Dreaming of Neverland: Faith and Extinction

This essay is my response to a song from Peter Pan. Here’s a video

Many historians and observers of the human condition have likened the “stages of life” of civilizations and empires to those of individual human beings. They have spoken of the birth, infancy, adolescence, maturity and senescence and, of course, death of countries and cultures. This is, needless to say, a poetic use of language; but poetry often serves as a vehicle for truths that cannot be conveyed nearly so well – or perhaps at all – by other means.

 

I want to take this line of thought a step further: I propose that the human species as a whole follows a parallel developmental trajectory, and that there are valuable insights to be gained by recognizing it. It may be a bit surprising to some, exactly where I fix the watersheds.

 

In a nutshell: I liken our Pleistocene, Paleolithic condition to the childhood of the species, and reckon its condition ever since the Agricultural Revolution to be a form of adolescence out of which we are currently struggling to emerge into full maturity. Dotage is far in our future, and whether our species will survive to see it is very much an open question.
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Confiteor of an Atheist

I believe in no god but my Mother and Father who ushered me into this world.

I believe in the family of man and all the ramifications therein.

I believe in the truth and shall seek it forever, however long that may be.

I shall shun all religions, and cults, from all regions.

I shall cling to my life as long as I can and renounce any death cults in kind.

I shall bring up my family as any man should, without threats or rapprochements on their decisions.

I shall never chose their path, however they shall know mine.

I shall never be judgemental as far as it is in my power to be.

I may make mistakes and admit my wrongs but I will never bow down to false propitiations of others.

I shall turn the other cheek but once, woe unto those who continue their insulting behavior.

I will never submit to forced love of any kind, it is an abomination.

When my time comes to die I shall never renounce who I am or what I stand for.

I shall face my life and Death without Shame!

Christianity Isn’t Irrational… It’s Worse Than That

© David Teachout

Christianity is about as multifaceted as the people who label themselves adherents to it. Once “the bible” was given to the masses and the notion, put forward by the Renaissance and Enlightenment, that the individual mind could seek truth, it didn’t take much time for theology to reflect even more the nature of its creator, i.e. human variety. The title here then is a simplification, for the topic in question has far more to do with the basis of a supernatural tradition than with any particular instance of it. Still, for ease of writing, Christianity will serve as primary example. At issue is the claim there exists a fundamental level of reality, the realm of god and his angels, that is by definition outside of the understanding of humanity. While much can be said about such claims and their absurdity, what is often overlooked is what such a pronouncement means about people in general.

 

The apologetic traditions of Christianity boil down to two: evidentialism and presuppositionalism. The former is most glaringly offered by people like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig, offered through some variation of the cosmological argument.  Essentially the practice boils down to finding a point of ignorance and then filling it with, in a display of utter self-service, their own deity. The latter has historically been placed in the hands of Gordon Clark, Carl F.H. Henry and Francis Schaeffer, among others, and is offered through some iteration of an axiological argument. Essentially this attempt is to declare all ideologies must assume some foundational basis for knowledge and existence, so of course their holy book and their god is correct, particularly since once you assume their book and god, all other ideologies fail. Truly, it’s that mind-numbingly simple. What both traditions have in common, besides attempts by users of each to destroy the arguments of the other, is a belief that at some point there is a limit to human understanding, not because existence is huge and complex, but due to some inherent lack or deficiency in humanity. This is why at some point each tradition flings itself into the arms of faith. The evidentialist does this as a “leap of faith” ala Kierkegaard, the presuppositionalist simply assumes faith as the preeminent means of knowing right from the start.
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An Atheist Grieves

I open my eyes and my first coherent thought is, “It is Monday. My dad’s been dead for three days.”

 

I need to email my professors. Let them know what happened. Be sure to use the word “unexpectedly” so they understand. So they can more accurately calculate my allowable allotment of grief. Let them know I didn’t complete the homework they assigned over the weekend. Let them know I won’t be on campus today. I won’t be on campus tomorrow either. Ask for more time.

