Wednesday, December 23, 2009
So, on topic... I graduated with my bachelors in biomedical sciences six years ago. I remember that there was a current estimate at the time about the textbook knowledge versus the actual field knowledge. I heard a professor say that at the time I was studying, there was a five year gap between what was actually known in the biological sciences (genetics, general biology, physiology, etc) and what was in my textbook. This meant that in 2003 I was studying material from 1998.
I remember wondering what kind of new things were being discovered and questioning the validity of my textbooks claims on certain things. At the moment I can only imagine that there is a very large lag time in between the current body of scientific knowledge and what is taught at the undergraduate level. Probably around 7 years. This is my own estimate, and I have no way to verify this particular number. I do know however, that it takes time for evidence to be established, challenged, and upheld as current knowledge before it ever gets into print in a standardized college course. Research today is so specialized that it runs far ahead of any printing press.
This is interesting in itself, but my point does not stop here. If I was studying at an institution of higher learning and my knowledge was six years behind the (then) current corpus of empirical comprehension... what of the general public? I could ask my professors questions about nucleophiles, telomeres, and electromagnetics (Oh my!), and I could talk with my classmates about cellular action potential gradients... but I would immediately start speaking in gibberish if I tried to discuss any of this with family members, persons of non-professional or non-specialized work, or people in non science majors at school.
If I was studying this kind of thing as my major in college and I was six years behind... everyone else was completely lost! From research at one end to the laypeople at the other, our society is disjointed at best.
Its currently the end of 2009, and by my estimate I would say that the average non-scentific college graduate is roughly 5-6 years behind the current movement of science. I would guess that the average American who did not attend or graduate from college is at least 10 years behind, but realistically... probably more.
This terrifies me. Just trying to think about the uneducated massess causes my panties to bunch.
A favorite axiom of mine is: little knowledge is more dangerous than none.
Having little knowledge will lead you to believe the illusion that you have more ability than you do. Having no knowledge is accompanied by at least a thimble full of doubt.
Whats the point to all this? And what does it have to do with the known universe?
Well, if you watched the video above, consider yourself more educated than most. Consider yourself lucky. I bet that a representation of this much of the universe has never been available, much less available to the general public... MUCH LESS this comprehensive. Ten years ago we did not know this much about the universe, nor did we have the technology to map in 3-D the kowledge we had at the time.
How much dont you know about the universe? Doesnt that fill you with a GIANT sense of awe? You live and breathe as part of a mystery so gargantuan that you cannot fathom even one one-billionth of your own reality.
Could you fully understand one slice of the pie if we were able to divide the earth up into a million pieces? Could you really grasp every nuance of one piece of that? What about one of a billion pieces? Probably not. Perhaps very few humans who have ever lived had the capability to really understand one one-billionth of the earths entirety... Much less the universe... and we dont even have a complete map of that!
Think about that for a second. We know so much, and still we know nothing. I often think about how I can balance the inequality of knowledge between new research at one end, and the general public at the other... this becomes most apparent in every religious debate I have ever had.
I will close this post with one of my absolute favorite quotes. It is from Carl Sagan's book "Pale Blue Dot".
"Look the pale blue dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
"The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
"It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. "
-Carl Sagan 1994
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
One of my teachers recently said, "When your base becomes less stable, you can more easily and spontaneously adapt to your environment."
That is exactly how I feel.
My foundation is less stable. I feel like I am careening through chaos. It has always been this way, its just that now I have a more lucid and palpable sense of things.
I guess the old adage, "change does not come from stability" is correct.
In the last couple years my life has gone through a radical overhaul. Or so it feels. As I look at my life, I've always been going through radical overhauls. However I was able to build a sense of security along the way. As I am going through my most recent change, I feel a roller coaster of emotions in strange combinations.
Overall, I feel more empowered in my own life than I have in about three years. I know this is a direct result of the changes I am going through as well as the training I am receiving. Crazy new shit is happening and I both love it and am terrified of it.
I am empowered because I must be. Ironically it is out of this dualism that I find comfort. I must choose to stand up in the fire and face everything, or be submitted by the gravity of my situation.
I am learning the deepest and most resonating lessons of my life so far, and I have absolutely no desire to. Two quotes come to mind:
"Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, no one wants to lift heavy weights."
"Pain is the best teacher, but no one wants to attend his class."
I find myself unable to plan for tomorrow because of how consuming the present is. For the same reason I must let go of the past as cleanly and swiftly as possible.
Crazy. New. Shit.
Monday, November 9, 2009
This video puts that in perspective a little bit... Make something good, and people are naturally drawn to it. Even if it has no real purpose other than fun. Fun is a type of quality that anyone can recognize instantly.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Its rare that I find information both compelling and useful in the same stroke. Well, I just read a fascinatingly clear differentiation showing how these words relate:
There are graphs and everything! Its even easy to understand!
Its a simple post and its very helpful to identify where you would place yourself on the graph. Its helpful because so often the discussions we have in our daily lives surrounding the topics of religion, faith, reason, spirituality, and truth are so often muddled by mis-communication about these four terms.
So, please look at this blog post and take a quick second to place yourself on the chart...
