“A fellowship of the religious and non-religious who believe communal commitment to reason will transform the world.”
PROBLEMS: Lack of dialogue Religious and secular aggression Polarization and prejudice SOLUTION: Bridge religious and secular gulfs with reasoning dialogue Communal commitment to reasoning in lieu of aggression Pluralistic, “transbelief” fellowship
Our Mission We believe in the power of reasoning and logical minds, when present in sufficient numbers, to reduce and someday eliminate all ills on Earth caused by human irrationality. But no culture exists today that envisions community commitment to logic and reason as an absolute requirement for improvement of the world or even of one's own assumptions and actions. Only a different approach to solving irrationality by the human race can lead to a better outcome.
About Us The Circle of Reason is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to fellowship and service to society -- but in a way different than you've seen before: A fellowship who believes communal commitment to reason will transform the world. No culture in history has used communal commitment to reason as a way to improve the world as well as our individual lives. We believe this approach to solving irrationality by the human race can lead to a better outcome than what has come before. Our goal is to institute local and virtual congregations, or circles, of those who believe in the power of reason to gradually but inexorably identify and expunge irrationality from our worldly lives and from local society, campaign and governmental policies, and global society. A fellowship who excludes none. We welcome all who seek clarity of mind, regardless of their present beliefs or creeds. Faith can even harmonize with reason, when we accept the gift of the mind to better understand, live in, and shepherd this world. Consequently, the Circle is unique in inviting everyone, including both the religious and the non-religious, into an additional shared haven -- a truly ecumenical fellowship to make the world we've all inherited a saner place. As an international organization for pluralistic rationalism, The Circle of Reason sponsors or endorses local circles of reasoning dialogue and fellowship between those with disparate beliefs and backgrounds.
Reason Can Be Compatible with Religion “It is a historical position of the [Methodist] church that any disciplined theological work calls for the careful use of reason.” “By reason, it is said, one reads and is able to interpret scripture coherently and consistently. By reason one determines whether one's Christian witness is clear. By reason one asks questions of faith and seeks to understand God's action and will.” “The Role of Reason in the Methodist Church” -- Wikipedia
The Role of Reason In Belief Systems Reason plays a critical role in all belief systems -- as the umpire. Reason defines the limit of the role beliefs, faiths or religions can legitimately play in (and the interface through which they must communicate with) our larger and more heterogeneous society and its moral systems. Without reason, belief cuts itself off from the universe, like a black hole spiraling into crushing darkness -- becoming an aggressive, all-consuming dogma of ignorance. What do we consider evil in the world? Willful unreasoning. Reason is the one unique capacity that confers upon the human species the potential for self-generated apotheosis -- the potential to create a purpose as a sentient species that may outlive all that we now know. Reason could thus be considered a "sacred” gift (whether from God or Darwin) -- even though we don't usually capitalize the "R”!
How the Circle of Reason Contributes The Circle of Reason's (COR’s) purpose is not merely to call for trans-belief tolerance, as do other fellowships. Telling people to be more tolerant is not necessarily the best way to make them more tolerant. Tolerance may best be achieved by encouraging people to use the intellectual tools that naturally create it. Hence, COR asks for more than simply “fellowship.” COR thinks it is critical to encourage “reasoning fellowship” -- to encourage rationality within, and reasoning dialogue between, its community members both religious and secular, and of disparate biological, racial, ethnic, social, political and economic backgrounds.
History Founded: January 1, 2000 (Dr. Frank H. Burton, Exec. Director) Incorporated as Non-profit : September 13, 2002 Publicly debuted (online): July 4, 2007 (www.circleofreason.org) Service mark U.S. Registration: November, 27, 2007 RSS Feed syndicated: January 3, 2009 (Parable of the Week blog) Main website hits to date*: 8,619 (101 countries, 2421 cities) Registered online Virtual Local Circles to date: 4 Virtual Local Circle discussion posts to date: 3699 Registered Local Circles to date: 4 (Cardiff UK; Mayfield KY, USA; Minneapolis MN, USA; Leiden, The Netherlands) News articles to date: 3 (MN Independent, TC Daily Planet, RH Reality Check) Membership tally to date: 403 *date: 3/24/10
Tenets Fundamental (hard to reasonably deny) Minimal (avoids dogma) Compatible (accommodates religious or secular stance)
The Affirmation of The Circle of Reason “We believe in the power of reasoning and logical minds, when present in sufficient numbers, to reduce and someday eliminate all ills on Earth caused by human irrationality -- to prevent war, government corruption, environmental destruction, institutionalized poverty and discrimination. Our purpose is to so change the world within the next 50 generations -- by encouraging people to commit to local congregations of faith in the ability of reasoning thought to save our world and bring our next major step in moral evolution. We welcome all who seek clarity of mind, regardless of present beliefs or creed, to The Circle of Reason.” January 1, 2000 C.E.
