Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

KU atheist group having conference this month

April 8, 2013


The Kansas University Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics group will present an interfaith panel on morality and feature visits from a comedian, a singer and an ex-member of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church later this month.

The events are part of its annual Reasonfest conference, which will take place this year at 9 a.m. on April 20 and 21 in Alderson Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

The theme of the conference’s third year will be “Modern Morality: Making Ethical Decisions in a Secular Society,” and on Saturday night it will feature a panel with atheist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim representatives who will discuss how they approach morality and answer questions. After the panel there will be performances by comedian Keith Lowell Jensen and Australian singer-songwriter Shelley Segal.

Featured on Sunday will be a “Moral Combat” debate between atheist and Catholic speakers, and a talk by Nate Phelps, a former Westboro Baptist Church member.


avarom 5 years, 1 month ago

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

avarom 5 years, 1 month ago

My girlfriend's an atheist........she told me when she died,,,,, she wanted her inscription on her headstone to read;.............."ALL DRESSED UP....NOWHERE TO GO"

Stuart Evans 5 years, 1 month ago

I think you've got atheists mixed up with one of those religious organizations.

edit: now my comment doesn't make sense, since consumer1's has been removed..

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

Hooray for religious bigotry and discrimination!

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

As long as we are making blanket statements on limited data: you seem to need to believe what you said is true to protect how you view the world. As such, there is nothing I can say that will change your mind.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Apparently, LG40, you have a problem with freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. You really don't deserve to be an American if you are opposed to its basic founding principles.

Have you researched airfare rates to Afghanistan?

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

A) "By definition" depends on the definition. You seem to have a very narrow definition of what atheism and agnosticism mean.

B) As per your view of what is being labelled as "open-minded", your own views are just as close-minded in the context of the hundreds, if not thousands, of religions and religious views out there.

anomicbomb 5 years, 1 month ago

Keep being grumpy and mistaken, we'll just keep smiling and growing....


fiddleback 5 years, 1 month ago

So your critique seemingly amounts to a variation on the tired palaver of "atheism is its own close-minded religion….” Presumably nobody has ever deigned to clarify this subject for you, and even despite your avatar pointing a gun at us, I’ll show you a bit of Christian charity:

The inferred non-existence of God can be termed a “universal negative,” and can never be conclusively proven. And, contrary to popular perception, atheists don’t purport to prove it; they simply acknowledge that the burden of proof is on those proposing a positive, the existence of supernatural entities. And unfortunately, beyond the dogma of ancient and pre-rational societies, these believers can offer no verifiable proof of their deities; that's why their belief is called a "leap of faith." As a result, atheism literally means a lack of theology/belief (again, contrary to popular perception, the word's definition does not actually assert the afore-mentioned universal negative).

However, your reflexive scoffing does underscore that the word “atheist” is an irrevocably tarnished word, causing many minds to slam shut even as it tries to celebrate and encourage more open-minded dialogue about theology and empiricism. Maybe such groups should just go with “agnostic” and quite trying to rehabilitate a word that will always be instinctively misunderstood...

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

No, we should not go with agnostic. It means something completely different.

If I gave up calling myself any name that has been tarnished by those who disagree and, in their threatened worlds try to make that word/name into a thing of derision, I would have nothing left to call myself.

I will not be intimidated by those who are threatened by anything that undermines their world view. I have to wonder why atheism threatens people. Their religion/faith doesn't threaten me.

anomicbomb 5 years, 1 month ago

Here is how it isn't an oxymoron: Imagine someone who lacks belief in the supernatural, but is open to hearing or reading about evidence of supernatural phenonemon. Pretty simple.

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

"It is high time the State stopped all funding to ku."

By the Saints, for the first time in recorded history lg40 and I agree on something! It's high-time that KU stopped accepting funding from the nutball, laffer curving, bible thumping and teabagging hayseeds in the Kansas looney bin known as the statehouse.

elliottaw 5 years, 1 month ago

The State will never stop funding KU, when they do that they will no longer be able to tell them what to do

Bailey Perkins 5 years, 1 month ago

Why not actually check out the groups site?

I'll make it even easier for you, here's the link:

snitty 5 years, 1 month ago

Many atheists become so after having an allergic reaction to dogmatic religion. It is not God they reject, but the concept of God provided by religion. They are still concerned with living a moral life.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

The inherent fallacy with your proposition is the inference that people who believe in some type of god are concerned with living a moral life. I beg to differ. Christianity allows one to "sin" but still get a free pass to heaven as long as one repents and accepts Jesus Christ as their "lord and savior." Theoretically, according to Christian beliefs, a person can lead the life of a miserable scoundrel, but as long as they accept Jesus as god and repent for their sins the moment before their last breath, they are heaven bound.

I am not suggesting that all people of faith don't care about leading moral lives, but merely suggesting that some religious folks are purely concerned about "going to heaven" and because of the paradox of that thing called "grace," one can make it to heaven (on paper, anyway) without necessarily leading a consistently moral life.

snitty 5 years, 1 month ago

On the contrary, my inference was that atheists have rejected religion for the very hypocrisy that you have noted.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

My apologies, snitty. I read your comment again, and realize that I misconstrued what you said.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

You are taking a big leap of generalization there. While I have experienced much hypocrisy in religion, I came to be an atheist because I can see no reason to believe there is a God/gods. It was reason, not the actions of some who profess to be religionists.

