Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Ash Wednesday and being "dust."

*Please note, this is the view of the author and is not particularly representative of the views of DAFT and its members***

So, it's Ash Wednesday. "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” The common thing a minister says as they make a cross on your forehead. Allow me to explain the distinction between what is meant by dust in Ash Wednesday, and what an atheist means when they quote Sagan's "You are starstuff."

So, for what it's worth, there are 2 creation stories in the bible and they tend to contradict eachother. Anyway, in the 2nd- less popular one, man is formed by god breathing life into dust. When it is said "remember you are dust," it's meant to remind you are nothing without the breath of a god. It's there to remind you, if not for god, you are a pile of dirt. At least in Catholicism, This is passively rubbed into your head (all pun intended) since you're a baby. This entire mess implies you are worthless and your body and your -finite- existence on earth equates to dust. They try to redeem this dangerous and demeaning concept by claiming it's your soul, and your eternal existence that matters, but heaven is a fairy-tale promise told to you to provide incentive to give the church money.

When the secular crowd makes the assertion that you come from the dust cloud of exploded stars, "star stuff." We always mention how special that makes you. You are not dirt: you are the product of massive and powerful universal forces that have worked out in a way to give you consciousness. In a way, it's the Universe coming together in an attempt to understand itself; You are not BELOW the "great consciousnesses" of the universe, you ARE the great consciousnesses of the universe. This is a gift to be cherished and loved, and NOTHING matters more than our short, but potentially beautiful, existence ON EARTH. You will not be around after death, you will eventually return to the dust you were formed from after the explosion of a star, but that is the end for you. It's a harsh reality, but it teaches you to cherish and love life in a way no religion could ever dream of.

Just because you came from dust, and will return to dust, does not mean you are dust now. You are unique, you are thinking, you are Human and do not deserve to be insulted and demeaned by ancient mythology.

</rant>

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DAFT Meeting Days

Hey guys! So we've got the remaining meetings for the Fall quarter scheduled. I'll update this blog post as needed with topics and room numbers. Meeting time is always 6:30-8:00

September 26- room 380
October 9
October 24
November 6

And some other notable Dates:

Secular Social: October 6
Hemant Mehta: October 16
Light the Night: October 20
Sagan Day: November 1st.

Events for these will be made on facebook and orgsync well in advance with all the information you'll need.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Religious Experience"


*please note, the contents of this post are the thoughts of the author, and do not reflect the position of everyone affiliated with DAFT*

So I was browsing around the internet looking for some new music to listen to. I very rarely get involved in the comment-section on youtube because it's mostly filled with the ramblings of 12 year olds trying to figure out how to deal with all the new hormones they're experiencing. But I came across a musician who writes some really excellent music so I thought I'd browse through the comments to see what other people think. And little to my surprise, there was an argument ablaze over god. Luckily enough the arguments weren't over some dogmatic issue, and the arguments for god were more like for some transcendental-abstract-hindu-buddhist-simplified-type-thing.  I never really figured out how arguments over god's existence ever show up on completely unrelated videos on youtube, but alas, they do, and I'm sort of tired of it.

Now, as many of you may know I'm an anti-theist, and I'm damn very well active in my secular drive, but there comes a time when you have to just let an opportunity for argument go. Let me lend everyone in on a little-known fact in neuroscience: Your experiences, thoughts, emotions, are results of highly complex neuro-chemical reactions firing off in your brain. Some of the chemical's amounts are genetically controlled, others may be environmentally-dependent, either way- that's beyond the point.

Religious people's perceptions of god are a result of these reactions. Prayer, like a rather secular act of meditation, work similarly and evoke much of the same activity in the brain. They "feel" a holy presence, or a feeling of calmness because it's actually really there for them. They honestly feel something. Of course, the more scientifically minded will attribute those feelings to what they are: neurotransmitters going off, neurons blasting at eachother. Yet again, there are those that may not be as versed in these biological concepts; for them, the experience is attributed to whatever god or gods they were raised into believing.  I would never deny someone's "religious" experience, as they really did have an experience. They really did feel something, in some more euphoric cases they may have even heard or seen something.

If someone interprets those experiences badly, which happens... a lot, we have every right to retaliate. When people use these experiences as rational for their bigotry, we have every right to fight back. When they want to force these experiences on the unwilling, we have every right in telling them to fuck off. When people want to use these experiences to drive pseudo-science and bullshit into minds of children, we have every right to argue.

On the other hand, when people use these experiences to do good. When people use these experiences to do non-discriminatory charity work, when people use these experiences to help others, to create things, to build things, to make art, to make music, to love- we have no fucking right to be assholes to them simply because they gain inspiration from somewhere else than us. Service, community, love are secular things, even if they're religiously inspired, as it benefits humanity.

