Bryan Gitschlag is a biologist with a unique background that has involved approaching controversial subjects from opposite perspectives. Raised in a conservative religious environment, and having once started a petition to introduce creationism into Wisconsin classrooms, he is now an openly-LGBT atheist who advocates for skepticism and science literacy. Bryan is currently working on a PhD in biological sciences at Vanderbilt University, where he studies the molecular basis of genetic conflict in the mitochondrial genome.
[Workshop] Sex, drugs and meaning: the intersection of wishful thinking and truth-seeking in the pursuit of a good life
This fast-paced workshop will explore the past, present, and future of the human condition, with an emphasis on age-old questions like "what's out there?" and "how do we really know?" Depending on how much time you've spent with the skeptic and free-thought community, you may have learned that the existence of a supreme being is unknown, and that believers have yet to meet their burden of prrof. But is that the best we can do in the search for truth, or is it possible to know that there is no God? Even if there is no supreme being, does the hustory and neuroscience of religions belief tell us anything about the human condition that could help us create a better future? This workshop will provide a brief overview of human biology and the use of mind-altering drugs in the ancient world, in the context of addressing how spiritual beliefts arose and what this might be able to teach us about the search for truth and meaning.