Wednesday 24 April 2013

10th May monthly talks 8.00pm

Unitarian Church 15 Francis Street East Sydney
Headline talk; Steve Marton
"A funny thing happened on the way to the mosque" - 
SynopsisThis talk centres around Mohammed. It illustrates how he justified himself to his followers and then discusses the manipulation, promises and threats that he made to have his followers do his bidding.
Second talk; Aleks Zablotskii
"Islam and Totalitarianism"  -
SynopsisThe talk explores the totalitarian tendencies that underlie some of the fundamental principles of Islam, and draws historical comparisons to other modern totalitarian regimes as a basis for valuing their practical application on society. It will also be argued that while racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia are indeed a facet of the secular world that must be confronted at every instance, “Islamophobia” is an entirely irrational notion that permeates our discourse.

Those who wish to have dinner together before the talks, we will meet at 6.30 at MD Thai on the corner of College Street and Oxford streets Darlinghurst.

Please RSVP for the dinner at:

and RSVP for the talk at:

Talk Location: 
Nearest station is Museum. If you cross the park keeping Liverpool street to your right and the war memorial to your left once you have crossed the park you will see the Hyde Park Plaza, to the left of that is Francis street, a short way down Francis is the Unitarian church, we will meet in either the Chapel or hall depending on numbers attending and availability.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Monthly talk

Well it is that time again, this Friday is the Sydney atheist monthly talk. All are welcome, but if you are religious and have come to preach or proselytise then please don't interrupt the speakers and be prepared to have your arguments torn apart.

This Months talks will be:

"Is atheism a religion" - Peter Crawford
Synopsis;Peter is a speaker from the Unitarian church, his talks have been performed for the Unitarians for some time, this is the first time he will be speaking to Sydney atheists.

"The Cult of personality"  - Morgan
Synopsis; Religion knows that if you get people to revere a central figure then you can build this figure up and even lie to make people do what you want, is it possible this has leaked out of religion?

There will be an additional meetup posted for a pre-talk dinner at a nearby restaurant, please RSVP to that meetup if you are going to that at least 2 days prior to allow for accurate numbers to be communicated to the restaurant.
Nearest station is Museum. If you cross the park keeping Liverpool street to your right and the war memorial to your left once you have crossed the park you will see the Hyde Park Plaza, to the left of that is Francis street, a short way down Francis is the Unitarian church, we will meet in either the Chapel or hall depending on numbers of attending and availability.

We do request at a minimum a couple dollar donation to cover the cost of the hall hire and any other costs we incur, we are not for profit and 100% of funds will go to operating the group.

There has been some concern we are holding this in a church. The Unitarians are only nominally religious about 20% believers in Christ. Some of Sydney atheists own members are Unitarian and some of the Unitarians we have met are non-believers.

The other issue is of cost and welcoming attitude; we have used venues before that have not been so accepting of atheists, one waiter tore down our signs at one location, while we were still there. Others still have simply told us they don't want us, and most want to charge upwards of $500 per event. If you think you have access to a better location, central, close to public transport and not overly expensive to hire please let us know via the contact button at the top of the site.

Please note that some people have asked for a change of menu for the dinner, so it is now being held at  La Pesa Trattoria.

Meetup event:
Pre-talk dinner:

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Argument from morality

We have been invited to debate in the coming months, below are my arguments against the Christian standard argument from morality that I used in our mock debate.
Christians and other religious people will often argue that without religion how can you be moral? Where do you get your morality from if not from God above? I am here to argue that not only do we get our morals from elsewhere, but that being moral without God is actually a higher good.
It is said we get our morals from the bible, but this is patently not true. The bible endorses slavery, (Leviticus 25,45, Exodus 21, NT: Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2), murder ( and all of the so called seven deadly sins. Even where it makes moral judgements they are not moral. Of the Ten Commandments, only 2 are actually against the law, and these are only punishable by the civil gaol time in Australia, not the death sentence that most of the commandments call for.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, is a nice thought and a damn site better than the 10 commandments, but it has a huge flaw. What if the person living by this law is a sadomasochist deriving pleasure from others pain, or even enjoying pain being inflicted on themselves? I don’t want to be cut and tortured but they wouldn’t be breaking this golden rule. The better version of this rule; do unto other as they would have you do unto them.
What about turn the other cheek, again excellent sentiment. But something that wouldn’t get you far if you practised it against an invading force.
Love your neighbour as yourself, is lovely as well. But it devalues your own worth, and doesn’t cover the aforementioned issue of an invading force made up of people you may consider your neighbours. It also doesn’t put more emphasis on kin, is it moral to save your 20 year old fit and healthy neighbour from a house fire over your helpless 6month old child or invalid parent? Regardless who would begrudge a person saving their wife or child over a stranger?
Evolutionary psychologists will say that morals developed so that we could survive as a species that lived in communities. If you are a criminal and everyone knows you are a criminal, then come winter when you and your children are hungry, your neighbours are less likely to give you some of their food and thus you are less likely for your possibly criminal genes to pass on. This can be seen as moral actions can be performed by animals of lesser intelligence than us. Dogs are known to defend and tolerate children's rough behaviour. Dogs have also been seen to risk their own life to rescue a dog or person they don’t even know. Piranhas one of the most vicious of fish, even during a feeding frenzy will not attack other piranhas. Ducks that sometimes eat fish have been known to feed them a share of their bread or grain. All these are animals, according to Christian religions not imbued with a soul and not capable of determining right from wrong. Yet somehow they act kindly and morally.
There are some cases were being amoral are of benefit though. Look at the Mongol hoards, or early warring tribes. If you lacked empathy the very definition of a psychopath then you would do very well in one of these cases, thus having a likelihood of passing on your genes. But society now frowns upon violence and crime, we have built up laws to defend the weak and punish the criminal. Psychopaths still exist though and have been shown to show no empathy for their actions to another human being, only seeing them as barriers to getting what they want, these place a challenge for the argument of morality coming from God as Psychopaths can be shown from birth to lack empathy and thus have no moral compass that one would imagine should be imbued by the divine. David Koresh (Waco TX), Timothy McVeigh (OK Bombing) and Marshall Applewhite (Heavens Gate) are all examples of people that have been posthumously claimed as having Psychopathy and using religion to further their goals.
Morality that has been built up over time and can be seen in our current legal system here in Australia and similarly in most developed countries. Guidelines such as innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial, evidence beyond reasonable doubt. All of these guidelines have been built up through trial and error, developed from earlier legal systems. These tried cases then build up our body of law, if an event occurs that is not illegal and brought to a court of law and tried and found to fail the test of law then a precedent is set and it can only be repealed through further cases to prove the act was not immoral.
There is a famous dilemma called Euthyphro’s dilemma. Is something good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is good? Either answer has issues; if God can change what is Good then all of a sudden he can deem infanticide good, as he did with Abraham before reneging and Jephthah (Judges 11:30-40) where he followed through. If God only does good because it is good, then morality and good are outside of God and there is morality above and beyond God.
Let’s take the example of two young Children. One knows his parent is watching and is gentle and kind, sharing their toys with their younger sibling, oh how sweet you say. The other child doesn’t know their parent is watching and is sweet and kind to their sibling in the same way. I put it to you that the greater good is the child who does good while no one is watching, with no possibility of reward or fear of reprisal. So it is with non-believers who don’t believe there is anyone on high watching them and keeping score as they work in their community to make the world a better place, volunteer their time and money to educate or help people with their lives.
So I say we are moral not because of religion but despite it.