I was born in 1942, the third of four children. As I grew up, I was loved by my parents, family, people in the Conservative Baptist church, and, I thought, by God. I had severe migraine headaches from childhood unable to play like other children, or do sports, because of physical collapse. The migraines continued weekly, or more, into late adulthood. My father, older sister and younger brother were sports stars in school. I read a lot, played as I could and was generally happy, but isolated.
I was taught that anyone who didn’t ask God to save them from sin, in Jesus’ name, would go to hell. Most people on the planet are to go to hell, by Fundamentalist standards, unless you live as they claim God demands. At age nine I confessed that I was a sinner and asked God to save me from eternal hell. I felt “saved.”
I committed my life to God until I was a teenager, reading the Bible through several times, memorizing the books of the Bible, verses and hymns. As a teenager I began to wonder why the creator would send most people to an eternal hell, and why the Word of God, showed God doing so many horrible things. I already had migraines and didn’t want hell. At age 15 I broke a light bulb and burned down all of our buildings. My father took the blame on himself for the location of the bulb so that I would not develop a sense of guilt.
I trained to be a mechanic, and worked as an auto parts man due to migraines. I married at age 20 and attended Bible Institute for two years. I failed the physical for Vietnam due to an ulcer and was rejected as a soldier. I left Bible School due to many doubts. At age 26 I was divorced.
I wondered why God would order Moses, to tell the Jews to destroy a whole nation of people, keep many of them for slaves, have children stoned, have bears kill children, cause a flood to destroy all life except those on Noah’s Ark, tell the Jews to take infants and dash out their brains, and through Jesus, say, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels and gather all that offend and cast them into a furnace of fire,” and “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. I asked my minister for help, and he referred me to the Bible and prayer. I received counseling from a more liberal Christian. I told him I could not understand why God would send so many people to hell. He responded, “Douglas, I think in the long run we will all be OK.” That unlocked my mind. I had a very good year, relapsed in fear and was hospitalized. Finally, I began to have relief.
I discovered Bertrand Russell’s, “Why I am not a Christian,” and felt I had been reborn. I heard a Unitarian Universalist (UU) Minister on television and soon found the UU Society. Rev. Ahlburn called himself an Atheist and quoted Russell. I learned that many people believe that there is no Word of God, and that all people, of all nations, races, sexual orientations, and beliefs, are equal in value, none being favored by a god.
I continued to be a moral person. It is wonderful that so many Fundamentalists have discovered science and reason. Many cannot because of fear and guilt. People I love still cling to the evil.
In 1972, at the UU church, I met Joyce Martin, who would become my wife, and mother of our children, Brett and Brita. Joyce had a Masters degree and put me through college where I was exposed to the science and education.
I attended UU Starr King School for Religious leadership in Berkeley, California for my Masters degree. I was student minister to Rev. Welles in West Newton, Massachusetts for a year, and student chaplain at Boston City Hospital on a ward with cancer patients, gunshot and knifing victims, and children with life-threatening brain tumors, water on the brain, etc.
Brett was born in 1977. We then attended the UU in Oakland, California where I was student minister to Rev. Arnold Crompton for two years. I was a student chaplain on the psychiatric ward at Contra Costa County Hospital in California.
My speech professor, Humanist Ward Tabler, was a great support to us. He introduced me to the writings of Robert Ingersoll and much more about humanism. I realized I was too emotional due to my life as a youth to be a full-time minister. I obtained my masters degree in religious leadership from Starr King in 1979. I was ordained as a UU minister and was certified as a Humanist Celebrant. Brita was born on October 12, 1980.
I realized that my education had prepared me to learn what I could believe rather than to become a full-time minister. I became a committed religious Humanist on my own, as UU Humanist, Rev. Dr. William R. Murry, explains in his book, Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the Twenty-First Century. I believe in science and reason as well as the development of uplifted human emotions through community, education, nature, art, poetry, celebrations, and ceremonies.
