On Monday around noon, I was lucky enough to catch the debate being held for Civic Awareness Week. I hadn’t been aware of the debate beforehand, I just happened to be getting lunch at the time, and thought I’d check it out. I’m really glad I did, because it was one of the best debates I’ve seen in a long time. There was a representative from College Democrats, Republicans, Libertarions, and suprisingly, the GLBTA services. I was a bit confused when I saw that at first. They have their own party now? Is is possible to vote straight-ticket gay? How ironic would that be? But, as I learned later, it was not meant to be a solely political debate. There was supposed to be another group represented, but the GLBTA just happened to be the only other group who showed besides the political ones.
The ASUSU people had a list of questions for the panel of representatives. The topics included the war in Iraq, health care reform, gay marriage, etc. The usual list of questions you would expect. For the most part, everyone’s answers were very rational and well thought out. All the speakers made sure to distinguish their personal opinions from their groups opinions, which I thought was fantastic. Even the Republican was sounding level headed and reasonable. (Sorry guys, you usually kind of annoy me. It’s the truth.) Until, of course, it got to gay marriage. Continue reading →
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Do you know something interesting about science? Do you have something thoughtful to say about religion? Do you want to share your expertise in sociology? Have you found or even conducted an interesting piece of research? Is there something that you’ve been wanting to get people thinking about? We’re looking for anyone interested in writing short, thought-provoking blog posts for the usu-shaft.com site. Interesting content might include thoughts, stories, or personal experiences that deal with the humanities, the natural sciences, or the social sciences. If you are interested in becoming a guest blogger, please leave a comment on this post.
Next Tuesday, October 27th, the documentary Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World? will be released. It follows noted atheist writer Christopher Hitchens and his rhetorical punching bag, Pastor Douglas Wilson. These two personalities have debated each other across the country, and the best of those debates have been distilled into this critically-acclaimed documentary.
I’ve ordered a copy of the documentary. If it gets here in time, we may watch it for next week’s social. I think it would make for a great joint event, as well—we could invite FOCUS, the Religious Studies Club, and the Philosophy Club. Yet another reason why this would make a great event is that I’m working on getting Hitchens to speak at USU next semester. This film may gin up some interest in and support for that effort.
Hey, SHAFTers. I don’t want to flood this site with a torrent of videos, but I will direct you to a couple gems.
The first video comes from YouTube user ProfMTH. His “Brief Bible Blunders” series lampoons Biblical literalism by highlighting some of the Bible’s contradictions and absurdities. Below is one of my favorites, but be sure to watch the entire series.
The second video comes courtesy of The Thinking Atheist. This channel doesn’t boast many videos, but those videos that the user has uploaded are well-produced and worth watching. By way of evidence:
For more videos related to atheism, I’d refer you to Atheist Media. It’s just one of the many great sites you’ll find on our blogroll.
LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks on Tuesday likened the post-Proposition 8 backlash against Mormons to the persecution blacks endured during the civil-rights struggle.
Now Oaks faces a backlash himself.
Last year, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged its followers to donate money and time to pass Prop 8, the successful ballot measure that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to wed in California. Afterward, protests, including several near LDS temples, erupted along with boycotts of business owners who donated to Prop 8 and even some vandalism of LDS meetinghouses.
“[The analogy] may be offensive to some — maybe because it hadn’t occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era,” [Oaks] said.
Oaks qualified his comparison somewhat by acknowledging that the intimidation of Mormons in the wake of Prop 8 has not been “as serious as what happened in the South.” Still, I find it offensive. Comparisons to things like the civil rights movements should not be trotted out casually. Absent a strong parallel, such comparisons cheapen those events. And in today’s gay rights debate, neither the LGBT community nor especially the LDS Church (with its own history of racism should tie their plight to that of blacks.
On Tuesday, October 13th in Old Main 115 at 7:30 PM, there will be a presentation entitled “In the Beginning, God…A Limited Perspective Examining Science and Faith” by Dr. Tricia Shepherd, a chemistry professor of Westminster College. The presentation is being hosted by FOCUS (the Christian student group) and they’ve invited us to attend.
I (and several other SHAFTers) have attended FOCUS meetings throughout the semester. I think it’s important that we foster a friendship with them, as it furthers a healthy religious dialogue. So try to make it to this event if you can—it should be a really interesting talk.
Okay, so I haven’t quite finished articulating my thoughts about the conference talks. I had hoped to publish them last weekend, but obviously that didn’t happen. One reason is that I initially figured there would be little said in conference worth responding to. I thought the talks would be boilerplate, warm-fuzzy stuff. And most of it was. To my surprise, however, there were a few talks about atheism and doubt–talks that demand a careful (and thus time-consuming) rebuttal. Another reason for my delayed conference post is that my life as of late has been busier than anticipated.
Thanks for being patient. Absent some crisis, this post will be finally updated before the week’s end. Until I share my thoughts about conference, what were yours?