“How I realized I was wrong about the afterlife”

This is a guest post by Matthew O’Neil, author of After Life: Solving Science and Religion’s Great Disagreement

When I awoke after my heart attack in 1998, I was told I was clinically dead for a short while. My mind, at 14-years-old, told me I should have seen a tunnel, bright lights, deceased family members, and feel a warmth unlike any other. However, I did not. Convinced I was going to remember it in a dream, through hypnosis, or some other means, I made myself okay with not experiencing what I saw in other people’s claims of near-death experiences. When I had dreams with my grandfather telling me he missed me, it confirmed for me that there was something in those dreams I had to discover or remember. Moreover, when I received, at my request, a copy of Victor Stenger’s God: The Failed Hypothesis as a Valentine’s gift, I realized there was a powerful disconnect between what I believed and the real world.

After leaving the Catholic faith about a decade ago, my views had predominantly been shifted, and focused on, the concept of there being a god and any supernaturalism related to the figure of Jesus of Nazareth. While the afterlife certainly is part of the mythicism of Christianity I rejected, the word “but” always seemed to follow it. As in “I do not believe in the afterlife, but perhaps that is a part of our understanding of the world that we have not been able to conceptualize scientifically.” My issue was not that I was asking the wrong questions, it was that I was not asking the question at all.

Even with the shift in my philosophical and scientific understanding of the natural world, I still was unable to see the universe surviving without me. I gave room for such thoughts to permit me still the comfort that, even though I do not believe in such things, there might still be a minute chance of my being conscious after I pass away. I wrote my graduate thesis, which even helped me discover how far removed modern society is from the concept in the Bible. This showed me a separation of God from his people, a Greco-Roman themed valley of death, and Satan being a powerful demon rather than the ruler of hell, and even a complete lack of hell altogether, and I stayed firm in my position of not believing, but still hoping.

When I proposed the concept of my fourth book, After Life, to Ockham Publishing, building off of my graduate thesis, I had no idea that another rude awakening was waiting for me. This came when I started to research the scientific realm and was recommended a name: Sean Carroll. Carroll explained such a complex topic in such an easy to understand way. How he was able to explain Quantum Field Theory, how it disproves the afterlife, and how he definitively stated at a Freedom from Religion Foundation conference “…we can say that there is no life after death” made me shudder and feel very empty the first time I heard it. He stated everyone has a brain, made of atoms, and we do know how those molecules work. We have a breadth of knowledge about how the atoms in our bodies work, and how there is no room in the equation that demonstrates this. So for anything to affect those atoms after our death, then there is no way for our consciousness to leave, let alone persevere, beyond our death.

As I continued with my book, I had the same intense, sad feeling I’d had when reading Stenger’s book about a decade before. It was uncomfortable; it was concerning; the idea that what I experienced when I was 14, that of nothingness, was truly what death felt like. An eternity of experiencing nothing. However, if it is nothing I will experience, then I will not be conscious of that time frame. Moreover, as science also dictates, what ends up making me me, namely carbon, will be released back into the universe and will become a part of life in may other areas. Plant life, sea life, and even soaked into the earth to become part of a volcanic eruption in several hundred million years. A pretty epic send off if I do say so myself.

Once I finished writing After Life, I ended up walking away noting that this experience was one I needed to keep in mind with all assumptions I had about thoughts and beliefs that gave me comfort. Was I only confirming what I already believed to be true, or did I have evidence to demonstrate the facts of the matter? It turns out I need to start asking those questions I’ve been too comfortable in my ignorance to ask. Like why I am continuing my education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical studies when it was two physicists that made life-altering belief shifts for me.

Matthew O’Neil is an activist, theologian, and teacher. He has an MA in theology from Saint Michael’s College, and he is a certified Humanist chaplain and celebrant. He is the author of You Say That I Am: Jesus and the Messianic Problem and writes for the Danthropology blog through the Patheos network. He lives in Saint Albans, Vermont.

After Life
After Life

How to Respond to Door-to-door Evangelists and Hotel Room Bibles

HOW TO RESPOND TO DOOR-TO-DOOR EVANGELISTS AND HOTEL ROOM BIBLES

Christian Evangelism is a common practice in the United States and throughout the world. Whether it comes in the form of missionaries who travel to underdeveloped nations to convert natives or door-to-door solicitors who hope to convince you of their “Truth” in your own home, it affects almost everyone. In many areas, you can’t even stay in a hotel without a Gideon-sponsored Bible in the nightstand. But how do you respond?

