> [email protected] <[email protected]>
> ATHEIST SURVEY > Thank you for participating. The issues of God and > religion in a secular world are very important. This > survey is part of a broader work that seeks to determine > why God and religion continues to exist-and flourish- > despite Humanity's intellectual achievements in the > modern era of science. It might seem that the answer > to that question lies with the people who believe in > God but I feel otherwise for reasons that will become > clear later.
> Just to be clear, I myself am an atheist.
> I will not at this time reveal the theories of my paper, > because I don't want to influence any of the answers, > but you will receive an e- mailed copy of my complete > work for your participation. I think you will find > it very interesting.
We're not judgemental, but we'll be the judge of that.
> And now some questions. Simply "quote" this form in > your reply and fill in the answers. Please take as > much time and space as you need to answer these sufficiently. > I'm sure you've thought about all of these things often.
>General: > This is personal stuff and I hope you don't mind answering > it. It is important to have an accurate profile of > each participant. A name, of course, in not necessary, > but if you want to supply one, real or fictitious, > it will save me the trouble of making one up if I quote > any of your answers. (please specify if you mind me > quoting you; I won't if you do)
NAME: Martin Leipzig DOB: June, 1958 Place of birth: Wisconsin, USA Sex: Male
Race (as you define it): White (Caucasian, but not of the Caucasus Mountains)
Occupation: Sr. Petroleum Production Geologist
Where you have lived your adult life: Wisconsin, Texas, Western Siberia, Uzbekistan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Eastern Siberia, Colombia, Argentina, Qatar
Married? Yes. Children? Yes. 2 Email: [email protected]
> THE QUESTIONS: > There are 33 questions. I would love a long thoughtful > answer to each one, but I appreciate that you may have > a life to lead. So make the answer as short or long > as you need, but please try and answer each question.
> 1. What if any, was the religion practiced in your home?
As the old saying goes, "I was once Roman Catholic, but I got better".
> 2. How deeply involved was your family in this religion? > Any particular family members more than others? (in > other words, did you have an uncle or a mother that > was a bible quoting fundamentalist?)
Fairly superficially. The typical once a week to church sort of crowd. I did attend catechism and received the required sacraments, but beyond that; religion was more or less an adjunct.
> 3. What was your response at the time to the role religion > played in your family?
Fairly indifferent. It was merely a social and cultural holdover from my family's European heritage.
> 4. Were you always an atheist or did you at some time > stop believing in God?
I was born an atheist, but I was raised Catholic, and was sent to a parochial school for many years. Even during that time, or, perhaps, because of that total immersion indoctrination; I was doubtful. Religion totally fell from any serious consideration in my early teen years; and with my training as a scientist, my lack of belief finally codified.
> 5. Has your atheism been a source of trouble in your > family?
Not really. I have some hyper-fundamentalist relatives who are less than amused, but I do not regard that as a problem of my own. Seeing as religion in my family has not been a central tenet of home life; there was not a terribly overt negative reaction to my decision.
> 6. Why do you think you are an atheist?
I do not "think" I am an atheist; I know full well that I am precisely that. Atheism is defined as a "lack of beliefs in (a) God(s)". As I have absolutely NO beliefs whatsoever (I prefer instead to think), I am not afflicted with this particular subset of dogma that seems to be a paramount concern to so many.
> 7. Do you feel ashamed at all about being an atheist?
No, in fact, I wonder about your true motives and your necessary proclamations about your atheism. Why should I feel ashamed of being free of faith, belief, superstition and other forms of supernatural superciliousness? I feel shame for those who cannot or will not think for themselves and instead lick up religious pap from their preacher, priest, guru or shaman like a calf at the tit.
Are you ashamed of being a fairly efficient bio-exchanger of gasses?
> If so, how does it affect your conviction that there > is no God?