3 Tenets of Reason Reality's Acceptance Assumption's Denial Emotion's Mastery 3 Guides of Action What is, is. Reality denied causes wrong action; Reality accepted causes right action. What is not, is not. Incorrect assumptions, non-reality accepted as reality, cause wrong action; Questioned assumptions cause right action. What is or is not, is paramount. Emotion unmastered by reason causes wrong action; Emotion's mastery by reason causes right action.
The 3 Paths to Right Action Accept what is, reject what is not, leave open* what may be. Root out incorrect assumptions and their signpost -- contradictions. Let reason, not emotion, be the final arbiter of your actions. *Here resides faith. The 3 Paths to Wrong Action Reject what is, accept** what is not, reject *** or accept*** what may be. Act based on unconsidered assumptions, and ignore their contradictions. Let emotion rule, not simply inform, your actions. **Here resides superstition. ***Here resides dogmatism.
The Paragons of Reason and Unreason The Paragon of Reason: Objective, Open-minded, and Equable The Paragon of Unreason: Subjective, Close-minded, and Emotional
The Meditation of Reason “In Reality's denial was I blind -- by Reality's Acceptance do I see. In Assumption's acceptance was I bowed -- by Assumption's Denial do I stand. In Emotion's surrender did I stampede -- by Emotion's Mastery do I stride. By these three do I drink from the depths, tread beyond the horizon, and reach for the zenith of the World.”
The Circle Thanksgiving A Pluralistic Thanksgiving “Let us bow our heads in prayer or contemplation. We give thanks for the gift of the Mind, through which our purpose shall be envisioned. We give thanks for the gift of the Will, through which our purpose shall be manifest. We give thanks for the gift of the Heart, through which our purpose shall be ennobled. And we give thanks for the gift of the Universe, through which our purpose shall be magnified. So say we all.”
Virtual Local Circles of Reason Online: Beliefnet Circle of Reason (BCOR), Facebook Circle of Reason (FCOR), The Circle of Reason Round Table (CORRT) & Scienceforums.net Circle of Reason (SFCOR) To seek out new logical life, and new rational civilizations -- to clearly go where no one has gone before; To find, recruit, converse with and encourage -- from all walks of life, all biologies, all beliefs, all societies -- those who are your own kinsmen and kinswomen - the reasoning kind; To discuss the role of reason, or its absence, in our "modern" society; To help humankind at long last attain philosophical maturity; You're looking for The Circle of Reason's public webforums -- Gather in, speak out, listen up, get down.
Clarity Circles A tradition of communal clear thinking Online or real-world gatherings whose members help one of their group through an important life choice by simply -- and only -- asking questions, to help their colleagues perceive the realities, assumptions, and emotions that underlie their dilemma. Historically, the first clarity circles were founded by the Quakers, where they continue today.
“The Circle of Reason does not seek to convert its members from their faiths, but encourages its members to reasonably guide their faiths. Local Circles are thus encouraged to be founded in and sponsored by (or between) neighborhood churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and atheist groups, while welcoming members of every belief and creed…”
A shared haven of true ecumenism for a saner world. Founding of Local Circles is beginning within cities and, more locally, within neighborhood houses of worship and/or secular groups; and as virtual, online Local Circles.
