. Dale inquired if there were any objections or discussion (none). The motion passed, and the following were duly elected as Board members for 2009:
President: Carl Ledendecker
Vice President: Dave Buck
Treasurer: Phil King
Secretary: Margaret Klein
Board Member: Jonas Holdeman
Board Member: Aleta Ledendecker
Board Member: Donna Maxwell
Board Member: Jeff Kincaid
Board Member: Schera Chadwick
13. Newly elected President Carl Ledendecker mentioned notable recent events, such as President Obama's inclusion of "nonbelievers" as American citizens in his inauguration address. However, Carl noted, at a Blount County event on inauguration night, there were frequent references to God and no inclusion of nonbelievers. Carl also mentioned the election controversy in North Carolina where U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole tried to win votes by attempting to portray her opponent, Kay Hagan (who ultimately won) as someone who spends time with and accepts money from "atheists." Carl feels that among RET's important missions are showing that we are part of society and getting people to see we are Americans too, sharing the common values of other citizens.
14. At 12:20 p.m., John opened up the meeting for discussion. Chuck, Jonas, Dave, Mary Robbins, Phil, Carl L., and Andree weighed in on the billboard issue, particularly on security issues in light of the TVUUC incident. Jonas requested that if anyone has a digital camera no longer being used, he or she might consider donating it to Camp Quest for use this coming summer. A person with expertise is willing to put on a photography program for the campers.
15. At 12:38 p.m., Dale moved that the meeting be adjourned, seconded by Sharron. The motion passed.

Respectfully Submitted,
Margaret G. Klein, Secretary

Posted by dbuck
Jan. 29, 2009