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Linus Torvalds

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Torvalds is the original creator of the kernel Linux (http://www.kernel.org/), which is mostly used in the GNU/Linux operating system for computers.

The San Jose Mercury News profiled him in a piece titled "Linus the Liberator" by David Diamond (1999):

Unlike many in Silicon Valley, the newcomer is guided by a strong set of ethics. "There are like two golden rules in life. One is 'Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.' For some reason, people associate this with Christianity. I'm not a Christian. I'm agnostic. The other rule is 'Be proud of what you do.'"

See the full article at http://www.mercurynews.com/svtech/news/special/linus/

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From an interview in the November 1999 Linux Journal magazine, some excerpts

Margie: How about religion?

Linus: Hmmmm, completely a-religious -- atheist. I find that people seem to think religion brings morals and appreciation of nature. I actually think it detracts from both. It gives people the excuse to say, "Oh, nature was just created", and so the act of creation is seen to be something miraculous. I appreciate the fact that, "Wow, it's incredible that something like this could have happened in the first place." I think we can have morals without getting religion into it, and a lot of bad things have come from organized religion in particular. I actually fear organized religion because it usually leads to misuses of power.

Margie: As in holy wars?

Linus: Yeah, and I find it kind of distasteful having religions that tell you what you can do and what you can't do. Catholicism is an example of that kind of non-permissiveness, and I think that is very easy to get into if you are an organized religion. Religion is a very strange idea. In Finland, nobody cares. Many people are religious in Finland, but it's not a political issue. Over here, religion has become politicized, so you have the fringe people in the news. And then people are afraid to talk about it because it has political implications, and that's usually not true in most of Europe. Religion is a personal matter, but does not matter for anything else. That's how I think it should be done.

Margie: Yes, we were founded to keep the two separated. Then the Moral Majority found out what a large constituency they had, and...

Linus: Yeah, it's kind of ironic that in many European countries, there is actually a kind of legal binding between the state and the state religion. At the same time, in practice, religion has absolutely nothing to do with everyday life. Maybe the taxes to the church, but that's it. They don't have any political power.

Margie: Here it's called tithing, not taxes.

Linus: Actually, in Finland they call it taxes -- you pay taxes to the church. If you are a member of the church, you pay 2% tax to the church. And that's the amount of legal binding between the church and the state. Apart from that, they are completely separate. In the U.S., church and state claim to be very separate, but you still see the church has a lot of power in politics.

[...]

Margie: What about school for the kids? Are y'all going to stay here in the states for them to go to school?

Linus: Well that used to be kind of a major worry between us. We've seen some strange things. Tove was off looking for preschools, because you start so early here in the U.S. I looked closer at one of the papers she brought home, and found it mentioned L. Ron Hubbard. I started asking around about the place, and it turns out there are a scientology school, and they don't mention the fact that they are associated with scientology anywhere in their literature. And that kind of makes me nervous. I don't want to put my child in a scientology school by mistake. [....]