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Penn State Atheist, Agnostic Association

Nat Jackson and David Yanofsky have taken it upon themselves to reactivate the Penn State Atheist, Agnostic Association that was started two years ago by Richard Jeffery, a former philosophy major here at Penn State. Two years ago, the group focused largely on debating people with views different from theirs, including Gary Cattell, known as the Willard preacher. The goal then was to open up a dialogue about religion and belief.
Nat and David have something similar in mind as they reactivate the group, though dialogue is only one dimension of the group’s mission. They seem also committed to the idea that the best argument against the notion that atheism and agnosticism are nihilistic positions that annihilate the values on which good deeds are done is to work with other religious organizations and charities to be a force for positive change in the local community.
I am very happy to see that they and the group are receiving substantive and fair coverage in the student newspaper, the Daily Collegian. It is disturbing, however, to hear that Nat and David have been threatened with physical violence as they held their sign that reads “Non-believers Unite in Disbelief” by students claiming to be Christians. The irony of such threats does not lessen their repugnance.
My experience as the faculty adviser of the Atheist, Agnostic Association is that the students involved in the group are responsible, thoughtful and dedicated people who embody one of the most important dimensions of life at the university: the willingness to investigate tenaciously and evaluate critically one’s own core beliefs and the beliefs of others.
The quotation from Nat that concludes today’s piece in the Daily Collegian bears repeating here: “People say ‘what meaning can life have if there is no God?’ But I believe that this one life is all we have. There is no permanence and that makes it more meaningful.”

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