Upcoming events

    • 04/28/2019
    • 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM
    • Bob Morris' House

    Topic: Civil conversations

    There is much talk these days about having civil conversations, but little real progress.  What is a civil conversation?  We often invoke parliamentary rules like Robert’s rule of order, but these rules often favor those who understand them, can manipulate them to their advantage, and have training in rhetorical skills.  Others who are less verbal and skilled in rhetoric feel shutout, ignored, and marginalized.   What is a good model for a civil conversation that includes a bit of emotion, some verbal stumbling, and minimizes political manipulation?  Does great literature or theater offer a better model?  Should we allow a story format in addition to the linear facts statements?  How should we handle anger and frustration release?  Waving our finger and demanding self control often escalates rather than deescalates the situation.  Can you think of a model that keeps a semblance of order, yet allows people to vent out their frustration in a controlled and beneficial manner?

    Please bring the usual pot luck, and Bob will provide some drinks and paper dinnerware. If you have strong legs, please park at the bottom of the driveway so others have less of a climb.


    • 05/05/2019
    • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley Road

    This will be a "bring your own topic" discussion. Topics will be chosen at random from those submitted with 15 - 20 minutes spent on each.

    We meet in the Cafeteria Annex at the back of the Goins Administration Building.


    • 05/12/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

     Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

     by Kate Devlin

    The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics. Artificial intelligence raises very real concerns. Sexual activity is central to our very existence; it shapes how we think, how we act and how we live. With advances in technology come machines that may one day think independently. What will happen to us when we form close relationships with these intelligent systems?

    Chapter by chapter, this book will build on the science and the philosophy surrounding our most intimate relationship with technology. The scene is set with the history of the artificial sexual companion, then goes on to explore the "modern" robot and the twentieth century sci-fi that promised us our own robot slaves. An explanation of artificial intelligence and the urge to create sentient machines delves into our own psychology: how does desire affect our own behavior, and can we become attached to an inanimate object? Can robots make society a better place? And what can go wrong?

    Sex robots are here, and here to stay--and more are coming. This book explores how the emerging and future development of sexual companion robots might affect us, and our society. It explores the social changes arising from emerging technologies, and our relationships with the machines that may someday care for us and about us.

    • 05/19/2019
    • 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Auditorium

    The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American giving by Andrew Seidel

    Christian nationalism made Donald Trump president. This political theology claims that America is a Christian nation, that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, that the Ten Commandments form the basis of our laws. Constitutional attorney and Wisconsin author Andrew L. Seidel discusses his new nonfiction book The Founding Myth, which illustrates that, not only are we not a Christian nation, but Judeo-Christian principles are fundamentally opposed to the values on which America was founded. Religion, law, and history collide in this provocative conversation.

    Andrew Seidel is a constitutional attorney, the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and an author based in Madison, Wisc. His first book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-Americanhit shelves in May. Publisher's Weekly said that Andrew “provides a fervent takedown of Christian Nationalism in his furious debut. ... his well-conceived arguments will spark conversations for those willing to listen.” Renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has described it as “a beautifully written book” that “explodes a frequently expressed myth: that the United States was created as a Christian nation.” When not fighting for the First Amendment, Andrew writes for ThinkProgress, Religion Dispatches,Religion News Service, Rewire News and elsewhere.

    Copies of The Founding Myth will be available for purchase after the talk and Andrew will gladly autograph them.

    • 06/09/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
    Workers' Tales (Oddly Modern Fairy Tales)
    by Michael Rosen

    A collection of political tales―first published in British workers’ magazines―selected and introduced by acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen

    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the ClarionLabour Leader, and Social Democrat. Based on familiar genres―the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale―and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages―and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than forty of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.

