After billions of years of evolution, from microbes all the way to primates, Earth finally has a self-aware species. We’ve learned how to use our intelligence in astonishing ways:
I understand why people have complaints about the vegan movement. I’m not 100% on board, yet, myself.
I hate it when food goes to waste; I have often eaten animal products rather than watch them be thrown in the trash. It’s hard to insist on vegan food in certain social situations or when traveling. And if I’m honest, sometimes I crave pizza or a burger, and I buy one even though I know it’s not the best thing to do.
That said, I mostly eat food that I cook myself, and I very rarely buy animal products at the grocery…
On September 2, 2017, a group of teenagers went for a hike on the Eagle Creek trail, 40 minutes west of Portland, Oregon.
Eagle Creek was arguably the most popular hiking trail in the entire state. It meandered upstream along the gushing creek, through lush forest, and past several gorgeous waterfalls, until it eventually connected to the Pacific Crest Trail where it served as a popular alternate route for thru-hikers.
A 15-year-old boy in the group —with friends recording him on their phones — lit a firework and tossed it into a canyon, ending Eagle Creek as we know it.
(Psychedelics are inherently risky, especially if you might have underlying psychosis. Supervision by a trusted person is recommended.)
Cool water swirls around my legs as I side-stroke my way to a rock formation at the far side of the lake. Every square millimeter of my skin feels alive, and I can’t stop smiling.
Dragonflies flit by; I wonder what other friends surround me. Because it’s a whole community, here, isn’t it? I’m a guest in an ecosystem that has been evolving for millions of years.
If I could see the full roster of species, I’m sure it would be thousands…
Hitchhiking is a fascinating method of travel. Since you’re living out of a backpack, you have the flexibility to be completely spontaneous and independent, but you’re also entirely at the mercy of random strangers on a regular basis.
This combination ensures that every day will be a completely unique adventure. There’s no way to predict what’s going to happen, so you must be adaptable, develop and trust your intuition, and become an expert at self-reliance and minimalism.
Because getting along with your driver is so important, you often have to hold your tongue when it comes to religious, political, and…
I had no shortage of questions when I was a struggling Christian.
Where is God when I pray? Why is the Bible so problematic? How can Christians disagree so widely when the Holy Spirit unites us?
Many of my peers who were raised Christian have had these kinds of doubts. And yet, most of them have not left the religion — and likely never will.
Why is it that they stayed faithful while my doubts led me to disbelief? What’s the difference between us?
Some people think I lost faith because I never had a “true encounter” with Jesus. But…
I don’t recall the exact words he screamed into my face, but I can still feel his hand around my throat. I see his frothing mouth and the trembling fury in his vivid blue eyes.
I’ve never been in a real fight; this was the most aggression I’ve ever received from another human. It didn’t happen in my thousands of miles of hitchhiking or in a lawless place like Slab City. I had to annoy a business owner in conservative, white, small-town Arizona to experience this level of unhinged rage.
I live, and travel, in an old airport shuttle bus…
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…