Who are we?

Atheists lack, and sometimes specifically reject, a belief in the existence of a god or gods.

Humanists believe that ethical philosophy should be based on human needs and rational thought.

Agnostics believe that the truth about the existence of god or gods is unknown or unknowable.

If you find the above ideas interesting, you are invited to join AHA! for fun and lively discussion. We have regular meetings on Thursdays at 7pm in Old Union 301.

Contact e-mail: atheists [at] stanford.edu

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Dan Riley: Generation Atheist

Generation AtheistWe will be hosting author Dan Riley for a lecture and discussion about his book, Generation Atheist.

When: Tuesday, January 14, 7:30pm

Where: Building 370 (Main Quad), Room 370

From 2008-2011, Dan Riley worked as a campus organizer in the outreach department at the non-profit think tank the Center for Inquiry. He got to know many secular student leaders during his time with CFI. Finding many of their personal journeys to atheism to be fascinating, compelling, and unique, he decided to create a book that tells their stories.

The human journey is an emotional quest to find truth and meaning. Countless books have presented this journey through the eyes of people who concluded their search with devotion to God, salvation by Jesus, or commitment to religion. But there’s a changing zeitgeist in America and the world: a growing number of people are finding truth and meaning from the opposite perspective. Through 25 personal narratives, Generation Atheist tells their stories.

The people in this book come from different religious upbringings, races, sexual orientations, and genders. Many have gone through very emotional journeys in coming to a sustained, open atheistic worldview. Most were quite religious at one point in their lives. Through the internet, humanity is engaged in a global conversation unlike any before in history — about who we are, why we are here, and how we should live — and these individuals have an important perspective to share.

Free and open to all. Hosted by the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA!) @ Stanford. Sponsored by Stanford Graduate Student Council and the ASSU Undergraduate Senate.

Board Game Night

When: Thursday, December 12, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

For our last Thursday meeting of the quarter, we’d like to invite you to take a break from finals and join AHA! for a casual evening of board games and discussion. Join in on one of our board games or bring your favorite!

As always, we’ll provide some pizza/snacks and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

Discussion Meeting: Transhumanism

For this week’s discussion, AHA is partnering with the Stanford Transhumanist Association for what should be a lively and interesting debate about the future of humanity viewed from the perspective of a skeptic. Read below for a description from Andrés Gómez Emilsson, President of the Stanford Transhumanist Association, who will lead the discussion. Come join us for thoughtful good time!

When: Thursday, December 5, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

Transhumanism is a worldwide cultural movement that recognizes that increasing technological capabilities open up the possibility of changing the status quo in profound and unprecedented ways. From modifying ourselves to be better thinkers, all the way to ecosystem redesign, the range of potential benefits and ethical implications of the application of technology is astronomical.

Considering how different our future may be, it is worth asking how deeply ingrained our collective Status Quo bias is. Are we OK with death just because we have always assumed it is a necessary part of life? Is it really true that we can’t be always happy (or euphoric) and still maintain an extraordinary broad-spectrum cognitive ability? Are the lows of life a necessary part of it, or just how evolution programmed us? Are we really as smart as we could be? A rational and skeptical attitude would compel us to investigate these possibilities rather than discard them out of hand.

Broadly speaking, there are three main categories into which the bulk of technological enhancements discussed by transhumanists fall: Longevity, intelligence and happiness. Typically, the specific focus of individual transhumanist thinkers tend to be one or more of these categories (e.g. de Grey, Yudkowsky, Pearce, respectively). As general guide, these are the core issues touched by transhumanist thinkers, though the true scope is harder to characterize.

For a brief outline of these core issues we recommend watching this excellent introductory video from the British Institute of Posthuman Studies:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTMS9y8OVuY

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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Discussion Meeting: Social Politeness vs. Personal Conviction

Since many of you will be traveling for Thanksgiving soon, come share your ideas and experiences dealing with religious family members, and what your thoughts are on how “open” to be about your beliefs (or lack thereof).

