Meet a Member: Larry Allen hopes to counteract anti-science agenda

Name: Larry W. Allen.

Where I live: Altadena, Calif.

Family: I lost my wife, FFRF Life Member Marilyn Morgan, to pancreatic cancer two years ago.

Education: Graduate with double major in philosophy and economics from California State College (now University) in Los Angeles. Graduate studies in both fields, but no graduate degree.

Occupation: Retired real estate investor. I never held employment in any paying job long enough to call it a career.

How I got where I am today: I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, but I’m not sure I ever believed in its teachings, although I could mouth the appropriate words. I’ve always been interested in science. The tipping point for me came when one of my junior high school classmates announced he didn’t believe in God because the creation account was inconsistent with Darwinian evolution. I’ve pretty much been an atheist since then.

Where I’m headed: I’ve not been an activist since my college years, but the ascendency of the Religious Right in recent Republican administrations has impelled me to rethink what I can do to counteract their anti-science and anti-human freedom agenda. A priority now is the upcoming election cycle and I think I may commence by donating to Senate races across the country.

Person in history I most admire and why: There are actually two who are celebrated for their roles in the formation of our country, but whose religious skepticism was excoriated at the time and has been suppressed in the mythology of our country’s founding: Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine.

A quotation I like: I’ll paraphrase here: “You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman, renowned physicist and Nobel Laureate (1974 Caltech commencement address).

Things I like: Early music (Bach and before), the visual arts, birdwatching, science, nature and travel.

Things I smite: Religions, superstitions, hypocrisy and authoritarianism.

My doubts about religion started: In junior high school, subsequently reinforced by my studies in philosophy, science and history.

What cultural changes worry you?: The increasing close-mindedness of the populace in the United States when it involves science, the value of the scientific method, and the implications of the findings of science to the future of our planet. Concomitant with this worry is the subordination of human freedom to the dictates of the Christian religion.

Before I die: I’ve accomplished pretty much what I wished, experiencing only one disaster: the death of my wife. The best I can do at this point is to ensure that the bulk of my estate goes to nonprofit organizations that instantiate my ideals and values.

Ways I promote freethought: I discovered FFRF only a few years ago when it ran a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, but since then I have become a Lifetime Member, have gifted two Lifetime Memberships to people close to me, and given memberships in FFRF to acquaintances when I have learned that they are atheists.

Larry W. Allen