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Freethought Books Project Logo

The Freethought Books Project, split off from the Reed Secular Alliance in 2010, has a new address.  Please send inquiries to the following location:

Freethought Books Project
P.O. Box 259
Mercer Island, WA 98040.

You can also email leslie@secularstudents.org.  We appreciate your continued interest.

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The PDX Humanist Film Fest

The Reed Secular Alliance will be attending the 2010 Portland Humanist Film Fest.  Showings will occur on October 8th, 9th, and 10th, and the festival will be a great place for atheists, humanists, and freethinkers to gather and enjoy skeptical cinema.

The production is underwritten by the Center For Inquiry, the Freethinkers of Portland State University, and the Humanists of Greater Portland.  It is sponsored by Cinema 21 and a number of other Oregon freethought groups.

For more details, please contact Elad Gilo at egilo@reed.edu.  We hope you will join us at the screening.

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Why Are You Atheists So Angry?

Greta Christina speaks at the SSA Conference; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Come join the Reed Secular Alliance as we welcome atheist blogger, Greta Christina ’83, to speak at Reed. Christina, a Reed alumna and Religion major, has been a freelance writer since 1989. She currently blogs at http://gretachristina.typepad.com about atheism, sexuality, and her queer identity.

Christina will discuss the atheist movement, which is often accused of being driven by anger. She will address the validity of this assessment, as well as why some atheists seem so angry. Among the questions she asks are “Is this anger legitimate?” and “Can anger be an effective force behind a movement for social change?”

The lecture is on Monday, September 13, at 7 pm in the Biology Lecture Hall (Bio 19). We hope to see you there.

Please email Elad Gilo at egilo@reed.edu with any questions.

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Bill Nye receives Humanist of the Year Award; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Editor’s Note:  This year, Reed Secular Alliance founder and former President, Leslie A. Zukor, had the opportunity to attend the American Humanist Association conference in San Jose, California.  It was a great opportunity and her reflections are presented below.

Roy Speckhardt introduces awardees; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Although I have been to American Humanist Association conferences in the past, each time I attend I have a better experience than the time before.  That pattern held true as I attended this year’s AHA conference in San Jose.  After going to the Portland convention in 2007, I have been to three out of the past four AHA conferences.  From meeting PZ Myers in Phoenix to bracing for Bill Nye’s lecture in San Jose, the AHA’s annual convention has allowed me to connect with the biggest names in secular humanism.

Author Tom Krattenmaker and Activist Margaret Downey; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

And this year, Bill Nye did not disappoint.  Although I had heard him speak before, I loved the experience of getting Nye to interact with an explicitly humanist audience.  Both of the times that I’ve seen Nye present, he made it clear that “science [is] the best idea humans have ever had.”  In his view, it is the discoveries of science that can give us great insights into man’s place in the cosmos.  And it is through employing the scientific method that we can enhance our understanding of even the most mundane of phenomena.

Bill Nye's award acceptance speech; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

According to Bill Nye, his third grade teacher explained that there were more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the beach.  This was remarkable to a young Nye, as he could hardly conceive of that many stars.  However, as he got older, he realized that even though we are as insignificant as grains of sand, we are still humans who can understand our role in the cosmos.  And that’s what’s so great about science and the scientific method – they are tools people can use to better understand their place in the universe.

Hemant Mehta speaks to Humanist crowd; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

In addition to enjoying Nye’s presentation, I was also impressed by the speech of Hemant Mehta.  Mehta, known in the blogosphere as The Friendly Atheist, works as a high school Mathematics teacher by day.  And in his presentation, he emphasized making math relevant to real-world problems and situations.  After all, according to Hemant, it’s not enough to merely plug numbers into equations to arrive at answers.  To the contrary, a good teacher needs to make his or her students think beyond formulas.

Hemant Mehta and Leyan Lo solve Rubik's Cube; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

As someone who is not particularly mathematically inclined, I had always been the student who wanted a quick answer.  For me, the goal of math class was to get an “A” – if I were lucky.  However, Hemant’s presentation opened my eye to how I was cheating myself as a student who prided herself in critical thinking.  Having a greater understanding of mathematics cannot merely be achieved by memorizing formulas and plugging in numbers, but by understanding how math applies to the real world.

Sean Faircloth speaks about secularism; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

In all, I had a great time at the American Humanist Association convention.  In addition to meeting Mehta and Nye, I also enjoyed presentations by Tom Krattenmaker on Christianity in sports, Sean Faircloth about secular lobbying, and by Jason Frye on LGBT issues in humanism.  I also had the privilege of asking a question on Sunday’s live recording of NPR’s Philosophy Talk, where I inquired about humanistic values and moral relativism.  I am eagerly anticipating attending next year’s AHA conference in Boston.

