Monday, August 10, 2015

Skeptic First

The labels "atheist" and "agnostic" are explicitly negative. I don't mean that they are bad, but that they convey the lack of something, or the state of being "not X." God is commonly referred to as "eternal" (no time) and "infinite" (not finite), which are negative descriptions, but certainly not bad. Likewise, "a-theist" = "no god" (literally), and "no belief in god" (implicitly), and "a-gnostic" = "no knowledge." I know very little about cars, so one could say I'm fairly agnostic about the inner working of automobiles. The "skeptic" label is also negative, although implicitly. A skeptic withholds judgment and intellectual assent until sufficient evidence, argument, and reason arise to warrant belief or acceptance of the proposition in question. The skeptic will not believe in X (here we find the implicit negative) until one has good reason to believe in X.

"Skeptic" is also implicitly positive. A skeptic wants to know truth. A skeptic lives as though one is on a journey - a pilgrimage for some - towards a better understanding of the cosmos and ourselves. 

Of all the labels used by the atheist/agnostic/freethinker/skeptic community, I am convinced skeptic is the most important. Some disagree with me, and their reasons are worth consideration. Chief among them (in my mind) is that a label like "atheist" still carries negative (and I mean "negative" in the colloquial sense of being bad) connotations which fuel prejudice and misconceptions about what kind of people atheists are, and the more open and expressive we are with the label, the better our chances of convincing more people that we're not baby-eaters or devoid of morality or followers of the Dark Lord.

When you read "Dark Lord," who did you think of first: Sauron or Voldemort?

Well you're both wrong. 

They are right insofar as we should be willing to show people who we are and encourage them to see us for who we are, not who they fear we are. I don't wish to argue with their point, but rather supplement it with my own.

While many atheists became such because they were first skeptics, one can be an atheist and not a skeptic. They are not synonymous. Likewise, one can be a Christian and be a skeptic, simply because skeptics can actually disagree with each other. The day every person in the world who identifies as a "skeptic" agrees about everything is the day we've likely lost any semblance of being skeptics.

Granted, the nature of having faith makes being a skeptic more difficult. This was exemplified in the debate held back in February between Bill Nye and Ken Ham when each was asked: "What, if anything, would ever change your mind?" Ken Ham's answer was "Nothing," whereas Bill Nye's response was "Just one piece of evidence."

The soul of skepticism is the willingness to change one's mind when presented with a good reason to do so. the foundation of faith is the acceptance of certain tenets and beliefs and reliance upon their veracity independent of whether there is evidence for or against those tenets.

The reason I say that "skeptic" is the most important label we can use is because our skepticism is what has propelled us towards further advancements in science, technology, and medicine, and given us the knowledge and understanding of the world we currently have. It's the pursuit of truth, not the conformity to comfort, that will truly satisfy our instinctive curiosity, help us find fulfillment, and give us hope for the future.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dawn of the Dead(-Logic)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Prejudice Peddled as Piety

When I see comments like these, I find that I, in the words of the younger generation, can't even right now. I spent five years writing on this blog in the attempt to figure out who I am, what I believe, and what I stand for. I eventually came to an understanding of myself, and while the journey of discovery is never complete while I still draw breath, I achieved a state of self-awareness. I spent years struggling through literal sweat and tears trying to "find myself." I suffered the slings and arrows of criticism, insults, and judgment, often from those I considered very close and dear to me. I know what it's like to not be understood, and to have people who speak of "love" and "grace" refuse to even try to understand or listen.

I also know now that everything I've gone through is minor compared to the injustice and pain that has been inflicted on those who do not have my heterosexual cisgender white male privilege.  What I experienced, in comparison to what others have experienced, is like comparing being blind for a day versus being blind since birth. I can't really understand what it's like to live their lives. Even "walking a mile in their shoes" would give me only a brief, blurry glimpse of their condition.

People like William Lane Craig will continue to live out prejudice peddled as piety. They will still refuse to listen. But this has been a monumental week: the Confederate flag got ripped down and the Internet became filled with rainbows. But the fight isn't over. This is just the beginning. Now we continue to show the world that #LoveWins.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Niagra Falls

The White House

The Empire State Building

Monday, February 9, 2015

Birthday Cake

This was the cake Beth had made for my Birthday Annual Survival Recognition Day cake for my party Saturday night. In case you're unsure, that is a ninja riding a unicorn, and each of them is holding a lightsaber.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Today I turn 40 years old. Today is my 40th Annual Survival Recognition Day: my 40th revolution around our sun. I, like Solomon Grundy, was born on a Monday.

If I believed in luck, 3 would be my lucky number.

Tonight my fiancée and I will celebrate with cake and presents. My big party will be this Saturday. That's saying a lot, because I don't normally acknowledge or celebrate my birthday. I realized this year that I never celebrated my birthday because I never felt I deserved it. But 40 is a special time, and I have many reasons to celebrate.

To be honest, I have no idea what 40 is supposed to feel like or look like, but here I am this morning. Aside from the sinus infection I get every year around my birthday, I feel great. My life is filled with happiness and love, and it's been a long time coming.

I've said that I spent my 20s pretending to be someone I wasn't; I spent my 30s figuring out who I am; I'll spend my 40s seeking out who I should become.

I'm looking forward to my next decade of life.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Leelah Alcorn, May Your Death Not Be In Vain

"We don't support that, religiously," Alcorn's mother told CNN on Wednesday, her voice breaking. "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."

- Carla Alcorn, speaking about her daughter, Leelah Alcorn [x]

And that's why Leelah committed suicide.

I'm sorry our world is still full of people stuck in the dismal past of bigotry, closed-mindedness, dogmatism, and fear. May memories of you give us strength to keep fighting for what's right, Leelah.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A comment on #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, et al.

I posted this comment on another person's blog. Thought I'd share it here...

My policy is as follows:

1. Be a skeptic. Don't believe everything you hear/read.
2. Nothing has only one cause, and there are always shades of grey.

That said, I am convinced that the system is broken. Racism still corrupts the machine. This isn't about any individual.

This isn't about any particular dead person or individual gun-wielding cop. There are plenty of good cops. There are genuine bad guys out there of every color. This is about a culture that is slanted against certain types of people.

There needs to be an overhaul, a reboot. Drastic changes need to be made. If I am to err, I prefer to err on the side of overreacting rather than the side of saying "calm down" while another person is killed unnecessarily.