It’s been a while since I last did a Friday Five entry as I’ve not seen anything I felt particularly compelled to answer, but today’s set of questions seemed appropriate considering my tendency to talk about this topic on my site a lot anyway. So, here goes:
1. Were you raised in a particular religious faith? Not as such. My father died when I was five so I have no clue what his belief system was. My mother has always stated a belief in a God and that things happen for a reason, but wasn’t religious in terms of attending church or being a member of a particular denomination though it does seem that her beliefs are certainly based on the Judea-Christian tradition. As a child I did attend a Baptist church for many years after being invited along by the neighbor kids up the street. So I was, at one time, officially Baptist, but I wasn’t raised that way so much as drafted into it by childhood friends.
2. Do you still practice that faith? Why or why not? No, I dropped out of the church in my teens as my critical thinking skills started to develop and I grew more disillusioned with the answers my pastor was giving me. At one point it was suggested that being a Baptist may not be my calling in life by folks at the church and I took that as an invitation to move on. This started a slow exploration of the other Christian denominations at first and then of other belief systems over several years of my life. Eventually I found myself standing, metaphorically speaking, in a spot where all the different religions starting looking more or less the same and I realized that I had never had anything I could attribute as a “religious” experience even at the height of my belief as a child. It was then I knew I was an atheist and it bothered me at first because of the negative connotation the word carries among so many people. It took some time to come to grips with this new outlook on spirituality, but I’ve yet to come across anything that would convince me it’s an incorrect viewpoint.
3. What do you think happens after death? The natural processes of decomposition are well understood and documented, but I’m assuming the question is in relation to what happens to my consciousness or “soul”. I don’t think anything happens. I think I just cease to be. I don’t have a problem with that.
4. What is your favorite religious ritual (participating in or just observing)? I have a lot of favorites, particularly from the different Pagan and Wican belief systems (they tend to have the most fun). I suppose Christmas/Yuletide counts as a ritual and it is certainly my favorite though I’m more Yuletide than Christmas in my attitude to it as the holiday was basically stolen from the Pagans and, as I’ve already said, they seem to have the most fun with this sort of thing.
5. Do you believe people are basically good? I believe people are basically selfish. Which can be easy to misconstrue as the word “selfish” is generally considered to be a negative concept. There are times that being selfish is not a bad thing, but it can often lead to people doing bad things if they don’t keep it in check. All our acts, reasoned and unreasoned, are selfish.—Mark Twain