Some Past Presentations/Programs
- March 2010 -- Alan Mandelberg, Ph.D. on Ethics for Non-believers.
Dr. Mandelberg discussed an approach based on some ideas from the philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Dewey how a non-believer can argue against the need for "commandments" or divine authority to be a moral person.
- February 23, 2010 -- Ibrahim Ebeid on Iraq's Secular Past.
Ibrahim Ebeid is of Palestinian origin. He has been a political activist for Middle Eastern affairs for five decades. He discussed "Iraq Yesterday, Iraq Today, and Iraq Tomorrow." Ebeid has spent much time in Iraq and noted how the country was the most secular in the Arab world until the March 2003 invasion.
January 2010 -- Rebecca Moore spoke on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple tragedy.
Rebecca Moore is chair of the Religious Studies Department of SDSU and author of Understanding Jonestown and the Peoples Temple, Praeger, 2009. See also Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple.
October 2009 -- Linda Patterson spoke concerning her book Hate Thy Neighbor. One of the most widely recognized teachings of Jesus is to "love your neighbor as yourself." Unfortunately, many Christians seem to ignore this extraordinarily laudable exhortation when it comes to their homosexual neighbors. Hate Thy Neighbor is a new book that exposes the widespread misconceptions that have led many Christians to spew hate-filled homophobic rhetoric from pulpits and pews. Linda Patterson is a civil litigation attorney who lives in San Diego, California. Before pursuing her legal career, Ms. Patterson graduated magna cum laude from Seattle Pacific University in 1988. She graduated with Honors from the University of North Carolina Law School at Chapel Hill in 1995. Ms. Patterson is now a member of the California and Washington State Bar Associations.
September 2009 -- Our guest speaker was Dr. Salman Ahmad, a retired engineer and founder and director of the SADEQUAIN Foundation. Sadequain is considered one of the finest artists in Pakistan’s history. He painted more than 15,000 works in his life and also was an expert on calligraphy, inventing a new style for the Urdu language. He died in 1987 at the age of 57.
Today, Sadequain’s works adorn various museums and buildings worldwide. But, he differed from most artists in that he never charged for his work, which included murals up to 700 feet long.. He gave away many of his works to peasants and working class people. Since his death, many of his works have disappeared and are showing up at art auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, and selling for $300,000-$500,000. The value of his works in modern terms has been estimated at $800 million to $1 billion.
Dr. Ahmad is Sadequain’s nephew. For the past few years, he has tracked down some of Sadequain’s masterpieces that have been neglected over the years and is attempting to get various groups to sponsor the renovation of these works. Despite finding some works, there are still thousands of Sadequain’s paintings that are missing. Many times, these are the ones that show up in the art auction houses and are sold by private parties. The goal of the SADEQUAIN Foundation is to find and restore as many works of the artist and donate them to museums or other worthy places to show.
Dr. Ahmad showed several pieces of Sadequain’s work, including a portion of "Treasures of Time," a 72-feet long mural depicting the great thinkers of the world from Socrates to Galileo to Einstein.. This mural is currently in three pieces and Dr. Ahmad brought a 24-feet portion to the meeting.
Below is a portion of "Treasures of Time."
June 2009 - Our guest speaker was Professor Khaleel Mohammed of San Diego State University. Dr. Mohammed spoke to the group in 2007, and related the history of Islam and the misconceptions held today about the religion from non-Muslims and Muslims alike. He has many detractors in the Muslim religion because of his views on the history and application of Islam. He also has supporters who agree with his opinions that Islam must modernize itself and explain the Koran in contemporary language and thought.
March 2009 - San Diego resident Craig A. James discussed his forthcoming book, "The Religion Virus," which examines the history of religion by applying Darwin's powerful principles, but applied to human culture and ideas rather than to biological life. When religious concepts and tenets are treated as evolving, mutating entities that compete via the classic "survival of the fittest," religion's peculiar history begins to make sense. The success of each major religious concept (such as monotheism, heaven and hell, sin and morality, intolerance, and many others) is revealed to be a function of its survivability; each concept's appeal, rather than its veracity, made it survive the test of time to become part of today's religious doctrines. James also discussed how a Darwinistic approach predicts that religion will be incredibly tenacious, and explains why people still cling to two-thousand-year old ideas in spite of huge advances in human knowledge.
October 2008 -
Atheist Coalition of San Diego President Jeff Archer discussed the history of his recently-published book The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War as well as highlighted the book contents. This 400-page book is entirely different from the coverage FOX News and CNN has given to the 17-year conflict.
August 2008 - About a year ago, Rick Ericson looked at his son's middle school social studies textbook. He found various entries that he thought were not in line with recommended teaching of religion. In other words, the religious texts exceeded the guidelines set forth. Since then, Rick has written or spoken to dozens of people at the local, regional and state level concerning the quandary. He has amassed a pile of correspondence. Today, he is at the same point he was a year ago. When someone told him that he must address another department or agency, he followed the instructions, but received the same message of passing the buck. If a parent complained that his/her student was not being allowed to pray privately at school, there would be a mass of officials waiting to jump on the case. In this instance, no one wants to address the issue of right and wrong if it is on the other side of the argument.
