Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weekly Meeting: Moral Dilemmas

Weekly Meeting


Moral Dilemmas
Thursday, October 23rd - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

Join us for more moral ambiguity as we discuss all sorts of moral dilemmas. These dilemmas are a great way to test what is deemed "moral." How do we put a value on human life? Do the ends really justify the means? When does killing for the greater good go too far?

Can't make it to the meeting? Join us afterwards at Memorial Union in the Lakefront Room around 9pm for drinks, food, and more great conversation.

We hope to see you there!

 - Anna Wright
Co-Treasurer

 - Sam Erickson
President
Next Week's Meeting

Halloween
Thursday, October 30th - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

What are ghosts, exactly? Who is most qualified to perform an exorcism? What's your plan for the zombie apocalypse? On the flip side, is there a darker side to Halloween other than teenage vandalism and offensive costumes?

Additionally, many of the officers will be in costume, and you can be too!

We hope you can join us!
A Call to Blog
AHA's blog updates with our recent events and stories worth sharing. Stories can range from coming-out-of-the-atheist-closet stories to news, primarily having to do with freethought, science, skepticism, or humanism. We also have a new series titled Meet the Officers, which can be viewed on the blog right now!

Do you have a story for the blog? Email it to us atwiscatheists@gmail.com!

Upcoming Events


Board Game Night

Saturday, October 25th - 7pm
Lakefront Room in Memorial Union


Halloween Party

Friday, October 31st - 9pm
521 S Orchard Street #2

Recent Events

Friday, October 3rd - Blood Drive


Although it was a slow start, the Blood Drive had a huge number of people donating in the afternoon.

 

Sam Erickson, AHA President


Saturday, September 27th - Board Game Night


As always, board game night was a rousing success, with games involving deception, words,and cooperation. The next board game night should be sometime in the next month, so don't worry if you missed it!  
AHA Event Calendar

Visit Our Office!
3157 SAC
3:00-6:00 Mon-Friday


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Meet the Officers: Sam Erickson

“Meet the Officers” is a biographical series that seeks to give names and personalities to the officers who run Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics. Every two weeks, the blog will update with a post about a new officer.


Sam Erickson is the President of AHA. He is a junior majoring in Economics and Political Science. 

When Sam came to UW-Madison as a freshman, he was actively looking for a supportive secular community, after just having attended a private Christian school for seven years. Although Sam was not able to be particularly active in AHA at the very start of college, he started attending regularly during his second semester (Spring 2013). He was brought on as the Outreach Chair that June, and elected President the December of his Sophomore year.

In his free time, Sam enjoys staying up into the wee hours of the morning mixing music, reading, or experimenting with different graphic design programs. In addition, he loves to stay in shape by playing soccer, skiing, running, and weightlifting.


Sam’s Secular Story

I grew up in a very Christian household, but I never really truly believed in a god. I went to church because I wanted to please my parents, but began questioning as early as sixth grade. Through the internet and many other resources, I eventually realized that I was an atheist by the age of 13, and proceeded to "come out" to my parents and friends a few months later. That resulted in some social exile at my private Christian high school, but much more difficult problems with my Baptist parents. After I told them that I was an atheist, the first six or so months were pretty rough, but our relationship has really improved since then.

I plan on going to Law School or Graduate School for Economics after I graduate from UW. I am still exploring all my career options, but if I decide on law school, I would use my law degree to fight for causes that I am passionate about, such as the environment, protection of civil liberties, or the separation of church and state.


I have had a long history of atheist activism, but I’m most proud of the work that I’ve done through this wonderful organization. My passion for the atheist movement has served as a backbone for all the wonderful activism that I’ve done over the last few years. AHA is full of truly wonderful people, all of whom are very dedicated to the work that they do, and I'm so proud that I can lead this group going forward.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Weekly Meeting - Morality

Weekly Meeting


Morality
Thursday, October 16th - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

This week we'll be tackling the subject of morality! As secular folk, we tend not to think that morality is divinely inspired. So, where does morality come from? We will be discussing the four main branches of moral philosophy, if there is a universal philosophy, and much, much more!  

