Atheists launch club at Arroyo Grande elementary school

February 21, 2017

In a bid to compete with after-school religious clubs, Atheists United of San Luis Obispo launched a Young Skeptics program at an Arroyo Grande elementary school. The club is the first ever Young Skeptics chapter in California. [Tribune]

Last Thursday, the local Young Skeptics program held its first meeting at Harloe Elementary School. Five students attended, all of whom were enrolled by their parents via a permission slip. The attendees ranged in grades from kindergarten to fifth grade. Separating facts from opinion was the theme of the first lesson.

The Young Skeptics is a nonprofit incorporated under the name Better News Clubs Inc. Better News Club’s curriculum contains lessons on evidence, reasoning and communication, skepticism and the scientific method. The program began at Fairbanks Elementary School in Churchville, New York in 2015 as a response to concerns about the over religious and “fear-tactic” teachings of the Good News Club.

Good News Clubs focus on bible-centered lessons with the purpose of evangelizing children with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establishing them in the word of God and in a local church for Christian living, the Child Evangelism Fellowship website states.

Nationwide, there are Good News Clubs at about 4,500 elementary schools, and approximately 180,000 children are enrolled in them. There are approximately 30 Good News Clubs in San Luis Obispo County, including a chapter at Harloe Elementary.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled on a First Amendment case involving the Good News Club. The high court ruled that schools cannot prohibit a religious club or after-school program from operating on campus simply because of its religious nature.

Atheists United spokesman David Leidner said his organization is not teaching any kind of particular point of view, including atheism. Rather, Atheists United was concerned about the proliferation of Good News Clubs at SLO County schools and wanted to offer students an evidence-based alternative.

Leidner said the local club will focus on critical thinking skills and encouraging students to analyze facts in order to shape their own beliefs. The organization is not telling kids what to think. Instead, it is teaching them how to think, Leidner said.

The Young Skeptics organization says discussion of religion should be done at church and at home, not in public school.

Atheist United chose to host the first Young Skeptics club at Harloe Elementary because it is one of the largest elementary schools in the county and has a Good News Club. The school is also located near the homes of two of the Young Skeptic volunteer instructors.

Atheist United hopes to open more Young Skeptics chapters at other schools in the area. The next Young Skeptics meeting at Harloe Elementary will take place on March 16.


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CentralcoastRN

When you introduce religion in to school, that opens up the Pandora’s box.


Atheism IS a religion/belief system.


Just wait until your local Satanists want to start a club at school. And they SHOULD be allowed to. *GASP*


Have we forgotten that the United States was founded by people fleeing England to escape religious persecution? To practice whatever religion they saw fit? If we start trying to force religion in public schools, then we must allow them ALL.


Indy thinker

Everyone should youtube “Zeitgeist – Religion”

It is very eye opening


L.A.RamsFan

Thank You! A great doc’! One that explains much…


circlingthedrain

Well, well, well. There is hope for the world after all. Our society is willing to break the mold–willing to step outside the box. And not go to “hell” (the fictitious place where time off for good behavior or a simple first aid station is completely out of the question) for it. Take a look around you: any sort of God at all would have stepped in by now. Pedophilia, sex trafficking, starvation, rape, poverty, high rates of sociopaths….just a few of the things here that would have caused any self-respecting God to step in by now.


L.A.RamsFan

Hear, hear!!


ironyman2000

Atheism is NOT a religion in any way shape or form. To even bring Agnosticism into the picture is sophomoric. god cannot be defined therefore it is not a concept and does not exist. Comparative religion is valid study as any study goes. Religions obviously exist. As useless as they may be.


L.A.RamsFan

God is defined, he defined himself in his own book. First he is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 22:13) and he is spirit (John 4:24). Pretty broad and really open to interpretation but he is defined. And if you believe that Jesus was the incarnation of god he, Jesus, defined himself, god, even further throughout the New Testament.


The problem I have with those definitions is they are as contradictory as the bible is as a whole. God’s supposed attributes are also shared with about a thousand other religions out there, including the “3 God Heads” (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit), “Risen from the Dead”, “Assent to Heaven”, “Prophesied About” and a ton more…


ironyman2000

See? The Rams are like the Angels. They come again, they go again. They not only don’t know where they are, they aren’t even where they SAY they are.


