Interview with Feng Chin Wen — Chairperson, Asian Working Group, IHEYO

Image Credit: Feng Chin Wen.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you grow up? Was religion part of the household? How was this a part of life? How did you leave it?

Feng Chin Wen: My parents are Baptists. It is a very conservative and Chinese-oriented sect in Taiwan, so it has huge effect on my belief and ideology. However, I believe in evolution since I was 9 years old; at that time, I started to think why Christianity can’t accept evolution, a seed of skepticism had been planted.

I left Christianity when I was 17. I debated with my high school classmate who is an atheist on theology several times, and I finally agreed there is no solid evidence showing that Jesus is an ultimate truth. Meanwhile, I failed to pick up a church girl after praying hard. I totally lost my faith.

Then, all things started getting better: I became more progressive and Taiwan-oriented in my college life, and started to love people without religious sense (I consider that is fake).

Jacobsen: How do you view the world now? What seems best to explain the world in theory and practice? What ethic, for action in the world with others, seems to make the most sense to you?

Feng: As a Pastafarian, I believe that the world was created by FSM. It was drinking beer and fell on the ground to make the big bang. That’s why the world is not perfect. Ethics are principles for us to maintain our livelihood and keep it in order. We should depend on the situations we humans face to determinate what rules we should follow.

Jacobsen: What is your current involvement with the international or simply local non-religious community? What do you get out of it?

Feng: I’m the chairperson of Asian working group in IHEYO and executive director of Humanistic Pastafarianism in Taiwan. Since 2015 I have started a humanist blog and college club to promote humanism locally. Then I held 2016 Asian Humanist Conference and constructed an initial community.

On the basis of that, we decided to establish the official organization of Pastafarianism in 2017. Last year we participated in the issue of LGBT rights and attended a local fair of World Human Rights Day. I dreamed that there would have an activist humanistic organization in my country and these involvements make it come true.

Jacobsen: If you could take any piece of advice or quote from people living or dead in the non-religious community, what would be that advice or quote?

Feng: “Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.” Sun Tzu said in Art of War.

Therefore, we should “shape its course according to the nature of the ground”. Instead of against religious privileges, we become a religion then we can compete with them on an equal basis.

Jacobsen: How do you hope the non-religious community comes together and forms just that, a community, of like-minded people founded in sympathy and decency of conduct?

Feng: Never try to educate religious people but educate “nones” and empower ourselves. We shall take people’s ignorance with sense of humor and tolerance; the world is so amazing that it allows the disorder to exist, and we shouldn’t be more intolerant than the world. With these attitudes and goals, we can generate more energy to be a group, and focus on defending nones’ basic rights. It is a waste to lose the energy in changing others. We allow their ignorance but not their invasion.

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Feng: Common humanism only loves human’s virtues, but mine is to love human’s vices, and to think in depth about how to use these vices to make the world better. I respect our weaknesses since it’s part of us. Does hating them count for loving humanity, or should we say it only loves ideal humanity? I’ve had enough because it’s too religious.

Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Feng.