You could debate with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have in-depth discussions with the Mormons, and annotate hotel Bibles with plot holes and original criticisms, but now there’s something much easier and more effective. I’ve put together some of the best arguments and most damning biblical contradictions from my first book, Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, into a four-page flyer that serves as a response to common Christian arguments. At very least, you might encourage a few believers to think and research their faith… and researching is never a bad thing!

Download the free pamphlet here: Disproving Christianity Flyer

Sitting in my hotel thinking about making a sheet with contradictions from Disproving Christianity to slip into Bibles.
Sitting in my hotel thinking about making a sheet with contradictions from Disproving Christianity to slip into Bibles.

David G. McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of The Belief Book, a children’s book explaining the origins of beliefs and religion, and Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer. He is also an editor for Ockham Publishing and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

Atheists Should Stop Trying to Destroy Religion

Atheists Should Stop Trying to Destroy Religion

By David G. McAfee, author of The Belief Book

I’m an atheist who studies religion. You might think that seems contradictory, but to me it makes all the sense in the world. I’ve never been religious, but I have always enjoyed learning about how religions start and spread, how they interact with and influence one another over time, and the psychology behind the ideas themselves. I’m incredibly interested in beliefs and myths and understand that there are good and bad aspects of faith, so imagine my surprise when people assume I want to “destroy,” “obliterate,” or “abolish” religion altogether just because I’m not a believer.

I partly understand the assumption because I know a lot of non-believers who want to do exactly that. I’ve heard people, who often call themselves “anti-theists” and who others might call “Fundamentalist Atheists” or “New Atheists,” refer to religion as a “cancer” that they want to surgically remove from humanity. But calling religion a cancer implies that it is always bad in all circumstances – that it isn’t beneficial to anyone and is dangerous in all its forms. Can we really say that’s the case for religion?

Rape or religion?

I consider myself a fan of a number of works written by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and author often referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse,” but he said something I think was off in a 2006 interview with The Sun Magazine. He is quoted as saying, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” He went on to explain that “more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than any other ideology.”

While I agree with Harris that religious extremism is dangerous, I don’t think religion itself is inherently evil and I certainly wouldn’t say it’s worse than rape. Religion isn’t a crime or a violation – it’s a tool. It’s been used to justify violence and bigotry, yes, but (due to the contradictory nature of holy texts) it’s also used at times as a means to promote well-being and reinforce positive ethics.

To answer the rape or religion question simply, think about all of the instances in which you think rape is completely acceptable and then compare that to the number of times when religious people are harmless. Think of your friends or relatives who quietly practice a religion without affecting others because it makes them feel good or because it provides a sense of community. Rape always causes harm – there are times when religions do not.

Wiping out religion.

While Harris’ scenario was hypothetical, magical, and – he admitted – inflammatory, there are many people who actively seek to destroy faith-based belief systems entirely. Some anti-theists hope to outlaw faith by enacting some sort of (unenforceable) thoughtcrime legislation, others think ridicule alone will completely eradicate supernatural beliefs, and a small number of these anti-theists want to end religion so badly that they see violence as the answer.

Recently, I was approached by a self-described anti-theist who suggested that killing every single religious person – man, woman, and child – was a viable “cure for religion.” This would be almost negligible if it were just a one-off occurrence, or if the person was saying it for shock value, but I’ve heard this proposal a number of times and this particular individual stressed his military background and demanded a logical rebuttal to his position. I told him that killing all religious people to end religion isn’t just a disturbing thought, it also wouldn’t work.

The urge to believe.

As someone who studies comparative religion, the idea of obliterating faith-based practices through genocide is especially confusing. It is well established that religion itself is a cultural universal and that it likely has or had evolutionary benefits, so why wouldn’t new religions arise after the mass deaths? History and anthropology tell us that new systems would arise, and they would look a lot like the old ones with different names and stories.

You can’t remove religions by force, either by banning them or by killing those who believe, because the feelings and circumstances that caused us to create them have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years. The urge to believe still exists inside the minds of people, as does our desire to know “the unknown.” The fact is that we will probably never completely outgrow religion. We are prone to superstition, organization, and wishful thinking — and religions are often forged when those tendencies are realized.