    Throughout, the tales in this collection exemplify themes and ideas related to work and the class system, sometimes in wish-fulfilling ways. In “Tom Hickathrift,” a little, poor person gets the better of a gigantic, wealthy one. In “The Man Without a Heart,” a man learns about the value of basic labor after testing out more privileged lives. And in “The Political Economist and the Flowers,” two contrasting gardeners highlight the cold heart of Darwinian competition. Rosen’s informative introduction describes how such tales advocated for contemporary progressive causes and countered the dominant celebration of Britain’s imperial values. The book includes archival illustrations, biographical notes about the writers, and details about the periodicals where the tales first appeared.

    Provocative and enlightening, Workers’ Tales presents voices of resistance that are more relevant than ever before.

    • 07/14/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
    The Order of Time
    Why do we remember the past and not the future? What does it mean for time to "flow"? Do we exist in time or does time exist in us? In lyric, accessible prose, Carlo Rovelli invites us to consider questions about the nature of time that continue to puzzle physicists and philosophers alike. 

    For most readers this is unfamiliar terrain. We all experience time, but the more scientists learn about it, the more mysterious it remains. We think of it as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down these assumptions one by one, revealing a strange universe where at the most fundamental level time disappears. He explains how the theory of quantum gravity attempts to understand and give meaning to the resulting extreme landscape of this timeless world. Weaving together ideas from philosophy, science and literature, he suggests that our perception of the flow of time depends on our perspective, better understood starting from the structure of our brain and emotions than from the physical universe. 

    Already a bestseller in Italy, and written with the poetic vitality that made Seven Brief Lessons on Physicsso appealing, The Order of Time offers a profoundly intelligent, culturally rich, novel appreciation of the mysteries of time.
    • 08/11/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

    On Tyranny

    by Timothy Snyder

    The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.
    • 08/18/2019
    • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Pellissippi State Community College, Hardin Valley Campus

    Plastics

    More Information TBA

    Jennifer M DeBruyn, PhD
    Associate Professor, Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science
    The University of Tennessee

    • 09/08/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

    Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are

    by Robert Plomin

    A top behavioral geneticist makes the case that DNA inherited from our parents at the moment of conception can predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses.

    In Blueprint, behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin describes how the DNA revolution has made DNA personal by giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth. A century of genetic research shows that DNA differences inherited from our parents are the consistent life-long sources of our psychological individuality―the blueprint that makes us who we are. This, says Plomin, is a game changer.

    Plomin has been working on these issues for almost fifty years, conducting longitudinal studies of twins and adoptees. He reports that genetics explains more of the psychological differences among people than all other factors combined. Genetics accounts for fifty percent of psychological differences―not just mental health and school achievement but all psychological traits, from personality to intellectual abilities. Nature, not nurture is what makes us who we are.

    Plomin explores the implications of this, drawing some provocative conclusions―among them that parenting styles don't really affect children's outcomes once genetics is taken into effect. Neither tiger mothers nor attachment parenting affects children's ability to get into Harvard. After describing why DNA matters, Plomin explains what DNA does, offering readers a unique insider's view of the exciting synergies that came from combining genetics and psychology.


    • 10/13/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

    The Fifth Risk

    by Michael Lewis

    What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?

    "The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.

    Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.

    Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.

    If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system―those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.


    • 11/10/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

    21 Lessons for the 21st Century

    by Yuval Noah Harari

    How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children? 

    Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

    In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

    Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.
    • 12/08/2019
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
    Four Fish

    by Paul Greenberg

    Acclaimed author of American Catch and The Omega Princple and life-long fisherman, Paul Greenberg takes us on a journey, examining the four fish that dominate our menus: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna.

    Investigating the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, Greenberg reveals our damaged relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants. Just three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today, rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex marketplace.

    Four Fish offers a way for us to move toward a future in which healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.
    • 01/12/2020
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
    Our Final Invention

    by James Barrat

    In as little as a decade, artificial intelligence could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies around the world are pouring billions into achieving AI's Holy Grail―human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.

    Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, James Barrat's Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?


    • 02/09/2020
    • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    • Books-a-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
     Educated: a Memoir

    by Tara Westover

    An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

    Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home. 


