Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jason Hughes

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank Wee_Beastie for his interview last week. I very much enjoyed reading it and I thank you Wee_Beastie for sharing!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Jason Hughes.
Jason is an Atheist and I know you will enjoy his interview as well!

Here Is Jason Hughes's Introduction:

Jason Hughes aspires to many things, the least of which includes proving that one can be an atheist and still be a decent human being. He fancies himself a writer, but also fancies that his buns are made of steel. In either case, they are a work in progress, much like himself. He tries to hone his skill and weaponry at Life & Otherwise (, which really is just something to do until the asteroid hits.

1) What religion do you practice?
I do not practice any religion, although some would argue that atheism itself has taken on some religious connotations (i.e., extremists and blind devotion to science), which, any time mankind is involved in anything, you will end up with a fringe element of some type. Atheism in and of itself does not adhere to any one type of doctrine, does not engage in any sort of fellowship, or seek to commune with a "higher plane" in any way, shape or form, so I would argue that pure atheism, in and of itself, does not count in any way as a "religion" in the truest sense of the word.

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 Protestant, as were my four siblings, being as both of our parents were raised in strict religious households of the protestant and baptist persuasions. I "converted" to atheism about 13 years ago, although truth be told it was a years' long process of de-conversion, not without its painful moments. When you are truly questioning everything you had been taught growing up, and realizing the baselessness of many of those things that science easily disproves (i.e., the earth is only 10,000 years old), you go through a real personal struggle that many do not understand until they themselves are confronted with a perceived falsehood in their worldview. My older brother has since become a Quaker, two of my younger siblings have become agnostic-ish, and my youngest sister still adheres to the faith in which we were raised, which makes for very interesting Christmas celebrations!

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 are many in the atheist/agnostic camp that do hold up science as a "god," or even non-belief in a god as the end-all, be-all of their personal belief. I think it is safe to say that while I do believe science will eventually be able to provide some answers (like a cure for cancer as opposed to relying on prayer and the like), the purpose of science is to ask questions, and then prove them right or wrong based on empirical data, *not* faith. One must realize that science is based on human observation, and therefore needs constant retesting to continue to prove theories and hypothesis's. Thus, science is fallible to a degree in that, while the data is accurate from the result of the experiment, the people interpreting those results may read into it something that isn't there (which is why many believe "creationism" or "intelligent design" has scientific evidence when in fact it does not).

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I like to think I'm a moderate when it comes to a lot of things in life, but I've always found that one man's middle-of-the-road is another man's extreme. Perhaps it's the influence of the strict version of Christianity I was raised in bleeding over, but man IS fallible (i.e., makes mistakes) and thus one cannot take all things that come from the scientific community as a sort of gospel. So even there I like to be conservative at times whenever a new discovery or finding is made public, and I like to research it further to see if it has been peer-reviewed, or verified by another source. But those types of "Eureka!" discoveries are sometimes so awesome and enlightening that one cannot help but celebrate in the genius of the scientific community!

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)
I think this is one of those "sticking points" for a lot of people. We'd like to think that this life is just a "prequel" or a "prologue" to a better life afterward. That something better is waiting. Life is hard, and we have to work hard to exist and to thrive, if we are even afforded a chance to thrive. If there's one thing I've learned, there is no discernible or verifiable proof of an afterlife, whether for good or ill, and that, perhaps rightly so, makes people uncomfortable. We can't help but imagine our minds living on after our weak bodies fail us, for our minds think great things, wonder awesome wonders, imagine fantastical, luxurious things--part of which allows us to explore and observe and perform experiments to try to answer the questions we come up with. It's a very sobering thought to think that it will all end, and usually sooner than we would like. One of the things that was very clinching for myself was that I cannot remember a time BEFORE I had conscious thought, BEFORE I was born. So why would I have consciousness after I die? It doesn't make sense and isn't terribly logical to think something would be waiting for my mind after the body, which sustains my mind, fails. However, people like "fairness," and it just doesn't seem fair that we would struggle like we do daily only to end up having all of it mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Sadly for most, however, I can't help but think that this is it, this life, this one chance, is all there is, which even further illustrates to me personally that I must live it to the fullest.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
One man's heaven is another man's version of hell. (Just one more reason why an afterlife is illogical.) As stated above, this is it, this one life. I'd rather make my mistakes, relish in my victories, and enjoy my cup of coffee in the present then worry about what's going to happen when the asteroid does hit. Other people seem to like having a goal and dream of an easy life where there is no struggle, no unhappiness, and no pain. It must be noted, however, that that isn't life. A study of life, if anything, will prove that without pain and struggle, there is no life. May as well call it afterdeath. :)

