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Marriage Celebrants Law to be Topic at January Meeting

mnaAt our January meeting, Minnesota Atheists will be revisiting the issue of Minnesota’s law on marriage celebrants, which August Berkshire discussed briefly at our September meeting and at length in the October issue of The Minnesota Atheist. Since then, we have met with Minnesota state senator John Marty and have requested further feedback from our community on this issue.

At the January meeting, August will report on our talk with Senator Marty, and Stephanie Zvan will present preliminary results from our feedback survey and discuss the various options for action presented under the survey. If you haven’t shared your opinions with us yet, please take a few minutes to complete our survey.

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Opening Statement from "Can we be Good without God" Debate

By August Berkshire

august headOn October 20, 2013, I debated Rev. Scott McMurray on the topic of “Can We Be Good without God?” at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. The debate was sponsored by the La Crosse Secular Student Society and the La Crosse Area Freethought Society.

Following is my fifteen-minute opening statement. As I always do in debates like this, I open with a “prebuttal.” I argue what is wrong with the religious point of view before I say what’s better about the atheist point of view. I do this for three reasons:

First, in rebuttals a person is only supposed to address what the other person raised in their opening statement. There are often anti-religion points I want to make but I can’t count on my opponent raising these issues in their opening statements, so I do so myself in my opening statement. Second, the default in this country is religious belief, so if I can discredit religion right away it should make people more open to the atheist viewpoint, if only out of curiosity. Third, I like to put my opponent on the defensive right away. On to my opening statement:

We are all concerned with morality. Without it, we might not even be here. And I understand the fears of some religious people that, without a god to create or enforce morality, we would degenerate into a lawless species, torturing and murdering each other with nothing to hold us back. But we don’t get our morality from the gods, we create it ourselves, and then ascribe it to the gods as sort of an invisible policeman. But the thing is, you don’t need the gods to justify good behavior, you only need the gods to justify bad behavior.

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A Scottish View of the MN Atheists Conference

By Charles Coventry

charlesAs part of my third holiday to Stillwater, Minnesota, to visit my friend Ken Moses, we attended the Minnesota Atheists conference this past August.

At the conference, my Humanist Society of Scotland T-shirt aroused interest because of our motto “We’re A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns.” This is an old proverb meaning that everybody is the same. Supposedly in a certain village the entire population had been fathered by Jock Tamson, the blacksmith.

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Deliverance at Hand! Author Delivers Impressive Talk at Meeting

By Mike Haubrich

james zimmerman 2013For our October meeting at the Apple Valley Community Center, James Zimmerman gave us an informative and witty presentation. Zimmerman started speaking in front of audiences when he was just eight years old, and a few years of experience have made him into an entertaining and accomplished presenter. It does make a difference, too, to have a good book to present. Zimmerman’s autobiographical tale of growing up in, living in, and finally leaving the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is Deliverance at Hand!: The Redemption of a Devout Jehovah’s Witness. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because I strongly encourage people to purchase and read the book.

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