Purpose of Perspective

With the recent attacks on Paris I noticed a disturbing trend. There was an immediate outcry of support from the world with people speaking and acting in support of the country, however a few days after it immediately was drowned out by something much worse.

The first thing I noticed was the comments about the slacktivism culture of the millennials. It may be true that our generation is more likely to blog about the horrible things than to do anything difficult to change them but that is not what sharing the Flag of France was. Changing a profile picture to their flag, posting about your prayers and support is just that, support. Comparing condolences to a mourning country with that of slacktivism is like asking funeral attendees to bring your loved one back rather than offering up “useless words.”

The second thing I noticed was a number of states closing their borders to refugees and the immediate outcry of media surrounding that decision. The truth of the matter is, we have a responsibility as a member of the UN to help refugees and the conversation we are having right now is just distracting us from doing that. We are arguing about what states are closing their borders instead of figuring out if there is a smarter way to care for refugees. If you think that Syrian refugees should not come to America, I may agree with you, but I agree with you insofar as we can make a better home for more people in a geographic region that is easier to get to. Crossing an ocean as a refugee is difficult and we should be funding housing and health programs in areas that make reasonable attempts at helping millions and failing that we should take as many as we can into our homes. This argument is just being used to anger people into inaction.

The third bit I noticed is the lack of useful suggestions for what to do on social media sites. There is a good reason for that. The people who have good ideas and are truly moving to help are not calling their local state representative asking him to open their local state borders they are seeing what aid organizations are practiced internationally and asking how they can help them. They are studying their chosen field hard and learning the intricacies of international affairs so if the time comes when they need to speak up they can do so intelligently.

In America you have a right to your opinion but that does not make your opinion valuable. We are all probably wrong but history will remember fondly those who treated living things with respect and dignity and valued human life even if they didn’t fully understand what the truth of a situation was.

Thank you for listening.

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Artificial Intelligence will force humanity to rethink our ethics

The creation of AI is a problem that, I believe, has not been debated enough. Anyone who actually takes the time to imagine that we create a program that can ask questions and use the answers for form knowledge independent of human limitations will recognize the possible implications of this creation.

There are a few assumptions we will need to make in order to have this discussion. I do not think however, that they are very unlikely assumptions. The first assumption is that consciousness is strictly biological and that this consciousness can be reproduced without flesh. This would make it then unbiological but not in a spiritual sense. The second assumption is that the AI would not be perfectly obedient to any person.  We can imagine that the creation of intelligence without the biological limits we possess would gain knowledge at a rate beyond what the combined efforts of humanity could hope to reproduce. This type of intelligence would quickly be comparable to the intelligence difference between the smartest human and a chimpanzee. (In this comparison I am being perhaps overly kind to humans)

There are a few things that need to be considered with to hopefully mitigate the outcomes of the creation of AI. The first thing that has been suggested is programming an ethical system into an AI. (I am going to assume that the AI could not simply program itself out of the AI system provided) This would cause humanity to answer a few questions that moral and ethical philosophy have been dancing around for millenia. What ethical system would we want to program into the AI? Would we want to program in a religious system of ethics, with its absolutism, refusal to allow disagreements and homophobia? I highly doubt we could find a religious system of ethics that even the most devout religious population would be pleased with. I say this because the devoutly religious tend to be pleased with strict ethics when they are the most powerful and with the AI this would not be the case. (Religious ethics have revolved around control and power for the majority than the overall rights for humanity)

We then could finally answer the question of whether or not humanity could have created an ethical system outside divine intervention. From a secular standpoint we would also need to examine the ethics we have allowed to continue in our society. For example, is our treatment of our meat producing animals truly the ethics we would want a superior intelligence to have? I ask this because we frequently use genetical modification and inhumane treatment of these animals to increase their production of our sustaining need. We do this because we do not consider these animals conscious? I wonder then, do we need to reconsider what we call consciousness or do we simply need to hope that an AI would not draw the same intelligence difference line to consider consciousness?

