Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Could Christianity be the Antichrist?


We know that the original manuscripts did not have punctuation marks. Translators added them in the way that supported their beliefs. So, remove the commas and quotation marks from Mark 24:5 and you are left with this:
  • For many shall come in my name saying I am Christ and shall deceive many.
Isn't that exactly what the Christian religion and Christian churches do -- deceive many using Christ as their authority? I'd say Old Scratch hit a home run in his game to deceive. It's also a far better description of "Antichrist" than it being an individual.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Knowledge vs Belief vs Faith

Both knowledge and belief are evidence-based, when the words are used properly. Faith is not. However, it is common to use the words faith and belief interchangeably. Even Webster does it due to widespread acceptance. But, here is the difference in all three.

Knowledge requires empirical evidence. I "know" empirically that my dog is beside me in my chair. It's not something I can choose to "unknow".

Belief also requires evidence. It doesn't require empirical evidence, but it does require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Without empirical evidence, I cannot "know" that my dog will live long enough to be beside me tomorrow. But, I have enough supporting evidence to believe he will be. Note: Personal experience can provide sufficient subjective evidence for an individual to believe something that is not necessarily factual.

Faith requires little or no supporting evidence. All it requires is a need or desire for something to be true. I can choose to have faith in something regardless of the evidence or the lack thereof. I can choose to have faith in God, flying saucers, or that my dog is the Antichrist, without supporting evidence of any kind. This is because faith is want-to-be based, and fueled by need, fear, tribal influence, or conditioning. It is interesting that even the Bible supports this by declaring that: "Faith is the substance of things "hoped for" (emphasis mine).

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Why We Take Sides

Have you ever thought about why you "just can't seem to make that person see reason"? I figure it's because our nature is to pick sides. When we don't, we're accused of being "wishy-washy" or "straddling the fence." We pick sides on the playground as kids. We do it in our sports (OU vs OSU). We do it in our religions and we do it in our politics. We do it every day of our lives, in large and small ways. We (even those who deny it) follow the crowd, and the crowd follows the Alphas. Our leash is yanked by fads, fashions, and taboos. Most of the time we do it unconsciously, but sometimes we do it even when we know we're doing it. And, we tend to be "in for a penny, in for a pound", hanging on to the side we pick even when presented with compelling and objective evidence against it (think religion and politics).


On the good side, this hard-wired behavior strengthens tribal (family, friends, community) bonds and helps to ensure our survival. On the bad side, it often results in racism, prejudice, mistrust, narrow-mindedness, hatred and war. Knowing this, many of us try to avoid picking sides. We try to see the objective good and bad on all sides.
I'm not Democrat. I'm not Republican. I'm not one religion. I'm not one genre of music. I know I'll never achieve complete objectivity because I'm still attached to Mother Nature's puppet strings. However, I've learned that it's often wise to keep one's opinions to one's self. I try to follow a verse in the Bible that says, "If it offends my brother, I won't do it" (unless I just can't help myself).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why Don't We Fact-Check?

I believe tribal loyalties, end-justifies-the-means behavior, and the lack of personal ethics has always played an ugly part in politics. But we now are in an age where such ugliness as rumors, hyperbole, and downright lies can be spread in a way never known before. And unfortunately, our species will accept them without fact-checking if they support their preexisting biases.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

America's Heroes -- Not Just Soldiers


It's not the soldier who puts out house fires, it's the firemen. 

It's not the soldier who arrests the rapist, it's the cop. 

It's not the soldier who saves the accident victim's life, it's the first responders.

It's not the soldier who discovers ways to cure millions, it's the doctors and scientists.

It's not the soldier who instills character and knowledge into our youth, it's parents and teachers.

Finally, it's not the solder who funds himself and all the other heroes in America, it's all the common folks like you and me who abide by the laws and pay our taxes.

Soldiers deserve recognition and honor, but so do many other Americans -- just as much -- and who get far less. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

We've heard stories about young people who have to be “de-programmed” from some cult's conditioning. We've heard about the Stockholm Syndrome, where a captive becomes brainwashed into supporting her captives. We've seen how humans can be conditioned to the point that reason no longer determines their thoughts or behavior.
I believe that Americans are slowly being de-programmed from centuries of wrong and hurtful conditioning. In my 6+ decades of life, hurtful things like racism, bigotry, animal cruelty, religious tribalism, scientific ignorance, and social injustices have decreased, and I believe the momentum has been increasing.
There is still a lot of resistance from those who see change as threatening, and in some cases, evil, but as education and communication increases, that resistance is weakening. As someone who has tried to swim against the current in the Cimarron River, I know that the current eventually wins, and I believe the current is going in the right direction. In short, I'm cautiously optimistic about our nation's and the world's future – cautiously, because I realize how easily one match can cause an explosion.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Knowledge vs. Belief vs. Faith

The requirements for knowledge / belief in science are far different than those required in religion. Scientists are very careful with their use of the terms "to know" and "to believe" -- and the word "faith" is anathema. Religion has no such strict interpretations and often use the three terms interchangeably.

It only took me a semester of biology to have a problem with my preacher saying things like, "Know this, when you die, you'll either go to Heaven or Hell". Well alrighty, then! OK, you might scare me into one or tempt me into the other, but you can't make me "know" that I'll land in either one. Then he would ask me if I "believed" this. Of course I said yes, rationalizing my surrender by letting the word "believe" dilute "know" down enough to be palatable.

But that didn't fix the dissonance in my mind. It only grew worse the farther I got into science. Common origin, natural selection, speciation, genetics, geology -- on and on -- contradicted almost every thing I had been conditioned to believe. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to make a choice. I had to dump either science or religion. I dumped religion. At least I tried damn hard to. But the dissonance remained -- until a few years ago. So what cleared things up? My definitions of the words "knowledge", "belief" and "faith". Here they are.

- Knowledge requires empirical, non-disputable evidence. Example: Neil Armstrong knew he walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. I can't know this, but he did.
- Belief requires objective evidence that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Example: Objective evidence supports Armstrong's walk on the moon. I have no choice but to go where the evidence takes me.
- Faith is based upon hope and does not require a minimum amount of evidence. Of course, to have hope usually requires some amount of evidence, but it can be entirely subjective. Example: Having faith that on August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong became an astronaut in God's space program, regardless of the lack of objective evidence. (I can have faith in this if I so choose, but I cannot know or believe it.)

Thus, I'm at peace. As long as there is the unknown, I can choose to hope for anything I want, even if the only evidence I have is almost 100% subjective. I call it “faith”. It's my choice. I can have “faith” in Heaven even if I don't have enough evidence to know or believe in it. However, I don't need faith to accept evolution. I have sufficient objective evidence. See? No more dissonance.


So, if any of my religious friends out there ever hear me say, “I don't believe in xyz”, you'll know that I still might have faith in it. Or if my atheist friends out there hear me say, “I have faith in xyz”, you'll know I still may not believe in it. Hope that clears things up.