 

I had 41 of his 62 years… but I’d kill for more time.

 

I wonder how long I’ll measure the passing of time in days since his death. He would have been amused by the thought that his death might spawn the birth of a new calendar. Just like all those people who think A.D. means “After Death”; Jesus crucified to kick off the Gregorian calendar.

 

I should really write this shit down.

 

Is staccato a thing that thoughts can be? Mine are. Staccato. Sharp and subtle and brief. Pizzicato. Plucked from the air for a flash and them gone. No… pizzicato was Friday. Sitting at the bus stop. Screaming into the phone.

 

“What? Oh god… I’m on my way. I’m on my way!”
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5 Key Questions to a Better Life

© Bob Dempsey

 “Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made.  If you want a different result, make a different choice.”
~Unknown

 

The best way to get to know yourself and others is to ask questions.

Sometimes you need to step back and reconsider how you’re living your life and who you want to be.

Asking questions that provoke introspection is essential to maintaining awareness of who you are, where you are, and where you want to go.

Questions that prompt self-reflection help you to realize and pursue your dreams.

These questions can be difficult to answer, but they’re crucial to creating a life of meaning, fulfillment, purpose, and happiness.

 

5 Key Questions to a Better Life

1) What is your potential?

What are your dreams, hopes, and desires.  What is your passion?  What matters to you?

Do you believe in yourself?  Are your beliefs limiting you or holding you back?

Are you comfortable?  Are you afraid?

If you want to better your life, you cannot self-sabotage and you cannot give into fear.

Optimism is key.  Replace your limiting beliefs with positive empowering ones.
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Atheism Is More Than A Lack Of God, It Is the Pursuit of the Knowable by Removing Faith

© David Teachout 

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After leaving Christianity, I spent several years connecting with other religious communities. One such was the Unitarian Universalists. Known for their inclusion, I was in the midst of a conversation with a long-standing member who was adamant about not being against anything, only promoting the assertion that all religions seek to address essentially similar ideas. I won’t belabor whether that statement is accurate, as the central issue was more concerned with being opposed to being against anything. When I brought up that being for free inquiry and free expression and the individual right to determine one’s own moral system, logically infers being against the opposite, i.e. moral dogmatism, authoritarian dictates and rigid hierarchical systems, I was looked at with a look that can only be described as dumbfounded.

 

Innumerable articles have been written about what may euphemistically be referred to as the ‘soul of atheism.’ There are the bewildering rantings against the so-called “New Atheists,” often based on a poor or deliberately mistaken understanding of what is stated and an emphasis on the mantra that such “New Atheists” are angry all the time. It would seem that after so long remaining silent, the mere act of finally speaking out must be construed as being angry. Frankly this says far more about the inherent felt superiority of the religious majority. When those in power want a minority to stay quiet, caricaturing their actions is an effective way to remove them from discussion rather than deal with their criticism.
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5 Simple Tips to Overcome Guilt

“Guilt is anger directed at ourselves – at what we did or did not do.”
~Peter McWilliams

 

Guilt is an emotional warning sign that serves to let us know when we’ve done something wrong.

It’s a self-policing mechanism that we all have.

It helps us to improve our behavior, act in the best interest of society, and avoid making the same mistake twice.

But it can also steal our joy, make us feel miserable, and keep us in a negative mindset.

It can undermine our self-esteem and prevent us from having fulfilling relationships.

Most of us do an amazing job every day – either at work or at home – but still feel plagued by guilt.

How can we overcome these feelings?  How can we determine what feelings are important and beneficial to us, and which ones are not?

 

5 Simple Tips to Overcome Guilt

1) Determine if your guilt is healthy

It takes some self-examination to figure out what you’re feeling guilty about.

Healthy guilt is very beneficial to keeping meaningful relationships.  It prevents us from taking action that could hurt others.

It’s completely rational to feel guilty after saying something hurtful to someone or spending too much time at work instead of with your family.

