Is Darwin’s Theory Flourishing or Floundering? A Debate

You are invited to attend a debate about Darwin’s “Tree of Life” — the theory of common descent of all of life on Earth from a single organism. In this forum, two philosophers of biology with expertise in the area, Joel Velasco (Texas Tech University) and Paul Nelson (Discovery Institute), debate the current status and future of common descent. Velasco will defend the mainstream evolutionary position; Nelson will challenge it. The event promises to be a lively exchange, with rich details from genetics, comparative biology, and the philosophy of science. Audience participation during the Q & A will be encouraged.

The details
Where: St. Edward’s University (Ragsdale Center—Jones Auditorium)
When: Friday, October 21, 7-9pm
Admission: Free and open to the public

Austin Empty Bowl Project

Sunday, September 25, ESOA will be painting bowls for the Empty Bowl Project.

The Austin Empty Bowl Project is an effort by Austin area potters to fight hunger. Always the Sunday before Thanksgiving, this annual family-friendly event invites you to select your favorite from thousands of locally crafted ceramic bowls, have it filled with gourmet soup and bread and listen to live music while enjoying your lunch. Your $20 donation goes to Kids Cafe, a program of the Central Texas Food Bank, and Meals for Kids, a program of Meals on Wheels Central Texas. Take the bowl home with you to remind you that others have empty bowls. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, November 20, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Texas Food Bank, 6500 Metropolis Drive, Austin, TX 78744 . Hope to see you there!


ESOA Celebrates Life of Former Member Don Nelson

Remembering Donald Nelson

Donald Nelson, former member of the Ethical Society of Austin, passed away Wednesday August 10, 2016. Link to Statesman obituary.

Don was an active member of ESOA for several years. Rich Harrison notes that Don had a passionate love of philosophy and gardening, and fondly recalls time spent with Don and his wife Betty.

A visitation will be held Friday September 9, 6pm-8pm at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home at 3125 N. Lamar, and a Celebration of Life service Saturday Sept 10, 3pm, at St. Geogre’s Episcopal Church, 4301 H. IH-35.

Bending the Arc of History Toward Justice

Slides for the July 31 platform given by Dr. Carolyn Parker, “Bending the Arc of History Toward Justice,” are available for viewing here.  In her platform, Dr. Parker noted that there are many things that members can do right now to fight systemic racism in our society:

  • Speak Up — whenever racist or unjust words are heard.
  • Stand Up — whenever racist or unjust behaviors are seen.
  • Act Up — whenever the opportunity arises to protest or resist injustice and discrimination.
  • Put Up — some money wherever it is needed.

Good News on Texas Voting Rights

In a month of painful news in Texas, the US, and the world, small flickers of good news can sometimes be lost.  Mother Jones reports good news for voting rights in Texas as the law establishing onerous restrictions on IDs accepted for voting is overturned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.  While the case may yet be taken to the US Supreme Court, for the November 2016 election, at least, voter suppression in Texas will be reduced.

“But whatever comes next for the Texas case,” MJ writer Delphine D’Amora says:

the plaintiffs’ yearslong, million-dollar fight against SB 14 represents a new norm in the battle over voting rights. Without federal oversight, it is now up to civil society organizations to monitor the bills working their way through statehouses around the country and to fund suits against questionable laws.

As good as this news may be, it is a sobering reminder that the right to vote can be taken from us in so simple a way as making the act of voting an onerous burden.  We should, I believe, be mindful of  just how vulnerable this fundamental right is, even in America, and protect it with all our available resources.  More than that, we should use it!


The United Nations has set 17 global goals for sustainable development by 2030.  These sustainable development goals, or SDGs, encompass all of the areas of development for humans and the planet they live on.  Each goal has a set of targets for achievement, and each target is being worked on by many countries, especially as they apply to one’s own country, but also in concert with others to achieve a broader reach.

Update on “Contacting Your Representatives”

We’ve added a new paragraph to the information page on how to contact your representatives.  The paragraph focuses on the problem of living near the edge of a district.  Some databases are not accurate down to the individual home, so a search will return multiple representatives for the same address.   Work-arounds and solutions for this problem have been added to this resource page.  Check it out . (cp)

Register for AEU 101st Assembly


The American Ethical Union’s 101st Annual Assembly will be held this year in St. Louis, MO, July 14-17.  The 2016 theme is:  “Bending the Arc of History . . . Toward Justice.”  Program information and registration will be available on AEU’s website starting May 16.  The Assembly will be held at the St. Louis City Center Hotel.  The AEU rate is $109 for a single king room or double queen suite.

Keep It In the Ground


The American Ethical Union has shared an action alert with us regarding Break Free 2016:

May 4-15, 2016:  A global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects — to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerate the just transition to 100% renewable energy.

Targeted protest and actions of civil disobedience will take place at selected critical locations around the world.  Actions in the US will take place May 12-15 in Anacortes, WA; Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Denver, CO; and Washington, DC.

For additional context, this short  movie, Disobedience, is both enlightening and inspiring.   You can participate in any of the upcoming global actions by becoming a Digital Witness.  As a digital witness, you will witness live coverage of the events you sign up for and amplify the action, sending messages of support and, perhaps, displaying what you witness in your own social media platforms.