March 2008 - Atheist Coalition of San Diego hosted the San Diego premier of Catholic School Catfight. It stars Atheist Coalition member Bryan Walsh, who plays Father Billy, a Catholic priest. The co-star is well-known atheist activist Bart Aikens, who plays a rabid Baptist father of a wayward daughter. The movie was directed and produced by Dwayne Walker, who has produced several movies concerning religion. The movie lasted 35 minutes.
February 2008 - Jai Ghorpade, SDSU business professor, spoke on "God, religion and atheism in America". Prof Ghorpade recently had an interesting experience running a pro-atheist opinion article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
November 2007 - Professor Khaleel Mohammed, of the Religious Studies Department of San Diego State University discussed his views of Islam and the misinterpretation of the religion in the West.
June 2007 - Judith Abeles discussed a few of the important archaeological sites in Israel and which refer to historical events described in the "Old" Testament (Scriptures) and other facts about life in ancient times.
May 2007 - Harry Sutton spoke on the search for the Historical Jesus. What do we really know about the life of Jesus? Ultimately, almost nothing of a reliable nature.
September 2006 - Dwain Deets reported on a recent national convention of Icelandic atheists which he attended.
May 2006 - Rex Dalton spoke regarding missing link fossil discoveries
Mr. Dalton is the U.S. West Coast correspondent for Nature. He discussed recent "missing link" fossil discoveries, including the 375-million-year-old fish discovered in the Canadian arctic that appears to be an intermediate between fish and land-dwelling animals, as well as early hominid fossils. Before joining Nature in 1999, Dalton covered medicine for the San Diego Union Tribune.
March 2006 - Diane Anshell spoke about STUN (Superstition, Talking Snakes, Unjust Taxes, and Nonsense) TV programs. She has had her own Public Access show for 15 years and is well-acquainted with the red tape of getting a show on the air. Also, she has put a lot of time into getting the STUN programs to be scheduled.
January 2006 - Jeff Archer, president of Atheist Coalition, spoke about his new book, The Mother of All Battles, written under his pseudonym Malcom Lagauche.
October 2005 - Bill Wexler of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame spoke on the topic: Insights on Giving Effective Speeches.
September 2005 - First Amendment attorney Randal Morrison spoke on church and state legal issues, emphasizing the "frontier cases" now in the lower courts, some of which will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
August 2005 - Bart Aikens of Atheists United in Los Angeles. Together with the late Lauren Peck, Aikens produced the hour-long TV show STUN (Superstitions, Talking Snakes, Unjust Taxes, and Nonsense), which ran for 13 years. Aikens talked about Lauren Peck's legacy and the STUN show.
June 2005 Darrel R. Falk, professor of biology at Point Loma Nazarene University. Falk's book "Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the Worlds Between Faith and Biology" has been favorably reviewed by the National Center for Science Education. Aimed at fundamentalist Christians, the book explains why it is important that evolution and the deep age of the Earth be accepted among the public, and how believers can integrate both faith and science into their world-views. Falk's research interests include molecular genetics.
He holds a PhD from the University of Alberta.
May 2005 - Kevin Cornwall, a parent in the Poway school district, He spoke about his efforts to establish an alternative to the recitation of the current Pledge of Allegiance as the state prescribed daily "patriotic activity".
April 2005 - Bobbie Kirkhart, President of the Atheist Alliance International spoke on the topic "AAI: What are they up to now?" Bobbie Kirkhart is a contributing author of The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America. Retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District, Adult Division, Kirkhart has made numerous radio and TV appearances.
March 2005 - Jeff Archer, president of Atheist Coalition, spoke about his new book, The Sledgehammer and the Ant: The 12-Year U.S.-Iraq War, written under his pseudonym Malcom Lagauche.
- February 2005 - Rowena Oesting of the La Jolla meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
Rowena Oesting has been a Quaker for over 30 years. She gave an overview of the doctrine and history of Quakerism, and discussed the future direction of the religion.
- January 2005 - Paleobiologist Dr. J. David Archibald, Professor of Biology and Curator of Mammals at San Diego State University.
Professor Archibald received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1977. He has written 150 articles, essays, reviews, and monographs on the systematics and evolution of early mammals, biostratigraphy, faunal analysis, and extinction. His field work has taken him from the American West to Middle Asia. His 1996 book Dinosaur Extinction and the End of an Era: What the Fossils Say (Columbia University Press) documents what we know of the fossil record at the time of dinosaur extinction. In February 2005 his edited book with Ken Rose The Rise Of Placental Mammals: Origins And Relationships Of The Major Extant Clades (Johns Hopkins University Press) will appear.
