Tag Archives: religion

“The Truth About Mindfulness: Conversations in Secular Spirituality” with Robert Wright – March 3rd

Mindfulness meditation has become popular in the west as an essentially therapeutic technique that promises to reduce stress and increase happiness. But the Buddhist philosophy that was the ancient context of mindfulness meditation makes bolder promises: It sees meditation as an important part of a larger program that strips away delusions about the world and can even bring “enlightenment”.

This claim – that mindfulness meditation brings a truer vision of the world – suggests that any happiness it fosters might be a “valid” happiness in the sense of being based on accurate perceptions of the world. Modern psychology – particularly evolutionary psychology – offers some support for that view. 

Friday, March 3, 6:30 PM
Douglass Student Center, Meeting Room C (2nd floor)
100 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Please RSVP on Our Facebook Event Page


Image result for robert wrightROBERT WRIGHT is the author, most recently, of The Evolution of God, which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His other books include The Moral Animal, which The New York Times Book Review named one of the ten best books of 1994, and Nonzero, which Bill Clinton called “astonishing” and instructed White House staff members to read. In 2009 Wright was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 global thinkers. Wright has written for The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, and the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and his awards include the National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism. Wright has taught in the religion department at Princeton and the psychology department at Penn.

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By David Madison
PhD., Biblical Studies

Two Weddings

David and David, 1992

The message on our placard was straightforward: “It’s Not Complicated: I Want to Marry the Man I Love. Case Closed.” My husband and I carried that sign for many years in the New York Gay Pride Parades—long before we had legal married status.

A few months after our 30th living-together anniversary, we were finally married in California in 2008. A few weeks later, voters passed the mean-spirited Proposition 8, which halted marriage equality in that state. A court subsequently ruled that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that had been performed were not nullified by the vote. We breathed an enormous sigh of relief. It had been a wonderful wedding on a riverboat in the Sacramento River, with our daughter Deb Sweeney co-officiating, a…

This post has been republished
here on our new blog Applied Sentience.

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The past few weeks have seen a huge increase in visibility of Humanist Chaplaincies, and Humanism in general.  Here’s some links to recent highlights:

  • In a recent post on the CNN Belief Blog, Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, was featured as a voice for building bridges and focusing on community during the holiday season; a counterpoint to more aggressive tactics in the atheist movement.
  • Boston’s NPR News Station (more…)
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By David Madison
PhD Biblical Studies, Boston University

It was about 1970, when I was studying for the ministry at Boston University School of Theology, that I wrote an essay entitled On the Improbability of God. Many years later I found out that Percy Bysshe Shelley had been expelled from Oxford in 1811 for writing his essay, The Necessity of Atheism. Well, 1970 wasn’t 1811, and I survived my blatant cheekiness. Since I never went to chapel while I attended seminary, I was considered the class eccentric, the contrarian seminarian.

I wasn’t kicked out, and I finally managed to write a statement of personal theology that was given the imprimatur by that liberal Methodist institution. I leaned heavily on the obtuse theology of Paul Tillich, who called God the Ground of All Being—and said that God didn’t exist because existence would be a limiting concept.

So I survived to (more…)

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By Barry Klassel
Humanist Chaplain at Rutgers University

A couple of years ago I performed a humanist civil union ceremony in the beautiful formal gardens that adjoined a mansion on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University.  The elegant building was designed in the 1890s by famed architect Stanford White.  After the ceremony I enjoyed a bit of wine at the reception inside one of the fine halls and, as I was gathering my stuff to leave, the couple asked me if I would stay and say Grace for the meal that would follow.  

I knew I had been working on a version of a humanist Grace and I hurriedly tried to remember what I’d written (more…)

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By Thomas O’Rourke
President of the Philosophy Club
Rutgers University Class of ’13 

I had intended to finish this article in the beginning of September, but my health took a turn for the worse and then midterms came and before I knew it September was October and three presidential debates had come and gone.

With the election days away, what I have to say is more pressing than ever.

I thought that for my first blog post, I would comment on an important issue facing the secular community, which I discussed with David Silverman during our last meeting in February. For those who don’t remember the feel of the community back then, politics came to the forefront with the rise of the Atheist Party. A cursory examination of their platform reveals them to be a (refreshingly) more honestly liberal version of the Democrats.

This prompted me to ask “What is the role of politically right-leaning nonbelievers in (more…)

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By Daniel Schiff
Volunteer Network Coordinator 
Secular Student Alliance, Northeast Network

A new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released October 9, 2012 offers an intriguing look into generational religious change in the United States.

Central to the study is the growth of the percentage of Americans who self-identify as “unaffiliated” with a particular religion from 15.3% in 2007 to 19.6% in 2012. Meanwhile, the portion of self-defined atheists and agnostics has risen from 3.7% to 5.7% in the same time period.

For secular/atheist organizations like the American Humanist Association, the Center for Inquiry, American Atheists, and the Secular Coalition for America, this new research is an example of the turning tides of American religiosity.

