1. In your view, what is responsible for the existence of the universe? Where did the world come from? How did it come into being?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, and am happy to accept that I will never know. I don’t feel the need to have an answer for these questions. But I do not believe in any of the religious/spiritual explanations that the various religions over human history have proposed.
2. What are the basic elements of your belief system?
I identify with Secular Humanism, which teaches that human morality is not derived from supernatural sources or by the example of God or gods or Jesus. I strive for a life that is loving, kind, fair, and tolerant, and my concept of morality is based entirely on how I believe it is right to treat other people. So, stealing, lying, cheating, or in any way harming people–those are all terrible things, but I don’t believe that because the Bible tells me so, I believe it simply because it’s a basic truth of human nature. Things that some religions label sinful or bad (for example homosexuality, sex before marriage, eating pork, etc) I do not believe to be wrong, because they cause absolutely no harm to anyone else.
3. Explain to me in which religion you were raised by your parents, if any. How did your parents approach religion in the home (strict, lax, etc.)?
My father was raised Catholic, and abandoned it as a teenager; my mother was raised Unitarian. Neither of my parents ever taught me NOT to believe in God; they simply raised me without that element in our lives. Therefore to say our household was secular (existed in the absence of religious belief) is more accurate than to say it was atheist (which is a deliberate disavowal of religion).
4. What events in your past affected your beliefs about God’s existence?
No real specific events; it was just a growing realization when I was a teenager that I didn’t actually believe in the concept of God. The more I learned about the rest of the world, the more my beliefs were reinforced by what I saw.
5. What are your main objections to belief in God’s existence (e.g – suffering; pluralism; hiddenness)?
Pluralism from a logical point of view–there have been thousands of belief systems over time, and each one firmly believed they were right; therefore I believe none were right, and each was born of the historical era, climate, geology, and cultural practices of where it originated. But also my observation that good fortune and suffering are arbitrary in how they occur; good people suffer terrible things, and terrible people have long, healthy, fortunate lives. I cannot accept the idea that God could deny the prayers of parents losing a child to cancer, yet grant the prayer of a high school student who wants to do well on a final exam.
The hiddennnes of God is NOT one of the main reasons for my disbelief… if there were a supernatural power controlling the universe, I can certainly imagine that it might choose to be undetectable by science and factual observation.
6. What is your purpose in life, and why did you choose that purpose? Is it just yours, or for everyone else too?
As I said above, just to live a life full of good actions and loving relationships.
7. What happens to a person at death?
We decompose. I do not believe in an afterlife, although I am open to the idea that under some circumstances people may leave “ghosts” behind. Human beings are incredibly complex life forms with our own internal energy sources, and I do not find it impossible to believe that sometimes that energy might leave some kind of imprint behind.
8. How important is your belief system to you in terms of your decision making process? How does it enter into the ways that you establish priorities and goals?
It’s not something that directly informs my decisions, priorities and goals. Since I live my life in the absence of religion, that element that spiritual people might turn to to guide them in making decisions just doesn’t exist for me. I just use logical analysis, and emotion. The main way my lack of belief affects my day-to-day life is when I am constantly reminded that most of the other people feel differently than I do, and would like to use our legislature to impose their beliefs on me and people like me.
9. If you could say anything you want about what you perceive to be the Christian community, what would you say? What are the problems with the Christian view of reality? What do you like/appreciate about Christians? What do you not like or appreciate?
I would insist that the United States is NOT a Christian nation, never has been, and never should be. It should be a secular government with citizens of many different beliefs. But my problems with Christianity do not apply to ALL Christians, only to the ones who insist that everyone should believe as they do, and who want to force everyone to believe as they do. “Because the Bible says so” is not an acceptable reason for why a law should or should not exist. You must accept that the Bible is not the final authority for all humans, only for humans who believe in it. No one is obligated to believe, or to behave according to your beliefs.
I have tremendous respect for Christians whose heart is in the right place — the Bible’s messages of love, tolerance, charity, compassion and kindness are the best that mankind has to offer. So people who reach for those values, through the specific avenue of God and Jesus, are people I respect.
10. Is there anything else you think I should know about atheism from your perspective?
Think I’ve said it all!
11. Please include a little about yourself, for example: age, gender, worldview affiliation, occupation, education level, married or not, etc.
33, female, designer, two bachelor’s degrees, NYC resident, engaged.