Tulsa Atheist Rendezvous

Tulsa Atheist Rendezvous grew out of the Atheists Meetup group in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We seek to provide an opportunity for those who self-identify as atheists to meet with one another for fellowship and to discuss matters of mutual interest. --Dan Nerren, moderator

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The November Rendezvous

Our November 2005 Tulsa Atheist Rendezvous will be on Nov. 15, starting at 7:00 PM at Zarrow Regional Library, 2224 W. 51st St.

I would like to propose the following structure for the rendezvous and future rendezvous:

First half hour will be a review of current events and their possible impact on civil rights for atheists and the separation of church and state. I would encourage you to bring items from the newspapers or items found at Internet Infidels Newswire. Other possible sources could be Church and State magazine or FFRF's publication Freethought Today. So please begin clipping or marking articles to bring and share with the group for discussion.

For the second half hour I propose that we have two or three people read aloud from some of the classics of freethought. Think of this, if you like, as a way of keeping these writings alive. There are a number of resources we could use for this including, Women Without Superstition by Annie Laurie Gaylor and various writings by Ingersoll, Russell, and Twain.

Nothing is set in stone and I'm always open to suggestions from those who attend.

We should be able to start around 7:00 PM and finish by 8:00 PM.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Essay by Sam Harris

Here is an excellent essay by Sam Harris that illustrates the idiocy of god-belief.

There is No God (And You Know It)

Sam Harris
Fri Oct 7, 1:57 AM ET

Somewhere in the world a man has abducted a little girl. Soon he will rape, torture, and kill her. If an atrocity of this kind is not occurring at precisely this moment, it will happen in a few hours, or days at most. Such is the confidence we can draw from the statistical laws that govern the lives of six billion human beings. The same statistics also suggest that this girl’s parents believe -- at this very moment -- that an all-powerful and all-loving God is watching over them and their family. Are they right to believe this? Is it good that they believe this?


The entirety of atheism is contained in this response. Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which the obvious is overlooked as a matter of principle. The obvious must be observed and re-observed and argued for. This is a thankless job. It carries with it an aura of petulance and insensitivity. It is, moreover, a job that the atheist does not want.

It is worth noting that no one ever need identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. Consequently, we do not have words for people who deny the validity of these pseudo-disciplines. Likewise, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma. The atheist is merely a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (eighty-seven percent of the population) who claim to “never doubt the existence of God” should be obliged to present evidence for his existence -- and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. Only the atheist appreciates just how uncanny our situation is: most of us believe in a God that is every bit as specious as the gods of Mount Olympus; no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that such a God exists; and much of what passes for public policy in our country conforms to religious taboos and superstitions appropriate to a medieval theocracy. Our circumstance is abject, indefensible, and terrifying. It would be hilarious if the stakes were not so high.

Consider: the city of New Orleans was recently destroyed by hurricane Katrina. At least a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Only the atheist has the courage to admit the obvious: these poor people spent their lives in the company of an imaginary friend.

Of course, there had been ample warning that a storm “of biblical proportions” would strike New Orleans, and the human response to the ensuing disaster was tragically inept. But it was inept only by the light of science. Advance warning of Katrina’s path was wrested from mute Nature by meteorological calculations and satellite imagery. God told no one of his plans. Had the residents of New Orleans been content to rely on the beneficence of the Lord, they wouldn’t have known that a killer hurricane was bearing down upon them until they felt the first gusts of wind on their faces. And yet, a poll conducted by The Washington Post found that eighty percent of Katrina’s survivors claim that the event has only strengthened their faith in God.

As hurricane Katrina was devouring New Orleans, nearly a thousand Shiite pilgrims were trampled to death on a bridge in Iraq. There can be no doubt that these pilgrims believed mightily in the God of the Koran. Indeed, their lives were organized around the indisputable fact of his existence: their women walked veiled before him; their men regularly murdered one another over rival interpretations of his word. It would be remarkable if a single survivor of this tragedy lost his faith. More likely, the survivors imagine that they were spared through God’s grace.

Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God, while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is -- and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.