Past events

04/21/2019 Third Sunday Roundtable
04/14/2019 Skeptic Book Club
04/13/2019 Adopt-a-Highway
04/07/2019 First Sunday Meeting
03/24/2019 Reflections
03/17/2019 Third Sunday Meeting
03/10/2019 Skeptic Book Club
03/03/2019 First Sunday Meeting
02/17/2019 Third Sunday Meeting
02/10/2019 Skeptic Book Club
02/03/2019 First Sunday Meeting
01/20/2019 Third Sunday Meeting
01/13/2019 Skeptic Book Club
01/12/2019 Adopt-a-Highway
01/06/2019 First Sunday Meeting
01/06/2019 Board of Directors meeting
12/16/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
12/09/2018 Skeptic Book Club
12/02/2018 First Sunday Roundtable
11/25/2018 Reflections
11/18/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
11/11/2018 Skeptic Book Club
11/11/2018 Board of Directors meeting
11/04/2018 First Sunday Meeting
10/28/2018 Reflections
10/21/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
10/14/2018 Skeptic Book Club
10/13/2018 Adopt-a-Highway
10/07/2018 First Sunday Meeting
09/16/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
09/02/2018 RET First Sunday Meeting
08/19/2018 Trip to Gray Fossil Site and Museum, 1212 Suncrest Drive, Gray, Tennessee 37615
08/12/2018 Skeptic Book Club
08/05/2018 First Sunday Meeting
07/15/2018 Online Security and Privacy
07/08/2018 Skeptic Book Club
07/07/2018 Adopt-a-Highway
07/01/2018 NO RET First Sunday July 1
06/17/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
06/16/2018 Annual Summer Solstice Celebration
06/10/2018 Skeptic Book Club
06/03/2018 RET First Sunday
05/20/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
05/13/2018 Skeptic Book Club
05/06/2018 First Sunday Roundatable
05/03/2018 Annual Day of Reason Cook Out
04/29/2018 Annual Public Speaker
04/22/2018 Reflections—Discussion and Pot Luck
04/15/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
04/08/2018 Skeptic Book Club
04/07/2018 Adopt A Highway on Pellissippi
04/01/2018 First Sunday Roundtable
03/25/2018 Reflections - Are our smart phones psychologically ruining us?
03/18/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
03/11/2018 Skeptic Book Club
03/04/2018 First Sunday Meeting
02/25/2018 RET Reflections
02/18/2018 Third Sunday Meetinfg
02/11/2018 Skeptic Book Club
02/04/2018 Annual Membership Meeting
01/28/2018 RET Reflections
01/21/2018 Third Sunday Meeting
01/14/2018 Skeptic Book Club
01/13/2018 Trash Pickup on Pellissippi
01/07/2018 First Sunday Meeting
12/17/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
12/10/2017 Skeptic Book Club
12/03/2017 First Sunday Meeting
11/19/2017 RET Third Sunday Meeting
11/12/2017 Skeptic Book Club
11/05/2017 First Sunday Meeting
10/15/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
10/08/2017 Skeptic Book Club
10/07/2017 Trash pick-up on Pellissippi
10/01/2017 First Sunday Meeting
09/17/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
09/10/2017 Skeptic Book Club
09/03/2017 First Sunday Meeting
08/20/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
08/13/2017 Skeptic Book Club
08/06/2017 First Sunday Meeting
07/16/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
07/09/2017 Skeptic Book Club
07/08/2017 Trash pick-up on Pellissippi
06/18/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
06/11/2017 Skeptic Book Club
06/04/2017 First Sunday Meeting
05/21/2017 Third Sunday Meeting in May
05/14/2017 Skeptic Book Club
05/07/2017 First Sunday Presentation
05/04/2017 Day of Reason Cookout
04/30/2017 Annual Public Lecture - Hemant Mehta
04/23/2017 Reflections
04/16/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
04/09/2017 Skeptic Book Club
04/02/2017 First Sunday Presentation
04/01/2017 Trash pick-up on Pellissippi
03/26/2017 Reflections
