Greetings to all on the Atheist Nexus website.  I would like to introduce myself & get to know the people who are using this site & discussion board.  My name is Maia.  I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, and I currently reside in southern California.  I'm a professional singer & composer ( Up until recently I was a professional Pirate at Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, CA for about 5 years.  But I'm pregnant with my 2nd baby, currently, and am thinking I'll have my hands full.  Might be too busy to go back to pirating full time. 

I also write a blog that I don't really advertise to friends and family.  It's called Releasing Religion (  I was inspired to write this blog for a number of reasons.

A.  My father bought me Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion" and I found inspiration.

B. My mother is a Catholic, my father is an atheist, so I really felt like I got the best of both worlds.

C.  My friends were writing their own Christian blogs, which I found quite tiresome.  I had so much that I wanted to say, but I didn't feel comfortable pushing it into other people's faces.

After living all over the US, I found so many people just uneducated about their own religions and-worse-unable to fathom that I might not be part of one.  I noticed this the most prominantly in Branson, Missouri, where I lived for 2 years.  This is a place where everyone knows your name, who you live with, where you work, and what church you go to.  It's just how things are done there. 

So I decided to stop hiding and start writing.  I don't get much traffic to my blog currently as I (like I said) don't really advertise it right now to friends and family.  But I do feel more comfortable putting it out there in a space like Atheist Nexus.  I want to encourage dialogue and knowledge from people of all backgrounds.  Healthy, intelligent debate is fine so long as it's respectful. 

I can, at times be a troublemaker.  I like to post news articles on my facebook, some of which have strong political/religious ties.  And just yesterday I went to (a pro-life website I found through cnn) and poked & prodded a bit on the discussion boards.  This is how I entertain myself some days while I wait for baby #2 to be born.  Call me a little crazy....

Currently I'm reading Darwin's "Origin of the Species".  Next on my list is "The Case for Christ"... not that I think there is any, but just because you're an atheist doesn't mean you should discount other arguments.  Always question everything.  This is what my father taught me.  That includes atheism.

Next Wednesday, I'm going to hear Richard Dawkins speak at Cal Tech University.  I am SO excited, and believe me, I'll be bringing a notebook and pen.  Anyone else attending this event?

Ok, so that's a bit about me.  How about you?

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Hi, Objection. That's a good question, and yes, I suppose I have heard them debate. Though it is not at all tense or heated like you might imagine. It is, I suppose, an odd arrangement. How often do you find two people of such different religious belief systems in one marriage? Though my parents do enjoy getting on the subject of religion & politics. They are very knowledgeable about them.

I'm going to say that I think they succeed as a couple in part due to their personalities. My mother, though a devout Catholic, is not a push-religion-in-your-face kind of person. She simply likes believing and it works for her. Nor does my father insist she is wrong. He did, however, encourage her to read Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". She picked it up several times, but I think only managed to get about 3/4 of the way through. I'm proud of her for trying, though!

I was raised Catholic, as was my brother. My father did not attend church with us, and I didn't think much of it until I got a little older. Then a terrible fear struck me. If you had to believe in Jesus Christ to get to Heaven, did that mean my father was going to Hell? This, ultimately, was the beginning of my questioning and the snow-ball effect that eventually lead to my path to atheism. I simply couldn't believe in a religion that dictated a good and decent man like my father would end up burning in a fiery Hell for all eternity. And yet I saw religious people doing terrible things and believing they would go to Heaven because they were followers of Jesus Christ.

My father did not push atheism on me. We would go running together, long distances. And that's when my questions would start. He let me come to my own conclusions. And he would give me books to read. So my mother knows now that I am not a Catholic. I'm sure she suspects I probably don't follow any organized religion. Not sure if she knows I'm an atheist. I think it would disappoint her, but like I said, she isn't the kind of mother who would push that sort of thing on me. She's super accepting. A rather uncharacteristic trait for a Catholic, I'm told.

So in summation, Objection (wow, you got a sermon, didn't you?) my parents are probably one of the few human beings on the planet who make their own separate belief systems work, and even though they can get into debates, they care about each other too much to turn it into something tense or say something they'd regret in the long run. I hope that answers your question!

