Hey David, thanks for being this month’s victim! So, on with the questions… How did you find out about online freethought communities, and what’s your favourite thing about them?
Shortly after I got a new computer with a modem, more years ago now than I care to remember, I web searched for atheism, and stumbled upon a discussion board called ‘The Godless Zone’ (Don’t be shy)’ and dived in. Sadly, the hosting company went belly up, and a succession of moves led to it losing a lot of membership.
Following that I came across IIDB, where I stayed until events there led me to leave. Then I looked around for somewhere I could really feel at home for some time, was led to Talk Rational.
There are a couple of things that I particularly like about message boards, one being the opportunity to learn from people better informed than myself, the other being able to interact with people of similar interests. They are somewhat lacking in small town life. While on-line communities, and also my reading of boards dedicated to ex-mormons, ex-JWs etc have not changed my atheism, they have made me a better informed atheist, and also a rather more militant one, having seen so much evidence of the harm religions can do.
What board or fora are we most likely to find you in and what will you be talking about?
I talk about a wide variety of things, but if I have a particular bee in my bonnet it is superstition, in which I include religion, quack medicine, clairvoyance, mystical apprehension of the universe through meditation etc. This particularly because many years ago I was convinced that Transcendental Meditation was the answer to life’s problems. A long story, but wrong!
I find the science (including evolution of course) fascinating, but I learn more than I contribute to these fora.
If you had to spend your life marooned on a tropical island with three people that you’ve met online from this community, who would they be, and why?
I’ll be strikingly unoriginal, and pick Christina – we have a lot of culture in common, back from the 60s. Dylan and Dead for instance.
Nialler, to have someone to endlessly contemplate World cricket teams to play Mars, an all time England team to lose to an all time Australian team, and other variations on that theme.
There’s so much choice, but for the third I think I’ll go for someone I don’t know as well as the other two. Rathpig. On a desert island his farming skills would come in useful, he’s a sharp guy with a broad general knowledge, and an admirable grasp of invective.
Which freethought or humanist thinkers have most inspired you?
Dennett, for one. In my youth I fell for the trap of failing to see how atheism did not lead inexorably to nihilism. Which was one of the reasons for my exploration of meditation. Reading ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’ led me to see a reality in concepts like morals, beauty, truth by viewing them as emergent processes rather than things.
Robert Carroll of http://skepdic.com/ fame. A guy who really does his homework, and reading his site has led me to understand better a lot of the traps that I fell into when I was a meditation proselytiser.
And again Hofstadter, whose somewhat speculative writings on the nature of mind I find difficult but very rewarding. Reading, and sometimes re-reading him, leads me to feel that I fail to quite grasp life, the universe and everything in a more sophisticated, better informed, way.
What’s your least favourite religious verse, and why?
There’s so many! But Matthew 10.37 ‘He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’ is in my opinion a good example of classic cultism.
If you could get rid of one stupid anti-freethought argument, what would it be? Why do you hate this one above all the rest?
‘You can’t prove that there isn’t a god’ used as a justification to believe that there is one. So many people seems to find that Russell’s Teapot, or for that matter the IPU are not demolitions of that argument, and I find that frustrating.
Invisible Pink Unicorn or Flying Spaghetti Monster?
FSM, obviously! Beer fountains!
So what is it you do with your life when you’re not hanging around here, anyway?
I read pop science books, and watch a load of science documentaries on tv. I live in a beautiful area, and enjoy walking and being out in the wonders of nature, and I also enjoy the atavistic pleasure of foraging for wild food.
What’s your favourite book, and why?
Again so many! On the pop science front, then ‘GEB’ by Hofstadter springs to mind, but outside that genre I will soon reread (yet again) ‘Bevis, the story of a boy’ which is an idealised account of the boyhood of a minor victorian writer called Richard Jefferies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jefferies
What’s the most embarrassing song you sing and dance to when you’re absolutely sure no-one else is around?
Oh Gawd! ‘Dare’ by Gorillaz I suppose, though I am generally too embarrassed to dance even alone.
What’s the one thing you want to do with your life before shuffling off this mortal coil?
There is a phenomenon that occurs under certain storm and tide conditions in my local harbour called ‘the run’, in which there is a resonance to the waves leading to the harbour filling and emptying in a matter of minutes. To the extent that I have seen the motion of the water pull a boat under by its aft mooring ropes. I have a couple of examples down on dvd already, but nothing big. I want to capture one bigger than I have yet seen on dvd.
Coming across a grove where there is a glut of prime quality chanterelles would be good, too.
What’s your poison? How much of it is needed to drive you under the table?
Red wine, these days. Much more than a bottle is enough to give me a hangover.
Lucky #13: Who do you nominate to be interviewed for next month’s issue?
Filed under: Community Profiles |