Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dawkins Criticized by Higgs

Professor Emeritus, Richard Dawkins
Professor Peter Higgs
Apparently Professor Peter Higgs has described Richard Dawkins as concentrating "his attacks on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists" (Source). 

I've seen this accusation before regarding, well, really any atheist who fervently lays out his or her reasons for disbelief. It's not a new accusation, and it most likely won't go away in the forseeable future. The implication seems, to me, to be: by picking on fundamentalists, Dawkins et al. are purposefully taking aim on the weaker expressions of religious belief. That if the popular atheists and non-believers of today would go after theologians who have been rarified by more liberal indoctrination, the case against supernaturalism, on the whole, wouldn't be so easy to pick apart.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Disbelieve: Part 3

At 20 years old, I applied for and was accepted into a local bible college.  I was slated to begin studying at the beginning of September 1994 but due to some difficult life-circumstances, I had to delay my start-of-study date until January 1995.

In the meanwhile, I furnished myself with theology books by H.A. Ironside, cassette tapes by John Hagee, whatever fiction or theology I could find by C.S. Lewis, and any theology primer I could scrabble together from used book stores, the local library, and the church bookshelves.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Reason for the Season

A small departure from my "I Disbelieve" series (which, I assure you, is going to see part 3 soon).

During the Christmas season there's a lot of propaganda floating about the web, and cluttering the city streets.  People are trying to plug their tried and worn traditional values: Christmas should be about Jesus, Jesus is the reason for the season, Take the 'X' out of Christmas, Take back Christmas, blah-dee-blah-dee-blah...

We're not that far removed from our senses that we can't simply enjoy the holidays, are we?  I suppose I'm not supposed to use that word, either: holiday.  Doesn't matter that its Christian derivation equals 'holy day,' so the faith-heads can take it easy.  And for the pre-Christian in all of us, the use of 'holly' made for a smooth transition to 'holly day' or 'holiday' and everyone was happy.  Go light another yule log, or something.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Disbelieve: Part 2

Leaving aside the  issue of jargon, or as I quickly came to call it, "Christian-ese," I pressed on to bigger and better things.  It seemed to me that so much of the Christian life was to be experienced.  That was an obstacle to me that I decided I had to get past: much of my life up to that point was lived deflecting first-hand experience because, psychologically, it meant being vulnerable to disappointments and pains that I wasn't prepared to endure.

Surving a broken home, I was entirely unequipped to wrestle with the realities and responsibilities that came with what I perceived, at that time, as being a functioning family of believers sharing a common experience.  And most pointedly, opening myself up to the experience of a perfect relationship with a perfect Father was a completely alien concept to my mind: how could I even begin to appreciate such an experience when my biological father and I got along so poorly?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Disbelieve: Part 1

I became a Christian at the age of 18.  Life before that was a hodge-podge of classes in New Age ideas, transcendental meditation, dabbles into demonology, and a few brief but dull bursts into the Anglican church.

I recall being about 8 years old and asking my dad to take me to church.  He was obliging, even gave me my first bible and had me baptised.  But after teaching myself how to spell more compicated words by using the hymnal, I decided that, well, maybe church wasn't for me.  I was bored.  And at the ripe age of 8, I declined further attendence.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Where I Stand On Issues of Religious Belief

There is a slight ambiguity to the intention behind Saint Cynic.  On the one hand, I write in such a way as to support certain religious notions, while on the other, I reject a good number of religious ideas.  This has led to the occasional question about my personal point of view on the matter of religion.

Until now, I've hesitated to simply have it out.  There are a few solid reasons for that, but I won't get into them.  Suffice it to say that my social life was not secure enough to handle the backlash that would come from being honest on this matter.  That has recently changed, however, so I don't mind to step out and be clearer on this issue.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Inner Conflict with E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson
E.O. Wilson, a highly regarded entomologist, scientist and author has recently published an article called "Evolution and Our Inner Conflict."  The basic gist of the article is that our conflicting urges to compete and co-operate is not derived of kin-selection theory, but of multilevel selection theory.
"I am convinced after years of research on the subject that multilevel selection, with a powerful role of group-to-group competition, has forged advanced social behavior — including that of humans, as I documented in my recent book “The Social Conquest of Earth.”"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Venerating the Dead

St. Maria Goretti
It bothers me that people keep re-living their suffering, as if somehow, by re-living the events that caused them pain, they will be alleviated of that pain.  My own experience tells me that brandishing traumatic events in my life only adds depth to the pain I once felt; that is, it makes the pain more intense.  What it doesn't do is bring closure, or lessen the pain.  [I don't include the unfortunate victims of post-traumatic stress disorder in my observation.  They are re-living their pains against their choosing; I'm sure they would be happy to be rid of their suffering, just like any other sane person.]

