Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

Food for Freethought 2010

What is “Food for Freethought”?

Food for Freethought, inspired by the Center for Inquiry’s Campaign for Free Expression, is a food drive that also encourages freethought, freedom of expression, and free inquiry.  We plan to accomplish this by giving “Banned” and Freethought books away in exchange for non-perishable food donations that will be going to Food Bank of the Rockies, during “Banned Books Week”, September 27 – October 2 (specific dates below).  Our goal is to raise an enormous amount of food for those in need.  Most food drives are done during the holidays and tons of food is raised and distributed.  That is all well and good, but what about the majority of the time that it isn’t the holiday season?  The hungry don’t stop being hungry after the holidays, they are hungry now too!  Given the existing goals of Metro State Atheists, it is only natural that we would attempt to help the hungry by promoting freethought, freedom of expression, and free inquiry.  With the proper support,  we can  have an immeasurable positive community impact!

The event will be taking place at the Auraria Campus (1201 5th St, Denver, CO 80204).   September 28-30th, 9am-4pm (Times Subject to Change)

Metro State Atheists will have SIGNED COPIES available at Food For Freethought 2010 by the following authors:

Hemant MehtaDaniel Dennett , James RandiMichael ShermerDan Barker, and…RICHARD DAWKINS!. If you’d like to obtain any of these signed copies, donate food!

Largest donors receive signed books!

Metro State Atheists would like to formally thank the above and the following groups  for their support:

The James Randi Educational Foundation

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

The Center for Inquiry

Secular Student Alliance

Skeptic Magazine

Freedom From Religion Foundation

How can I help?

AMAZON.COM Wishlist

Click here and check out the Food for Freethought 2009 wishlist.  From there you can buy the books directly and they will be sent to us!

A special thanks to Tanya J. Higgins of Boulder, CO for setting this up.

Donate Books:

If you have any of the books on the banned book list (http://banned-books.com/bblist.html) and would like to donate it to the cause, please email Joel Guttormson at metroatheists@hotmail.com to set up pick up/delievery of your donation.


July 28, 2009 Posted by | Art, Astrology, Astronomy, atheism, Awards, Bacteriology, Bible, biology, Blurb, Books, Calculus, Censorship, Center For Inquiry, Charity, Chemistry, Christianity, Chromatography, creationism, Differential Equations, Epistemology, Events, evolution, First Century, god, Group Theory, Guest Bloggers, Humor, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Lecture, Mathematics, Medicine, Metro State Atheists, Microbiology, Morality, Movies, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Noah Mann-Engel, Old Testament, Organic Chemistry, Party, philosophy, Pictures, Poetry, Politics, Poll, Press Release, Pseudomedicine, Pseudoscience, Qoutes, religion, Resume, Rome, Sam Singleton, Sarah Schoonmaker, Satire, science, Scientology, Sirius, Skepticism, splendid elles, The Holy Bible, The Reed Secular Alliance, The Trickster, Troy Conrad, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Joel on MetRadio June 8, 2009

President of  Metro State Atheists, Joel Guttormson, will be on the MetRadio show, “Take Issue”, on June 8, 2009 from 2pm-3pm .  Joel will be on for 45 mins, the first 15 mins are for news.  You may listen to the show on the Auraria Campus on 91.7; best reception is in the Tivoli.  Metro State Atheists is a Center for Inquiry affiliate.  MetRadio is the radio station of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

If you are not on the Auraria Campus you must listen to the show online.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW: (You will need Real Player, get it here)

IN YOUR BROWSER

ON YOUR COMP W/ REAL PLAYER

-SUBSCRIBE TO THE METRADIO PODCAST HERE

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Astrology, atheism, Bible, Blurb, Books, Censorship, Center For Inquiry, Chemistry, Christianity, creationism, Epistemology, Events, evolution, First Century, god, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Lecture, Metro State Atheists, Morality, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, Press Release, religion, Scientology, Skepticism, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Metro State Atheists End of the Year Newsletter

This year Metro State Atheists has accomplished a great deal. We won the Metropolitan State College of Denver(MSCD) Student Involvement and Leadership Award; the Student Organization of the Year 2009.   These events and our professionalism is what lead to this honor.  These two semester have been very busy for us and we apologize for not getting out newsletters for the latest semester.  Below is a summary of our numerous events and activities, in approximate order of there happening.


