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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Campus Atheist Club?


Wonder what Dave thinks about this?

Wonder what Dave thinks about this?

I saw these guys again as I was cruising around campus. I don’t quite get the point. Part of the reason religion doesn’t appeal to me is because of¬†proselytizing. On a related note, the OC is planning to start a campus Nihilism Club. We’ll never meet, and we won’t do anything.


This is just annoying.

This is just annoying.

  1. Timothy says:

    Betz – Heh, I like this one from Hume: “Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous

  2. Betz says:

    I guess you

  3. Sakaki says:

    I usually go with “Thieving Harpies”, myself. Said with a Cardiff accent, no less.

  4. Booty Call says:

    And it’s my mom’s attic. Get it straight. More room up here for my World of Warcraft action figures, Buffy the Vampire Slayer pictures, and Lord of the Rings paraphernalia collection.

    You’re all a bunch of godless communists. Or fascists. I’m not sure which ridiculous accusation is currently in vogue nowadays.

  5. Vincent says:

    For the sake of accuracy, I’m really more of a Chetnik.

  6. Vincent says:

    Uh oh. Zach’s getting bored… Hey look! There’s Phil Knight beating up the Pope!!!

  7. The Internet Referee says:

    Agreed, but before we risk ending an Internet debate civilly, I’d just like to say that Vincent is a Nazi, Timothy blows dudes and “Booty Call” lives in him mom’s basement. Okay, I think that about ties up all the loose ends.

  8. Timothy says:

    Vincent – True, let’s give this up and go get drunk instead.

  9. nike urbanism duk says:

    yawn……..sound of crickets………..

  10. Vincent says:

    I think you’re reading too much into the point I was trying to make, actually. I was just trying to point out that if “proof” and “easily and repeatably observable data from the natural world” is what’s important in evaluating a worldview, then “human rights” is just as lacking as religion. Both derive from a system of self-defined ethics, both have a set of core tenets that are held to be more or less absolute, and people who don’t believe in or live up to said tenets are nevertheless judged according to them. Both religion and human rights, then, kind of end up begging their own question — the answers they provide justify the questions they’re asking in the first place.

    At which point I think the conversation gets into the territory of “what constitutes a secular religion”? And then we get back to my original question, which was “when did atheists turn into such joiners?”

  11. Timothy says:

    Booty Call – You’ll note that all statements of any worth in the sciences are conditional. “Given the evidence we have, this is our proposed answer at this time.” Things in the sciences are falsified all the time, that’s another key, the falsifiable hypothesis. In any case, the point of science is to answer important questions about the material world. To the extent that religion doesn’t interfere with that goal, meh, I have no quarrel.

    Most folk wisdom, the vast proportion of it, in fact, is fucking stupid. “Feed a fever, starve a cold”, “rhino horn increases your sexual prowess”, “witches stole my penis”, that kind of thing. To the extent that there are useful things in it, they can be derived without relying on tradition or mysticism as points of origin. As for the 10 Commandments, well, only four of them really have any bearing on anything.

    The theory that we are all here by random chance has no more evidence than the theory that someone put us here (or guided the course of evolution).

    Right, there’s no more evidence for evolution and the big bang than there is for a fairy story written five thousand years ago. We really should put unverifiable biblical accounts on par with easily and repeatably observable data from the natural world. *eye roll*

    Vincent – I guess you’re getting at “how useful is philosophy, really?” Which is a fun question sometimes, when there is bacon. At some point, I think, any philosophical framework is going to start at first metaphysical principles. If you start with “humans are sentient and have their own will” you can derive a kind of rights framework from there through utilitarianism and blah blah Locke/Hume whatever. Is that “real” in the sense that the material universe is real? Not in the slightest. But at least it starts with a demonstrable premise.

  12. Vincent says:

    I personally see nothing wrong with accepting something as true without having absolute and concrete evidence for it.

    Right. For instance, where’s the “proof” for human rights?

    I happen to be a big believer in human rights, but no one has yet offered any sort of convincing evidence that they actually exist. Weren’t they concieved over a period of time by a large number of people with similar agendas and eventually codified?

    What else does that remind you of?

