A short interview I just did (transcript)
A high school student asked for me to do an interview with him for a class project. I granted him very limited time for reasons I'm unwilling to divulge at this time, however here are the questions and my answers....
1. Please give your name and what you try to contribute to the online atheist community on Myspace:
My name is Brian Sapient, I co-founded an activist oriented website: www.rationalresponders.com. The goal of our site and our myspace site is to encourage atheists to speak up about their own lack of belief in god, and why they do, in addition to showing theists that their theistic beliefs are less than rational.
2. Have you ever held theistic belief, and if so, what kind and why did you stop believing in it?
I was baptized and attending Catholic Church every weekend until the age of 11 at which point my mother started going to a new Church and we became born again Christians. I stopped believing when I actually read the bible for myself instead of just accepting what my preachers were telling me. I started at the beginning and by about page 5 I recognized how patently ridiculous and logically impossible the story was. When I opened myself up to a world outside of the bible I did a lot of research in scientific areas and realized that more often than not the explanations religion gives us for the history of the world are mere assertions based on ignorance.
3. Are you an “out of the closet” atheist, and why or why not?
I'm as out of the closet as they get.
4. Is there a certain set of religious or philosophical ideas that you especially agree with (such as Buddhism, Taoism, etc.), and if so, why?
No, not really. I see any form of religion as a way of confusing reality. Once you limit yourself to a specific set of ideals you close yourself of to new knowledge should it become available.
5. What’s it like to be an atheist in a predominantly Christian society?
Well most of the time I experience a misunderstanding in how I think and what I believe. It seems that most Christians choose to preach to you rather than ask you what you think or feel on areas of religious beliefs. Most Christians assume that I must not know anything about religion and set out to teach me about theirs rather than learn from me. The things that bother me about a Christian dominated society should bother anyone, but of course they don't. For example, it's troubling that we have tremendous scientific resources yet we don't explore stem cell research, or that we look at homosexuals as citizens that don't deserve the same rights as straight people. Even worse is the attempt to remove peoples rights to an abortion all while denying that if the Christian God exists, he is the leading provider of abortions on Earth. If he exists, he created a system where about 7 million sperm die during sex. The notion that a person killing potential life is a sin, is no more sinful than the system that God himself set up (if he exists, which obviously he doesn't). Furthermore miscarriages happen with even more frequency than abortions, most miscarriages occur without the knowledge of the pregnant woman ever knowing she was pregnant. To embrace this god, and deny the obvious flaws I've pointed out here, is irrational. So, what's it like to live in a predominantly Christian world? Well it doesn't feel great to know you are surrounded by people who lack good thinking skills, but I accept it, I understand it, and I live with it.
6. Are there any situations where you have noticed a higher chance for being treated differently for your different beliefs?
Sure. Believers carry varying degrees of strength in their beliefs. The people who have placed an excessive amount of trust in fundamentalist preachers are more likely to treat you with disrespect because of your beliefs. I don't let this sort of mistreatment bother me, I live in a realistic mindset and understand that ignorance abounds. Like Einstein said, "Stupidity, like the Universe, is infinite."
7. What do you think of modern religion and its effects in the world?
I think any religion in which a theistic belief is involved is irrational. Whether it is present day or in our past history. People have used religion to excuse unspeakable horrors throughout time. Years ago it was the Crusades and the burning of witches at the stake. today it's 9-11 hijackers, and Presidents who are subverting stem cell research. In comparison, subverting stem cell research is nothing less than committing mass murder. We have the means to cure many of the worst ailments that plague our society if science was allowed to roam free, subverting that is just as bad as the actions of Hitler.
8. Do you think there is a significant difference in those who hold religion and those who simply feel spiritually about things, and if so, what is it?
What exactly is feeling "spiritually?" What is a spirit? People who make this claim of spirituality all have different reasons, however I have a feeling that more often than not these people are unwilling to take the final step to reality that I can. People suppose a god exists because there are so many believers, and as you leave religion it may be hard to let go altogether, so we see people who create some sense of god and some sense of reality and combine them. There are those who would say that the Universe is God or that Mother Nature is God. These people are just as delusional as someone who thinks God is an invisible man in the sky. The word Universe does a good enough job explaining what it is, we don't need to confuse the issue by calling the Universe God.
9. Is there anything else you feel that should be shared or mentioned in this interview?
Throughout the history of time, nothing has caused more harm and bred more ignorance than what results from believing in God. Anyone who thinks we can't cope or have peace without a god is the victim of living in a society with a majority of people who believe in one.