I am writing to announce the formation of a student group for agnostics, atheists, humanists and other non-religious people. Daily, we are confronted with issues relating to theism: Yesterday, President Obama added “so help me God” to his presidential oath, even though it’s not in the constitution. Over the holidays, atheists placed advertisements on buses in Washington, D.C. asking, “Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”
It occurred to me that at Williams, there was not a group for non-religious students thinking about the big questions that faith seeks to answer – and for students questioning their faith in an unsupportive home environment. Beyond that, friends of mine at Williams were recently asked how they had any morals if they were atheists. In light of that question, it is fair to say that here in the Williams community, atheists are misunderstood by some – and certainly, across the United States, we are among the most distrusted minorities. Americans would sooner elect a Muslim, Mormon or gay person president than an atheist.
If this group accomplishes any one thing, I hope it would be raising awareness on campus that humanism, atheism and agnosticism, all without organized religion, are valid and positive philosophies that can be the foundation for a fulfilling and ethical life. But that’s just me. I encourage anyone, regardless of their beliefs, to come to our first meeting tomorrow at 8 p.m. in room 141 of the South Academic Building, and help us think about ways to build a community of nonbelievers.
Dan Winston ’09