Secular VIP of the Week: Aron Ra

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Aron Ra, also known as the Texan Tank, is an atheist vlogger and activist.

He is also the Texas State Director of American Atheists. His videos focus

mainly on evidence for evolution, a topic he's been interested in since his

early years. He just couldn't believe the stories in the Bible were real,

and even got yelled at for suggesting it's impossible to turn water into

wine. He spoke with Johnny Monsarrat for this interview.


RDF: When people come to your blog/video podcast, what do they expect to

find?



Aron Ra: I address a particular topic that's been repeated a thousand times,

something that I've heard so much and get tired of, like "there's never been

any transitional species", for example, [ which is one way that people try

to counter evolution, ] and the video I make will explain exactly what a

transitional species is and list hundreds of them.



Aron Ra: I did a similar video for people who say that there's never been a

beneficial mutation or that there's no evidence to the tree of life,

"evolution is a fraud", all these arguments… So I bring the Nebraska man,

[ a mistakenly categorized tooth that briefly was thought to indicate a new

primate species in North America, ]  and then I show what the real fraud is

and other arguments that the creationists bring forth.



RDF: So you're debunking myths with facts…



Aron Ra: Right. The only way to understand evolution is if you dedicate a

huge amount of time of your life to very specific studies that you have to

pay for. To learn creationism all you have to do is be a victim of the

proselytizers. It is literally a matter of make believe. So I created this

series of videos for free for people with short attention spans who can

understand what the science really is.



RDF: How did it all start?



Aron Ra: I got into this job where I was sitting on a computer all day, had

unlimited browsing and unlimited overtime (and this went on for years) and I

was doing the job but it didn't require that I'd get off screen so I found

myself on discussion groups, and this is going back to the late 1990s, where

I met (virtually) PZ Myers and Richard Carrier, among others.



Aron Ra: And I got into the whole creationism discussion, unable to believe

that people could be that damn crazy. I had encountered a number of people

who were bragging that their church group had elected such and such judge or

senator or whatever. And they said how all of this was "coming together the

way they had planned it" and it turns out they were talking about "the wedge

strategy".



RDF: What's "the wedge strategy"?



Aron Ra: It's a political and social action plan to undermine science, among

other things, towards theocracy. They wanted an American government that

would inforce levitical law, in a nutshell. These people were serious;

they're not just a gangful of weirdos in an encampment or in a bunker,

they'd been working on putting political activists on all government levels

and they were actually trying to "take over the country". This is where the

idea of the culture war came from.



Aron Ra: We the atheist, the secularist, were never on the offensive in the

culture war. The culture war was already on and underway a while before we

even knew about it.



RDF: So you're saying that it's more than that religious people don't

understand science. Religious activists have a strategy to actively trying

to destroy the scientific viewpoint?



Aron Ra: Yeah, it is a complete strategy. In the 1990s nobody knew that; now

everybody knows it. It's not even a secret anymore. The governor of Texas is

a fundamentalist conservative and he is open about it. The next Republican

candidate for governor is also a fundamentalist conservative, as are a good

number of other governors across the States, and a whole lot of the

senators, and practically everyone who ran for President in the last

elections.



RDF: Could you tell us about how you came to atheism? Have you always been

an atheist?



Aron Ra: Without knowing it. I didn't know what faith meant. My mother was a

Mormon and I was raised in an exclusively creationist environment, and I was

the only non-creationist, and never knew until middle school. I had to be 14

years old at least before I met another person who understood what evolution

was, much less accepted it. I was alone otherwise.



Aron Ra: My family had a tradition where they didn't indoctrinate children

until after 8 years old, apparently the Mormons have this thing about an

"age of reason". So I didn't receive a lot of religious instruction until

then; I turned 8 and I was immediately baptised and they started throwing

Bible verses at me but by then a science teacher had given me a book on

dinosaurs and the book had a sort of "tree of life" section and it all made

sense to me.



Aron Ra: So when they started preaching how the Bible was the absolute truth

my immediate gut response was, "No, it isn't, look here," and then I would

start pointing out all the things in the Bible that were wrong.



RDF: So you were a rebel even when you were young!



Aron Ra: (laughs) Yeah, I guess, and I didn't even realize it. I remember my

babysitters were the worst influence. They tried to teach me things like

"might makes right"; they were right-wing Christian conservatives. I once

asked my babysitter about water, because that's one of the first molecules

that you learn about, and how you could change that to wine and she ended up

yelling at me. "How dare you question God!"  Not kidding.

 

To learn more about Aron Ra and see his videos and opinions, see www.AronRa.com and find him on YouTube.

Written By: RDFRS

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