CW Brown Interviews Justin Clark
I recently got to sit down with Justin Clark and asked him some important questions that viewers will want to know. This includes what led up to the creation of his podcast, Secular Nation, and how he came to have a relationship with me at Philosophical Atheism.
CW Brown:Why do you think people become religious?
Justin Clark: I think that people become religious for a myriad of reasons. Many fall into a religion simply through upbringing; their parents are religious and they were born into a religious community, so they just follow suit. Others come to religion due to personal experiences, such as former addicts. Many others are religious because of social expectations. Our culture places religious belief on a pedestal, so some people go through the motions because they think it is expected of them. This is what philosopher Daniel Dennett calls “belief in belief.” People mistakenly think that believing in something, despite a lack of evidence or common sense, is virtuous in its own right. While these explanations are broad, I think they cover the majority of religious believers.
CW Brown: How long have you been an atheist?
Justin Clark: I have been an out atheist for seven years, since I was 19 years old.
CW Brown: Why did you decide this was the best decision for your life?
Justin Clark: This was the best decision for me because I never really believed in religion in an emotionally gripping or personally rewarding way, so I honestly had nothing to lose. I’ve always been skeptical and secular, so being out about my atheism was a natural result.
CW Brown: Is any of your family religious?
Justin Clark: Only tangentially. My father is an agnostic, my mother is sort of “spiritual, but not religious,” and my Grandmother is a Unitarian who doesn’t go to church. I’ve always had a pretty secular family.
CW Brown: How have their beliefs affected you in life?
Justin Clark: Growing up, I didn’t attend church or received regular religious instruction. My parents were very secular and encouraged me and my sister to pursue whatever religion or worldview we wanted. In that sense, their view of a well-rounded, secular education inspired me to study all religions and eventually leave religious belief behind.
CW Brown: Are your friends all atheists? If not, how do you attempt to remain friends with your religious friends?
Justin Clark: The majority of my close friends are atheists or freethinkers, so we get along very well. For those who are believers, they know that I believe in the right of all people to believe or not believe as they see fit, so long as they are not violating the rights of others. There’s always an atmosphere or mutual respect and open-mindedness with my friendships.
CW Brown: How has your outlook on life affected where and how you work?
Justin Clark: Since becoming an atheist, my life has had a new sense of urgency and purpose. I believe this is the only life that we are guaranteed to have, so I won’t to make it the best possible life I can for myself. I’m a public historian and have found a way to blend with activism with my scholarship on nineteenth century freethought. I try my best to give 110% to all that do and care deeply about the achievements that I can strive toward. In terms of where I work, I live in the Midwest (Indiana) and I love it. Born and raised here, I love being an atheist liberal in a religious and conservative state. It makes my perspective matter more than if I lived in California or something, since there are less of us out here.
CW Brown: Why and how did it come about for you to be working at Philosophical Atheism?
Justin Clark: I began working at Philosophical Atheism in October 2015, after a vacancy opened. I decided to come aboard to give my activism a bigger platform and I liked all the work they were doing. It has been a real joy to see the organization flourish in the year or so I’ve been involved.
CW Brown: What is the major force driving your passion for Secular Nation?
Justin Clark: I love podcasts; they are a staple of my daily commute and down time at home. I wanted to start one because I wanted to fill a gap that I saw in our niche market of freethought and atheism. There were a lot of great podcasts about atheism and skepticism (Dogma Debate, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe) as well as excellent podcasts about politics/current events (Vox’s The Weeds, 538 Podcast), but not a show that explicitly blended the two. That’s where my show comes in. On Secular Nation, my co-host Jeremy Kasey and I put an atheist/secularist spin on current events and politics. In other words, I wanted to have a podcast to share all the things I’m interested in.
CW Brown: Overall, what is your ultimate goal(s) with this these current forms of activism?
Justin Clark: I would love to make this either a part-time or full-time job. I use the careers of activists like Matt Dillahunty, Seth Andrews, and AronRa as models for my own career in this movement. As an historian, I think I can be a voice for the humanities in the freethought movement, since many atheists are informed by the hard sciences.
CW Brown: Do you have a message for the people out there that follow you and appreciate your work or that may want to do what you do?
Justin Clark: First off, thank you! I really appreciate all the love for my graphics, blogs, and podcasts. I do this for fun and because it is very fulfilling to see that people like it. In terms of advice, I’ll tell you what one of my mentors told me years ago: find a niche. Find something that you’re interested in that people aren’t doing much with and make it your thing. It will single you out among other people. From there, just take opportunities as they come to you. I’m notorious for saying “yes” to damn-near everything, but it has paid off for me.
CW Brown:How can people support you and be helpful to your cause?
Justin Clark: Please follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @thedailyclark. Follow the Philosophical Atheism Facebook page: www.facebook.com/philosophicalatheism. With the podcast, please subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, and listen to new episodes at www.atheistallianceamerica.org. Leave me feedback there by liking episodes, writing a review, or sharing it with your friends. If you would like to email me, I can be reached at email@example.com
CW Brown: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Justin Clark: Again, thank you for your interest in Philosophical Atheism and all the work that we do. It means to world to me. I look forward to making content for this community for a long time to come.
CW Brown: Thank you, Justin, very much for taking this time to enlighten your fans and I on your views on life and why you do what you do. I am sure now people will have a much better appreciation for you and Philosophical Atheism as they continue to listen, think of new questions, and hopefully learn something new.