Pascal Boyer, Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, says his research suggests that “atheism will always be a harder sell than religion because a slew of cognitive traits predispose us to faith.”

Is Religion on the Ropes?

The Pew Research Center recently released a report indicating that “the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” This is good news because it shows that people are less likely to identify with a restricting dogma, but it doesn’t mean religion is coming to an end any time soon. In fact, more than 70 percent of American citizens still identify as Christians while the “unaffiliated” make up only 22 percent and atheists only three percent.

That isn’t to say religion will always be as strong as it is today, however. Tufts University Professor Daniel C. Dennett, another one of the so-called “Four Horsemen,” recently argued that “the future of religion is bleak.” I agree with the thrust of his article – that there is a rising tide of secularism in the age of information – but even he clarifies that this won’t mean an end to religion.

“If this trend continues, religion largely will evaporate, at least in the West,” Dennett wrote. “Pockets of intense religious activity may continue, made up of people who will be more sharply differentiated from most of society in attitudes and customs, a likely source of growing tension and conflict.”

What can we do?

So, if you can’t enact a successful prohibition on religious ideas, and it won’t work to kill all believers, how do we fix the issues that stem from or are justified by religion? We work to reform religion – to fight against the aspects of it that are harmful and allow people to practice those that aren’t – and promote secular religious education to help people better understand religions and how they arise.

I, for one, don’t hate religion. It’s not that black and white for me – I don’t have to either endorse all actions done in the name of religion or condemn its practice entirely. I hate religious extremism, but I don’t hate meditation or meditative prayer; I hate that religious ideals have consistently impeded science and invaded secular governments, but I don’t hate food drives and soup kitchens; I hate the “God is on our side” mentality and that millions of people think that religion is necessary to live a happy and moral life, but I don’t hate peaceful religious practices or people who happen to believe differently.

Are all religious people extremists? Are they all against science and in favor of knocking down the wall of separation between Church and State? Do they all hate people who believe differently because they’re evil? The answer, in each case, is “No.”

Fundamentalism as a common enemy.

Religion is not something you can simply erase; it’s an integral part of our history and (for better or worse) it will help shape our future. Religion was man’s first attempt to explain the unknown and it continues to be an inspiration for major (charitable and horrific) acts around the world every day, so it will likely exist for the foreseeable future. But does it have to exist in a stagnant state as it has for thousands of years? Many people, whether they identify with a tradition or not, think we can change religion for the better.

When reformation (and not extermination) is the goal, we atheist activists can find common ground with many believers. I know many Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who would agree that fundamentalism within their respective religions is a problem that needs to be stopped – just as most atheists I know would never advocate violence against believers.

There are other areas of agreement between the rational but largely silent non-religious and religious majorities. I think most religious people and most non-believers, for instance, oppose things like Young Earth Creationism being taught in science class and are in favor of things like same-sex equality. If we work with open-minded religious people, we may be able to reduce religious extremism without eliminating anyone’s freedom to believe or worship and without killing anyone. I think it’s worth a shot.

Ultimately, you have to decide: do you think belief in god(s) is our biggest problem right now? Or organized religion? Or, like me, do you see scientific illiteracy and civil rights as the key issues?

Can we debate religion in a friendly manner?
Can we debate religion in a friendly manner?

David G. McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of The Belief Book, a children’s book explaining the origins of beliefs and religion, and Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer. He is also an editor for Ockham Publishing and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

I’m in an open (and loving) relationship

 I’M IN AN OPEN (AND LOVING) RELATIONSHIP

By David G. McAfee and Holly Samel

 I belong to a minority group of people that many others think of as immoral or “sinful.” Members of this group often looked at scientific evidence, as opposed to cultural norms, to reach their current position. People in this group are also regularly forced to conceal or disguise their views for fear of judgment based solely on (undeserved) social stigmas. I’m not talking about being an atheist, childfree by choice, or even a feminist… I’m talking about the fact that I’m in a non-monogamous, “open,” relationship.

What does this mean?

An open relationship could mean just about anything, as it is interpreted by the participants, and non-monogamy refers to a whole host of lifestyles and relationship dynamics. For me, however, it’s pretty simple: I am socially monogamous and sexually open. I have a long-term partner to whom I am dedicated, but I’m not limited to one woman sexually. I don’t have multiple girlfriends and I’m not going to marry anyone – let alone have more than one wife.

