Penn Secular Society Gives Away Cookies… in Exchange for Your Soul

Last Monday, members of the Penn Secular Society gave out freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies to students who passed by their table… but only if the students signed a contract transferring the ownership of their souls:

So how many students took them up on the offer? The correct answer should have been “Everybody on campus.” The actual answer was a little less than that, but not too shabby at all:

Over the course of the day, 98 souls were collected (a 25% increase over last year’s harvest)

Not only was this already successful publicity event, but it was during Penn Preview Days so large tours of incoming freshmen were walking by at regular intervals. Several stopped for cookies, and many more walked by with smiles and uncontrolled laughter.

Beautiful :)

They even posted the signed contracts on the wall so that everyone could see how many rational people were on campus, or cause some peer pressure, or just so they could enjoy the spiritual bounty they had collected:

More importantly, though, the event led to a few fascinating conversations with people who stopped by their table — and that’s really what this was all about: Starting a conversation. You can read about those conversations at Lots of Tiny Robots.

As group member Collin Boots told me, “We got a lot of laughs and absolutely no open hostility.” That sounds like a victory to me!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • SeekerLancer

    Well done guys and girls of the Penn Secular Society. You set a good example for us all.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    In other words, people got the cookies in exchange for absolutely nothing! Awesome deal all around.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

      Not quite *absolutely* nothing! They did have to sign a piece of paper. That’s probably equivalent to 0.001 of you favourite currency.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    Wait, were students who sold their souls last year out of luck?

    • LotsOfTinyRobots

      Recent research implies that souls are able to regenerate over the course of a year, hence we decided previous donations would not preclude any subsequent soul exchanges. If the person in question happened to be in possession of the soul of another, we preferred that to regenerated spirits.

      • Randomfactor

        Good to hear, as I sold my soul for a cookie two years ago at a Freethought convention. So they grow back, like virginity, after a few years?

      • liu

        Can you transfer your souls to a ‘soul bank’ so that over time you develop an excess of readily available souls? And does your project mean that you can collect other peoples souls?

        I see a new form of currency ahead of us.

        Plus, that way if any fundies tell us that Satan will claim our soul we can say “that’s okay, I’ll just subtract one from the bank.”

        • Guest

          HEy, A cookie is worth 3 souls to me. :D

        • KeithCollyer

          In line with my reply above, that should be possible. What also seems mathematically true is that interest rates in soul banks are theoretically unlimited, so in principle if you deposit a soul into a soul bank, the bank should be able to let you withdraw any multiple of the amount of souls that you deposited, though this has not been shown experimentally

      • KeithCollyer

        My research indicates that when you genuinely give away your soul, you are left with exactly the same soul as you had before, and the person to whom you gave it gets exactly as much additional soul as you gave. My research also indicates that it makes no difference whether the giving away was in the for of an exchange for something of value, or a gift.

  • A3Kr0n

    Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. That’s worth a soul I think.

    • Tweekus

      Oh yeah. Maybe 2 for good measure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.McElhiney Redorblack Nigelbottom

    If I sell 12 of my souls, do I get a baker’s dozen in cookies back?

    • Tweekus

      sure, go ahead.

  • Keulan

    The best thing about selling your soul is that, since there’s no evidence that you actually have a soul, you can sell it many times to many people. Hooray, free stuff!

  • Pumpum

    Souls are not real. Junk food is real.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i’m not selling mine for less than a slice of pizza. with pineapple and ham.

    • liu

      If you like pizza with pineapple and ham then you have no soul already.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Not bad. I think the most recent Virginia Atheists and Agnostics attempt at the University of Virginia netted fewer than half that, and UVA looks to be a slightly larger school than UPenn.

    I wonder if this could be used as an experimental measure of the levels of student secularism at colleges?

  • Gus Snarp

    I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure I’d be entirely comfortable doing this, even though I’m quite certain that there’s no such thing as souls. I don’t know how much of this is just leftover from my Christian upbringing, or if it’s the metaphorical nature of the soul, that while there’s no such thing as a real soul, the concept represents your independence. Purely irrational, I know, but I’m still not sure if I’d do it. Maybe if they were really good chocolate chip cookies. Plus there’s that Simpsons episode.

    • LotsOfTinyRobots

      We actually watched that Simpsons episode in a meeting a couple weeks prior to the event.

  • Ether Baldwin

    It scares me to give away my soul much more sell it! My God, and just for a piece of cookie? Oh my, I’ll just make my own cookie then.
    KatzGlutenFree.com


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