    It’s not as if “human rights” derive logically from the mechanics of the universe. They’re an entirely artificial human construct that many people, including those who scoff at religious people, accept because they agree with the tenets of the belief system.

  13. Sakaki says:

    I find many atheists (not most, just many) to be incredibly egotistical and really just not all that bright.

    The more egotistical ones are usually the most religious about their atheism.

    And now that my quota of buzzwords are reached, time for me to have some bacon.

  14. Booty Call says:

    I would like to apologize to anyone who read my previous post. That turned out to be unbearably long, didn’t it? I’ll try to keep ensuing posts the way they should be: like girls’ skirts. Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.

  15. Booty Call says:

    Timothy – I personally see nothing wrong with accepting something as true without having absolute and concrete evidence for it. It happens all the time in the scientific community. Scientists are constantly claiming that they think they have the answer to a particular question, only to throw that answer out the window and choose a new theory ten years later. Pick up any science textbook from more than a decade ago, and you will find a great deal has changed in scientific theory. Does that mean the scientists were fools for believing they knew something, even though they didn’t have all of the evidence for it? For example, the theory of plate tectonics seems to satisfy most of the requirements for explaining why continents move, volcanoes erupt, earthquakes occur, etc., yet no one has actually seen these mysterious plates. The plate tectonics theory has only been widely accepted for a few decades. Just because we don’t know for sure doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    Belief in something for which you have only circumstantial evidence does not make someone foolish. People believe in God because they see circumstances in their lives which seem to point to a higher power, and as yet no one has been able to either prove or disprove the theory. The theory that we are all here by random chance has no more evidence than the theory that someone put us here (or guided the course of evolution).

    As for the Bible not being a decent code of conduct for us today, I partially agree with you. As you said, it was written thousands of years ago, and it has passed through any number of hands. It is unlikely that it has remained unaltered during that time. If God wants us to follow His plan, it makes sense that He would still be providing us some sort of guidance. I personally believe He does, but even assuming God does not exist and the Bible really is just a bunch of collected folk wisdom, is that really such a bad thing? Generally, folk wisdom is created through the collected experiences of many people over long periods of time, and it is often quite insightful. I would argue that if more people obeyed more folk wisdom, the world would be a better place, because folk wisdom takes into account what social systems work and what ones don’t. I’m not saying we should adopt the Mosaic Law as our governing system, but you have to admit that certain elements of it are useful (thou shalt not steal, murder, etc.). The trick with the Bible or anything else is to think for yourself while you read it. Pick out what works and understand why it works.

    I think that is where almost all “isms” fail– they insist that anyone who disagrees with them must be completely wrong and have nothing of value in their teachings. Religious people, atheists, Democrats, Republicans– everyone seems to fall into that trap. Maybe, just maybe, we’re all right to some degree. Or all wrong.

    Well, no, actually I’m pretty sure it is just all of you who are wrong. Unless you agree with me, in which case you’re right. At least on this point.

  16. Vincent says:

    Effeminate deaf guy professor

    I seem to remember referring to him as “Lithpy”.

  17. Timothy says:

    Betz – I had an existentialism class way back in the day. Vincent was actually in it with me. Effeminate deaf guy professor, I actually quite enjoyed it.

    Booty Call – I agree that there are atheists out there who love the no-true-Scotsman fallacy. It’s an odd behavior that I don’t quite understand. Your point about religion being used as a tool is correct, which is why I think discouraging religious thinking is important. Christianity isn’t the only religion, hell, even *religion* isn’t the only religion. The same kind of faith-based ridiculousness was a large part of Lenin’s whole deal, simply replacing god or whatever with himself. The problem is really people accepting, as true, claims with nothing even resembling evidence. It doesn’t much matter what those claims are.

    As for the bible – it’s mostly an inchoate conglomerate of ancient folk-wisdom, fear mongering, and nonsense. A millenia old book, through several translations, written by semi-literate sheep herding nomads based on years of oral tradition is no basis for approaching the modern world any more than the Code of Hammurabi is an informative source on matters of Constitutional law.