This guilt is healthy and serves to warn you that either your thoughts, behavior, or morals need to change.

On the other hand, feeling guilty over the actions of others, or when there’s nothing to feel guilty about is not healthy.

As an introvert, I used to feel guilty when I needed to spend some time alone.  This wasn’t me being anti-social, I just needed time to relax and recharge a little.
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8 Tips to Choosing a New Year’s Resolution Right for You

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.”
~Unknown

 

Well another year has passed.  A new year offers time for reflection and the feeling of a fresh start.

We enjoy the idea of starting from scratch and improving ourselves.

Many of us have goals we’d like to get started on, but how do you choose a path that’s right for you?

I’ve given this some thought and have a few tips I’m hoping will get you off to a good start for a successful year.

So while I think you’re fine just the way you are…

8 Tips to Choosing a New Year’s Resolution Right for You

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If God Falls Like a Tree In the Forest and No One Hears, Does God Exist?

At the beginning of every semester, I tell my students: there is a world of difference between hearing music and listening to it.  Emphatically despite the fact that “hear” and “listen” are often used interchangeably in casual speech, as though they were exact synonyms. In fact, they mean two completely different – although not entirely unrelated – things.

 

I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life thinking about language and trying to understand its expressive range, the better to express myself. I’ve noticed that transitive verbs do not carry the same weight – are not charged with the same energy – as intransitive verbs. Did any of your English teachers ever tell you that? Mine didn’t: I had to discover it for myself.

 

Let me illustrate: We regularly hear music, but we also occasionally listen to music. The transitive verb requires a direct object to complete its meaning; the intransitive verb is complete in itself (hence its greater potency), and the prepositional phrase that follows adds no weight to the verb: it simply brings the verb’s activity to a focus.

 

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The difference in energy between transitive and intransitive verbs is faithfully reflected in our daily experience. Taking the illustrative case I’ve offered above, consider the fact that hearing is an altogether passive experience which might actually be described as a condition, often ignored and therefore mostly registered unconsciously; every animal with ears has pretty much the same experience of hearing, assuming similar auditory capacities. (There are interesting differences, of course: dogs can hear at least an octave higher than humans, and humpback whales and elephants can communicate in wavelengths much longer than those available to us.) The capacity – the sense – known as hearing is our ability to register physical phenomena in a way that’s available only to an exquisitely fine-tuned nervous system, by means of equipment (eardrums, etc.) that can respond to (resonate with) disturbances in some fluid medium such as air or water. The old conundrum, “if a tree falls in a completely unpopulated forest, does it make a sound?” is thus answered: sound is the name we give to that nervous-system registering, that experience of a disturbance in air or water. Where there is no experience, i.e. no experiencer, there is no sound.
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10 Easy Tips to Being Optimistic

Just keep smiling and one day life will get tired of upsetting you.
~Unknown

 

To be an optimist is to have a positive outlook and approach towards life.

Optimism is a choice.  Every morning when you get out of bed, you choose to be in positive mood or not.

It may take some work, but you can build your level of optimism.  It’s really just a matter of recognizing your negative habits and training yourself to look on the bright side.

It’s extremely liberating and empowering when you realize you have control over what you’re telling yourself.  And that most of your suffering is self-imposed.  A feeling of peace comes over you when you say no to negativity and learn to stay positive.

When you’re a pessimist you not only waste time ruminating on how bad things are going to go, but you actively stop yourself from trying to better your situation.  Negativity breeds inaction and pessimism breeds indecision.

If that’s not enough….

 

A few benefits of being optimistic:

  • Increased Happiness
  • More Success
  • Better Stress Management
  • Decreased Sickness
  • Longer Lifespan

There will always be times in which things don’t work out quite how you anticipated. There are going to be times when you’re feeling down.  Just don’t make it your default way of thinking.  The perceived protection of holding onto negativity is more like a prison.
Continue reading “10 Easy Tips to Being Optimistic”

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