Volume 17   Number 9
September  2016
Board Members

Richard Dewey

Vice President:
Chris Wojno

Tim Bedient

James Osborn

Program Director:
Al Wendler

Property Director:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Membership Director:
Anita Romanowski

Members at Large:
Vici Duarte
Linda Wendler

Committee Chairs & Other Leadership:
J.B. Wright

Bruce Pettycrew

Christine Walden

Safety Officer:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Service Outreach Coordinator:
Gwindolynn Gentry

Facility Use Management:
Vici Duarte

Food Management:

Linda Wendler

Science Night:

Matt Ferrin

Information Technology:
James Osborn

Girl Scout Troop:
Ann Marie Eisentraut

Book Club:
Roy Towne

Inquiring Minds:
Richard Dewey

Ted Talks:
Anna Carter

Game Nights:
Bruce Stiles
Ann Marie Eisentraut
Anna Carter

Immediate Past President:
Shelley Newman (2011)

President Emeritus:
Susan Sackett

President's Message

I promised last month that I would tackle a topic this month that seems to keep popping up all over in the non-theistic community. Is it wrong for atheists, particularly atheist leaders, to state with absolute certainty that "there is no God". Some of our most prominent leaders have been called out for saying that, numerous times, in social media and as I said, in many off-line discussions. The argument is generally philosophical in nature with some pretty esoteric discussions requiring a handy dictionary or a very strong background in philosophy. My side of the discussion has leaned more towards a practical perspective which I hope to explain here.

Needless to say, the question of whether or not "God" exists is not something that I'm going to be able to give much insight into, for several reasons. Many people, with much more knowledge than I have, have written massive volumes on this and this article just isn't going to have enough space to rehash even a fraction of that let alone any fresh ideas. I also don't have a degree in philosophy even while I do understand some of the arguments for and against and I'm unlikely to come up with any fresh ideas anyway. Some of the discussions that I've read on this have been mind-numbing to me (or migraine producing). But I will touch on just a few of the philosophical arguments just for the fun of it and to give a little perspective on how complicated this is. Some arguments FOR the existence of "God' include Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways, the well-known Teleological argument, the Christological argument, the Majority argument (an obvious logical fallacy), to name just a few. And then there are the philosophical arguments AGAINST the existence of "God", such as the Argument from inconsistent revelations, the Dysteleological argument, the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit (gotta love this one), the Omnipotence paradox, and the Argument from free will, again, just to name a few. And this just goes on and on. But the one that seems to be the most common philosophical argument is the argument of unfalsifiability which essentially states that any claim that cannot possibly be proved or disproved by any experimental means or observation, is essentially meaningless and cannot rationally be stated, for example "there is no God". Remember that statement? That is what this article is about, or at least whether or not it is appropriate for us to state that. We could wax philosophical ad infinitum and it wouldn't get to the main point. While understanding philosophy and how to spot logical fallacies is important for critical thinking skills and understanding what's real and what likely isn't, the question that I started with has a very different importance to it in my opinion.

As I understand it, there are an estimated 4100 - 4200 distinct religions in the world today and literally countless gods or powerful spirits (is there a difference?) that people believe in. This is not even mentioning how many gods people have already stopped believing in. I don't believe anyone has an accurate count. While I may be referring mostly to the Abrahamic God here, that's just one of many thousands. And as for evidence regarding the existence or non-existence of any of the gods, although it might not be definitive proof, there have been mountains of credible evidence found that actions attributed to any one of these gods is actually explainable by natural laws. And as to evidence to the contrary, there has been none. The definition of "God" alone can be seen to be a moving target the more we learn. So when it comes to extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence, it would seem that the claim that "there is no God" is way, way ahead.

Belief in fairies, invisible pink unicorns, Russell's Teapot, leprechauns, and giant heat-resistant rhinoceroses living near the core of the earth (Armin Navabi. "Why There is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God". October 2014. P19) are all quite harmless beliefs. But believing in a deity that speaks to you through thoughts, "wise" leaders, or "holy" books, all without a shred of credible evidence, can apparently lead one to do some pretty horrible things. Not only can it impede your understanding of real threats (think Anthropogenic Global Warming for example - we cannot possibly harm "God's creation") or understanding the value of all life on this planet, but it can also lead people to directly harm others. Can any of you readers think of any recent examples? Better yet, can any of you readers NOT think of any recent examples? I'm not going to debate how much of the violence on the Eastern side of the Atlantic is due to beliefs like this or due to Western imperialism but it does appear to be a healthy mix of both. How much better off would we be if nobody believed such things anymore? I've heard people say that some folks just can't function without a belief in a higher power. I have yet to see any scientific studies that show definitively that that is true and not the result of environment. I am highly skeptical that anybody really needs such beliefs. And I'm highly confident that all people could benefit greatly if we all trusted in what science, rational observation, and life experience teach us and feel a sense of curiosity and excitement about the possibilities of learning what we don't yet know. So it seems to me that shouting "There is no God!!" from the rooftops is not such a bad thing, logical fallacy or not.

