It is GREAT to Meet You

Trying out a new group that you found online can be a tricky experience. Going to a new place to introduce yourself to new people takes guts. Now take into consideration that this group also asks you to really share what is on your mind! We have been impressed that so many of you, despite the awkwardness and unease that comes with meeting new people, have taken this leap! In our last three-or-so meetings, we have had the opportunity to get to know so many of you who have decided to give our organization a try. Some of you are going through a rough patch in life. Some of you are eager to share what you have discovered on your journey thus far. Your stories are fascinating, and your perspectives are rich with experience. We are sure that no matter your background and no matter what you bring to the table, this is where you can belong.

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10 Rules for Great Flag Design

The members of this organization enjoy discussing big ideas that cover hard science, important political issues, and healthy habits. But we are also building a community, one in which you can belong; one in which you can be proud of your membership. Few things strengthen a community more than shared meaningful symbolism. Today, I’d like to take a quick break from our regularly scheduled program to start a creative conversation with consideration to 10 rules of flag design shared by vexillology enthusiasts, experts in design, and historians.

These are the rules we will hope to follow as we design our own flag, an official banner for the Free Thought Initiative that can unite, inspire, and rally free thinkers and truth seekers to our cause. If you would like to volunteer a suggestion or two about how our flag should look, we would love to consider your ideas! In this episode, I would also like to give a shout-out to a group in Utah redesigning the Utah State Flag into one that better matches these guidelines.

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It is OK to be Patriotic

Happy Independence Day to all of our viewers in the United States. I hope all of you in the states enjoy some time with your family with barbeques, fun at the park, and maybe a few fireworks as you wave the stars and stripes. But am I wrong to hope that? There are plenty of people who say that celebrations like this are part of the problem. We live in a world filled with ethnocentrism, racism, tribalism, jingoism, extreme nationalism, and supremacism. Given the current political climate and the issues caused by overt national pride, is it really ok to be patriotic? In this episode, we will do our best to look at this question honestly, not only for Americans but with regard to every kind of national heritage across the globe.

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Stargazing (Part 3) Ursa Minor, Polaris, and Finding the North Star

Welcome to part 3 of our series on Stargazing. In this episode, we will find the stars of Ursa Minor, the Small bear, also known as the little dipper, enjoy an alternative mythological origin of this constellation from the one shared in part 2, and learn how explorers, mariners, and pioneers have been able to use this constellation to find North for thousands of years. So download this episode, step outside, and listen along as we turn to the most northern constellation in the northern night sky!

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Conservative Atheists, Political Correctness, Thought Crimes, and Misinformation

We have some mail! Many of you have accepted our invitation to continue the conversation in the comment sections across our social media, and I really do appreciate you adding your perspectives on each issue, especially when they deal with current or controversial ideas. In this episode, I will reply to a novel of a comment we received on Reddit responding to our Episode about Rationality Rules, Trans Athletes, and the Atheist Community:

https://youtu.be/1VIVF1-YVAM

That has more likes and dislikes than any of our episodes, which is to be expected, since, in it, I covered a few really controversial current political issues. It isn’t the controversy that draws my attention, it is the subject matter, and the role these ideas play in our culture. Join me as we continue the discussion about political correctness, intent vs. outcome, presuming ignorance before malice, political thought policing, online misinformation, social justice, Atheist Conservatives, and more.

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Big News for Draper and Spanish Fork

The first edition of our weekly newsletter is here! Several of you in the Salt Lake Valley have expressed interest in starting a new Free Thought Forum in Draper, and the time is fast approaching when we can announce the first official Draper Utah Group meeting! More information will soon be available on our social media pages and our podcast.

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Stargazing (Part 2) Ursa Major & Pinwheel Galaxy

If you haven’t yet listened to part 1 in this series, then what are you waiting for? It gives some great advice on how to plan and prepare for a good night of stargazing.

If you are up to speed, then it’s time to jump into part 2! To get the most out of this episode, download it onto your phone, step outside, hold your phone up to your ear, and follow along as we find and learn about the Big Dipper, the Big Bear (Ursa Major), Bode’s Galaxy, and the Pinwheel Galaxy. If you are listening indoors, then I hope you enjoy this dive into mythology and astronomy.

