Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Return to a Lonely Existence

I used to think "lonely" was okay. It was a fortress of solitude, a state of freedom. Still, "lonely" is good in moderation, used as a certain solace from massive quantities of people. Social situations drain me. Solitude is as nourishing as food and as revitalizing as sleep after a period of high social interaction and stress.

But this...this is ungodly. It was, at first, solitude; but then it became pure loneliness. Cut off from the rest of the world, I wait here doing nothing. Not growing. Stagnating. Being in the presence of my parents yet again is a constant reminder of my sheltered childhood. This house used to be a fortress of protection, simply because I knew no other form of existence. Now that I have had a taste of the outside world, sitting here immobilized is simply unbearable. I wish to be of the world, not of my family!

This blog is now my only consistent outlet to the outside world...and no one even knows it exists. This computer screen, my window to the world, is too small now that I have been in the world. And what a tiny microcosm of a world it was! It was hardly even the Real World! Yet it was at least a glint of freedom, growth, and learning. I want, more than anything I may receive as a gift during the holiday season, to return to that world: it is more of a sanctuary than my own bedroom.

Bob Evans and other things....

What happened, Bob Evans? In your quest to become sleeker and more modern, you've lost the "homey touch".

I finished this semester with a 2.786 GPA, a B- average. I'm not complaining.

I'm quite proud of my brother. Today he said "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas". If only he'd stay with that. His Murderer-school will teach him otherwise. It's apparently up to me to keep him secularized and to constantly remind him of the science of our beautiful world.

Finally, I think it's time for a new name for this blog. While I'm still your friendly neighborhood atheist, "The Atheist Manifesto" seems a bit dated and etymologically inaccurate.

Atheism: Belief or No Belief?

A question that has been bugging me for as long as I've been an atheist still has not been answered. Is atheism the "lack of belief in any deities" or the "belief that there are no deities"?

In this (most likely) final post of 2011, I aim to dissect the problem and attempt to find a solution. Let us begin with the word "atheism" itself.

"Theism" is either the belief in one or more deities or the belief that deities exist. Regardless of the definition, adding the prefix "a-" to a word negates it. For example, "sexual" means that an organism reproduces in binary fashion, with a sperm and an egg, both from a different organism of usually the same species. "Asexual" means that an organism reproduces itself by itself. It could produce both the seed and the egg, or simply find a host and grow. Therefore, "atheism" is the negation, or opposite, of "theism".

Theism is the philosophy whereby one derives a sense of morality and a style of life from the teachings of philosophers who claim(ed) to be inspired by an unseen power usually depicted as a human or an animal.

A theism is the having of a religion. It doesn't matter which religion, just that one has a religion. Conversely, atheism is the lack of a religion.

"Religion" is a more specific form of theism in that it refers particularly to one set of morals and one lifestyle. In a religion, one believes in one set of gods. To lack a religion is to lack a belief in a set of gods.

Therefore, "atheism" is the lack of belief, not the belief that there is no set of gods.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finding my Place

It's all just a dream, a dream that I'll never wake up from. Change is coming. In 11 days I'll be moving out of my home. Hhh, just eleven days. I have eleven days before I leave and not look back. I must keep moving forward, although the transition to living without family will be difficult, most likely.

It's all about finding place. UT is going to be my new home, the Rockets, and especially the marching band, my new family...not related by blood, but by necessity, for without the multitude of common companions, we would be nought but alone in this big world. It's a tight microcosm of a civilization, complete with its own social standards and nuances.

Without a tight-knit society, each individual is as nothing. That is university; no. That is universality.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Priests as Teachers

Catholic priests cannot be good priests and good teachers in the same instance of time. Before you go on about my craziness, reread that sentence. Catholic priests cannot be GOOD priests and GOOD teachers at the same time. The reason for this is simple: priests and school teachers have generally opposing philosophies.

For example, a good Catholic priests shows mercy. Good teachers are merciless. A good Catholic priest is patient. Teachers need to be efficient. Good priests are happy when you repair your past mistakes. Good teachers give zeros. Good priests are humble. Good teachers "know it all".

Simply, priests must strive to be like Jesus. But in today's competitive society, being passive leads one nowhere. Confucius taught that teachers must love discipline (that is, the action). Good priests are about forgiveness. Good teachers are about taking responsibility through punishment.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Being Childlike

I have come to the unfortunate realisation that I have lost my childhood. This is not in the sense that I have somehow voided it, but that I have never realised until now that I wish to remain childlike. How cruel it is that we can't understand this until we're adults! I'm less than a fortnight from my coming-of-age; now I am missing my childhood.

