Showing posts from September, 2012

Religion Ruined My Love Life

Religion totally ruined my love life. You have no idea. When I was in high school, I was amped up on my Evangelical Christianity twenty-four seven. I was ragging for Christ. I was off the hook! I had lots of Christian friends. I had lots of good times. In fact, I don't regret my choice to be so active in my faith, in my mission work. But what I do regret, is how strictly I took it all. For me, my Christian faith meant serious business.  As a good little Christian soldier, I kept rank. I wasn't going to be weak, because that meant Satan could get his hooks into me and drag me down. One of the ways I thought he'd get me is through the "temptation of flesh." Things like premarital sex, masturbation, and viewing pornography--I saw it all as just more pathways to sin. This idea was so ingrained into me, that it made every moment of masturbation a guilt trip. I would feel horrible shame after every bout of "weakness" and I would be overly conscious

Through Magic Eyes: How Autostereograms Help us See

Click to enlarge. An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram (SIS), designed to create the visual illusion of a three- dimensional (3D) scene from a two-dimensional image in the human brain . In order to perceive 3D shapes in these autostereograms, the brain must overcome the normally automatic coordination between focusing and vergence . (Wikipedia) (But more on autostereograms in a little bit.) After I stopped believing in God, there was an argument that really bothered me. It was an argument about human rationality, powers of reasoning, and our ability to trust our own thoughts. The theist, who is raised to distrust human experience, is told to rely on God, and is weary of the 'materialistic' world, has two main types of arguments for and against rationality, which both, oddly enough, try and support the existence of God. The first one goes like this: Because we have rationality, and can recognize it, means something rational had to create our rational

Argument From Reproduction

Here's a little theological problem I have been mulling over in my mind. It's one Christians never seem to notice, although I don't see why not, because it's kind of an obvious question. God’s ability to control human reproduction is seen throughout the Bible. One of the most notable instances is when Abimelech took Sarah into his harem, to God's great displeasure. While she was there God “closed up all the wombs in the house of Abimelech.” (Genesis 20:18) Given God's power to do this, one must wonder, why didn't God control Eve's reproductive capabilities too? Why didn't he keep Eve barren and close up her womb? That way sin wouldn't have ever entered into the world. In fact, God could have simply collected the data on Adam and Eve and the effects of the free will he gave them. Oops, it didn't go as planned. Free will made them awfully hard to control, constantly disobedient, and full of mood swings. He could have called it good and then

Thinking Makes My Head Hurt! Part 3: Scientifically Minded

Plato was right: People would rather watch their own shadows flicker on the cave walls than step out of the cave into the light. Have you ever played with Legos--and really, really enjoyed it? Have you ever taken something apart, such as a cell-phone, computer, or car engine just to see how it worked? Have you ever made a baking-soda and vinegar lava volcano with your child, not only because of the fun you had doing it when you were their age, but because you wanted to understand with "adult eyes" exactly how the chemical processes worked? Have you ever been amazed that your iPhone is actually a much better device than anything Captain Kirk or Captain Piccard ever used? This is basically what science is. At least, it is the spirit of science. To get down to the bottom of how some real world process works, and then learn to understand it fully, completely. In this way, science gives us one of the most powerful tool for gaining positive knowledge ever invented! But this

Advocatus Atheist: A New Direction and A New Purpose

A New Direction a New Purpose The new direction of this blog is to talk positively about my beliefs, what they entail, and how I cam to form them once I have left God and religion behind. The very simple reason is that I had taken apart the God argument from nearly every angle. The scientific, the philosophic, the theological, and at the end, true agnosticism was the only conclusion and atheism was the only realization which made any real sense, all things considered. After a while, my blogs were just rehashes of same old, same old type arguments. Criticisms of the failings of religion (if it wasn't obvious enough). Polemics against the religious institutions and the morons who run them (and all the religioso-accomodationalists who excuse them in the name of God). I was getting angrier and angrier with the sheer incredulity of people. The bald faced stupidity which went hand in hand with faith. And by stupidity I mean unquestioning, unthinking, attitudes with permeate much of r

Faith, Belief, and Assumptions. What's the Difference?

