Caffeinated Godlessnessby Don Lacey on Jan. 12, 2013, under Art & Culture, Atheism, AZ Politics, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, Freethought Events, God & Bible, History, Logic, Materialism, Reason, Religion, Science, Separation of Church & State, Skepticism
The Tucson freethinking community is steadily growing and rather diverse. Not every activity available is for everyone that’s why the activities are as varied as the membership. A few years ago the community was less active with only a couple of groups operating. Tucson Atheists had been around for a while. They met once a month in a back room at Bookman’s (west). We met for about an hour and a half with no agenda. Ten to fifteen people were present and sat in a circle. Everyone introduced themselves and made a personal statement about their Atheism and sometimes that was all we had time for. The other group that was operating at the time was the CFI (Center for Inquiry). Members of the CFI were generally older. They also had a monthly meeting. Their meetings were more sophisticated than the Tucson Atheists meetings and hosted well known, famous speakers at their monthly meetings. I saw an announcement that Paul Kurtz was going to speak in Tucson and that is how I found CFI. The Tucson Atheists has grown since then but the CFI group no longer exists in Tucson. The members created a new group called FreeThought Arizona. They still bring in monthly notable speakers as well as sponsoring this blog and other related activities such as the Desert AIR Podcast.
Now, there is a wider variety of activities available to the freethinking community in Tucson. We still have the monthly meetings of the Tucson Atheists. Skeptics of Tucson also have monthly meetings. FreeThought Arizona has its monthly program at the University Medical Center Duval Auditorium as well as a wide variety of other activities such as meetings on philosophy, arts and humanism, Secular Organization for Sobriety, and the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle.
There are also meetings on books, Recovering from Religion, and drinking.
Last Thursday we met at Fronimos Greek Restaurant for “Caffeinated Godlessness.” There were about 20 people there. Nancy, the current organizer, was there and Jason, the originator of the event, came down from Casa Grande to participate. Nancy kicked off the discussion on sex and religion and the conversation went everywhere as usual. However, for some reason there was a bit more “energy” in the mix than normal. The Tucson Atheists is a rather diverse group and includes participants from all ages, genders, and sexual preferences but the contentious discussions came mostly between some that have been Atheists for a long time and a few that were freshly “minted.”
It’s understandable. Having been raised Catholic, there are times when I still feel the inclination to defend Catholicism when some evangelical claims that Catholics aren’t “true” Christians or that they worship idols. However, it’s a very small inclination and I usually ignore it. I can understand that someone that just realized that Atheism is the way to go still has many believing friends and might take issue with some of the more ardent comments heard at an Atheist meeting. Someone that’s been an Atheist for some time or someone that has never been part of religious belief might find it difficult to empathize with the “new guy.” What’s also understandable is a tendency of people to experience meetings from differing biases and points of view. If a person attends an Atheist meeting and expects to hear only religious bashing, that is likely what he is going to hear. It’s a logical fallacy called “confirmation bias” and everyone has a touch of it. It’s what keeps psychics and carnival mind readers in business.
These problems are never going away. Everyday Atheists are looking for community. Of the new ones, some come from recent realizations and some come from those that have been Atheist for a long time and are just now finding that the community is available. It is hard work supporting maintaining such a diverse group and rewarding at the same time.