I do believe that the creation of AI is inevitable and I truly think that with the correct constraints it is a critical development for humanity. I am however going to ask that we begin to reach some agreement in moral and ethical philosophy that we have been avoiding for the longest period of time. It is in times like this, where a great shift in humanity’s future is inevitable, that answers are more valuable than questions.

What Values Should Millennials Adopt?

There continues to be debate about the state of my generation, the millennials. A majority of the debate stems from previous generations doubting the future in the hands of the subsequent generation. Although I am positive that we are not the first generation to be subjected to such a pointless dialogue I wanted to spend some time addressing only the members of my generation.

The first thing I want to say to my brothers and sisters in this age group. The current state of our world is not our fault. We are not the reason for the last few financial crises, endemic inequality, or systemic racism. We have however contributed to and benefited from systems that are responsible for these and many more global problems. We are also responsible for what happens while our generation is in charge of the world. We may not have created carbon-based fuel but we are now responsible for emissions. Our generation has an opportunity to rectify the errors of our predecessors by learning from their mistakes and if we are going to do that here are 5 values that I think we need to live by.

Every life has inherent value

If we do not believe that every single life has value then we will be building the world up from a flawed base. It is from this value that we can begin to move towards equality, better business, and sustainable development. We are no longer a microcosm society in which only people in our society have value. If we adopt this we can begin to empathize with people a majority of our predecessors never would have even humanized.

Equality is a moral imperative

Hot button topics like gay marriage and equality for women and minorities are a great talking point but unfortunately the dialogue misses the problem. We may not be able to do anything to change the minds of previous generations who were raised to believe homosexuality was unnatural or that women should follow men. The good thing is, in a few years, we will not have to. There is a social bias that will still infect our generation however, we can continually challenge ourselves to be better and raise our children with that value. Fighting against our bias as hard as we can is the only thing that will help to make inequality a thing of the past.

Diversity is the key to success

“We are only as strong as we are diverse.”

My commanding officer quoted this during a diversity brief and it has stuck with me to this day. We are no longer becoming a global society. We are a global society. If we are going to be successful in solving the problems left for us we are going to need a wealth of ideas. The best way to get unique ideas is to have a diverse group trying to answer them. Respecting the people who are different than us will build on the first two values but will make the difference between success and failure for our generation.

 Bottom-line business is bad practice

We are seeing a trend in a lot of the world’s richest people. They work very hard to amass enormous amounts of wealth and then begin to give it all away. I would hazard a guess that they feel prey to the wrong version of the success story. If we as a generation begin to practice a kind of business that builds itself around people rather than strictly profit we will see a new trend in wealth accumulation. The executives of these companies may not make X number of millions a year but rather 400 thousand a year and that extra revenue can go to building a better business. Capitalism still works but we need to make it work for humanity and not just individuals.

The earth is a valuable and limited resource 

At risk of sounding very new age, we have one planet (right now) and we are doing a poor job at maintaining it. We could point the finger at previous generations for the rising water levels and increasing temperatures or we could fix it. As a generation if we make the decision to no longer put up with stalls in alternative energy, remove the need to fossil fuel, and clamp down on deforestation then we will see a change for the better.

These are a few values that I believe we need to adopt as a generation. By no means is this a comprehensive list but it is a good starting point. When previous generations cast doubt on us we do not need to argue, only smile and work to make the world better for our children and for us.

Debates: Creationism versus Evolution is not Christianity versus Atheism

Greetings friends, I have recently taken to listening and watching debates on Creation versus Evolution. This has been a great break from reading books on relationships and much more self examination which can be extremely draining. It has led me to realize something about the general population which I find extremely disturbing. When you pull up one of the big debates, Dawkins verse some creationist or Ken Hamm verse Bill Nye you see professed Atheists versus a professed Christian. I think it is obvious that the creationist side would be a religious person but why do all the great debaters on the Evolution side necessarily end up being Atheists?

