Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

August 2020 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, while gathering in groups is discouraged, RET will be conducting meetings using the video conferencing program, "Zoom."  You will be sent an invitation to "join the Zoom meeting." When you click on the meeting link in the email, the Zoom application will be downloaded to your computer (if you don't already have it).  You should be taken directly to our meeting from the link.  Instructions for joining the meeting are also available in the Calendar on our website, rationalists.org.

If a meeting is going to be recorded, that will be announced at the beginning of meeting. Attendees who wish to remain anonymous should use an alias name and/or turn off their cameras. If a meeting will be recorded that should also be part of the event announcement. 

One of the great benefits of video conferencing is that people can join our meetings from anywhere in the world.  If you are interested, please take a look.

First Sunday Meeting

August 2 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30

Video conference meeting using Zoom

Bring Your Own Topic

What would you like to talk about?  This is your chance to discuss a subject of your choosing.  Usually, each topic is discussed for 10-15 minutes.  We'll also have plenty of socializing. Bring your own snacks and coffee.

Join this Zoom meeting, Sunday, August 2, starting at 10:30 AM


RET Skeptic Book Club

August 9       Sunday         4:00 – 6:00 pm                    

Video conference meeting using Zoom

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

"Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the digital pursuits that do, and don't, bring value to your life."--Ezra Klein, Vox

Join this Zoom meeting, Sunday, August 9, 4pm

Third Sunday Meeting

August 16 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30

Video conference meeting using Zoom

"Speed Dating Europe and a Few Quirky Things"

This will be a presentation given by Carl and Aleta Ledendecker based on their 2018 trip through Europe. 

Bring your own coffee and snacks. 

Time: Aug 16, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


RET Reflections Meeting

August 23 Sunday 4:30 - 6:00 pm

Details will be announced when available.  Check the Calendar on rationalists.org.

Coming in September

First Sunday in September Meeting

September 6 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30

Video conference meeting using Zoom

"Blue Zones"

Member Alana Merrill will give this presentation on Blue Zones where people routinely live past the age of 100 years. 

Bring you own coffee and snacks. 

Zoom info TBA

Ricky Gervais is an English comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director. He is best known for co-creating, writing, and acting in the British television series "The Office."  He wrote, directed and starred in the movie "The Invention of Lying." He currently appears in the television series "After Life". Wikipedia


Ricky Gervais (Reprinted from Capital District (Albany) Humanist Society Humanist Monthly, January, 2020)

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith”. I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence — evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leech down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe”, this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t. See, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F---ing fly then, you lunatic.”

As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights is when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder doesn’t get a mention till Number 6.)

To anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.” 

Copyright © 2020 {Rationalists of East Tennessee, Inc.}. All rights reserved. Please request use of any material at contact below.
Contact email: info@rationalists.org
Edited by Sharron King: newsletter@rationalists.org.
Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.

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