Click on the event to read a brief summary.


Also, change has come to Metro State Atheists.  Chalmer Wren,  now the former Vice President of Metro State Atheists,  graduated from Metropolitan State College of Denver May17, 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Biology.  He was accepted to the Applied Chemistry Ph.D program at the Colorado School of Mines where he will be a T.A. over the summer.  He will be missed as an officer of Metro State Atheists, but he will still be involved with the group as Co-Founder, Director of Events and Treasurer Advisor of the newly formed group College Atheists of Colorado.
This means we are looking for new officers.  Open positions are Vice President, Treasurer and Representative; for information on these positions click here.





Biologist Paul Z Myers
In November 2008 we hosted our first big event, which was a lecture by popular blogger, evolutionary biologist, and secular activist PZ Myers entitled “The War Between Science & Religion.”  A synopses of the event was published in the Center For Inquiry’s October 2008 edition of the Campus Inquirer.  The event was also mentioned by MSCD’s online news production, The Met Report.  PZ Myers is author of the popular science blog known as Pharyngula.



Vote No on 48 Campaign

The year of 2008 saw what was the most historic election in the history of the United States thusfar.  Although the presidential election of 2008 overshadowed most of the other issues in our state, one ballot initiative could not go overlooked. Amendment 48, also known as the Personhood Amendment, would have made a fertilzed egg a person under sections 3,6, and 25 of the Colorado State Constitution.  The implications of this amendment were appalling and we wanted to fight it.  So, we teamed up with Protect Families, Protect Choices to oppose Amendment 48.  We set up two info table about two week prior to the election to get the word out, while do so, 9 News spotted us and asked if one of our officers would agree to do a live interview online.  Joel Guttormson agreed to do the interview.  When asked why our group opposed the measure, Joel was concise and accurate in explaining the pitfalls of the Amendment.  Then, the pro-48 person was interviewed.  She agreed with what Joel had said regarding the pitfalls of the Amendment but said she was voting for it anyway because it outlawed abortion.  On November 4, 2008, Amendment 48 was defeated in stunned fashion with a near 3-1 margin.


Separation of Church & State Rally


In September of 2008, Vice President of Metro State Atheists, Chalmer Wren, was one of numerous guest speakers for a
Rally for the Seperation of Church & State on the steps of the Denver capital.  organized by Denver Atheists and Freethinkers.  Additional speakers included Lucia Guatney, Victor Stenger, Marvin Straus, Brian Graves, Groff Schroeder, Mike Smith, and Richard Berg.





Astrobiologist David Grinspoon


In October, we hosted a
lecture by author and curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Grinspoon.  David is author of Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life .  Although David was scheduled to speak about the Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, he instead spoke about astrobiology and planetary science in general.  David  was also kind enough to donate his time for this event.  More information about David can be found at is website www.funkyscience.net.



Don’t Believe in God?  You’re not Alone


In November of 2008, the
Colorado Coalition of Reason (COCORE), put up 11 billboards with the phrase, “Don’t Believe in God?  You’re not alone”.  This resulted in a what we considered a media frenzy given the lack of media attention we get as a movement.  Joel Guttormson stepped up as the unofficial spokesman for COCORE in this matter and was interviewed by Channel 7 News on November 13th prior to them actually going up and then again on November 17th once they were up.  Then, Joel was interviewed by Bill Johnson of the now disbanded Rocky Mountain News.  We received some hate mail, mostly from Christians but we all got encouraging emails from Christians, Joel was phoned by a sympathetic theistic Jew and we also received a blog comment and phone call from someone on the east coast.   Joel also wrote an article about this and other events in the CFI Campus Inquirer in January. All-in-all, the campaign was a success, and we’d like to thank COCORE for their activism and support.



Author Victor J. Stenger


In October 2008, we hosted a
lecture and book signing by the New York Times best selling author and retired physicist, Victor J. Stenger.  Victor was kind enough to donate his time for this particular event.  Victor spoke about the content of his 2007 book, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Afterward, Victor stuck around to sign copies of his book that we were selling to raise funds.  An article about the event was written for the The Metropolitan by Nicole Queen but never published.  Nicole sent us a copy, though, and it can read here.


Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist


In what I can only described as a theatrical comedy performance, we arranged to host “
Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist: Patriarchs and Penises.”  More information about Brother Sam can be found at www.samsingleton.com.