Many Christians and followers of other religions do live out their faith and for that I admire them and I work with and support some of them. I don't feel any need to proselytize.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

I was wondering why this is news, and then I see the comments. OK

Jen43 5 years, 1 month ago

I remember an incident about 20 years ago when some atheists held a candlelight vigil by the Union Celebrating Darwin's birthday. The display had the appearance of a religious ceremony and note that it was his Birthday they celebrated, not the date he published or conceived the idea of evolution. It was as if Darwin had become a deity to them. At the time, I thought it was ironic, but no one ever pointed out the paradox in the news.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

I am puzzled. Please explain why holding a few candles in celebration of a life is akin to worshiping that person as a deity. Candlelight vigils are frequently used in mourning the death of an individual. By mourning a death, are those who mourn guilty of worshiping a deity? Of course not. Your suggestion is patently ridiculous and absurd.

".......note that it was his Birthday they celebrated, not the date he published or conceived the idea of evolution."

Your suggestion is as ridiculous as choosing one specific date in the year 1905 to celebrate Albert Einstein's Annus Mirabilis papers, four historic papers all published in that year at different times pertaining, respectively, to the photoelectric effect (which gave rise to quantum theory), Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity, and E = mc2 These four works contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter.

For that matter, why choose a specific year when the genius of Einstein's body of work spanned a generous lifetime?

Unlike your god which created the universe in seven days, Charles Darwin theory of natural selection, which forms the basis for evolutionary science (and yes, it is a science, and not merely an "idea" as you suggest),. was synthesized and conceived over the course of many years of scientific observation and study. it didn't just pop into Darwin's head one day while he was casually strolling along a beach in the Galapagos. .

Darwin's early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge encouraged his passion for natural science. His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

(continuation of above)

Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations and during the year 1838 he synthesized his theory of natural selection. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories. Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature. In 1871 he examined human evolution and sexual selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

In other words, Darwin devoted his entire adult to conceiving, postulating, and synthesizing ideas which form the basis for modern evolutionary science. What specific day during Darwin's long adult life do you suggest, Jen43, would be more fitting and proper as a day of celebration than his birthday?. .

I do take some solace in your comments, as they clearly demonstrate why medieval religious dogma (which I surmise forms the basis of your world view) and modern scientific methodology are mutually exclusive.

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

Few people, so entrenched in religion, are able to conceive of life without it and are persistently stuck viewing the world through such biases.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

When one looks at the history of religion, one sees evolution at work.

Religion/ceremony/ritual fosters group cohesion which helps in the fight for survival. An example of this is the ceremony and ritual surrounding the British royalty even today. During WWII, the king and queen were an important symbol.

It also fosters exclusion of those who don't follow the group beliefs because they threaten the status quo. A very good example is the current attitude of so many toward atheists. At least we're not being burned at the stake anymore---society has evolved beyond that.

John Kyle 5 years, 1 month ago

One does not see evolution at work in this short period of time. Social Darwinism was thrown out a century ago. The fossil record does show, however, that the genus homo has been a social, empathetic creature for hundreds of thousands of years....way before organized religion. It's our natural state to help one another.....religion just grabbed it and called it its own.

verity 5 years, 1 month ago

I have to disagree that evolution doesn't work in a short period of time. Even physical evolution can happen pretty quickly under certain circumstances.

I don't see how you can say that religion hasn't evolved. I don't think it has been ascertained yet exactly when "organized" religion evolved, but it didn't come full-fledged into society. It was fueled, at least in part, by the need to explain the unexplainable and to try to control it.

As far as your reference to Social Darwinism, that name is mainly used as a pejorative and there's no agreement as to what it even means. Not sure how that relates to my comment.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 1 month ago

Religion and religious belief are two of the biggest evils in the world today and throughout history.

One need only look at the catholic church cover up of child abuse and modern Islam to see that this is true.

True freedom is living an ethical and moral life in the absence of religion, which in fact makes it more difficult to do so.

"J-U-M-P-I-N-G, jumping in Gomorrah, I'm religion-free" (XTC song).

Liberty275 5 years, 1 month ago

And atheism is benign? God doesn't have a monopoly on evil.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 1 month ago

atheism isn't a thing, it's the lack of belief in just one thing, and the desire to keep it from being pushed on us. That's all we have in common.

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

I think that dogmatic intolerance of other people's views (much like what you are espousing) is a much greater threat than any religion or religious belief has ever been.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 1 month ago

what is the dogmatic intolerance that you are speaking of?

notaubermime 5 years, 1 month ago

"Religion and religious belief are two of the biggest evils in the world today and throughout history. One need only look at the catholic church cover up of child abuse and modern Islam to see that this is true."

There is really nothing that cognitively separates this from statements that atheism is to blame for the tens of millions of deaths caused by Stalinist, Maoist, and Khmer Rouge policies. What statements such as these fail to take into account is that bad people do bad things regardless of their religion or views on religiosity. In the end, trying to place the blame on any religious group for the actions of individuals is the essence of discrimination.

"True freedom is living an ethical and moral life in the absence of religion, which in fact makes it more difficult to do so."

According to this statement, despite the fact that "religion and religious beliefs are two of the biggest evils in the world today", they make it easier for one to be ethical and moral. It makes no logical sense that these beliefs would be the greatest evil in the world and an easier path to doing good at the same time. The real purpose of statements such as these is to make the nonbeliever feel better about their own moral accomplishments and disproportionately attack the moral failures of the religious.

Being a nonbeliever is not contingent upon attacking the beliefs of others. Doing so is more often than not just intolerance fueled by a dogmatic view of the world.

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