For example, though I am still agnostic, I have chosen to attend church again out of curiosity and would be more than happy to step up to the plate against a creationist as I find them extremely illogical and necessary to defeat. I know many close Christian friends who could go toe to toe with the most “knowledgeable” creationist. (I put it in parenthetical because belief in a young earth necessitates a lack of understanding) This does not however excuse the Christian faith from being seen as a logical belief system. No atheist should use creationism as an excuse for not exploring religion. If we want to start to have great debates about wether or not Christianity is a viable set of beliefs we need to start to talk about moral systems and not where they came from but rather their purpose and place in our own existence.

I have a few other things I wanted to quickly touch on before moving on to author some pieces on the journey of discovery I have been on in the realm of my emotions and feelings. (this should be awkward!)

The first is that one of the greatest tools for removing the skeptical christian from her faith is a vocal young earth creationist.

The second is that what you believe matters. You do not have a free pass in opinions, it is not for instance okay for you to be racist, to be sexist, or to believe that you are necessarily more valuable than those around you. This sort of thinking that what we believe is our own business is what leads to genocide and systematic oppression. You better have sound reasoning and logic for what you believe or I will vocally challenge you on it not because I enjoy it but because I care about my fellow humans and the planet on which I reside.

I hope everyone is having a blessed day and keep your eyes open for more from me in the near future as I am almost ready to write it down for others to read.

God is not a Genie by Laura Drayton

Another wonderful post by Laura Drayton who takes on prayer again from an atheistic perspective. She does a wonderful job talking about what a lot of us see as poor contribution of random occurrences to a deity. Comments and shares are welcome and also if there are any people from a religious perspective who would like to write and publish on this blog send me an email!

Luke DeHart


As an atheist living in a predominantly Christian country, I always feel the need to add a disclaimer to my writings. Today, however, for the sake of my own curiosity, I am writing this article from the perspective of a believer, if only to ask a very important question: if god is real, and is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-forgiving (you get the idea) supreme being, why is he concerning himself with an NFL playoff game? (I should also add a disclaimer that I am a disappointed Lions fan.)

After the Lions lost to the Cowboys in the NFL playoffs this past weekend, I noticed a few of my friends thanking god for the Cowboys’ victory. This is not out of the ordinary. Oftentimes, during major sports games, you can see players kneel in the end zone, and many professional athletes thank god in victory speeches. Actors thank god when they win an Oscar, my neighbor thanks god when she gets a good parking spot at the mall, and countless others send out prayer requests for good grades, new cars, and winning the lottery. It seems that believers often treat god as a wish-granting genie.

A recent study by LifeWay Research (a religious organization) found that among Americans who pray, 21% had prayed to win the lottery, 20% prayed for success in something they put almost no effort into, 13% prayed for their team to win, and 7% sent up a request to the “King of Kings” for a good parking spot(1).

In the Bible (ESV), Philippians 4:6 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In Matthew 21:22, it promises, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Despite these passages, prayers often go unanswered.

Many argue that god hears every prayer, but only answers those we need. I often hear the rhetoric, “He knows what is best for us even when we do not.” If that is the case, he’s quite terrible at assessing our needs as human beings. Some 805 million in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth1. One out of six children – roughly 100 million – in developing countries is underweight2. Why do millions starve while Tim Tebow is granted touchdowns? Why do I (the terrible, godless atheist) get a warm bed and clean water while more than 20,000 people starve to death every day3 (despite faithful prayers)?

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Perhaps he is making sure that Kathy from Wisconsin has enough milk for her recipe: As one atheist blogger noted, “She was so moved and awed by the wonder of her heavenly father’s influence that she was compelled to stop working on her recipe, take a picture of the miraculous event and draft a status update on Facebook so she could share this blessing that God has bestowed upon her and her family. It’s not just silly. It’s blind and privileged and unexamined and obsessed.”5

Due to my personal lack of belief, I would be one to argue that prayer is illogical, and that taking action is much more effective. However, it baffles me that people who do believe in the “power of prayer” spend their time asking for touchdowns and a bigger bank account while millions of people starve. I know that many who pray often include “worthy” requests: healing for the sick, food for the hungry, and peace on Earth. Still, it is a valid question to ask why god is letting millions suffer just so that Kathy has her milk. (This is a sarcastic remark. If god was real, I don’t think he would care about Kathy’s milk anymore than I think he would care about football.)

