Name: Stephen F. Uhl.
Where I live: Oro Valley, Ariz., a north suburb of Tucson.
Where and when I was born: Rural southern Indiana, 1930. My parents had nine children. First came four daughters. I was the second son and was followed by three brothers.
Family: Diane, my wife. We were married on the Winter Solstice in 1968.
Education (formal and informal): At 14, I entered the boarding seminary at Saint Meinrad [Ind.] Archabbey, a Swiss order of Benedictine monks, where I stayed six years. My major seminary studies (also six years) were at Marmion Abbey in Aurora, Ill. I was ordained in 1956 as a priest, after which I was sent to Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where I earned an S.T.L. degree (Sacrae Theologiae Licentia). After I left the priesthood in 1967, I earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago.
Occupation: I taught high school religion and mathematics and counseled at the Benedictine Marmion Military Academy for 10 years. On weekends, I engaged in pastoral work at northern Illinois parishes.
Freed from the priesthood, I taught public high school math and became a certified school psychologist. I opened a private practice as a psychologist in 1976, from which I eventually retired.
How I got where I am today: My mother not only gave me my vocation to the priesthood, she gave me a deep love of learning. The superstitions learned in early childhood came into conflict with my adult learnings. The common sense I had learned from my father (a farmer) drove me to follow my reasoning conscience and break the bonds of traditional superstition. Now I am more totally free to appreciate the wonders of the real planetary present.
Steve Uhl says that as heâ€™s aged, heâ€™s noticed â€śmore of the growing tyranny of the Christian majority in this great land of ours.â€ť
Where Iâ€™m headed: Like all of us, I am headed to oblivion soon. But at age 80, I still enjoy a great wife, good friends and neighbors and the inexorable march of scientific progress that shows to all who are alert that facts are more fun than fiction. And I trust that my little book, Out of Godâ€™s Closet, will help readers enjoy freedom from outdated superstition without any imaginary guilt.
Pezrson in history I admire: Robert Green Ingersoll for his eloquent and courageous efforts in expounding freethought.
A quotation I like: â€śThe time to be happy is now; the place to be happy is here; the way to be happy is to make others so.â€ť (Robert Green Ingersoll)
One more, from the Roman philosopher Seneca, is precious: â€śReligion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.â€ť
These are a few of my favorite things: My relationship with Diane, Friday community happy hour, solving practical problems, fixing broken things and enjoying the appreciation from those I helped, the science-based frankness of PZ Myers, Richard Dawkinsâ€™ articulate rants against the pope, and the joyful freedom of atheism.
These are not: Jesus-loving Christians who hate and terrorize atheists; a pope theoretically representing over a billion people taking medieval, anti-scientific stances, especially on birth control and stem cell research; the hypocrisy of â€śpreyingâ€ť clergy; the inhumane waste in our penal system that overstresses vengeful punishment (of the â€śsinnerâ€ť) and almost ignores responsible restitution to the injured; politicians and ignorant voters who stand in the way of letting the Fair Tax Act (HR 25 and SB 25) eliminate the IRS and most all taxes; witnessing a â€śsmartâ€ť President Obama preaching a religious sermon at a National Prayer Breakfast.
My doubts about religion started: Serious doubts started one morning in the monastery chapel in 1964 when I was 34 and was meditating on the intellectual proofs of Godâ€™s existence. I had a â€ślightning boltâ€ť insight in which I clearly saw how St. Thomas Aquinasâ€™ supposedly strongest proof (his causality proof) fell far short, because it was based on an unwarranted assumption.
Why Iâ€™m a freethinker: Because life for me and for fellow human neighbors is richer (and continues to become more so) when based on reason than when guided by thoughtless superstition.
Ways I promote freethought: Periodic lectures, magazine articles, website (outofgodscloset.com) and podcast (nogods.libsyn.com), gifts and sales of the paperback Out of Godâ€™s Closet and cash donations to outstanding atheist organizations.
To contact the author or order the book, go to outofgodscloset.com/ or call 1-800-255-9929, ext. 25 (Publishers Express Press).
Fr. Stephen Uhl (back row, second from left), in Bradford, Ind., on the day he celebrated his first Mass. He was a Catholic priest for 11 years, but first became a Benedictine monk during 12 years of seminary training.