Archive for Sunday, May 8, 2011

Event draws more than 600 to debate atheism

May 8, 2011, 12:12 a.m. Updated May 8, 2011, 2:59 p.m.


ReasonFest organizer Conrad Hudson

Conrad Hudson, organizer of the first ReasonFest held at KU, discusses whether God exists. The two-day event explored atheism and was sponsored by the Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics. ReasonFest wraps up tonight at a fundraiser at Wilde's Chateau, 2412 Iowa, beginning at 9 p.m. The $2 entry fee will benefit the Douglas County AIDS Project. Enlarge video

A Friday night debate about the existence of God at the first ever ReasonFest failed to solve any colossal theological questions, said organizer Joey Ralph.

But the debate, which kicked off a series of talks and presentations on atheism, achieved its goal of stirring conversation and inquiry.

More than 600 people attended, maxing out Woodruff Auditorium’s seating capacity.

“We actually joked after the debate that next time we should do it until one side admits they’re wrong,” said Ralph, a member of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics, or SOMA, which sponsored ReasonFest.

A series of speakers took the stage Saturday at Woodruff in the Kansas Union to discuss a wide variety of topics related to atheism, such as sexuality, naturalism and paranormal investigations into Biblical miracles. Saturday evening ReasonFest wrapped up at Wilde’s Chateau 24, 2412 Iowa, with proceeds from the $2 entry fee benefiting the Douglas County AIDS Project.

Conrad Hudson, founder of ReasonFest and a SOMA member, said the two-day event was designed to expose people to new ideas.

“Hopefully it’s challenging and enlightening,” he said.

While many of the ReasonFest attendees held firm atheistic views, Ralph said they also wanted to reach those questioning their faith and thirsting for more information.

“They want to see what the other side has to say,” he said.


Pywacket 6 years ago

I applaud SOMA! Wasn't able to be there tonight, but stand behind this group. I am always astounded when some otherwise intelligent and rathional person professes a belief in a supernatural being. It seems so primitive to me.

Bailey Perkins 6 years ago

The FSM is to show just how outlandish views can go in attempting to prove the existence of 'god'. By 'following' the FSM/ Cthulhu, we are showing that hey if you choose to believe in something as strange as a godly figure, of whom you cannot prove exists - why not also believe in the FSM or hell as Mehta stated...even a 'shoe god'. No matter the object taking on this role, the whole idea is completely ridiculous.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

Pywacket, do you also talk with a lisp?

parco814 6 years ago

What's it to you if he/she does? Do you always post stupid comments, Cato? Ah, that's a rhetorical question.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

You obviously have no sense of humor. Of course, neither did Vladimir Lenin, with whom you appear to have much in common.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

And being like Vladimir Lenin is something to somehow be ashamed of? And how do you know Lenin had no sense of humor? You were around in 1917? By your estimate standard, your personal "goddess", Ayn Rand (who was also an atheist, by the way), had no sense of humor either.

cato_the_elder 6 years ago

I've obviously read a lot more about Lenin than you have. And yes, having the same views as Lenin's would be something of which anyone, especially an American, ought to be ashamed.

Perhaps you might want to direct me to any of my prior posts in which I claimed Ayn Rand as my personal "goddess." Good grief, I've got way better taste than that.

pusscanthropus 6 years ago

Everyone should at least have the opportunity to learn about His Noodliness, The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Recent revelations include Her Noodliness too--The Flying Spagetti Monsteress! Ramen, Brothers and Sisters.

kugrad 6 years ago

May her noodley appendage touch you

kugrad 6 years ago

May her noodley appendage touch you

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Within the name of the organization is "open-minded". I suspect there is very little open-mindedness when this topic comes up. Most people are pretty set in their beliefs.

parco814 6 years ago

Unlike most of the folks who post on these forums, right?

livinginlawrence 6 years ago

Much as you seem set in your belief that individuals who would be willing to engage in such a debate are not actually open-minded, but rather would like to appear so whilst they tout their interpretation of things as most correct?

independent_rebel 6 years ago

To these people, "open-minded" means you take the time to learn about and except their way of thinking. Nothing more. If you don't, you are close-minded (racist, homophobic, anti-labor, anti-immigration, etc., depending on the issue).

As for me, I believe that the heavenly God is really THE scientist of all scientists, so I'm covered on both ends of the arguement.

livinginlawrence 6 years ago

Oh right, definitely. Close the University because it provided an arena for a debate.

parco814 6 years ago

Amen, lawrenceguy40. I say that you and those who agree with you about KU should get their way. Let's close it down, not just for a few hours or days--let's try weeks or even a month or two. And let's see how that works for Lawrence and the state of Kansas. If things don't go so well, will you be willing to be held accountable?

