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Please join us at 11 a.m. on the first and third Sundays of every month for our FEED YOUR BRAIN programs.

These events feature authors, scholars, and luminaries from many fields that expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it. CFI's naturalistic approach to wisdom holds that there is no issue exempt from examination and discussion.

On third Sundays, the lecture is repeated at 4:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa, at the Community Center at 1845 Park Avenue.

View links to past lectures at the bottom of the page.

Upcoming lectures/events: (click titles to view descriptions)
 

 

 

1/5/14

-

Caitlin Doughty
Death Rituals for the Secular

 

1/19/14

-

David Falk
Astrology versus Astronomy: What Do the Stars Tell Us?

(David Richards will discuss "Skepticism 101" in Costa Mesa at 4:30 p.m.)

 

2/2/14

-

No lecture

 

2/16/14

-

Special Presentation for Darwin Day
Cameron Smith
The Evolution rEvolution

 

3/2/14

-

Sam Singleton
Cats, Sheep and Goats: The Taxonomy of Atheists, Believers and Preachers

 

3/16/14

-

Jeffrey Masson
Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us about the Origins of Good and Evil




Caitlin Doughty

Death Rituals for the Secular

Sunday, January 5
11 a.m.

     Throughout human history, rituals performed for (and with) dead human bodies have been tied to the religion to which the dead person belonged. The Egyptians mummified remains to preserve the physical body as it moved to the next world. Hindus cremated bodies to split open the skull and release the soul. The list goes on. But where does that leave the modern, secular person, who may feel like there are no meaningful cultural or religious rituals to perform at the time of death? Many are turning to direct cremation, advertised as the "sensible option": inexpensive cremation with no viewing, no ritual, no interaction with the dead body at all. L.A. mortician and death scholar Caitlin Doughty will argue that even without religion, the physical act of ritual is still crucial, and the recent absence of the corpse is a detriment to modern society.

     In 2011, Doughty started the Order of the Good Death, a community of academics, funeral professionals, and artists committed to bringing conversation about death back into popular culture. The YouTuber videos she created for the Order - most notably her question-and-answer series, "Ask a Mortician" - are what brought her to national media attention. She is also writing a book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (and Other Lessons from the Crematory), to be published by W. W. Norton in 2014, and is in the process of opening her own alternative funeral home, Undertaking LA. 

Admission
Friends of the Center: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4

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David Falk

Astrology versus Astronomy: What do the Stars Tell Us?

Sunday, January 19 - Hollywood only
11 a.m.
(David Richards will discuss "Skepticism 101" in Costa Mesa at 4:30 p.m.)

     Both astrology and astronomy originated almost 2,000 years ago. So what's the difference between them? Can either predict our futures? Which is capable of revealing secrets about how stars work and what happens when they die?

     In his talk, David Falk, an Instructor of Astronomy and Planetarium Director at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), will discuss how astrology and astronomy work and examine the underpinnings of both. He also will review how astrology represents the sky and from where "Sun signs" come.

     Falk has been a full-time faculty member of LAVC for 17 years and has served as Department Chair of the Earth Science Department. He teaches Basic and Observational Astronomy using the LAVC Planetarium and Observatory. He previously taught at three other colleges in the Los Angeles area and has more than 35 years experience with telescopes and planetariums. Since 1987, Falk has been the faculty sponsor of the LA Valley College Astronomy Group, a community-based volunteer club that sponsors public lectures and planetarium shows at the college.

Admission
Friends of the Center: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4

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Special Presentation for Darwin Day
Cameron Smith

The Evolution rEvolution

Sunday, February 16
11 a.m. in Hollywood
4:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa*

     Three decades of intensive genetic and genomic study have essentially rewritten our understanding of evolutionary process - on all scales from molecules to ecosystems. A New Evolutionary Synthesis is emerging, yielding a far subtler understanding of evolutionary dynamics, from DNA repair to speciation. In his talk, Dr. Cameron Smith, a prehistorian at Portland State University, will review the main facets of the New Evolutionary Synthesis, using plenty of jaw-dropping examples of just how evolution works.