Can't make it to the meeting? Join us afterwards at Memorial Union in the Lakefront Room around9pm for drinks, food, and more great conversation.

We hope to see you there!

 - Lucy Jiang
   Secretary

 - Mark Pan
   Co-Treasurer
Next Week's Meeting

Brain Teasers: Moral Dilemmas
Thursday, October 22nd - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

Join us for more moral ambiguity as we discuss all sorts of moral dilemmas. These dilemmas are a great way to test what is deemed "moral." How do we put a value on human life? Do the ends really justify the means? When does killing for the greater good go too far?

We hope you can join us!
A Call to Blog
AHA's blog updates with our recent events and stories worth sharing. Stories can range from coming-out-of-the-atheist-closet stories to news, primarily having to do with freethought, science, skepticism, or humanism. We also have a new series titled Meet the Officers, which can be viewed on the blog right now!

Do you have a story for the blog? Email it to us atwiscatheists@gmail.com!

Upcoming Events


Poker Night

Friday, October 17th - 8pm
530 W Johnson St. #307 (Cole's Apartment)
Call Cole at (401) 632-5374 to be let in!

Recent Events


Friday, October 3rd - Blood Drive


Although it was a slow start, the Blood Drive had a huge number of people donating in the afternoon.

 
Sam Erickson, AHA President


Saturday, September 27th - Board Game Night


As always, board game night was a rousing success, with games involving deception, words,and cooperation. The next board game night should be sometime in the next month, so don't worry if you missed it! 

Monday, September 30th - National Blasphemy Day


AHA officers asked passersby on East Campus Mall to write whatever they wanted on our huge white board. This was the awesome result.





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blasphemy Rights Day and Signs on Bascom Hill!

Last week was a big one for AHA, as we celebrated Blasphemy Rights Day and put up our signs on Bascom Hill.

We tabled on East Campus Mall to get the word out about Blasphemy Rights Day. What is this day, you ask? Why, it's a holiday founded by the Center for Inquiry that celebrates the right to free speech. More information can be found here.

We broke out our huge white board and asked passersby to write anything they wanted on it. These are the results:

Sam Erickson, AHA President

Our beautiful sign at the end of the day



But wait, there's more!



Did you see colorful signs last Friday, October 3rd, on Bascom Hill?

Those signs were put up by us! Here's a few pictures, for your viewing
pleasure:
















Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weekly Meeting - Creationism In Society

Weekly Meeting


Creationism in Society
Thursday, October 9th - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

Is Creationism on equal footing with Evolution? If not, why is it so hotly debated? Although banned by the Constitution, publicly funded schools across the nation still teach Creationism. Does this have an effect on scientific literacy? How do these curricula and public mindset affect society as a whole?

Can't make it to the meeting? Join us afterwards at Memorial Union in the Lakefront Room around9pm for drinks, food, and more great conversation.

We hope to see you there!

 - Mendel Mayr
   Officer

 - Anna Wright
   Co-Treasurer
Next Week's Meeting

Morality
Thursday, October 16th - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

Moral dilemmas are a great way to reflect on what we think is "right" or "wrong", and really get at what we think it means to be moral. How do we put value on human life? How do we decide who lives and dies? Is it moral to kill for the greater good? These questions, and more, will be the topic of discussion at next week's meeting.

We hope you can join us!

Upcoming Events


Board Game Night

Saturday, October 11th - 7pm
Lakefront Room, Memorial Union


Poker Night

Friday, October 17th - 7pm
530 W Johnson St, #307

A Call to Blog
AHA's blog updates with our recent events and stories worth sharing. Stories can range from coming-out-of-the-atheist-closet stories to news, primarily having to do with freethought, science, skepticism, or humanism. We also have a new series titled Meet the Officers, which can be viewed below this post!

Do you have a story for the blog? Email it to us atwiscatheists@gmail.com!

Recent Events


Friday, October 3rd - Blood Drive


Although it was a slow start, the Blood Drive had a huge number of people donating in the afternoon.

 
Sam Erickson, AHA President

Saturday, September 27th - Board Game Night


As always, board game night was a rousing success, with games involving deception, words,and cooperation. The next board game night is this Saturday, so don't worry if you missed this one!  