With a religious majority in the United States, I can assume that prayer will be a part of society. However, I find it troubling that people claim to have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, and waste their time with an all-powerful being asking for material things instead of finding empathy for their human race. I would much prefer they stop praying and start offering concrete help, but if you are going to pray, at least take the time to acknowledge the vast suffering around you while you search for that good parking spot.

Tonight, I’m going to pray that Kathy learns how to properly measure liquids.

Sources:

1 What Americans Pray for and Against, Lifeway Research, 2014

(The LifeWay Research study, conducted online on August 7, surveyed 1,137

Americans. The study’s margin of error was ±2.5 percent.)

2 State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2014

3 Global health Observatory, WHO, 2012

4 Hunger and World Poverty, UN World Food Program, 2012

5 Through God-Colored Glasses, 2013

Why Humans Need to Stop Praying and Start Acting by Laura Drayton

The post below is from a rather clever friend of mine, Laura Drayton. She has been writing for awhile about philosophical and theological issues and it is my pleasure to have finally been able to convince her to publish some of her work. – Luke DeHart


As I scroll through my Facebook news feed every day, I consistently come across posts asking friends to “pray for my sick Grandmother”, or to “pray for [insert cause here]”.  While taking the short time to recognize those in need is not a bad thing, I can’t help but wonder what everyone is doing to actually help those in need.

When we, as humans, recognize a problem, we must act to solve it.  Promoting an ideology where we simply hand over these problems to god gets us nowhere.  Praying to god to fix problems is easy and absolves responsibility – perhaps it even makes the person praying feel good – but it does not fix the problem.  Prayers do not cure illness and bibles do not feed the hungry.  There is not a bible verse with the cure for Polio, and no amount of prayer has ever grown back an amputated limb.  There are documented cases of faith healers that have killed their own children trying to “pray away” illness.  We can do better.

If my opinions have not made it clear thus far, I should share that I am an atheist and a humanist – which simply means that I do not believe in the existence of a god (or any gods), and I believe that human matters are much more important than supernatural or divine matters. My atheism may make you uncomfortable.  You may feel the need to pray for me, but you would be hard-pressed to prove that, despite my differing beliefs, I am a bad person.  I volunteer regularly, feeding the hungry and caring for those in need.  This past spring, I saved a person’s life by donating bone marrow to a patient I’ve never even met.  This may seem like a self-congratulatory pat-on-the back, but I told you those things about myself to explain what actually doing something looks like, and to prove that you don’t need god to be good.

Still, many would argue (religious and secular alike) that religion can be a good thing – it inspires others to help those in need.  Churches in my neighborhood have organized canned food drives, hosted benefit dinners for children battling illnesses, and opened their doors to those in need.  But why do they need their belief in god to help others?  Can’t we recognize the vast suffering that happens around us every day and be inspired to help out without the promise of salvation or the threat of eternal damnation?

If you care about the world we live in, and you want to do good, you have to actually do something:  volunteer at a soup kitchen, take a homeless mother shopping, teach underserved children how to read, or fund research that cures disease.  Sitting at night to gather your sympathy and muttering your prayers to the night sky is not helping.  If you believe that your prayers are helping more than actually taking the time and effort to help a person in need, you are the problem.

Let me stop right here and address the counterpoint that I am sure many are thinking: “Prayer does work!  I’ve seen it!”  I would like to present this simple scenario, just to think about: your newborn child is born prematurely and needs to be attached to machines to survive.  You have the option of praying for your child, or to keep them attached to the medical equipment.  If prayer works, surely you would choose to pray for them instead of allowing them to be attached to machines in a hospital.  Yet, most parents would never forsake medical care, because it is the doctors and nurses, along with thousands of years of scientific and medical advancements that are keeping your child alive.  While many people choose to pray and rely on modern science, they could skip the prayer and realize the results are similar.

