Sheez. Why Don’t I Just Copy and Paste.
What the heck. Why don’t I just copy and paste the interview…here. Awesomeness.
Hello and Happy Saturday!
First up I wish to thank CF for his very enjoyable interview last week. Thanks for sharing with us CF!
We have a new interview today so please welcome Kriss.
Kriss is an Atheist and I know you’re going to enjoy his interview as well!
Here Is Kriss’s Introduction:
Hello everyone, my name is Kriss (no last name like Sting, Cher, Bono and my boss, Joan) and it is my pleasure to participate here. I’d like to thank Debra and all others involved with You Me and Religion for this opportunity. It is my hope that we can all emerge from this with a better understanding of each other. I am 42 years old and I’ve work in a cafe called Espresso Metropolitan for the past 18 years. I casually go to college and still hang on to the dream of being a professional musician (sigh, one day). In 2004 I came out as an atheist when the Four Horsemen and The New Atheist appeared on the scene. I’m very proud to be a skeptic and an out atheist in this day and time. My blog is called krissthesexyatheist and my intent is to redefine what “sexy” is, show the humanity of The New Atheist, report on the negative aspects of extremist and intolerant religion and have a little fun in the areas of art, music and culture along the way.
1) What religion do you practice?
I do not practice a religion, I am an atheist. I was raised Catholic, just like most Filipino’s are, and indoctrinated into the martial arts in 72′ and with that came Eastern philosophy. In 2004 I came “out of the atheist closet” and I do consider myself a part of the movement called The New Atheist. For purposes of time and space, let’s define atheist as lack of belief in God(s) and the supernatural, nothing more.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
As Richard “Papa Bear” Dawkins says, and I believe this to be correct, we are all born atheist. It is not until childhood that we are indoctrinated into our parents religion, which often times is the regional religion. In the early 2000’s I took a biology class that studied extraordinary claims like UFO’s, the Loch Ness monster chi etc… One of the books we used was the skeptic’s classic from Michael Shermer called “Why People Believe Weird Things.” After honing my critical thinking skills, reasoning skills and logically thinking about why it is biologically impossible for, let’s say, the Loch Ness monster to exist (there is not a food source large enough for a creature that size), I became a skeptic and an atheist. My previous beliefs were Catholicism and chi. I no longer believe in either.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
This is a great question. The New Atheist come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and beliefs. The only common denominator is that we do not believe in God(s). Some of us are very casual and some of us are more vocal and up front. There are atheist/agnostics and atheist/Buddhists and every category in between. Just like there are many different kinds of Christianity or Buddhisms, there are many different kinds of atheists.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
Wow, I do not know what to call myself. For the most part, I’m live and let live. If someone believes in a God and we agree on social issues (abortion, GLBT, feminism etc…) then I’m cool with that. If a practitioner of a more extreme and intolerant religion “forces” me, or anyone else, to believe in said religion, if they spew hate like Westboro Baptist Church or are willing to kill for their God(s), then I’m soooo not cool with that. I guess I’m a mirror that reflects what it is in my environment at the time. If ‘you’ have no problem with my nonbelief, then I have no problem with you having belief. If my nonbelief makes you angry and it is your ‘mission’ to convert or kill the infidel, then of course I have a problem with that (and I’m sure all reasonable peeps would). Afterall, atheist have the whole compliment of human emotions, thoughts and feelings just like any one else. Often times we are called angry atheist, but what is not addressed is that someone, a fellow human, made us angry. So, I guess my “degree of observance” can change with the situation, but for the most part, I’m “mellow yellow (and I like it that way).”
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept).
Skeptics and atheists do not believe in an afterlife. As of right now we do not see that there is any hard evidence to suggest other wise (and if ‘you’ believe in an afterlife, I’m totally cool with that as long as you don’t yell at me to believe in what you believe, but you guys wouldn’t do that anyways). I once had a near death experience after a Greatful Dead show in the mid 90’s. What I learned later on was that NDE’s 1) can be induced, 2) that it happens because of a lock of oxygen to the brain 3) the formula of the NDE is susceptible to suggestion (skeptics believe it happens exactly the way it is described to peeps, a prescribed learned experience so to speak).