    Shane – As I said, while I am sympathetic to the goals of the New Atheist movement, I’m not sure this particular technique is effective. Eugene is not exactly a hot bed of evangelical activity away from the college campus. And the evangelicals on campus only want attention so staging a counter protest plays right into their shtick. Best to ignore them so they go bother someone else.

  18. Shane says:

    As an “atheist”, it is hardly fair to say atheists have no reason to live or meaningless lives. My live doesn’t need to be eternal to have meaning–does a weekend spent with loved ones have no meaning because it comes to an end? I enjoy spending time with my family and my dogs, the challenge of learning new skills and ideas, and enjoying the time I have on Earth. I don’t just wantonly drink and do drugs because there is a deeper kind of happiness in this life. But for me it has nothing to do with any kind of god–perhaps I am simply not wired that way (or God has not revealed himself to me if you prefer). I seem to have little trouble finding inspiration and meaning in a life without God–much the opposite, in fact.

    The entire concept is entirely meaningless and uninspiring to me, and I can go toe to toe with anyone who wants to rehash the arguments for and against belief, but I am not interested in that right now. You feel sorry for me for missing out on the boundless love of God and I will feel sorry for you for requiring such a vacuous crutch to get through your life. But ultimately why do you have such a problem with the very assertion of our existence? Why is it “annoying”? Why is it any more “annoying” than the building with the grotesque bronze age torture device affixed to its roof that I see on almost every single block in every city in North America?

    You seem to imply that it is ridiculous for atheists to want a club. Many non-religious people who live in very religious environments may want a place where they can relax without the background tension of religious intolerance. The last meeting of our local group was about “Talking with Believers” and how to deal with the inevitable conflict that you will face. Others may want some advice when dealing with “coming out” to their religious families. Perhaps a few seconds of thought will help you “get the point” better than a sarcastic and shallow-minded blog post (if you aren’t too busy reading self-congratulatory comments insulting those who are not here to defend themselves).

  19. Booty Call says:

    Since Christians* waste their entire lives in anticipation of an afterlife, they have no motivation whatsoever to improve the quality of life we all experience here on Earth.

    * By this I mean

  20. Betz says:

    The only thing light I consider about The Stranger is it’s page numbers … I read it in 2 or 3 lazy afternoons. I don’t know if it necessarily has a “light” theme to it …. a story of a murder and the man’s trial. Reading it kind of made me think of the last Seinfeld episode, especially the trial part … the man is on trial, and all of the evidence presented against him is just coincidental anecdotes. I suppose if I really wanted to dig deeper, I could …. but like I said, it was a lazy afternoon (and it wasn’t for a class, so I didn’t have to).

    Tim: Sounds like you might have actually been in the class that I took, b/c those were all authors that I had to read.

    CJ: Agreed on the tip. Kind of reminded me of this

  21. Vincent says:

    Only if you want a bunch of tiresome bores stroking you off while you read Dawkins and talk about how ignorant theists are.

  22. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Timothy wrote: “Camus, though, contains the more direct genesis of Absurdism. Which, though I don

  23. Timothy says:

    I think Reggie AKA The Regster is Atheist #3.

  24. Vincent says:

    You know. As long as we’re making sweeping statements, and all.

  25. Vincent says:

    Religion kills. Or don

  26. Timothy says:

    Depends on your perspective on happiness. I actually think The Stranger makes excellent light reading. I like Sartre, Kierkegaard and de Beauvoir also, although Kierkegaard is pretty dense.

    Camus, though, contains the more direct genesis of Absurdism. Which, though I don’t really subscribe to it as a philosophy did give us a lot of excellent theatre. Although, it did also give us Fluxus….

  27. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Yeah, I read his essay on Sisyphus, and it weirded me out because it was cynical and optimistic at the same time. I guess that’s existentialism for you.

  28. Betz says:

    Yeah, Camus is pretty bad-ass (in an existential sort of way) … I read that essay for PHIL 201, and it was way better than Sarte, Jaspers, or Kierkegaarde. Its definitely not what I would call a happy “cheerful” reading.

  29. Timothy says:

    What I’ve always gotten out of Camus is that you are responsible for your own station because you have not yet killed yourself.

