Skeptic events

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Andysor (October 13, 2010, 14:02:45 PM):
Invading peoples' personal space and unobtrusively informing people are two different things. I'm not suggesting picketing outside of churches or pharmacies, just somehow raising awareness. The Skeptic Society in the US host lectures at UCLA by prominent speakers. They lobby congress to maintain the separation of Church and state, non-religious science education and mislabelled alternative medicine.

If someone buys simply slim out of desperation, knowing it has no scientific basis, then I have no problem. It's all the people who have never been told that there's a difference between "medicine" and "supplements" or whatever they're required to classify it as.

I don't know what sort of campaigning would be the most effective and realistic, but the voice of reason lacks exposure.
GCG (October 13, 2010, 14:30:15 PM):
i think the idea of having information campaigns are great. problem is, we have jobs. in the us, those okes are most probably employed by Skeptic Society, and that is what they do.
we dont have that luxury.
and allso, i think we are still, ah, how does one put this nicely, ... backward. the majority of our population are still believing in ancestors and witchcraft. and they simply have no interrest in hearing any different.

and no school would allow a skeptic talk to happen in schools. and since south african schools and unis still very much do the god-thing, it would be hard pressed to get in.
and get feet in there if you get a hall open.
steve does do talks about his book when/if he can. i attended a mensa one, and even they were uncomfortable with the anti-religion sentiment, which surprised me.

i think, that for now, we can do our pub meetings. and invite a friend. we dont have the numbers, or cash, to run a decent campaign. and i, for one, am too stupid to have anything constructive to say.
if you have someone influencial that is going to have something to say, then people might listen. joe soap wont get a word in edgeways.
Andysor (October 13, 2010, 15:19:57 PM):
The time thing is, of course, true. However, I think it would be possible to approach churches, and maybe philosophy and theology departments at unis, and encourage them to host debates and lectures. Like I said I attended the William Lane Craig debate a few months ago at UP and it was packed! They even set up a screen outside in the cold to handle the overflow from the hall. 500 people easily. While the debate was easily won by Craig I think the exposure to debate was a positive despite the outcome. Perhaps if a Skeptic or rational thinker society were more active and visible in SA we would have been able to organise more competent opposition. The churches and uni departments need to know who to call to organise these things.

To become more visible we need exposure. To get exposure we need money. To get money we need adherents. Dead end.
Faerie (October 13, 2010, 15:32:58 PM):
While I'm in agreement with your proposal, you know the saying about herding cats? I'm skittish about being vocal, I had to tread carefully in an apparent casual conversation with a colleague today regarding Noah's ark and the parting of the red sea, and that was just a casual conversation about a programme on DSTV seeking scientific explanations of how biblical stories might have basis in science. Had to shut up in a hurry. I have'nt got the energy nor the strength for this though, and if thats construed as not having a backbone, well, so be it, I do have kids to support, and a place of employment is a dodgy arena for being too vocal.

As for other areas outside work, I'm anti-social on a good day, and so is my S/O, so while I'll support atheist networks and charities, I'm not a front-liner at all.

Brian (October 13, 2010, 15:54:39 PM):
I tend to agree with Andysor. Here's a post I did today after Dan Dennet's speech ay Tuft's Univesrity and posted by Samuel H Kenyon on Think Atheist:
Dennet asks:
He listed three of his potential futures for religion, and mostly discussed the third possibility:

1. Religion will sweep the planet.
2. Religion is in its death throes.
3. Religion transform into creedless moral teams (ceremony and tradition, but no doctrine).

Which do you think is most likely, and why? What could we do to help steer to that path?

My take on it:
Something just struck me while reading this post. #3 is certainly possible and we should not under-estimate the impact of the the past atheists found it very troublesome to discuss their views as they were spatially as well as socially isolated. The internet is busy changing all that and atheists on forums like these are able to debate, argue, promote etc ideas on religions, non-religion and mysticism.

To achieve Dennet's #3 scenario will be difficult though...I foresee that #1 is going to be a big wave which will try to obliterate atheism through the deployment of the massive resources religions have at their disposal...this is atheism's Achilles heel. We are not organised or able to muster the resources they can.

Our strategies (and they have to be formulated by people like Dennet, Dawkins etc) will require political will (might be the death knell for many politicians though), and use of the Internet to really publicise the dangers of religion. For example: some Xtian groups are touting the second coming of JC next year some time. This may be a great opportunity to use that as a platform to ridicule the notion through clever publicity which advertises his coming and when he fails to materialise, we can highlight the stupidity of these beliefs and grow support from especially marginal believers.

Atheism cannot compete with churches in a head-on confrontational approach. It needs clever strategies almost a guerilla-type of approach which is able to think like the enemy (SunTzu). At the same time atheism should be wary of being exploited by politicians such as totalitarians and communist states. Our hands as atheists are clean; let's keep them that way.


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