So next time we come across a person of faith, let's examine if what they're doing is beneficial to the world. If it is, I'd recommend chipping in and helping a bit. If what they're doing is backwards, bigoted, crap that perturbs progress, continue to be the bad-ass juggernauts you are and inform them of their mistakes and work towards progress.

May you all be touched by his noodly appendage,
-Art

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Officer Positions 2012-2013 School Year

As finals are about to start here at DePaul and the school year is coming to a close, we'd like to announce the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought e-board members for the 2012-2013 school year!

President: Andrew Tripp
Vice President: Arthur Wawrzyczek
Treasurer: Emily Mackmiller
Secretary: Danielle Wordelman
Co-Media Liaisons : Erica Binelli and Sean Austin
Community Liaison: Heather Stebbins

Congratulations to the new board members and returning officers! 


Happy Studying!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

DAFT executive board positions!

Daft Executive Board Positions

President:

- Lead/delegate meetings

- Schedule meetings (dates, times, places)

- Plan major events during the quarter (speakers, panels, fundraisers etc.)

- Represent DAFT at events (info fairs, our own events, events we’re invited to etc.)

- Arrange promotional tables as needed

- Manage SAF-B paperwork

Vice President:

- Communicate with president about meetings (including topics, dates, times, etc.)

- Assist president in meetings and events

- Run around and do things, really

Treasurer:

- Manage money matters, etc.

- Manage SAF-B paperwork as well

Secretary:

- Record meetings/ideas from meetings for potential events and activities

- Follow up on event planning

- Post minutes to blog

Public Relations Liaison

- Update blog/twitter/youtube accounts

- Assemble contributors/topics to said accounts

Community Liaison

- Communicate between DAFT and interfaith community/other on-campus groups

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day, 2012

Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Dominion: the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereignauthority.

To give a very quick lesson into some theology, in the Abrahamic faiths you have god making covenants (promises). The one I’d like to mention that is of relevance is the Noahic Covenant. I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of Noah, god tells some freakishly old dude to build a boat and fit a bunch of animals in it as his maniacal, genocidal, ass destroys the planet. God (I hate having to capitalize god because it’s the first word in a sentence…Atheist World Problems) then put up a rainbow and was all like (to paraphrase): “sorry dude, I won’t destroy the earth anymore.”

So why is it that the right-wingers are against environmental reform to combat climate change? Well, god told them they have dominion over the Earth to do with as they please and then promised he wouldn’t let the earth get all destroyed and stuff. I don’t want to speak about the dangers of this since it’s rather obvious and climate-change-denying congress-people are in the news all the time rolling their mouths to no end. Not to mention, of course, there’s hundreds of millions of dollars in the energy lobby to protect the interests of oil companies over the wellbeing of the planet and its people.

The environment should be very high on the list of important things for secularists. Our planet is a finely balanced machine of life; throw off the balance a little bit, you’ll get unprecedented mass extinction rates and increasingly destructive natural disasters. This is not some “hypothesis” those damn satan-worshiping liberal communist scientists came up with. This is a demonstrable fact and a serious issue that seems to be thrown away by politicians and laymen on a daily basis.

As secularists, we must understand that we are responsible for ourselves and the welfare of the planet and each other. While it is true that we will not live to see the full effects of man-made-climate-change, there are generations that will succeed us and will be forced to cope with a progressively more desperate situation. It is our responsibility to our home planet, its many citizens, and its future, that we begin to consider the ramifications of the crap we’re spewing into the air.

“Our planet is a living organism and we must treat her carefully.” –Tim Minchin. “We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically.”- Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

On this Earth Day, 2012, I urge all secularists and allies to bring forth this issue and shine some godless light on the consequences of our belligerent exploitation of non-renewable resources. There is no god to fix the planet when we destroy and there is nowhere else to go that can support our species. This is not the time to make excuses and think of outlandish terraforming ideas for the moon. This is the time to recognize our responsibilities as part of a larger system to preserve what we should cherish more than anything: life.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Secular Social Tickets

Hey all! Our winter quarter Secular Social will be held February 18th at a location to be announced soon, but it will be near or easily accessible by the CTA from the Lincoln Park campus. Tickets are $5 ahead of time, $10 at the door, and all proceeds will go to Jessica Ahlquist's scholarship fund. You can pay Emily, our treasurer, at one of our meetings, or just to the right of this post you will see a PayPal link where you can buy them. Please come out and have a great time for a great cause!