I recently had a discussion with a gentleman recently from Sweden who, in the middle of a delightful conversation, informed me that where he is from, people don't talk about religion anymore. To them, that's for the history books, not for the present. He is having trouble understanding our (the U.S.) seeming obsession with it on both sides of the coin. He was anxious to find a community where this is not on the list of topics. And here I am spending more time on the subject, again. But can you imagine living in a place where this is not even a topic worth discussing? Yes, imagine that. I CAN'T WAIT!!

If you would like to comment on any of this, please feel free to email me at the address shown below or post something on our Facebook Group page, the link to which is also shown below. I would enjoy a good conversation about this.

Here are links to some of our important webpages. Our Meetup page is at HSGP Meetup. Our Facebook Group can be found at HSGP Facebook Group. Our Facebook page at HSGP Facebook Page. And lastly, since you're reading this, you probably already know but our main website is at HSGP website.


You can email me at President@hsgp.org or look on the left side of this page to find out who your board members and committee chairs are to contact to them.

Richard Dewey
President, HSGP

Reminder to re-enroll in Fry's VIP Community Rewards Program. How to enroll in other similar fundraising programs.

If you forgot to enroll or re-enroll in August in Fry's Community Rewards program to benefit HSGP you can still do so. This program and the others described below allow you to generate income for HSGP by shopping without adding anything to your cost.

Fry's Community Rewards Program Fry's distributes from 3% to 6% of eligible purchase amounts semi-annually. Every time you make a purchase using your VIP card, you donate to HSGP.

You need to enroll or re-enroll in August of every year using these instructions.

* You first need to have a Fry’s V.I.P. card. If you don’t have a card, you can get one from the store’s courtesy desk or a cashier.
* Go to Frysfood.com. If you have not set up an account, click on Register and follow the prompts. You will need your VIP card number to set up a Fry's account.
* Once you have an account, sign in to display your account page. Scroll down to Community Rewards and select Edit. You will be asked to enter the name of your designated non-profit. You can enter Humanist and then select Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix when it is displayed. Select Enroll to connect your card to HSGP.

The amount Fry’s pays varies depending upon the amount that has been spent in a 6 month period. Note that several categories are excluded, such as pharmacy, alcohol and gasoline.

Bashas' Grocery Stores Community Gift Card program

The Basha's program works through the use of gift cards that are tied to HSGP. You will need to pre-pay or load the gift card before using it to pay for purchases. You can add funds to the gift card in any amount and as often as you wish.

Basha's gift cards already tied to HSGP are available on the bulletin board at the rear of the Humanist Community Center. Note that these cards have a zero balance and you will need to add money to the card before using it.

When you need to add to your gift card balance, just load (prepay) the card at the register. It is important to do this before the checker starts to ring up your purchases.

These cards can be used at Basha’s, Food City and AJ’s stores. Note these cards are not the same as the Basha's Thank You cards used to get the special pricing.

HSGP earns 6% of your total amount loaded onto the gift card and HSGP gets paid monthly from this program

Amazon Smile Program

Amazon's Smile program returns a percentage of purchases to HSGP.

Please bookmark and use this link for all Amazon-related purchases: http://smile.amazon.com/?tag=wwwhsgporg-20

When using the link for the very first time, you will be asked to select a charity. Make sure you search for and select Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix. On future screens, this may be displayed as American Humanist Association, but it is actually linked to HSGP.

Once you are signed up, please start all Amazon purchases with this link so HSGP will receive a percentage of all your eligible purchases from Amazon.

Turn Business into Fundraising for HSGP

One easy way Humanists can raise funds for HSGP is by giving our business to businesses that return a percentage of the proceeds to HSGP. For example, Bashas'and Fry's grocery stores will return a percentage of the money our members spend at their store's. Amazon will also donate a percentage of sales that are made through the HSGP link. But first you need to enroll in the program(s) of your choice for this to happen. See article at lower right for more information.