Bob Enyart’s Radio Show

In January of 2009, Joel was interviewed by Christian radio talk show host Bob Enyart.  You can listen to the interview here.  After listening, you can read Joel’s and Chalmer’s commentary about the show.


CFI’s 12th World Congress (Bethesda, MD April 9th-12th)

In April 2009, Joel, Chalmer, and Faculty Adviser of Metro State Atheists, Norman Schultz, attended the Center For Inquiry’s 12th World Congress in Bethesda, Maryland.  Among the numerous guest speakers were ncluded magician and skeptical investigator James Randi, evolutionary biologist Michael Ruse, NASA climatologist Drew Shindell, philopher and author Barbara Forest and professor of psychology Richard Wiseman . Additional information about this event can be found at www.centerforinquiry.net/worldcongress. This endeavor was funded the MSCD’s student travel program.  We would like to thank MSCD, specifically Angela LeValley for making the trip possible.


Colorado Skepticamp 2009


In may of 2009, we hosted and provided catering for Skepticamp, a skeptics barcamp style conference.  This event included more than a dozen speakers, including presentations by Metro State Atheists’ President, Joel Guttormson, and Vice President, Chalmer Wren, on a plethora of topics including global warming, homeopathy, and Saturn.  More information about Skepticamp can be found
here.


The National

A Denver-based reporter for The National, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) English newspaper, contacted Metro State Atheists via email requesting an interview and photo of Joel and Chalmer.  They were told the article would be similar to the one done by the New York Times some time earlier. She interviewed both Joel and Chalmer and both of them were quoted in the article along with others in our movement.

Evolvefish.com

Late in the fall semester, Metro State Atheists received a grant from the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) to purchase merchandise to sell for fund raising purposes.  This merchandise was provided to us by fellow COCORE member Evolvefish.com.  We are happy to say that so far, the effort has been a success and we have sold a good portion of the merchandise and are poised to re-order some of our more popular selections.

By Joel Guttormson and Chalmer Wren

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Metro State Atheists in The National

First, before I explain anything, here is the link to the story about Metro State Atheists published in The National Newspaper, an English language newspaper distributed in the United Arab Emirates. See also the general story about atheists in America. Our picture is on the latter story. My name is misspelled as Charmer Wren, rather than Chalmer Wren, in both articles.

fig 1

I’m done explaining.

- Chalmer

May 14, 2009 Posted by | atheism, god, Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter, Press Release, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Colorado Skepticamp 2009

skepticamp-2009-brochure2

May 7, 2009 Posted by | Events, Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter, philosophy, Press Release, Pseudomedicine, Pseudoscience, religion, Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boulder International Humanist Institute Presents Gary Marcus

The following flyer and e-mail was sent forwarded to us by the Boulder International Humanist Society

klugeeventflyer3-21

Save the date of Friday, February 13th to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday (actually on February 12th) (see attachment for our flyer).  Gary Marcus is a wonderful speaker and professor from New York University.  He also has a good sense of humor.
The Boulder International Humanist Institute’s success will be measured by the attendance at the event.  If we can have a full house and good book signing and sales, we can encourage other compelling speakers in the future.
Please support us in this event by attending and encouraging others to attend.  You can run off the attached announcement on a color printer and show it to friends.  You can refer them to our website to learn more about BIHI.
We may be co-sponsoring an event in October to bring Richard Dawkins to Boulder and can use the fact that we attract a good audience to our events as an inducement to future speakers.
Please consider buying Marcus’s book and having him sign it at the event so we can continue to have the Boulder book store as a co-sponsor of future events.
The American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry are co-sponsoring this event and the editor of The Humanist magazine will be joining us and making a presentation.
Thank you for your help in making this a successful event as you have spread the word for past events.  If anyone wants to volunteer to help us on this or future events please reply.
We have tried to reach out to a diverse audience and connect with various disciplines.  We have had speakers in anthropology, psychology, law, journalism, philosophy, religious studies.
The purpose of BIHI is to educate the community about the benefit of policy making, ethics, and values from evidenced based dialogue.  This contrasts with looking to blind faith, unexamined holy sources for our values.  As a nation we have been victim of theocratic influences for the past eight years.  There are think tanks, some legal scholars, and public interest groups that are distorting history by claiming we are a Christian nation and the Constitution’s prohibition of established religion only prohibits favoring one religion over another, but does not prohibit government favoring religion over non belief.
Our principle message is that whatever one’s personal notion of religion or God may be, supernatural authority, God, and one’s faith should not trump evidenced based decisions about what best serves the public interest.  Consequences matter more than commitment to political or economic ideology.  As President Obama said: “The issue isn’t whether we should have more or less government, but what works.”  Pragmatism in solving our severe crisis is what the best evidence indicates works to serve the public interest.
Gordon Gamm
- Chalmer, VP