    The point isn’t that you should kill yourself, however, it’s that you have the power to make your situation better. That you can define meaning for yourself and take ownership of your purpose.

    And I think Camus also has the best handle on the wanton cruelty of an uncaring universe.

  30. Betz says:

    To those of you who state that atheism necessarily implies nihilism: go to college and educate yourselves.

    Umm…. Everyone who writes on this blog is either in college, or has already graduated…. Just sayin’…

    “Without some faith in a universal truth or meaning of life…”

    Perhaps it may not be universal (for not all people are created equal), it may have to be a personalizedtruth … Camus discusses this topic in his paper “The Dessert”, in which he asserts that, in the lack of god, and by correlation, the lack of purpose, why suicide is not a more considered option among people. While its been a while since I’ve read it, I can safely say he *does not* advocate suicide, but implies that a person must have some sort of truth (or, to use a pun, “faith”) in what constitutes a better life.

    I am a little bit confused with your assertion “using science and technology to extend the span and quality of the life…” … that’s all fine and good, but again, the question remains of what you define “quality” to be. That is really the question.

    I wasn’t on campus to see this event unfold, but I am a little bit troubled by the atheist organization … not because atheists scare me (personally, I am agnostic, which I think most people are, and are only an “I don’t know” away from atheists), but because their motivation for organizing appears to be politically based. I could understand if atheists wanted their own club to advocate for their own lifestyle … that I get. But it sounds like they just wanted to form a club so they can have minority status, and forward an agenda.

  31. Reginald Selkirk says:

    The latest study from the Pew Forum shows that those who are more religious and attend church more often are more likely to support the use of torture.

  32. Reginald Selkirk says:

    “Without some faith in a universal truth or meaning of life the idea of pursuing a better life seems almost moot doesnt it? Also it brings into question what is the definition of a

  33. Reginald Selkirk says:

    “What is the point of atheists organizing on campus anyway?”

    To push for tolerance and an end to bigotry. Despite recent growth in the number of admitted nonbelievers, there is still deep-seated bigotry amongst a large portion of the theistic population. This shows up in polls on electability of atheists vs. members of other groups for instance.

    To those of you who state that atheism necessarily implies nihilism: go to college and educate yourselves.

  34. Timothy says:

    Yeah, Atheist #3 can suck it.

  35. Vincent says:

    At least I didn’t make you Atheist #3. That guy’s a real idiot.

  36. Timothy says:

    HAH! Atheist #2 sounds more like Deepak Chopra.

  37. Vincent says:

    Timothy is Atheist #2, by the way.

  38. Timothy says:

    I am here to blow minds. I mean, Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts got nothing on me.

    I just have serious objections to the “god must exist for there to be moral/ethical systems” line of argument. It’s untrue, for one, and it’s pretty facile — amounting to a lot of NU-UH! and hand waiving.

    And, come on, making fun of my vocabulary? Are you sure you aren’t my coworkers?

  39. Betz says:

    Woah, dude … you just, like, totally blew my mind… o_0

    You wait right here while I go get a dictionary and an ecyclopedia while I look up all those big words and references.

    If we

  40. Timothy says:

    Well, I can understand the impetus behind some of the New Atheist movement. Getting people to drop their superstitious belief in some kind of ominpotent, capricious sky-daddy is at least a laudable goal. And SOMEBODY needs to give an alternative to the god-bothering crowd. I get that angle.

    What I don’t get is what Vincent alluded to – when did we become such fucking joiners? I went to a few atheist meetups here in SA awhile back because the organizer was a friend of mine, and it was just lame. I don’t need to sit around talking about how foolish all those people who spend their Sundays sitting in a building talking to themselves are.

    The important battle for minds does need to be waged, but I very much doubt the effectiveness of campus protest campaigns. I actually think Hitches and Dawkins are much more effective advocates – both because they’re smarter than most of the campus protesting crowd and because they’re very skilled orators. I also think that those guys and their peers recognize that the issue isn’t religion per se but the kind of magical thinking that leads people to believe crazy, stupid things.