I began working for the U.S. Government in 1980 and the National Labor Relations Board (the NLRB) in Oakland, as a federal labor investigator, in 1982. I transferred to the NLRB in Hartford, Connecticut. I ran the Federal Campaign for Giving for 25 years. We attended the UU in Manchester, Connecticut and raised our children there. They are strong skeptics today.
All people are atheists to all gods but their own. Complete atheists are just good people who go one god further. It made me sad to know I would never see my deceased loved ones again. When I realized this had never been an option in a natural world, I slowly gained peace of mind that there is no hell or heaven, and that the peace of eternal death is just like the peace before we were born in a natural world. None of us will suffer any more.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who gave up belief in God and immortality said, the only way to understand history is to imagine everyone from the past in the present. “When a thought of Plato becomes a thought to me, when a truth that fired the soul of St. John, fires mine, time is no more.” I agree.
I have spent years studying the works of Christian and secular scholars of higher criticism of the Bible. The Bible has been studied critically the way scholars study other literature. Much of the Bible has been written, in different writing styles, in the same sections, with different words for God from different time periods, such as Jehovah or Yahweh. Someone combined older thoughts. The first five books of the Bible, which are the first five books of the Jewish Bible, the Pentateuch, were supposed to have been written by Moses. They were written hundreds of years after Moses, referring to Moses in the past tense and to cities and coins that didn’t exist until hundreds of years after Moses. The New Testament was created by men from only a few of the numerous books written about the life of Jesus, hundreds of years after Jesus lived, written in the names of long-dead followers of Jesus.
Emperor Constantine murdered his wife and son in 325 CE and then called the first Christian Council at Nice that year, where it was decided, by men, that Christ was God, not just a man. Theodosius called the Council at Constantinople in 381 CE, where it was decided, by men, that the Holy Ghost came from God the Father. Theodosius II ordered the death of the female philosopher Hypatia in 415 CE. He established a Council at Ephesus that year, where it was decided, by men, that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God. There were other Councils in 451, 680, 1274 CE and other dates, where men decided the actions of the Biblical God. Bart Ehrman’s book “Forged,” is about the forgery of the Bible.
I wanted the beliefs of humanist thinkers where my descendants could get a lot of information quickly. In 1986, I continued studying the beliefs of humanistic scientists, philosophers, and others, for the best thoughts of great skeptics. I began writing presentations of these humanist heroes, Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Einstein, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Walt Whitman, Steve Allen, and others.
I attended the first meeting of the Humanists of Connecticut in Hamden in 1989 and became a charter member. I went on to become Treasurer, President and then vice President for many years. I became an active speaker about Humanist Heroes at Humanist and UU societies throughout New England. I performed weddings, memorials, and other celebratory services. Joyce discovered in about 1987 that she had breast cancer. Her motto, from Ralph Waldo Emerson, was “I am defeated all the time, yet to victory I was born.” Joyce died at age 53, when Brita was 16 and Brett was 19. I would never have had our wonderful life, our children, my education, or my research without her.
Four years later, I met Gabriella, a UU. She is a multilingual Private School Principal, retired, long distance walker, great cook, and a published writer and poet. She loves me and helps keep me sane through the struggles of life. We both speak at UU Societies and Humanist groups throughout the Northeast U.S., Canada, and the Virgin Islands and hope to expand.
In 2003 I published my book, Humanist Heroes, which has been quoted on the Internet from more than eleven countries on three continents. Dr. William R. Murry, former President of the UU Meadville Lombard Seminary, told me that my book is a significant event in the history of Humanism. The book has been used to teach students at the Humanist Institute. Humanist Heroes was republished for all ages in 2013 along with another book Humanist Heroes and More.
Brita is married and I have a grandson, Jayse, a name similar to Joyce.
Brett was a Monbusho Scholar, and graduated from Kyoto University, from the School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto, Japan.
For the last three years I have been a speaker for Compassion and Choices at the State House, for passage of a law to give the dying the right to a doctors assistance to die. I have been VP and President of the Meriden, CT UU Church. I currently provide rides to the elderly for doctor appointments.