Name: Blythe Nilson
Birthplace: Regina, Saskatchewan
What type of work have you done?
I have worked as a college and university instructor/professor for over 25 years. When I was younger, I worked as a cashier in a drugstore and also as a waitress in a discotheque.
How do you identify yourself in terms of religion/spirituality?
What are some of your reasons for joining CFI?
I wanted to start a Skeptics in the Pub group here in Kelowna, but I found out that someone else had already started one — so I wanted to meet those people! Now I want to help CFI grow and become a group for people who are looking for a place to talk science or a community outside of religion.
What are some of the books or movies that have had a big impact on you?
The original Carl Sagan “Cosmos” really affected me as young person. Carl Sagan is part of the reason I became a scientist. I also used to watch Johnny Carson who often had James Randi on “The Tonight Show,” and I learned about debunking from them. They debunked Peter Popoff and Uri Gellar, among others – that really opened my eyes — it was amazing. Growing up, I really enjoyed books by Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, who were some of the most popular science-fiction writers of the ’60s and ’70s. Their stories included allegories about religion penetrating commentaries on society and views of what the future could become.
What are some of the defining moments that led you to the point where you are now, in a religious/spiritual sense?
I think the most defining moment was when I was about six or seven years old. My parents were not religious, and we didn’t go to church. Well, my mom was a closet Catholic, but my dad was an atheist. One Sunday, deciding that I should make my own religious choices, they sent me to Sunday School. They dropped me off, and I had no idea what it was all about but soon I was was bored. By the time I was six, I was reading children’s novels, and here in Sunday School, they were reading “baby books.” All the other children acted as if this was a wonderful place to be and I couldn’t understand that. Partway through the morning, someone passed around a bowl for money. The kids all dropped in quarters, but I didn’t have one — my family didn’t have much money, and I didn’t have a quarter to drop in the bowl as my parents probably didn’t know about the tithe. At that moment, in my little mind, I thought, “It’s just about the money.” I thought it was all just a way to get to the part where they asked for money. I felt ashamed and marginalized, like it was all a scam. I never went back, and that closed the door to organized religion. By the time I was a teenager, I knew there was no one “up there.” Other than that I haven’t had any single defining moments; it was a long, gradual process of thinking like a scientist and questioning beliefs that finally led me to atheism.