Meet a Florida member: Michael Kaye

Name: Michael Kaye.

Where I live: Safety Harbor, Fla.

Where and when I was born: Rockville Centre, Long Island, N.Y., March 4, 1951.

Family: Virginia, my wife of 33 years, a retired accountant; son, JJ, a civil engineer and guitar/keyboard player in an Orlando rock band named Undercover Bandits.

Education: Great Neck South Senior High School, Great Neck, Long Island, N.Y.; B.S. in education, State University of New York at Cortland State; M.S. in education, Queens College, Flushing, N.Y.

Occupation: Retired physical education teacher. I owned various small businesses before that. I’ve written two books, a few magazine articles (jazz- and business-related) and a lot of newspaper letters to the editor on humanism, freethought, athletics and politics.
Person in history I admire: Some of my well-known favorites would include the “four horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens), Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Penn and Teller, Greydon Square, Robert Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Thomas Paine.

How I got where I am today: Philosophically, I was an atheist, freethinker and humanist since birth. It was constantly confirmed throughout my life by my encounters with the numerous worldviews that made no sense to me.

Where I’m headed: Besides trying to self-improve through ongoing learning and staying physically active, I’m just trying to do my small share to halt the imposition of religious dogma into our educational, political, social and economic systems by promoting reason in any way one average citizen is able to.

A quotation I like: “To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure. To explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy.” (journalist David Brooks)

These are a few of my favorite things: Family, promoting freethought, competing in sports/activities (particularly bowling, 215 tournament average), playing my trumpet daily, travel, birding and cheering for our almost 2014-15 Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

These are not: The abundant use of “Godspeak” (I try to never use phrases such as “god bless you, oh my god, act of god,” etc.); people assuming you are a believer just like them or who misrepresent atheists due to their lack of obtaining sufficient knowledge to understand what atheists are about; indoctrinating children with superstitious religious beliefs (threats of hell, being born sinners); mingling state and religion; and right-wing politics.

My doubts about religion started: At age 4 when passing a large church in a car and asking what do people do in that building? My parents explained it’s where people go that believe in their god. After I asked what was a god, my parents said that some people believe it’s a being in the sky that can’t be seen, knows everything and can do anything. My immediate response of “you gotta be kidding!” was followed by my parents’ laughter, probably amazed I had an opinion on such matters at that age.

Before I die: I would like atheists to be at or near the top of the list of the most liked and admired group of people in the United States instead of at the top of the most hated or mistrusted list. People would finally understand how much that freethinkers and atheists have contributed positively to society and because the scientific method would be recognized as the most rational means of obtaining knowledge and solving problems.

Ways I promote freethought: By writing and keeping up with issues through organizations like FFRF and local freethought and humanist groups. (I met Richard Dawkins when he signed his autobiography Brief Candle in the Dark for me when he visited Clearwater on Oct. 10). I also came out on “Openly Secular Day” in April before an audience of 50 or so mostly strangers as I read one of my freethought poems at an open-mic celebration of poetry month.

I wish you’d have asked me: About my new book, Thoughts of a Freethinker: A Late Sunday Morning Sleeper’s Revelations, and how to get it (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IUniverse Publishers, etc. The e-book/Kindle version is only $3.99). My earlier book, Summer Camp Race of Horror (2002), is a science fiction/horror story for ages 8-15 approximately.
You also could have asked if I’ve ever bowled a perfect 300 game, and I’d have answered: “Yes, twice!”

Freedom From Religion Foundation