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
This is probably one of the most disturbing things about religion in general, although I have to confess I'm not sure if this is strictly an "American" thing, or if it can be found the world over. If any one religion were THE religion, this one-size-fits-all mentality that many on the fringes of all religions would be justified. Sadly, however, the truth is that many DO shop for a religion that fits nicely with their preconceived notions of what SHOULD be. I'm not sure how many people actually challenge themselves on their beliefs and why they believe whatever it is that their choice of religion teaches. I'm sure many just say they are Catholic because that's how they were raised, but would be horrified to know what the Catholic church teaches as scripture and doctrine. I'm sure that tradition plays a huge part, but another factor is convenience--in America, you have freedom of religion, and thus the plethora of choices ensures that you can find something comfortable. I don't want to be comfortable. I want to KNOW why this person says this, or why that person believes that. Not just what they believe, but WHY. Until anyone knows the Why's of their beliefs, it's not truly a belief, at least in my book.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
There really aren't any holy days in atheism, although the winter solstice has become for many THE "holiday" of choice. Part of this has to do, I think, with not only an excuse to get together with friends and family (i.e., the needing of a "reason"), but also because so many in the religious community have declared Christmas as THEIR religion, and god forbid any others should come up with a different reason to celebrate. History shows that originally the winter solstice WAS pagan in nature until usurped by religion to try to drag people kicking and screaming from the irreligious ways they practiced the days going from shorter to longer.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Most of them, in fact, are of "other faiths." I have many faiths not only in my immediate family, but most of my friends, be they Buddhist, Catholic, protestant, Lutheran, or other. I have no issues with other beliefs, as long as they not only KNOW why they believe what they believe, and don't try to make me change. We have wonderful discussions and are constantly challenging one another in ways that are nonthreatening and respectful, although the same cannot be said for the political environment in general of the United States as a whole.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I have and always will continue to do so. Even if I don't share the beliefs of my friends and family, I still see it as a time to get together, to share what's going on in our lives, to laugh and converse, catch up with one another. I stay silent and still during prayers or hymns or whatever else is served up in the religious sense, as I respect people enough, and love my friends and family enough, to put up with what at times seems like quirks for the people I dearly love. And that is what it really comes down to--loving people enough to overlook those things which would otherwise drive us insane :) While I may not share their various faiths, I love and respect them regardless. When it comes to complete strangers knocking on my door Saturday morning, however, I politely turn them away--if they allow me to do so politely.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
On one hand it is a cultural institution toward which I think a certain level of sensitivity is required. On the other hand, however, I cannot help but view the burka as one more tool man has used to prevent women from having an equal place in society. (Which, of course, it is.) While I can respect that people believe certain things are sacred, taboo, or otherwise a part of faith that must be observed else their particular god(s) will punish them, when it comes to laws which demand that everyone hold those same taboos and doctrines? Absolutely not. If each individual woman, after a discussion among equals with her husband, believes she should where the burka? Fine. It's your life to do with as you please. But to make it a law for everyone. That's a no-go. No $200. People should have enough respect to let others decide what is best for their own lives, as long as it infringes upon no one else's life. Rights for all, as long as no one else has their rights violated. Anything less is disrespectful and ignorant, not to mention enormously arrogant.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
This is basically a moot point when it comes to atheism, I think you would agree. :) I believe all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or any other "qualifying" factor should be judged on capability alone for any position which they would like to hold.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
No. And thank goodness. :)