HSGP member and Professional Realtor Vici Duarte has announced that she is offering a similar program. Vici will donate 10% of her net commission to HSGP. If you plan to buy or sell a home, speak to Vici at any HSGP event, or contact her by email at viciduarte@cox.net.

We are looking for other business people who might be interested in increasing their sales and then giving back to the Humanists. If you have an interest in a business, consider if you would like to offer a way to increase your business and support HSGP. Please contact our fundraising committee at hsgpfundraising@gmail.com about setting up a similar program.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics
Sep 30th

Join us for an evening of fun, a potluck, and a great talk from Aron Ra. He will be discussing the topic of his new book "Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism", and will follow it up with a book sale and signing as well as a meet-and-greet.

Aron Ra is President of Atheist Alliance of America, former Texas State Director of American Atheists, the host of the Ra-Men podcast, and director of the Phylogeny Explorer Project. Aron (pronounced as 'R.N.') is one of the "YouTube atheists" and an advocate for rationalism in science classrooms.

His videos promote science education and secular humanism, often focusing on evolution and the evidence indicating an interrelated tree of life. His series summarizing the 'Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism' among others have been mirrored, featured, referenced, and recommended by many professional scientists, secularists, and educators, and has attracted more than 130,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.

The doors will open by 6:00 pm for the potluck but for those bringing food, there will be people there setting up by 5:00 pm so you can bring the food in early if you want. If you want to participate in the potluck, be sure to bring a dish to share!

The presentation will start at 7:00 pm and after Aron's talk, we will resume the potluck, have a book signing, and a meet-and-greet with Aron. The meeting will officially end by 10:00 pm

The meeting is free and open to the public.

Please consider volunteering to help make this event possible. Click on the SignUp Genius button below to see volunteer opportunities and sign up. Thank you.

Sign Up Now!

Oct 01st
Pharmaceutical Ethics
Event:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
Topic: Pharmaceutical Ethics

This should be a very exciting discussion! With all of the news items on alleged price gouging from big pharma, and all of the resulting outrage, it will be interesting to see if this ends up being completely one sided. I wonder if anyone will be able to see the issues from the side of the pharmaceutical industry. It should be fun!

If anybody can get there early, by around 9:00, I will need help setting up tables and chairs. I'm not supposed to lift anything heavy right now. Much appreciated.

Find some articles or links to help with the discussion if you like and feel free to post related articles in the comments section of our Meetup page linked below. You can RSVP on that site as well.

If you are interested, a group of us like to go out to lunch afterward. We will wrap up the meeting around noon so you just might be hungry by then.

Our Meetup page for this event is at: HSGP Inquiring Minds Meetup.

Hosted by Richard Dewey the first Saturday of each month.

Oct 05th
October Meetup is CANCELED. We'll be back in November!
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group

Attendees who have topics present (5 minutes per presentation discussion lengths vary)

TED video (or any public domain video) is voted on for presentation order

Videos are watched and discussed in order as time permits

Led by Anna Carter

Oct 08th
Crochet Sleeping Mats for the Homeless
Event:  Service Outreach - Crochet Sleeping Mats
Anita is leading this wonderful project on the 2nd Saturday of each month (except December).

Bring your plastic grocery bags. The only bags we can use are the ones they put your groceries in at the register.

For those of you who have attended my previous classes, please bring the crochet hook that you bought from Anita. If you have a 10mm or 11mm hook, please bring it. Anita will have hooks to sell to those who don't have one.

If any previous class attendees have finished or partially done mats, please bring them.

In addition to your Meetup RSVP, please also RSVP to Anita at anita.romanowski@hsgp.org.

See you there,

These are very useful items for people who must sleep on the ground.

Feel free to bring your beverage of choice and if you'd like to share some snacks, it's always appreciated!

Thank you!

Oct 08th
Event:  Game Night - Joint Event with Mensa
Oct 09th
Oct 14th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Oct 15th
Event:  Service Outreach - St. Mary's
Oct 22nd
Event:  Book Club
Oct 23rd
Nov 02nd
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group
Nov 05th
Event:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
Nov 06th
Nov 11th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Nov 12th
Event:  Service Outreach - Crochet Sleeping Mats
Nov 12th
Event:  Game Night - Joint Event with Mensa
Nov 20th
Dec 03rd
Event:  Inquiring Minds Discussion Group
Dec 04th
Dec 07th
Event:  TED Video and Interesting Topic Discussion Group
Dec 09th
Event:  Humanities Project Monthly Cultural Presentation & Meeting
Dec 10th
Event:  Game Night - Joint Event with Mensa
Dec 18th

The Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix is open to presentations on a variety of topics, many of which are controversial. Please note that the opinions expressed by our guest speakers do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or philosophy of HSGP.

