Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter   May  2009
Potluck dinner for Ed Buckner
May 2nd, 7:00 p.m., in honor of Ed and Diane Buckner.  Ed, President of American Atheists and good friend of RET, is the speaker for our annual Public Meeting on Sunday.  Please bring a dish.  Sharron and Phil (spking@comcast.net, philip.king@comcast.net) are coordinating the food.
Directions to Phil's and Sharron's home:
- On Interstate 40 about 8 miles west of Knoxville, Cedar Bluff exit (Exit 378)
- North on Cedar Bluff Road, to Gulf Park Drive (about a mile, big Catholic Church is on your right, Lutheran Church on your left)
- Left onto Gulf Park Drive, to Venice Road (about three-quarters of a mile)
- Right onto Venice Road. Proceed to stop sign at Sanders Road.
- Continue on Venice Road about 1/4 mile. House on left hand side.

1109 Venice Road, (865) 690-7687    (basketball goal down the hill at back of driveway).
Invited Speaker: Ed Buckner, President, American Atheists
May 3rd, 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Pellissippi State, Goins Administration Bldg., auditorium.
 Topic: This Is a Free Country, Not a Christian Nation: In Freedom We Trust.

This meeting is the Rationalists of East Tennessee's Annual Guest Lecture, and the public is encouraged to attend. Listen for radio ads on NPR!
National Day of Reason picnic/cookout
May 7, 2009 5:30-8:30pm

Location: Carl Cowan Park - Shelter # 10 across from splash pad.
Carl Cowan Park is on Northshore Drive about 1 mile west of 140 (Pellissippi Parkway).

RET will provide burgers/veggie burgers and hotdogs plus sides and drinks. We’ll grill out and celebrate rational thought and the resulting positive consequences.

Please RSVP buck.dave at gmail.com (buck.dave@gmail.com) or call me at 414-6669 so I know how much food to buy.
No Skeptic Book Club in May due to Mother’s Day.
Book club will be back at the normal time and place June 14 with the book, “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body" by Neil Shubin.”
Philosophy Sunday

May 17, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm, Pellissippi State, Goins Administration Bldg., Cafeteria Annex
Discussant: Mark Hulsether, PhD.
Topic: Why New Atheist Definitions of Religion Fail.
Mark wishes to use this topic as more of a springboard for discussion than a formal lecture. Based on a paper he wrote, this topic started from his conversations with his teenage kid about Sam Harris; His thesis argues that Harris' definitions of religion are too narrow-- "admittedly they stick against some kinds of religion and admittedly this is important, but we also need to think about a whole range of expressions of religion for which it does NOT work and contexts in which it is not particularly constructive, even judged by Harris' own stated goals."
(Come early for coffee and fellowship.)

Remember that the calendar of events can be found on the RET website, rationalists.org <http://rationalists.org> . Users can click on a date to make a pop-up window appear with event information.

News of interest:
Newsweek interviewed Kevin Roose, author of “The Unlikely Disciple”, where he discussed his semester undercover at Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University [A Semester With Jesus, April 18th, 2009]. I was comforted to know that the students at Liberty were similar to students at any campus. They may be more interested in God (as indicated by their MySpace pages) than students at other universities, but other than that, they’re into homework and gossip and can be in doubt about what their professors are teaching. I suppose the draw of Liberty for many students is that it’s a safe haven. They don’t have to worry about being looked down upon by secular elite. This is a reminder to work at creating an inviting atmosphere for non-secular youth, if we want to help promote healthy skepticism in the next generation. 
Another bit of news, if you’re piloting a plane and it begins having severe problems like running out of fuel, you should immediately initiate emergency procedures. Do not simply pray instead. Captain Chafik Gharby of Tuniter Airline apparently prayed while he should have been turning towards a closer airport at gliding the plane to safety off the coast of Sicily four years ago. Sixteen people died.