UPDATE: Johan Swarts owns his quote, on his blog. His post is in Afrikaans: Freethinking Maties: Ateïste Anoniem. Do any English people want me to translate?
Yesterday, Freethinking Maties aired a PBS documentary on Darwin and his life. Attendance was good (read: more than 20?). The evening ended with time pressure chasing us all out, so there wasn’t much time for any kind of discussion or interaction. As such, it was also hard to determine what perspectives were present, but a number of “my” friends also turned up (read: 4 specific people). The biologist (working on her PhD in behavioural ecology) writes:
The biological elements in the documentary were adequate and quite interesting (especially the research done on the evolution of HIV, on which I am trying to get more info actually…). Not so thrilled about the other elements though…;)
“The other elements” were re-enactments of Darwin’s life. Humorous… Another of my friends, with a good sense of humour, commented that it reminded him of “Faith Like Potatoes, for atheists”. (With reference to the acting, in particular. 😉 )
Rehashing my tired old sentiments
The chairperson of Freethinking Maties echoed the young earth creationist perspective that evolution and “religion” is incompatible. *sigh*. One hypothesis: he is spewing anti-religion in order to chase any “Christians like me” away through frustration. Alternative hypothesis: his knowledge of “religion”, or lack thereof, has him defining “religion” as “belief in Intelligent Design creationism” (with a good pinch of homophobia). Either way, this kind of sentiment could turn Freethinking Maties into a group for anti-religion people, occasionally rearing its head for public battles that reinforce “religion versus science” stereotypes.
Of course, this is a perfectly valid choice. Many non-religious people do have a desire to find a place where they can “fit in”, where they can rant and rave and let out all their “anti-religion” frustration. Using this approach, they could increase their membership by preying on insecure people that “want to belong”, providing them with an identity and a support group. It won’t be the first group on campus that does this. For the quote lovers, a “Rob Carle” wrote this on Facebook:
A story worth considering: Mother Teresa was asked to join a protest against the war in Vietnam. She declined, saying that she was unable to protest against war, but if there was a protest for peace she would be pleased to attend.
I still choose to believe it will become more of a pro-science group, rather than an anti-religion one. This belief is based on input from other committee members. I’m sure the committee’s official focus and policy is good, just please realise that at a meeting where only the chairperson ever really speaks, his opinions can easily be assumed to be “official society position”, rather than his own personal sentiments.