Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

Metropolitan Article

Here is an article about us, written by Nicole Queen, that was going to appear in The Metropolitan but didn’t end up making it past the editors.

Nicole Queen

11/04/08

Slug: Metro State Atheists: You Gotta Have Truth—Not Faith

The MSA is challenging theists and students to question their faith and be          knowledgeable about what they believe in by organizing events and speakers     like author Vic Stenger, at Auraria.

Author Victor Stenger, Ph.D., was raised as a church-going Catholic. As he grew older, his interest in science displaced his interest in God and church doctrine.

Stenger, 73, doesn’t believe in God and is coming to campus to tell Auraria not only why, but how science proves that a God or deity doesn’t exist at all. In fact, according to Stenger, “the world doesn’t look at all like it should if there was a God.”

On Monday Nov. 10 at 1:00 p.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle, Stenger— a retired professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and is currently an adjunct professor of philosophy at Colorado University in Boulder—will present the findings from his 2007 New York Times Bestsellers’ book, “God: The Failed Hypothesis; How Science Proves God Does Not Exist.” He will offer a question and answer session, followed with a book signing.

He was invited by the campus club, the Metro State Atheists (MSA), as part of the club’s mission to question theists and destroy misconceptions about atheism.

In the world of education, students are asked to question. Students are asked to seek answers. The MSA are asking the same of believers of God or any deity on and off campus.

“We give people information [about atheism], but then the next words out of our mouths are to say, ‘Do not believe us, don’t believe anybody just because we say it, go look it up,’” said MSCD junior Joel Guttormson, 22, president of the campus Metro State Atheists club. “We ask people to look it up, and we do ask people to be educated about their faith.”

Guttormson, who is majoring in theoretical mathematics, along with MSCD senior chemistry major and MSA Vice President Chalmer Wren, 22, founded the club three years ago. After changing the club’s name several times, Guttormson and Wren settled on MSA.

“We weren’t very creative with this name, but we figured, you know, that describes us the best,” Guttormson said. “It doesn’t need to be creative; it needs to tell you who we are.”

As the only club at Auraria devoted to secular beliefs, MSA has found their niche.

“The secular influence at Auraria is fleeting at best,” Wren said in an email interview. “The number of religious student organizations is astounding, and when we founded MSA we were, and have remained, the only student organization representing secular-minded individuals on campus.”

Wren and Guttormson hope that organizing events and hosting speakers like Stenger on campus helps to serve those individuals better.

“Authors like Vic Stenger are well-known and influential in the secular community and we hope that by bringing big names to campus we can encourage like-minded students to get involved,” Wren explained. “When we started this organization, I never imagined I would get to shake the hands of some of the very people who helped change my mind.”

As a freshman, Wren was a “church-going Christian,” but with studying science and philosophy, like Stenger, Wren began to doubt his familiar upbringing.

“The harder I fought to justify my belief, the more absurd it became,” he said. “…I came to a point in my life where I had to choose between what I thought to be true and what I knew to be comfortable.”

Not only does the MSA help to bring the secular community on campus together, but they also hope to help those who may not agree, understand what atheism is and isn’t.

“Atheists are not only misrepresented in society,” Guttormson said. “What stems from that misrepresentation is an irrational fear of atheists…We’re just like any other group of people, we just lack a belief in any deities.”

Guttormson said that the MSA’s goals are to educate people about atheism, remove the taboo of questioning religion and to confront pseudoscience (like reflexology) and not to argue and belittle people who have different beliefs.

From time to time, the MSA does run into conflict on campus, according to Guttormson. He recounted that at last year’s Fall Fest, MSA had a table for their club and some people got so irate the club needed to call campus security, and others burst into tears.

While they may not agree with what the MSA is trying to do, some of the religious clubs on campus have no problem sharing the campus with them.

Johnathan Stalls, MSCD senior and non-denominational Christian said he has no qualms with atheists.

“…Some of the atheists I know are some of the most passionate, intelligent people I know,” he said.

Stalls said it’s important to question your beliefs.

“For me, faith should always be tested, always,” he said.

The Rev. Ron Gustman, director of the campus club, Christian Challenge, he’d probably inform members of the Christian Challenge about Stenger’s presentation and some may go out of curiosity.

“I think they have every right to be on campus, just like us,” the Rev. Ron Gustman, director of the campus club Christian Challenge, said. “I believe strongly in the freedom of religion and to practice what you want to believe…”

Despite a niche for them at MSCD, the MSA has struggled within the community to organize humanitarian events like food drives and blood donation. Guttormson said many humanities programs around Denver are sponsored by religious groups and have told MSA they were not willing to work with them. In response, MSA is in the process of finding programs that will accept anybody who wants to help—belief or no belief. However, according to Guttormson, not all atheists simply believe in nothing.

“…I believe in the future of humanity as far as our ability, technology-wise, to sustain ourselves,” Guttormson said. “The other thing I’d say I believe is that human empathy, above all else, and personal responsibility, are the foundations of reality and that’s what drive human compassion and all other emotions that go along with it.”

Sources:

Joel Guttormson: 720-936-6505

Ron Gustman: 303-750-5390

Johnathan Stalls:n 303-908-0076

Chalmer Wren: 303-693-0181 (h)

303-916-2318 ©

lunarnaut@aol.com

Advertisements

November 22, 2008 - Posted by | Events, Lecture, News, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. See, this is the way things should be. All we want is to test faith, and it’s absolutely wonderful when the Christians understand that faith should be tested and are willing to have free and open dialogue with us.

    Comment by splendidelles | November 22, 2008

  2. Joel Guttormson happens to be my cousin. Coincidentally, my brother and I run a very popular theology website called Theology Online (TOL). Imagine my surprise when I saw Joel on TV talking about his atheistic beliefs! If you read this, Joey, hope you stop in at TOL and say “Hi!”

    Comment by Becky | November 29, 2008

  3. The Metro State Atheists, sounds like a really bizarre mascot for your sports program. 😉 College, drugs, and atheism: the typical American college experience. Been there… done that.

    Comment by Theology Online | January 6, 2009

  4. Drugs?

    Comment by Metro State Atheists | January 6, 2009


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: