Events Archive 2019

Living within a “Chosen” Sect

Thursday 31 January 2019, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Photo of Peter VeitchFor this third and more casual get-together of the new Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), members will meet in a friendly pub for a scrumptious meal and plenty of discussion and networking. Les Allan (ESN Convener) will lead a discussion with Peter Veitch on his experiences living within and later leaving a religious community that demanded obedience. Peter was an active member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since childhood and left some 10 years ago. The meeting will explore issues around exclusion of outsiders, church authority and questioning of faith.

ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Losing Your Religion: Ex-Muslims Speak Out

Saturday 9 February 2019, 1:00 pm to 10:30 pm

Losing Your Religion: Ex-Muslims Speak Out 2019Bayview on the Park, 52 Queens Road, Melbourne
This conference aims to highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, challenge the punitive attitudes that plague them and take a stand for reason, secularism and human rights. Losing your religion can be hard, but for some, it can be fatal. For a Muslim, punishments for abandoning the faith range from ostracism and rejection by the family, to fines, imprisonment, flogging, and in 13 countries, death. Even in Australia, renouncing Islam can plunge the individual into a limbo of fear, rejection and harassment and can lead to repercussions for family members in home countries. Read Event Details …

International Darwin Day

Tuesday 12 February 2019, 5:00 pm onward

Statue of Charles Darwin at Natural History MuseumStudley Park, Boathouse Rd, Kew, Melbourne
Anyone interested in evolution or Humanism is invited to join us at picturesque Studley Park (under the shelter by the electric barbecues) for a BYO picnic to celebrate the enormous positive impact Charles Darwin has had on the world. Each year on Darwin’s birthday, Humanists and other freethinkers celebrate his contribution to our understanding of the variety of life forms. The contribution Darwin made has completely transformed the way we humans perceive our place in the universe. His contribution enables us to see that all life forms, including humans, are naturally evolved rather than specially created.

Sunday Assembly: A Non-religious Alternative to Church

Saturday 17 February 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Photo of Margaret LivingstoneToday, there are a variety of options for celebrating life with friends and community on the weekend outside of religious observance. Sunday Assembly was started in England by two comedians who wanted the social benefits of church service without the religious trappings. In a Q&A format, Margaret Livingstone will share her story of how she became involved in Sunday Assembly and why. She will describe the variety of social activities they engage in and some of the charitable work they perform. Margaret is currently President of the Melbourne Chapter of Sunday Assembly. She came from a very religious background. Her father was the Pastor of a small but very strict branch of the Methodist Church. Her mother worked as much as possible for the church while raising a family. Margaret arrived in Australia 15 years ago with her Australian husband, who died 8 years ago. Together, they owned a retail mattress store in Melbourne. This is a great chance to meet other people like you and connect with a supportive group. We look forward to meeting you.

ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Philosophy Matters: ‘Is Free Will an Intuition or an Illusion? Or Neither?’

Friday 1 March 2019, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Philosophy Matters logo

Room 2, Hawthorn Library, 584 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria (Melways: 45 D11)
Libertarian philosophers speak of our strong intuition that our will to action is free of the biological and physical forces we find in the rest of nature. Hard determinists, on the other hand, tell us that this universal intuition of non-causality is simply an illusion. In this talk, Leslie Allan will put the case that the libertarian and the hard determinist are both mistaken thinking that we have such an intuition. He will argue that the circumvention of biological and physical forces in our heads is not the kind of thing that we can have an apprehension about. If Leslie is right, then what we mean by “free will” must mean something other than willing contra-causally. Read Event Details …

Atheist Society Lecture: ‘Charles Darwin’s Finches: Evolution in Real Time’

Tuesday 12 March 2019, 8:00 pm

Unitarian Church, 110 Grey St, East Melbourne (Melways: 2G, D2)
Monthly address by Robert Bender (Humanist Society of Victoria)

Reproductive Coercion and Religion

Sunday 17 March 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Jacquie O'Brien

For this meeting of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), Jacquie O’Brien (Director of Public Affairs at Marie Stopes Australia) will draw on the findings of a recent White Paper released by Marie Stopes Australia on the issue of reproductive coercion. She will discuss specifically some of the structural issues in Australia that can prevent people from making decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Jacquie will look at some of the cultural and religious influences involved in Reproductive Coercion and draw on some of the experiences of Australians who have left religious communities.

ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Rally for Change – The National Redress Scheme

Sunday 31 March 2019, 11:30 am

The National Redress Scheme Rally for Change - Sunday 31 March 11:30 am on steps of Parliament House in Melbourne

Steps of Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne
Survivors of institutional abuse and their supporters are holding a rally to call for an overhaul of the National Redress Scheme. The rally will start from the steps of Parliament House. Progressive Atheists are first meeting at 11:00 am at the Imperial Hotel, 8 Bourke Street, Melbourne. All are welcome to join.

