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On Faithless: An Atheist Answers The OnFaith Five

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1. Is religion or spirituality important to you in your daily life? If so, how? As an outspoken atheist, religion is important to me in the same way cancer is important to a doctor. I see religion as one of the great evils in our modern society; a left over from darker days of history that still finds a way to threaten human happiness, human progress, and human survival on this planet. As for spirituality, I guess it sort of depends on how we are defining the term. I would define the term as a deep connection to others and to the universe as a whole. If you are willing to accept that definition, then yes, spirituality is very important to me. I try to look beyond labels and borders and attempt to see people as human beings trying to be the heroes in their own stories, but often getting lost along the way. This allows me to find a common connection with them and to give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. It also allows me to see the good in everyone. My sense of spirituality also gives me a deep appreciation for everything humankind has achieved while guiding and inspiring me to make the world a better place. 2. How has your understanding of “God” evolved throughout your life? Well, I grew up Jewish and considered myself a believer in the Abrahamic God for most of my childhood years. To paraphrase from the Bible, when I became an adult, I put away childish things… except Legos, because Legos are cool. I think I was about thirteen when I realized that God was imaginary, but I didn’t really start to focus on the character of God until college, when I was first introduced to the concept of devout believers. This is when I really started to learn about the many characters of God and the many different gods various people believed in. My focus has shifted away from imaginary deities and more toward the people who believe in them. I am always fascinated by religious believers and how it is they came to believe such ridiculous deities. 3. What do you think about religions other than your own? I often half-jokingly identify my religion as Jedi, since I take my Star Wars very seriously. The thing is that I know my religion is made-up. I don’t think most religious believers could say the same about their own religions. I do sometimes wonder how people of other religions would react if I pretended that my Jedi religion was not imaginary and I came up with elaborate rationalizations for their attempts to convince me that Darth Vader didn’t really bring balance to the Force a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Of course, I don’t have the power to pass laws based on my personal understanding of the Force. If I did, then perhaps religious believers would have a little idea about what it is like for many atheists. 4. Can you share a time when your faith helped you understand a significant event in your life? That’s one of the awesome things about being an atheist; every day is a significant event. I am not living my life as a trial to get into the next life. For me, this life is it. There are no do-overs, no extra-lives, and no second chances. Carpe Diem! While it is important to plan ahead and not necessary live each day like it will be my last, I am also keenly focused on seizing the day and making the most out of the limited time I have. I view my life in the context of human existence – have fun and make the world a better place than it was when I came into it. 5. What is your faith in one word/phrase or image? I have faith in actual people, not imaginary deities.