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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The God Dialogues: Atheism

The God Dialogues: A moderated panel discussion between Christians, Atheists, and Muslims at 8 p.m. Thursday in Rudder 601.
Representing Ratio Christi and Christianity will be John Ferrer and Dr. Robert Marks; Representing the Atheist and Agnostic Student Group will be Shawn Hanrahan and Abid Mujtaba, and representing the Islamic Study Group will be Emad Mousavi and Shima Mohajeri.
The format will be that of a panel discussion, and the topic will center around two questions:
“What is the basis for Morality from your point of view?” and “What about Evil?”
Shawn Hanrahan has the air of someone who doesn’t feel the need to question his religious beliefs. Representing the atheist-agnostic worldview, Hanrahan brings a laidback attitude, a steadfast commitment to his ideology and an eagerness to encourage discussion to the God Dialogues.
Hanrahan splits his time as an entomology doctoral student and as vice president of the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group on campus and considers himself an oddball atheist.
“Growing up I was more than welcome to be whatever I wanted,” Hanrahan said. “Religion never had a hold on me like many other atheists and agnostics around me. I grew up and spent my whole life in a secular household.”
Hanrahan said the issue boils down to cold hard facts.
“There is no evidence for religion so the lack of strength of any other argument makes me an atheist,” Hanrahan said.
Atheists, like Hanrahan, believe there is no God. Agnostics, on the other hand, do not know or hold that it is impossible to know if there is a God.
Growing up in Texas, Hanrahan admits others often did not accept his worldview. On multiple occasions, he lost friendships because of his beliefs.
Hanrahan was an outspoken advocate for his atheism in middle school. He has been making an impact on campus with the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group, facilitating group discussions at meetings for the past five semesters.
“The only time I won’t mention [my beliefs] is to prevent a conflict,” Hanrahan said. “Revealing that you’re an atheist doesn’t always end up well; religious topics can be very taboo and therefore are not talked about as often as they should be.”
Much like the God Dialogues, Hanrahan said open and honest discussions are important for everyone. “By having this discussion hopefully we can break the ice and have people leave the talks wanting to discuss different views they hold,” Hanrahan said.
The discussion in Rudder will focus on morality in religion. Each of the three panelists will present their stance about where good comes from.
Hanrahan said he isn’t worried about presenting his views, adding that there’s little preparation that he can do to present a fundamental lack of belief. Hanrahan has a resolute commitment to what he considers to be truth, providing a staunch platform for his beliefs that has stuck with him since he was just a child.
“As far as I can tell there is nothing that pushes you to a lack of faith more than a belief in the natural world,” Hanrahan said. “Curiosity in why things are the way they are and how they work is kind of the antithesis of faith in that way.”
Hanrahan hopes that this upcoming dialogue can be harmonious and that people walk away from the event with a better understanding of multiple worldviews. Because religious discussions can often be contentious, the dialogues are designed to be cordial so as to minimize confrontation between groups that are represented.
“You see that when people debate about religions everyone will fall into their own side. They aren’t being enlightened; instead they are only rooting for their own team,” Hanrahan said. “We want to stress open dialogue like in political debates where you can have three different people sit down at a table each with their own views and at the end of the day all three can walk away amicably.”

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