03/19/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
03/12/2017 The Skeptic Book Club
03/05/2017 First Sunday "Genes, Environment and Fate: The Origins of Human DIfferences"
02/26/2017 Reflections
02/19/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
02/12/2017 Skeptic Book Club
02/05/2017 Annual Business Meeting
01/22/2017 Reflections
01/15/2017 Third Sunday Meeting
01/14/2017 Trash Pick Up on Pellissippi
01/08/2017 Skeptic Book Club
12/18/2016 RET Third Sunday Meeting in December
12/11/2016 Skeptic Book Club
12/04/2016 First Sunday Meeting
11/27/2016 Reflections
11/20/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
11/13/2016 Skeptic Book Club for November
11/06/2016 First Sunday
10/16/2016 RET Third Sunday Meeting
10/09/2016 Skeptic Book Club
10/08/2016 Trash Pickup on Pellissippi
10/02/2016 First Sunday: "Shifting Context: How Innocuous Legislation Becomes Controversial, Without Changing a Word"
09/18/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
09/11/2016 Skeptic Book Club
09/03/2016 Smoky Mountain Freethought Advance
08/28/2016 Reflections
08/21/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
08/14/2016 Skeptic Book Club
08/07/2016 First Sunday
07/24/2016 RET Reflections
07/23/2016 RET Highway Clean-Up
07/17/2016 Third Sunday Roundtable
07/10/2016 Skeptic Book Club
07/03/2016 First Sunday Meeting
06/26/2016 RET Reflections
06/19/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
06/12/2016 Skeptic Book Club
06/05/2016 First Sunday Meeting
05/15/2016 RET Annual Public Meeting
05/08/2016 Skeptic Book Club
05/05/2016 Bible Belt National Day of Reason Picnic
05/01/2016 First Sunday Meeting
04/24/2016 RET Reflections
04/23/2016 Adopt-A-Highway trash pickup
04/17/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
04/10/2016 Skeptic Book Club
04/03/2016 First Sunday Meeting
03/20/2016 Third Sunday Meting
03/13/2016 Skeptic Book Club
03/06/2016 First Sunday Meeting
02/21/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
02/16/2016 Free Thought Forum Community TV
02/14/2016 Free Thought Radio Hour
02/14/2016 Skeptic Book Club
01/24/2016 Reflections
01/23/2016 Free Thought Radio
01/21/2016 Free Thought Radio
01/17/2016 Third Sunday Meeting
01/16/2016 Adopt A Highway clean up
01/10/2016 Skeptic Book Club
01/03/2016 First Sunday Meeting
12/20/2015 Third Sunday Meeting
12/13/2015 Free Thought Radio Hour
12/13/2015 Skeptic Book Club
12/06/2015 First Sunday Meeting
11/22/2015 Reflections
11/15/2015 RET Third Sunday Meeting
11/08/2015 Skeptic Book Club for November
11/01/2015 First Sunday - Movie
10/24/2015 Adopt A Highway Trash Pickup
10/18/2015 Third Sunday Meeting
10/13/2015 Shelley Segal Concert
10/11/2015 Skeptic Book Club for October
10/04/2015 First Sunday Meeting
09/24/2015 Autumnal Equinox Picnic
09/20/2015 Third Sunday Meeting
09/13/2015 Skeptic Book Club for September
09/06/2015 First Sunday Meeting
08/16/2015 Third Sunday Meeting
08/09/2015 Skeptic Book Club for August
07/03/2015 Smoky Mountain Advance
05/17/2015 Third Sunday Meeting
11/15/2014 The Demography of Unbelief
10/31/2014 Halloween Luncheon
10/19/2014 3rd Sunday Meeting
09/30/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville
09/23/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville
09/21/2014 3rd Sunday Meeting
09/16/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville
09/14/2014 Skeptic Book Club
09/14/2014 Skeptic Book Club
09/09/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville
09/07/2014 First Sunday Meeting
09/02/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville
08/26/2014 Freethought Forum on Community TV of Knoxville

Upcoming events

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