L.A.RamsFan

Okay, I guess…


You’re correct if you’re comparing the Rams with the L.A. Angels (not the heavenly ones)… L.A. vs Anaheim, hmmmmmm! Not much different other than one has Disneyland and the other is pure hell…


abigchocoholic

What do they talk about? Nothing?


dc14522

As the article states, the first lesson is about separating fact from opinion. For example:


Fact: Young Skeptics helps children develop critical thinking skills.


Opinion: Correcting misunderstandings of Young Skeptics is fun.


L.A.RamsFan

Humanism ( Atheism) is as much a religion as religion is. Why not offer a course that offers all views? While I don’t agree with typical christian teachings, and have a real problem with evolution, the idea of intelligent creation is not something I am opposed to at all.


All views should be talked about; discussed without pressure or agenda and then left to the individual to make up his or her own mind about.


One thing though; in elementary school? Too soon I think. Young minds are susceptible to all kinds of influence and in my experience there isn’t one “believer” of any leaning that doesn’t try and prove his or her leanings as the “only/right one”…


pb_wills

Did you not read the article? The club is not teaching children about atheism or any other religious views.


You say: “One thing though; in elementary school? Too soon I think. Young minds are susceptible to all kinds of influence..”


The people that run Young Skeptics agree with you, as that is the whole point of the organization.


You can read what they are about on their webpage here: http://www.youngskeptics.net/about-us.html


I will copy some important bits here:


Young Skeptics was created first as an alternative to the Good News Club, a Christian evangelical group who enters public schools to proselytize to children and, according to their own materials, declares them all sinners in need of salvation. The BNC/Young Skeptics feels the approach of Good News Club is a form of psychological abuse, akin to telling small children they’re flawed or evil, and must subscribe to a dogma in order to avoid eternal punishment. It’s a fear tactic that accompanies extremism and is a dangerous, albeit effective, technique when performed on children who trust adults and believe what they’re told.


Our curriculum is based on science, critical thinking, evaluating evidence, and navigating through the misinformation that kids are surrounded with today — and has nothing to do with religion or irreligion. Religion is not discussed in Young Skeptics sessions, nor is atheism or any other belief system. We believe such discussions belong in homes and churches, and not in public schools.


L.A.RamsFan

Thank you for clearing that up for me…. Yes, I did read the article (why so defensive?), BUT, the article’s title did start off with the word “Atheists”, did it not?


Science is as faulty as religion and just as pervasive at shutting those up who question it. I don’t need to prove that, it’s a fact proven out within its own ranks. Science teaches “theories” as facts; it is “The Theory of Evolution”, it is “The Theory of Relativity”, it is “The Theory of Gravity” and the list goes on. In saying that I would hope you would emphasize that fact along with the fact that skepticism is as much a part of science as theories.


Question everything…


Vagabond

You clearly do not understand what a scientific theory is And no, it can’t be equated with religion. Your arguments are as faulty as believing in something without a shred of hard evidence

Do you doubt gravity exists? How about Electromagnetism? They are described by “theories” because the overwhelming and testable evidence shows that the theory is the best answer

Science does not care one whit if you believe in it it is there to make sense of the natural world as it is found, not as someone wishes it to be.


L.A.RamsFan

Theory is one thing in the scientific community and another outside of it:


In science it is…


“a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena.”


Did you get the “commonly regarded as correct”? No, not is correct but commonly regarded as such.


Or:


“a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.”


When was gravity ever subject to experimentation? How ’bout Relativity. And the biggest farce of all? How ’bout Evolution? And to your point of electromagnetism, it is now the contention of some physicists that it is electromagnetism that keeps us “locked” onto Earth and not gravity (Kaluza-Klein theory.) Yet another theory.


And now there is ample evidence that Relativity isn’t correct. Oh, by-the-way, Einstein once said, and I quote, “”If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Something science does all the f***in’ time!


But I will defer to what the science community calls the Scientific Method of “PROOF”…


“The Scientific Method is meant to answer questions based on observation and experimentation.”


Did you get that? ” Observation and experimentation.”? One with the other, not one without the other…


Science has become a religion; unquestionable and based on conjecture. It is worshiped as much as any religion while being as divisive as any religion (Global Warming?). And as you quite clearly show Vagabond, just as dismissive with those who question not only its methods but its conclusions.


Look into this Vagabond and then maybe you’ll question everything with type of skepticism you and everyone else should look at science with.


L.A.RamsFan

One more thing Vagabond….


The best answer isn’t THE answer, is it?


