Andrew Sean Greer: On Religion
Andrew Sean Greer is an American novelist and short-story writer. The New York Times called his 2008 novel The Story of a Marriage “lyrical” and “inspired.” His first novel, 2001’s The Path of Minor Planets, was well received, and his second, 2004’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli, earned him comparisons to Proust and Nabokov from critic John Updike. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and other national publications. Born in Washington, D.C., Greer received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s degree from the University of Montana. He currently resides in San Francisco. Greer was so well received as an undergrad that his classmates elected him the commencement speaker, for his own graduation.
Andrew Sean Greer:
I was raised Unitarian and my mother said she took us to church so that we wouldn’t get religious later in life. Both my parents were atheists and my grandmother was an atheist in rural Kentucky and so they were trying to make sure that my brother and I would be atheists too and it worked, which doesn’t mean that they didn’t teach us a lot of wonder of science and of nature and the world and all of that. I think they gave us all of that, but they are both highly skeptical people and I got that.
Question:Were there any complications to being a kid atheist?
Andrew Sean Greer: There didn’t seem to be. No. The only problem was that my mother’s parents were Southern Baptists and devout and it was very upsetting them to the idea that we didn’t believe in God, so I told them that I did because I thought that was really cruel because they were worried that we would go to Hell. My grandmother asked me once, she said, “I don’t care about anything except that you tell me you believe in God,” and so I said I did.
Question: Do your characters struggle with religion?
Andrew Sean Greer: I think in this next one I’m working on for sure because it’s definitely reared its head in modern day talking. I just came from an interview where Lewis Black was coming in right after me and I had met him before and we talked about all of this and it’s everywhere. Everyone is talking. There’s, of course, a huge evangelical movement recently and now there’s an atheist movement that often seems to me, I was raised to be really nice to people and kind about their beliefs and so a lot of it seems overly self-righteous oddly in the same way that evangelicals are. Whereas I just don’t believe in any of that stuff, but I’m not mad about it.
Greer is an atheist; his characters struggle with religious questions.
The team seems to have found a way to extend animal lifespan without genetic modification.
- Using specially cultivated embryonic stem cells, scientists generated mice whose cells had extra-long telomeres.
- Telomeres are stretches of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that help protect the genetic information inside.
- Lengthening telomeres in embryonic stem cells could pave the way toward slowing aging without genetic modification.
The results have startling implications about the evolution of psychopathy in humans.
- The researchers asked about 50 male university students to participate in a mock dating scenario.
- Men with more psychopathic traits were seen as significantly more desirable by women who watched videos of the encounters.
- Psychopathic traits may help men to mimic the qualities women are looking for, but it's a short-term strategy that comes at a cost.
We should care about constitutional rights for all, says lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin. If they are denied for some, history demonstrates how they may be at risk for us all.
- Islam is being challenged as a religion in America today. Opponents claim it is not a religion, but a dangerous political ideology.
- Lawyer and religious freedom scholar Asma T. Uddin challenges that view and explains why it is a threat to the religious liberty of all Americans, not just Muslims.
- In U.S. history, Catholics, Jews, and Mormons have all been "denationalized" as Americans and persecuted for their beliefs. This destructive precedent is a threat to all Americans, across all belief systems.