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Lecture, Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joel’s Commentary on appearance on Bob Enyart Live 1/7/09

Introduction

As many of you know, I was a guest on the KGOV program, Bob Enyart Live.  Bob is the pastor at Denver Bible Church and host of the show bearing his name.  If you missed the show you can listen to it here.  Since the show is only half an hour, there were things I didn’t get to explain or talk about in the detail I would have liked.  Further, since Bob is the host, he is obviously going to control the speaking time and thus I was left with less than he had, further added to the lack of time I had to explain and expand on my points.  However, this is not way a swipe at Bob or the way he conducts the show, it’s the way it is with any radio show regardless of topic.  The topics I wanted to address are: the discussion towards the end relating to my statement that design and beauty are subjective, that “Bob and Joel agreed that Christians do not assert that God came into existence with the writing of the Bible. Thus inconsistencies, even if they were shown to exist in Scripture, would not disprove God’s existence.”(Source: http://www.kgov.com), and that “being a person has more to do with the non-physical realm of ideas, logic, relationships, and reason, than it does with chemistry and physics.” (Source: http://www.kgov.com).  I was going to tackle the Einstein quotation, but a comment left on a previous blog addresses the topic/point well enough that I don’t not feel that further elaboration is necessary.

1. Beauty and Design are subjective

“The eye may be useful, and apparently well adapted for vision, however it could also serve as a moderately good tetherball for some appropriately sized people or sophisticated mice.”

As previously stated, this discussion occurred toward the end of the show and left neither I nor Bob the sufficient amount of time necessary to address each other’s point to the extent they deserved.  In an effort to state this correctly I will quote directly, both myself and Bob.  Bob begins by claiming “there is a universe of extraordinary beauty and sophistication and obvious design”.  To which I responded “…everything you just said, design and beauty, those are subjective claims”, to which Bob said “design is not subjective”.  Here is where the discussion prematurely ended due to time constraints.  Thus, this is where I’d like to begin my expansion of my claims and a refutation of Bob’s.

Bob and I agreed that beauty is subjective but disagreed with me about my assertion that design is.  When it comes to object of human manufacture, this is true.  However, to reverse the ‘watchmaker’ example, suppose one does in fact come upon a watch.  One who is ignorant of clocks and watches and possibly the idea of time itself may derive a alternative idea of what the device, that we call a watch, is designed for.  This may be stretching a bit, given we must assume the person finding the watch is more or less an idiot.  Therefore, let us examine my claim only using examples to drive the point home.  When I say design is subjective, I obviously do not mean it literally.  What I mean when I say that is observations of some structure or object cannot lead one to infer design automatically or because something “looks complicated”, which is what Bob and most creationists mean when they say something is designed.  Further, if design isn’t subjective then creationists should stop using the term as in the following sentence: “the eye looks designed”.  The word “looks” has a contextual sense of subjectivity; its a word that, used in this context, implies that the viewer/speaker is offering his/her opinion of the observation, not stating a fact of any kind.  However, one need not include the work “looks” in the statement;  such is the case with Bob’s statement “there is a universe of extraordinary beauty and sophistication and obvious design”.  He means design in the way I described above.  This is, in fact, a subjective use of the word design.  Bob used the eye example, like most creationists do.  He says that the eye is designed for vision.  That’s a subjective claim, because evolution wasn’t trying for an eye that has vision, per say.  Vision is an incidental by product of the arrangement of the different “parts” of the eye working together.  I will now attempt to drive home my point using my own example.  Let us suppose we have an ordinary hammer.  There are those that would say that a hammer is “designed” to drive nails into wood, or some other equally pliable material.  Now, suppose further that we happen to find this same hammer used as an axle for a toy truck.  Now, although the hammer works as an axle for the toy truck, it wasn’t designed for this purpose; or was it?  The fact that it works as the axle for the toy truck might be used as evidence that the hammer was, in fact, designed for this purpose.  However, this assumption is baseless and is flawed because it is fraught with the bias of seeing it work this way in this particular, specialized instance.  To bring this back to the famous eye example brought up by Bob; the eye may be useful, and apparently well adapted for vision, however it could also serve as a moderately good tether ball for some appropriately sized people or sophisticated mice.  So, to wrap up my point.  The appearance of design can be and is, most of the time, quite deceiving.  This is precisely because the human brain is wired such that it seeks out patterns and logically systems in things that may not have them at all, such as clouds.  Therefore, it will also seek out a “reason” for something being the way it is; its design.

