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Archive for July 2009

Transition to Atheism

I recently viewed two excellent videos about one man’s transition to atheism. The first explores the emotional changes using a psychological model of transition. The second explores the cognitive, epistemological dimension. It’s interesting to get another perspective on a metamorphosis in my life that I still find a bit mysterious.

Money quote: “People who don’t want you to think are never your friend.”

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On Faith and Superstition

I would like to draw a distinction between faith which I think helps us and superstition which I think harms us.

Faith helps us to move out into the impossible as Arthur C. Clarke put it. It allows us to transcend current knowledge in order to find new knowledge. It gives to artists their vision, to scientists their hunches and their hypotheses, and to activists their hope for a better future. Faith speculates based on current knowledge but cannot guarantee success. It allows us to move forward in the face of uncertainty. It expands our horizons.

Superstition, by contrast, has no solid basis in current knowledge. It may even be refuted by available evidence. It may even lie beyond the reach of future verification. It propagates through our ignorance and fear. It confers a false hope in the face of uncertainty. Superstition stultifies and prevents our future advancement.

I see prayer as a commonly practiced example of a superstition. We’ve attempted to verify the efficacy of prayer on behalf of others. It’s not clear that such prayer has any effect. The example that helped me to give up my own superstition was prayer for those with amputated limbs. No one has recovered a limb, whether they were prayed for or not, without the intervention of human medicine. If prayer were effective, why are amputees left out of God’s mercy?

From what I can tell, religious faith often amounts to little more than superstition.

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Blowing the Horn of Gideon

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Show Me the Error of My Ways

For reasons that have arisen elsewhere, I’m creating an open thread for anyone who would like to show me the error of my ways. The only ground rules are 1) be civil and 2) expect to have your reasoning questioned. Other than that, feel free to tell me why I should believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that extraterrestrials have visited Earth and probed its lifeforms, homeopathy can cure dandruff, etc. I welcome your cogent arguments.

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Blank Canvas

This is the chronicle of one Mormon boy’s iconoclastic quest to remix and rectify his notions of truth, mind, myth, love, life, and transcendence.

To a large degree, this blog has been true to that initial vision. (How could it not with such a broad definition?) Yet the blog seems to gravitate to one word in that definition: Mormon. That albatross has hung around my neck long enough, but I can’t seem to free myself from it while I write here. This blog’s audience has been primarily interested in topics surrounding Mormonism. I need to be free from the constraint of being topical.

Hence a new blog is born. The new blog’s topic is a complete lack of topic, except whatever random things interest me. I define its success by its power to please me. I won’t be checking its stats or waiting for comments. I just want a place to say things.

I will write here when it seems appropriate. I don’t expect anyone to follow me there, but I thought it would be polite to tell you where things stand.


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