October 19, 2017

Faith is Not Needed

Faith is not needed for things that are real

Ever notice how faith is not needed for things that...you know...exist? If we have evidence that something is real, we have no use for faith. If we don't have sufficient evidence that something is real but want to believe in it anyway, we use faith.

October 17, 2017

Pragmatic Secular Activism

Women's march against Donald Trump

Suppose for a moment that you agree that the U.S. "still has far too many racists" and "a serious race relations problem" (jobsanger). Even among those who agree with these claims, one might expect to find considerable disagreement over what to do about it. Some might prefer education; others might prefer public shaming. There are sure to be many approaches to solving our race relations problem and reducing the number of racists, and each will have their advocates.

When I think of activism of almost any type focusing on almost any set of issues, I think this is where things break down. We can usually agree about the problem we'd like to solve. We share at least some sense of the state-of-affairs we'd like to bring about even if this is somewhat vague. Our disagreement almost always involves the means we decide to pursue in order to meet our goal(s).

October 15, 2017

Maybe Your Deceased Loved One is Looking Up On You

hell fire
I'm sure you've noticed that people often refer to deceased loved ones as “looking down” on them. The implication, of course, is that their loved one is now in heaven. This strikes me as more than a little presumptuous. How do they know where their loved one now resides? It seems like there are plenty of cases where it would make more sense to describe one's deceased loved one as “looking up” on them instead. Strangely, I don't believe I've ever heard someone say that. Have you?

This raises an interesting question. If we assume for a moment that Christians are right about heaven and hell, wouldn't we have to suspect that the majority of humans who have lived and died now reside in hell? I mean, wouldn't it be a fairly safe bet to think that all the non-Christians would be there? Maybe not.

I imagine the answer a Christian would give to this question depends on what sort of Christian he or she is. I've known Christians who confidently assert that almost everyone goes to heaven and only the truly horrible end up in hell (e.g., people who disagree with their political views). On the other hand, I've known Christians who confidently claim that most people will spend an eternity in hell because only those few who practice the same brand of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity they themselves practice have any realistic shot at heaven.

October 14, 2017

October 2017 Horror Watching

Halloween monster with knife

One of the October traditions for which I try to find some time every year involves watching as many horror movies as I can. I am fairly successful some years, managing to see several. And there are other years where it just doesn't work out at all, with the month flying by before I realize what I missed.

Last year I discovered that the quality of the horror flicks available on cable improved to some degree as the month went on. I am hoping that will happen again this October, as things aren't off to an encouraging start.

October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th: Religious Superstitions Are Even Worse

black cat
I'm not sure what percentage of Americans would say that they are at all concerned by the fact that today is Friday the 13th. My guess is that at least 30% would say so if they were polled, but this is just a guess and is based on nothing more than an observation I've made over the years that roughly 30% of Americans seem to endorse the most ridiculous things on surveys. But even if I'm right and 30% or more would express such views, I'm not sure we need to worry much about it. I'd guess that the number who actually behave differently because today is Friday the 13th would be much lower.

What I am suggesting here is that there is often a big discrepancy between the sort of beliefs one reports having on surveys and how one behaves. I shake my head in puzzlement when I encounter people who claim to believe in bad luck, ghosts, Bigfoot creatures, demons, hauntings, and the like, but I can often console myself with the knowledge that most of them do not act on these beliefs. And among those few who do, not many act in ways that would be expected to have an adverse impact on others.