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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Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.
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“a disbelief in any deity”
It takes a lot of intellectualizing to defeat the propositions of the possibility of some intelligent creator. If you watch the Austen Texas YouTube show ‘The Atheist Experience’ you get to hear the same old hypotheses being trotted out every Sunday.
Defeating the “blood magic” necessity of Christianity is easier. So is the “chosen people” or the “promised land” of Judaism. Of course, if the Judaic-Christian ideas fail, so does Islam.
The relatively recent ‘Flavian Hypothesis’ which explores the Imperial Roman involvement in the creation of the Gospel Stories will probably present the biggest stumbling block for the western varieties of Christianity.
As the monotheist versions of superstition fade away, the benign speculation of “creator agents” will still exist, where they belong, in the Fantasy section of Science Fiction.