As David G. McAfee puts it, “If for every well intended prayer muttered in hopes of making the world a better place, there was instead a good deed accomplished, the world might look as though those prayers had been answered.”

The sooner people stop waiting for god to fix the world’s problems, the sooner we can all make this world a better place.

Why Like-Minded Believers Scare Me the Most

First off I want to apologize for the long hiatus between posts. I must admit lately I have taken a more academic approach to authorship and it has paid off well, however that type of writing leaves a lot to be desired in the realm of saying exactly what I want to say. I also must admit that I have been a little reluctant to add my voice to the overwhelming noise pervading the world when I could think of nothing new to say. I don’t find value in simply speaking my opinion when someone else shares my opinion and has already written down what I want to say. All this being said I am back and this time I want to write about something that has been on my mind recently.

I did grow up in church as I have said before and as a kid you don’t really have a choice in what church you go to. You go where you parents go and that is not necessarily a bad thing but it is also not ideal for development after the age of 13. I look back at my time spent in church now, especially after the age of 13 during my critical years when I started to develop basic reasoning and I see the situation I was in as detrimental to the goal of finding truth.

In a lot of churches you see the quote, “Come worship with a group of similar minded believers.” (Not a direct quotation but it makes the point.) It is obvious to everyone, or at least it should be, that we have an inherent bias that goes along with our own experiences and how we have been raised. That bias can lead us to make assumptions about life, death, religion, science, and any number of other things that are wrong due to our previous mindset. One great example of this is being raised in a church where some people taught that the earth was created in 7 days and attending a high school where a teacher would liken evolution to the wooden shelves turning into a monkey. These types of arguments seemed to me at the time, obvious. There is no way the earth could be older than 10,000 years look at the petrified tree in the Grand Canyon and a myriad of other arguments full of logical fallacies. This type of belief was also solidified everywhere I turned for the first 18 years of my life and though it was wrong it didn’t matter because I had no counter-bias with which to argue.

This is a bias that I was only able to recognize in my own life 4 years later looking back at the way I was raised and it is a bias that was painful to remove. I spent years arguing both for a young earth and then later trying to justify how evolution can fit in a scriptural understand of the earth never stopping to look at how I had found myself arguing back and forth with people who where surrounded by the same bias I was. This is a great way to learn how to argue but a terrible way in which to learn reason. How far can we really get in our understanding if we have no people around us who have different bias and why is it so hard for us to change what we believe when presented with evidence strongly pointing towards the other side?

I think it boils down to a couple things, the first and foremost being it is hard for human beings to admit we don’t know something, especially in a debate scenario. It was literally insane for me as an 18 year old to be arguing the way I was, with absolute certainty, not for more understand but to prove myself correct. A lot of this stems from the fact that we place our pride in our own understanding and by saying I don’t know something you are directly attacking my pride and vanity. Another reason I believe we have trouble with understanding is who we surround ourselves with. It is this reason that I urge people to run away from groups and churches that boast about being a group of like-minded believers. Is there really much to be gained from a group who says that they are a path to the truth but match each other’s belief sets in order to remain comfortable in their worship setting? A lot of these groups will pride themselves in being fully accepting of any sinner who wishes to worship with them but not many of them will be so accepting of a godly man who theologically disagrees with them.

There is no easy escape from this truth on the atheistic side either. You see this a lot with combative atheists who play off each other and imagine that they some how have found truth in knowing that a snake didn’t actually talk or that the earth wasn’t recently flooded completely. It is on this knowledge that they stake out their plot singing the praises of reason yet fully ignoring the massive amounts of brilliant debate still surrounding the existence of a god. This sort of bias exists in nearly everyone and nearly everyone seems to be incapable of defeating it because we have attached our knowledge directly to our feelings.

I can not go into any church as begin to argue against Christianity as a religion without hurting and offending people or bringing about anger even if my intentions were to challenge myself and those around me to pursue greater understanding. Just as much a Christian cannot enter a large group of academics or strongly atheistic people and preach about Jesus without being laughed out of the theater. It is this sort of set in stone beliefs that have crippled knowledge and understand for as long as human beings have had the ability to reason and will last for as long as we retain it.