Importantly, the shift in religious affiliation is primarily due to (more…)

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Amanda Knief, Managing Director and In-House Counsel for American Atheists, will be speaking about Secular Activism in the upcoming Presidential Elections. Knief is a public policy and constitutional expert on religious freedom and civil liberties.  She has worked as a lobbyist with the Secular Coalition for Americaand is co-founder of Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers.


Religion has been an unavoidable issue in politics in recent years and has only grown in the last few months as the Presidential Election closes in. What, if any, importance should be placed on Romney’s Mormonism?    Why did Democrats leave God out of their Platform? Why did they put Him back in?  What should we make of growing claims to persecution of Christians in the US? The wall of Separation of Church and State is seeming to grow thin. Is there anything secular and non-theistic Americans can do to strengthen it?  To make sure they are represented? (more…)

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By Ben Davis
First Mate (VP) of RU Pastafarians

Rutgers University Engineering Student

My religious background was the best I could’ve asked for.  I am a proud Unitarian Universalist, and if you’ve ever heard of that, you are a rarity indeed.

Mine is a religion based not around deities, but around individual search for spiritual growth.

The Seven Principles we share revolve around the inherent worth and dignity of all people and more ideas of the like.  Yet while we discuss viewpoints that we all have in common, my congregation’s Bond of Union talks of “reserving to each individual the right to his or her own beliefs as to the nature of God and the universe.”

The quest for those beliefs can be a confusing one.  I never have and never will even consider renouncing Unitarian Universalism, but I’ve had dealings with other religious groups.


In high school, my first girlfriend – Christian to the core – invited me to join her youth group’s activities.  She assured me that (more…)

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By Ibrahim
Ex-Muslim at Muslim-ish of NYC

My name is Ibrahim. My parents are muslims, so they taught me islam as a child.

Around the age of 8 I got annoyed with the idea that I am muslim simply because my parents are muslim.  So I started researching the only other religion I had contact with at the time, christianity, and it sounded so ridiculously stupid that it confirmed my belief that islam is the true path to connect with the creator of the universe and ensure a blissful eternal life after death.

Around the age of 13 I started researching other religions like judaism and eastern religions.  I eliminated them one by one because none of them made any sense to me. This again confirmed my belief that (more…)

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If you didn’t make it to the David Niose talk you missed out.  But you don’t need to miss out on a good summary of the discussion.

The Rutgers Targum, the University’s oldest newspaper, published a piece about the event on September 19th.

Check out the article in the link above.

In the talk David Niose discussed (more…)

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What do you think about the Democratic National Convention taking out and then putting back “GOD” in their Platform??

Do you think it should be taken out of the Dem Platform??  Is it harmful or inappropriate to stay in??  Are there pragmatic concerns that it should remain there… for now??  Or does it not really matter?


On the one hand, there are concerns about who represents atheists, and non-theists in general.  And further, are they being explicitly marginalized?

The re-assertion of “In God We Trust” as the national motto by the House of Representatives in Nov 2011 seems to imply that if you’re an atheist, then you aren’t part of the “WE”.

Does this reaffirmation of God in the Dem Platform now explicitly marginalize or exclude atheists?

On the other hand, are there any pragmatic arguments as to keeping it?  For instance, it’s merely an empty symbol or all things in their time.  If the Democrats kept it out they would lose too many voters and Romney would win.  If so, defeating Romney now might be worth keeping a merely symbolic reference for a while longer.

So does the use of a single scribble on paper really matter that much if their policies aren’t theocratic? and the losses it might spur if kept be too big?


So what are your thoughts?? Was the move harmful and marginalizing?  Or a necessary bit of pragmatism?

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At the root of our NATURE (whatever that means) are we GOOD (whatever that means)?  Or are we EVIL (whatever that means)??

When looking at events like the Holocaust or the Bosnian Genocide or countless other atrocities, can we conclude that our basically self-interested and evil tendencies are held back only by a few thin threads?

Or is it that deep down we are ultimately good??  That we have some fundamentally innate tendency towards compassion?  Even if it is within (more…)

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What do you think?  Write your comments below!

Will Religion always be with us?  

Religion is certainly in decline.  A recent Huffington Post article writes that atheism is on the rise as religion ‘declines worldwide’.  However, some neuroscientists and others talk of things such as a God Gene being found.

Will some spiritual otherwordly beliefs always be popular?  Will God always be a topic of debate?  What makes it so innate, universal and eternal?

Or is religion a phase of human history?  One that will be replaced by reason and science based worldviews.  Or something else?  If so how much longer do you think religion might be around?

Let us know below!!

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This September, at the Chaplaincy’s first event of the semester, we will be presenting David Niose, the President of the American Humanist Association.

He will be presenting his new book Nonbeliever Nation: the Rise of Secular Americans.

The meeting will be Sept 17th at 7:30pm at the RU Student Center in Multipurpose Rm A, New Brunswick.

Details about the event in the flyer below:

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