Monday, September 30th - National Blasphemy Day


AHA officers asked passersby on East Campus Mall to write whatever they wanted on our huge white board. This was the awesome result.

AHA Event Calendar
Donate to Light the Night

Visit Our Office!
3157 SAC
3:00-6:00 Mon-Friday


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Meet the Officers: Anna Wright

“Meet the Officers” is a biographical series that seeks to give names and personalities to the officers who run Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics. Every two weeks, the blog will update with a post about a new officer.


Anna Wright is one of the Co-Treasurers of AHA. She is a sophomore transfer student majoring in Agriculture and Applied Economics. Like many people, she found out about AHA from a friend, namely fellow officer Mark Pan. In her spare time, she likes to knit, watch TED talks, draw caricatures of Vladimir Putin, and destroy honeysuckle and other invasive species.




Anna's Secular Story

The first thing to know about my upbringing is that my dad was a Presbyterian minister. This means that my family was deeply connected to the church, which wasn’t a bad thing. The church community is supportive and is one of the best reasons to be in a church. If you were in the church, you were cared for and a part of something bigger.

I’ll take a moment to praise my father. He had a PhD from Vanderbilt and had a masterful understanding of theology. He always approached religious queries from a progressive point of view, and was disdainful of those who used religion as a crutch for comfort. If I ever engaged him in a theological conversation, I would sense his contempt for those who did not push their belief systems. He was a firm advocate for self-criticism and awareness.
I didn’t always know this. I tearfully admitted to my mom that I didn’t believe in God when I was in sixth grade. I was terrified of the implications, because it meant I didn’t belong within the church community. Right?

Not according to my parents. My dad never stopped telling me just how many atheists and agnostics attended service regularly, and how common it was for people to doubt their faith. They did not see my atheism as a reason for me to leave the church. I did. So, by the time I reached high school, our arguments had evolved into a compromise with two terms:

  1. I needed to believe in something beyond myself so that I had a moral compass through which to navigate life. It didn’t matter what, but I had to have self-examined principles. I had to understand how to make ethical decisions. The intuition of a teenager, in my parents’ eyes, was not a reliable decision-making machine.
  2. I needed to go through confirmation class. I didn’t need to be confirmed, but I did need to go through the process. I did not do this wholeheartedly. I probably attended half of the classes (which my father led), between sick days and other excuses I concocted. Like I said, it was a compromise.

At the time, I was so incensed by these two conditions that I barely acknowledged my father’s existence. I grudgingly told him “good night” each night, and thanked him for rides to school every morning. It’s not a time I am proud of. With my brothers out of the house, family dinners could be remarkably unpleasant.

Looking back, I am stunned by how much my parents guided me towards a free-thinking secular viewpoint. I am so grateful that they forced me into examining different theologies and philosophies, because I would have been content to declare myself an atheist. I would have pigeon-holed myself into a different dogma, and that would have been that. Instead, from sixth grade to tenth grade, my parents helped me come to my own thoughtful, personal philosophies. These philosophies are ever-changing, and I am determined to never allow myself to slide into a comfortable and easy viewpoint, whether it is secularism or theism. That, I got from my father.

My senior year of high school when I was living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I got an e-mail from my dad out of the blue. He was leaving his preaching post after about 30 years of working at the pulpit, for many, many reasons. Although I wish we could have been closer whether or not he was involved in the church, our relationship improved dramatically after he left the church. Still, my parents showed me how open-minded religion can be. My year in Bosnia further taught this lesson—although a predominantly Muslim country, most of my friends were secular and held to the traditions of Islam more than the religion or the institution itself.

Overall, the most painful part of being openly and honestly secular has been the impact on my community life. My family’s life was so intertwined with the church that refusing to attend service meant I cut myself off from deep friendships. To the church’s credit, no one ever held it against me. Over the years, I have been learning to rebuild these ties. It has been a rewarding experience—I do not feel like I am compromising my identity because it is obvious that I am not religious, and I am still accepted and loved by the people in the church.