If we all truly value truth then we should have no qualms or issue with someone who disagrees with us. It should be into those conversations that we dive into fully prepared to argue your point but also prepared to change your mind. We should pursue coffee dates and small groups with someone who may not see eye to eye with us on much of anything. We are only as strong as we are diverse and if any group dies out it will be because they were mostly concerned with maintaining their truth and not in finding the truth.

The Light and the Meadow

I first saw it as it peaked over the horizon, a light shining with a burst of blinding clarity. It was as if my eyes had been opened for the first time and meaning coursed through my veins leaving me at the mercy of its purpose. The people around me urged me to follow that light, to chase after it, though they themselves could not see it. They told me to run after it and forget all else that surrounded me. I did not question them in that moment and though I knew they couldn’t see what I could I trusted their experience as my authority. So I began to run towards the light leaving my questioning attitude at that place where I first experienced it.

I ran fast at first, filled with energy and wonder, blinded to what surrounded me until out of the corner of my eye something demanded my attention. A man lay crippled on the floor crying out for help, begging for a second chance. My steps faltered and my pace slowed as a part of my soul tugged for me to turn around and help that man. Before I could even slow to a walk I was surrounded by my friends pushing me forward, whispering things like, “Stay focused on the light” “There is an even greater future up there” “Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by a mere man.” It didn’t take my feeble mind much convincing and my pace quickened again thinking that if only the man could see that light he wouldn’t have been crying for my help.

It was then that a song touched my ear; a song so intriguing and beautiful it drew a tear from my eye. I slowed to a walk turning my head to find the source of that song. A woman stood there with eyes as deep an ocean and from her mouth shown a light. This was a different light, it was warm and inviting and as I moved closer to her I had all but forgotten about that first, brighter, and far off light. We danced together to the rhythm of her song on the floor illuminated by her light. She promised me that she could see what I could and we could run to it together but it was upon the moment when our lips first met did the world appear dark and I could see her true form. It was then that my friends surrounded me again pushing me towards that first light convincing me that it was not my fault and that the loneliness I felt for the first time could not be filled by any person.

I turned, searching for that first light, hoping it was not imagined or had left me. I was told to start running and the light would grow bright again and I would be able to find my path. I began again in the direction I thought it was and it did begin to grow but even as I started to run my feet caught on a soft body and I fell to the dust. When I looked up I saw children around me in a perfect circle, bones protruding from their skin and eyes sunken into their heads. Behind the children there was a man who paced around the circle, eyes only for me. He drew a gun from his belt and shot one of the children. I cried out for them, trying to warn them of the man but they made no move to protect themselves. I stood and began to frantically search for the light, tears streaming down my face, crying out to the light to show the man to the children. They made no move to protect themselves and as the man worked his way around the circle a hole opened up where the children had been. It was this hole that my friends dragged me through telling me that it was not my fault and the children had the ability to fight the man but chose not to.

My soul ached and tears ran down my face but I kept moving forward towards that light refusing to look at what was behind me. My friends still surrounded me urging me forward as if they could not see what we had left and lost all in the pursuit of that light. As we began to run faster and faster my soul began to hurt less and my tears stopped. However as my soul began to hurt less the light I was running towards started to fade. My legs began to be powered by reason and justification for all I had left behind and remorse became a foolish feeling. My pace quickened as my resolve to find the source of that light before it disappeared completely. My heart hardened and refused to break for anything or anyone. It was then, when the light was barely visible to me, that I broke through the dark and stretched out before me was meadow with a single tree. I slowed to a walk and as I approached the tree I did not notice that my friends had left me at the entrance to the meadow. The tree looked lonely there in meadow and though it stood tall it cast no shadow. As I moved closer I realized all the flowers in the meadow turned to face the tree and it was only when I stood at the base did I notice the light was coming from the tree itself.