This isn’t what every non-monogamous person does, but it’s what I’m doing now and I am happy. I take proper precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies, all people involved are consenting adults who are made aware of the situation, and it has actually brought me closer to my partner. If we are happy, safe, and more honest in life, then nobody will care what we do, right? Wrong.

Reactions.

Publicly acknowledging my open relationship is still new to me–I haven’t really spoken to many people about it and I only changed my “relationship status” to reflect the change a little more than a week ago. Even after such a short time, however, I’ve already had some interesting responses. The first notable message was from someone who said he and his wife are themselves in an open relationship and that “being able to articulate this without stigma is often difficult.” I immediately thought of the similarities between the negative stereotypes associated with non-traditional relationships and those atheists face in many regions – and how I might be able to help.

The second jarring reaction I received after I mentioned non-monogamy as “natural” was from a Christian apologist with a podcast. In response to what he called an “endorsement of non-monogamous relationships,” the apologist said, “Add that to the list that includes things like abortion, infanticide, incest, etc.” He continued to compare non-monogamy, consensually sharing multiple sexual or romantic bonds, with bestiality, sex between humans and non-human animals.

In case that wasn’t bad enough, the third response I’ll mention really missed the mark. This comment came from a Facebook friend who saw my relationship status change and implied that I was seeking sexual favors online. He thought the fact that I was honest about the type of relationship that I have, and that my relationship isn’t similar to his traditional paradigm, meant that I was soliciting my fans for sex. He even compared my status change, which was for the sake of transparency and is only visible to my friends, with Richard Carrier’s recent blog post. In that entry, Carrier, an atheist author who is polyamorous, asks his fans if they want to go on a pre-planned date with him.

Needless to say, I was confused by the onslaught of assumptions and accusations. I have never lied to my partner about my feelings and I’ve never acted unethically by treating my fan page like a dating website, so it’s difficult for me to see these as anything more than uninformed attacks. In fact, in my mind, I’m not doing or saying anything that crazy. I’m simply acknowledging what scientists have known for a long time: human beings don’t naturally mate for life.

What does science say?

Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, recently pointed out that infidelity “lurks in your genes.” He noted that, while for some people one partner is perfectly fine, for others “sexual monogamy is an uphill battle against their own biology.”

“Sexual monogamy is distinctly unusual in nature: Humans are among the 3 to 5 percent of mammalian species that practice monogamy, along with the swift fox and beaver — but even in these species, infidelity has been commonly observed,” Professor Friedman wrote in a piece for the New York Times.

Noted relationship advice columnist Dan Savage has a similar view, also rooted in scientific understandings of human biology. He told astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in a recent interview that, “we are not naturally monogamous; it is a difficult struggle for us.”

“No primates with testicles our size are monogamous, sexually monogamous,” Savage said. “The truth is if you make a monogamous commitment to someone you love, you will still want to have sex with other people. You will refrain from it. It will be difficult.”

Savage went on to reference sex writer Chris Ryan in saying that, in many cultures, adultery is met with the death penalty. We can’t say monogamy comes naturally to us as a species if we have to kill to enforce the rule, he argued.

“Well, no other species has to be threatened with death to do that which comes naturally to it,” Savage told Tyson during the interview. “We don’t point guns at dolphins and say swim. Right? But we point guns at each other and say don’t cheat.”

Forget what you’ve been told.

A lot of people are more comfortable sweeping subjects like this under the rug. They think that, because we have always been told things are one way, that there are no other options. But studying other regions of the world will tell you that many things are cultural and not so black and white. In many cases, we are governed not by facts but by social lies: rules, codes of conduct, or ideas that guide how we behave but are based on self-deception.

For example, do you think the color pink is really a feminine color? Do you agree that other cultures might find it masculine or even gender neutral? The fact is that we are told pink is a “girl” color and that blue is for boys, but those perceptions come from marketing – not reality. It is now a powerful connection in our minds, but that doesn’t make it an objective truth.

