The following is a reflection about the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers’ annual Darwin Week lecture series. CFI On Campus was a proud sponsor of Darwin Week 2016!
Student groups are fickle things. Many are ultimately temporary, due to either the graduation of founders and unsuccessful transitionary periods or simply the dropping off of a trend. Case in point, you won’t see many Students for Rand last until 2020. For older organizations like the UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers, events like Darwin Week show the changing perspectives and opinions of the members over time. Given that we are talking about an event that has to do with Darwin, it is apropos to say, “Evolution”, I suppose. I was not around to participate in the first Darwin Week, nor will I be around to participate in the last one. But I do know that Darwin Week will keep changing to fit the needs and goals of not only UNIFI, but the student body as a whole.
On February 8th, the Secular Student Alliance at UCF (SSAUCF), an affiliate of CFI On Campus, hosted Dr. Darrel Ray for a speaking engagement. Dr. Ray, who is well known for his work in psychology, gave a speech entitled “Sexy Evolution: What do ducks, chimps and humans have in common?”
Since adolescence I have been taught that I am held accountable for what I tell others. As a child, if I told my younger siblings that a boogie man was in the basement, my parents held me responsible for dealing with their night terrors or overly aggressive relationship with the basement staircase. Reasonable parents would address a fear-mongering child like me by telling me to verify my claims before they might scare others. As adults we are similarly expected to think before we preach; ironically, this type of accountability is rarely applied to the self-declared preachers of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship. When faced with the problem of violent religious extremism, the institutions extremists claim to be part of often in turn claim those very groups to be non-representative outliers. In other words, they suggest that because hateful deviants fail to represent belief systems in a marketing-friendly manner, their association with the “peaceful” teachings of mainstream religions must be nullified and rejected. I find at least one viewpoint to be helpful in exploring such a problem: product liability law. This legal framework demonstrates how an undeniable contract, denoted in holy scripture and distributed by clergy as a divine bond between sinner and creator, exists between religious bodies and extremists committing horrific acts based on the doctrines and teachings of those religions. For success, eternal or otherwise, religions must be held responsible for the terrestrial results of any unclear or harmful orders found in said doctrines.
The University of Kansas Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics (or SOMA, for short), has been a fantastic and very active group for its many years as a CFI On Campus affiliate. We talked to Taylor Cameron, president of the group, about why she got involved with SOMA and the impact she sees the organization having on campus:
Editor's Note: These are some great suggestions to start off your spring semester, and we at CFI On Campus hope that you incorporate them into your group's plans, if you haven't already. If you have other organizing advice to share with Course of Reason readers or are looking for more ideas for your group, email us at email@example.com!I'm president of the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers & Inquirers (UNIFI), and our group has been a campus affiliate of the Center for Inquiry for just shy of a decade now; I hope that means that we’re doing something right. A lot of what I’ve learned has been passed down from my predecessors, and a lot of it comes down to planning your semester well. Here are three tips that have helped UNIFI maintain itself as an organization.