St. Louis Ethical Society and St. Louis Atheists

The photo shows me in praise of The Flying Spaghetti Monster or hypnotizing myself in prayer, not sure which. The St. Louis Ethical Society and St. Louis Atheists hosted my presentation on Sunday, March 29. 67 Attended with a great discussion and questions afterward. The Ethical Society has a beautiful facility. It is refreshing to speak in a venue that is both beautiful and dedicated to something other than the supernatural. Kate Lovelady and Jenn Kim did a great job of organizing the event.

One question came up in the discussion that I get occasionally, "How do I deal with a good friend who wants me to read the Book of Mormon (or Bible, or Koran)? I want to maintain a good relationship but I don't want to deal with their infection?" I am not sure there is one good way to work with this problem, but one suggestion is to suggest that you both choose one book from your own view point and promise to give each a serious read. Then spend a specific amount of time discussing each book in turn making sure that both books are given a complete discussion. Religious people are very quick to give you their book but far less interested in reading what you may offer. They are even less interested in a fair and in-depth discussion or anything but their book. In all likelihood, they won't take you up on the offer and you will be off the hook. If they do take you up on it, make sure the agreement and expectations are clear. Also, both books should be about the same length. Don't promise to read the whole book of Mormon or Bible, that is unrealistic.

Another tactic I have used is to tell them, "I have read hundreds of religious books in my lifetime, probably far more than you have. I don't feel the need to read another. On the other hand, I doubt if you have read a single book by Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, etc. If you want to read a few of those first, I will read one of yours. We still won't be even, but at least you will have some knowledge of the arguments of those authors s we can have a good discussion.

On Thursday I will be in Joplin presenting to the Joplin Atheists. I hope to see some of you from Joplin who are on Atheist Nexus. Here is the link for more info.

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Comment by Darrel Ray on April 4, 2009 at 11:57am
Ben, I haven't seen anything from Joe. I do get the question about the science behind the concept. Granted it is early in the process of exploring the idea of memetics and religion, but The God Virus was meant to be a summary of an idea with a great deal of supporting evidence in the book. After someone reads the book, I am happy to discuss questions and challenges. Unfortunately, I get a lot of argument from people who have not even read Dawkins essay, Viruses of the Mind let alone my book. If you have read the book you can see that it is a framework for understanding and further exploration. You can look at things like sociological analysis from organizations like the Pew Charitable Trust and the Barna Group to see some pretty interesting science supporting the notion. To date, I have found no other theoretical framework that explains as well and I have been looking for a lifetime for such a framework. I did not invent this idea, I just expanded on it. If you respond to someone's questions, I would love to see your response. I often learn from others who are exploring and trying to understand the ramifications of the theory. Thanks for your comment.
Comment by Darrel Ray on March 30, 2009 at 12:22pm
Thanks for coming. Glad to hear it stimulated some good discussion. Also encouraged that you were laughing at the presentation. I am still working on my comedic personality. I need all the encouragement I can get.



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