    Anthony – There are a lot of assumptions buried in your statement. Mainly that universal capital T truth requires some sort of omnipotent demiurge. Hume, for instance, would be a pretty good place to start on secular origins of morality. Even the utilitarians have a lot to add on this matter, or the existentialists. Anyway, the point of getting people to give up religion, or at least certain ways of thinking, is that yes, people are better off without avoidable false beliefs. There’s a big difference between moral ethics without god and mindless hedonism. If we’re all just in the dirt, which we are, that kind of implies that we ought to make the material world as good for people as possible.

    A lot of people struggle with the meaninglessness, but there’s a lot of liberation in the notion that meaning is an endogenous human process rather than exogenously imposed by some capricious universal mediator.

  41. Vincent says:

    last time I checked atheists believe we all just end up as dirt, so what

  42. Pluto Animus says:

    Judging from the ignorant article and its many ignorant replies, I’m glad I no longer live in Oregon.
    Religion kills. Or don’t you remember 9/11?
    And isn’t part of the fun of college meeting like-minded people and spending time with them?
    Anthony wrote, “What

  43. Matt says:

    …someday I’ll write a book that “adds to my legend.”

  44. Matt says:

    Maybe they’ve just taken Jed Smock’s “call to confrontational evangelism” seriously.

  45. What you’re forgetting is that they stationed themselves right next Jesus Guy (the one with the sign, not the ranter one).

    Also, in the intersection was a girl preaching about Jesus. Then there were the kids handing out the Liveoneonone flyers (worship group). Apparently they meet near my house on thursday nights at 18th and Agate. I’m perturbed by this because the only things near my house are Mcmennamins, Prince Pucklers, Toms, and a car shop.

    Do they just get drunk and talk about Jesus?

  46. Anthony says:

    What is the point of atheists organizing on campus anyway? Religious groups organize in public in order to spread some form of their gospel and to introduce others to their beliefs assuming that by doing so they will lead a better life and have some after life as well. Last time I checked atheists believe we all just end up as dirt, so what’s the point of trying to “convert” others to atheism in order that to say, hey there is no point to life just do what you want. Do they think that by believing we are all just animals without purpose that we will live a better life? Without some faith in a universal truth or meaning of life the idea of pursuing a better life seems almost moot doesnt it? Also it brings into question what is the definition of a “better” life acording to an atheist? I am starting to sound like Vincent’s post now ha-ha, which by the way was hilarious.

  47. evan says:

    When you march around with posters and chants you’ve basically turned atheism into a religion.

  48. Vincent says:

    When the hell did atheists turn into such joiners?

    Transcript of an “AHA” meeting:

    Atheist 1: I call this meeting to order.

    Atheist 2: There is no real order in the universe. Quantum mechanics proves that.

    Atheist 3: THEIST SCUM!

    Atheist 1: Whatever, dudes. I think God is way more dead than you do!

    Atheist 4: Yeah, God sucks.

    Atheist 2: How can “god” “suck”? There’s no proof that “god” even exists. How can something that does not even exist “suck”?

    Atheist 3: Dude, that’s deep. I bet Christians never even thought of that.

    Atheist 4: Yeah, when my parents used to take me to church, I used to be like “DUDES, like… religion has caused all the problems in the world! Well, mostly Christianity cuz of the Crusades and stuff. I don’t mind Buddhism.

    Atheist 1: Yeah, Buddhism’s more like a philosophy, when you really think about it.

    Atheist 3: Yeah, philosophy is pretty rad.

    Atheist 2: Well, most Western philosophers were just products of societies that were based on false Judeo-Christian ethics. Therefore, any philosophy that came out of that environment was mere rebellion that was, at its very core, influenced by those false ethics.

    Atheist 1: Anyone want to head back to my place and do bong rips? I have a copy of Dawkins’ new book. He totally rips Christians a new one.

    Atheist 3: I’m in.

    Atheist 4: Werd.

    Atheist 2: I’ve already read it. Not his best work, in my opinion.

  49. Sakaki says:

    I quote Weird Al’s song Amish Paradise:

    “I really don’t care, in fact I wish them well. Cause I’ll be laughing my head off while they’re burning in hell.”

    I just wanted an excuse to post a Weird Al lyric.

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