Jason Frye discussing LGBT issues; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

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[Vimeo 10607780]

Leslie Zukor’s acceptance speech

Congratulations to Reed Secular Alliance founder and former President, Leslie Zukor.  Zukor won the 2010 American Atheists Founders’ scholarship.  The award, which was founded in 2002, is a $2,000 prize, based primarily on activism.

Zukor’s devotion to freethought activism is far reaching.  In addition to founding the RSA, Zukor has been instrumental in bringing speakers such as Daniel Dennett, Lori Lipman Brown, Chris Mooney, and Greg Epstein to Reed College.

Leslie Zukor's Scholarship Certificate

Furthermore, she is the founder of the Freethought Books Project, which gives atheist, humanist, and freethinking literature to prisoners across the country.  As a photographer, Zukor’s work has been on the cover of The Humanist magazine.

Congrats to Leslie.

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Freethought Books for Prisoners

This past weekend, the Reed Secular Alliance completed its Freethought Books Project mailing.  The statistics are as follows:

Boxes:  10

Books:  91

Magazines:  13

Sent To:  9 individual prisoners

1 non-theistic books to prisoners drive

TitlesThe Born Again Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible, The Soul of Science, American Infidel:  Robert G. Ingersoll, One Woman’s Fight, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Keepers:  Voices of Secular Recovery, Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (2 volumes), Language, Proof, and Logic, Principles of Chemistry, Contemporary Linguistics:  An Introduction, Imagine No Superstition, God:  Hit or Myth?, Religion & Gods, God:  The Failed Hypothesis, Forbidden Fruit:  The Ethics of Humanism, Rhymes for the Irreverent, Why I Am Not a Christian, What Is Secular Humanism?, How We Believe:  The Search for God in an Age of Science, Atheism:  The Case Against God, Affirmations:  Joyful and Creative Exuberance, The Transcendental Temptation, God’s Problem, Over the Influence, Why Atheism?, The Family:  The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Freethought on the American Frontier, The Darwin Awards

MagazinesThe Humanist, Free Inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer

We hope the prisoners enjoy the books!

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New Reed Secular Alliance Signator, Elad Gilo, is passionate about the freethought movement.  Below is a complete biography of the Reed sophomore.

Reed Secular Alliance Signator, Elad Gilo

Name: Elad Gilo

Interests: I love to travel. Whenever I get the opportunity to travel the world and experience new cultures, geographies and people, I will take it. I enjoying backpacking and outdoor sports. Snowboarding is my sport of choice, as I used to partake in it competitively on a national level. Above all I like to hang out with friends and talk about whatever pops into our heads.

Major: Economics and Philosophy Interdisciplinary Major

Year: Sophomore, class of 2012

Passions: The topics I tend to be most passionate about usually surround religion (e.g. atheism, secularism, and the rise of evangelical Christianity). The other topic that I feel particularly connected to and passionate about is the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict. I am strongly committed to the establishment of a two-state solution and the pro-Israel, pro-Peace movement.

Secularism: Secularism has become an increasingly important topic for me. Since I began my journey from skeptical young boy to an atheist adult, I have taken it upon myself to engage any and all on the topic of religion and the existence of “god”. While I hope to have treated everyone with respect, I became very tired of a society that found it so difficult to a) address the issue of piety and religion, for fear it would offend someone’s personal beliefs, and b) that people would not use the consistent reasoning in their own daily life or regarding the existence of a deity.

As my own path has taken me to atheism (the negation of a world view, not a world view in itself), I understood very well that my goal could not be the abolition of religion (unrealistic/utopian) but rather the assurance of a secular society in which one’s individual rights and self be protected from the influence of religion. To this degree I find the issue of secularism something that can unite atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and even the religious.

With nearly 1 of 5 individuals not subscribing to a theological belief in the US, there is significant work that has to be done, in order to unify this voice and as a whole ensure the civil liberties of all (particularly in the face of rising evangelical political influence). This task is not an easy one. Trying to organize a population of non-theological individuals around a cause appears rather paradoxical to many. The same people who reject the organization of a belief also organizing themselves? To this I respond by saying a) the alternative is much worse, and b) so long as secularists remain non-dogmatic in their worldview, then the worry becomes unfounded.

As the Reed Secular Alliance signator, I hope to continue fostering debate and dialogue regarding secular issues on the Reed Campus. It would be my goal to continue educating the students at Reed about local and national issues regarding unconstitutional religious influence in civil society, and furthermore, mobilizing students for different secular campaigns. If nothing else, the RSA will provide a space for like-minded individuals to meet and discuss along with showing support for secularism on a state and national level.

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