First Book Club meeting ideas

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Nirav Assar
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:04 am

First Book Club meeting ideas

Post by Nirav Assar »

1. 2 months to read one book
2. At the meeting we all consort to read one book, so we can discuss and give feedback.
3. Everyone bring two topics and questions and poses it to the group and we discuss about the book
4. At the meeting, people nominate 1-2 new books to read next, with a high level iummary and why it is interesting. We keep voting until it comes to one book of interest
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Re: First Book Club meeting ideas

Post by lyndakoshy3 »

Our first Freethought Book Club will be Sunday, June 28, 10:30 am. We will be discussing 'The Bonobo and the Atheist' by Frans de Waal and meet at the same location as Freethought Salon. I have a suggestion for our August book...'If you Meet Budha on the Road, Kill Him! The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients' by Sheldon B. Kopp.
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Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:13 pm

Re: First Book Club meeting ideas

Post by tim »

It was fun talking about the De Waals book and good/interesting that many of us found fault with some aspects of it as well. There was an interesting item in SCIENCE magazine 8/28/2015 (the day before we met on 8/29/2015) that relates to De Waals point that prosocial behavior is "in our genes" and that it can be observed in other species and esp the bonobos. The SCIENCE article begins:

"An ancient Egyptian spent her whole life preparing for the moment when her heart would be weighed. After death, she was escorted before a divine scale. In one pan rested an ostrich feather belonging to Maat, the goddess of social order. The other pan held her heart. The deceased had been buried with a list of her virtues: “I have not uttered lies.” “I have not slain men and women.” “I have not stopped the flow of water [of the Nile.]” Any sins would weigh down her heart. When the scale settled, her fate would be clear: If her heart weighed no more than Maat’s feather, she was escorted to paradise. If her heart was too heavy, the crocodile demon Amemet reared up and devoured it, obliterating her soul."

Point being that these beliefs - of a powerful/punishing deity or even "karma" - is a way to keep people being prosocial when societies become so large and complex that it is easy for people to cheat, unlike the situation in small groups where if someone cheats it's quite likely others will quickly find out about it.

"In this view, without supernatural enforcement of cooperative, 'moral' behavior, ancient Egypt — as well as nearly every other large-scale society in history — wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground."

Well, here's the book about it: ... exaschurch

Now IF there is anything to this, the question then becomes: what does a rationalist/freethought stance have to offer to "keep people in line?" That is, why should someone NOT cheat when it is in their interest to do so and it is very unlikely that their cheating will be found out and punished? We can read the newspapers to see that people often *do* cheat under such circumstances despite the prevalence of supernatural religious belief. (And doesn't it kind of defeat this "purpose" of god-belief when people can do bad and then get forgiven by their deity?) Hence the push for, for example, all cops to wear body-cams.
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