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Rationalists of East Tennessee is an organization created to benefit people by expanding understanding of the universe through the use of empirical and rational methods. Our purposes are as follows:
To foster an environment suitable to free speech and exchange of ideas.
To promote free inquiry into the nature of the universe and of human societies.
To encourage critical thinking on all aspects of human life.
To emphasize the importance of the scientific method.
To explore ethical and intellectual alternatives to supernatural beliefs.
To model humanistic ethics through service to the greater community.
To provide a fellowship for people who share these purposes.
How Do I Join RET?
We welcome you to attend our meetings to find out more about us. Find out what we're doing next by browsing the calendar at left or by sending email to info at rationalists.org.
Once you've decided we're a group you'd like to associate with, either download our brochure and fill out the blank or print the HTML application found here.
Recent News and Events
RET Third Sunday Meeting - June 16 Please join us for our third Sunday meeting on June 16. RET member Ralph Isler will present a talk titled "Third Rock from the Sun - A Biography". The origin and history of the earth has fascinated people from the earliest civilizations to the present day. Almost all ancient societies have creation mythologies, usually involving supernatural, or at least superhuman, gods. But over the last 150 years or so, modern science has allowed us to produce a detailed, naturalistic, evolutionary history of the earth from its origin 4.57 billion years ago to the present. This undertaking represents the quintessential model for how historical sciences work to illuminate the past. Emphasis will be not only on what we know about the earth’s history but on how science has determined its age, the time of formation of the first oceans, continental drift, the origins of life, and much more.
Goins Building Cafeteria Annex, Pellissippi State Community College, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
Posted by risler June 15, 2013
Skeptic Book Club for June Don't forget to attend the Rationalists of East Tennessee Book Club meeting this Sunday, June 9. The book of the month is “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond. The meeting will be held at 4:00 pm at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike.
In Jared Diamond’s follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning “Guns, Germs and Steel”, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization
Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. “Collapse” moves from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society’s apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana. Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, “Collapse” is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide? (Amazon review)
Posted by risler June 08, 2013
Rationalists of East Tennessee - First Sunday Meet Please join us for the RET first Sunday meeting, June 2 in the Goins building cafeteria annex, Pellissippi State Comunity College, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.. The topic will be “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking
has Undermined America” – a DVD presentation by Barbara Ehrenreich from the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series.
In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal 19th-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes — like mortgage defaults — contributed directly to the current economic crisis. With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America’s penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. On a national level, it’s brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster.
Posted by risler May 31, 2013
RET Reflections Meeting for May Please join us tomorrow at 1:00 pm for the May 26 Reflections Meeting and potluck lunch. The meeting will be held at the home of Schera and Ted Lollis, 9219 George Williams Road, Knoxville 37922. Call 865-690-8742 for directions. The topic is "Are We Compassionate about Individual Rights of Minorities?" Our nation and many religions profess to respect the rights of individuals and minorities. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, “works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights.” Yet public opinion often condemns minorities, and it often requires acts of individual courage to defend the rights of the underdog. This topic is wide open and skirts the boundary (if there is one) between civil rights and personal morality. You may choose to address broad principles or specific examples.
Posted by risler May 25, 2013
RET third Sunday meeting - May 19 Please join us for our third Sunday meeting on May 19. Professor Derek H. Alderman, Head of the Dept. of Geography, University of Tennessee, will present a talk titled “Untangling the Place of Kudzu with Southern Culture and History” Professor Alderman's presentation will examine the invasive kudzu vine from a cultural and historical perspective, emphasizing the changing ways in which people, especially southerners, have identified with and used the plant since its introduction to the US in the later 1800s. Emphasis will be placed on how contemporary southerners have incorporated this exotic organism into their cultural landscape expressions, including the ways in which they talk about the world, public symbols, and even naming patterns. This lecture will provide a fascinating introspection into a very distinctive aspect of southern culture that we seldom consider.
Goins Cafeteria Annex, Pellissippi State Community College, 10:30am-12:30pm.
Driving directions can be found at www.rationalists.org.
Posted by risler May 17, 2013
Special Public Meeting and Book Club Discussion fo Please join us this Saturday May 11 when the Rationalists of East Tennessee will hold their annual public lecture, presented this year by Dr. Massimo Pigliucci , professor of philosophy at City College, New York. Dr Pigliucci was one of the founding members of RET. His talk is titled “Science, Philosophy, and the Meaning of Life”. Dr. Pigliucci argues that a combination of science and philosophy offers the best possible tool for understanding the world and ourselves. Science provides facts; philosophy leads us to reflect on the values with which to assess them. Over the centuries, the two have become uncoupled, and only by rejoining them can we reach our full potential. The lecture is free to the public and will be held at 2:00 pm in the Goins building auditorium. Refreshments and socializing will follow.
On Sunday afternoon May 12, Dr. Pigliucci will also lead the RET monthly book club meeting. His most recent publication, “Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life”, will be the subject of discussion. The meeting will be held at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029 Kingston Pike at 4:00 pm. All are welcome .