Last night I was having dinner with a large group of people. We were celebrating a birthday. Although for all the more pedantic readers, I should say we were celebrating the anniversary of a birthday. In any case, there were members from various groups in attendance. The birthday lady had invited her family, her friends in Mensa, and some of her Atheist friends. Questions seem to always come up in these mixed membership meetings. The lady sitting across from me had the name of a city in Alabama, let’s call her Opelika. She asked me what Atheists talk about at their meetings. She also said that it seems to her that once people agree that they don’t believe in God or gods, there is nothing more to talk about. I assured her that there was plenty to talk about and gave her a few examples of the topics we’ve covered. I also explained that I’ve been running the Tucson Atheists meetup.com group for about six years and there has never been a shortage of topics to discuss. Later on in the evening, I was dismayed to hear her ask the very same question in the very same way as if I hadn’t answered the question the first time. This is not unusual. Many people, normally believers, pretend to ask questions about Atheism when actually, they’re not asking anything. What sounds like a question is a statement of belief and no answer other than the one they are fishing for registers with them. If the answer is incompatible with a preconceived notion, it is as if the question wasn’t asked and answered previously. In other words, it wasn’t a two way conversation. The questioner was in “transmit only” mode. It is a frustrating situation and feels like a complete waste of time. It’s disingenuous for a person to ask a question and then not consider listening to the answer.
In this case, however, Opel actually did me a favor. She inadvertently gave me a great topic to cover in this blog. There may be people on the sidelines that are genuinely interested in the answer to her question, “What do Atheists talk about at their meetings?” For them, here is a list of the monthly topics covered at the Tucson Atheists Meetup.com group at our general meetings from September 2008 through October 2013:
YYMM Subject of the meeting
0809 What if we’re wrong (about god)?
0810 Report on the Atheist Alliance International Convention on the Queen Mary
0811 How do you know that there is no god? Why is the evidence lacking?
0901 Holidays and family, coming out as an Atheist
0902 Darwin and Evolution, Dr Masel’s Presentation on Evolution (at CFI meeting)
0904 Report on the American Atheist Convention. What should Atheists agree on?
0905 Atheist Activism: Guest lecturer Earl Wesley Jernigan, an anthropologist
0908 Atheism defined, Atheist or Agnostic, least trusted group in America
0909 Atheism and Skepticism, Skeptical education, logical fallacies, arguments for religion
0910 Report of AAI convention in Burbank, the roots of Halloween
0911 The Atheist Split, Paul Kurtz in the news, old guard vs “New Atheists”
0912 “Winter Solstice Party”
1001 Holiday family experiences, plans and prediction for 2010.
1002 Are science and religion compatible?
1003 Are Atheists happier, smarter, and more moral?
1004 American Atheists Convention and Atheist Scruples
1005 This I Believe
1006 God and the Constitution
1007 Is Atheism a Religion?
1008 OK, You’re an Atheist, Now What?
1009 Militant Atheism
1010 Guest Lecturer, William Farris: “Clifford Algebra”
1011 Guest Lecturer, Mitchell: Replacing Religion
1012 Winter Solstice Party
1101 Ethics and Animals (Guest Lecturer: Jamie Massey)
1102 Building Coalitions
1103 Someone is wrong on the Internet
1104 Why is Atheism Important?
1105 How Should Atheists Handle Loss
1106 Atheist Heroes
1107 Will Atheism Replace Religion?
1108 Is Atheism Gaining Acceptance?
1109 Coming Out
1110 The Mythology of Atheism
1201 Separation of Church and State (Ben Butterfield)
1202 Sociopaths are Atheists and that doesn’t say Atheists are Sociopaths
1203 Should the government get out of the marriage business? Mitchell Timin
1204 The out of control Arizona legislature
1205 What would a religious free society look like?
1206 Ashley Paramore from Secular Student Alliance, and what’s an Atheist to do?
1207 Atheism on the Rise in America
1209 Eric Paul Lunsford guest lecturer: The Righteous Mind: How God People are Divided by Politics and Religion
1211 Where do we go now? Activism in 2013?
1301 Does being an Atheist make you happy?
1302 Is modern science due to Judeo-Christian influence?
1303 Is religion dying in the US?
1304 Atheism past, present, and future
1305 Are Christians being persecuted in America?
1307 Personal Stories
1308 Feminism and Atheism
1309 Divisive Against Atheism?
1310 The Benefit of Firebrand Atheism
As you can see, we have plenty to discuss at our meetings!