Of course, you and your comrades probably have different standards when it comes to positive results as compared to most Kansans. But what do they know? They'd know so much more if they'd avail themselves of your sagacity, right?

akuna 6 years ago

I like the way you write.

Having a clean atheism v. theism argument is difficult. The subject matter gets muddled very fast - religion winds its way in, the bible and other religious texts are cited, personal agendas taint beliefs, definitions aren't established and/or wander, and on and on.

In the case of thinking one can live outside the mythos, one has to establish what the mythos is. If the mythos is the practice and observance of the stories and parables that are written in the bible then, yes, one can live outside the mythos by not practicing it. One, however, cannot fully escape it; the mythos is on display all over the place on churches and many other places.

If the mythos is defined as the stories that define a god then, no, you cannot escape it. God is thought to be everywhere - omnipresent. Besides your shadow, everywhere is the one thing that cannot be escaped.

To me, the mythos starts to break down when omniscience and omnipotence are mixed in. But that is a horse of a different color.


Steve Jacob 6 years ago

I always thought the movie "Invention of Lying" (written, directed and starring Ricky Gervasis, a well known atheist) said it best to me. God may have been dreamed up by man, but death sure is less scary if you believe in an afterlife.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"death sure is less scary if you believe in an afterlife."

Not necessarily so. It depends upon how you have lived your life.

jafs 6 years ago

And on what sort of afterlife you believe in.

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

The two comments above pretty much say it all. I used to hope for an afterlife until I realized that if there wasn't one, I wasn't going to be in much of a position to care. After that, I stopped bothering. It was actually rather freeing. The main means that the Christian church uses to keep people in control is hope for/fear of the afterlife. Giving up those concepts was like having a weight lifted from me.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

"A Friday night debate about the existence of God at the first ever ReasonFest failed to solve any colossal theological questions, said organizer Joey Rolph."

Of course not. That was only a very simple and very short one night debate that was only long enough to cover an outline of the issue.

I will admit this much - it was probably long enough to recite the names of all known theistic religions and denominations, but any description of exactly what their various interpretations of what God even is could not have been covered at all.

It is incredible that so many people who have not got a glimmer of a clue how to create a new universe claim to have an absolute knowledge that there is no God.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years ago

This is one definition of God: "The sum totality of all that exists."

So, by using this definition of God, and claiming that there is no God, you are insisting that nothing exists at all.

Therefore, you also do not exist, so any claim you might make, or any opinion you might have, is of no merit at all.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years ago

There is obviously a belief in some form of perception common to all who exhibit varied abilities to articulate their beliefs. To me, there appears to be a beauty and value in all of these perceptions, and in the discussion of all perceived values. There also appears to be a definitive ignorance amongst all believers, and therefore their beliefs, which can be verified by the diversity of said beliefs. It's probably best to believe in nothing beyond that diversity, which many appear to wish to destroy. To maintain it (diversity) is to bring "heaven" and "hell" together. This will, of course, bring destruction!~) I can't imagine that would be bad if it were true, false or a joke of some sort. I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

The religious always like to claim that "atheism" is just as dogmatic and refractory to evidence as are their ridiculous beliefs (funny that they admit it).

As Mr. Hudson says, it is all about evidence. There is simply no empirical, repeatable, and testable evidence that there is a god or gods. Believing in something without evidence and in fact despite evidence to the contrary is one of the most dangerous things in the world. Just ask bin Laden.

To all the religious out there: how did you choose your religion?

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Sorry. I don't follow links. You will need to write your thoughts if you want me to know them.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

After considering the source, I am comfortable with that.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

You're ducking the question. How did you choose your religion?

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

What do you mean, exactly, by "It chose you"?

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

This is not an answer to the question. It is a dodge that has no meaning. Just the sort of statement a religious person would make, and other religious people would nod robotically in agreement.

Are you saying you were born into it? You had no experience with other religions? You were forced to follow this religion by a parent or priest?

Cait McKnelly 6 years ago

If I were thirty years younger, Tange, I'd ask to have your babies.

parco814 6 years ago

For a set of beliefs and principles to be dogmatic, it helps if there's an institution of vast wealth and power behind those beliefs and principles. Atheism has no such institutional clout. Christianity has had that clout for centuries and continues to use it.

shadowlady 6 years ago

How do you think the universe ,the earth, every living thing was made, if there is no God.??How do you think the world is so beautiful with so many different colors, if there is no God?? I'm with tange, God chose me, just as He chooses' each of us, but He gives us a free will to choose which way we want to go. So since there are atheist's out there, then that is your choice, But I choose my Heavenly Father, and that is my choice.

downtowndave 6 years ago

I'm sure it is pleasurable to go mind to mind with others about the existence of God, but you know that your real debate is with God Himself, right?

