Interviewer - Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Me - My name is Ray, I live in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego, California. Professionally, I work for Cutek (pronounced q-tek) and my job is to provide consulting and custom programming services for credit unions that run on the Symitar Episys platform. (It's a bit of a niche market -- I used to work for Symitar in their product development department, so I know their Episys software inside and out.) Personally, I'm married to Kara and we have two black lab mixes named Buster and Gracie.
Also, I was born and spent the first seven or eight years of my life in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. My family moved to San Diego in 1974 and I lived in El Cajon, California from late-1974, early-1975 until I graduated from El Cajon Valley High School in 1985. I then spent a semester and a half in Los Angeles attending the University of Southern California until I ran out of money, had to drop out, and moved back to El Cajon in 1986. Around 1989, I moved to the city of San Diego and I bounced around neighborhoods of San Diego until I met Kara and moved in with her in 1999. Oh, and I was married to someone else in the mid-90s, but I won't talk about that here.
Me - There are tons of pictures of me in my Flickr photo stream. I'm the one with the ever-changing facial hair. If you want to know what I used to look like, I have some older pictures on my old web site.
Note: For the next few questions, I play the Interviewer role as an adversary and ask the same types of questions that I often hear from god-believers.
Interviewer - I've heard that you call yourself an atheist. What is an atheist, anyway?
Me - My answer is still the same as it was several years ago. I like to break the word into it's 2 root parts, "a"meaning without, and "the(os)" meaning religion. Thus, an atheist is someone who is without religion, or more commonly, someone who is without a god. Some atheists may have a slightly differentdefinition, but this is mine. Also, I'm not an agnostic - to me, agnostics are people who can't make up their minds.
Interviewer - Why are you an atheist?
Me - Just like everybody else in the world, I was born an atheist. My parents tried to raise me as a Catholic (I went through all the major milestones: I was baptized, received communion and, finally, confirmation), but I always spent more time admiring the stained glass windows, architecture, and decorations of the church than listening to the mass. When we stopped going to Catholic church (except for major holidays), my mom tried to infuse me with religion by sending me to various other-than-Catholic-denomination Sunday schools and bible camps (actually, I think she just wanted us out of the house), but I never really paid any attention to the indoctrination attempts. Finally, one day when I was thirteen, I was walking home from school talking to "god" in my head when the realization popped into my head that I was really just talking to myself. I've been an atheist since that day and I've never looked back. It did take a few years, though, before I "came out" as an atheist to my family.Interviewer - Why don't you believe in God?
Me - First, before I explain this, let me clarify something. I always spell god in lowercase (unless I am playing the questioner or if sentence rules dictate it.) This is because I consider god to be a pronoun, not a proper name. I do not believe in any god because, I believe that gods are myths, I don't need gods to make my life "complete", and the whole concept of god makes no sense to me. I am a logicial, sensible person - I realize that there are things that are not easily explained by science (yet), but it takes an unreasonable leap of faith to assume that a god is behind it. Gods do not fit into my equations.
Interviewer - Aren't you worried about getting into heaven?
Me - I don't believe in Heaven or Hell, or Satan, or angels, or any other religious trappings (although, I do rather enjoy demon and devil artwork).
Interviewer - Then, what do you think happens when you die?
Me - Nothing. When I die, I'll be dead. There is no afterlife, my "soul" will not leave my body, and I will cease to exist. (poof)
Interviewer - How can you go on living?
Me - Easy, I want to. I have no desire to die because I know that once I die, it's over baby. I like my existence and I want to live forever. I realize that this is highly unlikely, but,hey, I'm gonna try my hardest to live as long as I can and enjoy as much of it as I can.
Interviewer - What does your family think?
Me - My mom and Chuck (her husband) are religious and they worry about me. My sister and her family are deeply involved in their church and I believe they worry about me as well. They probably do a lot of praying for me. My dad's not so religious and I don't think he worries about it much, of if he does, he doesn't let on in any way.
It's nice to know that my family cares about me, but I don't really care whether they pray for me or not. I mean, if it gives them comfort to do this, more power to them. I just think of it as a waste of time.
Interviewer - Is the fact that you are an atheist the most important thing to you?
Me - Absolutely Not! The fact that I am an atheist may influence my views on many issues, but it is not all that I am. I am a complex, thoughtful, caring person - who happens to be an atheist. While this is important to me, I am much more than just an atheist. My life does not revolve around me being an atheist, my job has nothing to do with me being an atheist, and the little pleasures that I enjoy have very little to do with being an atheist. Everything about me has everything to do with me being me.
Interviewer - What else can you tell me about yourself?
Me - That's what my blog is for and if you read my posts, you'll probably get a good feel for who I am. If I had to apply labels to myself, they would include (in alphabetical order): amateur photographer, atheist, independent thinker, intelligent, liberal, likes dogs, loves his wife, married, politically aware, progressive, stirrer-upper and locally involved person.