FVAAF 2018 Schedule

FVAAF 2018 Event Calendar


  • January 20th, 1pm – 4pm – Discussion & Dinner


      • @ Appleton Public Library – Room A
      • Dinner location TBD
      • Discussion Topic – Social Policy; What do you want your Representatives to know?
    • February 18th, 1pm – 4pm – Discussion Group
      • @ Appleton Public Library
      • Discussion Topic – ISMs, (Racism, Classism, etc.)
    • March 25th, 1pm – 4pm – A Lesson in Critical Thinking
      • @ Appleton Public Library
      • Lead by Jeannie
    • April 21st, 2pm – 4pm – Humanism and Group Organization
      • Speaker: Heather
      • Location: TBD
    • May 20th, 11am – 1pm – Highway Cleanup
      • Lunch afterwards
    • June 16th, 11am – 2pm – Annual Picnic
      • Plamann Park, Appleton
      • Bi-Annual Planning
    • July 14th, 1pm – 4pm – Discussion & Dinner
      • Need Topic and Discussion Lead



    • August 19th @ 3p – Party @ Someone’s – Movie Night
      • Looking for a Host
    • September 29th @ 5pm – Speaker
      • Matt Dillahunty



Posted in News

2017 Events

FVAAF 2017 Event Calendar

Jan 15nd 1:00 pm – Discussion Group @ Appleton Public Library (APL): “You’re a what?” – Discussing the different identifying terms used for non-believers and what they mean.  Also, “Coming out as a non-believer” – tell your story or share your challenges.

Feb 12th (Tentative) – Darwin Day – Speaker Series – Biology/Science Topic (To Be Solidified)
I’ve asked a local professor to speak to us on Darwin Day.  Once I get confirmation I’ll announce this on Meetup and Eventful.

Feb 19th 11:00 am – Brunch Social Event @ Lawrence University – Best brunch in town.

March 8th 4-6 pm – Happy Hour Social @ Appleton Beer Factory – Share a drink and meet someone new.

March 26th 1:00 pm – Discussion Group @ APL: An Exercise in Critical Thinking – Lecture, Exercise, and Discussion
Note: I’ve requested a speaker for this month, the topic for this meetup is subject to change.

April 16rd 1:00 pm – Easter Sunday – Discussion Group @ Lou’s Brew’s (Upstairs Meeting Room): The Rise of Humanism – Short Lecture and Discussion

May 10th 5:00 to 7:00 – 20s and 30s Social at Beefeaters Pub –  Happy Hour: Enjoy drinks starting at just $3 and complimentary snacks!

May 21st 11:00 am–  Highway Cleanup, Lunch & Social

June 11th 1:00 pm – Discussion Group in Oshkosh – Looking for a Host and Topic

July 16th 12:00 pm – Annual Picnic @ Plamann Park

Aug 6th 11:00 am– Highway Cleanup, Lunch & Social

Sep 14th – Pre-Convention FVAAF Member Get Together and Dinner in Madison

Sept 15-17th – FFRF 2017 NATIONAL CONVENTION in Madison WI – https://ffrf.org/outreach/convention

Oct Date TBD – Fall Hike

Nov Date TBD – 10:00 am – Discussion Group in Green Bay – Join up with the Humanist Group in Green Bay for Discussion, led by Mike.  Topic TBD

Dec Date TBD – Annual Festivus Party @ APL

Download: fvaaf-2017-event-calendar

Posted in News

Non-Profit Meeting 2

Recap of first meeting:

Our first meeting to discuss the formation of starting a non-profit brought together a lot of view points.  To start off Ty helped get everyone up to speed on some of the discussion he and I had when we meet at UW Fox Valley.  We also spent some time listening to the experience some of us have had on the subject and other things as well.  Throughout the meeting we identified some key issues and things we need to decide on in order to progress.

Discussion Moderator:

At the next meeting we will have a discussion moderator, for the next one it’s going to be Jerry, if Jerry is not available I’ve ask my wife to help (she is counselor with lots of experience moderating group discussions).  As we formalize our group it’ll be important for us to establish some rules to ensure that people are being respectful of each other.  I’ve often found myself with the patience to listen when it is not constructive which is why I’m appointing someone else.  His job will be to prevent people from getting off topic and prevent people from dominating the conversation.  That being said it is a very difficult job, please be respectful to the moderator.  If you are not capable of that I’ll remove you from the conversation.