Question Everything!


dc14522

L.A.RamsFan – As the founder of Young Skeptics, I regret that the media feels the need to preface nearly every article about our project with “Atheist”. Yes, the local group in San Luis Obispo does have “Atheist” in their title, but our charter specifically prohibits teaching any religious or anti-religious point of view. We are merely concerned with providing children with the skills they need to make informed, rational decisions. With schools being required to spend so much time on rote learning, and groups such as the Good News Club telling children to believe…or else… we saw a need to empower children with skills for life-long learning, exploration and self-determination.


Let me please also point out a common misconception of the word “theory”. In common usage “theory” means a guess or hypothesis. But in science it means something completely different. Wikipedia has a good definition:


“A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world.”


L.A.RamsFan

Some scientists now tell us that man has reached the apex of evolution; our brain has gone as far as it will and will go no further (Sir David Attenborough, British geneticist J. S. Jones and many others). How can you say that in one species, man, has stopped evolving while all others haven’t? Don’t make “common” sense to me. All species are subject to the same general environment so why would one stop evolving while the rest continue? It doesn’t make sense unless of course it’s a way of just silencing the skeptics of evolution.


“… a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.”


That statement proves my point better than anything I can say! No experimentation with relativity and none with evolution! And their still taught as facts! And observation is as subjective to one observer as to another, don’t you think!


Science is full of holes…


L.A.RamsFan

So,you’ll ask your attendees to look past the history dictated by the victor and dig into what the facts say history IS?!! You’ll suggest that healthy skepticism is the root of real science, the engine that drives discovery?! You’ll instill in your attendees not only to question what everyone else says but what you say as well?! More importantly; when an attendee asks a question that you have no answer for will you suggest to him or her that “all of us” look into it and find out?!!


“Asking questions is what brains were born to do, at least when we were young children. For young children, quite literally, seeking explanations is as deeply rooted a drive as seeking food or water.” – Alison Gopnik, Psychologist


Our kids are at risk of so much shit these days that to add a dogmatic, one minded set in science alone approach to “skepticism” is as unhealthy and dangerous as any religion. And as young as those are who the Young Skeptics are going to be addressing? Outside oversight with on-sight monitoring isn’t just a good thing it should be part of your business plan!


Ben Daho

Science doesn’t teach that Theories are the END result, bu the beginning of a question. The SCIENCE part of it is to justify of disprove something.


Religion would have said Pluto is a planet. end of story. Science has us questioning why.


As an atheist, I’m baffled at Evolution. Go into any locker room, strip club, watch any political debate. go to Walmart and Wall street. Watch Trump speak. WHAT DID WE EVOLVE FROM? and why aren’t we getting better better?


CharlesInCharge

“Humanism ( Atheism) is as much a religion as religion is.”


Yeah…and not collecting stamps is a hobby.


L.A.RamsFan

We worship science just like worshiping a god! We don’t question its authority, we look to it as a cure-all, we pour billions of dollars into it without question or oversight and we expect it to better and extend life.


Science has its place but not one without question or skepticism…


Question Everything!


Indy thinker

I question your thought process


“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and my opinion is yours sucks” George Carlin


L.A.RamsFan

Question it all you want, it’s okay!


L.A.RamsFan

I love George…


“I was pretty good in science. But again, because of the small budget, in science class we couldn’t do experiments in order to prove theories. We just believed everything. Actually I think that class was called Religion. Religion was always an easy class. All you had to do was suspend the logic and reasoning you were taught in all the other classes.” – George Carlin, 1988 “Brain Droppings”


And I love this guy as well…


“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” – Carl Sagan, 1987


Science over religion is the correct direction but don’t discount what both have at its core, humans…


Question Everything!


CharlesInCharge

Peer review is a thing. In science, not religion.


L.A.RamsFan

Peer reviews? Would you consider Luther a peer of religion? Or how ’bout Calvin? They not only reviewed the religious power of the day they changed it for all intents and purposes, didn’t they? Also, look at the persecution they both endured and to some extent the persecution they still do endure.


Peer review(s) in science are commonly accepted by only those who conform with the current scientific dogma, exactly like religion, anybody else is shamed out of consideration, exactly like religion.


Case(s) in point….


Samaria, once thought to be the “Cradle of Civilization” has been outdated with civilized construction, art and religion by Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. It, Gobekli Tepe, also out-dates Stonehenge by some 6,000 years.


Mexico archeological sites have shown man was in the western hemisphere some 10,000 years before what is commonly taught.