Message from the Membership Director

Once again, I am visiting the subject of HSGP finances, this time with a message from Bruce Stiles:

My wife Ann Marie Eisentraut and I are Life Members of HSGP, so we no longer pay dues. However, HSGP is very important to us; we feel that we receive a lot of value from our humanist community, and from its first-in-the-nation Humanist Community Center (HCC). Therefore, we are contributing $300 per year to HSGP in order to be certain that we are paying our fair share of on-going expenses. (This money is from income.)

Further, we have made provisions in our estate planning to leave at least $5000 each to HSGP’s Endowment Fund. (This money is from capital; we will no longer need money.) Assuming a 3% annual return after inflation, these contributions will ensure that our annual contributions to HSGP can continue until Kingdom Come (so to speak). Helping to secure the financial future of HSGP will be part of our legacy.

What will be YOUR legacy? I would like to encourage all HSGP members to join Ann Marie and me in providing a meaningful legacy for HSGP in their estate planning. (Please contact me if you would like ideas on how to do so easily. I have a Black Belt in Planned Giving.) I would also like to encourage fellow Life Members to join us in contributing at least $140 a year each to HSGP, even though you no longer pay dues. We have the HCC to show for our previous contributions, but on-going expenses must be paid as well.

Thank you for your support.

Did you remember to renew your Fry's Community Rewards program to benefit HSGP?

If not, see the instructions below the President's Message in the left-hand column of this page.

Continuing Crocheted Sleeping Mats Project:

My next workshop for making these mats is being held on September 10, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Humanist Community Center.  Please RSVP on Meetup, www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/232010640/

 Details are on the Meetup announcement.  Any questions can be sent to my email address below my signature.

Welcome new members:

Brian Dye
Judy O'Donoghue

As always - my monthly blurbs:

Volunteer Opportunities

We are always in need of volunteers to supply breakfast casseroles, help set up before and clean up after meetings and events, serve on various committees. We have a brochure with a complete list of volunteer opportunities on the info table at the front of the meeting hall. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Matt Ferrin at volunteer@hsgp.org for additional information or questions.

To volunteer for a Sunday meeting opportunity or other event, click on this button and select the event for which you'd like to volunteer.

Sign Up Now!

You can also find the SignUp Genius button on the home page of HSGP.org by scrolling down.

Your Participation is Welcome

This column is for the members. I'd like it to also be about and by the members by encouraging all of you to send me announcements of life events, questions about HSGP, contribute a piece for this column or suggestions of subjects you'd like to see posted here.

Please contact me if you need any membership information or have a change of address, phone number, or email. Anita Romanowski Membership Director

Join Us to Plan Fundraising Events

A Fundraising Event Planning meeting is scheduled for September 24. For details please see the Meetup announcement at www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/233649513/

Events in the planning stage include:

In October enjoy a pasta dinner honoring the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (May you be touched by his noodly appendage. Sauce be upon you.)

In December, we celebrate the winter Solstice with a giant potluck.

Other events like the Flat Earth Pancake Breakfast and rummage sales occur as inspiration arises.

Volunteers with skills ranging from event planning to dish washing are needed to make these events a success.

HSGP Service Outreach Project

Our upcoming events include going back to Paz de Cristo on Saturday September 24 at 4pm for dinner service. See the Meetup at www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/233768119/

We are also scheduled at St. Mary's Food Bank on Saturday October 15, from 12pm to 3pm. See the Meetup at www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/233768850/

by Gwyndolynn Gentry

My email is gwyndolynn@gmail.com

Children's Programs

The HSGP-sponsored Girl Scout group is an all ages group.

For more information contact ann.eisentraut@gmail.com

Please note that the Sunday Speaker meetings now have a children's program. For more information see www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/events/232872542/

Keeping Up With HSGP
Social Media Matters

by Jennifer White

Overview and update of our social media/internet presence!

Meetup www.meetup.com/Humanist-Society-of-Greater-Phoenix/

I would say that Meetup has the biggest impact on HSGP’s reach. More people say they found out about us there than anywhere else. As of now (08/01/16), we have 1,620 folks signed up on our Meetup group! Some of them join us at our Sunday Speaker meetings and/or other events like Game Night, Humanities Project, Inquiring Minds, Book Club, Ted Talks/Interesting Discussion, and various charity/volunteer opportunities.

