A club for Atheists, Agnostics, and Secular Students of Berkeley

Frequently Asked Questions
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Can non-UCB affiliated people join SANE?

Only UCB students, faculty, and staff can be official SANE members. Not being an official SANE member doesn't mean much, though: it just has to do with how the ASUC gives us funding. Members and non-members are treated as equals, though occasionally students may be given preference for things like event seating, as we are primarily a student group created to serve student needs.

Is SANE just a bunch of crotchety, dogmatic, weirdo atheists who sit around and congratulate themselves for being so much smarter than religious people?

While SANE probably has more weirdo atheist-types than any other student group on campus, we do try to stay away from dogma of any form, and spend a good deal of time criticizing the poor reasoning of people who we might even agree with at some general level. It is pretty impossible to say with any authority what a diverse group like SANE actually "thinks," but a look at past meeting topics will provide a rich view of the diverse topics we discuss.

What is SANE's connection with the Secular Student Alliance?

SANE affiliates itself with the SSA, in order to make sure we are informed of national-level events that may pertain to us, to show support, and for potential partnerships like conferences and financial assistance. The SSA doesn't tell SANE what to do, and we don't tell them what to do. The only group that has any concrete say in SANE policy is the ASUC, as they give us all sorts of benefits of university affiliation so long as we play by their pretty simple rules (in other words, embezzling, commercial business, illegal activity, and cult-like activity are out of the question).

Is SANE a cult?

Yes. We also eat babies and sacrifice kittens.

Really? I'd like very much to sacrifice kittens and as you may have noticed there aren't very many other clubs at Berkeley that allow me to do that!

No! The structure of SANE is about as far from a cult as you can get. We get together, hang out, discuss things, and generally try to have a good time. Members only commit as much to SANE as they want to, there are no obligations to do anything that one wouldn't want to do.
Are you guys communists, socialists, capitalists, libertarians, democrats, republicans, or objectivists?

SANE is made up of many diverse people with diverse political/metaphysical views. While some SANE members would label themselves any one of the above (among other things), many would just as easily label themselves the polar opposites. We encourage people of any and all viewpoints to join SANE.

What does "Nonreligious Ethos" mean, exactly?

"Nonreligious Ethos" in this usage basically translates to "Secular way of making decisions." Besides helping create our "somewhat clever" acronym, it helps to underline our devotion to secular government -- strict separation of church and state. The word "ethos" can have a much deeper meaning than just that, however, referring to the very fabric in which we exist within our reality and interact with our people. A "Nonreligious Ethos" can be a rejection of any dogma of behavior in exchange for one based on reason. Of course, as with everything else, even that tenet is up for grabs. It's just a name -- a "mouthful of Berkeley academia" as one Christian website aptly labeled it.

You guys sure do seem to talk about Christianity a lot, and a lot of it seems pretty disapproving. Why are you guys so hard on the Christians?

While SANE cannot be generalized for all of its members, as a general rule we are opposed to any form of dogma and oppression, which would perhaps turn us against extreme Christian fundamentalism, as well as Islamic fundamentalism, as well as any sort of extreme fundamentalism that you can imagine. Many of our members are Christian, though it is unlikely that any of our members are fundamentalists. Additionally, we end up focusing on Christian fundamentalism (rather than, say, Islamic or Orthodox Jewish) because that is what we in this country experience the most. When we speak of encroaches onto the separation of Church and State, we are usually talking about attacks from the Religious Right, none of which (to our knowledge) are Islamic. If SANE existed in Iran, our gripe would be primarily with Islamic extremists, not Christian.

How is SANE organized?

To-date we have had relatively few major decisions, so no problems have arisen with decision by informal consensus.  Should an extreme situation arise, Yunyun theoretically holds executive power.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Are you guys REALLY skeptics, or are you just dogmatically scientists/atheists/nonreligionists?

SANE is comprised of many individuals, and variation exists as it does within all sections of the population. For the most part, SANE members probably stick to their a priori opinions while discussing issues, though a night of hard discussion and thinking afterwards has been known to swing someone's opinions. So people who are worried that we are "so-called skeptics" are, well, somewhat correct, as we are human and cannot be infinitely, always flexible with our opinions (or else we'd be overtaken by the first huckster with a flashy slight-of-the-hand), but we would like to hope that due to our attempting to have these discussions in the first place and our invitation of other viewpoints, we are putting ourselves in a higher degree of skepticism than most cross-sections of American society.


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