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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Religious Faith is Not a Virtue

Religious faith should stop being considered a virtue.
I define blind faith as choosing to believe in something absolutely, without doubt or openness to change, and without proper scientific evidence – i.e. wishful thinking. Though blind faith in itself need not be religiously affiliated, this type of irrational thinking is very common in religious institutions and almost unanimously supported by them. So I will use the terms religious faith, blind faith, and blind religious faith interchangeably.
Religious faith is not a trait to be considered worthy of praise because it blinds those who carry it to live a life that is less responsive to changes. It is unopen to seeing mistakes in its own ways of thinking in order to find new and better ways of living. It is a fundamentally dishonest trait as it does not seek to reconcile belief with reality, and there are consequences to this. It is comparable to driving a car and only being able to see out of the front windshield. Though plenty of people get hurt and killed driving as it is, undoubtedly more would get hurt if they could only see out of the front.
It is obviously true that there are merits to this type of living: a source of comfort and security in this harsh world, a sense of belonging in a community, a faster way of establishing a moral foundation – which absolutely seems to help in the creation of a more intimate character and disciplined style of living, and increased motivation for community service. However, the consequences of holding this trait far outweigh these surface merits. The primary consequence of blind faith is its grave social irresponsibility. Blind religious faith is at the root of some of the worst social problems of our time (and in times past). Some examples include harsh discrimination – oppression of gay people’s rights and punishment for homosexuality; social isolation and sometimes aggressive punishment (even death) for infidels; class distinctions with oppression to those in lower classes; slowing of scientific and moral progress – stem cell research, drug legalization, discrediting the theory of evolution, sex education, birth control; most forms of terrorism – ISIS, 9/11 attacks, Charlie Hedbo attacks, some school shootings; excessive shaming and verbal/ emotional abuse to mothers who have chosen abortion. It even ranges to subtler issues such as refusing to tip at restaurants, social isolation or guilt creation in schools, and creating fear in children needlessly with teaching beliefs in Hell or other variations of this.
There are other ways to cultivate the merits of religion without practicing or supporting any irresponsible forms of blind faith. Some ways include joining non-faith based communities and learning about different spiritualities that do not include blind faith (some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, Unitarianism, Pantheism, Confucianism, etc.). Even learning about different religious philosophies without embracing or supporting the blind faith elements can contribute to a growing spirituality.
To the moderates of religious practice who claim that their faith is not one of the extreme forms of faith that directly causes negative social consequences, the act of supporting these institutions by participating and donating money is perpetuating these issues. It is the sheer number of moderate believers who give even mild support towards these large religious institutions, and thus large social problems, which gives them their enormous power. A quote by the Polish Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lec describes this phenomenon elegantly: “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible” (1). Only by each individual revoking their faith and support in the massive oppressive systems can these avalanches be stopped.
Therefore, one carrying the trait of religious faith is a supporter of unjust social systems - which is quite obviously unvirtuous.
Reference 1. Lec, S.J. (1969). More Unkempt Thoughts. Funk & Wagnalls.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fundamentalism

"Fundamentalism presents real dangers to the lives and liberties of all Americans. It is not merely an acdamic problem or a problem for people who find fundamentalism a little strange or irrational. At risk are women, children, fair elections, society as a whole, the rights of Americans to reproductive choices, their freedom to choose sexual partners, freedom of religion, the freedom for all kinds of dissent, and their rights to privacy and to die with dignity." --The Fundamentals of Extremism.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lynching 1930

"A mob of 10,000 whites took Sledgehammers to the county jailhouse doors to get at these two young blacks accused of raping a white girl; the girl's uncle saved the life of a third by proclaiming the man's innocence. Although this was Marion, Ind, most of the nearly 5,000 lynchings documented between Reconstruction and the late 1960s were perpetrated in the South. (Hangings, beatings and mutilations were called "Judge Lynch.") Some lynching photos were made into postcards designed to boost white supremacy, but the tortured bodies and grotesquely happy crowds ended up revolting as many as they scared. Today the images remind us that we have not come as far from brutality as we'd like to believe." Life. 100 photographs

Sunday, May 1, 2016

An Egg Oddity: Eggs Without Yolks

This morning my wife cracked an egg, and to her surprise, there was no yolk.  Being a woman with good judgement, she tossed it. Have you ever seen that? (not the woman-with-good-judgment part, the egg am talking about) ... And what are the chances of that? I am curious. The chances of an egg with double yolks are 1 in 1000. So I googled around and found a few entries: Eggs without yolk are called "dwarf" or "wind" eggs. Such an egg is most often a pullet's first effort, produced before her laying mechanism is fully ready. In a mature hen, a wind egg is unlikely, but can occur if a bit of reproductive tissue breaks away, stimulating the egg-producing glands to treat it as a yolk and wrap it in albumen, "membranes and a shell as it travels through the egg tube. This has occurred if, instead of a yolk, the egg contains a small particle of grayish tissue. This type of egg occurs in many varieties of fowl, including chickens (both standard and bantams), guineafowl and Japanese (Coturnix) quail."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Another spring

A glorious spring day here in the heartland, and you know you made it through another long, dark, and harsh winter. The birds are chirping, and have returned after a long, arduous journey to assure us that the circle of life continues. Whatever your cares are, Nature seems to suggest, they shall pass and everything will be OK.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Music

Music is the most beautiful thing humans ever created. Music transcends all divisions and heals the soul and uplifts us all. It has the power to connect us in the most tender and loving way. What beauty.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Uphemism

Propaganda is not an exclusive property of the conservative right, but also the liberal left. Well, you know I am not impressed by the human specie.