Local Circle Activities (all voluntary; *current) Charitable Activities (see Website Links) *Weeknight or Weekend Meetings (no conflict with religious services) *Clarity Circles and Circle Coaches Sermons/Lectures *Discussions Ecumenical Music Potlucks Reasoning Fellowship Ceremonies (marriage, commitment, amicable divorce, eulogium) Vocational & Hobby Groups Networking Groups Socrates or Science Cafes *Study and Book Groups “Wikilators” (International Circle Program) “StrikeForce” (International Circle Program) “Reason Monitors” (International Circle Program) Bad hominem Campaign (International Circle Program) Day Care, Literacy and Adult Education *Internet to Neighborhood Local Circle Formation
Circle Programs StrikeForce Most bad events in the world are the consequences of our own actions magnified by 6.6 billion others acting in the same way. To remind us we all need to go "on strike" to avoid doing the things that, when done en masse, harm society and our planet, we are sponsoring the Circle StrikeForces, including DrugStrike, BingeStrike and its "242" (Two Drinks for Two Decades) celebration, GangStrike, CliqueStrike, ForceStrike, AbuseStrike, SlurStrike, CheatStrike, LieStrike, TrashStrike, PetrolStrike and WarStrike.
Circle Programs Reason Monitor Much of what passes for public discourse is filled with denials of reality, questionable assumptions (false realities), and ad hominem emotive attacks. Reason Monitors will flag such errors, to help keep the ship of state on an even keel. As part of this effort, The Circle will be publishing an online periodical, The Reason Monitor, wherein volunteer editors will highlight illogical reasoning and the use of invective in public commentary.
Circle Programs Bad Hominem Our campaign asks the public to question its long-cherished assumption that emotive, ad hominem attacks are moral; The Circle of Reason asserts that, because such argumentation seeks to persuade only by evoking emotionality, it is indeed not moral and should be frowned upon in civil society. So the next time you see an insult masked as an argument, stand up and speak its true name -- immorality.
Circle Programs Wikilator Volunteer internet translators for the Circle’s Parable of The Week and Parables Archive, to permit other-language mirror websites.
Church-Sponsored Local Circles Host churchgoers who believe in reason in worldly society Host neighborhood members of different religious & secular beliefs A “charitable” activity, to encourage reason -- no proselytizing Demonstrate how religion can coexist, and harmonize, with reason
Church-Sponsored Local Circles Benefit to Church Members: Learn about other religious & secular perspectives Learn how to believe without aggression, by faith & not falsehoods Find common ground between religious- & reason- based morality Benefit to Non-Church Members: Learn about neighborhood church’s religious perspectives and faith Learn how to believe (or disbelieve) without aggression, by faith Find common ground between religious- & reason- based morality
Circle Membership Membership through Circle Main Website or Virtual Local Circles (Online Communities): Provide Name, E-mail address & City, State and Country of Residence -- used for networking & local circle organizing. Membership in Regional Local Circles: No membership fee -- rich or poor, all are welcome; No creed based exclusion.
Membership is Open We welcome all who seek clarity of mind, regardless of current beliefs or creed. Exclusion from, or discrimination against any person in, the Circle because of religious or non-religious belief, race, ethnicity, country of origin, economic status, profession, gender (or trans-, multi- or non- gendered) status, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or political orientation is prohibited. Total inclusiveness that is sensitive to strongly-held beliefs, but that promulgates the effort to adhere to, develop and celebrate reason-validated assumptions and actions in personal life and worldly society, is the only requirement of local circles to remain registered as a Circle of Reason.
Membership is Religious + Nonreligious Local Circles commit to welcome and recruit members of differing religious or non- religious beliefs, accomplished by these guidelines: Proselytizing by, or of, Circle attendees to accept unproven assumptions (e.g., faith- based religious or atheistic beliefs) isn’t permitted by Circle officials or Circle literature. Tolerance of another's right to refrain from adopting beliefs is the shared foundation stone of religion, atheism and agnosticism -- that each possesses the right, whether innate or God-given, to free will and unimpeded, reasoned choice. Proselytizing by, or of, Circle attendees to deny unproven assumptions should be limited to non-confrontationally encouraging the questioning of only those assumptions reviewable within current strongly held belief systems. Attendees will differ in their starting assumptions, and must question them at their own pace. Moreover, questioning assumptions that underlie lifestyles reasonably defensible without such assumptions should be avoided as incidental and thus confrontational (e.g., because a tolerant religious lifestyle is defensible without unproven assumptions via either "Pascal's Wager" or apotheism, while a tolerant non-religious lifestyle is defensible without unproven assumptions via "Occam's Razor,” questioning the belief of tolerant religious or atheist persons who adhere to rationally-defensible ethical codes should be avoided.)
