Who are the Red River Freethinkers and how did the organization get started?
The Red River Freethinkers (RRF) held their first meeting in the summer of 1997. A group of about 25 people of various beliefs and life experiences met to discuss the formation of a group that would be different than any in our area.
There was much discussion about a name. Some wanted the group to be exclusively and atheist one. Others did not consider themselves to be atheists and wanted a more inclusive group and a name for the organization which reflected this inclusivity.
The term "freethinker" (one who forms views, especially religious views, on the basis of reason rather than on the basis of authority) was inclusive and caught the essence of the group's emphasis on reason and skepticism. Interestingly, the meaning of the term "freethinker" has remained relatively unchanged since it was first used in 1690.
Today, RRF is a much larger organization with a variety of activities.
Members from Jamestown and Grand Forks, ND, to Alexandria, MN attend its monthly meetings. It sponsors the popular Science, Religion and Lunch Seminar at NDSU. It hosts public events such as movies and lectures which focus on religion in American life. There are weekly social gatherings where local people gather to discuss issues of faith and reason. RRF remains the leading advocate for separation of church and state.
As the nation and our region become more diverse and secular, the future of RRF is bright. It remains the beacon of hope for those who wish to pursue a secular path.
Are Freethinkers all atheists?
Would not Freethinkers see it as rational to prepare for the possibility that there is an afterlife if they cannot prove there is none?
While it is impossible to speak for all Freethinkers, those who are nonbelievers would probably say there is no evidence of an afterlife. They might reason as well that when humans spend time and money preparing for their own personal “afterlife”, they have less ability to contribute to the improvement of today’s society and the well being of future generations. That is, preparing for one’s own personal afterlife sacrifices some contribution to the greater good.
If Freethinkers are not following God, doesn’t that mean they are following Satan?
No. To follow, or being under the direction of, Satan, would be to yield to an authority. Freethinking is an approach to reason which is exactly the opposite of this. Freethinking is about individuals reaching conclusions without yielding to such authority.
Are Freethinkers moral people? That is, if they do not receive their moral direction from God and the Bible, how can they be moral people?
Yes, Freethinkers are moral people. There is a statistic which validates, some would argue, this assertion. It is that atheists are underrepresented in the U. S. prison population. That is, we know the percentage of the U. S. population and find that the percentage of the prison population is far less than this. (While not all Freethinkers are atheists, a large percentage of them are and it does not seem unreasonable to use atheists as a “proxy” statistic for Freethinkers.) An argument a Freethinker might make on behalf of his/her own moral standards is that the Freethinker relies on individual reasoning, rather than moral standards dictated by an authority. Using these reasoning abilities, a Freethinker may further conclude that the highest definition of the common good is the survival of humans on our planet, and, the highest moral standard is behavior which advances this common good.