frador 6 years ago

I can't speak for all atheists, just myself, obviously. I don't absolutely deny the existence of God. I have just stopped waiting for evidence supporting his/her/it's existence. I'm not dogmatic, I just think that the other side has been given plenty of time to present evidence, and as yet it is wholly unconvincing, regardless of whether one is trying to prove the existence of a bearded man in the clouds controlling everything, or some sort of amorphous, pantheistic "god" who is everything.

frador 6 years ago

Would you like to copy and paste a simplistic definition of "atheism?" That might be more appropriate. Then I could copy and paste a simplistic definition of "theism" and then we would have a truly engaging discussion.

frador 6 years ago

I was agnostic for a long time. I think the likelihood of someone proving the existence of God is roughly equivalent to someone disproving the theory of gravity. So, I'm going to go ahead and call myself an atheist. But thanks for your condescension.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Don't be too frustrated with tange. She just goes to prove my assertion that in order to be a believer and to have faith, one must be a nihilist.

The only way to justify their irrational belief and faith is to assert that there is no objective reality or knowledge.

This is always their resort, by pointing to dynamism of the scientific process, that science is ever changing and evolving as new knowledge arises, and calling it confusion and disagreement.

They simply chose not to open themselves to evidence and logic.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

You still haven't answered my question or addressed my assertions.

1) How did you choose your religion?

2) The religious and faithful are by necessity nihilists. They must deny objective reality and that science can understand it, thus placing science on the same shaky foundation as their ill-reasoned and unreal beliefs. It is the only way they can deal, and we see it again and again in these threads.

Pardon me, I detected in your posts that you are a fellow XXer.

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Game, set, and match!

Thanks for playing!

jhawk0097 6 years ago

One can be an atheist and an agnostic.

Romans832 6 years ago

This seemed to be pretty convincing to the people there: "The Lord is God!" If you had been there, what would have been your response?

I Kings 18:

Romans832 6 years ago

Posted previously, but not where I expected, so I'll try again. Responding to frador: "I don't absolutely deny the existence of God. I have just stopped waiting for evidence supporting his/her/it's existence. I'm not dogmatic, I just think that the other side has been given plenty of time to present evidence, and as yet it is wholly unconvincing."

This seemed to be pretty convincing to the people there: "The Lord is God!" If you had been there, what would have been your response?

I Kings 18:21-39

jonas_opines 6 years ago

If any of us had been there, maybe we would have found out that it didn't actually happen like that. It's certainly possible that the above is just a story.

timetospeakup 6 years ago

Tribal people in the modern world "witness" all kinds of crazy things that are handily disproven by an observer with a modern science education. I'm guessing if someone with a modern education witnessed biblical events that would be equally easy to disprove.

melott 6 years ago

Flying Spaghetti Monster + dope?


everlyevie 6 years ago

His name is Joey Ralph, not Rolph.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

His name is Robert Paulson. His name is Robert Paulson...

Armored_One 6 years ago

That movie scares the living hell out of me.

Shaun Hittle 6 years ago

Everlyevie, Thanks for the catch. No excuse, my apologies.

Shaun Hittle LJW

overthemoon 6 years ago

"As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." "


Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years ago

My take on all this is probably pretty simple (simplistic?) From the time that humans evolved or "created", mankind has given considerable thought to who we are and just what we are doing here. Much of the unexplanable was woven into myths and matters of faith, i.w. the guy with the long beard living on a cloud, tossing blessings and thunderbolts as required. I do not suscribe to any of this stuff, merely that the universe was created by a power unknown to us, therefore "divine". Various segments of mankind have formulated religions about this divine power and a wide spectrum of names and nature of the divine. We see today deadly warfare between various religious factions each of whom is convinced to a deadly struggle that their diety is "right" and the only "almighty power". And there are those who will loudly deny the existance of any such "power" but must certainly recongize the existance of the universe and humanity. Bottom line, religion and the various myths and fantisies that go with it are basically onw belief to one group and deadly wrong to another. Given the nature of us frail humans, it is unlikely that any one fabrication of whatever or whoever is correct, it is highly unlikely that people will stop killing others because they are the "infidels" or the godless commies. To me, this endless debate is a useless exercise since none of the stuff that passes for any religion is provable, only a matter of faith, and we will not ever see the end of such ;pointless debate.

bluedawg79 6 years ago

Nicely stated. I'm sure if the human race makes it a few more centuries, millennia even, the debate will evolve but still will never end. My only hope is we aren't still killing each other over it by then.

jonas_opines 6 years ago

What is the point of anyone proselytizing?

