There’s an interesting article about the prevalence of atheist college groups, and their slow but rising numbers, here. The article focuses on Iowa State University’s resident atheist group, the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society, and how they go about conducting themselves.
At, most of the club’s roughly 30 members are “former” somethings, mostly Christians. Many stress that their lives are guided not by anti-religiousness, but belief in science, logic and reason.
“The goal,” said Andrew Severin, a post-doctoral researcher in bioinformatics, “should be to obtain inner peace for yourself and do random acts of kindness for strangers.”
Severin calls himself a “spiritual atheist.” He doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural but thinks experiences like meditation or brushes with nature can produce biochemical reactions that feel spiritual.
When the ISU club began in 1999, it was mostly a discussion group. But it soon became clear that young people who leave organized religion miss something: a sense of community. So the group added movie and board-game nights and, more recently, twice-monthly Sunday brunches to the calendar.
This passes for logic and reason? How can something feel spiritual is there is no such thing as spirit? What basis of comparison is used if spirituality is an illusion? What is being maintained, by materialists such as this, is that biochemical reactions cause illusory feelings. But if biochemical reactions cause these feelings, then they also cause all other feelings, and there would be no getting outside of the explanation of biochemical reactions causing all feelings. So why trust biochemical reactions in other feelings like love or happiness? None of them need have any basis in reality.
There would be no frame of reference outside of biochemical reactions (such as real spirituality) that they would be approximating to. The only comparison that biochemically caused feelings could be compared with, would be other biochemically caused feelings, with no way to determine which of them is true or false. And so there is no basis for comparison even using these reactions as the basis, for there is no more “true” or “fundamental” biochemical reactions than all other reactions, and even if there were it wouldn’t have any purchase on any reality outside of itself.
Has this young man never noticed that we have the same physical reactions, such as crying, when we are very happy as when we are very sad? How can studying the reaction itself provide the answer to why it was occurring? Studying the reaction will never get you any closer to whether it was a result of happiness or sadness. When you approach the matter from above, that our physiological reactions are limited, while our emotions are more varied, the physiological reactions have to work double-duty to accommodate the wider scope of emotions. But on the grounds of the studying the physiological reactions as causing the emotions, we could never discern, by studying the reactions themselves, any fundamental difference between happiness or sadness. Such is the problem with looking at the picture from the bottom-up. Therefore, there is an obvious transcendental nature to our feelings that cannot be studied from biochemical reactions to account as a valid explanation of their existence.
At any rate, I also found it interesting that Hector Avalos, the man who was instrumental in causing noted scientist Guillermo Gonzalez to be denied tenure at Iowa State, is their sponsor:
“This is not a group of angry atheists. It’s a group of very exuberant atheists,” said faculty sponsor, a and well-known Biblical scholar who used to be a Pentecostal preacher.