Now for some real talk. I am adamant that connections within a community should be cherished. Religion is not inherently evil. I abhor oppressive institutions, but many individuals within them are loving and willing to open their minds. You’ll never know until you ask them. This mindset was especially important this summer, when my dad died in a car accident. I’m still processing the event. Yes, there were a few times that I ran away from comments of “He’s in a better place now.” It was just the fact that I knew the person talking was trying to comfort me and so it would be inappropriate to stomp on their foot or look annoyed. Overall, my schooling held. I was able to navigate (with the support of my selfless friends) the religiousness of the individuals and the service because of the years I had spent learning to talk to people regardless of their beliefs. And yes, I think (well, my mom gave me the hairy eyeball for this) that I rolled my eyes at the funeral when the presiding pastor begged God to forgive my dad’s sins. It pissed me off because that is something my father would not have preached. Especially considering that my dad spearheaded a group for inter-faith dialogue in Wausau. Especially considering one of the speakers at the service was a rabbi and family friend. My dad was an advocate for inclusion and understanding. He probably would have rolled his eyes too at someone condemning him for his depravity. But it pissed off my entire family, because we all knew that. My brothers don’t consign much to the church either—but I think both of them are theists. My mom is Presbyterian and I admire her faith. The bottom line? Believe what you want, but you better know why you believe it.
This story is not about my father. It is about me. But my dad’s perspective on faith and religion had a tremendous impact on who I am today. I am very lucky. My parents were intelligent and caring. They accepted that it’s mostly their fault that I turned out as the skeptic I am, and they loved me unconditionally. They not only accepted me, but they understood my thinking and were willing to engage in discussion with me. If there is one lesson I have internalized from my dad’s parenting, it is to never let myself be comfortable with my belief system. I am and have been a secular humanist since seventh grade, but that could change by New Year’s. For now, I’ll just keep on thinking.

Anna with her parents and grandather

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Weekly Meeting: Science and Pseudoscience


Hey there!
Please take the time to fill out our member survey and let us know a little bit about yourself! This is a survey that we send at the start of every school year to learn a bit more about our members.

Weekly Meeting


Science and Pseudoscience
Thursday, October 2nd - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

What fate do the stars predict for you? Will a homeopathic beer give a stronger buzz? Does grandma's remedy for aches and pains actually work? Can acupuncture cure cancer? Come discuss these questions and more at tomorrow's meeting on Pseudoscience!

Can't make it to the meeting? Join us afterwards at Memorial Union in the Lakefront Room around 9pm for drinks, food, and more great conversation.

We hope to see you there!

 - Mendel Mayr
   Officer

 - Mark Pan
   Co-Treasurer
Next Week's Meeting

Morality
Thursday, October 9th - 7pm
Ingraham Hall, Room 224

Moral dilemmas are a great way to reflect on what we think is "right" or "wrong", and really get at what we think it means to be moral. How do we put value on human life? How do we decide who lives and dies? Is it moral to kill for the greater good? These questions, and more, will be the topic of discussion at next week's meeting.

We hope you can join us!
Blood Drive
AHA is holding a blood drive with the Red Cross on October 3rd, from 10am to 3pm in Union South (Check "Today in the Union" for the room). You can either drop in and wait for a spot to open up, or schedule an appointment using the link below.

If you choose to schedule an appointment, please follow these steps after clicking the link below:

Select
City: Madison
State: WI
Date: OCT 3 to OCT 3
Click "Go"

Schedule an Appointment                             

Upcoming Events


Blood Drive

Friday, October 3rd - 10am - 6pm
2nd Floor of Union South (Check "Today in the Union")

Recent Events


Saturday, September 27th - Board Game Night


As always, board game night was a rousing success, with games involving deception, words,and cooperation. The next board game night should be sometime in the next month, so don't worry if you missed it! 

Monday, September 30th - National Blasphemy Day


AHA officers asked passersby on East Campus Mall to write whatever they wanted on our huge white board. This was the awesome result.
AHA Event Calendar
Donate to Light the Night
Donate Blood                             

Visit Our Office!
3157 SAC
3:00-6:00 Mon-Friday


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