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Book Club

Secular Sundays #1

We now have two book clubs! About the book: Are you curious about the United States’ secular roots? They go far deeper and wider than you may realize. Join us for coffee and goodies as we read and discuss Susan Jacoby’s landmark book, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. We will read three chapters at a time and for the first meeting we will meet at my home, and then get a group consensus on where we’d like to meet in the future. This is a different book club than the one Chris Webster hosts and will focus more on Freethought, Critical Thinking and Reason rather than science-related books.

At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby traces more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century’s civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected achievements of secularists who, allied with tolerant believers, have led the battle for reform in the past and today.

Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, and the once-famous Robert Green Ingersoll, Freethinkers restores to history the passionate humanists who struggled against those who would undermine the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system.

First Meetup: January 5, 2014. Read chapters 1-3.

Second Meetup: January 19, 2014. Read chapters 4-6.

Final Meetup: February 2, 2014. Read chapters 7-12

Check Meetup.com for location details.

Book Club #7

This is the seventh book club and we’re talking about reality itself this time! From Amazon: A physicist speeds across space, time and everything in between showing that our elegant universe—from the Higgs boson to antimatter to the most massive group of galaxies—is shaped by hidden symmetries that have driven all our recent discoveries about the universe and all the ones to come.

Why is the sky dark at night? Is it possible to build a shrink-ray gun? If there is antimatter, can there be antipeople? Why are past, present, and future our only options? Are time and space like a butterfly’s wings?

No one but Dave Goldberg, the coolest nerd physicist on the planet, could give a hyper drive tour of the universe like this one. Not only does he answer the questions your stoner friends came up with in college, but he also reveals the most profound discoveries of physics with infectious, Carl Sagan–like enthusiasm and accessibility.

Goldberg’s narrative is populated with giants from the history of physics, and the biggest turns out to be an unsung genius and Nazi holocaust escapee named Emmy Noether—the other Einstein. She was unrecognized, even unpaid, throughout most of her career simply because she was a woman. Nevertheless, her theorem relating conservation laws to symmetries is widely regarded to be as important as Einstein’s notion of the speed of light. Einstein himself said she was “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.

Symmetry is the unsung great idea behind all the big physics of the last one hundred years—and what lies ahead. In this book, Goldberg makes mindbending science not just comprehensible but gripping. Fasten your seat belt.

First Meetup: January 12, 2014. Read chapters 1-4.

Second Meetup: January 26, 2014. Read chapters 5-7.

Final Meetup: February 9, 2014. Read chapters 8-10.

We’re back to Walden’s Coffeehouse for this one. Check Meetup.com for details.

Book Club #6 – Finished!

This is the sixth book club and we’re moving into anthropology! From Amazon: A riveting account of the astonishing experiences and discoveries made by linguist Daniel Everett while he lived with the Pirahã, a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in central Brazil. Daniel Everett arrived among the Pirahã with his wife and three young children hoping to convert the tribe to Christianity. Everett quickly became obsessed with their language and its cultural and linguistic implications. The Pirahã have no counting system, no fixed terms for color, no concept of war, and no personal property. Everett was so impressed with their peaceful way of life that he eventually lost faith in the God he’d hoped to introduce to them, and instead devoted his life to the science of linguistics. Part passionate memoir, part scientific exploration, Everett’s life-changing tale is riveting look into the nature of language, thought, and life itself.

First Meetup: December 1, 2013. Read chapters 1-5.

Second Meetup: December 15, 2013. Read chapters 6-10.

Final Meetup: TBA.

We’ll be meeting at Swill Coffee and Wine for this book. Check Meetup.com for details.

Book Club #5 – Finished!

This is the fifth book club and it’s not about atheism or religion for once! Mario Livio is a noted scientists and popular science writer. This book should be fun, engaging, easy to read and understand, and should spark some interesting conversation.The first meetup will be at Walden’s Coffeehouse on October 6th at 11pm. We usually meet on the deck just north of the pizza place in the back. Get there a little early because the line for coffee and food is usually pretty long.

First Meetup: October 20, 2013. Read chapters 1-3.

Second Meetup: November 3, 2013. Read chapters 4-7.

Final Meetup: November 17, 2013. Swill Coffee and Wine! Read chapters 8-11 and the Coda.

Book Club #4 – Finished!

This is the fourth book club and it’s going to be a good one. Frans de Waal is a noted primatologist and an accomplished writer. We’re going to finish this book in only two meetups so get it early and come to the meetup prepared to discuss!The first meetup will be at Walden’s Coffeehouse on September 8th at 11pm. We usually meet on the deck just north of the pizza place in the back. Get there a little early because the line for coffee and food is usually pretty long.

Book Club #3 – Finished!

This is our third book club and it’s going to be a great one! The book involves a lot of geology and should be a great one for intelligent discussion. There will be two archaeologists at each meetup as well! They should have some insights that will help guide the discussion. You don’t have to be a dues paying member to attend, or, even a member of RFT! Just show up if you want to have a great discussion. Oh, and read the book!Next MeetupJuly 14, 2013 at 12pm at Swill. Read chapters one through five.

Second Meetup: July 28, 2013, 12pm at Swill. Read chapters six through nine.

Final Meetup: August 11, 2013, 12pm at Swill. Read the entire book!!

Guest Speaker: TBA

Book Club #2 – Finished!

Our first meetup was on May 26 and we read the first six chapters of this great book.Next Meetup: June 9, 2013. Read through chapter 14 if you want to attend! Check meetup.com for details

Final Meetup: June 23, 2013. Read the entire book if you want to attend

Guest Speaker: A.C. Grayling (via Skype) on June 27, 2013. Time: 12:00pm (location TBD). Check meetup for details.

Book Club #1 – Finished!

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