It doesn't and immolate your implied strawman elsewhere. I do not hold to the conviction that "there is no God"; I am quite simply unafflicted with the belief that there is a "God". Saying "there is no God" is a absolute statement, and one that requires evidence to establish it's validity. Well, since only idiots and fundamentalists endeavor to "prove" negatives (i.e., no "God'"); I leave them to their fool's errand. One can no sooner prove there is "no God" any easier than you can prove that I don't have a signed promissory note from you; noting that you owe me US$1,000,000. "Pay up or shut up", as the old saying goes.
I am instead driven by facts and evidence. There is not physical evidence to support this "God" hypothesis, therefore, I discard it as superfluous.
I neither have the time nor inclination to pursue untamed waterfowl.
> 8. Are you a "closet" atheist?
You are kidding, are you not? No, I'm not reticent, shy nor reserved about my lack of beliefs; if that's what you meant.
> Do people in your life generally know your atheism?
If they know how to listen and how to read, they certainly do.
> 9. Do you debate and argue the issue with strangers, > notably religious people?
But of course! Ever hear of the talk.origins newsgroup or the HolySmoke, Evolution, or Science FidoNet echos? I'm a regular in all these electronic fora. Also, since I have been an educator and have had interaction with ridiculously close-minded and insanely religious people; I do indeed argue, debate and excoriate these benighted individuals.
> 10. Where do you think your values of good and bad > came from?
They were smelted from the ore of my European heritage, were tempered in the forge of Middle Western US society and honed by my background of logic, science, and scientific inquiry.
> 11. I find myself often filled with wonder and awe > at the sight of a star filled sky or a breathtaking > nature scene.
Hooray for you. I look into the deeper science of such events rather than be awestruck by it's superficiality.
> It almost feels "religious."
Define a "religious" feeling. How does it differ from a "secular" feeling?
> Do you have these feelings?
No. My sense of wonder is my sense of awe of the science of the mechanisms of the universe.
> If so, at such moments are you ever tempted to question > your atheism?
No, no more than I question the ubiquity of gravity.
> 12. Would you rather that there was a God?
No. Enough people rely on illusory crutches already. To believe in God of the Bible is to believe in, and worship, and egomaniacal, homicidal, petulant, jealous and vindictive God. Most other religion's versions of God play no better, as "God-fearing" is a basic plank in the warped, un-planed platform of belief.
> 13. Are the people in your circle generally atheists?
Some are, some are not. It is not an issue in my relationships. I do not, unlike some organizations, require belief in and signature on a statement of credos.
> 14. Is your atheism strong enough that you would bet > anything on the non-existence of God?
Another off-hand sly to the time worn "Pascal's Wager" polemic. How does one know which God to back? Allah? Jehovah? Kali? Ra? The Great-Old-One-In-The-Sky? The Cosmic, Mutant StarGoat? Dopefish? Shiva? Zoroaster? Which? Is a theist's theism so strong that he/she is certain of his/her "one, true God" to bet the farm on it?
I see that there is no evidence of the supernatural, much less one populated with supernatural beings. I also know that I possess an intellect and inquiring mind. It would be sheer folly to utilize that which I know for a fact exists to chase that which is totally unevidenced.
In fact, if there is a God, he made me an atheist. Who am I to argue with his divine wisdom? (The preceding was sarcasm, in case you couldn't ascertain the context).
> 15. Would you like to see the whole world rid of religion, > with no one believing in God?
No; as it comforts some and provides meaning to life for some others, however illusory. What I would like to do, though, is eradicate the inculcated ignorance, idolatry, xenophobia and ignorance so prized by religion.
> 16. Do you think that will ever happen?
Not as long as scholarship is demonized, people are more comfortable with warm, fuzzy beliefs rather than cold, hard facts; and people abrogate their failings and insecurities to some imaginary deity rather than stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their lives.
> 17. What do you think such a world would be like?
"Heavenly". It would be a world of reality. A world of science and a world less concerned with an illusory hereafter and more concerned with the reality of here and now.