Can Capitalism and the Climate Be Reconciled?

Friday 5 April 2019, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Photo of Hans Baer

Phyllis Hore Room, Kew Library, Cotham Road, Kew
At this Philosophy Matters Meetup event, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and author of 21 books, Hans A. Baer, will argue that we need an alternative economic system if we want to address the problem of climate change. Democratic eco-socialism, he argues, is the answer. But is he right? The Philosophy Matters Meetup is sponsored by the Humanist Society of Victoria. Read Event Details …

Casual Get-together at Café and Gardens

Saturday 13 April 2019, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Photo of sunlight breaking through trees in a parkMelbourne, Victoria
For this casual get-together of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), we’ll meet at a café located in beautiful gardens close to the Melbourne city block. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the gardens or get a bite to eat and a drink at the café. The café offers a range of snacks and hot and cold drinks. Be sure to bring some warmer clothes in case the weather turns cooler. The gardens are family-friendly, so you can let your children play in the sunshine and green surroundings. We’ll meet on the seats in the open air area at the rear of the café. Look for the guy with the name-tag “Les”. ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Walk for Justice for Refugees – Palm Sunday 2019

Sunday 14 April 2019, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Walk for Justice for Refugees poster

State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne
In the run up to the federal election, join the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice and help deliver the message to all politicians that we want a fair society that welcomes refugees. Join with people from community groups, faith groups, unions and political organisations to stand up for refugees. It took over five years, but almost all children are now off Nauru. This is a result of the pressure from the refugee movement on the politicians who said they would never come here. Now we need to get everyone off Manus and Nauru. Speakers include Behrouz Boochani (activist, filmmaker, winner of Victorian Prize for Literature and Kurdish refugee imprisoned on Manus Island) and Nyadol Nyuon (lawyer, writer and community advocate). She was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya. Humanist Society of Victoria members are meeting on the steps of the State Library at 2:00 pm. Look for our big Humanist Society of Victoria banner and come over and say hello. Read Event Details …

Giving and Happiness

Monday 13 May 2019, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Photo of Professor Peter Singer

Copland Theatre, The “Spot” Building, University of Melbourne, 162 Berkeley St, Carlton
At this event, hear about the personal journeys taken by Professor Peter Singer and Philip Wollen, their passion and the work they’ve done to combat poverty, injustice and lead ethical movements that have changed the world. Learn how everyday people like us can make a BIG difference in the world. The event will comprise a casual and informative chat with both Professor Peter Singer and Philip Wollen, moderated by Jo Evans. Audience participation is highly encouraged. Read Event Details …

The Theological Problem of Evil

Thursday 16 May 2019, 7:30 pm

Photo of Leslie Allan

Carlton Library Meeting Room, Cnr Rathdowne and Newry Sts, North Carlton (Melways: 2B, J2)
The existence of evil, pain and suffering is considered by many philosophers to be the most vexed question concerning the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect deity. Why would a loving God permit wanton acts of cruelty and misery on the scale witnessed throughout human history? Leslie Allan leads a discussion on common theistic responses to this problem, exploring how each approaches the problem and outstanding issues. He then examines a theistic defence designed to show that the problem of evil is not a problem at all.

Living Godless with Meaning and Enthusiasm

Sunday 19 May 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Photo of Rod Bower

Melbourne, Victoria
For this meeting of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), we will discuss how we can live a good life without worrying about the supernatural? Do we really need to believe in God to have a solid foundation? Rod Bower made the journey in mid-life from a reliance on outside divine forces to trusting his own intuitions and capabilities. In this Q&A format, Rod will share the trials and tribulations he experienced on his way from liberal Methodism through Pentecostalism and then Atheism and Humanism. Come and find out how Rod now leads a productive and satisfying life free from the fears of the supernatural.

