Australian SF Writer
From an interview published in Eidolon 11, January 1993, pp.18-30:
"I don't want to write motherhood statements -- feel-good stories that cave in at the end and do nothing but confirm everything you ever wanted to believe; I've done that in the past, and it's insidious. Stories like that should be burned. If I'm certain of anything, it's that understanding how the real world works - how human brains actually function, how morality and emotions and decisions actually arise -- is essential to any kind of ethical stance which will make sense in the long term. If that gets me branded 'mechanistic', so be it.
"I was raised as a Christian, and I still retain a lot of the values of Christianity. The trouble with basing values on religions, though, is that the premises of most of them are pure wishful thinking; you either have to refuse to scrutinise those premises - take them on faith, declare that they 'transcend logic' - or reject them. As Paul Davies has said, most Christian theologians have retreated from all the things that their religion supposedly asserts; they take a much more 'modern' view than the average believer. But by the time you've 'modernised' something like Christianity - starting off with 'Genesis was all just poetry' and ending up with 'Well, of course there's no such thing as a personal God' - there's not much point pretending that there's anything religious left. You might as well come clean and admit that you're an atheist with certain values, which are historical, cultural, biological, and personal in origin, and have nothing to do with anything called God."
When asked what inspires him to write, Egan said
"Most of my 'inspiration' is very transparent. 'The Cutie' was triggered by reading that childless adults in the US were buying themselves Cabbage Patch dolls - and that one couple had even had an exorcism performed on theirs. I'm still not sure if that was apocryphal or not. 'The Moral Virologist' was a fairly direct response to religious fundamentalists blathering on about AIDS being God's instrument; I thought someone should point out that, even on their own terms, this was a blasphemous obscenity. I suppose that story was also guided by the example of 'creation science'; believing in doctrine is bad enough, but if you start trying to reason from it, you churn out an ever-growing list of absurdities which you also have to believe."
In a personal correspondence with Mr. Egan, he confirmed that his Hugo winning novella, Oceanic, was, in fact, a thinly disguised autobiographical account of his own journey to atheism.