Quick Update

So just a quick update on the last post before I put up something new.

My friend had Dengue Fever, also known as bonecrusher disease. She is now out of the hospital and doing much better.

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Ignorance is Bliss?

One of my best friends is currently in the hospital with an as-yet unknown ailment she picked up during a trip to Argentina.

Neither of us are religious, despite both of our families and many friends belonging to our old church. So when just about everyone who visited or called assured her that “I’ll pray for you” I had some very mixed feelings.

At first I did what I always do when someone mentions religion around me and her, I shot her a sarcastic look, which she reciprocates. It’s usually like in Fight Club when members give each other a little nod when they meet in the outside world, except this time it seemed like it really bothered her. I realized she must be getting that all the time being in the hospital and the fake smile you give a person who says it probably gets really tiresome. I was mildly outraged that people would be so insensitive to another person’s worldview.

Of course most people who “send their prayers” don’t really think about it that way. For them it’s assumed that it’s doing practical good for the recipient and because they surround themselves with like-minded religious people it doesn’t ever occur to them that it might be insensitive. It’s like the “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” debate. People who regularly say “Merry Christmas” think nothing of it, and assume that everyone understands it as a polite gesture. But how awkward and estranging it is for a Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or anyone else not practicing the holiday under the same terms as a Christian. Especially when it comes in such high frequency.

I must admit however, that as soon as I left, my mild outrage transformed into radical jealousy. When these people leave and express their sentiments in the form of prayer they actually believe that they are doing practical good towards helping her get well. They leave 100% confident that their supernatural deity will listen to their pleading and intervene for her well-being. Meanwhile I leave deeply frightened and concerned for my friend and feeling utterly helpless. As of yesterday the doctors still aren’t sure of what she has and she’s on a regular supply of morphine to minimize her pain, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I find myself desperately wishing I was capable of believing something I know to be false.

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It’s fun being the only athiest in an all Christian family

If you read my previous post, you already know that I was raised Christian and that I alone out of my God-fearing family have turned atheist.  My brother Mike I’m not too sure about.  He isn’t an active Christian but as far as I know he still believes in God. Anyways, although I haven’t told my parents outright that I no longer believe in God, I’m beginning to suspect that they are figuring it out.

They like to drop these not-so-subtle hints that I should be going back to church or that God is working in my life.  I generally just shrug these suggestions off to avoid a conflict but there was one instance when I could not resist a rebuttal.

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Evolution Survey

The School of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate University is conducting a survey on the public understanding of evolution. They ask a couple questions about evolution as you see it and then obviously some questions pertaining to demographics. The survey is to get an idea of how education level, religiosity, age, etc relate to how much you understand evolution. It doesn’t take very long, you should check it out. I gave them my email so they’re going to send me the results when it’s over and I’ll probably do a post about that when it happens.

The questions are:

1) To the best of your understanding, and in your own words,
please explain what “evolution” means.

2) If you accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why; or if you do not accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why not.

www.EvolutionSurvey.com

And for those interested, here are the answers I entered:

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The Tether Incident

My journey to skepticism has been long and troublesome. Like most people though, I had to realize this retroactively. I always considered myself an intelligent person and expressed earnest interest in what science had to offer. However much like the cab driver described by Carl Sagan in his tome of critical thinking Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, my sincerity had been hijacked by the misinformation of popular culture.

My world-view was filled with mysticisms regarding everything from lost technologies of Atlantis to the Loch Ness Monster to alien visitations and to unassisted human flight powered by the mind. Not that I held specific ideas about any of these things, just that a twisted sense of wonder had given me the ability to construct a universe of uncertainty and hidden worlds. I largely believed things based on whether or not I liked them. If something appealed to me, I would accept it uncritically.

This sort of fanciful thinking was no doubt facilitated by my religious upbringing. When you believe in a world of angels, demons, plagues, virgin conception, parting seas, prophecy, resurrection and talking snakes it’s pretty damn easy to throw in a chupacabra if you are so inclined. So when the lenses of faith finally melted away, spawning a wave of self-examination of my beliefs, just about everything else faded with it. But one thing still had a vesitigal tether still attached.

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A Brief History of Jon

I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment, so I’ll take the opportunity to write my first of many little blurbs.  Mostly, I’ll be recapping things I learned in a given week, but every now and then I may post a thought or even a question and I’d encourage anyone reading to respond with discussion if they agree or disagree.

Anyways, as this is my first post, I can’t think of a better way to start than to give a bit of a history of how how my beliefs formed and eventually changed into how I currently view the Universe.  Most of you who know me personally know me well enough that you are aware (and probably were a part) of my religious upbringing.  I was born into a Christian family that has, by many people’s standards, rather strict morals.  In many ways, you could say I am grateful for my Christian upbringing.  By direct result of being a member of this church, I met my girlfriend of nearly 5 years, whom I love very much, and I also formed a small, but very close group of outstanding friends.  It also probably helped to keep me out of trouble when I was in middle and high school.  That all being said, I no longer consider myself a part of the Church, or any religion for that matter; nor do I believe in a personal god.

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Be sure to check back here everynow and then.

In addition to posting links to this blog, Luke and I (and perhaps other members of the DM) will be periodically posting on this like a journal.  If we read or learn something that we would like to discuss in detail, this is where we will be posting.  We may also use this to recap anything covered at the meetings, that way anybody who can’t make it can check out what they missed.  Anyone interested in being able to post here should contact Luke or myself.

Enjoy!
Jon C.