Daniel Mallett

Birthplace:  Edmonton, Alberta

What type of work do you do?

You mean when I’m not busy volunteering for the KASHA board?  I’m a computer scientist by education so pay the bills designing enterprise software systems and fixing them when they inevitably break.

Those who say AI will take over the world need to see a complex software system fail because someone forgot a semi-colon.

How would you identify yourself in terms of religion/spirituality?

Atheist.  I love that term.

Hitchens subtitle “Religion poisons everything” summarizes my view on it quite adeptly.  There is nothing, yes, even the sandwich I had for lunch, that religion can’t poison.

Spirituality is such a vapid meaningless term I don’t even know how to respond to that question.

What are some of your reasons for joining KASHA?

Leaving religion was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  It was scary and lonely.  I want folks in the same boat as I was to know they’re not alone.  And I want them to find a safe harbor from the asinine religiosity of the world when they bravely stop believing.

Religious institutions still hold a disproportionately high amount of influence on all aspects of society.  Our fledgling little KASHA group may not be able to do much to combat that, but it’s something.

Are there any movies or books that have had a big impact on you?

Dr. Robert M. Price (aka The Bible Geek) was and still is by far the most impactful thinker with respect to the bible, Christianity and the historicity of Jesus.  He has an amazing podcast called the Bible Geek.

He helped me see that the history of Christianity is a human story, not a divine one.  He taught me to be brave enough to think for yourself instead of being a pew potato.

His book “The Reason Driven Life” helped me realize how vapid so many Christian ideas are, and that true meaning must come from within.

What were some of the defining moments that led you to the point where you are now, in a religious/spiritual sense?

Although born a “cradle Catholic”, I was a natural skeptic as a kid.  I remember sitting in the pews looking around wondering how people can really believe this stuff.  I couldn’t reconcile the beliefs folks professed on Sunday with how they lived Monday to Saturday.

If I ever came to believe that Christianity was true it would actually affect how I lived.  As a teenager I feel into various charismatic type of movements within the Catholic church wherein one would “encounter” Jesus.  I started going to daily mass, doing daily meditations/readings, saying the rosary and chaplets and adoration and praise & worship.  I have a letter I keep as a token of my religiosity from the Archbishop of Edmonton inviting me to enter the priesthood.

Leaving religion was a gradual process.  I loved (and still love) science – an evidence based approach to reasoning.  At University, I took a course on science and religion and it was the first time I heard of Richard Dawkins.  I couldn’t fathom that anyone could openly and blatantly deny God, so I thought that Dawkins was evil.

I started a deep study of the bible hoping to prove Catholicism was true.  I took theology and religious study courses, read all the bible and the best Christian apologists I could fine.

To be intellectually honest, I thought I should also read the other side.  Ironically my Catholic brother-in-law gave me a copy of the God Delusion.  I studied and researched and read and talked and slowly began to realize that history/science/bible just can’t support the claims of Catholicism.

The closets thing I had to an “aha” moment was when I realized through horizontal reading of gospels that large chunks of it are completely made up.

I kept going to church, but started modifying what I would do/say in church until finally in 2007 just could not in good conscience attend anymore.  It took a while before I felt comfortable self-labeling as an atheist.