How I would love to keep my wonder for the universe! Sometimes I just want to forget the science behind things and just stare in awe at an unfamiliar world. I want to live simply and use my imagination to explain things, even if I know the right answer. I once read a quote by some unknown (to me) author: "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." I deny that option.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Abortion

This topic came up today while my family was making our Easter dinner. Personally, I am pro-choice and pro- (most) abortion. Some of my family members (especially the more religion-sensitive ones) are strongly against abortion and turned our discussion into a debate.

The debate really centers around what humanity is. It is not wrong to kill a bird, a deer, a spider, or a dog because animals lack humanity. However, humans who fail to meet the criteria for having humanity are no different than dogs, spiders, deer, and birds. It is not wrong to kill a gamete, zygote, embryo, fetus, or human in a total vegetative state. I don't care how "cute" you think it is. All things that are new experiences to us are awe-inspiring: seeing a picture of an embryo for the first time is no exception. I of course refer to those who gawk at video boards and billboards depicting fetuses and embryos while saying that it is wrong to kill it because it has individual toes.

Humans are animals. Hence the fact that we are in the Animal Kingdom. We are not some special being above animals. However, we do have our ability to think rationally, logically, and reasonably; we have the ability to sustain our own lives even without the help of society (e.g., we can eat, drink, and breathe on our own); in addition to the aforementioned rational thinking, such thinking that we possess is conscious thought (that is, we can metathink, or think about thinking); we communicate in an effective and intelligent manner; and we have emotion.

While other animals may have some of those qualities, no animal has them all, and certainly none of them are of the species Homo sapiens.

I have just named the five qualities and one requirement of humanity. To put them simply:
  • Requirement
    • Of species Homo sapiens
  • Qualities
    • Ability to reason logically
    • Ability to sustain own life (homeostasis)
    • Ability to meta-think
    • Ability to communicate effectively and intelligently
    • Ability to have emotion
Now before you go saying, "well, even a baby can't reason or sustain its own life", let me make this VERY IMPORTANT statement:
  • To have humanity, only the requirement and ONE of the five qualities are needed.
Animals do not have humanity because they are not human.
Fetuses (and those in prior stages) do not have humanity because they do not have EVEN ONE of the Five Qualities.

Fetuses cannot reason logically. In fact, psychologists have determined that mature logical reasoning onsets around the age of seven years.

Fetuses cannot sustain their own lives. Rip a fetus out of a mother two months early and it will die without life support (and probably even WITH it). Now what if it is two-weeks early? A two-week premature birth, while the human is still a fetus, it can be determined to be an infant upon examination. If it can breathe on its own and its brain functions normally on its own, it passes the homeostasis test, and thus into a state of humanity. (Note: this is not the ability to BE sustained, but to sustain one's own self unaided.)

It has not been psychologically determined that fetuses have conscious thought. Therefore, we should assume that it does not have conscious thought until we can see through its actions that it has conscious thought. The default value for consciousness is 0. The default for anything is null. One must  prove that there is something, not that there isn't something. The burden of proof lies on the person who says that something is in fact there, not on the person who is using current knowledge (that there is nothing). This argument can be applied to a number of things, from the teacher whose students didn't do their homework to debates about the existence of gods.

Fetuses cannot communicate effectively and intelligently. If a fetus comes up with some sort of mutual communication with its mother that can be exhibited as proof, call me.

Finally, it has not been determined that fetuses can have emotion. This follows the same argument as that for conscious thought. Physical pain is NOT an emotion (it is an instinctive response to a dangerous physical stimulus), and as I have discussed, it cannot have emotional pain, for what conscious thought enables emotion? Emotion is the capacity to have it coupled with conscious thought in order for the brain to process it.

In similar light, humans in the vegetative state lack humanity.

In final summation, the following things do not have humanity:
  • non-humans
  • dead humans
  • humans in a total vegetative state
  • sperm, follicles, gametes, zygotes, embryos, fetuses

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Illegitimate Son of a Carpenter

Maybe a man named Jesus did exist, but he wasn't a god. I jokingly told a story this morning that Joseph and Mary had unlawful intercourse and would face being stoned to death, and so convinced the community that their son was conceived by ...God. 
 
