Editor’s Note: This past week, I wrote an essay encouraging atheists to join the Foundation Beyond Belief, a new charitable group doing good for human beings and the world in the name of freethought. I also offered to write a front-page post interviewing anyone who agreed to join the Foundation as a result of hearing about it on my site. This is the first of those interviews, which will be posted each weekend. Please welcome Daylight Atheism commenter Peter N!
Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where do you live, what do you do?
My name is Peter Nothnagle. I live in Iowa City, Iowa, USA, where I am a self-employed recording engineer specializing in recording and editing classical music CDs.
If you’re an atheist, when did you first become an atheist, and how long have you been one? If you’re not an atheist, how would you define your beliefs?
By a happy accident of birth, my parents seemed to have only the minimum socially-required religious leanings for educated people in the ’50s and ’60s. Thus, although I was dragged to the Catholic church on Sundays, I was never required to buy in to the teachings and traditions, and I never did. I was always interested in both history and science, and by my teens it was obvious to me that Christianity was just a mythology like all the rest.
Have you given to other charities before joining the Foundation Beyond Belief? If so, which ones are your favorites?
I have sporadically donated to Doctors Without Borders, International Planned Parenthood, and various medical research foundations. I also get my long-distance phone service from CREDO, which overcharges shamelessly but remits the excess to worthy causes.
What membership level did you join the Foundation at?
I scrolled down the list of contribution levels until I hit one that hurts, just a little. But it’s a good kind of hurt. I will work just a few extra hours each month, which is a ridiculously easy way to help people in desperate need, as well as supporting the cause of reason.
How do you plan to divide your initial donation?
I divided it among human services options: education, child welfare, and poverty.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to atheists who are considering supporting the Foundation or other charitable groups?
I am happy to support an explicitly nonreligious charity like this. Together we encourage other atheists to come out and stand up. I hope the Foundation has a lot of success and by their example, other atheist-themed public service institutions will be established.