Monday, March 29, 2010

What makes good a meeting topic?

Have you heard enough debunking of the Bible?  Do you really need to be shown a second, third or fiftieth time that the nonsense of religion is actually nonsense?  Gosh, I don't.  But what is there to discuss at an atheist meeting if not this?

Are you interested in Darwin?  Are you ready to hear more about evolutionary changes over the eons of time since life emerged?  Really?   How much detail is enough?  The subject spans more than a hundred years. If you need more,  of it, then why not attend a university and take a class on the subject?

How about cosmology?  Are you deep into physics enough so that you're ready to listen from the edge of your seat to a lengthy survey on that subject?  Are you that hooked on particles?

History then...? The same sort of dried complaints could be applied, couldn't they?

It's my guess that many of you are as warn out on some of this stuff as I am.  There are just so many hours I'm willing and able to commit to participating in the atheist/secular movement and I'm hardly prepared to invest that time attending a meeting that fails to address the kind of things that need voice.  What are we doing to promote social change? How are we planning to overcome discrimination?  Are we making progress at getting better assemblies and action groups established to lead our nation and our world into the next new age of enlightenment?

While some highlights of science subjects are appropriate to mention in passing and ought to be meted out in small doses they hardly make good meeting subjects when served up as the main course.  The same is true for mocking and debunking tired out religions crap.... Let's leave didactics and academia for the classroom.  Been there; done that.  Let's move on to the real world for a change.

My idea of good meeting subjects (or of format, really) for atheists has evolved to become more that of desiring discourse on open questions rather than listening to a prepared lecture.   I like the structure of an open forum and the bantering of ideas set to problem solving.  Debate is healthy.  This kind of thing is far, far more my style than submitting just to listen, and I'll bet that's true for most of us.  I really don't enjoy hearing anything delivered from a top-down lecture point of view regardless of how well the assembled information may be stacked.  Lets face it, classrooms and lecturers can be as boring as church meetings and preachers.

To have a good meeting, I say... kick ideas around the room.  Ask for answers to practical questions; ask for solutions and see if your meetings start to become much livelier, better attended and more productive at effectively resulting in the kind of changes your community really needs.  Start holding town meetings... forums... and debates at your meetings.  You'll be glad you did.   
What makes good a meeting topic?

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