Then the carpenter taught his son practical philosophy which stunned the pompous aristocratic priests who knew nothing of hard labor and the philosophies of life that are derived from it. In their curiosity and Jesus' "mischeviousity", they prevented him from leaving, which was an act further strengthened by his belief that he was a god, something Mary and Joseph taught him so that he wouldn't realize that he was in fact an illegitimate son and go around proclaiming the fact (as children are inclined to do).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pagan Blog Prompts: Earth Day

While there isn't much I do that is environmentally unfriendly, I don't have any religious beliefs, so I can't say I was inspired by the Light-Bearer. That said, one's religious beliefs and being "green" are two separate things in my book. To say they are the same would be to say that all atheists actively hurt the environment. In fact, being scientists, many of us care about our environment deeply.

However, the eco-sensitive theist could not merge the two unless one is a pantheist (e.g., one who believes that nature IS deity). In that case, then hurting the environment would be detrimental to their religious beliefs. If a non-pantheist wanted to be eco-friendly, it would be an act of secular generosity, since there is no incentive for doing such eco-friendly acts. If such a person was not so generous, that one probably has a nihilistic life-view. ("I'm going to die before anything bad happens to me, so why should I care?")

The only people that I can see combining the two are Pagans who believe that the earth IS deity, not that there are separate deity-entities.

Pagan Blog Prompts

On "Vampires"

When you hear the word, "vampire", what do you think of? Dracula (for you older ones)? Twilight? A kind of bat?

There are people who claim that their body's life-support system requires the ingestion of someone else's blood. I don't know who these people think they are, but there is no scientific evidence for this. It's mostly overly emotional teenaged drama queens who think that they have some magical properties because they watched Twilight.

It's the same way with most Neopagans. A vast majority of them are indeed overly emotional teenaged drama queens who can feel "vibes" in the air. If by energy you mean light, then yes!

Here's the message: take the world for what it is. Hurting others to serve your own beliefs is wrong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Bully Returns

Another news story about some innocent Chinese people being imprisoned in China for no apparent reason was published on the USA Today website yesterday. Once again, religious persecution is the name of the game. Last time it was a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and before that, countless pointless arrests for those with religious/philosophical/lifestyle views differing from those of Hu Jintao.

My question is this: what the hell has China to gain from suppressing the expression of its people?

Does it fear a loss of control? Notice our own country. Our government controls us like master and slave and yet we are free to express ourselves however we wish. This blog would be illegal in China.

Does China fear it will lose face? It just did and will continue to dig it's own grave in the realm of reputation if it goes on doing so. China thinks it can just mess with its own people and say, "Look! We're powerful!"

I think it is this way for no other reason than the classic Hollywood high school bully performs his malicious acts. The leaders in China are ruthless sons-of-bitches who feel the need to suppress/imprison/interrogate/brainwash/kill their own people for invalid reasons so they can satisfy their sadistic needs. These monsters in the Chinese government have no reason for their actions other than that they would love to watch the world burn light the fire themselves.

China: you are the next human rights target. Remember Victorian France? They only had 26 million people.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pagan Christians!? Whaaat!?

Today I happened to stumble upon (literally; not through that cursed webservice) one particular blog called, "Pagan Blog Prompts". It is a weekly-updated collection of prompts to encourage readers to expound upon various religious topics (under the assumption that a Pagan is reading and writing).

I found one prompt from January 2011 eye-catching: "Christian Paganism? Is it possible?"

I find this to be an utterly pointless question (with no insult to the author). I can't believe (ha) that anyone would have the audacity to call themselves both Christian and Pagan. While Christianity is indeed a derivative of Paganism, the two forms of belief have almost nothing in common. For one example, Christianity is monotheistic while Paganism is poly/pantheistic (depending on the practicioner's particular beliefs).

However, there is one thing that I'd like to point out about Christianity and Paganism that completely destroys the possibility of the so-called, "Pagan Christian". In Christianity, love is proclaimed and taught, yet there is hardly any love (this is, yes, a generalization). I can't tell you how many times I read or hear about Christians, especially Roman Catholics, who give to their church and not to some worthy cause, or who ignore their own doctrine and never perform acts of service to humanity. Almost all the Christians I know are just like this.

Pagans are much different, I find. Pagans do not always preach about love, yet they can be the most loving. (I take this from blogs and forum posts I read...I don't actually know a Pagan.) They are the ones who have a general love for nature (including humanity) as well as love for their gods.

It is because of this difference in level of love, that, I think, makes it impossible for "Pagan Christianity" to exist. There is a conflict of personality, of morality.

It's not that the beliefs are so different, because beliefs differ from person to person. It's that it is not possible to both love and not love in the same moment in time.