Mike Hatch 6 years ago

Athiests should be able to turn tricks if they want, just like everyone else.

jonas_opines 6 years ago

Very few of the atheists that I know believe in nothing. That's called a nihilist. Suggesting that not believing in a divine mover is the same as believing in nothing is a false equivalency, in the same vein as suggesting that atheists have no morals since they have no divine origin from which to draw them.

Mike Hatch 6 years ago

My attempt at a joke failed (acting like I thought proselytizing is...well, something else) :)

notaubermime 6 years ago

Not believing in the spiritual is not the same as believing in nothing.

MasterShake 6 years ago

I can't imagine that the folks attending are really that open-minded. Often times behind the smiles of 'openness' are the quiet sneers of derision and mocking anybody with faith. The openness is nothing more than "you're wrong for believing in a fantasy, but I'll be polite about your sheer stupidity".

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

But you are wrong for believing in fantasy. Does pointing this fact out constitute mockery? Or is it just telling the truth?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years ago

Is our ignorance divine? It may be. So... I might be an agnostic, who comes to believe in whatever my peers may feel is divine. And then I might just change my mind.

Armored_One 6 years ago

Saw someone mention the concept of free will, and since I am still trying to find a decent answer, I'll pose the question here.

God proclaims in the Bible that Man is created and imbued with free will. That is a fine and wonderful concept. It fails at one critical juncture.

Mankind, peoplekind, or whatever descriptive you want to use there, has perpetually been terrified beyond the capacity for reason of death. Yeah, we know what the physical effects of death are, but the concept of your consciousness simply evaporating into thin air, so to speak, is terrifying. We're the sum of our thoughts. If we weren't, sports players would be regarded as great thinkers and people like Stephen Hawkings would be dismissed.

My question is this, though... and this assumes that God exists. No fingers pointed either way, just working on that supposition.

Is it truly freewill if you have a proverbial gun put to your head to make the choice?

The gun, in this case, is the option of Hell, which I am willing to bet would be unpleasant, regardless of what interpretation of that 'place' you care to use. For starters, the concept of eternity is an unfathomable concept. There is nothing tangible to base it against, or at least not that I have ever been shown. But that is going off on a tangent.

An eternity, assuming we could grasp the concept fully, spent in torment and punishment, which gives the visceral gut response of unending pain forever, or peace and tranquility.

Well, that's not much of a choice, in all honesty.

A decent enough representation of it would be as follows.

Choose between A.) being struck with a baseball bat by a reasonably powered human every 5 minutes for the rest of your life or B.) an existance free of illness, stress and worry.

I don't honestly think I know anyone that would gladly choose A. I think everybody I know would choose B.

Now apply that choice in the context of the Bible. Worship me, fully and completely without question or doubt, or go talk to the guy with the baseball bat. That's not really freewill, is it?

Armored_One 6 years ago

2 Nephi 10:23, The Book of Mormon.

If you'd like, I can find you other passages that state much the same thing.

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves-to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.

Armored_One 6 years ago

In all actuality, the Book of Mormon is an extension of the New Testament, as best as I understand it, so it can easily be construed as part of the Bible.

Besides, there is no sect of Christianity that utilizes the entire text, which would be why they are sects and not a unified whole.

Deuteronomy 30:15-19 is a fine example of free will being stated in the Bible, since you object to my use of the Book of Mormon to illustrate my point.

"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 "in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong [your] days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

rtwngr 6 years ago

"Without the existence of God you could not have atheists." G.K. Chesterton

yourworstnightmare 6 years ago

Facile argument. The word "atheist" is defined by the theists.

Maybe theists, the religious, should be called "irrationals" or "arealists".

notaubermime 6 years ago

If such a assertion is correct, then who is he or anyone to criticize God's creation?

Paul R Getto 6 years ago We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. Richard Dawkins, "The Root of All Evil", UK Channel 4, 2006 British ethologist, geneticist, & popularizer of genetics (1941 - ) “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you un-derstand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts. ========= The link provides a list of the 'gods' most don't follow. We are spiritual chimps, but god is a fungible concept. As one commenter pointed out above, Christianity has the benefit of politics and economics behind it. Without these two features, few skygods get much attention.

booyalab 6 years ago

If anyone brought up the flying spaghetti monster in the debate, I hope there were people on the other side logical enough to refute the categorical fallacy in the satire. The reason the satire is intuitively convincing is the same reason it's an illogical argument. If spaghetti could fly, it wouldn't be spaghetti.

Armored_One 6 years ago

Of course spaghetti can fly. Ever given some to a three year old? LOL

mr_right_wing 6 years ago

Even if you put aside 'Creation'; man has always had in his brain a belief in a 'higher being'. The history of every race on every continent on the globe supports that. I guess that is just somehting that 'evolution' hasn't erased from our minds just yet. This never has been, and never will be a 'religion-free' planet.

(For better or for worse.)


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