CFI-NYC eBulletin

June 2, 2008

Upcoming Lectures

Barbara Oakley on "Evil Genes": Wed., June 4

Join us for a special presentation by Professor Barbara Oakley on her new book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hilter Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend .   Oakley explores human evil from a scientific perspective, detailing recent advances in brain imaging and genetics that have implications for traditional views of evil.  Evil Genes discusses why a scientific understanding of evil is important. 

Barbara Oakley has been dubbed a "female Indiana Jones." Her writing combines worldwide adventure with solid research expertise. Among other adventures, she has worked as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea, served as radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, and rose from private to regular army captain in the U.S. Army. Currently an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, Oakley is a recent vice president of the world's largest bioengineering society and holds a doctorate in the integrative discipline of systems engineering.

Wednesday, June 4, 6:30 p.m.
Shetler Studio Annex
939 8th Avenue (between 55-56th Sts), 2nd Floor (wheelchair accessible)

FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  (Suggested donation: $5.)  Co-sponsored with the Scular Humanist Society of New York

Worldviews and Opinions of Indian Scientists, Thurs., June 5

Join the Center for Inquiry and the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture for the official release of a pathbreaking new study of Indian professional scientists' attitudes and beliefs on religion, ethics, and society. Featuring and international press conference and presentations by study designers Professors Barry A. Kosmin, Ariela Keysar, Dr. Meera Nanda, and others.

Some topics covered in the survey include Reasons for Becoming a Scientist, Status of Women, Scientific Literacy in India, Opinions Regarding Evolution, Ethical Constraints on Science, Belief in God, Belief in Miracles, and Spirituality.

777 United Nations Plaza (44th St. and 1st Ave), 2nd Floor June 5, 2008, 11 am (lunch will be served).

"TRUTH UNCORKED: Where Wine Flows Like Conversation": Wine & Dinner with author/film producer and director Matthew Chapman, Thurs., June 12

CFI-NYC's Truth Uncorked series continues on Thursday, June 12 with Matthew Chapman, the acclaimed author, Hollywood screenwriter, director, and producer, and the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.  Join us for an intimate evening of fine dining, exquisite wine, and intelligent conversation. 

Matthew is the author of 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities On Trial in Pennsylvania , an account of the 2005 Intelligent Design trial in Dover, PA, and Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir , a personal memoir centered on a trip to Dayton, TN to witness a reenactment of the Scopes trial and see how -- or if -- attitudes towards evolution have changed.  Matthew's produced screenplays include Runaway Jury (starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and John Cusack ) and Color of Night (starring Bruce Willis ).  He has written and directed multiple films, including Slow Burn (starring Johnny Depp, Eric Roberts,  and Beverly D'Angelo ) and Hussy (starring Helen Mirren ).  He is currently writing and directing a philosophical thriller, The Ledge , co-produced by Mark Damon, Michael Mailer, and Matthias Visser.

Thursday, June 12, 6:00 p.m.
Gascogne ( )
158 8th Avenue (at 18th Street)

SPACE IS LIMITED. RSVP REQUIRED.  $80 admission includes dinner and wine tasting.  For reservations or more information, contact nyc [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net, or call (212) 504-2935.

Future Truth Uncorked guests include John Rennie (chief editor, Scientific American ); mathematician and author John Allen Paulos; and poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht.  Visit for updates.

Save The Date: Freethinkers Tour of New York City, Sept. 6

Save the date!  Back by popular demand, CFI-NYC's Freethinkers Tour of New York City will take place again on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 6.  Keep an eye on for more information.

Community Events

Movie Night, Monday, June 9: "Brazil"

This month's Movie Night features Brazil .  Director Terry Gilliam (of "Monty Python" fame) presents a future where society is completely controlled by an inefficient government. Sam Lowrey (Jonathan Pryce) is a fantasizing civil servant who spots an error in a sea of paperwork, leading to the arrest of an innocent man. While Lowrey attempts to right the wrongful arrest, he's assumed to be terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). A black-comedy triumph of imagination, fantasy and mind-bending production design.