When: Thursday, November 21, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

Sometimes, the desire to be polite or nice to those you care about seems to be at odds with the need to feel comfortable with your own non-religious identity (as well as the desire for your loved ones to be comfortable with it too). How do you balance these concerns? How does this fit into a broader conception of active morality (the way we believe everyone should behave) vs. passive morality (not wanting to impose your beliefs on others)? Come discuss these questions with your fellow non-theists and share your own opinions and stories!

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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The Neuroscience of Magic

Neuroscience_of_MagicWhen: Tuesday, November 19, 7pm

Where: Building 320 (Geology Corner, Main Quad), room 105

From ancient conjurers to quick-handed con artists to big ticket Las Vegas illusionists, magicians throughout the ages have been expertly manipulating human attention and perception to dazzle and delight us (or scare us, or steal our watches). Of course you know that the phenomena of cognitive and sensory illusions are responsible for the “magic” of a magic trick, but you’ve got to admit it still kind of freaks you out when some some guy in a top hat defies the laws of nature right in front of your eyes. Come meet neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and magician Robert Strong as they team up to demonstrate how magicians use our brains as their accomplices in effecting the impossible — and to explain what scientists can learn about the brain by studying the methods and techniques of magic.

Free and open to all (registration at Brown Paper Tickets). Presented in partnership with Ask a Scientist SF, the Humanist Connection, and AHA! @ Stanford. Sponsored by Wonderfest, the Stanford Graduate Student Council, and the ASSU Undergraduate Senate.

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Discussion Meeting: Skepticism and the Supernatural

In view of the upcoming presentation on neuroscience and magic next week, let’s talk about what secular thought has to say about the supernatural.

When: Thursday, November 14, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

Secular traditions are often defined by their position on the existence of god(s), but what about the existence of the supernatural in general? What is the division between “natural” and “supernatural” – and do those categories even make sense? What kind of evidence should we accept for “paranormal” claims, and how do we balance being skeptical with keeping an open mind? Do superstitious beliefs have a functional role even if they aren’t strictly true? Come discuss these questions with your fellow non-theists and share your own thoughts and ideas on the topic of the supernatural.

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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Discussion meeting: Skepticism and Social Justice

Come learn and think about how skeptic and secular thought can promote social justice!

When: Thursday, November 7, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

Although atheists as a group are not necessarily any more or less “socially just” than anyone else, let’s talk about some ways we can go about it when we want to be. After all, churches have historically played a significant role in advocating for social justice – as non-theists, what can we learn from the successes and failures of religion in this area? And let’s discuss what happens when scientific methods and ideals meet the limitations of human minds and culture. We will also present some long-standing principles used in building for social change, in case the discussion takes a practical turn towards action.

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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Discussion meeting: Atheism in Media and Society

When: Thursday, October 24, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

What is the perception of atheists and humanists in popular culture? How are non-theistic ideas and movements treated in the media or by society at large? If you’re interested in these questions or want to share your thoughts and ideas, come join our discussion.

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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Discussion meeting: Sources of morality

When: Thursday, October 17, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

Non-theists are often accused of having nothing to base their morality on, yet many of us are perfectly happy making moral decisions and being “good” without god(s). Where does morality come from? Is it absolute or relative – and what does that  even mean? How do you make distinctions between right and wrong? Come share your thoughts and ideas on these and other questions about morality. We’ll start with an overview by Jonathan Figdor and then split off into smaller groups for discussion.

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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Discussion meeting: Religious backgrounds and what led you here

When: Thursday, October 10, 7pm

Where: CIRCLE Seminar Room, Old Union 301

What did you believe growing up? Were you part of a strong religious tradition or did you try out several? What pathway led you to consider non-theistic viewpoints? Come share your histories and experiences with us, and hear about the journeys of your fellow members. As with last week’s meeting, we’ll start with some general ideas and then break up into smaller groups for discussion.

We’ll provide some pizza and drinks (or feel free to bring your own dinner if you prefer). Students and Stanford affiliates only.

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