2. Biblical/Scriptural inconsistencies do not disprove God’s existence

“God is then, at best, reduced to a highly intelligent extraterrestrial capable of creating life on a planet and futilely attempting to affect that life by writing a book.”

This, on the surface, appears to be true.  In fact, on some level it is.  This is useful for getting out of the circular logic of “God wrote the bible, the bible asserts that God exists, therefore God exists”; for if God didn’t write the bible, then what it says about God’s existence is irrelevant to some degree  and since it’s the not the foundation of the argument for his existence, one has broken free of the circle.  However, Bob asserts that the bible is “the infallible word of the living God”.  Starting with this premise, the following are also true (written in order of implication): God exists, God is perfect and thus infallible, God wrote the bible, the bible then is perfect and infallible as a prefect being cannot beget imperfection.  Therefore, any imperfection, however slight, would ,at minimum, call God’s perfection into question.  But, following the implications of this, we see that the following would then be true if any imperfection were discovered in the bible: God exists, God isn’t perfect or infallible, God wrote the bible, the bible isn’t perfect or infallible.  Thus, we’re left with an imperfect, fallible God.  What good is this?  God is then, at best, reduced to a highly intelligent extraterrestrial capable of creating life on a planet and futilely attempting to affect that life by writing a book.  In other words, God would be a super intelligent cosmic mad scientist bent on power, self satisfaction and the cessation of boredom.  Of course, this doesn’t disprove God exists but it sure lends quite a bit of doubt.  In fact, it creates enough doubt to make it more reasonable not to believe in such a deity.  (Notice that this line of reasoning can be applied to all three monotheisms, not just Christianity.)

3. Being a person has more to do with the non-physical realm…than it does with chemistry and physics

“Then with this 60% of soul and spirit, shouldn’t all dogs go to heaven? “

This is hefty claim, even by theological standards.  I’ll start by taking a tally of those things “about us” that are physical, aka comprised of tangible matter and energy.  Our DNA, made of amino acids, which are molecules composed of atoms; our nervous system is made of nerves and energy in the form of electrical impulses which are generated by internal and external stimuli which are themselves are physical; lastly, and most importantly, our brain, composed of tissue, fluid and neurons which are themselves are physical matter. Further, these neurons “communicate” with one another via chemical and electrical signals, which are also physical.  The brain receives information about the world via stimuli provided by the aforementioned nervous system and its various specific subparts (ie eyes, ears).  So far, we’re looking like pretty material beings.  However, Bob asserts that things like memories, personality, consciousness and ideas are non-physical and thus are proof of, at least, a realm beyond the purely material.  I attempted to point out on the show that memories are stored in the brain via the chemical and electrical impulses that the neurons use to communicate with each other.  Personality can be seen in what is commonly referred to the “animal kingdom” (though I don’t care too much for this distinction as it implies that we’re higher than animals when we clearly are animals).  For instance, any individual of our closest evolutionary cousin the chimpanzee exhibits what we recognize as personality.  To “move down” , so to speak, the “animal hierarchy” (again these terms are misleading) to our more distant relatives; dogs are said to have personalities of their own.  Their owners tend to use words and emotional descriptors usually and generally reserved for humans.  Some dogs also have a uncanny memory that we humans have attempted to harness via artificial selection.  So if dogs have memories and personalities, shouldn’t they have, at least 2/3 of soul and spirit, as Bob claims we do because we have these properties.  Then with this 60% of soul and spirit, shouldn’t all dogs go to heaven?  No.  They don’t because they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.  Poor dogs.   But I digress. The only property, as far as science can tell thusfar, that we have attained that is different from the rest of the animals that cohabit this planet, is consciousness.  What is consciousness exactly?  Its not easily defined, is it?  Let us examine what it means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Consciousness is “The state or faculty of being conscious, as a condition and concomitant of all thought, feeling, and volition; ‘the recognition by the thinking subject of its own acts or affections’” and “The state of being conscious, regarded as the normal condition of healthy waking life”.  What is conscious, you might ask?  It is “having internal perception or consciousness: a. of a fact. b. of one’s sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.”  However, as far as science can tell us to this point, this is also a manifestation of the matter and energy of the brain;  similar to memories and personality, described earlier.  This leads to an interesting thought concerning the story of Adam in the bible.  In the traditional bible story, Adam and Eve are walking around naked without a care in the world.  That is until, according to the story Eve eats the apple and all the sudden they become “aware” of themselves.  So one could in a sense posit that Adam and Eve weren’t conscious until this point.  According to Bob consciousness is an important, if not the most important part of what he called the soul and spirit.  So, Adam and Eve weren’t conscious human beings until they ate from the tree of knowledge.  The last of the non-physical things Bob brings up is ideas.  It is true that ideas are nebulous.  However, what can be said is that not all ideas are 100% original.  Ideas stem from combining, sometimes consciously and subconsciously, memories, stimuli, and logic.  Thus, like the other things our brain does ideas are also is a manifestation of physical matter.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped clarify some of my points and my refutations of Bob’s points.  This isn’t in anyway intended to be an attack on Bob Enyart, his show or anyone close to him.  I don’t want this to be misconstrued as me “getting back at him” nor is it saying that I was shortchanged during the show in terms of time.  This was simply an expansion of my views and thoughts on certain topics of the show I didn’t feel got enough explanation or attention.