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?
While many may think atheism would stand for equal rights for all, one would find many varying opinions within the atheist community on such "hot button" issues, and I mostly find that allows for a more honest discussion. People need not fear their god(s) or the religious leaders when voicing an opinion on such topics, and also allows people to voice REAL concerns about how their daily lives can/would be affected if such things were/weren't allowed by law. As stated above, however, I do feel that what others do in their lives is their own concern and should not have anyone else involved in such personal decisions unless personally affected, or if it in fact harms or infringes upon another human beings rights. That being said, I believe a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she will carry a fetus to term, and men and women should have the option to marry someone of the same gender in love, or even in convenience, as many opposite-sex couples have done for generations. Neither issue has any impact on someone not directly related to the persons making those decisions. (I.e., the Family Research Council [or any other similar type group] is in no way affected, nor are the individuals in such a group, in any way infringed upon, whether or not a woman has an abortion, or whether Bob marries Joe.) But when it comes to public policy, such right-wing (and some left-wing) groups would like to influence policy to have everyone adhere to their doctrines, even though most feel no such compunction in their own personal morals. This is akin to trying to make Sharia law the law of the land, and should not be tolerated from any one of any faith or non-faith.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
If I ever do end up having the privilege of becoming a father, I would hope that my child would have been raised with enough of a bullshit meter to not have a religion in the first place. That being said, if my child were to end up having a faith, or were to marry someone who had a faith, it would be of no concern to me except that they were happy and in love and thought that the decision they were making would have a positive impact on both their lives. I myself am partnered to a Christian and our relationship is in no way ill affected by his belief or by my non belief. It's a moot point to us, however, I have seen families torn apart by such faith differences, especially when it came time to start indoctrinating said child. It is a matter for the couple and the couple alone to decide, if and when that time comes, if they are respectful enough of one another, and how to handle such a situation.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
As there is no such thing as heaven or hell, no. :)

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?
There are very few atheists and agnostics in the public square politically speaking, much to my dismay. Religion itself is treated with such preferential treatment in this country (whether right-wing religious elements like to admit it or not) that for any politician to speak of his or her own atheism is akin to political suicide, unfortunately. To compound the absurdity of our secular nation having such an intolerable attitude to nonbelief, the United States constitution itself states that no religious test is required to hold public office. The public, sadly, has a bit of a ways to go before atheism can become a mainstream lifestyle in this country.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Yes, but not because of my faith or non faith, but because of my sexual orientation. And not because of religious reasons either, believe it or not. :)

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
An interesting question to ponder, I suppose, seeing as how "peace of mind" can be such a broad implication. I have made peace with the fact that there's no evidence for a god(s), an afterlife, or even of some sense of divine justice, which is of great consolation to many believers in this world. The fact that, even if they don't get justice in this life, they'll get there's before god(s) or what-have-you. De-conversion from faith is a hard and trying process, which is part of the reason I believe so many cling to their respective faiths at all. When you have to search the width and breadth of your being, challenge yourself on everything you've been taught, and challenge those in authority in their respective capacity as a religious leader... Well, it takes you on some dark paths in your mind. But ultimately I am more at peace for many reasons: I no longer need to fear eternity; I no longer need to feel like my measurable mistakes are going to have immeasurable, eternal consequences; I no longer need to fear that I'm committing some grievous sin simply by enjoying life having a drink or going out to dance. I can enjoy life, respect my fellow humans, and make the most of what I have without having to hope that faith is enough to buy me more time. I no longer need fear anyone but myself.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
In one word? Hogwash. :) Especially given the data on the ease in which false memories can be planted in any persons mind. And, of course, you never hear anyone claim to be the reincarnation of a baby who died after having been alive for only two minutes in the 1700s, or the reincarnation of the whore who died of scurvy on that pirate ship. They've all been princes, or kings and queens, or knights! Why have we yet to meet the reincarnated Hitler? Not that I'd want him back--even he justified his atrocities according to his Catholic faith! But be that as it may--hogwash.


  1. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your blog, and allowing me the opportunity to express who I am. You continue to credit the blogging community with a blog of such diverse faiths and non-faiths!

  2. Jesus is Lord. He saved you. He loves you. He died for you on the Cross. follow Jesus. He is the only true God.

  3. Followers of Zeus and Thor feel your pain, Anon...