Category Archives: Uncategorized
It’s SSA’s blogathon week! In case you didn’t know, the Secular Student Alliance empowers students from all over the country to build secular communities and to do generally awesome things.
So if you’re willing to donate money, let me know, and I’ll write a blog post for you right here on Inspirational Freethought, on any topic of your choice, which will be published from 12PM to 6PM this Sunday!
If you’re not in the position to donate, you can still request a blog post, although I can’t guarantee it, and I just won’t be as nice to you. =)
So any topics, issues, or questions you’re interested in?
One year ago today, I was preparing to lead an Ash Wednesday service at my church. Today, one year later, I realize that we are not dust but instead… stardust. The answers to humanity’s problems are not found in self-depreciation to a deity, but in our ability to see the interconnectedness we possess as we reach out to help our fellow human. Instead of placing ashes on someone’s forehead today, I choose to offer the gift of kindness to those around me. Not for a reward that exists in another place after I die, but in the here and now in this life.
The link below is a form of the questions that I gave out during a Rationality Lab session at the Secular Alliance at UChicago. I’ve been busy and haven’t gotten the chance to fully debrief it in writing, but I’m working on it right now. Meanwhile you should take the quiz and see how rational you really are.
Link to the quiz here. You can take up to about twenty minutes. Please, do not reference outside sources.
There are many religious people who insist that if only you give their religion a try, you’ll see that being religious is an indescribably sublime and transcendent experience, that these experiences can give you a completely fresh perspective on life and our place in the greater scheme of things…
But what about the other way around? Many ex-believers like me have found so much more beauty, meaning, and purpose outside of religion. No, it isn’t like being born again (Who wants to stay as a child anyways?), but it’s like growing up to be a more mature and understanding person. It’s about the feeling of knowing that you’re living honestly and truthfully with as few delusions as possible. And it’s a peace and understanding that transcends all religion and culture, that gives you a certain reference frame in which the world seems less mysterious but far more elegant and beautiful.
The video below pretty much captures what many of us have been trying to express.
On November 12, 2011, a large theater in Northwestern’s downtown campus became packed with Chicagoans who came to honor the life and legacy of Carl Sagan. The event featured apple pies (made from scratch apparently), flying spaghetti monster cupcakes, COSMO[S]politians (for those 21+), and lots and lots of people from the skeptical/secular community. Jen Newport from Chicago Skeptics gave a talk on Sagan’s contributions to skepticism, and Dan Abramov from Northwestern talked about the enormous strides in space exploration since Sagan’s death. There was also a screening of an episode of Cosmos.
So who was Carl Sagan, and why, more than a decade after his death, does he matter so much?
Carl Sagan, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, was an astronomer who made the Universe come alive in the human imagination. He had a vision of human flourishing, of human solidarity, and of peaceful space exploration that transcended tribes, races, nations, and religions. He was a great communicator and teacher. He was a skeptic and a philosopher who articulated the benefits of science and the dangers of superstition. He connected to the hearts and minds of people around the world. He was “the people’s scientist”.
The overused but not always pointless sentiment is that we hate flying. From a passenger jet, the lower atmosphere in its bright blueness is not noticeably different than the view seen from the usual terrestrial vantage point.
But there’s something chilling and mesmerizing about flying higher. It’s the darkness, no, the cold blackness that gradually sinks in. One sees the gases of the Earth contacting the vast void of space-time. One soon realizes that the atmosphere is as thin as apple skin, and that we had never evolved to survive outside of our bubble. It is when one is at the precipice of Earth and non-Earth, the event horizon of our limited human history, that we find ourselves breathing deeply and looking around in peaceful meditation.
Stressed about recruiting and/or graduate school? Don’t know what you want to do with your life? Take some advice from Steve Jobs (another inspirational visionary who probably didn’t believe in God).
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
Don’t go for status, prestige, or money. Do what you love well, and it will become prestigious. Work exceptionally, and you will be paid well for it.
There’s a very peculiar man on the UChicago campus nowadays, holding up signs of controversial Christian messages. I approached him today with camera and notebook ready, and asked him a few questions.
First, it was apparent that his English was suffering quite a bit, as he was quite eager to ask me to proofread his signs to make sure they were grammatically correct. In fact, they all looked okay, and I soon found out that he was from Germany. My desperate attempt to speak German failed spectacularly, but he switched over to some phrases in Mandarin Chinese after finding out I was indeed Chinese and not Korean. With his barely comprehensible Chinese, he spoke in such an accented way that I had to pause to figure out what he was saying. At one point, he asked me “do you know Jesus?” in Mandarin Chinese, after which I responded “I’ve heard of such a person…” in Chinese, but I don’t think he quite understood. He promised me that a couple years from now, he would be traveling to China and Hong Kong spreading the good news.
In any case, his central message, of course, is that he himself is “completely sure” that “Jesus is alive”. He is quite disappointed that approximately 90% of people who worship on Sunday stop worshiping on other days, and this rejection of Jesus in their everyday lives leads to disastrous consequences.
When I asked him about the deeper philosophical meaning of his signs, he simply noted that homosexuality is not natural and, in the Old Testament, God killed homosexuals. I asked him whether he thought homosexuality could be “cured,” but he didn’t understand what the word “cured” meant. I emphasized that one goes to the doctor to cure an illness, and he nodded, exclaiming, “Yes, Jesus is a doctor… Jesus is a doctor…”
We welcome this German guest to our beautiful campus. Though his message was hateful and ignorant, it never hurts to reach out a hand.