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
We do not believe in heaven, again, for lack of evidence. If the idea of heaven gives one comfort (death is a big dealeo) then I have no problem with that. It just doesn’t make sense to skeptics and atheists. We believe that there is only one life and it is best to make the most out of the life here on Earth (and if that is a symbolic heaven, then call it what you will. We choose to call it life here on Earth.).
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
Well once again atheism is not a religion. It only means lack of belief in a God(s). I can still answer the question though. After “soul searching” and asking hard questions and toiling over those questions, I have come to the conclusion that the supernatural does not exist. Now that being said I do leave the door open for evidence and I would be willing to change my position, but I really don’t think that will happen. If the supernatural existed and could be proven, then those peeps should contact James Randi and collect the million dollar prize.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
There are no holy days for atheism, but if there is food and drink involved and I’m invited, I’m down for celebrating any holiday (just don’t force me to do anything that I do not want to do).
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Yes, I do not see why not. Once again, I’m a mirror, a reflection. If you accept me, then I see no reason to not accept you. In fact one of the myths of atheists is that we hate religion. That is not true for all of us. This atheist finds religion very fascinating and beautiful. It’s just that I do not not acknowledge the negative aspects of some of the extremist religions. The recent Pew research survey of religious knowledge showed that atheist, agnostics and then Jewish peeps, scored highest in religious knowledge. So, a friend is a friend is a friend, regardless of what s/he believes.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I see no reason to do that. I get invited anyways.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
Wow, that’s not an easy one. If a woman claims that it is her choice to wear a burka, I guess I’m fine with that. I just wonder if the choice is really a choice. I’ll have to admit that I do not know for sure on that one. Shariah law it seems to me is oppressive to women and downright unfair. There may be instances of fair Shariah law, but as far as I know (and I know very little) it is responsible for violence in the name of God-and last I checked, no one wants that.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Well, you know what I’m going to say about that. What the secular crowd wants from extremist religion (and I do understand that there are no extremist here) is a softening of stances on women as clergy, misogyny and GLBT issues. Currently there are splits in churches that on one side want to allow women as clergy, which is cool, while the other side does not want that-which means they are stuck in ancient ways and are not willing to grow.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
The New Atheists are not exactly organized, per say. But what often times comes up is lack of minorities and women in the groups that we do have and at the top leadership positions.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
Well atheism and skepticism certainly do influence my “daily.” The most obvious is that the materialist worldview keeps me grounded in the here and now right here on Earth. Many, not all, atheists/skeptics are progressive liberals so we want equal rights for all peeps, GLBT, women, minorities and certainly a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body is her choice and her choice alone.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
Well, I do not have children (one day I would really like that), but… It would be my hope that by the time my child got married, that I have taught them to think for themselves. If my child were to marry a believer, then I would still love my child, accept the decision and welcome his/her partner into our world.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
We do not believe in hell, so you can’t go to a place that does not exist.
17) Who do you think is not a practicing —– in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I do not know how to respond to the first part. The New Atheist are a diverse bunch, but it is the Four Horsemen (Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet, Harris) who get all the press. Unfortunately they are considered ‘militant atheists’ (which is a horrible designation because they write books, not carry arms) and the perception is that we are all like that. I agree with them to a certain extent, but they do not represent “us’ entirely. That is why it is so important for venues like this. To let the world know we are diverse.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
I’d have to say no. I’ve been very fortunate so far.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Me personally, I’d have to say no. Generally, I’d have to say that one of my main problems with extreme religion is the treatment of women. Perhaps naively, I believe that we can have world peace if as a society we treated women as equals.
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
I think it does.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I do not. I used to believe, but as of now, I see no evidence besides faith to believe in reincarnation. As a skeptic/atheist we require extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.
Well, that was more epic than I had anticipated. Still fun though. Once again I’d like to thank Debra and Y M & R for this opportunity. I hope that this was informative for all the peeps out there. It takes all kinds to make the world go round and it takes all kinds to actively live in peace here on Earth in this lifetime. If you disagree with my position, then I hope that we can still be friends and that we can agree to disagree and leave it at that. May your God(s) bless you and if you don’t have a God(s), then just like the atheist bus campaign says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Thank you so much.