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The Amertcan Dream: Its Promises and Problems Presentation by Homer Wilkins The phenomenon of the American Dream was evdently not given a name until 1931, when James Truslow Adams used the term many times in his book entitled The Epic of America. However, it has been a driving force in the development of this country ever since the first settlemeents were established by Euroeans in what became the USA. The talk will focus on some of the positive and negative implications of the Dream, its effect on my own life, and my my concern over some of the adverse consequences of the Dream.
Jan. 04, 2015, 10:30 am
Skeptic Book Club
“How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee” by Bart D. Ehrman - Sunday, January 11, 2:00 pm at Barnes and Noble Booksellers on Kingston Pike. New York Times bestselling author and Bible expert Bart Ehrman reveals how Jesus’s divinity became dogma in the first few centuries of the early church. The claim at the heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. But this is not what the original disciples believed during Jesus’s lifetime—and it is not what Jesus claimed about himself. How Jesus Became God tells the story of an idea that shaped Christianity, and of the evolution of a belief that looked very different in the fourth century than it did in the first. A master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, Ehrman reveals how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty, Creator of all things. But how did he move from being a Jewish prophet to being God? In a book that took eight years to research and write, Ehrman sketches Jesus’s transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus’s followers had visions of him after his death—alive again—did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God. And what they meant by that was not at all what people mean today. Written for secular historians of religion and believers alike, How Jesus Became God will engage anyone interested in the historical developments that led to the affirmation at the heart of Christianity: Jesus was, and is, God. (Amazon Review)
Jan. 11, 2015, 2:00-4:00 pm
Trash Pickup
The next RET Adopt a Highway trash pickup will take place on Saturday, January 17 at 1:00 pm. Meet at the Burger King restaurant on the northeast corner of Lovell Road and Pellissippi parkway.
Jan. 17, 2015, 1:00 pm
Third Sunday Meeting
Professor John Nolt of the University of Tennessee Philosophy Department will present a talk based on his recent book "Environmental Ethics for the Long Term". This presentation on environmental ethics will consider both contemporary issues and the extent of humanity’s responsibility for life in the distant future. Professor Nolt, is a logician and environmental ethicist. He applies contemporary science, logical analysis, and ethical theory to considerations of ethics beyond the human species and into the far future. Informed by contemporary environmental science, he formulates concrete policy recommendations from carefully justified ethical principles and from speculations concerning the deepest problems of environmental ethics.
Jan. 18, 2015, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Religious vs. Rational Morality
Reflections "Religious vs. Rational Morality" 01.25.2015 Most religions provide a set of moral standards for their adherents; morals which they profess to be eternal and immutable. These rules of behavior are considered to be the backbone of every religion and the standards must be upheld to remain in the sheltering arms of each specific sect. A new category from the world of surveys is called “nones” – indicating individuals who have “no” religious beliefs. This category of “nones” is comprised of agnostics, atheists, free-thinkers, non-believers, and others like us, and we are presumed to have no "superior-being-inspired" morals as religious “believers” do. However most “nones” will inform any inquirer that they have developed their own set of morals and that they do discriminate between “right and wrong; good or bad” in their daily lives. In examining sets of morality, one finds that the non-religious ones generally have the important characteristics of relativity, rationality, and flexibility, versus the immutable ones held by the religious. Today we will discuss these two frames of reference for ethical behavior and compare the religious to the “nones”. • As a member of the “nones”, have you rejected certain strongly held moral rules from your original exposure to religion? Or have you modified any to reflect better with your own rationales and sets of circumstances? • Do you think that religious adherents really believe in the absolute, immutable religious rules, such as thou shalt not kill, when most religious believers accept soldiers going to war heavily armed and instructed to kill, and police forces of well-trained troups also prepared to kill if other lives are in danger? • How do these few obvious exceptions to those “always” religious rules [not to mention so many others too numerous to list here] affect your opinion of religious beliefs and morals? Does it seem logical that religious folks are applying or denying their own sense of rationality to embrace antiquated morals and impractical “rules” in a very modern world? ______________________________________________________________ This pot-luck/discussion will be at 9219 George Williams Road (home of Schera & Ted) 37922. Call 865.690.8742 for directions; grab a bag, box, or dish and join us around 1pm on Sunday.
Jan. 25, 2015, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
RET Annual Business Meeting
The Rationalists of East Tennessee annual business meeting will be held on Feb. 1 at 10:30 am in the cafeteria annex of the Goins administration building at Pellissippi State Community College. We will elect officers and a board of directors for the coming year. This is an important meeting for all members. Please attend to give your input about RET programs and functions and how to improve them. The board can best serve all members if they share their ideas with us.
Feb. 01, 2015, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Skeptic Book Club
“An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield - Sunday, February 8, 2:00 pm at Books-A-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville. This is an inspirational memoir of space exploration and hard-won wisdom, from an astronaut who has spent a lifetime making the impossible a reality. Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4,000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield’s success - and survival - is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst - and enjoy every moment of it. In “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement - and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counter intuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff. You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth - especially your own. (Amazon Review)
Feb. 08, 2015, 2:00 pm
Third Sunday Meeting
Professor Erin Darby of the University of Tennessee will speak on the rise of monotheism in early Israelite society.
Feb. 15, 2015, 10:30 am

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