> 18. Do you have beliefs in any other being or system, > ie, reincarnation, spirituality, and other metaphysical > beliefs?
Nope; not a sausage. I remain totally uninfected by beliefs.
> 19. If so, what do you feel makes this belief more > probable that the existence of God?
I harbor no beliefs whatsoever, so I'll just continue on...
> 20. Do you have children?
> If so, what is your attitude towards them and the religious > world they are growing up in?
I do what every parent who is a responsible parent should do: I warn them of the deceit, logical impossibilities and fraud perpetrated in the name of (a) God(s). I do not shield them from religion, but rip off the sugary box-top of organized religion and expose the less-thn-wholesome insides of them as they truly are to my offspring.
> Do you talk to them about God?
Sure. I talk to them how some people are so silly as to actually belief that there is such a entity. I gave them the greatest gift a parent could offer a child: a sense of wonder and inquiry about the universe and the scientific method with which to investigate and understand that wonder. The concept of God is not immune to inquiry; but it certainly falls short in the evidence department.
> 21. If you are married, is your spouse an atheist?
> And if so, do you hold the same views, or do you have > a disagreement on the secular nature of the world?
> 22. If your spouse is not an atheist, is that a problem?
No; we have many, many differences regarding "religion". But, since it's not a part of my psyche or subliminal self; it's not a problem if someone else want it to be part of theirs; as long as they do not insist that I must as well.
> 23. If you are single, is it important to you that > your future spouse not be religious?
> If he/she was, what would your feeling be about how > to raise the children?
Cultivate intelligence and give them inquiry tools. The rest will follow as a matter of course.
> 24. Despite your atheism, do you consider yourself > to be a spiritual person and would you then define > "spiritual."
No. And what's this "despite your atheism" nonsense? Despite *your* mammalianism, do you consider yourself to be spiritual?
> 25. What is your attitude today towards religion and > religious people?
Religion is a crutch for those who cannot handle reality unaided. Religious people are typically not terribly different than non-religious people; save and except for fundamentalists, "Scientific" creationists or other of the Neo-Luddite, and extremely vocal, front.
> 26. Do you find it hard to believe that intelligent > people truly believe in God?
I've already told you, I have no beliefs. However, I've studied enough abnormal psychology to understand the basis of such eccentric behaviour. Given it's cultural heritage and anthropological basis; the "Alpha Male" syndrome is an extremely common phenomenon; religion and belief in a monotheistic God is simply that complex brought up to the 20th (near 21st) century setting.
> Do you tend to think that someone like President Clinton > professes a belief in God because public figures can't > afford to do otherwise?
Probably. Anything for votes. Politicians are not well known for their honesty; why should their pronouncements in this arena be any different?
> 27. Do you know much about science,
Well, I do have a few advanced degrees in natural science and I am an industrial scientist with 16+ years of global experience.
Yes, I do know more than a little about science.
> ie, what science has so far taught us about the origins > of life, etc?
Science "teaches" nothing. It is a method for the rigorous testing, verification and interpretation of the facts of the cosmos. Science "teaches' nothing about the origins of life; but rather puts forth various theories on the subject of pre-evolutionary biogenesis, biopoesis and the development of protoinformational biomacromolecules.
> If so, is you atheism based on familiarity with science?
I am a scientist. It is part and parcel of my being. My atheism is based upon the incontrovertible lack of any evidence of (a) God(s). That evidence is the prima facie necessity of physical science is certainly not a coincidence.
> 28. Emotions are very powerful.
So are pheromones. Your point?
>Do you ever have a feeling in your heart
If I have a "feeling in my heart", I'd best be off to a competent cardiologist.
> that you would describe as religious, despite your > atheism? If so, describe it.
Nope. "Feelings" and emotions are part of our natural evolutionary heritage. Religion is not; it is an inculcated, learned, totally fabricated human contrivance.
> 29. Religion plays a huge part in our society.