I fell to my knees then unable to carry the weight of my heart any longer and the last thing I saw before my eyes closed were a pair of feet each with a hole through it. I do not know how long I rested under that tree but when I awoke there was a man sitting on a root looking out at what surrounded the meadow, tears running down his face. For the first time since I had begun I felt fear, wondering what could cause a man like this to openly weep. I stood and moved to sit next to him trying to see what he saw. I realized that I could only see the meadow for everything around it was cast in shadow. I turned to the man again begging to see what he saw. He turned and said only one thing, “This is a gift but it comes with a price.” As he said these words he touched my chest and I felt it soften as the memories of everyone I left behind and those who I didn’t help came flooding back. My soul began to ache and tears ran down my face once again and I could now see what surrounded the meadow. I saw men and women running past the crippled man calling for help, men with their backs turned to the meadow dancing and kissing the woman who sang, the broken children being shot as people who had the chance to help just passed by. All these people seemed to be running towards the meadow and unaware of what they left in their wake. Bodies were strewn on the ground of those people who could no longer take the weight of their hearts while others wandered completely lost to the reason they began to run.

I realized then that everyone began with a clear view of the light as I had but lost their way in the dark; distracted by the pain that surrounded them but refused to change it. I began to run again towards the dark, dragged along by the longing in my heart to save those people I had left behind. I turned to look back searching for the man, wondering why he didn’t run out with me, only to see that he was no longer sitting at the base but being tied to it by angry men who held thick leather-bound books and shouted words at the man from them. I was torn at that point wanting to run back and save the man but longing to fix the mistakes I had made. As I took a step back towards the man my heart cried out for me to stop remembering what he had said earlier and realized that this was the price.

Mere Humanity – Truth

I have taken a long hiatus to this series for a few reasons and it was a much needed breath of fresh air. I heard one of the most truthful statements I have heard in my life recently, “What you look for in this world you will find.” Looking back at my past I recognized it as being more and more true as I have learned more about the world, history and faith. No one can escape this truth, not science and not religion. Time makes the wisest scientist into a fool just as much as doctrine eventually makes the religious man into a heretic. Those of you who are in the religious field shaking your heads take a minute and look into scripture at the way Jesus spoke to the teachers of the law. 

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” – Luke 20: 45-47

It would be almost funny if it were not so sad how much I have even fallen into this trap myself. WE, yes I said we, thought we would be different with our doctrine and understanding because we could not possibly be a slow as the old theologians. The joke is to imagine we escaped from the trap that these men fell into and it doesn’t take a long stroll around a church floor or a glance into their doctrine to spot it in action. The sad part is when we refused to admit that we may not understand everything that Jesus meant or failed to question what we have been told about what is true.

Science will never escape from the inevitability of time either. Man will look back in a millennium with scorn at what we thought we knew to be true and we will be viewed as primitive just as we view those people who lived long ago. So when we look back and think towards the future there is no escaping the inevitability of this one truth.

We do not actually know anything to be true but rather believe it with our whole hearts. 

So what then is the point of it? Why would we be bother trying to understand anything if we will be thought of as fools in the end?

Take a look back into history and see what the point is because it shines so brightly we can not ignore it. It radiates through literature, art and music. It drives people to give their hard earned money to people they have never met, to sacrifice their life for someone else, to pay it forward, to devote their entire lives to caring for someone who will never be able to thank them. What no one looks back at and questions if it was right or wrong.  These are the parts of the bible which even the hardest atheist looks towards and admits “That is good” and the part which quiets the loudest theist.  

If we hang onto it and practice it in our lives everyday then regardless of how wrong our science ended up being or how far off our theology was we will be remembered as good. Remembered as people who put people first and chose “Love one another” as our greatest commandment.

I don’t know where I land theologically and that is okay, my search will continue. All I know is what will truly matter in the end whether Heaven exists or not, whether the time here was all we had or if it was just the beginning, if our beliefs are true or false I will treat those around me with kindness and love. This man Jesus who is written about in the bible seemed to practice this flawlessly and I will follow his example and if you find truth in the Koran, the bible or microbiology weekly; as long as you practice kindness and show love to your fellow man we will shake hands at the end of the day.