January 11, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, Events, First Century, god, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Metro State Atheists, Morality, New Testament, Newsletter, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, religion, Rome, science, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vice President’s Commentary On Bob Enyart’s Interview Of Joel

By Chalmer Wren, VP of Metro State Atheists

Yesterday at 3:00pm Metro State Atheists’ President and co-founder, Joel Guttormson, was interviewed by Bob Enyart on AM 670 KLTT.  While I was not interviewed, I did have a great deal to say regarding the content of the interview, so I thought I would share my thoughts with all of you.  If you didn’t catch the show, check it out at http://kgov.com/bel/20090107.  Before getting into things, though, I would like to mention that I accompanied Joel to the studio and had the pleasure of meeting Bob myself.  Bob was polite and accommodating.  Joel and I both had a great time, and we are both very grateful to Bob for inviting us to appear on the show.  Also, Bob, if you read this please let me know if I misrepresented you or the points you made.

Near the beginning of the interview, Bob asked Joel why he is an Atheist.  Joel gave some information about his background, but never specifically answered the question. Firstly, we believe that there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that God(s) exist.  We feel that the burden of proof is on the believer, and unless the believer can produce good evidence, we have no reason to agree with them.  Secondly, we think it is reasonable to conclude that God(s), or at least most of the ones that have been presented to us, probably do not exist.

We hold to the improbability of God(s) for several reasons.  Many of the God(s) presented to us have logically inconsistent definitions.  Epicurus first introduced what is generally referred to as the problem of evil in the following quotation:

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?

This is only one example at an attempt to reconcile the conflicting attributes often assigned to God.  For more examples, you might try David Hume, one of my favorite philosophers.  These sort of objections to God'(s’) existence are not at all uncommon, and should not be hard to find.  Click here for more information on the problem of evil. I don’t want to get into the details of these arguments right now, but would be glad to expand on any of them if asked to do so.  I should clarify that we are not absolutely certain that no God(s) exist, we simply think that the most reasonable conclusion, given our present evidence and understanding,  is that God(s) probably does not exist.

Joel mentions that he is an empiricist; as am I.  Within the scope of epistemology,  three main groups exist which are empiricism, dualism, and rationalism.  None of these epistemological positions necessarily restrict one from or force one to believe in God(s).  Empiricism is the position that knowledge comes exclusively from the senses.  David Hume was an empiricist and, while some might disagree, I believe that Immanuel Kant was an empiricist as well.  Rationalism is the position that knowledge is is not acquired from experience, but that it is innate.  Dualism, as the name implies, sits right in the middle of the aforementioned views.  Dualism is the position that some knowledge comes from experience, and that some is innate.  Rene Descartes and Plato, for example, were dualists.  For more on dualism, click here.