What these two examples have in common? While both are “proven” by the same accepted scientific methods of the day both are generally criticized and dismissed by the same scientific community that utilizes those same scientific methods! How f****in’ convenient!


Get your head out of the sand and question everything, every f***in’ thing! I like science, I love geology and if pointed in another direction that would have been my career choice and not crime.


CharlesInCharge

Good point. Knowledge through a scientific lens can change or be updated. Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Despite what Copernicus preached, the church was enraged that someone would go against the geocentric model of the universe as it’s described in the Bible. The church has a long history of fighting science. The more we learn about the world around us, the less we need a God to explain the things we don’t understand.


L.A.RamsFan

And look now how they (the church) are in “communion” with some of it (science)! Admitting that we are not the center of the universe with the only intelligent life anywhere! Coming out publicly to say there are planets out there that can support life other then ours! That God cannot be confined to earth alone! Stating they would offer salvation to ET’s when they show up!


Our bodies, I believe, are motorized by our spirits/souls which in turn are pure energy! Energy doesn’t die, it just gets smaller, less contained and more powerful as it progresses. Quarks and Quantum Mechanics explain it better than I ever could…


UnReasoned

Cool! Critical thinking skills and the scientific method are invaluable tools for growing up in our tech-driven, media-saturated society.


San Louie

“Skeptics”? Untrue. Atheists try to sell themselves as “free thinkers”, yet the de-facto rules of their (non)-belief system is every bit as dogmatic as the most formal religion.


If atheists were truly skeptics, if they were truly critical thinkers, they wouldn’t so gleefully (and ignorantly) shut themselves off from God’s grace. Agnosticism is understandable, it’s plausible. Atheistism is not.


L.A.RamsFan

San,


Maybe you can explain “Grace” to all of us. A friend of mine taught a course on that subject at Pepperdine years back and the course lasted just one year. If I remember correctly it didn’t last past that because of the obvious contradictions within the bible.


Unearned or unmerited favor and or forgiveness is just that, right? Please explain “christian grace”…


Ben Daho

There is not 1 shred of evidence that there is a god. NONE. God’s Grace? that’s a camp fire story that got out of hand.


Rambunctious

Get to em while they are too young to think for themselves… Everything we look at is God, God is all around us. His creations boundless. Evidence of a creator is everywhere. Tell me which campfire story moves nations of people? The there is no God story or there is a God story? Which story is helpful to a society and which story is not? We have people growing up today thinking there is only one life and when it’s over it’s over. No accountability for anything one can get away with.

Sorry but I want God back in the classroom. I want young soon to be adult humans to be human, things in life work better that way.


CharlesInCharge

Children are not born as Christians (or Muslims, Jews, etc…). They usually learn religion from their parents, and receive this information before they develop the ability to think for themselves. God was never taken out of schools. You can bring a Bible, pray, start a Christian group…whatever. It is no longer compulsory to pray. You have provided a false premise.


Knowing that our one life on this earth is all we have is liberating. It make one want to make a positive impact in the short time they have. Morality doesn’t derive from the Bible, so to assume non-religious people are immoral (lack accountability) is absurd. The fact that we have to continue to discuss these topics is absurd, frankly.


L.A.RamsFan

Then God’s Grace exists, right? How do I get it? By earning it? That’s what the bible teaches, which is in contradiction to the whole notion of Grace. To earn it I have to do two very definitive things; admit god is who he is and the son is who he sent for the purpose described, right? Then there has to be repentance (turning away from sin [not doing it again]) and then your works show your faith in Grace!


Grace is suppose to be a free gift, not earned but freely given! All that I described above is not a freely given gift to insure your infinite place in “heaven”, in God’s Grace, but rather stumbling blocks based in confusion to keep your from it.


If it is Grace then all anyone should have to do to get it is say “Thank You, I’ll Take It!” That’s it, no more than that!


If you can discount one thing in the bible doesn’t that make the whole book suspect?


Rambunctious

Too bad the Cowboys are Gods team :?)


L.A.RamsFan

Cowboys? Not so much me thinks… I would humbly submit after the “miracle” comeback the Patriots had in this past SB they would be “god’s Team”…


Rambunctious

Temporary fill in….


L.A.RamsFan

LOL! We can only hope! I can’t stand the Pats’, not one bit. I’ve always respected the Cowboys Origination but a true Rams Fan will not give any form of homage to any other team as they look at us in the rear view mirror of the standings… Oooops! Shit, reality some times even penetrates my set of horns!