Donna Harris

Donna ffrf june11_0I have always been a non-believer, even though I grew up in a home that was nominally Catholic. I even had my first communion. However, my parents were only Christmas & Easter church-goers, and even that stopped after my maternal grandmother passed away.

But I’ve always had a love for animals.  And I spent far more time during my teen years watching TV than was probably good for me.  But – in addition to the regular fare – I grew up watching documentaries like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and other nature shows. My favorite visitors on The Tonight Show were always Jim Fowler from Wild Kingdom, and Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo, because they’d bring critters on the show! I also liked science programs about archeology and anthropology.

I remember learning ancient history, and evolution. I particularly remember seeing examples of early equine fossils such as the Eohippus, and how the horse evolved over time, and thinking “now that makes sense”.

I did read “Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible”, but to me it was in the same class as another book I read on Greek mythology.

For a large part of my adult life, the issue of religion and non-belief just wasn’t relevant. That changed about seven years ago when I was introduced to the skeptical community at The Amaz!ng Meeting, James Randi’s annual conference. And the skeptical community overlaps with the community of non-believers. I came home from that conference fired up, with a desire to get involved somehow. I searched for atheists in Winnipeg, and found the Humanist Association of Manitoba. I didn’t even know what a humanist was, but when I read the list of beliefs, they matched my own perfectly.

After about a year of attending meetings, I became the group’s newsletter editor and librarian, and joined the executive.

I still sincerely wonder how Christians and other religious believers can believe in a supernatural entity called god since it’s so foreign to my way of thinking.

I do consider myself an atheist, but I’m also a humanist, because I genuinely care. I’m skeptical about miracle cures and supernatural phenomena because they can hurt people – sometimes even to the point of death. Or they may waste their money and energy. I believe in equality, compassion, personal freedom and rational thinking. Science may not be perfect, especially because of the human factor.  (Just because we can do a thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should). But it’s the best we have, and it works. No supernatural explanations necessary.