Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter  

November, 2009 – written by Dave Buck


Local events:


By the time you’re reading this, Christopher Hitchens should have already given his talk at UT (Oct 27th). Plus, October 8th, the UT student group “The Veritas” hosted a debate called “Good without God? The Problem of Justice and Human Rights”. The Veritas is a Christian organization that says they welcome and honor skeptics. Those who say they desire more open dialog and criticism of religious beliefs should be pleased they’re getting their wish, and in our hometown to boot.


In the News:


My Alma Mater, West Virginia University, is in Morgantown, West Virginia. This is also the home of the Morgantown Center of Reason, a local affiliation of the United Coalition of Reason. Guess what they just did. They erected a billboard that states, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” In West-by-god-Virginia! See here: http://morgantown.unitedcor.org/


According to friendlyatheist.com, the coordinator of this event stated, “We want the public to see that atheists and agnostics are part of the community, just as the faithful are… We have the same compassionate values and, in most other ways, are just like them. We are hard-working, tax-paying, moral citizens who care deeply about family, community, state, and nation.”


If you’d like to see RET do something like this, speak up and volunteer to get on the billboard committee and especially voice your opinion at our annual membership meeting. We’ve ran into obstacles where some vendors simply won’t put up the sign because it is “controversial”. But, I’m certain there are vendors that will. We just may need to raise more money so we can afford the locations of the vendors who will put up our sign.




Sunday, November 1st - Roundtable

Topic: Universal Basic Income as an Alternative to Welfare State Public Policies
Time/location: 10:30 - 12:30, Pellissippi State, Goins Bldg., Cafeteria Annex

Discussant: Dr. Harry F. Dahms, University of Tennessee's Department of Sociology

Children’s program: Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller (Concept: Why manners matter.)


Sunday, November 8th - Skeptic Book Club

Book:  “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell

Discussion Leader: Aleta Ledendecker
Time and location: 4:00 to 6:00pm, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike.


Amazon chose “Outliers” as the Best of the Month in November, 2008:

Amazon Review: Malcolm Gladwell poses a provocative question in Outliers: the Story of Success, why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."


CALL FOR NEW BOOK SUGGESTIONS! Members: Bring your suggestions for what the club should read in 2010 to this meeting! Or…send them to Joan Omarzu at cjomarzu@charter.net



November 15th - Philosophy Sunday

Topic: A Constitutional Global Governance – A Must for Global Security

Time/location: 10:30 - 12:30, Pellissippi State, Goins Bldg., Cafeteria Annex

Discussant: Moshe Siman-Tov


The relatively recent spread of militant fundamentalist movements, the easy availability and accessibility of highly sophisticated weaponry, the potential for space militarization and robotic wars, and most importantly, the rapid spread of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological & nuclear), have made it impossible for the world to continue tolerating the paralysis and impotence at the UN. The most urgent issue of our time is: How will humanity survive the unstable and enormously dangerous potential of a nuclear disaster. It became not only desirable (as recognized long ago) but absolutely necessary and urgent to create a new system of global governance that is based on constitutional principles with legislative, executive and judicial branches, international law and, most importantly, the necessary means and authority for enforcing the law.


The recent tremendous expansion of Globalization and the human capacity to damage the world’s environment and deplete its scarce resources strongly reinforces the need for such global governance. Achieving reforms of such nature and scale will admittedly not be easy. We can expect many objections and challenges, especially from dictatorial and theocratic countries whose leadership would not like to lose their grip of power on their populations. We will explore the need and merits of the concept, discuss various paths for implementation and assess their chances to succeed.


Children’s program: Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.


SAVE THE DATE: December 19th - Winter Solstice at Colleen and Greg’s!


A celebration of the changing seasons on the longest night of the year to welcome more sunshine! Enjoy music, games, a bonfire, food, and friends!


Colleen and Greg will provide the food, salads, soft drinks, ice, and fun! Bring any alcohol you wish to consume. Bring your friends and family!!


RSVP by going to http://riverten.com/solsticeparty.html where you can also find directions. They need to know how much food to purchase so please RSVP.


(No Roundtable Dec 20th)