Of course, people of faith regularly assure one another that God is not responsible for human suffering. But how else can we understand the claim that God is both omniscient and omnipotent? There is no other way, and it is time for sane human beings to own up to this. This is the age-old problem of theodicy, of course, and we should consider it solved. If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. Pious readers will now execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by merely human standards of morality. But, of course, human standards of morality are precisely what the faithful use to establish God’s goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which he is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that. If He exists, the God of Abraham is not merely unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.

There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical God is a fiction. As Richard Dawkins has observed, we are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. Only the atheist has realized that the biblical god is no different. Consequently, only the atheist is compassionate enough to take the profundity of the world’s suffering at face value. It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion -- to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions, and religious diversions of scarce resources -- is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity. It is a necessity, however, that places the atheist at the margins of society. The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Missed You All

I was at the White River Fish Market at 11:30am on Wednesday for the ALGAE luncheon, but no one else showed. Is there no longer any interest in getting together once a month for the luncheon?

Speaking of waning interest, only three people attended the October Tulsa Atheist Rendezvous at Zarrow Library last Tuesday.

If as they say, atheists make up three percent of the population, then the Tulsa metropolitan area of 400,000 should have some 12,000 atheists. I know a certain number are hiding in the closet, but you would think we could get at least twenty to attend the rendezvous.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rendezvous Tonight

Tonight is the night for our monthly rendezvous at Zarrow Library, 7pm. I posted two small signs about our meetings. Both were placed on poles. One sign was printed on a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper. The next time I passed by the pole the sign was missing. The other sign was a smaller one (appx. 2.5 X 3.5 inches) stuck to a metal pole at a parking lot. It was still there the last time I checked. I admit, these were pretty lame efforts at publicity.

Much of my time in the past month has been devoted to preparations for the Secular Singers concert which was held two days ago.

I doubt if anybody reads this before the meeting, but you are welcome to bring something to read to the group, if you like. I will bring a videotape titled "Blue Planet," in case there is any interest in viewing it. It is film of the Earth shot from the space shuttles. It doesn't have anything to do with atheism, but we might enjoy viewing it. It runs 42 minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

News item from THE WEEK

This item is from the Oct. 14, 2005 issue of THE WEEK, a news magazine.

A religious society is a moral society – or so goes the conventional wisdom, said Rose Brooks in the Los Angeles Times. But in a new study in the Journal of Religion and Society, evolutionary scientist Gregory S. Paul suggests just the opposite. Paul ranked 18 “prosperous democracies” according to their religious fervency. He then correlated religious observance with various indicators of “quantifiable social health,” such as the frequency of homicides, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and child mortality. The results are startling. The more religious a society is, Paul found, the more social problems it has. The U.S., which by far is the most fervent advanced nation in the world, is first in nearly all the categories of social ills. This correlation is even more vividly illustrated within the U. S., where the highest rates of abortion, murder, divorce, and teen pregnancy are not in the supposedly godless blue states. They’re in the Bible Belt, where church attendance is highest. Admittedly, “correlation is not causation,” and it’s possible that “high levels of social dysfunction fuel religiosity,” not vice versa. Still, Paul’s study provides food for thought. It suggests that “nonrational, absolutist belief systems” of any kind – Islamic, Christian, or other – have a dark side,” and actually backfire in more “sinful” behavior, not less. “It’s official: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Here are two items from the Oct. 7, 2005 issue of the news magazine THE WEEK.

A Christian high school in California has expelled a girl for having gay parents. Leonard Stob, superintendent of the Ontario Christian School, sent a letter to the home of Shay Clark, 14, explaining that because Clark's mother, Tina, lives with another woman, "your family does not meet the policies of admission." School policy, Stob said, prohibits students' parents from engaging in behavior "immoral or inconsistent with a positive Christian lifestyle."

[It was a bad week for] Angels, after Ashley Smith, the Atlanta woman who said in March she persuaded escaped killer Brian Nichols to surrender by reading to him from Christian best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, finally admitted that she also gave Nichols a little crystal meth from her private stash.