Rachel Johnson is a biology student and researcher. She is also a writer. She writes on Atheism, Life Sciences, Feminism and many other issues. Read her views in her blog,http://godlessvagina.wordpress.com/
Q. What is the importance of religion in your life?
Rachel: At this point I try to avoid religion. I see the toxic effects of it everywhere and it just plagues me with disgust. My parents and family are religious and it makes interacting hard. I know how much I have learned and how different I am from their views so I try and just keep my distance from religion.
Q. Were you always an atheist or was there a phase of transition?
Rachel: I was only an avid Christian for a few years. After that I was just confused and apathetic, always testing god. I was introduced to god around 8 years old, and it was a bad introduction. It included a trip to a new church for a film about revelations. In the film Christians were being put into a concentration type camp and forced to renounce faith or die, and they were beheading people. For me this was horrible, and I refused to hear about god for a long time. I would just sob when my mother brought him up. I tried baptism in church and communion, but never felt any different. For me god was someone I was clinging to. A few years ago I met my ex, who showed me all the words I was speaking were that of an atheist. It was then that I let go of everything. I hadn’t been practicing any real religion, and was a terrible Christian. Always pushing god to prove himself. So once I let go I wanted nothing more to do with religion. I was angry that I had been lied to and so much of my life had been wasted believing even remotely in this fairy tale.
Q. You are a Biologist. Do you think that science and atheism are directly related?
Rachel: I think a lot of scientists see how the universe and evolution have no need for a creator. Looking at the biological diversity, you can get a sense that evolution has tried everything. So it does give me the power to rationalize my atheism. Not every scientist is an atheist. But the majority are. That is because there is no escape from what we see in front of us. I can’t say they are direct, but indirectly they definitely have a lot of influences on each other, at least for me.
Q. Religious people say that there are many evidence of around us for God. Maybe it is you who doesn’t wants to see them. Tell me, what would make for scientific evidence for God’s existence?
Rachel: Proving that there is a god, or divine power made this planet, or showing me a miracle science could not prove. What I see around me are facts and evidence, and science has answers for most of those. People like to say god is in the gaps, but I would say god is gaps. None of his followers have any clear idea who or what he should be Or how they really should believe. That is one of the things about being an atheist. I have had to examine more evidence and be sure of what I am saying. I am still learning so much. Science has so much evidence it is astounding. What baffles me is how people chose to ignore it for the lack of evidence on the side of religions. Faith is choosing to remain ignorant, and that is something I just can’t do.
Q. Many creationists are trying to push Intelligent Design studies in schools in US? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? Isn’t ID a theory just like Evolution?
Rachel: Intelligent design has a lot of problems, like what intelligence designed what? It gets into a mess when various religions conflict, and simply there is no evidence for any of them. When it comes to evolution the fossil evidence is overwhelming in the favor of it happening. So much so that it is a fact. We know evolution happened, the theory part is just how, since all ancestors leading to humans have not, and man never, be found. Intelligent design is not a theory, because the basis for it is a deity or force which has extraordinary powers began life. Simply it cannot be tested, and falsified so it is not science. Things which can’t be falsified have to be left out of science or things get sloppy. If we don’t have to have proof for everything we say, then there is no need for proof of anything we say. Then there is no structure or standard to science and what we have now works, and we can see that. And it works because we are strict about providing solid evidence and the best tested facts.
Q. What is the meaning of Feminism? What do you think is the relation between Feminism and Atheism?
Rachel: Feminism to me, is just wanting equality in rights for both sexes. It does not mean being better than men or bossing them, but instead it means us all working together to see that all human rights, all standards of living, and all opportunities are the same with both genders. Well, feminism and atheism go well together. Since there is no dogmatic stance on how women should behave, or prescriptions about their bodies. Basically I stand against religion and the subjugation of women. Them being forced to wear full body coverings, told they exist for only reproduction, and taught they are second class citizens is absurd. I find religion abhorring in this respect. So my feminism tried to take the stance that all women no matter where they are from, or what religion they are born to are equal to men in rights. This counters a lot of misogynist beliefs. My being an atheist keeps me free from any of the shackles of religion or feeling guilt for my gender by birth.
Q. I am a big fan of your blog, ”The Godless Vagina”. Is there any special reason for invoking the word Vagina in the name here?
Rachel: There has been an overwhelming debate here in the US over reproductive rights, and one thing I am is serious about my rights over my body. So part of what I created was about me being a woman with the right to my body and reproductive choices. To me it means keeping peoples religious beliefs out of my choices. I think it makes a profound statement, especially when men to even hear vagina as an anatomically correct body part, and that is all it is. To me it is nothing special. I was born with it, and no one else should have the rights to it.
Q. Being a Biologist, what are your views on Stem cell research? Is it not ethically wrong to use a foetus in developing this research?
Rachel: No the stem cells that are used come from terminated foetuses, and otherwise they would have been disposed. This science has major benefits for us. Not only are stem cells found in foetuses but in placenta, and adult human bones, blood, and adipose tissue. So basically we can get them from various places, and scientists are currently developing technology to reproduce them, which is hard considering once they are removed from their environment they begin to undergo changes.
Q. What is your view on Eugenics in case of Human Beings? Wouldn’t the world be a better place with only intelligent and healthy people here?
Rachel: I used to be on the side of breeding people who are smart and healthy, but then I realized all of us are equipped to our environment. So we exist because evolution chose for us to exist. Going from zygote to foetus to baby, you don’t realize how many tests and checks already happen. It is amazing, and once you are here and reproduce, you give something to your offspring that may benefit their survival. We don’t know what will happen in the future with humanity, but keeping the diversity in genes is vital. Some genes may be flawed to us but might have worked in the past, or in the future. What we can’t predict is how, so we need all the genes staying in the gene pool.
Q. What is your thought on marriage? Have you planned to marry and have kids in your future?
Rachel: Well I would love to marry, and if possible have one child. I think marriage is a good thing, and it is nice to be stable. I would love to have a stable life with someone who wants to see the world with me. Marriage is a bond between people and I think we designed it for the wrong reasons. Not everyone feels the same about relationships. So for some it suits and for others not. I do believe all people no matter their sexual orientation should be able to get married.
Q. So, where do you see yourself 10-15 years from now?
Rachel: I hope to be a well travelled biologist. One who has seen a lot of the world, and works at what she loves. I think that would be the best. I also hope to have a happy family, and be enjoying the future.
Thanks for sharing your views with me, Rachel. Best of luck for your future goals. Hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have.
I did, and you know I love ya.