There is a big difference between assumptions and beliefs, even as the two are mutually dependent on one another. I would like to caution that it is probably unwise to conflate the two. One acts upon the other. In that way we can see that they are not one and the same. Belief is, technically speaking, holding a proposition to be true (this is the dictionary definition). In other words, one makes an a priori assumption in the veracity of a belief (without actually knowing whether it is true or not). So beliefs require this basic a priori assumption to even get off the ground. But aside from this, the assumption the belief relies upon is provisional. Meaning, that the assumption will either be ratified at a later date, when there is convincing evidence to confirm or disconfirm the assumption, thereby making it true or false, or it won't. All beliefs are provisional for the very reason they rely on provisional assumptions.  [Note: Something to keep in mind is that people often

Thinking Hurts My Head! Part 2: IPUs and Other Such Stuff

When I am not thinking deeply on some issue, regardless of whether it is important or not, I find that I often apply my critical thinking skills I received when I studied literary criticism. Much of what I do is what is called "analytically reasoning." Philosophers are trained in it, as are literary critics, because analytically reasoning is a step-by-step process of breaking down the meaning of an idea, piece of text, or concept into its basic components. By deconstructing something down to is rudimentary parts, one can look at the components independently to see the interplay between the implicit and explicit meanings contained therein, and then ask: do these impact the belief, affect the observer, and how do they influence the person's thinking and behavior who holds them? Before I continue on with an example of analytically reasoning applied critically, I have a small confession. When I first started out, my reasoning skills were pitiful! It wasn't until I

Thinking Hurts My Head!

I promised myself that when I started blogging again, I'd write less polemics against religion and write more on my personal beliefs and how I came to them, what they mean to me, and/or how they play a role in my daily life. This is probably one of the "and/or" moments. Over the past week I have been involved in a couple of serious dialogs with religious people. As the exchanges went back and forth, I kept noticing something peculiar--with me. Each time they'd write a paragraph, I'd write three. Every time they'd write two paragraphs, I'd write six or seven in response. I was trying to be concise! But my responses kept growing and growing. Why was this? I asked myself. Honestly, I didn't know why I was having this problem. I usually strive for pragmatic simplicity--elegant, functioning, reasons and straight forward, crystal clear, explanations. So what went wrong? I went back an re-read a lot of the exchanges. Then I realized something. I wa

Most Recognized Words

I have read, most recently in Pamela Myers' excellent book Lie Spotting , that the words OK, Coke, and Shakespeare are the most universally recognized worlds in the world. After Googling this, OK and Coke get the most hits, but I don't know if this is entirely accurate. Maybe in the English speaking world it is. But in the non-English speaking world Coke is the only one with any worldwide recognition, even if it is known by its full name Coca-cola. Having traveled to various Asian countries, including China, S. Korea, and Japan, I have noticed that "Bye-bye" is part of their everyday vernacular. OK isn't part of their lexicon. I asked my Thai and Vietnamese friends, and they both informed me that both "Bye-bye" and Coca-cola are known.  Meanwhile, in my conversations with my Asian friends, Shakespeare is a known word, but most people don't exactly know much more than the fact that he was the West's most famous writer. However, my best bet for m

Dealing with and Identifying Trolls

I figured I would say a few words about identifying and dealing with Internet trolls, since I recently had one go off endlessly on me in a previous post , until I was forced to block his various email addresses and IP addresses (multiple times) and then lock the thread down. Perhaps, the first step in recognizing a troll is how we can identify them. An online troll, according to the OTE, is: someone who sends a provocative email or newsgroup posting with the intention of inciting an angry response. Now if the post itself is controversial sometimes the responses will also be provocative. That's to be expected. With this respect it does us good to realize the term "troll" is subjective. There is no exact classification of what constitutes a troll, but there is a general ( online ) consensus of what constitutes "trolling." As such, when looking at the act of trolling, we realize that a typical Internet troll has an arsenal of about five things. Recognizing their