October 2004 - Jeff Archer, president of Atheist Coalition, spoke about the history of atheism locally.
- September 2004 - David Christian, professor of history at SDSU and author of Maps of Time, An Introduction to Big History.
Maps of Time is world history on an unprecedented scale. Beginning with the Big Bang, David Christian views the interaction of the natural world with the more recent arrivals in flora and fauna, including human beings. Professor Christain discussed his book and the concept of "Big History".
- August 2004 - Matthew Hess
The August speaker was Matthew Hess of MGMBill.org, a local group that is trying to ban male circumcision for infants. Female circumcision/genital mutilation has been banned in the US, but not male. This issue explores the boundaries of separation of church and state.
- July 2004 - Jeffrey Mittman, Special Projects Manager of Equality California, and Southern California Field Director of Marriage Equality California.
Mittman has been an activist for gay issues since the early 1980s and has been on staff for numerous political candidates over the years.
- April 2004 - Dr. Russell F. Doolittle, on Theism in the Scientific Community.
Dr. Doolittle is a biochemist at UCSD with two distinct research efforts under way. One is very general and has to do with reconstructing the evolutionary histories of a wide variety of proteins. Among the questions he is trying to answer are: When did prokaryotic organisms diverge from eukaryotes? How many rudimentary families of proteins are there? How are "new proteins" invented? The second major research interest deals with the invention and evolution of vertebrate blood plasma proteins, and expecially the clotting proteins. Dr. Doolittle has been engaged in the ongoing "debate" with creationists. He discussed theism in the scientific community as well as evolution vs. creationism issues.
March 2004 - Ellen Brown and Jim Hillegas of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, on Church/state separation issues.
February 2004 - Ed Duliba on Civil Rights and Legal Status of Atheists.
In 2004, there are atheist citizens of the United States that, by the laws or constitutions of several states, are not allowed to testify in court, not allowed to serve on juries, not allowed to work for the state or to occupy state elected offices. Immigrants cannot take the oath of citizenship without declaring belief in a goddess or god.
- January 2004 - Pentheism
For our January meeting, several representatives of the local Pantheists, including Tom Brower, conducted a discussion regarding Pantheism. To read up on Southern California Pantheism, check out their web site.
- April 2003 - Dr. David Preston on his study of Zen Buddhists in Southern California
In 1988 Dr. Preston published a book-length sociological study based on his, and other's, experience in the group he wrote about. In the meantime he became seriously involved in a spiritual practice that is more theist, but with much in common with Zen and similar sorts of spiritual paths.
Dr. Preston a professor of sociology at SDSU and got his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. He is an undergraduate advisor and he studies Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Knowledge, and Social Theory. He is currently on an early retirement program.
- March 2003 - Kim Blaker on The Fundamentals of Extremism
The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America is not just
another book on the Religious Right. John Shelby Spong retired Bishop of
the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey and best-selling author of Rescuing the
Bible from Fundamentalism calls Blaker's book, "a blockbuster expose of the
activities of the Religious Right."
In this stark and troubling account of the Religious Right's vision for
America, readers come face-to-face with fundamentalist goals and tactics
that have long been under way. The Fundamentals of Extremism is an in-depth
examination of the causes and characteristics of Christian fundamentalism
and its effects on women, children, African-Americans, gays and lesbians,
politics, education, and American society.
The Fundamentals of Extremism has received other endorsements by such
celebrities and scholars as Richard Dawkins, Nadine Strossen, John M.
Swomley, and Gerald A. Larue.
Richard Dawkins, Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science
at Oxford University, author of Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion
and the Appetite for Wonder, The Selfish Gene, and other books:
"I have just read this brilliant book from start to finish, almost without
a break, and I am stunned and horrified by what I have learned. The
fundamentalist Christian Right is America's Taliban. With the exception of
the burqa (and even that, one feels, is missing only because St Paul forgot
to mention it) all the ingredients are there: slavish adherence to a
misunderstood old text; hatred of women, modernity, rival religions,
science and pleasure; love of punishment, bullying, narrow-minded, bossy
interference in every aspect of life. The Religious Right represents
organized ignorance, organized bigotry, organized nastiness - and these
people are on their way to taking over the Republican Party. Not least, the
book persuaded me how muddled the fundamentalists are. They think they are
patriots, yet they fight the letter of the Constitution and the spirit of
the Founding Fathers every step of the way. The Religious Right is, in the
deepest and truest sense of the word, un-American."
Bio: Kimberly Blaker is editor and coauthor of The Fundamentals of
Extremism: the Christian Right in America. She is a social advocate and
syndicated writer and columnist who has been published in more than 90
regional magazines. Her opinion column on church and state, "The WallTM,"
appears regularly in newspapers and other publications. Her commentaries
have also appeared in the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, San Francisco
Examiner, the Los Angeles Daily Journal and she has also written for the
national Complete Woman Magazine.