There are a lot of things that have changed in my life since I stopped updating this blog. For one, I'm 19 now instead of 17 and although I haven't made a post on here in a year and a half, I haven't stopped learning and studying about religious and philosophical topics. Despite studying about these topics, I have changed my major from Computer Science to Economics. I would major in Religious Studies if the University of Maryland, College Park offered that type of program and if I thought I would be able to make a respectable amount of money in that field. However, Religious Study majors don't obtain a higher salary on average than people with an Economics degree and I don't need to major in a field to study about it! I have deleted all of my previous posts because they are outdated and I feel I could improve on them. Therefore, you should be expecting posts on Pascal's Wager, prayer, language and the nature of "curse words", etc. I am going to try and post as often as possible, hopefully one a day on average. I can guarantee that there are going to be some daily posts with only a few sentences if I adhere to this format, but something is better than nothing! I know I promised the "one post per day" format before, but there is a lot to do while attending college and this blog fell low on my mental list of priorities. I had to come back and start making posts again because I've been furious with seeing religion injected into everything and foolish religious banter in the comment sections of videos, forums, and web posts. The value of a blog like this becomes apparent when you look at the bigoted, misanthropic, ignorant, fools that get on national television and are in seats of important stature in our government. I do not want to see these people getting elected and others that are on the television and I hope this blog may do something, however small, to sway these kinds of behaviors. In addition to these annoyances, I started looking at the websites for organizations like the Institute of Creation Research. After reading some of their "science", I had to close the window and walk away from my keyboard. I have also had extended conversations with family members of mine on topics concerning religion, so I've been getting some practice in religious discourse.
I want to add a little bit of substance to this first post of the new batch. We have all been hearing about the deadly shooting in Tucson, Arizona. I would like to preface the following commentary by extending my condolences to all of the families of the victims, both killed and injured in this tragedy. I hope that the injured will recover as well as possible and I mourn for those who were killed. One thing you won't find me doing however, is praying for these families. Nor will I be making any claims of miracles. I hear people in the news, during the pregame of the BCS National Championship, in the comments of CNN, etc. of people claiming that United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords' recover is a miracle. A miracle is usually referring to a supernatural intervention that creates an observable, positive outcome. Some people may define miracles as simply an "unlikely event" and has nothing to do with supernatural events. To the people that define miracles as the latter definition, you can ignore the next few sentences! However, if you think the "miracle" of Gabrielle Giffords' recovery was due to a supernatural intervention, namely a god or gods... How dare you. There are so many reasons why thinking in this way is both illogical and down right offensive. First of all, the human body is extremely complicated and even scientists and doctors cannot explain everything that happens regarding the healing capabilities of the body. Regardless of this fact, you do not get to say, "God did it!" I will explain Occam's Razor in a later post, but a simple version of this concept is that the most simple answer based on our current understanding of reality is the most probable one. The example that I use the most to represent this idea concerns an object falling off a shelf. I pose the question, "Which is more likely: The object fell off the shelf because of its instability and a vibration in the room, or that a leprechaun and a fairy teamed up to push the object off?" Obviously the first is the most likely. The position holds with current scientific understanding and is simplistic. The reason simplicity is of importance is shown in this example: "Is it likely that a cosmic event shook your part of the world slightly which triggered a small tremor, which caused something outside your house to fall over and shake the fundation, thus making the object on the shelf topple over?" Although this is possible and the position holds with scientific understanding, it is less likely than the vibration in the room scenario and more likely than a "God did it!" scenario. The point is that "God did it!" is a big non-answer. What theists really mean when something "miraculous" happens is "I don't know or understand how or why this event happened, but I am going to attribute this event I don't understand to a god or gods". If you don't understand, don't make up an explanation! The correct answer is "I don't know right now and allow me to do some research to come up with the best possible explanation according to known scientific studies, logic, and reasoning". Guess what, after this process the answer may still be "I don't know"! However, you are never justified in saying "God did it!" unless there is sufficient evidence for your conclusion. Going back to Giffords' recovery, the will, effort, and expertise of the team of doctors and nurses as well as Giffords' strength and will to survive is the reason she is doing better. It is offensive to disregard this enormous effort and give the credit to something that a theist can't even prove. What would really be a "miracle" is if Giffords was laying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head and the bullet disappeared while her brain, skull, and skin were instantly repaired to the state they were in before the violent act took place. Where is God performing those miracles? Is he too busy allowing people to win the lottery? Letting a football team win their championship game? Giving someone a good grade on a test? Alleviating someone of their pain from a hang nail? In addition, what basis does a theist have in making any claim about their god's or gods' intervention in these events.
Feel free to e-mail me about questions, aspects of the blog you like/dislike, discussions you would like to have with me, and, most importantly, where I'm wrong or inaccurate at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a comment below. Please correct me on spelling, wrong words, vagueness, or semantic mistakes, as well as asking for clarification on anything!