Hawke's Bay Skeptics in the Pub - Next Meetup

This topic will track Skeptics in the Pub meets for the Hawke's Bay Skeptics Group

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Thanks all. Great to se some new faces. Will organise topic and article for next meeting. Thanks VIcky Hype for the mention to NZ Skeptics email - helped with recruiting.


Topic for Skeptics in the Pub
From What good is religion anyway? New Zealand Listener
By Karyn Scherer | Published on March 3, 2012
“De Botton takes a different tack: in his latest book, Religion for Atheists, he takes it for granted that religious doctrine is a load of old cobblers, but argues that religions are far too useful, effective and intelligent to be completely ignored. Instead, he pro...poses what he sees as a common-sense compromise: that we can learn some very good lessons from religions, such as how to generate a feeling of community, how to better acknowledge our childlike needs and how to restore some order in our lives.
… De Botton suggests non-believers don’t need to miss out on all that breathtaking architecture for which churches are so well known; all they need to do is build their own temples … together with a group of property developers, he is hoping to build a 46m-high “temple for atheists” intended to celebrate life on Earth. It has been reported that the tapering tower’s interior will have a narrow band of gold to illustrate the relatively tiny amount of time humans have walked the planet, while its exterior will be inscribed with a binary code denoting the human genome sequence.”
What do we think of De Botton’s ideas?
Does it have any relevance for us in Napier New Zealand?
How might we as a Skeptical community (big picture internationally) and locally in Napier responds to De Botton’s ideas?
How can we build a community/alternative to the damaging ideas like religion/pseudo science and misguided thinking which underpins everyday life in our community?

Next Meeting Thursday 26th April 7pm

Next Meeting Thursday 26th April 2012 7pm - all welcome - bring a friend at the Gintrap 64 West Quay (we have our own seperate room).


Here is out topic for the next Skeptics in the Pub.
I have enjoyed Sam Harris's thinking on whether there can be a science of good and evil.

Some quotes
"It seems to me patently obvious that we can no more respect and tolerate vast differences in notions of human well-being than we can respect or tolerate vast differences in the notions about how disease spreads, or in the safety standards of buildings and airplanes."

"If we were to discover a new tribe in the Amazon tomorrow, there is not a scientist alive who would assume a priori that these people must enjoy optimal physical health and material prosperity. Rather, we would ask questions about this tribe’s average lifespan, daily calorie intake, the percentage of women dying in childbirth, the prevalence of infectious disease, the presence of material culture, etc. Such questions would have answers, and they would likely reveal that life in the Stone Age entails a few compromises. And yet news that these jolly people enjoy sacrificing their firstborn children to imaginary gods would prompt many (even most) anthropologists to say that this tribe was in possession of an alternate moral code, every bit as valid and impervious to refutation as our own. However, the moment one draws the link between morality and human well-being, one sees that this is tantamount to saying that the members of this tribe must be as fulfilled, psychologically and socially, as any people in human history. The disparity between how we think about physical health and mental/societal health reveals a bizarre double standard: one that is predicated on our not knowing—or, rather, on our pretending not to know—anything at all about human flourishing."

So our topic is
"Can there be a science of good and evil? Is science a better way to understand how humans can flourish than our traditional ways? If we agree how might we promote science into the debate?"

See Sam's TED Talk

And essay