Bryan Oates is the Administrator of the “Syracuse Atheists.” Here we talk his life, work, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?
Bryan Oates: I was born and raised in the suburbs of Syracuse, and for the most part that would imply a distinct lack of any real culture. My mother tried to raise me as Catholic, as that’s what she identified with religiously, and I don’t think my father really cared too much about religion.
But I don’t remember going to church as a child except for very few occasions until I joined the Boy Scouts. All the really religious people in my life at that time always seemed a little weird to me, but I’m not sure there’s any real correlation there.
Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?
Bryan: I have an A.A.S. in computer science, and I served in the military as a Human Resources Specialist. Informally, I enjoy watching science and math based YouTube channels like Numberphile, SciShow, Backyard Scientist, etc. I also really enjoy learning about things when the interest or curiosity arises.
Jacobsen: When did you find the Syracuse atheist online community or see a lack of it? How did this lead into “Syracuse Atheist”?
Bryan: The Facebook page was actually long overdue, as it came well after the in-person group had been around in the Syracuse area. Before using Facebook to coordinate, it was all based on Meetup.com.
Jacobsen: As an Administrator, what tasks and responsibilities come with the position?
Bryan: Keep the page visible, and don’t let it shut down. I used to post things at one time, but without having much time to do that, I let the other administrators handle posting.
Jacobsen: What are the scope and implicitly mandated work of Syracuse Atheists?
Bryan: I don’t think there’s really any mandated work. The page is really just the online portion of a group of people that happen to be Atheist that likes to meet for drinks once a month.
Jacobsen: For the meetup, how can people become involved with it?
Bryan: Check out our Meetup.com page (https://www.meetup.com/syracuse-atheists/) We also post meetup dates on the Facebook page.
Jacobsen: Who tend to be the leading lights of atheism within the Syracuse community? Those individual local or international who are spoken about the most.
Bryan: I think you’ve got the wrong idea of Atheism communities. It just so happens that we’re a group of people with a shared non-belief. There’s no leaders or anything like that because it’s not a religion or political party.
I guess if there’s individuals that we talk about, it’s to reference their scientific or philosophical work, such as Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins.
Jacobsen: What is the importance of tact in maintaining a polite discussion and dialogue grouping via meetups?
Bryan: Well, we try not to piss anyone off for the most part. It’s also important to remember that the only thing that brings everyone together is a disbelief in any deity. Nothing more, nothing less.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today?
Bryan: You ask some strange questions that seem out of scope, or like they were originally written to interview a completely different kind of organization, but I hope you have all the information you need.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Bryan.
Bryan: Of course.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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