In my last post I discussed how delusional beliefs form and why they’re so easy to fall into. It turns out that the belief that we are immune to delusional thinking is a critical component for delusional beliefs to form in the first place. Our beliefs, rather than being a spectrum that ranges from opinion to conviction based on evidence, are built on an entwined mixture of opinions, evidence-based beliefs, and delusions, all of which are interlocking and naturally resistant to new data and evidence.Continue Reading
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At the end of any serious discussion around belief in the supernatural, the Christian (or other theist) struggles to gain ground on every philosophical, scientific, and logical debate. By any standard that a believer would enforce for someone of a different belief, their own arguments fall. The final ace in the hole for most, however, is the personal experience card. Nearly every true believer of any faith will tell you they *know* that God / angels / demons / ghosts / spirits / heaven / magic / etc. exists because they have personally experienced it at some point in their lives, and if only I were open to accepting what is clearly before me, I could experience it too and know the truth. They feel that this is an impossible to defeat argument – after all, how can I possibly tell them that their personal experiences, those feelings, that relationship that they absolutely know to be real are just figments of their imagination? Again, if I had experienced anything similar, there would be no way I could not believe.
Here’s the rub: almost without exception, I *have* had experiences that – at the time they occurred and for years afterwards – I believed could not be explained in any way other than to invoke the supernatural. I *did* have a relationship with God – one in which he and I conversed on a regular basis, where I earnestly looked for wisdom and guidance. I *did* on multiple occasions surrender my life or renew my commitment to him to lead and guide as he would see fit. I felt that still small voice, and it brought me to tears. I wept alone in my home on multiple occasions during prayer, lying in bed or on the floor, simply overcome with the presence of God and the feeling of his hand guiding my life. I had faith, and a faith that was so powerful that I let it guide my decisions and direction in life in substantial ways. I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, felt his indwelling as I preached the gospel and led others to Jesus via the Roman Road of Salvation(tm). I had life-threatening experiences in which I was positive I should have died or been critically injured in which I came out either unscathed or only slightly wounded. I looked in my life and could see how extremely negative experiences had been crafted so that something amazing that happened later was made possible, and only because of the bad things that had happened.
And yet, here I am, a non-believer — not only in Christianity, but in the existence of the supernatural altogether.Continue Reading
In the gender series we have examined gender from the standpoint of who gets to define you from a gender standpoint, why social boundaries trump biology for gender identification, and why the same cannot be said for race (thus the invalidity of the term “transracial”). In this fourth and final (for now) entry in the series, I will address some difficult and emotionally-charged issues around when transgender individuals should be integrated into current gender-based social categories and, critically, when they should not.
I will begin with the story of Fallon Fox, a transgender woman (born biologically male) who at 30 years old had gender reassignment surgery. A few years later, she joined the ranks of professional female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. This created significant controversy. She has had a fairly successful MMA fighting record and has left opponents injured in ways that are uncommon in female MMA matches. Should a person who was born male and up until 30 years of age experienced all of the hormonal strength and body-structural benefits of being male be allowed to participate in a potentially dangerous competitive female sport later in life?
My answer might surprise you. (more…)Continue Reading
In my last post on gender, I made my case for why biology is not the determining factor for identifying as culturally male vs. female. In response, as expected, some then tried to take the argument I was making and apply it to a different context, in an attempt to discredit the argument. Fair enough, but does their redirection hold up to scrutiny?
The basic argument is this:
A) Both gender and race are biologically assigned at birth.
B) Society does not allow for individuals to simply choose their race based on how they feel.
C) Therefore, it is inconsistent to allow gender to be a choice and not race.
If I can simply choose my gender, why can’t I “identify” as member of a different ethnicity? In other words, can I, as a white male, simply “feel” black and thus proclaim myself black?Continue Reading
My wife and I have been on a recent miniature health kick. We are looking to replace common household snacks with healthy alternatives. Many alternatives exist, the trick is finding the ones actually good for you. We have cut out many of our typical snack items and replaced them with a nut mix. This mix is typically composed of items such as peanuts, cashews, yogurt covered cranberries, and various other odds and ends.
Recently, we have been including a hint of that taste of nature’s sweetness known as Reece’s Pieces. With every batch of our nut mix, we stir in a bag of the sugary concoction.
I have developed the nasty habit of pulling items from our nut mix bowl. My particular habits tend toward the cashews and Reece’s Pieces – I can’t get enough of them. Whenever I think I can get away with it, I sneak away supplies.
I recently noticed a trend with the Reece’s Pieces – these bits of chocolaty goodness come ready to attract the eye with three standard colors: yellow, orange, and brown. Humans have evolved to notice things that stand out from the environment, and the yellow and orange Reece’s tend to stand out when surrounded by an ocean of brown nuts. Safely hidden are the brown Reece’s Pieces.Continue Reading