A new student group has formed at UC Boulder.
Though there are many faith-based organizations on campus, Allison Catalano,
a sophomore at CU, started the Alliance after she felt like there was no place
for student atheists to assemble and get to know each other. There is, however,
an atheist group for the larger Boulder community.Catalano said one of the main
objectives of the group, besides finding other like-minded students to socialize
with, is to take part in charity work in and around the Boulder community.
And...that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it's all about. I know some will read this and think, "Well...why couldn't they just join an existing charity-based organization on campus?" It's a fair question. But, here's what those people don't understand... I've never turned my back on theists. Heck. I used to be one! I've pledged my support to many causes regardless of the ideology of the group. That said, and this may seem petty to some, it does bug me when, after donating, you hear "God bless you." And, usually, following a succesful campaign to help, you get the inevitable chorus of people claiming that God let the charity event go well or that "God was behind us." While it's fine for those who want to believe it, it has always struck me as sort of trite. Is the God of their universe really concerned with the bake sale that put new carpet in the rectory? Do they really think God was sitting on his heavenly perch saying, "Yes! About time! Father Dan needed new Berber to replace that hideous shag carpeting."? I don't have a problem with those who want to thank god because they believe in God, I have a hard time believing that, IF God exists, he is behind the fund raising efforts to build churches. I'm not motivated by God to help. I'm motivated by humanity and my own place within this world. There's a sense of responsibilty I have when it comes to easing someone elses suffering (when I can). I hate to quote Kathy Griffin, but she really did nail it: no one had less to do with this than God. There's nothing wrong with taking credit when your due credit. And, there's nothing wrong with not taking credit AND not giving that credit up to God. THIS is why atheists enjoy a chance to do charity work outside of a theistic pretense. Because most atheists have figured out that we can be motivated by many, many different factors...none of which go by the name of God. Beyond that, these groups are necessary to help re-wire stereotypes about the greedy, ego ladened atheists who only care about themselves. It's about building community. And, that...in whatever form, is a beautiful thing.
There was someone, and I had no problem with it, but some did, who responded to the window film drive with the comment that they were glad that their prayer came true. And, recently, a friend suggested that it was poor taste to react in a negative fashion to that claim. I don't think it was. It's one thing for a group of Christians to bond together and do something with the belief that God was helping them. It's another thing for a theist to enter the efforts of a bunch of atheists and make what they did seem sanctioned by the supernatural being that none of the atheists believe in. It's like me walking up to a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas and saying, "Thank the employers of this fine community for giving those in their employ the cash to put in this kettle. The corporations really must be smiling down upon the bell ringer." Don't take the glory away from the humans who sacrificed, in any manner, to give of themselves. That's not egotistical. It's giving credit where it's due. So, though the comment didn't strike me as outwardly offensive, I absolutely see where it struck Berlie. Berlie, a genuinely nice guy and mortal, put time that could've been spent with his lovely wife and daughter into the effort. He coordinated a group of people who are reknowned for being independent types into a life-altering cause. Give credit where it's due. Thus, I give credit to Berlie. And, to everyone who donated- atheist or theist or pastafarian,...this was an amazing thing.
I hope more groups, like the one in the article, pop-up across the country. It's awesome.
OH! A note to those who suggested that Lexi write an essay for the Quest contest: I think she's going to e-mail the director and see if, in the event she won, she could donate the trip to someone who might not have the means. If not, she's decided not to write an essay. Not that she'd be sure to win, but she thinks it might be denying someone their only way to go. But, she says to thank you for having that much confidence in her abilities.