Saturday, October 3, 2009
10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism
By Sam Harris
December 24, 2006
The Los Angeles Times
SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term “atheism” has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.
Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.
Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was “not at all to be tolerated” because, he said, “promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist.”
That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims “never to doubt” the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists — and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.
Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.
1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.
On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.
2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.
People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.
3) Atheism is dogmatic.
Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity’s needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn’t have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.
No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the “beginning” or “creation” of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.
The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, “The God Delusion,” this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don’t know precisely how the Earth’s early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase “natural selection” by analogy to the “artificial selection” performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.
5) Atheism has no connection to science.
Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.
6) Atheists are arrogant.
When scientists don’t know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn’t know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn’t arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.
7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.
There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.
There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.
8) Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.
Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature’s laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.
From the atheist point of view, the world’s religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn’t have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.
9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.
Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as “wishful thinking” and “self-deception.” There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.
In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?
10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.
If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.
We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
- When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
- I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
- I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
- Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
- I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
- A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
- Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
- Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?
- I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
- My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan,
J. Kent Ashcraft
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It happens by living simply. As simple as it needs to be, and not more.
It happens by living genuinely. In the same way an apple tree ... 'apples', as Alan Watts used to say. There is no difference between the tree simply being a tree and the apple happening. The apple is literally an arbitrary mental construct that we have imposed upon its anatomy. The apple and the tree are one process, there is no difference between them except that which we create. It is not trying, nor not trying to 'apple'... it just does, and quite beautifully.
Yet this state or experience of being is shrouded in a dynamic jungle... a jungle of concrete-ness. You cannot try to make it happen, in the same way that you cannot not try to make it happen. It is literally allowed to happen.
And yet this word (allowed), is used in only one of its forms. "To give the necessary time or opportunity for"... This isnt a passive sense of the term. To allow myself to be genuine requires masterful looseness... an experienced veteran who maintains a beginners mind.
When we simply live, spontaneously, creatively... in such a way that nothing more or less needs be taken into account, we instantaneously and interdependently enable our own freedom. This is the context through which being genuine is realized - (made real). Its not forced to take place, it cant be. It simply happens.
And it happens simply.
If being genuine is intentionally sought after, we become trapped or obsessed with being genuine, and act the part so much that we become a fake... someone else. If we intentionally try to not do it... the same happens but it happens through the gate of denial.
Kind of like when you hold a handful of water. If you hold it tightly, it squirts out through your fingers, if you hold it too loosely, it dribbles away. Yet there is a way to do neither and still, almost effortlessly, stay in a balanced relationship with the water...
The genuine self then, is allowed to happen. Like the water it is not pushed away by your efforts, nor invited into a void by your denial.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
As it happens, Ive often wondered (coming from a non-coffee culture) what the hell is so different about the varied espresso drinks.
Me: "Ummm, I think I would like to try and 'American Macchiato'..."
Barista: Blank stare composed of a subtle balance between confusion and frustration.
Me: "No, wait. Um. Whats that called? An espresso breve?"
Barista: -Looks at the person behind me in line, then at her watch-
Me: "Um, okay. Can I put sugar in an espresso shot?"
Me: "Mmmmm that sounds good. I'll take that."
Well, here is a basic primer:
Friday, August 21, 2009
If youre a LOST fan and have seen season 3 (an honest qualifier), this will probably be funny because its not chess.
If youre not a LOST fan. It will probably be strange, cute, and have an air of cultism...
Should you kiss Jesus for good luck?
Yeah, who am I kidding. Its a dogs ass.
The power of Christ compels you...... to laugh!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Understanding chaos, produces order.
Look deeply into anything and upon magnification you will find many.
Gaze upon chaos and you will derive patterns, producing solidarity.
Also, a very strange image (Safe for work).
Friday, March 20, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
While proudly showing off his new apartment to friends late one night,
the drunk led the way to his bedroom where there was a big brass gong.
"What's that big brass gong for?" one of the guests asked.
"Why, that's the talking clock" the man replied.
"How does it work?"
"Watch", the man said, giving it an ear-shattering pound with a hammer.
Suddenly, someone on the other side of the wall screamed, "For God's sake,
you bastard, it's 2 am in the morning!!"
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Cats AND dogs
Some surprising things did not make the list like Obama, The Beatles, global warming, and Pedro.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
A Partial List of Eternal Truths
By Sheldon Kopp
- This is it!
- There are no hidden meanings.
- You can’t get there from here, and besides there’s no place else to go.
- Nothing lasts!
- There is no way of getting all you want.
- You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.
- You only get to keep what you give away.
- There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
- The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune.
- You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless.
- It is a random universe to which we bring meaning.
- You don’t really control anything.
- You can’t make anyone love you.
- No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else.
- Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.
- There are no great men/women.
- If you have a hero, look again; you have diminished yourself in some way.
- All of you is worth something, if you will only own it.
- Childhood is a nightmare.
- But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own, 'take care of yourself because there is no one else to do it for you' grown-up.
- Love is not enough, but it sure helps.
- We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is.
- How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it.
- We are responsible for everything we do.
- No excuses will be accepted.