Now, based on the discussion between Joel and Bob, I suspect that Bob is a dualist.  This is not at all surprising.  Though dualism does not necessarily lead to theism, or the converse, philosophical dualism is the prevailing outlook in western religion (not to say that it isn’t prevalent else were).  I can only speculate that this is becuase dualism, if presumed accurate, makes believing in God(s) a great deal easier becuase it allows for the existence of a non-physical aspect of our reality.

Joel mentions he is a theoretical math major early on, which later prompts Bob to challenge the basis of Joel’s empiricism by appealing to the non-physical nature of the principles expressed in mathematics.  The objection that I believe Bob is making  is essentially that concepts are of a non-physical nature.  He goes on to give a clever analogy, stating

“If you rubbed your hand on a  piece of paper over an equation could you feel that its valid”

Though this is a valid point, I does not refute the notion that mathematical concepts are non-physical.  We hold that concepts, ideas, notions, and other cognitive occurrences are a manifestation of physical interactions in the brain.  Though we can not observe a principle in the way we can smell flowers or hear music, principles and concepts must stem from observation.  Our concepts of depth, color, or even complexity are abstract derivations that we reach by thinking about our observations.  I challenge anyone reading this to find within themselves a concept that neither describes a direct observation or that can be abstracted from an observation.  I see no reason to conclude that conceptual understanding is not an emergent property of the natural human mind.  For more on this topic, please see The Mind Body Problem.  This particular topic is far to extensive for me to cover it in this post, but anyone interested in more details should ask.

Bob goes on to claim that reason, or rather our ability to apply reason to our observations, precede our observations.  The ability to reason can not be observed, and I agree with Bob on this.  However, the ability to reason could just as easily be attributed to the natural human mind as it could to a spirit or soul.  Reason, we believe, is an intrinsic function of the physical human brain, just as acceleration is a property of a functioning automobile.

Well that’s all for now.  I could talk about epistemology for days, so I will refrain from further elaboration unless someone asks for it.  Once again, thank you Bob Enyart and KGOV for having us.

- Chalmer Wren

January 8, 2009 Posted by | atheism, god, Interview, Mathematics, Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Joel Guttormson on Bob Enyart Live 1/7/08

In case you missed the show, you can listen to it online here.

Soon, Chalmer and I (Joel) will have blogs up commenting on different aspects of the show.  Watch this page tomorrow as we’ll be posting links to the blogs in this post, in case you don’t see them on the main page.

Joel’s Commentary

Chalmer’s Commentary

Thank you!

Joel

President

Metro State Atheists

January 8, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Calculus, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, creationism, Differential Equations, Events, First Century, god, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Lecture, Mathematics, Metro State Atheists, Morality, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Old Testament, philosophy, Politics, Press Release, religion, science, The Holy Bible, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joel Guttormson debates radio show host Bob Enyart (AM 670)

From Theology Online:

“Atheist Billboard spokesman, Joel Guttormson, (“Don’t Believe in God, You’re Not Alone”) will debate Radio talk show host Bob Enyart this Wednesday on Bob’s radio and Internet show (AM 670, Internet www.KGOV.com) .

Both sides have been sent information on the other (Bob’s show with his interview of Dan Barker was sent to Joel, and Joel’s website http://metrostateatheists.wordpress.com/ was sent to Bob).”

The show will at 3pm MT, Wednesday January 7th.

Here is the  link to Bob’s interview with our friend Dan Barker.

Commentary on the show can be viewed by using the links below:

Joel’s Commentary

Chalmer’s Commentary

Metro State Atheists

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Art, Astrology, Astronomy, atheism, Bacteriology, Bible, biology, Blurb, Calculus, Censorship, Center For Inquiry, Chemistry, Christianity, creationism, Differential Equations, Events, First Century, god, Humor, Interview, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Language, Lecture, Mathematics, Medicine, Metro State Atheists, Microbiology, Morality, Movies, New Testament, News, Newsletter, Old Testament, Organic Chemistry, Party, philosophy, Pictures, Poetry, Politics, Poll, Press Release, Pseudomedicine, Pseudoscience, Qoutes, religion, Rome, Satire, science, Scientology, Sirius, splendid elles, The Holy Bible, The Trickster | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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