Rod Bower was raised by his parents in a liberal Methodist household and participated actively in several different churches until he became an atheist at age 29. He forged a career in civil engineering and IT projects and, now retired, works actively in the humanist movement. ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)

Saturday 25 May 2019, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton
The first Melbourne-based forum on Modern Monetary Theory will be a two-hour audience-based discussion of the theory led by Emeritus Professor Bill Mitchell (Director for the Centre of Full Employment and Equity). Modern Monetary Theory is an economic perspective for the 21st century that offers a paradigm shift in how we understand money and the economy. It is built on the work of academic economists, finance industry and banking experts as well as central bank insiders, two distinct groups that came to the same conclusions independently. Read Event Details …

The Mental Health Impact of Ever-changing JW Beliefs

Tuesday 11 June 2019, 8:00 to 10:00 pm

110 Grey St, East Melbourne (Melways: 2G, D2)
Hosted by the Atheist Society and featuring Sarah Blaire. Read Event Details …

Movie: Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Wednesday 12 June 2019, 6:30 pm

Poster for the movie - Islam: The Future of Tolerance

Venue: Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon St, Carlton, Victoria (Find on Google Maps)
The Rationalist Society of Australia warmly invites you to this special screening of Islam and the Future of Tolerance. In a world riven by violence and misunderstanding, prominent atheist author Sam Harris and Islamist-turned-liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz seek to provide a remedy to the polarizing rhetoric and obscurantism around the topic of Islam. Exclusive to this event, the film’s director and producer will partake in a special Q&A after the screening. Book online at FanForce. A minimum of 60 ticket sales is required for the event to go ahead.

An Ex-Pentecostalist Meets an Ex-Catholic

Sunday 16 June 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Photo of Matt Fraser and Caoimhe Geraghty

Melbourne, Victoria
Matt Fraser was raised in a strict Church of the Brethren family in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Caoimhe Geraghty was brought up as a faithful Roman Catholic in Ireland. Both in their own way struggled with their faith and the bonds of family and church. What happens when these two heretics meet and they forge a life together? In this Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN) Q&A, Les Allan (ESN Facilitator) will explore with Matt and Caoimhe (pronounced “Queeva”) the forces that persuaded them to break free from their respective churches and the intertwined family and social bonds that delayed the separation. Find out how they’ve made a new life for themselves independent of their former religious communities. This will be an interactive session in which you’ll have a chance to engage in a conversation with Matt and Caoimhe. ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Australian Humanist Convention 2019

Saturday 22 Jun 2019 9:00 am to Sunday 23 June 4:00 pm

Council of Australian Humanist Societies Annual Convention 2019 banner

Humanist House, 10 Shepherd Street, Chippendale, NSW
This is a Humanist convention that gets down to work. Rather than celebrity speakers, there will be sessions with panels of two or more participants, mostly members of Humanist Societies, who each speak briefly, then respond to constructive Q&A. Held over two days, sessions will include ‘Developing Australian Humanism through Signature Campaigns’, ‘Building Our Community through Engagement and Diversity’ and ‘Australian Humanism – Past, Present, Future – City by City’ Read Event Details …

Philosophy Matters: Problem of Evil: Part 1 of 3 (Free Will)

Friday 12 July 2019, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Philosophy Matters logo

Phyllis Hore Room, Kew Library, cnr Cotham Road/Civic Drive, Kew
This is the first in a three-part series on the philosophical Problem of Evil. The existence of evil, pain and suffering poses perhaps the most serious objection to the belief that God exists. In this first talk, Leslie Allan will lay out the problem and articulate why it persists as a thorny issue for theists. After considering what would make an adequate philosophical solution to the problem, he considers the most offered reason for God allowing evil; that it is an unintended consequence of God granting humans the ability to choose freely. Come and share your view on God and evil and join the conversation. Read Event Details …

Believers in Disbelief

Sunday 21 July 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm [note change of date]

Photo of David Ayliffe

Melbourne, Victoria
For this meeting of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), ESN Facilitator Les Allan will ask David Ayliffe questions about life in a high demand fundamentalist religious group where the leader claimed to be God. Humour remains a pathway to mental health for David who went on to lead the group after “God” died. David says he probably could have been God too, but fortunately recognised he didn’t quite have the skills required.

David was involved with the dangerous religious cult called Zion Full Salvation Ministry. With his brother, he published a book about his experiences titled My Brother’s Eyes. David currently works with clients with brain injuries and also conducts weddings, funerals and naming and commitment ceremonies as a civil celebrant. ESN is a private Meetup group. Membership of the group is required to see the event details. Read Event Details …

Life Beyond Jehovah’s Witnesses

Sunday 18 August 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Photo of boy with hand on chin and questioning look

Melbourne, Victoria
For this meeting of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN), ESN Facilitator Les Allan will be interviewing Sarah Blaire about her escape from the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) cult and how she has rebuilt her life. Sarah was raised a fourth-generation JW by her strict religious parents. Her rejection of the Church started after some episodes of abuse. She was also fearful of the coming Armageddon, but slowly grew to doubt that it would happen. Since leaving the Church, she has gone on to challenge JW orthodoxy. Her current project is producing a growing collection of videos that appeal to followers remaining within the Church and that will encourage reform from within. View videos from Sarah’s YouTube channel.
ESN is a private Meetup group. Join ESN Meetup group to see the venue details.

