CFI-NYC eBulletin - March 2009

Upcoming Lectures

Meet the Author: William Lobdell, Sat., Mar. 14

Join CFI and the Secular Humanist Society of New York for a special, free Book Club "Meet the Author" event with William Lobdell, an award-winning journalist, author, blogger, speaker, college lecturer and media consultant whose new memoir — “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace” — details  his experience starting on the religion beat for the Los Angeles Times as a devout evangelical Christian and, eight years later, ending as an atheist.

Lobdell worked for 18 years with the Los Angeles Times and its sister newspapers, covering the religion beat for The Times for eight years, first as a columnist and then as a beat reporter. He earned several national awards for his work before becoming a metro editor for the paper in 2006. He left the paper in 2008. Lobdell has also been a visiting faculty member for 12 years at the University of California, Irvine, where he teaches “Religion and the Media” and “The Internet, Blogs and Politics.” He is owner of Four Boys New Media, an online publishing company that operates Greer’s OC, williamlobdell.com, Lobdell’s OC, and two digital magazines that will debut this fall. His company also offers corporate media consulting.

Lobdell will talk about his book, then take questions from the audience. The event will end around 4:30, at which time we will head over to Pongsri, a Thai restaurant at 165 23rd street (and 7th avenue). There, books will be sold and Lobdell will sign those or a copy of his book you already own.

Friends and supporters of the Center are invited to meet at the community room at 2 p.m. for roughly one hour of intimate conversation with William Lobdell before the event starts. To become a Friend of the Center, click here .

Saturday, March 14, 3:00 p.m.
Muhlenberg Library
209 W. 23rd St (7th Ave.), Third Floor

Voices of Reason: Teaching Evolution in America's Classrooms, Thurs., Mar. 19

Join CFI to scrutinize the real state of the teaching of evolution in American classrooms-the forbidden "E" word not as it is portrayed in courtrooms, churches and the media but as it taught-or not taught-by teachers intimidated by the Religious Right to students who may arrive in class believing in the literal story of Genesis. The panel will include David Campbell, a Florida biology teacher profiled in The New York Times (August 24, 2008) ; Jose Maldonado, principal of Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering and an adjunct professor of science education at Teachers College, Columbia University; and our own Matthew LaClair, President of CFI-On Campus and a strong advocate for church-state separation in the classroom. The discussion will be moderated by CFI-NYC program director Susan Jacoby, and a booksigning for the post-election paperback edition of her bestseller The Age of American Unreason will follow.

Thursday, March 19, 6:30-8:00

General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen, 20 W 44th St.

Advanced registration is recommended. Lecture admission is $10 (free for Friends of the Center -- call 212-504-2935 or e-mail nyc [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net to RSVP). You may purchase in advance by credit card (call 212-504-2935 or e-mail nyc [at] centerforinquiry [dot] net), or by check (made payable to the Center for Inquiry-New York City; mail to 80 Broad St, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10004). Alternatively, you may pay at the door by cash, check, or credit card.

SAVE THE DATE: Voices of Reason: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Belief, Wed., April 22

Join CFI for a unique panel discussion on the evolutionary origins of religious belief. In recent years, a growing number of scientists have turned to evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology for an answer to the question, Why does religious belief persist? Others view evolutionary explanations of religious belief as nothing more than a new variety of faith. This panel will present both sides of the fascinating and lively debate. Participants include the famed evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, a distinguished professor at Binghamton University and author of Evolution For Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives , and Randy Thornhill, a distinguished professor of evolutionary biology at the University of New Mexico who has appeared in numerous televised productions including, among others, The Today Show, The Morning Show, CNN, BBC, National Geographic and Dateline NBC.  The date and time of this event may change. Further details, including a final location, will be announced shortly.

Wednesday, April 22, 6:30-8:00 (NOTE: Time and Date subject to change); Location To Be Announced

Advanced registration is recommended. Lecture admission is $10 (free for Friends of the Center -- call 212-504-2935 to RSVP). You may purchase in advance by credit card (call Michael De Dora, 212-504-2945 ext. 1), or by check (made payable to the Center for Inquiry-New York City; mail to 80 Broad St, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10004). Alternatively, you may pay at the door by cash, check, or credit card.

