On the morning of my open-heart surgery, I was at peace with the fact I might die on the operating table. Life or death; either outcome was fine. I would either wake up in the hospital and recover from my operation or wake up with God in the best place imaginable.
At 15, I had convinced myself that life on Earth was insignificant compared to the eternity I would spend with God. This became the foundation of my faith for the next five years — even as I began to doubt.
The more I learned about Christianity and the Bible…
If you’ve spent enough time listening to religious apologists, you’ve probably heard one of them say “atheism is just another religion”.
As an atheist, it would be easy to pull up a few definitions of the word “religion” and make a case for why this claim isn’t true; or, I could use a quick rebuttal like “if atheism is a religion, bald is a hairstyle.”
However, I want to examine the logic behind this claim instead of dismissing it outright, because glossing over criticism is a sign of dogmatic thinking.
To gain a better sense of what this “atheism is…
“Hey dude, where you headed?”
The scruffy man shouted at me from a bright red, graffiti-covered school bus. A skull-and-crossbones was painted on the hood.
“Us too. Hop in.”
I was in Snowville, Utah, after a brutal day of hitchhiking — only 100 miles of progress in 13 hours. I had spent the previous night camped in the brush behind a Walgreens in Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake City; then, starting at 6am, I had waited 1–3 hours by the side of the road all day long for rides that only took me 10 minutes down the road…
One question that commonly arises in thru-hiking and vandwelling communities is: “should I bring a gun with me?”
The ensuing debate tends to split along conservative/liberal lines, as one might expect.
Some people would never leave home without a gun. It gives them peace of mind to know they always have the option to use a firearm in case some person, or animal, threatens their safety.
I can see the logic behind that. If that’s what helps you feel safe enough to travel, so be it. Maybe someday you’ll be really glad you had it. More power to you.
Years ago, if I had accidentally wandered into a Vipassana retreat, I would have assumed it was some sort of cult initiation.
Imagine: 80 participants forbidden from speaking, touching, or making eye contact for 10 days. Men and women kept separate. A 4:00am wake-up bell every morning. Meals prepared by invisible volunteers and eaten without a word. No books, media, internet, games, or group activities allowed: just 10 hours of meditation every day, sometimes directed by the disembodied voice of the esteemed master, S.N. Goenka.
And every evening, in a dark room, with entranced faces glowing in the light of…
We send each other signals all the time. Our speech, writing, and body language are pieces of data that originate from inside of us, travel through space and time, and get interpreted by other people.
It is tempting to think that as long as we present our thoughts accurately, the person we are communicating with should have no problem understanding us. “I said exactly what I meant, so if they misinterpreted me, that’s their fault!”
Indeed, when we’re talking to close friends with similar backgrounds and worldviews, it’s easier to communicate successfully. …
People are born into a wide variety of circumstances. Our families and communities are a unique combination of demographics — income level, nationality, religion, ethnicity, profession, and health factors, for example.
These factors work together to create our perception of what’s “normal”; our baseline calibration in life. This is largely where we get our ideas about acceptable standards of living, the meaning of life, our capabilities, our worth, and our place in the world.
Most of us never stray too far from the cultural standards we were raised with. It’s easy to believe that our way of life is…
Some Christians have assumed I abandoned my faith because I wanted to enjoy a “sinful” lifestyle.
It might happen that way for some people. We all know the stereotype of the lukewarm Christian teen who goes to university and stops attending church simply because they want to drink and have sex without being shamed for it.
That wasn’t me, though. I was already married when I gave up on religion, so gaining access to sex was not a motivator. I wasn’t eager to try any drugs. I didn’t descend into depraved debauchery due to deconversion. …
There is a popular idea that science and spirituality are two equally valid, but independently-operating, domains of knowledge.
Spirituality deals with the questions that science cannot begin to answer and vice versa.
Does our universe have a spiritual dimension? If it does, science has not been able to measure it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there; it just means we don’t have objective evidence for it at this point. Surely, there are a great many realities yet undiscovered by science.
Spirituality seeks to answer unsolvable mysteries. It deals with our personal relationship with existence. …
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
“It is wrong to kill people based on the belief that your ethnicity is superior and preferred by God.”
Most of us, I hope, would agree without hesitation. Racism and genocide are frowned upon for good reason.
There’s no such thing as “good genocide”. It’s a flaw in human reasoning to think another group of people deserves to die because of their culture, genetics, nationality, or religious traditions.
The example that typically comes to mind is the Holocaust of the Jews in Nazi Germany. …