Monday, June 9, 7:00 p.m
Stone Creek Bar & Lounge
140 E 27th St. (Lex-3rd Aves)

There is no room-rental charge at Stone Creek Lounge, but management expects us each to spend the equivalent of a "one drink minimum." Check out the menu and prices at .

Coming Attractions: July: Point of Order: The Army-McCarthy Hearings ; August: What do you want to see? Come to Movie Night and tell us.

Darwin's Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure: Sun., June 15

Join CFI-NYC for a group tour of the New York Botanical Garden's latest exhibit, Darwin's Garden: An Evolutionary Adventure .  Prof. R. Geeta, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolution at SUNY Stonybrook, will guide us through an exhibit replicating Darwin's botanical work and more of Darwin's Down House experiments.  The stunning, multipart exhibition totals 33 stops, spread throughout about half of the garden's 250 acres. Visitors who enter the exhibition through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will encounter a replica of a room in Darwin's house, designed so they can look through the window, as he did, to a profusion of plants and bright flowers: hollyhocks, flax and of course primroses, what Todd Forrest, the garden's vice president for horticulture, calls "a typical British garden."  Read more in the NY Times ' recent article about the exhibit.

To RSVP and for more information, call Tasha Williams-Dantzler at (212) 504-2935, or e-mail nyc [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net.

Sunday, June 15, 2:00 p.m.
New York Botanical Garden
Southern Boulevard and 200th St., Bedford Park, the Bronx

Book Club, Thurs., June 19: "The Secular Conscience" by Austin Dacey

The jointly sponsored Center for Inquiry / Secular Humanist Society of New York Book Club will meet on Thursday, June 19, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in the Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (at 7th Ave.) to discuss Austin Dacey's The Secular Conscience. Religion is a public matter as never before, and secular values—personal autonomy, toleration, separation of religion and state, and freedom of conscience—are attacked on all sides and defended by few. The godly claim a monopoly on the language of morality in public debate, while secular liberals stand accused of standing for nothing. The open, secular society is in retreat. Secular liberals have undone themselves. For generations, too many have insisted that questions of conscience —religion, ethics, and values—are "private matters" that have no place in public debate. Ironically, this ideology prevents them from subjecting religion to due scrutiny when it encroaches on individual rights, and from unabashedly defending their own moral vision in politics for fear of "imposing" their beliefs on others.

Philosopher Austin Dacey calls for a bold rethinking of the nature of conscience and its role in public life. Inspired by an earlier liberal tradition he traces to Spinoza and John Stuart Mill, he urges liberals to lift their self-imposed gag order and argues for a secularism based on the objective moral value of questions of conscience. He likens conscience to the press in an open society: it should be protected from coercion and control, not because it is private, but because of its vital role in the public sphere. Conscience is free, but not free from shared standards of truth and right. Marshalling the latest research on belief, the mind, and ethics, The Secular Conscience delivers a compelling ideal for the future of the open, secular society.

Join us even if you haven't finished reading.  The CFI/SHSNY Book Club is open to all ... and free! Every CFI/SHSNY Book Club Meet is a Book Swap, too. Bring the books gathering dust on your shelves and take your pick of other readers' castaways. The leftovers? Donated to the Muhlenberg.

Directions to the Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (at 7th Ave.): 1 train to 23rd St. & 7th Ave., F or V to 23rd & 6th, C or E to 23rd & 8th; #23 or #20 bus to 23rd & 7th. Parking garages at 170 and 101 West 23rd. The library has an elevator to the 3rd floor Community Room

Monthly Brunch: Sun., June 29

This month's jointly-sponsored Center for Inquiry and Secular Humanist Society of New York brunch gathering will take place again at Fusia Asian Cuisine, 677C Lexington Ave (on 56th St. just east of Lex), at 12:30 p.m. Everyone interested in getting together with like-minded humanists and rationalists for good food, lively talk and humanist camaraderie is welcome.