“Cheating” is another social lie – this one formed as a result of our jealous nature. We are told our loved ones are our property, that we shouldn’t share them with anyone else, and that cheaters deserve the worst possible punishments. These ideas are reinforced by movies, television, and other media, and are attached to religious views and marriage vows. These pre-conceived notions of what it means to cheat have even caused millions of divorces and even murders. But I don’t “cheat” on my partner because I don’t think we have to use society’s definition. I think cheating should be defined by the participants of any specific relationship and be based on desires and comfort levels.

Savage argues that social lies that surround cheating exist because we are given unrealistic relationship standards from day one.

“What we said, what we believed, what we’re told as children, is one day you’ll grow up and fall in love with someone and you’ll make a monogamous commitment to them, and that means you’re in love with them,” Savage said. “And when you’re in love, you won’t want to have sex with other people.”

But we know that, for many people, this just isn’t true. For them, no matter who they are with, sexual monogamy will always be a problem. Because humans are among a number pair-bonding animals that often have sex outside of their partnership, Savage and others often refer to us as a “monogamish” species.

Why speak out?

Non-monogamy is extremely common among humans and throughout the animal kingdom, but that doesn’t stop people from treating it like a perversion. In fact, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 91 percent of Americans find marital infidelity “morally wrong.” That is higher than the percentage of people who opposed polygamy, human cloning, and suicide, according to the poll.

Savage says the negative stereotypes are reinforced by the fact that we only hear about the bad non-monogamous relationships and not the good ones.

“If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it,” Savage wrote. “But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren’t monogamous, because they don’t want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce.”

With all the negativity surrounding non-monogamy, despite the fact that it is such a natural and recurring concept throughout history, many people have decided to hide their true colors to satisfy the moral majority. But that doesn’t really solve anything for anyone else in that position. It won’t make it easier for them to talk about the issue because the social stigma remains strong. When asked why it’s important to speak out about this topic, I can’t help but think back to a quote from Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist:

By telling people you don’t believe, you’re making it a bit easier for the next person who has to. You are making it that much easier for the next generation and helping to change the (very false) perception of atheism as something that is anti-god or even pro-evil. More than anything else, coming out as an atheist gives you the opportunity to educate believers — to show them that it is entirely possible to be morally good without believing that we are being policed by an all-knowing deity.”

I think similar reasoning can be applied to this subject.

I cheated and this is my punishment.
I cheated and this is my punishment.

Ex-Leader of Hindu Temple Gets 27 Years for Ripping Off Followers Ex-Leader of Hindu Temple Gets 27 Years for Ripping Off Followers

Ex-Leader of Hindu Temple Gets 27 Years for Ripping Off Followers

By David G. McAfee, author of The Belief Book

April 19 – The former leader of the now-defunct Hindu Temple of Georgia was sentenced April 13 to more than 27 years in federal prison after being convicted on more than 30 felony counts, including bank fraud, tax fraud, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia sentenced Annamalai Annamalai, who was convicted on 34 felony counts after a two-week jury trial in August, to 27 years and three months in prison. Judge Batten also ordered him to not to engage in any “spiritual service for compensation.”

Prosecutors say Annamalai, who also goes by Dr. Commander Selvam and Swamiji Sri Selvam Siddhar, charged his followers fees in exchange for “spiritual services.” The adherents typically paid via credit card and Annamalai charged the cards multiple additional times without authorization, according to John A. Horn, Acting U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia.

“Annamalai perverted the sacred institution of religion by using it as a vehicle for greed and personal profit,” Horn said in an April 13 statement. “He convinced his victims that they had a problem in need of spiritual guidance, and then took advantage of their vulnerabilities for personal financial gain. The sentence rendered against him is lengthy but just and fair considering the irreparable harm he caused to his victims.”

Disputed Charges.

The prosecution says Annamalai made multiple false charges to his followers’ credit cards and, if they disputed the transactions, he submitted fraudulent supporting documents to credit card companies. Annamalai then filed “spurious lawsuits” against those who challenged the dubious charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Annamalai is further accused of manipulating audio recordings to make it appear as though his victims had agreed to the unauthorized charges. Annamalai then sent the altered recordings to police departments that were investigating criminal complaints levied against him, according to the government.

Annamalai Convicted.

Annamalai was convicted Aug. 25 of bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud in connection with the temple’s petition for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Annamalai concealed funds from creditors by diverting credit card receipts and the temple’s donations to a bank account in a different name, prosecutors say.

