Birthplace: Manitoba. I grew up in a small town called Rosenort.
How would you identify yourself in terms of religion/spirituality?
I usually don’t, but I could most accurately be called a skeptic first and then an atheist.
What are some of your reasons for joining CFI?
I was curious about atheism as an identity (there had been several people identifying themselves as atheists putting some interesting videos on Youtube) and I wanted to meet other atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. It’s been an interesting experience.
Are there any books or movies that have had a big impact on you?
The Bible was always present. I came across Gandhi’s autobiography during a church youth group road trip. I also very much enjoyed The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
Mostly it’s been my personal experiences more than books or movies that have been influential — especially experiences of incongruencies. I have always been exposed to multiple explanations of different theories and phenomena and some explanations seem to go much further than others with much less coaxing.
What were some of the defining moments that led you to the point where you are now, in a religious/spiritual sense?
Christians would joke about people burning in hell — that seemed unchristian to me at the time.
I had read about the fossilized remains of a protoceratops and a velociraptor that had died in mid-combat. When I brought it up with a friend he scowled and said “they never put those things together right anyway,” and walked away. It was off because I didn’t say anything about them being put together, but found that way. It hadn’t occurred to me before I spoke that paleontology can be something of an affront to “young earthers.”
There was also a reformist failure involving the usage of the Lord’s prayer which we recited every morning led by a teacher.
At some point I read the chapter in the Bible about the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus himself is speaking against empty repetitive praying, and against praying in crowds for the purpose of being seen praying. The transparent hypocrisy of using an example against empty repetition for the purpose of empty repetition was disconcerting to me. When I stood up for the teaching from the chapter the other classmates were in favor of change and a closer relationship with God. What followed was one or two awkward mornings during which no one had anything to say and God didn’t supply anyone with any words, for or against. We then went back to reciting the Lord’s Prayer. The whole thing seemed disappointingly meaningless.
The bald assertion that Stockwell Day had lost the election due to global anti-christian conspiracy seemed nuts to me.
Defining my old para-materialistic conceptions tends to be an awkward challenge because I never put it into words then and it’s in the past now. The main developments in my own religion I’ll mention here were an un-named deity and a reverence for dreams, trees, and books. I was raised to believe dreams had meaning and to pay attention to them, which I took seriously. I believed in some sort of divine guidance (not so much divine intervention as divine co-incidence.) Although there were Christian ideas available I personally had no belief in an afterlife.
I had a dream that I thought would help me meet people who could help my development. Once I was convinced I knew who it was I chose the person as my baptismal sponsor. This lead to a short relationship with a person with poor listening skills who shortly lost interest in my spiritual journey. I was left feeling the whole conundrum was, after all, meaningless.
I would also sometimes have dreams that someone was in distress which I understood as guiding me to help them. I tried to be subtle at first because I was too shy about saying “I had a bad dream about you, are you okay?” Eventually I mentioned the situation up front which elicited a blunt, “That’s your issue.” I was already pretty doubtful by that point and that was the final time I was ever worried about interpreting my dreams as spiritual guidance or warnings.