     Dr. Smith's work focuses on human evolution - past, present and future. He began his study of anthropology with the Leakey research team in northern Kenya and has conducted archaeological fieldwork worldwide. He has been published widely in peer-reviewed technical journals, including the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Structure and Dynamics, Physics of Life Reviews, Oxford's British Archaeological Reports, the Journal of Field Archaeology and International Monographs in Prehistory. Dr. Smith also has written for the general public in many magazines, including Scientific American, OMNI, Scientific American MIND, Archaeology, and Spaceflight.

     Dr. Smith is also author of several books on evolution endorsed by the American Library Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Science Education, including The Top Ten Myths about Evolution and The Fact of Evolution. He also has appeared on PBS, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and on many radio shows including Bob Edwards' Weekend, Michio Kaku's Science Fantastic, and Scientific American podcasts.

*This lecture will be repeated at 4:30 p.m. at the Costa Mesa community center at 1845 Park Ave. in Costa Mesa. Hosted by the CFI Community of Orange County.

Admission
Friends of the Center: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4

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Sam Singleton

Cats, Sheep and Goats: The Taxonomy of Atheists, Believers and Preachers

Sunday, March 2
11 a.m.

     In the first Southern California performance of his 5th one-man show, writer-actor Roger Scott Jackson performs his latest satirical theater-piece as comedic character "Brother Sam, Atheist Evangelist." In this show, Brother Sam and his cousin Palmer have followed widely disparate paths. Palmer remains faithful to their holy roller upbringing and loves to call Sam on the phone and vent about how tough believers have it in the U.S. "Of course, Sam has to have his say," Jackson comments. "We have only Sam's account to go by. These guys drive each other crazy, and disagree about most everything, yet they manage to remain close."

     Since 2007, Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist has appeared in more than a hundred cities across the U.S. and Canada. His other shows are: "Revival, "Patriarchs and Penises," "Too Big for God," and "If the Ocean was Whiskey and God was a Duck." Last January, his "Patriarchs and Penises" played to an overflow crowd at the Center here.

     Jackson has worked as a fish-gutter, bartender, reporter, and English teacher: "Though Brother Sam is not strictly autobiographical, he is fabricated from my own experience, which is to say, I start by telling the truth, then heap on lies. Of course, like Brother Sam, I do happen to be an atheist."

     A collection will be taken as part of the show, "Cats, Sheep and Goats: The Taxonomy of Atheists, Believers and Preachers," which does contain irreligious and adult language.

Admission
Friends of the Center: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4

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Jeffrey Masson

Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us about the Origins of Good and Evil

Sunday, March 16
11 a.m. in Hollywood
4:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa*

     Humans are a uniquley violent species, by far the most violent animal on the planet. They are the supreme predator on land; in the ocean, it's the orca, and then there are other top predators such as wolves, bears, and the big cats. While humans kill  other animals on a gigantic scale, animals rarely kill humans. Our species kills over 100,000,000 sharks and more than a million crocodiles every year, but there are only a few human deaths, mostly by accident. And no orca has ever killed a human in the wild.

     So what happened to us? How did we get to be this uniquely violent species? Author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, an honorary research associate in the department of philosophy at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, will answer those questions as he discusses his new book, Beasts: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Origins of Good and Evil. Animals rarely kill their own, bit just in the 20th century alone humans have slaughtered more than 200 million of their own kind. For almost their entire existence, humans were just like other top predators; they were not apart from the natural order. Then, about 10,000 years ago, something happened. We started on a path that led us to become the violent, cruel, and destructive species we are today. This was a departure from our essential nature.

     Masson, an ex-psychoanalyst and former director of the Freud Archives, is the author of numerous bestselling, critically acclaimed books on animal emotions, including Dogs Never Lie about Love and When Elephants Weep.

*This lecture will be repeated at 4:30 p.m. at the Costa Mesa community center at 1845 Park Ave. in Costa Mesa. Hosted by the CFI Community of Orange County.

Admission
Friends of the Center: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4

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Tree illustration by Dave Cooper
www.davegraphics.com

Home page FYB artist: Chris Stangl

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