Paul Bracken on "Atheism & Mortality"
This month we feature atheist science writer Paul Bracken speaking on "Atheism & Mortality." He asks if it's possible to be a scientist and atheist while also being comfortable with our mortality. He will examine some of the topics discussed in his book, Gilgamesh in the 21st Century.
In the absence of deities, how do we deal with mortality? Should our goal be to banish death through our ongoing crusade against its causes, or does our finiteness define us, and provide meaning and context for life? For a scientific atheist, what is the appropriate response to death? We'll review the ways in which people have imagined we might escape death, from extraterrestrial visitations to uploading minds into machines, and we'll discuss their plausibility.
Can we extend our lives indefinitely? And along the way, we'll review what it means to be human; our biochemical underpinnings, the neurochemistry of the mind and the evolutionary origins of human thought and individualism. Given the reasonable hypothesis that deities were manufactured in the minds of people, how do we rationalize the brevity of our existence in ways that don't seem meaningless?
Paul is a science educator, author and former Regional Coordinator for the Planetary Society. In the past he worked with Carl Sagan on the promotion of planetary exploration and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
Copies of his book will be available before and after the meeting.
Please join us for this talk and the always meaningful discussion afterwards. And please accompany us to dinner after the meeting at King Dong at 2429 Shattuck Ave at Haste. They serve reasonably priced Chinese food.
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When: Sunday, January 24th at 1:30
Location: Public Meeting Room, Third Floor, Berkeley Public Library, Main Branch, at 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck
BART Access: Less than one block from the downtown Berkeley BART Station.
Parking: All day parking is available for $7 on the weekend at the lot at Allston & Harold Way, a short block from the library.
Information: Larry Hicok, Coordinator: 510-222-7580
Ski Grabowski, Treasurer: 510-652-8350
Albany Hill Cross Fight Continues
We are continuing to fight the Albany Hill Cross, located for many years in a city park on Albany hill. Thanks for the support we have received from our members on this dilapidated cross.
Despite our leafleting at 850 homes in the area around the cross, a protest with nearly 30 people in front of city hall, our presentations at a City Council meeting, and two major press stories, the city staff is attempting to dismiss our structural concerns for the cross. However they and the Lions Club have admitted that the tree that carries the electrical service to the cross must be replaced with a pole, a severe fire danger pointed out by us. We are meanwhile pursuing ways to force the city to do a formal inspection of the structure, instead of the informal and undocumented "inspections" they have so far done. In fact the city is "unable to find" the required permit for the last installation of the cross in 1998, or for any other installation!
We are also working with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and American Atheists around the Establishment Clause issues raised by this cross. Our goal is to have it removed from public property. We have already succeeded in forcing the powers that be to deal with major safety issues that would have been addressed long ago if the structure were secular.