Note: I’m re-posting this as I think it’s showing up in the Newsfeed dated August 27, the date I started the draft, even though I hit “publish” yesterday. Ah, yes, WP quirks.
1. What is your religious background? Did you grow up in a religious home?
Growing up, my parents were non-practicing cultural Christians. They only vaguely believed and didn’t go to church.
My dad was a ex- Mormon until he reconverted in my teens after his suicide attempt and is a now devout and someone fanatical member of the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).
My mom while raising me believed one had to believe in something to be a good person (which is why she sent me to a Baptist preschool), but that’s something she no longer adheres to.
2. Was there a time when you were open to Christianity or another religion?
Yes, absolutely. I was a “non-denominational” evangelical Christian for about 20 years (got “born again” as a teen). As I was losing my faith I considered Quakerism and then Buddhism and ultimately ended up an atheist.
3. Did you have an unfavourable experience with Christians or people of another religion that turned you off?
I believed all people were sinners, which meant there’d be bad behavior, even among Christians.
That said, the behavior of other Christians did contribute to some of my doubts. Primarily, I couldn’t reconcile how God could allow narcissistic pastors and other leaders to spiritually and emotionally abuse their congregants. That mixed with unanswered prayer, lack of healing, lack of any evidence of God’s actual existence, and contradictions in the Bible. Add in God’s confusing and often cruel personality. As well as the adherence to superstition over science. Chaos between different denominations. Etc, etc.
It all contributed to my faith slipping away from me until it was gone.
4. Which religion do you take most offense to and why?
I take offense to any religion that shames, manipulates, abuses, terrifies, or enslaves others. Or causes one to embrace ignorance, bigotry, or superstition.
5. What is your primary objection to the Christian faith?
That it is not true.
6. Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
I thought I had. Several times in the night I thought a demon had visited me. Turns out it was a real and terrifying phenomenon called sleep paralysis. Nothing supernatural about it.
I also had a mixed manic/depressive episode in 2004, in which I thought angels were talking to me, but meds fixed my faulty brain chemistry and that went away.
In general, I’m a skeptic who has found there is typically a natural explanation for “supernatural” phenomenon.
7. If there is no afterlife and we cease to exist after death, do you believe your life has purpose and meaning beyond the survival of the human species? In what way?
The short and honest answer is no.
The long answer: does life have to have a purpose? What motivates me to get out of bed each day is knowing I’m alive and I might as well make the best of it. If I don’t I’m a burden on others.
When I contemplate how I’ll look back on my life, I think that I’ve had a very interesting journey. I can take pleasure that is the story of my life even if there is no Author and no one else will see the full story. I guess that’s part of why I write – as an anthology.
What makes me feel connected is that I daily have an impact on others. I suppose I believe in a modified version of the butterfly effect. My action, or even inaction (just by existing) changes and affects others’ lives in some way, whether large or small, good or bad.
I believe that I will live on in this way. Not necessarily even in the memory of others, as all people who have known or interact with me will die, but as a part of the human collective. It comforts me, even knowing that humans will eventually all die out.
8. How would you describe your worldview?
I do not believe there is a god, or if there is, it’s not one we could ever know. That there is likely no Creator. That we are made up of stardust, that we came to be through evolution. That our motivations and behavior are explained by survival of the fittest.
That’s a start. I’ll ponder this some more, but to be honest these questions which were once important to me (as a Christian) have lost their hold. I’m simply just trying to get through my days.
9. Do you believe in right and wrong? What determines the ethics you live by?
In general I align with the ethics Richard Dawkins’ mentions in The God Delusion. He claims to have found it on an atheist website:
• Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.
• In all things, strive to cause no harm.
• Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
• Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
• Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.
• Always seek to be learning something new.
• Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
• Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
• Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
• Question everything.
10. Do you consider yourself a good person? Why or why not?
Overall I think I’m a good person because I am kind. But I’m also am lazy af and often socially irresponsible by my inaction, so it balances out somewhat. Maybe instead of a good person I’ll just say I’m a person.
What about you? If you are an atheist, how would you answer these questions? Leave your comment here or, better yet, write your own post about it. If you are not an atheist what other questions would you ask an atheist?