This is the first in a series of short articles about the freethought community in southern Arizona.
From Wikipedia: Freethought or free thought is a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas.
It takes work to maintain any community—this is particularly true in the freethought community. Our gatherings don’t start with a recitation of a creed or an appeal to a higher being. Aside from skepticism about the existence of a deity, there is very little that members of a freethought community have in common. Most of us believe strongly that there should be a separation of church and state. Most of us believe that public funds should not be used to advance religion and a large majority believes that the laws that apply to everyone should be based on sound logic and reason and not based on religious beliefs. In addition, the freethought community is diverse. We are young and old, male and female, gay and straight, and racially diverse.
A few years ago, retirement was on the horizon and I became an active part of the Tucson freethinking community. I needed something to replace work—something worthwhile. So I decided to promote, science, reason, and rationality which means Skepticism, Atheism, and Humanism. A couple of years before I retired, I started attending Atheist and Skeptic conferences. Nancy and I went on “skeptical” cruises and we visited the Galapagos Islands with the Humanist group, CFI (Center For Inquiry). We joined other organizations including national and local groups.
There were a couple of small active groups in Tucson in the early 2000s. Tucson Atheists Meetup.com group was founded on February 2nd, 2003 (Ground Hog Day) and Skeptics of Tucson was founded in October of the same year. There was also a Center for Inquiry Community in Southern Arizona that had monthly lectures at various locations. The groups were small met monthly and didn’t talk to each other. Today the landscape is quite different. The groups are larger (except for the CFI group—look for an explanation in a future blog entry) and the community is tighter. However, we still have the same separate groups along with a couple that have been added. We have the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Arizona and a Recovering from Religion Chapter that is especially for people who have just left religion or are thinking of leaving religion.
I’m proud to be a part of the Tucson freethought community and my part in bringing it together to its current state. However, there have been a few bumps along the way. In future postings I’ll cover the history, highlight individual organization, and some of the challenges of bringing such a diverse group together. Overall, the experience was positive and the future looks bright for the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Humanists, and Secularists in Arizona and in particular the Tucson area.