Religion panel to highlight similarities and differences

College is a place where students can encounter beliefs, cultures, races and religions different from their own. The Student Activities Board will be presenting a Religion Panel on Monday to show students “We all believe, we just do it differently,” Sarah Jones, director of SAB’s Engaging Issues committee, said.

Jones said the aim of this program is to “expose students to all the different worldviews that exist” so that they may “learn how other religions are different from their own.”

Six belief systems or “worldviews,” as Jones refers to them, will be represented at the panel: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Deism, Atheism and Judaism.

Adam Blincoe, a Ph.D student in the department of philosophy and the Christianity panelist for Monday, said the metanarrative in which Christianity is grounded is based on the Holy Trinity, love and their savior Jesus Christ.

“The eternal community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the cosmos out of an overflow of love, but through a free act, humanity fell and sent creation into disarray,” Blincoe said. “Since then God has sought to put things right and this effort climaxed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Blincoe said Christians are the people who claim God’s forgiveness, appropriate his grace in works of love and look forward to the resurrection of all of creation.

Atheism, another worldview that will be represented on the panel, is a seemingly controversial belief system for those who don’t take the time to get a better understanding, which is exactly what Ben Augustine – president of the newly formed UK Secular Student Alliance – hopes students walk away with.

“One of the misconceptions is that atheism is claiming that they have knowledge that there are no supernatural beings,” Augustine said. “Fundamentally, all atheism is, is a lack of belief. Most of us will say that we don’t want to believe in something without positive evidence, and basically we don’t see that evidence for the supernatural beings that most religions propose.”

Augustine said the SSA wanted to be a part of the panel to promote a better understanding of what atheism is and eliminate any negative misconceptions.

“We don’t want to convert anyone, but just mainly we want to be a part of the discussion,” he said.

Another misconception is that atheists are “just out to bash other religions” because people take it personally when you question their beliefs, Augustine said.

“We don’t see this as a confrontational type of event,” he said. “We just think this is a good opportunity to have a reasonable discussion about these issues and we’re looking forward to it.”

Jones said the panel will consist of three segments. Each panelist will begin with a one- to two-minute introduction to their worldview and its major tenets.

Secondly, the panelists will address different topics that students picked in a SAB survey at the beginning of the semester. The survey asked students what they wanted to see and hear from the different SAB committees, Jones said. Topics students chose include everyday life and religion, LGBT, coexistence, the afterlife and relevance of religion among others.

The panel will conclude with an open Q&A.

“(The panel) is really important because it really showcases the diversity of students on campus and what they believe,” Jones said. “Religion is a topic all college students encounter at some point in their college career. This is our main reason for having the event in the first place … to minister to that need, and that topic, when it comes up for college students.”