Annamalai was also found guilty of three counts of obstruction and false statements in relation to a grand jury investigation into the bankruptcy case. The defendant sent a fake e-mail to a special agent at the Internal Revenue Service pretending to be a witness in the criminal investigation and sent false affidavits to the grand jury and the bankruptcy court, according to the indictment.

On April 13, almost eight months after Annamalai was convicted, Judge Batten sentenced him two 27 years and three months in prison. In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered the defendant not to charge for spiritual services and not to file any more frivolous, abusive or malicious lawsuits.

Judge Batten also recommended to the Bureau of Prisons that Annamalai be housed in a “Communications Management Housing Unit,” where his telephone calls and electronic communications will be closely monitored.

Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation, said the sentence is a “vital element in maintaining public confidence in our legal and financial system.”

“Annamalai Annamalai, a self-proclaimed ‘child prodigy’ and ‘priest,’ received his fate today for the fraud that he perpetrated on the faithful followers that believed in him,” Hyman-Pillot said. “This defendant utilized the nation’s financial system to steal money from unsuspecting victims and then used the money for his own personal benefit.”

By David G. McAfee

Bio: McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of The Belief Book, a children’s book explaining the origins of beliefs and religion, and Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer. He is also an editor for Ockham Publishing and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

Annamalai Annamalai Gets 27 Years
Annamalai Annamalai Gets 27 Years

Renewing the Focus on Arguments and Evidence

As many of you may know, while I always redact the identifying information of people who send me private messages, I’ve often posted public discussions on social media without censoring the names of participants. This was never an attempt to “shame” people who disagree with me, and in fact I applied that policy equally to “debate posts” as well as “featured comments” and other regular features on my Facebook page, but I don’t control the actions of others. And because of abuse I’ve personally witnessed, I’ve decided to start removing all name data from my posts. Read more

Religious Studies Grad, Artist Team Up To Teach Children about Beliefs

Religious Studies Grad, Artist Team Up To Teach Children about Beliefs

Secular author David G. McAfee and illustrator/writer Chuck Harrison worked together on “The Belief Book” – an interactive children’s book that helps to teach kids (and kids at heart) about critical thinking, the origins of beliefs, and religions.

February 7 – Religious Studies graduate and skeptical author David G. McAfee teamed up with Chuck Harrison, an illustrator and writer, to create The Belief Book, which helps kids of all ages on their journey toward understanding the world’s most important beliefs and how they are formed. Children young and old who embark on this quest will learn many things they may have always been curious about, including where the first ideas of “gods” came from and how the earliest religions were created and spread.

This first-of-its-kind children’s book has mental exercises and puzzles that can help anyone understand what beliefs are and how they affect everyone and everything. More importantly, The Belief Book outlines the difference between good beliefs, which are supported by evidence, and bad beliefs, which are based on emotion or biases.

With interactive activities and vivid illustrations, The Belief Book teaches children how to examine evidence and form their own ideas. They will learn the importance of definitions, of language in general, and of the scientific method. The book strives to show readers how to think about things in a way that will get them to the right beliefs, and not just which facts to memorize.

Readers will look at some of the most important questions ever asked, including “Where do we come from?” and “Who made us?” and “Why can’t I have ice cream for breakfast?” By the time they are done with the book, children will not only understand the answers to many of their biggest questions, but they will also see why their questions – and all questions – are so incredibly important.

The Belief Book
The Belief Book

For interviews or questions, contact:

David G. McAfee | PO Box 9661 | Canoga Park, CA 91304 | United States | David@DavidGMcAfee.com

About David G. McAfee: McAfee is a Religious Studies Graduate, journalist, and the author of two other titles: Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is also a contributor to American Atheist Magazine and an editor for Ockham Publishing. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions. He believes strongly that religious education and history should be taught in public schools, including and especially in the United States of America – where general knowledge about those topics is severely lacking. It is only by understanding how the religious systems work, and not by ignoring them completely, that McAfee says we can help others to make rational decisions about them.

About Chuck Harrison: Harrison is an illustrator and writer who lives with his son called Puff and his cat named Monkey in New York. His caffeine fueled works have been printed by DC Comics, Color Ink Book, The South Wedge Quarterly and in many other fine publications. Everything else you may wish to know about him can be discovered at iLikeChuckHA.com.