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10 Great Ideas from Plato

In this presentation, we travel to classical Greece in search for Plato’s dialogues, myths, and teachings as part of our ongoing quest to find gems of moral philosophy from around the world. We found ten such gems that, we think, can reasonably inform our ethics in the modern age. Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, it represents a sincere look into wisdom that has driven philosophical discussion for about 1,400 years!

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Evolution (Part 2) Are Dinosaur Fossils From Alien Worlds?

Rather than admit that their idea of the history of the earth is flawed, several young earth creationists double down and insist that all of the apparent death in the fossil record could not have possibly come from a pre-human earth. They are left with no choice than to claim that all dinosaurs are aliens. What does the fossil evidence actually show? Can there be any truth to extraterrestrial dinosaurs? Today, we will go over all of that, and more!

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Love and Morality According to Jesus Christ

When many of us leave spirituality, dogmatic belief, and religion behind, we tend to throw the good out with the bad. We think of our past religious beliefs like a pie in which we found a worm. Do we really want to eat any of it now that we see that it contains flaws? Well of course religion has flaws. All religions and belief-systems we have are man-made. But I compare them to ancient ruins. True, the ruins would be a terrible place to live, but does that mean we can’t find anything valuable inside? Are there still treasures worth preserving from the ancients? I think so. This episode is the third part in a series in which we explore moral teachings from Christianity that even non-Christians can value.

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Evolution (Part 1) Intelligent Design and Darwinism

I can remember when I was first taught about evolution as a teenager. In my Salt Lake City High school Biology class, my science teacher was openly religious and was dismissive of Charles Darwin’s revolutionary idea. He presented a flaccid depiction of the evidence for the theory, and was quick to mention that there are alternative theories such as “Intelligent Design.” The all too common “But you should study all the ideas out and then decide what you believe” came up a few times. This was in 2004, and soon, the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial would take place across the country. Is Intelligent Design just as valid a theory as Evolution? Is Evolution just “Darwinism,” a cult-like belief in one man’s ideas? Is Evolution, in fact, just an anti-God theory or an atheistic conspiracy? In this episode, we will answer those questions in Part 1 of our new series: “Misconceptions about Evolution.”

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Moral Teachings From the Christian Bible

As we continue our search for powerful moral lessons that anyone can follow without having to belong to any religion or ideological group, we turn again to the most successful religion on earth: Christianity. We soon will study other things such as the teaching of Plato, the Japanese code of the Warrior: Bushido, and Sikhism. But today, we are continuing on from our past episode, “5 Life Lessons From Christianity.” Now it’s true that Christianity has its bad ideas, but does it have a few more good ones? In today’s episode, we will see if we can find more moral teachings from the Christian Bible.

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Did the Universe Come From Nothing?

Today, we are talking about nothing! Absolutely nothing. Did the Universe Really Come From Nothing? A few episodes ago, we asked the question, “What Happened before the Big Bang?” If you haven’t yet listened to that podcast, be sure to do so! I stuck mostly with Stephen Hawking’s take on space-time and focused on the emergence of time itself. But the time has come to go deeper. We are getting our hands messy today with quantum physics. We are going to see if we can figure out why some scientists say that everything did indeed, come from nothing.

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5 Great Life Lessons From Christianity

You may be thinking, “Wait, Nick, if you are an Atheist, what in the world are you doing propping up a religion like Christianity?” That would be a fair question, and the answer calls back to what the Free Thought Forum is all about. In our practical study of moral philosophy, we will be looking for good ideas from all over the world and throughout history. In this episode, we will be looking to see if there are great life lessons that can be found from some Christian teachings. Moral lessons that even an Atheist like me could find useful.

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Hard Evidence That Supports the Big Bang

In this episode, we will look at five strong reasons that scientists have to accept the big bang as the most accurate model that can explain the shape, expansion, and composition of our universe. What does the evidence actually show? Is the big bang really the best explanation for what we observe? We will get right to it!

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