Meetup is how we get great turnouts for special events like the Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner, the Winter Solstice Celebration, the Darwin Day Luncheon, concerts, and visiting guest luminaries, resulting in income to help pay for our Community Center. A few of these folks even become dues-paying members of HSGP. Join us at Meetup now so you will always be abreast of what’s happening next at the Humanist Center!

Facebook Discussion Group www.facebook.com/groups/HumanistSociety/

This is an open group on Facebook, where people share posts and participate in conversations. Anyone on Facebook can see the fascinating articles and discussions, but you must be a member of the group to post or comment. Just go there and request to become a member. Richard or I will approve you. You must have a Facebook account. We do our best to keep out spammers (trying to sell you stuff) and we don’t allow abusive comments. As of today we have 811 members in our group!

Facebook Page www.facebook.com/HumanistSocietyofGreaterPhoenix/

A traditional Facebook page. Anyone can see it. You can react to and comment on the articles, events, and memes on the page. Only posts by authorized admins will appear on the wall. The public may post, but they will appear to the left of the wall. Stop by the page and check it out - then be sure to LIKE us!

Twitter @hsgp on twitter.com/

Yes, we do have a Twitter account and we are planning to start using it actively.

Website www.HSGP.org

Ok, so not exactly social media, but internet presence for sure. When people google Humanism in Arizona, what pops up is our welcoming, attractive, and informative website. It is our face on the internet, where one can learn about Humanism in general and HSGP in particular – everything one needs and wants to find out is on our site, including contact information to find out even more! One can see our upcoming events, read our newsletter (as you are doing now), click on links to HSGP on Meetup and Facebook, learn about the charities and causes we support, use links to find other interesting Humanist sites, and much more.

Questions or need help?

Grab me if you see me at the Humanist Center in Mesa,

Message me on Meetup or Facebook (use links above), * E-mail me at jennifer.white@hsgp.org Meanwhile, have fun on the social media!

HSGP Humanities Project Fundraiser
Books & Music Bookshelf

HSGP's Humanities Project has a Book & Music Bookshelf for your convenient shopping pleasure. Books, CDs and DVDs on the bookshelf are for sale at a great price. The deals are even better on the 2-for-a-dollar bottom shelf. The Bookshelf is located under the bulletin board near the entrance to the restrooms.

The prices on these items are so great that some folks are using it like a rental library: They buy a book for a super-cheap price, read it, and bring it back as a donation. The book goes up for sale again, and they "buy" another one! Cool!

Take a look at the Bookshelf next time you're at the Humanist Community Center and consider buying or donating to this fun new effort.

Human Inspiration

"Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions."
Attributed to Joyce Carol Oates.

"The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination."
Attributed to Carl Rogers.

Quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com

Programs to Support HSGP from Grocery Stores and Amazon

If you shop at any of the Bashas' stores (Bashas', AJ's Fine Foods, Food City), your local Fry's Food Store, or your local Albertson's HSGP can receive a percentage of the money you spend. In addition, when you shop at Amazon.com using our HSGP link, we receive a percentage of the sale.

To activate any of these no-cost-to-you revenue streams for HSGP, go to the HSGP Supporting Businesses page Supporting Businesses and follow the instructions for the program you want to use.

If you shop at any of the local stores that participate in this program, please consider obtaining and using an HSGP community support card whenever you make purchases. When we support our local merchants, they support us!

Susan Sackett, Certified Humanist Celebrant, would like to remind you that she is available for all your life passage ceremonies, including weddings and commitment ceremonies, baby namings, coming-of-age celebrations, funerals/memorial services, and even divorce celebrations! Special 10% discount for all HSGP members and their immediate families! Humanist Celebrant. Discounts for HSGP members! Contact her at Susan Sackett .

Have you joined our parent organizations? If so, you still must pay dues to be a member of HSGP - your enrollment in either of our parent organizations (American Humanist Association or Council for Secular Humanism) does NOT automatically include membership in the local chapter, HSGP. And conversely, if you join HSGP, you are not automatically enrolled in our parent organizations! Each is separate and must be joined separately. Why not join all three today? Humanism depends on your financial as well as emotional support!
HSGP is a Chartered chapter of the American Humanist Association and also a chapter of the Council for Secular Humanism.

American Humanist Association
1777 T. Street
Washington, DC 20009-7102
Council for Secular Humanism
Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664