Gotta Love Campus Newspapers January 7, 2011

Gotta Love Campus Newspapers

Mainstream newspapers aren’t always friendly to atheists, but college newspaper and campus activists tend to have healthy relationships.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, three atheists have been writing an “Ask the Atheist” column for the Daily Nexus:

Atheism is often maligned and misunderstood. In the spirit of openness, this column will attempt to respond to the many questions (and allegations) we, as atheists, receive. No two atheists are the same, and we attempt to represent no one but ourselves.

What is the point in making an atheist/secularist group?

First and foremost, I feel there should not be a club or secular group on campus, only because there should not need to be one. The fact that a skeptics group would find the need to exist in what is supposed to be an institute of higher education is truly upsetting. However, we find ourselves living among the almost aggressively popular 30 or so religious groups on campus, representing whatever particular flavor of deity you prefer. All the while, there is a sad lack of representation for those of us who do not subscribe to the comforting idea of a world that was made for us…

Cameron Moody is a second-year computational biology major.

Why can’t atheists be more open-minded about God?

… I’d say we are so open-minded that we perceive all claims relating to the supernatural to be equal, as each one claims to have the ultimate proof of its claims. Miracles, science revealed in holy texts, premonitions, “truth,” reward and punishment — they are all present in one form or another in every religious text or dogma. This leads me to a position where I have to reject some claims, but any grounds for rejecting one supernatural claim is grounds for rejecting many others.

I therefore simply withhold judgment. I am open to be convinced into believing any supernatural claim, but for now I will live my life the way I wish to live it, employing the best humanity has to offer in philosophy, science or reason, to pursue whatever I decide is worthwhile. I reserve the freedom to change my mind or change the way I live at any time.

David Urzua is a fifth-year philosophy major.

Even if you don’t have a campus atheist group, how awesome would it be to (almost) regularly see that sort of column? To see your beliefs represented in a publication available to the school? To at least get a sense that you’re not the only person who thinks that way?

Kudos to Cameron Moody, Connor Oakes and David Urzua for making that column happen.

(Thanks to Rich for the link!)

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  • stevesie

    Fantastic!! Super work California atheists! I’d love to see more of this.

  • …Sometimes, I wish I live in your country. Then I read about the creationist there, which while not dumber than ours it is certainly louder.

  • AZ Archie

    Early in my adult life (many years before deconversion) I was active in an evangelical college “ministry.” We HATED it when someone we talked to had already thoughtfully considered the claims of religion. Our memorized spiels and stories became worthless. Colleagues with a “devotional-level” education just walked on to the next person. But some of us who had degrees and advanced studies in religion suspected inwardly that these people who rejected us just might be right. Congratulations to the authors of the column you cite.

  • Michael Griego

    This is wonderful. I wish dearly that my campus group could get some more publication, as we are starting our second semester. However, I have found that population has grown exponentially since our first meeting this fall, which needless to say, is amazing! 🙂

    I really identify with the first quote, which was the whole motivation behind our student group. We are sometimes at a loss for community when we are pinned between 34 on campus Christian groups. We are still in our first year as a group, and need all the help we can get, but articles like this give a positive portrayal which student groups looking for members need.

  • I earned my MA at UC Santa Barbara, I was ther between 2002 and 2006, and the Daily Nexus was really hit-or-miss as far as the information that it presented. I am happy to see that it has added this feature, though.

    I never felt particularly out of place on campus, but there were many religious groups, and they could get pretty obnoxious with their recruitment tactics – the worst being an orthodox Jewish group that would stand in front of the student center and interrogate passing students regarding their religion, though I found that shooting back nonsensical answers usually confused them into submission.

    So, yeah, good job UCSB.

  • Why can’t (insert religious group) be more open minded about (insert god of your choice)?

    I would love to have seen that as part of the answer.

  • Karen

    Excellent idea – love it! We need more of these columns, including in mainstream newspapers and on news websites.

    Hemant or Richard, I could see both of you doing a syndicated “ask an atheist” column.

  • I’m an alumnus of UCSB also. Major props to Cameron Moody, Connor Oakes and David Urzua for their efforts. Is there some way I can get in touch with them to offer alumnus support?

  • Wow. Kids these days know how to articulate things extremely well. Nice.

  • Ian Welch

    Bravo for the campus paper for being so forward thinking- it’s unfortunate that the school I attend in Ohio has tried getting similar groups and campus support has been shot down by the school… Damn Young Republicans..

  • Robert Thille

    You misspelled Barbara in Santa Barbara.

    (Hemant says: Fixed! Thanks 🙂)

  • Jon Peterson

    Pages like this make me wish that FriendlyAtheist had a “Like” button. I don’t have much more to add so a comment seems unnecessary, but I would love to be able to show my appreciation on some level.

    (Hemant says: I’ll add it to the list of things to work on! For now, there’s always the official FB page, where you can “like” the posts)

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