The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics
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As mentioned in my last article, Brother Jed is in town preaching on the Mizzou campus all this week. We decided to raise some awareness about SASHA – and have some fun – by answering people’s ethical questions, from a secular perspective, in an event we called “WWJD? Ask him yourself!”
Our president from last year, James Pflug, donned a Jesus costume, and several of our other members also dressed up as apostles, and this afternoon while Jed was preaching, we made a triumphal entry into Speakers’ Circle, complete with Handel’s Hallelujah chorus (from “Messiah”) blaring from a boom-box. From there, Jesus took audience questions. Many of them were quite humorous (e.g. “Which is better, Coke or Pepsi?” to which Jesus replied “Dr Pepper!”), but there were some serious questions, too, about things like what day Jesus was crucified (John says the Day of the Preparation of Passover; the other gospels say the day before the Day of the Preparation of Passover), and what Jesus thinks about condom use. It was very informative and lots of fun.
Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of this, but a little later in the afternoon, one of our members, dressed as a Roman soldier (complete with red cape and helm with plumage) came around, pointed at Jesus, and yelled, “Hey, you!” and Jesus made a run for it! The soldier chased him all around the circle for a bit shouting “Stop him! Criminal!” and it got a lot of laughs. It was quite disarming. (If you have pictures of this, please email me at email@example.com!).
I think this sort of thing is important to do. There is an idea, promoted by religions as a self-protective mechanism of the meme, that certain ideas or concepts are beyond critical inquiry (fallacy of special pleading). This idea has no rational basis. “Sacred” is just a word that means “you’re not allowed to ask questions.” Why not? To quote Douglas Adams, “Because you’re not!” This, right here, is the foundation of why irrationality is dangerous. To quote Sam Harris, “The problem of faith is that it is a conversation-stopper. As long as you don’t have to give reasons for what you believe, you have effectively immunized yourself against the power of human conversation. You hear religious people say things like, ‘There’s nothing that can be said that will change my mind.’ Just imagine that said in medicine. If there’s nothing that can be said that will change your mind, if there’s no evidence or argument that can be educed, that proves that you are not any state of the world into account in your beliefs. The problem with this is that when the stakes are high, we have a choice between conversation and violence.”
A reporter and a photographer from the Maneater were also there. I’ll link to the article once it’s online 🙂
After awhile of answering questions at the circle, we headed over to our Ask an Atheist table for some one-on-one discussions with other students. I’d say we had a least a dozen in-depth conversations with people about a variety of great topics throughout the afternoon. At 5:30, we headed over to the Student Center for our weekly meeting, where we enjoyed discussion, games, and cake, in celebration of our 100th blog article!
Next week, SASHA member and Mizzou philosophy grad student Seth Kurtenbach will be giving a presentation about the First Cause argument and the basics of logic. We will meet at 5:30 next Wednesday in the Agriculture building, room 2-16. See you there!
Until next time!
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Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.
and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!