What I don't understand, however, is the seemingly insane adoption of another person's pain, even long after they're dead. 

Take the example of St. Maria Goretti: she was 12 years old in 1902 when she was stabbed to death by a rapist.  A horrible tragedy, I'm sure no-one would disagree.  Now, 110 years later, Catholic devotees gathered by the thousands in Toronto to view her body, as if by doing so, their imaginings of her pain and heroism somehow effected their lives in a positive way; they were somehow blessed by looking on at her century-old corpse.  No doubt, Catholics also imagine Maria is considering each one of them from her extra-planar vantage, if not bending her knee to the Almighty as he sifts the sin from contrition and radiates the better portion to Miss. Goretti.

A Few Things Learned

Blah, blah, blah...
I've spent a few years participating on internet theology and philosophy forums.  I've assumed points of view opposite to what I hold, written crass articles, scholarly articles, argued with soft-boiled brains and bright-lights alike, and I've come to a few conclusions:

  1. It's a waste of time.  Everything that I've contributed to a forum, I could have better contributed to my ambitions to write a book.  By this point in time, I could quite reasonably have written a manuscript covering the kinds of topics I enjoy: religious claims, philosophy, history, and the rational mind.  As it is, I've got a laptop with links to sites where I've let myself be dragged into non-productive arguments with people who have no real connection to my life.
  2. 'Last-word Charlie' is a title that is apt for almost everyone with access to a keyboard.  Forget a graceful exit from a conversation.  Forget the social convention of stating politely that you really don't have anything more to say, and expecting that that will be alright with your dialogue partner(s).  That is not a privilege afforded the chat-forum community: you either get the last word in and really show those foot-suckers how stupid they really are, or you endure the brunt of everyone else writing in to you as if you're that stupid foot-sucker.  Someone always has to get the last word in.  It's insufferable.
  3. Anything of any real substance quickly degrades into something of no substance.  Conversations will come up that have a good lot of potential, and a few excellent comments will light the screen.  After that, it's like a sudden jump into being an octogenarian: everything degenerates faster than time-lapsed tree-rot, and you're left with a shaking head and a bevy of pills to quell the pain.
  4. Quitting is not so far-off of killing an addiction.  Most likely because it is an addiction.  In my case, at least, I crave the fight, the argument, the chance at coming out on top of a hard question.  I like being right.  But because my initial premise for participation is to be right, I'm wrong right from the start.  Even if my alleged facts line up better than another person's, my motivations for being there are not really the most salutary.  I like competition, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but when it comes from a place of scorn and derision (which, admittedly, in these past couple of years, it has), it's not really competition anymore; it's combat.  And no-one really likes to be pushed into a position where they feel they have something personal to lose by participating in a topic of discussion.
So, I'm coming back to my blog with a new perspective: I want to share the things I think and open the board to better discussion with people who enjoy a fair, and gracious exchange of ideas.


p.s. There will be no Saint Cynic forum.

p.p.s.  Articles will come via the treacle-down effect: slowly but surely.  ;)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On Further Consideration

Saint Cynic enjoyed 3 years, and then I shut it down.  Due to some significant philosophical shifts, I didn't feel honest continuing on with this site.  Despite that though, I have longed to continue writing here, and have never been able to pull myself away from one of my first academic loves: religious philosophy and history.

More, the focus of the blog turned more to the Cynic bashing the Saint, instead of a balanced approach to both. I was angry because of my philosophical changes.  I was disinterested in my former partisanship with religious concepts.  I dropped the focus of the blog.

For almost a year now, I've been taking the time to re-focus myself, and have come to a place where I can re-open the blog, but with notable re-visioning.  For example, the 'Saint' portion of the articles I write will be my endorsement of those things that happen to be true (as far as can be determined) in religious perspectives; the 'Cynic' portion will deal with those things that are shown to be untrue (also as far as can be determined).  More, the 'Saint' side will deal with things that I enjoy and endorse; the 'Cynic' side will deal with things I would caution against (e.g., veganism and vegetarianism).

I will be putting all of this together in the very near future, so stay tuned for further updates.

Thank you for giving of your time to read this.