Sunday, January 27, 2013

An interview with Grundy.

I liked Grundys' idea of interviewing bloggers, so I stole it. Grundy graciously agreed to become my first interviewee.

1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and about what motivates you to blog?

I'm an American graphic designer and poker player who realized that the stories I was raised to believe have no basis in reality. This realization was very freeing and I want to encourage those ready to accept a life without religion to experience it with me.

2) You were baptized a Catholic in the traditions of your Irish father and you later attended a catholic school. Does your fathers Irish Catholic roots form any part of your personal identity? Would you for example consider yourself an Irish American?    

I don't think about it as part of my personal identity, yet if someone asked my ethnicity I would openly say that I'm Irish (even though I'm only half Irish.) I don't tend to conform to labels and don't subscribe to universal patriotism. While I'm perfectly happy being Irish and American, I don't interweave either into my sense of self. My Irish heritage has more to do with my genetics than my state of mind.

3) The overwhelming percentage of schools here in Ireland are still run by the roman catholic church with state funding.  Having attended a catholic school, what is your opinion on religious groups running educational schools?
Do, for example, parents have the right to receive religious education for their children from the state? 

It's been a while, so I don't remember going to Catholic school well, which I guess means that it didn't make a positive or negative impression. I don't like the idea of tax payer money going to teach myth as fact to children. I don't want my money going to anything I don't support. Kids should learn about all religions because they are still, unfortunately, very relevant in the world. Religion should only be presented as part of culture, not a serious model of reality.

If one feels the need for religious ed, send your kid to private school. I still don't like it, but whatever. I don't pretend we can eliminate indoctrination while preserving freedoms.

4)  American religiousness is sometimes viewed as an oddity and a strange reversal of the western trend towards secularization.  Do you think Americans are more religious than Europeans? If so, any theories why this is so?

I've never been to Europe, but I trust the polling data. I don't know why Americans trend religious. We started with a bunch of puritans, but we moved past that long ago. Our founding fathers were careful not to establish a particular religion for the country, so a religion shouldn't be our citizen's default worldview, yet it is for many families. All I can think is that one of our major political parties has always been closely tied to Christian faiths--bundling fiscal ideals with religious ideals. The issues of abortion and gay marriage are the best examples that come to mind tying the Catholic church to modern Republicans. The party uses rhetoric to manipulate it's base and the opposing party sees that it works and keeps God in their language as well, just to a lesser degree. Not sure if this helps explain America's religiosity or if it is just a symptom of it. Perhaps it's both.

5)  Do you see yourself as part of a wider atheist/skeptic political movement?

Yes and no. As an atheist blogger who has made friends with other atheist bloggers with roughly the same motivations, I feel I'm part of something. I see secularism growing in the US and data shows this is true for most all developed countries, so calling it a movement isn't entirely inaccurate, but...I don't know.

We may be a movement online. There is little to no "brick and mortar" American atheist movement. It's a problem of organization that I don't really consider a problem. The only thing that unites us is a rejection of a common myth. Outside of this fact, atheists trend too skeptical and nonconformist to agree on much else without kickback. This is fine with me. We should unite for big issues, say, protesting violations of the separation of church and state, but I'd rather we operate as individuals in spreading the "good word" of atheism. I'm a movement of one.

6)  Do you have any other strong political viewpoints or philosophical interests? 

I've never been all that political. I'm liberally minded on most social issues and pretty moderate on fiscal issues. I figure I'm already outspoken on one of the two most heated conversational topics, religion, so taking part in the other is just asking for trouble. Also, government matters have so many moving parts and unintended consequences, I could never be as sure the position I stand for is as correct as my position in regards to religion.

I consider myself a skeptic on matters other than the existence of gods, but my opinions on pseudo-science, alternative medicine and cryptology don't fit into the scope of my blog. I'd start a new blog, but I just don't have the time.

7) Blogger's profile lists your industry as 'advertising'.  I've long felt that religious evangelicalism is text book advertising.  Witnessing is the same as product testimonials; religious identity is product branding; evangelicalism is emotional anchoring:  first convince people there is something missing from their lives, then offer the solution. Would you agree with this? 

Absolutely. Here in America atheism has a major branding problem. Gullibility is called "faith" and is considered a virtue. I just had a conversation with an apologist who took issue with someone calling what Jesus does in the Bible magic. He said it wasn't magic, it was miracles. It's all semantics, but they twist anything that applies to their belief system as a positive. It's a hard mindset to overcome. I've worked with some good ad agencies in the past, but none as good as the Church.

Thanks Grundy.  You can find Grundy blogging over at :


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