Community Events

Brooklyn Social: Tues., Mar. 24

Union Hall is a 5,000 square foot bar and restaurant with a laid back atmosphere, a down-to-earth crowd, affordable and quality food, and a wide selection of beer, wine and liquor. Located in the heart of Park Slope, it houses cozy firesides, two indoor bocce courts, and a downstairs bar and music venue.

Drinking, eating, quality discussion, games and socializing with like-minded people in your neighborhood: does it get any better than that?

Admission to this event is free but limited. Please RSVP here to attend.

Tuesday, March 24 at 7 p.m.
Union Hall
702 Union St (and 5th Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Book Club: John Brockman's "What Are You Optimistic About?", Tues., Mar. 31

The jointly sponsored Center for Inquiry / Secular Humanist Society of New York Book Club will meet on Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in the Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (at 7th Ave.), 3rd Floor, to discuss What Are You Optimistic About? Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things are Good and Getting Better , edited by John Brockman .    Following great edge.com anthologies such as "What do you believe but can't prove?" and "What are your most dangerous ideas?" Brockman's new collection offers the reader many succinct essays, often only a page or two, that have more stimulating insights than we might expect from entire books.   Included are Jared Diamond's Good Choices Sometimes Prevail , Steven Pinker's The Decline of Violence , Carlo Rovelli's The Divide Between Scientific Thinking and the Rest of our Culture is Decreasing , and Lee Smolin's The Return of the Discipline of Experiment Will Transform Our Knowledge of Fundamental Physics .

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.

Announcements

CFI-NYC Hires New Executive Director: Introducing Michael De Dora Jr.

CFI-NYC is pleased to announced the recent hiring of a new Executive Director: Michael De Dora Jr.  Mr. De Dora graduated from SUNY Albany in 2005 with a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communication, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Political Science at Brooklyn College.  Prior to joining CFI, Mr. De Dora worked for The City University of New York as a writer and editor.  He also organized CFI's Brooklyn activities, where he has helped achieve impressive results in recent months. 

CFI-NYC's outgoing Executive Director, Derek C. Araujo, was recently named Vice President and General Counsel.  Mr. Araujo will direct CFI's legal activities from CFI-NYC's Manhattan offices.

Center for Inquiry World Congress: "Science, Public Policy & the Planetary Community," April 9-12, 2009, Bethesda, MD

2009 marks the bicentennial of both Charles Darwin's and Abraham Lincoln's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. There can be no more fitting opportunity to discuss and consider the appropriate relationship between science and public policy. Please join us as scientists and scholars from around the world analyze the role of science, explain how it works, explore its connection to public policy, and examine its significance for the global community.

Speakers already confirmed include NASA climatologist Drew Shindell, Roger Bonnet from the International Space Science Institute, author and social critic Christopher Hitchens , acknowledged authority on evolutionary biology Michael Ruse , skeptical investigators James Randi and Joe Nickell , renowned psychologist Elizabeth Loftus , and many others.

For sign-up and more information, visit http://www.centerforinquiry.net/worldcongress

CFI Travel Club Adventure: The Western Carribean, Nov. 12-20, 2009

We are happy to announce the 6th Annual Center for Inquiry Travel Club Event.   Please join your host, Paul Kurtz, and staff sailing on Carnival Miracle®.

Enjoy 8 days of conversation, camaraderie and fun with like-minded folks. Sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, visit the countries of Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. Savor 4 days at sea, stretching your mind and body, participate in challenging presentations and pleasant on-board activities.  November 12-20, 2009.

For more information and registration, visit http://www.centerforinquiry.net/cruise2009.  Everything, including all times, itinerary and pricing, is subject to change at any time.

CFI-NYC Launches Capital Campaign

CFI-NYC's current rented space at 80 Broad Street 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 http://www.centerforinquiry.net/nyc/news/capital_campaign .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.