Discussion Slides:

Non-Profit Discussion 2 Slides.  Please add comments and I will make updates based on the comments.

Draft Bylaws:

Draft Bylaws.  Please add comments!

NEWF Draft Constitution – Original Draft that Ty sent me.


Bylaws Minnesota Atheists 

Seattle Atheists Constitution

SWiFT Statement of Purpose


Posted in Discussions, News

Draft Constitution

I’ve put up the draft of the Constitution for the non profit on Google Docs so everyone can see it and start commenting.  I’ll give more people access to edit at the meeting and show the original version that Ty put together as well.


Once we settle on a name and some of the other stuff in the Constitution we’ll go here and file our Articles of Incorporation: https://www.wdfi.org/apps/gofr/Form/Index/5


Posted in News

Non-Profit Formation

To expand on the meeting scheduled I wanted to post some more thought and ideas here.

One of the biggest difficulties we’ve had in the last few months is finding a place to call home.  Buying a building crossed my mind but we’d need a lot of money.  And despite having over 200 members now were still a pretty small group.  I know that if we establish a non-profit it will be easier for us to pay our various bills and establish a reliable location.

I’ve started an LLC before and I don’t imagine starting a non-profit is going to be a large amount of paper work, or much harder.

Some of my biggest concerns for the non-profit is making sure it meets the need and that it’s mission is correct.  Mission-wise I don’t think the mission for the non-profit should be much different from the mission for FVAAF.  What we are trying to do is simple create a sustainable way for a small group of atheists to have a website, have a meetup group, have brochures and have  a place to meet… in short market and meet.  Those are really the two major things that any growing Atheist/Agnostic community needs… Marketing and Meetings.

This leads me to believe that this is to a unique problem.  Most budding non-theist groups probably encounter similar issues.  Problem is at this point there are no national organizations out there who’s goal is to found/startup non-theist groups.  Most of the national organizations are all focus on fighting legal battles or for civil rights or fighting for this and that…  I’m a firmly believe that grassroots groups who’s goal is to found communities for non-theists will be the way we start replacing churches in this country.  And that’s really what we need to do, replace churches with non-religious community centers.  Places for people to come together regardless of their religion and meet new people make friends.  I was startled by the fact that there isn’t a single place in the entire city of Appleton (besides the public library) that provides free meeting spaces.  To put it point blank we don’t have a public community center, (I don’t count Thompson since their mission is clearly to spread the word of whatever version of the bible they follow IDK Lutheran or something…)

This makes me think that maybe we should think bigger than ourselves for this.  A non-profit who’s sole goal is to help found and sustain local non-theist communities is something we should consider.  The biggest problem with that is time.  As a full time software engineer who is in love with his job I doubt I’d have the time, but it would need someone who believes in the mission.

Mission for the Non-Profit:  “To establish and sustain locally focused non-theist groups.” It’s simple and direct.  Marketing tag line – “Replacing churches across America!”

By consolidating the funds at a national level we could establish lower rates for multiple services.  For example shared web-hosting, shared meetup accounts (much cheaper), access to brochures and cards for marketing purposes and of course a way to pay for services like room rentals and the like.  Doing all this while still allowing groups to maintain their autonomy will be the trick. We don’t want to be too open where people could take advantage of the system and we don’t want to be to autocratic where groups won’t want to affiliate.

The key with this idea is to start small with our own group but plan well enough now that we can grow if we want/need to.  After things settle it would be best to approach other existing groups with the idea and try and get existing groups that are successful involved first.  Once we have a sturdy member base we could start planting additional seed in new cities.  It would be a long process but I truly believe the idea has potential.

Posted in Discussions, News

The metaphor

Dan Barker put together a great metaphor in his talk at Lawrence University last night.

A guy tells to you as your walking by. Hey buddy I have great news for you.  You don’t have to go in my basement!  I sent my son down there to torture him so now you don’t have to go. And we can go live my attic… Sweet right!?!


Posted in News

Disproving a Belief System

I recently came across an argument on Talking Philosophy against one of the arguments Dawkin’s made in his book “The God Delusion”

This is a repost of my reply:

Belief systems are more or less sophisticated (which is independent of whether or not they are right or wrong). The more sophisticated, the harder to show how they are wrong, the more you’ve got to know.