Secular Bible Study Meetup: Endorsed by The Circle of Reason “Secular Bible Study casts wide net” -- Star-Tribune, 2/20/09 The Secular Bible Study program aims to "foster and nurture relationships between folks who would otherwise avoid each other." "Secular Bible Study hopes to attract a variety of people -- Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, Christians and even Jews and Muslims.” “Organizers have drawn up a set of ground rules designed to keep participants from proselytizing, but that doesn't mean that they want to discourage disagreement.” “We've discerned that people have lost or lack the skills to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue in the context of profound disagreement.” "An emphasis will be placed on dialogue among the group of small groups."
Local Circles of Reason (2010) Circle of Reason-Mayfield High School (KY, USA): Lee Scarbrough, Circle Advisor Circle of Reason-Cardiff (United Kingdom): Favio Becker, Circle Advisor Circle of Reason-Minneapolis (MN, USA): Frank Burton, Circle Advisor Cirkel van Rede-Leiden (The Netherlands), Maarten Pieter van den Driest, Circle Advisor Circle-Endorsed Transbelief Reasoning Fellowships *Secular Bible Study Meetup (Minneapolis, MN, USA) *Believers and Nonbelievers in Dialogue (BAND) (Portland, ME, USA)
Tips for Local Circle Founding Websites: Recruit Circle, Meetup, Facebook, Beliefnet, STARFLEET, and Atlasphere members and leaders. Newspaper: Photoshop ads for local circle organizational meetings. Public Access TV: Photoshop TV bulletins and iMovie video commercials for local circle organizational meetings. Churches: PowerPoint show & replayed TV commercials to organize open local circles hosted by churches or other religious sponsors as well as humanist, atheist or Objectivist groups. Direct Recruitment: E-mail local Objectivist-Ayn Rand/Star Trek/ Atheist/Humanist/Ecumenical religious/Interfaith leaders found in Meetup, Facebook, MySpace, STARFLEET, Atlasphere and other online humanist, atheist and religious and/or interfaith dot-orgs. Scale Up: Recruit leaders in all above meetings and groups to expand recruitment and local circles by similarly visiting and organizing.
Circle Finances No tithing No passing the plate No membership dues Volunteerism Future income from author’s donation of 100% of book royalties 501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious & charitable non-profit corporation
Local and International Circle Leadership I. Nominated by Board Majority & Elected by Membership Majority: Local Circle of Reason Board of Directors (non-profit); The Circle of Reason, Inc. International Board of Directors (non-profit.) II. Appointees of Local or International Boards of Directors: Executive Director Communications Director Treasurer Secretary Taskforces Local Circle Discussion Moderators Local Circle Advisors (Local Boards Appoint, International Board Reviews) The Reason Monitor, Editorial Staff (International Board Approval) Virtual Local Circles, Administrators (International Board Approval) III. Irrevocable Charter of Principles IV. Decadal or Petitioned “Principles Adherence” Review by Philosophy Department Faculty of Accredited Public Universities in Countries with Constitutional Separation of Church and State
R M The Circle of Reason Administrative Units & Checks and Balances M: Members-at-Large (LC formation; no LB or IB election or veto privileges; 1% R petition privilege) LC: Local Circles (LB election and majority IB veto privilege; 1% R petition privilege) LB: Local Circle Boards (IB election and majority LC veto privilege; 1% R petition privilege) IB: International Circle Board (LC registration and majority LB veto privilege; 1% R petition privilege) R: Philosophy Faculty Principles- Adherence Review Group (decadal and/or petitioned majority veto privilege against any LC, LB or IB unit or action adjudged by R as not adhering to the Irrevocable Charter of Principles) LC LBIB
The Circle of Reason-International HQ 606 East Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55417 USA Website: www.circleofreason.org; Email: email@example.com Executive Director, The Circle of Reason, Inc. Dr. Frank H. Burton, Minneapolis, MN, USA Administrator, Beliefnet Circle of Reason Dr. Frank H. Burton, Minneapolis, MN, USA