Fusia is midtown-located, inexpensive and good pan-Asian. Order off the menu; individual checks. For the menu and prices, go to


CFI Institute Summer Session: The Journey from Religion to Science, July 20 - August 10

Contemporary society challenges us to understand our world in ways unimaginable a century ago. Scientific and technological advances, although beneficial and intellectually exciting, are also frequently anxiety-provoking, disrupting the placid certainty of the past: our comforting mythologies are regularly challenged by the realities of modern science and the unforeseen capabilities of modern technology. How can we embrace this intellectual excitement without provoking the anxiety created by, to borrow Lippmann's phrase, the "acids of modernity"? How can those of us committed to a fully secular, rational, science-based understanding of the world respond to majority views shaped by different commitments and loyalties? How do we chart a course from the "disenchantment of the world" to the "re-enchantment of the world."

The CFI Institute's Summer Session 2008 examines such questions as, "What are the origins of religion?", "How do we assess the truth claims made by major religions on the basis of their sacred writings?", "Is it possible to be good without God?" and "What is modern science telling us about how we come to know ourselves and the world beyond us?" The courses offered in 2008, organized around the theme From Religion to Science , examine the "future" of the Enlightenment, secular and religious dominion in public policy, the new atheism, and other topics of vital concern for humanists and non-humanists alike.

To register or for more information, call (716) 636-4869 ext. 408, e-mail sdornfeld [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net, or visit .

Camp Inquiry: Holland, NY, July 13-19

Camp Inquiry invites campers from 7-16 years to think, question, and grow in a week-long camping experience in beautiful Holland, NY. Through inquiry-based, hands-on experiments, activities, and discussions, campers will experience just how challenging, fascinating, and fun exploring the world and expanding the mind can be. Contact Courtney Hannity at channity [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net for a brochure.

CFI-NYC Launches Capital Campaign

CFI-NYC's current rented space at Rockefeller Center has many limitations. We have barely enough room for staff to function efficiently. We have no room for skeptics and secular humanists to gather. The next step of CFI-NYC's development is to take its place as a leading cultural institution. To this end, we are seeking to purchase a 5,000+ square-foot property in Manhattan (hopefully with room for expansion) to serve as the headquarters for our growing staff and to become a permanent home for reason, science, and secular values in New York.

We are challenging our friends - humanists, skeptics, and freethinkers in the New York area - to help us exceed our goal of raising $6.25 million. Our goal is based on the amount considered necessary to purchase and renovate a building that will suit our needs.

Our capital campaign brochure is available for download on our website at .To request a hard copy of our brochure, or to inquire about making a contribution, call Sherry Rook, Vice President of Development, at (800) 818-7071.

Show Your Commitment to Reason, Science and Secular Values

In the contemporary marketplace of ideas, one can find responsible, objective, and evidence-based information on everything from foreign policy to hormone replacement therapy. Yet when it comes to some of our most fundamental questions--about human values, the transcendent, or the borderlands of science--one often only hears from partisans of traditional religion, New Age practitioners, or anti-science movements.

With its network of scientists and other thinkers, its grassroots advocacy and public education organizations, and its popular and scholarly publications, the Center for Inquiry fills this gap, lending a credible voice to critical inquiry and the scientific outlook.

Help CFI promote and defend science, reason, and freedom of inquiry by becoming a Friend of the Center. Friends of the Center receive:

  • Free or discounted admission to CFI events
  • 10% discount for national events sponsored by CFI and its affiliates CSH and CSI
  • 15% discount on selected Prometheus Books titles
  • A colorful CFI vinyl decal
  • An enamel CFI lapel pin (Contributor level or higher)
  • Invitations to special events and private receptions (Benefactor level and donors of $1000 or higher)

Join the Center for Inquiry by becoming a Friend of the Center.