- You can run, but you can’t hide.
- We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.
- The only victory lies in surrender to oneself.
- You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.
- What do you know - for sure - anyway?
- Learn to forgive yourself, again and again
- And again and again.
Friday, February 6, 2009
So, I am getting close to a goal of mine.
For a while now I have been exercising. Lifting heavy weights isnt fun in the moment, but its rewarding. I guess thats where the adage "Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but no one wants to lifts heavy weights" comes from.
Well, I think highly of using ones own body weight and strength to increase fitness. I guess this could be called 'Proportionate fitness'. It involves doing (difficult) exercises using your own body in order to increase your physical fitness.
These kinds of exercises are more like skills (Mad skillz), and I am working them into my routine so that eventually I will do mostly body weight training, and wont use dumbells very intensely. I have been working on some related upper body skills involving doing the tri-pod, hand stand, and hand stand presses.
Today I did two sets of 8 presses! I am excited about this! My goal is to do three sets of 8, and then narrow the distance between my hands on the floor. Eventually (I dont know when...) I will be able to do the presses free standing. Right now I can only do the hand stands and the presses when I have a wall or a door behind me and lean my feet against it when I am upside down.
Finally doing this feels great. My shoulders are tired of course, but I feel good about accomplishing something I set out to do. It feels very... Manly.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
1. You Are Different and That's Bad
2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
3. Dad's New Wife Robert
4. Fun four-letter Words to Know and Share
5. Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An I-Can-Do-It Book
6. The Kids' Guide to Hitchhiking
7. Kathy Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her
8. Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
9. All Cats Go to Hell
10. The Little Sissy Who Snitched
11. Some Kittens Can Fly
12. That's it, I'm Putting You Up for Adoption
14. The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator
15. Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
16. The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy
17. Strangers Have the Best Candy
18. Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way
19. You Were an Accident
20. Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will
21. Pop! Goes The Hamster...And Other Great Microwave Games
22. The Man in the Moon Is Actually Satan
23. Your Nightmares Are Real
25. Eggs, Toilet Paper, and Your School
26. Why Can't Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?
27. Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things
28. Daddy Drinks Because You Cry
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Here is the list of venomous mammals.
Of the list, a notable is the Loris. The Loris is a primate with glands on the inside of their elbows secrete a toxin that smells reminiscent of sweaty socks. They cover their babies in the toxin to protect them from predators, and put it in their mouths to give themselves a venomous bite, delivering the toxin via their lower incisors.
Yes, sweaty socks.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
forsake |fərˈsāk; fôr-| verb [ trans. ] chiefly poetic/literary • abandon (someone or something) • renounce or give up
I spend a lot of time thinking and processing different aspects of philosophy and metaphysics (if there is such a thing). I watch debates online, and on television. Hours and hours of debates. I read books on the topics by various authors. I immerse myself in Ontological discourse and debates often. And yet…
I see something missing.
Its extremely rare to witness anyone disclosing what it would take to sway them.
Think about it. You're debating someone on a hot topic that you are well read on and passionate about. You can wield the Samurai katana of your intellect against the toughest logic. Yet most debates and discussions end in an extremely distasteful, if almost violent, divergence of sides. People attend these kinds of debates in order to cheer on a champion fighter who they wish to see smash the other side. I used to practically bring beer and popcorn to the ‘Atheist vs. Christian’ debates at my undergraduate university. I wish they sold big foam hands for each side, and every time I went I would fight the impossible urge to start a wave through the crowd. People just want to see blood. Sometimes this happens… most times it doesn’t. People usually walk away from these discussions and debates solidified in their position. Nothing constructive is accomplished.
So much of this is oriented towards a type of combat. Combat is rarely, if ever, constructive.
Even though people dont say this enough, Ive seen some popular Atheist proponents disclosing this info. Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Hitchens… it would take a demonstration of kinds:
- The appearance of a deity directly to humanity as a whole
- Something miraculous (that wouldn't normally happen anyways). Like instead of a person getting well from an illness, how about an amputee grows their leg back??? See this website:
My point being that people debating this topic do not address this enough, even if they do address ti at all.
Yet I haven’t seen a person of ‘faith’ disclose what it would take for them to let go of their beliefs. Actually Ive seen professions of the complete opposite.
“There is absolutely nothing you or anyone can say or do to change what I know in my heart to be true. The god of the (insert holy-book here) exists!”
When this is the case, its not a debate... its a one-way-only heated discussion.
I think that we would make progress if we began discussions with two elements in place. This works for both sides (people who believe in a god, and people who have no belief in a god).
1- Non-violent communication with an attitude of curiosity about the other side.
2- Begin with the question, “What would it take, literally, for you to change your current beliefs?
When you approach these kinds of debates and conversations in this way, you disarm the opponent before they can create a verbal defense, and you begin by exploring the places in their mental model of reality where they designate that change can be made.
In essence, you have your ‘opponent’ do the difficult work for you and avoid many, many bickering contests.
So… the one question for both sides:
If you believe in a god, what would it take, literally, for you to change your beliefs?
If you do not believe in a god, what would it take for you to change your beliefs?
~ Richard Dawkins