Philosophy Matters: Problem of Evil: Part 2 of 3 (Character Building)

Wednesday 21 August 2019, 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Philosophy Matters logo

Ashburton Library, 154 High Street, Ashburton
Does the existence of evil, pain and suffering pose a serious objection to the belief that God exists? Is there a reason for why an all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful divine being would allow such suffering? In this second talk in this series on the philosophical Problem of Evil, Leslie Allan will review just such a reason that is commonly offered by theists. This popular defence is that the existence of pain and suffering is necessary for the development of good moral characters and the performance of virtuous acts, such as bravery and charity. What do you think of this defence? Can it overcome objections? Come to this Meetup and share your views. Read Event Details …

Humanists at Hurstbridge Wattle Festival

Sunday 25 August 2019, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Wattle Festival Logo

Main Road, Hurstbridge, Stall 13A
Humanists Victoria is hosting a stall at the 2019 Hurstbridge Wattle Festival. You can find us at stall 13A – in front of Hurstbridge Primary School, right next to the school sign. Please come along to support us and have a chat! If you’re also looking for a fun day out, this annual festival is worth a visit. It hosts an impressive array of all kinds of stalls, and there are events and activities for the whole family. Activities include steam train and double-decker bus rides, music, art exhibitions and animal nursery. Get Map and Program …

Thriving After Leaving Cult Life Behind

Thursday 12 September 2019, 6:30 am to 8:30 pm

Photo of Claire Ashman

Melbourne, Victoria
For this month’s Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN) event, we are sharing a meal with our special guest down from Queensland, Claire Ashman. Claire will share her story of how she walked away from over 30 years of religious indoctrination, including a decade spent in a cult. After challenging the leaders’ authority, Claire and her family were evicted from the cult. Claire also describes the challenges of living and navigating her way in a world she barely knew whilst being a solo parent of her eight young children. She went on to write a book about her experiences living in a cult, ‘Lessons from a Cult Survivor. Come and hear Claire’s story, join the conversation and enjoy a hearty pub meal. ESN is a private Meetup group. Join ESN Meetup group to see the venue details.

Philosophy Matters: Problem of Evil: Part 3 of 3 (Skeptical Theism)

Thursday 3 October, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Philosophy Matters logo

Phyllis Hore Room, Kew Library, cnr Cotham Road/Civic Drive, Kew
The existence of evil, pain and suffering poses a very thorny problem for people who believe that an all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful divine being watches over us. Many philosophers and theologians have offered reasons for why a God would allow suffering. But such reasons have not proved convincing. A way out of the need to even provide a reason is to say that human beings do not have the intellectual capacity to comprehend the reason, even if it was disclosed. Is this strategy successful? In this final part of this series on the Problem of Evil, Leslie Allan will consider whether the Skeptical Theists’ attempt to avoid the problem of evil only creates even bigger problems and paradoxes. Read Event Details …

Critical Thinkers Forum: Why I Am a Humanist

Sunday 6 October 2019, 12:30 to 2:00 pm

Photo of Leslie Allan

Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church
110 Grey St, East Melbourne (Find on Google Maps)
In this talk, Les Allan will share his early experiences and how they shaped his humanist outlook today. He will outline what he sees as the three core principles underlying the humanist world view: reason and evidence, compassion and equality, and autonomy and dignity. Illustrating the application of these principles with historical and contemporary examples, he will go on to draw upon each of them to flesh out what it means to live a good life; a life of meaning and purpose.

Bio: Over a decade, Les studied philosophy and history of religions at La Trobe University. In his working life, Les’ career spanned electronics, information technology, training and development and business improvement. He is currently Vice President of Humanists Victoria and owner of Rational Realm, a web site dedicated to exploring the boundaries between science and philosophy.

Religious Rites and Wrongs

Sunday 20 October 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

Photo of Geoff Allshorn

Melbourne, Victoria
Geoff Allshorn is our guest for this Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN) event. Geoff has spent many years confronting religious-based injustice, including gay conversion therapy and employment discrimination, marriage inequality and ‘religious rights’ —and today he remains concerned about religious privilege within LGBTI communities. Having been an atheist now for just over half of his lifetime, he hopes that his experiences as a long-term ex-religious survivor may assist others to also work through any unresolved issues of religious indoctrination and oppression.

Bio: Geoff Allshorn is a former Christian, a long-time human rights and LGBTQIA+ activist, a humanist, and the co-convenor of the Rainbow Atheists Facebook and MeetUp groups.

ESN is a private Meetup group. Join ESN Meetup group to see the venue details.

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