Don't be fooled by the choke-hold! They actually DO get along!
Thanks for the reply! It certainly quenched my curiosity, so I had a good read. My mom is also religious (she practices ancestor worship - we're vietnamese), but is also accepting. I still don't know my dad's religious views, though. He doesn't seem to be the type to care much about these issues. However, he makes poems in his free-time, so I guess he really does think deeply about these things and I just haven't prodded him enough.
Anyways, it's always nice to know how other atheists are going. Welcome to AN!
Thank you. It's a good example of how it's possible to work together and even have intellectual debate without turning it into a war.

Ancestor Worship. I'm not familiar with that. What it is exactly?

Have you thought about asking your dad his religious views?
Well, in addition to worshipping god(s), most religious Vietnamese (in Vietnam, as far as I know) also believe their ancestors look over them and can affect their lives. To plea for good fortune, we have in our home a shrine with pictures of my dead grandmother, grandfather, and other dead relatives. We also have a golden-colored buddha and a picture of a goddess on a lily flower (sometimes this goddess, Guanyin, rides a dragon).

She burns incense nightly, which annoys me because the fumes may go into my room, so I need to remember to shut the door every evening. We also have monthly holidays based on the chinese calendar, in which we pray for good luck some more. She tells me she prays for the good health of herself and her friends and family.

It seems the vietnamese I know are very open-ended with their religiosity. My mother also attends a temple every Sunday. The temple is based on the religion called Cao-Dai. According to the elders in the temple, Cao-Dai seems very much like a unitarian religion. A few of the members there, including my cousins, are also christian. So they follow the teachings of christianity, cao-dai, buddhism, and ancestor worship. It's just to be safe, I guess. lol

As for my dad, I currently predict that if I ask him, he'll say "I don't know". My parents don't vote and their lack of English give them little influence, so I generally am not interested in their worldviews. Much of what they taught me were values that immediately affected our family, like respect, kindness, and the desire to succeed, not things like gay marriage, politics, or the destiny of our "souls".
Ancestor worship sounds just like the Disney film, "Mulan". Lol.

That is so interesting to me. With so many religions out there in the world, it's always an education to find a new one. Why do you think you steered away from it?
I was resistant to religion when I was young because I held science to more esteem than religion. Wildlife shows gave me more inspiration than fiction. I also found that ideas that came from smart people who dedicated their lives to a specific field of research were more believable than ideas that came from what looked like a fairy tale. Man-apes existed because their fossils were found. Unicorns, talking snakes, and talking donkeys existed because... they were simply mentioned in a book? Biology books went in great detail about prehistoric animals' anatomies, their classifications, and the stretches of time when their species existed. The bible went to no such lengths, and so they were just characters to move the fable's plot along.

Also, I think the sheer number of religions helps to portray their shaky credentials. When I was growing up, I noticed that my family did not worship in that same way other Americans did. I had a crude view of religion when I was little. The idea that the Chinese practiced buddhism, that Indians practiced hinduism, and that Westerners practiced christianity, was enough to tell me a lot of people in the world must be wrong in their worldviews. My parents did not emphasize religion, so there was no "team" that I was clinging to.
I had also decided that morality arose from common sense and trial-and-error. I've never heard a divine voice in my head, but I felt sympathy when I saw others in pain, and I learned from that. These things helped me to take religious claims with a grain of salt.

The seed of my skepticism started when I was into dinosaurs at around the 2nd grade, the reason being that they were cool :) I went into libraries and looked at dinosaur books, which looked so authoritative. There used to be many, many dinosaurs, I learned. The pages had pictures of fossils which proved they exist, and diagrams of evolutionary trees as well, so my young brain soaked that up. The books also told me that dinosaurs died 65 million years ago, and that afterwards, a long stretch of time passed before primates evolved from rat-like creatures. So when I picked up a book that had dinosaurs and ancient men dressed in robes existing at the same time, I thought it was absurd. It was more of a picture book and contained very little facts that I was curious for. It talked about morality and god, which seemed out of place. I went back to the thick, authoritative books and avoided those that looked like a waste of my time.
To anyone who is interested, I have posted my account of tonight's lecture by Richard Dawkins at Cal Tech University. I've aptly titled it, "My Date with Dawkins." For anyone who is wondering, Dawkins hated that episode of Southpark, but he enjoys going for a swim. :)
Awesome to meet you, Roland.  And yes, I can't imagine why people would be reticent to talk after joining a site like Atheist Nexus.  It's important to keep dialogue open & to EDUCATE ourselves, for how can we debate, learn, and even criticize if we haven't kept ourselves informed?


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