Foreword: What I Don’t Believe
I went back and forth a bit on whether or not to write anything here. All of the career advice I’ve seen about your online presence says, “keep your personal stuff locked down.” On the contrary, though, I would rather not hide who I am completely. I believe strongly in the ideals of truth and integrity. As such, here is maybe the most controversial reality of who I am: I am an atheist.
I was raised in a Lutheran community as an adolescent and teen, but I discovered on my own that I did not believe in the supernatural. Despite all the good that people of faith do… all of the hot meals, rallying around causes, hugs and high fives that are dished out at churches… there’s still a fundamental problem with belief in the supernatural. I respect people for going out and doing good things, but I can’t get behind things like prayer or worship.
This can cause some problems when people discuss their private lives, especially in Nebraska, where over half of the adults in the state identify as religious, and a majority of those identify as Christian specifically. I’ve spoken with many other atheists about their own experiences in public life, and the consensus seems to be “I try to avoid talking about it.” I’m ignoring that advice, though, and I’m talking about it
Please take this all with a grain of salt – I work and live with people of all walks of life. I love diverse viewpoints, and that also includes traditional Midwestern Protestant ones.
What I Do Believe
I believe that consciousness is an emergent property of matter arranged in certain ways. That there are degrees of consciousness, and degrees of “alive” in the same way that no one temperature is hot, warm, or cold. That life is not binary – it is not an either/or, and that self/not-self as a concept is a false dichotomy. I don’t believe in an afterlife, because I have a hard time believing that there are closed boundaries to what life is, exactly. It’s just an infinitely complex pattern. Anything less feels insulting to the grand nature of the universe.
I believe that progress is inevitable and trying to “go back” to a golden age of society is futile. That the best we can hope for is to achieve some sort of influence over the forces of inter-related change we are caught up in. My hope, as a human, is that we will manage to augment ourselves as organisms with our machines rather than being overtaken by them. I guess you could call this a form of transhumanism.
I believe that there is a fundamental dignity to conscious beings, and that we owe it to each other to treat each other as well as we can. That each generation is called upon to do better to each other than the past.