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God is dead boring

Monday, May 4, 2015
As Told to BC Pires

My name is Kevin Baldeosingh and I’m probably Trinidad & Tobago’s best known atheist.

I’m from South – Marabella. But I live now in Central. Where the Indos are more Indian but the same as Penal Indians – more coolieish.

There is – or used to be – a more intellectual ethos in San Fernando, although it’s not overt. When, in my mid-20s, I moved to west Trinidad, I brought that different perspective. It didn’t help me get sex in any part of Trinidad, though.

Late in life, I’ve started a family. My wife, Afi-Ola, is Afro-Trinidadian. So a fringe benefit of my marriage and daughter is that I automatically get to offend racists.

My parents are both in their 80s. My mom is hale enough to babysit my daughter but my father is bedridden and has no short-term memory. I have no idea if either of my parents are pleased by my writing. My Mom is pleased when people talk about me. If I had to guess, my father would have been most pleased if any of his children had opened a business.

I’ve been terrible at predicting my own responses to parenthood but I suspect it would have been less joyous if I’d done it younger. Partly because it would have been with the wrong women, mainly because finances would have been even more unstable.

My favourite colour is blue. And my daughter’s repeated question since she learned colours is, “Daddy, why you don’t like pink?”

I rarely read fiction now, although my degree is in Literature. I read non-fiction continually – psychology, science, economics, history. The best books I’ve read were (fiction) The Rainbow by DH Lawrence and (non-fiction) How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker.

My favourite director is Spielberg. I tried watching foreign films years ago, and didn't find them comparable to American and UK movies. So I haven't really continued trying in the hope that European etc movies have improved. 

I’m the only non-believer in my family. My parents were nominally Presbyterian. I used to believe in some sort of Supreme Being, an afterlife and other crap like astral travelling, ESP etc. But I was never religious or approved of religion.

I became a full-fledged atheist in my early 30s after reading Deepak Chopra’s Ageless Body Timeless Mind followed by Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Chopra started me thinking about quantum mechanics and Hawking showed me God was not necessary to explain the deepest questions of existence.

My personal life didn’t change when I became an atheist. My relatives already thought I was weird and I guess I chose my friends well. No one in my family has ever been bothered by my atheism. Nor has any believer ever challenged me in public. Although a couple of my female friends have been on the receiving end of religious fanatics when they found out they knew me. They think atheists are people who lie, cheat and steal (not that they usually know any).

I can declare two things: (1) there is no god that any believer believes in which exists (because there is always some qualia that is contradictory or impossible; (2) a god which exists but does not interfere with reality to all intents and purposes does not exist. I don't believe there is life after death in the sense of persistence of our ego but, unlike a god with traits, I am technically agnostic on this issue. I just consider it highly scientifically improbable.

The claim that there are “No atheists in foxholes” has actually been surveyed and found to be untrue. I never had to face any such crisis, thank Darwin, but I can't see why I would pray knowing it'll make no difference.

I did not christen my daughter. And no family members have tried yet to inculcate her, though my aunt did teach her some Christian nursery rhymes.

When I’m away from Trinidad & Tobago, what I miss most is attractive women. That happens when I'm in Tobago, too, so it's really just Trinidad.

If we go by majority view - anyone who likes Carnival, cricket, rum, and God is a Trini. But anyone who feels connected to the place, even against their preference, must be a “Trini.”

Trinidad & Tobago is the place where I was born and which has the people I know best. And which, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, I have to leave better than I found it.

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