In a world where people have believed in fairies for more than two thousand years, where fairies have inspired many of the great achievements of human civilization, where some of the outstanding minds in human history have believed in fairies, have debated their existence and nature in some of the major works of literature and philosophy, where there are “proofs” of fairies that many (some?) people take to be valid, where there exists a huge variation in what people take fairies to be when they say that they believe in them… when all this, and more, is true

This is a good summary the main point you have tried to make over and over (and have concluded that you are correct about). In the form of a syllogism:

Premise 1: Belief systems are more or less sophisticated.
Premise 2: Sophistication of a belief system is independent of it’s correctness.
(Adapted from the second Quote)
Premise 3: Belief systems have existed for a long time.
Premise 4: Belief systems inspire great human achievements.
Premise 5: Great people in history have endorsed belief systems.
Premise 6: Many people believe there is proof for belief systems.
Premise 7: More knowledge makes for better criticism.

Through these premises you have induced:

Conclusion: The more sophisticated a belief system is the harder it is to disprove and to disprove a belief system it you must have an intimate knowledge of it.

Fallacy 1: The first part of your conclusion directly violates your second premise. Sophistication can not increase legitimacy, as you state and I agree with, if it is to be taken as independent of the belief system.

Fallacy 2: The only premise you actually provide for your second claim is that more knowledge makes for better criticism. Premise 3-6 are mostly irrelevant filler (IMHO). It appears that you are inducing the second claim on the basis of a personal value for knowledge. From this premise I could make the following claim:

I have studied fairies my whole life and know more about them than anyone on the planet. I am the highest of fairy experts. I say fairies are real and no one can dispute that because no one has more knowledge than I do about the subject of fairies.

This imagined person has to provide no evidence for his claim and based on your claim no one can criticize him because no one has more knowledge on the subject then he.

I believe part of the allure of this argument is that it appears that you are trying to avoid a hasty conclusion. I do not think this is the case.

You have said:

So spare me all this “begging the question” stuff.

I will not spare you, you are begging the question when you say:

it is necessary to know a fair bit about fairy-ology to show that belief in fairies is irrational.

Your assumption that if we increase the complexity and sophistication of a belief system it makes it more correct is a poor conclusion to come to. It seems like your trying to apply the argument of irreducible complexity to theology… the more complex the more it proves god exists… Have you not heard of Occam’s razor?

Paul hit the nail on the head:

“Give it up guys. Some theology is more sophisticated than other kinds. It’s all wrong, of course – but some stuff is wrong is more complicated ways than other stuff.” This only seems plausible. I say fairies exist but i know nothing else about them . I am simply wrong. You say fairies exist and have various properties. You are wrong in a more complicated way. But you are also more wrong that I am because you made the same error as I did – that fairies exist – and then went on to add more errors.

At the end of the day I would agree with your conclusion if it were modified as such:

It is easier to disprove a belief system it you have an intimate knowledge of it.

While less absolute than your conclusion it’s far easier to defend.

It is not necessary to know a fair bit about X to show that belief in X is irrational. Where X can equal any of the following: fairies, magic, ghosts, gods, trolls, elves, the force, vampires, Godzilla, Cthulhu, wizards, Optimus Prime, Chewbacca, Big Foot, Spock, Frankenstein, Samus Aran, (and the list could go on forever)… It is irrational to assume that fiction and reality can be the same, that things exist with out evidence of their existence.

Posted in Critiques

Semiannual Update

Hello fellow atheists, agnostics and freethinkers,

It’s been a great few months and I wanted to highlight some of the things we have done and things we are planning for everyone.

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Chapter

I have been working on putting together the necessary paperwork to create a chapter of FFRF in our group.  Not everyone who joins our group will automatically be in the chapter (as we can have “guests”) but being a chapter of FFRF will provide us with some great benefits and help us reach more people in the local area.  However, I need you help to get things started.

If you are already a member of FFRF please let me know.  We need at least 10 local members of the national organization to be recognized.  If you are a member please send me an email at joe@fvaaf.org and let me know.

Also I’m looking for members of FFRF to act as references for my application to found the chapter.  I’m look for people how have at least attended one of our meetings and have met me at least once.  Their review board has to approve me before the chapter can be founded.  If you are interested in being a reference please let me know at joe@fvaaf.org and I’ll send you my resume and biography (the stuff I’m sending them) so that you can get to know me better.

Read more ›

Posted in News Tagged with:

If atheism were true, why do cats have pretty stipes on them?

Well this astounding logic problem needs an answer!

Posted in Discussions Tagged with:

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