Stephen Busic

Stephen Busic, Secular Activist for Human & Animal Rights, Tennessee

I first met my friend Ágúst Ólafsson in 2021 on an academic trip to Iceland. Moments into conversation, it became clear we shared a love for philosophy. I had just completed my mathematics degree from Lee University, but my true love were the minors I received in both theology and philosophy. I was also finding my way as a religious agnostic in the largely religious U.S. South. Ágúst, meanwhile, was pushing forward his ministry work in his largely secular nation of Iceland. We both knew what it was like to feel different, and watch people react to our worldviews with fear rather than mutual respect and curiosity.

I became agnostic during my undergrad work in philosophy of religion. In my most honest attempt to weigh the arguments, this is the conclusion I was led to and that I continue to tentatively hold in my ongoing search for truth. By attending a Christian University at the time I became a nonbeliever, I began to have countless discussions on Christian apologetics. I encountered the entire spectrum of conversation. I’ve talked to Christians who wouldn’t take the time to understand my beliefs, and accused my efforts to seek truth as the work of demons! I also talked to professional Christian philosophers, who immensely sharpened my critical thinking skills and met my skeptical brain with excitement and appreciation.

I’m happy to say Ágúst firmly belongs to the latter camp. In the years we’ve been in touch and enjoyed each other’s ideas, never has any of my beliefs or questions been met with impatience or dismissal. What’s more, we’ve always done philosophy together. It is one of the greatest things to think openly about life’s biggest questions alongside a caring friend who has questions of their own.

Too often, ministers (or ambassadors of any worldview) will talk only to say the “right answers” rather than to listen. Whether you are religious or secular like myself, expect every conversation with Ágúst to leave both of you sharper. Expect also the complete freedom to disagree, and to share some good laughs while you’re at it. You won’t regret it!

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