So does crime, ignorance and preying upon the emotionally and intellectually handicapped. Coincidence?
> Do you think children of atheists who have to play > and grow up with religious children should be told > there is a God, the same way there is a Santa Claus, > to avoid problems?
You are asking, for the mere sake of CONVENIENCE, that one should knowingly LIE to your children? I find this question, and the motives covertly cowering behind it, reprehensible.
In case you're missing the obvious, the answer would be a resounding "no".
> 30. Despite your atheism,
Here you go again. "Despite your being a vertebrate..."
> do you sometimes feel that there is, if not a God, > then something?
No, as I know full well there's is something. It's called: "science". One may disagree, but at least, science can be shown to exist.
> 31. Society places atheism near child molesting on > the morality scale. Do you have any ideas about what > can be done to change that?
Apart from telling them (a.) to "Fuck off", (b) that Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jeffery Dahlmer, Adolph Hitler, John Gacy and company were good Christians, or (c.) of the Crusades, Auto-de-fe and Inquisitions?
After that, typically all I hear from the religiously indoctrinated is a vague, open-mouthed sputtering and the stridulatory sounds of cricketiferous hopping insects.
> 32. People who believe in God feel very sorry for people > who don't,
And we return the favor.
> saying they live in a cold desolate world. How would > you answer that?
My world is the universe of science. From the freezing frosty vistas of seemingly unlimited space to the dizzying heights of the highest mountain peak. From the depths of the deepest ocean trench to the intricacies of the crystal lattice of FeS2 under the scanning electron microscope. Form the prospect of a better tomorrow through science and technology, to the vestiges of *deep time* 4.5 BYA when the Earth was young. My world is a world of the real; good, bad or indifferent. It is already populated with more wondrous and fascinating things than some illusory supernaturality could for ever hope or pray. And better still, it's an accessible world, logical and internally consistent. One merely needs the key of the scientific method to unlock the "mysteries" of the cold unknown. For once something is understood, it is no longer a mystery.
"Cold and desolate"? Hardly. But, then again, it probably would appear so to those whose vision is limited to some ancient Middle Eastern tome.
> 33. What do you think accounts for man's continuing > belief in God?
Errors in genetic neural hard-wiring. And wishful thinking.
> Please add anything you feel should be addressed about > atheism:
There really isn't that much more that should, or indeed, could be said of atheism. It's the default condition of everyone on the planet; religion, superstitions, faith and belief must be learned. A young mind is a fertile place, and unfortunately many would rather sow the seed of belief in the supernatural and compost it with the biogenic colluvium of faith than nurture and nourish the inborn and natural bloom of inquiry, skepticism and logic. Often, like the pseudointellectual kudzu it is, the vectors of ignorance and unquestioned faith send out tillers and rhizomic tendrils that strangle the delicate blossom of science and inquiry that require the 2-4-D of rational inquiry to stave off the attacks of this niche-weed marauder. Unfortunately, many prefer to favor the easy weeds over the more difficultly attained efflorescence; and in that way, it spreads like the veritable entangling kelp-forest it so resembles.
Jefferson, as I recall, once said: "...the price of liberty is eternal vigilance". So is the price of logic, reason, and rationality. Let us be no less attentive in our defense of these prized commodities as we are in the assault against ignorance, idolatry and inculcated idiocy.
> Thank you for your participation in this important > survey. I appreciate your time and sincerity. As well > as my thanks, I will e- mail a copy of the finished > paper, which I'm sure you will find provocative. One > favor: I am interested in the views and opinions of > older atheists, those in their thirties and older. > If you know even one person in this category that would > be willing to answer these questions it would be very > helpful. You can forward this questionnaire directly > to them or have them e-mail me at [email protected] > Thank you very much, G.S. Lazarus
I've posted this questionaire to the HolySmoke echo. I'm sure that you'll receive many replies from WOA's (wicked old atheists) that post there.