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Dr. Joe Watkins, Ph.D.
National Park Service
I am a Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma. I was raised as a Southern Baptist, where religion was Hell-fire and damnation strongly laced with guilt, until the age of 14, when my mother allowed me to choose my own religious path. During the summers, however, I attended Luksukla Indian Church in Wright City, Oklahoma, with services conducted in the Choctaw language and all-day gatherings focused on community and fellowship. Since then, I have attended ceremonies in Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, Native American Church tepees, Muslim mosques, and other celebrations of religious belief in formal and informal settings. All of these ideas, thoughts, and experiences contribute to my eclectic belief system as I search for “meaning” within the human existence.
To this base I have added a generous sprinkling of anthropology, philosophy, history, and science. I am a firm believer in the scientific explanations offered by the theory of evolution as a means of understanding the physical processes that underlie the mechanism whereby humanity has reached the stage where it exists today.
“Knowledge” and “belief” both provide me with sustenance, neither one precluding the other. Each one fills a different need within that which I believe is a part of Being Human.