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Special Member meeting before regular meeting
10:00 AM This is a notification for a special meeting of the members for the purpose of amending the bylaws of the Rationalists Of East Tennessee. Meeting will be as brief as discussion will allow and just prior to the regular program of April 6th.This Special Meeting is called in accordance with Article X of the bylaws.  This meeting is to begin promptly at 10:00 AM April 6th in the cafeteria annex of the Goins building at the PSTCC, our regularSunday morning meeting room. 1. Allowing the treasurer greater flexibility in the timing of billing membership dues 2. Clarifying that requirements for our operation to always be in compliance with documents we have filed with the state of Tennessee and Federal Government. 10:30 AM After the Special Bylaws amending meeting we will continue video lectures on "Biology and Human Behavior: the Neurobiological Origins of Human Behavior." Presented by Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University.
Apr. 06, 2014, 10:00 AM
The Skeptic Book Club
"The Fact of Evolution" by Cameron M. Smith. Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike, 4:00 pm. Evolution is often described as a "theory." While this is certainly technically true, it is misleading to dismiss evolution as "just a theory" (an unfounded idea), as opponents of evolution like to do. In this illuminating work of popular science, anthropologist Cameron M. Smith amply demonstrates that there are few more well-established facts in the scientific canon than that life evolved on earth. Walking the reader through the steps in the evolutionary process, Cameron uses plenty of real-world examples to show that not only does evolution happen, it must happen. Cameron analyzes evolution as the unintended consequence of three independent facts of the natural world that we can observe every day: (1) the fact of the replication of life forms (producing offspring); (2) the fact that offspring are not identical (variation); and (3) the fact that not all offspring survive (selection). Viewed in terms of this analysis, evolution is no longer debatable; in fact it has to occur. It is simply the inevitable consequence of three obvious, observable, factual natural phenomena. The Fact of Evolution also covers new discoveries in evolution, many of which have occurred in the last twenty years of the "genomic revolution" and have strengthened Darwin's basic idea. In addition, the author discusses complex theoretical issues such as speciation, phyletic gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium, the "Evo-Devo" paradigm, and the concept of bauplane, as well as the facts of primate and hominid evolution. Well-organized, clearly written, and accessible, The Fact of Evolution is ideal for students or any interested lay readers. (Amazon Review).
Apr. 13, 2014, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Third Sunday Roundtable
Professor Andrew Kramer of the University of Tennessee Department of Anthropology will present a talk titled “Neanderthals are Us: What paleo-genetics and fossils tell us about how we got here and who we came from.” One of the most fundamental questions of our existence will be addressed in Dr. Andrew Kramer’s presentation discussing the origins of modern humans and the fate of the Neanderthals. Were these ice age humans simply an extinct side-branch that had nothing to do with our own evolution, or did they contribute directly to our origins? Using ancient DNA and fossil data, Dr. Kramer will present the evidence and provide some provocative, perhaps even surprising, conclusions.
Apr. 20, 2014, 9:30am
The Skeptic Book Club
"Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" by Reza Aslan. Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity. (Amazon Review)
May 11, 2014, 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Annual Public Lecture
Theology Professor Dr. Robert Price of the Council for Secular Humanism, Center for Inquiry, will present our annual public lecture. His topic is "Ethics: For Humans, by Humans". - Non-theists are constantly assailed with the claim that, in rejecting God, they are removing any basis for morality. This genuine fear probably accounts for much of the public's revulsion at atheism and humanism. Replying, "Hey! We're moral! Don't worry!" is not a sufficient answer. But there is one. Robert M. Price combines elements from Thomas Aquinas, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Emil Durkheim to outline a basis for consistent humanist ethics, asking also whether the supposed need to derive morality from God is not actually fatal to theism, and if perhaps much current humanist political ethics is not implicitly faith based after all.
May 18, 2014, 2:00 - 4:00 pm

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