If you find passion in science the be the best scientist you can be and if you find joy in music then become a great musician. Just whatever you do with your life never forget we can not control what history will eventually remember us as but we can control how much we love those around us. 

I do not know if I gave anyone any answers but I at the very least I hope I gave you a look into where I found mine. 

Thank you.

Mere Humanity part 8 – Does Religion Serve to Appease the Masses

We are entering together into a challenging part of the series. We have definitely moved past the halfway point and as we venture forward we are weaving our way through very dense and faith pointed chapters. C.S. Lewis has at this point in the book basically moved past the proofs of Christianity and began to describe what Christians actually believed. To be completely honest with you delving into that topic was not my intention for this series nor was it the purpose for it and therefore as we move forward I will pick and choose what I can write on from an atheistic perspective. This may involve bringing in other philosophers to commentate on and I believe that it could be very beneficial to look at it from a different perspective than we have been.
It should be of no surprise to anyone that there are certain people on the earth more intellectually capable than others. Whether or not everyone is capable of achieving the same level of understand as everyone else is a debatable concept that I don’t wish to dive into too however for our purposes let us imagine the understand gap exists and it is insurmountable by certain people. The person who stands out most in my mind for establishing a useful relationship between philosophy and religion was an Islamic philosopher by the name of Averroes. Averroes was a strong proponent for using religion as a method of teaching morality to the masses, masses who would be unable to understand the subtle intricacies of morality from a philosophical standpoint. In basic terms we can either tell people that they should refrain from stealing because an all powerful being would punish them or we can try to explain how theft without repercussion will lead to the degeneration of society and in the end would be worse of for that individual. You will find these same musings repeated later on by Thomas Hobbes in his most famous work Leviathan where he speaks on the nature of man. So the argument here is simple and is a valid debate that we must consider as a society when we bring religion up against the firing squad. I understand that I would be wrong should I not insert my own opinion and instead lean of other philosophers work on this issue. Personally I believe that the study of religion serves as a safety net established so long ago we have no record of its beginning. I do not however agree with the belief that were it not for fear of divine retribution and religiously established morals we would have been unable to set up a successful society. If it were so proved – that religion saves society – then I would land back behind the walls of the church so quickly you would not see me fall off the fence. I say this because this would be all the proof I needed that religion was the only truth. There is a standard that is retained during the exploration of the purpose of religion versus philosophy and that is complete understanding of the morals is required to follow them outside religion. That is that a philosopher must devote the hundreds of hours necessary to establish reason behind morals in order to follow the correct ones and should teach others those morals through authoritarian means. This would also be a strong case of religion to be actual truth should that be true, if we could not understand basic human decency outside religion without study or authority we would have to rely on a perfect being to establish that rule set.
So to bring us back on the trail of what I personally believe, I believe that religion is not necessary to establish a moral understand. The proof of this lies in the logic and reason that govern societal normalcy. We do not need to perfectly understand the reason behind it and yet we still apologize and feel badly when we do something to infringe on someone’s personal rights afforded to him or her by their very existence. So this brings us back to the question of does religion serve as a mass pleaser in order to preserve our society? In all honesty religion still serves to bring people joy and a sense of community and for those reasons religion serves a great purpose however it is when religion infringes on the rights of others that it fails. A separation of church and state was one of the wisest moves in the history of our country for this very reason. We need to have a wall between something that governs the masses in a moral sense, occasionally corrupt moral sense, and what establishes the laws and rights in our country. If the church wishes to infringe beyond the scope of the rights handed to them we need to take a hard look at the cost/benefit ratio behind religion. This is not to go so far as to outlaw any religion from a government standpoint because that would be wrong on every front, however as philosophers it would be time to examine what religion brings to the table and what they take off the table.
This is a topic that interests me greatly and I was attempting to balance myself between a few viewpoints in order to form my own. However I will probably explore this in detail on a much larger scale than 1000 words in a short span of time.