I wish to thank The Agnostic Wife for her wonderful interview! I very much enjoyed reading your answers and I thank you for sharing with us!
Here Is The Wise Fool's Introduction:
Hello there! I'm a blogger under the alias of The Wise Fool. When I'm not playing the role of a religious scholar online, I enjoy playing out other roles, such as husband, son, brother, uncle, mechanical engineer, programmer, bicyclist, hiker, baker, and wanna-be artist.
1) What religion do you practice?
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised as a Christian in the Methodist denomination. My conversion to atheism was a gradual one, begun through observation, and completed through study.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
There aren't official degrees of atheists, but they do cover a pretty wide spectrum. Some, like me, "de-converted" after study. Some were just deeply disappointed or hurt by their original faith. Some never bothered to care about religion one way or another. I could go on, but the basic idea here is that there is no one reason why people choose walk away from faith, and some people never even begin a faithful walk. Because of that diversity, atheists express their "observances" in different ways; ranging from hostile to faith, indifferent about it, or even amiable to it.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I fall on the amiable side of faith, despite not having any of my own. I think that faiths can serve a purpose. On the flip-side, though, I also can recognize some potentially harmful elements of it. That's what drives me to blog from a skeptic perspective, but I'm not out to rid the world of religion. I'd be happy if I could reveal just enough inconsistency to create a healthy amount of doubt, so that people don't act dogmatic and intolerant.
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Well, I am an organ donor. So I hope that after I die, someone can make good use of my spare parts for the rest of their lives! :-)
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Biblically speaking, the answer is no, and that is based primarily off of God's decisions. Ref: Romans 9 among others.
But if there was a heaven, it may not be a "paradise" for all. Just like the verse from Paradise Lost says, the mind is a separate place, and it can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
Atheism just seems to fit with the world. It's simple. There is no "problem of evil". There's no intelligence behind why a natural disaster strikes here or there. There's no reason behind why someone gets cancer when another person doesn't, beyond genetic and environmental factors. It demands us to stand up for the causes for the betterment of mankind that we believe in, because no deity is going to help us make it happen.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I still celebrate Christmas because I love gathering with family and friends. I even love singing the old Christmas songs. It's just more of a tradition than a religious observance for me.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Definitely. I don't hold anyone's faith, itself, against them. That goes for my family too, many of whom are deeply religious. We get along fine.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Sure! Despite not claiming a faith of my own, I am deeply fascinated and interested by faiths. Besides, I don't have to worry about blaspheme. ;-)
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
First, the easy one: Shariah Law, and I assume that you mean modern implementation of it. I would not want it to be used at the governmental level, just like I would have problems with the Torah being implemented at that level. There are regions and communities where those who desire to live under Shariah Law can do so. However, I do not believe that it those who do not want to live under Shariah Law should be forced to do so in the name of religious freedom. I would hope that such a stance would be acceptable to pro-Shariah Muslims, as, in their view, we will all ultimately answer to Allah someday anyway. So why not just leave us to Allah to handle?
As for the burka, as a matter of security, as well as from the standpoint of building relationships, I am absolutely against the form of burka which covers the face. Other than that, if a woman chooses to wear the burka of her own volition, and not out of fear of repercussions for not wearing one, I feel that is her right. Any woman, or man for that matter, should be able to dress as modestly as they would like to dress. However, the problem is that when a large enough portion of the population wears a burka, it may be less of a choice in modesty and more of a coercion of doing what is "right"; with ostracism, or worse, to follow if you do "wrong" by not wearing one. So, there is no easy answer as to what to do with the burka which can both respect a woman's choice to wear one and, at the same time, guarantee that it is truly a choice.
On the other hand, what we can do is continue to push for the education and rights of women. Eventually, doing so will probably render the burka debate obsolete in time.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Atheism is an equal opportunity employer. ;-)
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Atheist is open to all and non-segregated. Except that we don't get together for worship. So, in a way, you could say that we are completely segregated from one another! :-)
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
Not any, really. I don't think "since there's no god, what do I want to do?" I just try to be the best person I can, while trying to be considerate of the situations of people around me. I'm still working on that. But as for the big issue decisions, I try to evaluate them from all sides and come up with a position of understanding.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
I'd generally be fine, except perhaps the more extreme ends of the spectrum, like with a cult, or hyper-conservative, or extremists, etc.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
No. If they're lucky, maybe their molecules will get recycled into a flower of some sort. :-)
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
Atheism has no real requirements other than not believing in a god, so it's a pretty diverse group, and it's hard to fault someone. However, I don't agree with the way some of them bash the faithful. Fortunately, most of the "prominent" atheists are well spoken in general.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
No, but I've been pretty quiet about my lack of faith offline. Yet I do plan on exposing my lack of belief publicly at the right time.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
I wouldn't say that atheism gives me peace of mind, but I do normally have it. :-)
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No, not in the traditional sense, because there isn't consistent proof for it. I have heard rather interesting stories along the lines of reincarnation. They make me wonder, in completely fantastic speculation, if we have yet to discover some different kind of reincarnation. Like if we breath in/consume/absorb enough molecules which were used by someone else if we will begin to be influenced by them. I doubt it's true, but it does sound like the premise of a great Sci-Fi story. :-)