A Hymn to Humanity

This past weekend was Thanksgiving up here in Canada, which for me was pleasantly spent at my aunt and uncle’s place. They let me sleep on the couch and fed me delicious food, and got some of the family together for Thanksgiving dinner. On the whole, it was great, other than the fact that I was tired pretty much the whole time. I’m not even sure why.

But of course, Thanksgiving is always a time to reflect on the things for which one is thankful – which is, coincidentally, why it has that name. I always have so much to be thankful for, though of course, I don’t always act that way. I have a loving and supportive family, some great friends, and a great deal of privilege living as a white middle-class male in a democratic Western country in the 21st century. These are all things that I often take for granted, yet they are all important parts of who I am. And when I reflect, I am always grateful for these things.

But this year, I am also thankful for something more general. I am glad to be human. That might seem sort of an odd thing to say. After all, if I weren’t human, I wouldn’t even be able to express my thankfulness. If I were some other sort of animal, I guess I might be able to be glad to be a dog, or a horse, or a caterpillar, or a chimpanzee. But humans have such…Continue Reading

An Atheist’s Defense of Religion

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There is no consensus among atheists about the proper way to treat religion. Prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens don’t seem to give any credence to any form of religion, thinking that we’d be better off if we just got rid of it entirely. However, not all atheists think this way, and some either see some value in religion or else just feel it best to leave the whole mess alone. I’d like to give my own views on this issue, since I tend to write about religion a lot, and I think it is an important issue to talk about if atheists attempt to give any sort of semi-unified approach to religion. I’d love to hear what others have to say, however, whether atheist or religious believer, and I welcome disagreement.

When thinking about one’s beliefs, I think that the primary consideration is the truth value of those beliefs. I place a high importance on truth, because I see truth as valuable – both in and of itself, as well as for the usefulness that it brings us. I think that most atheists would agree with this sentiment, and since they believe that it is false that God exists, they think that religion is false. But I think this is being a bit too hasty. Religion is more than simply a collection of beliefs. So while beliefs can be true or false (or perhaps, accurate or inaccurate), “religion” as a whole cannot be true or false. There…Continue Reading

Democracies and Dictators

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I’ve been in Vancouver visiting my parents for a little over a week now. I flew over a week ago Thursday and then spent some time with them. My sister also arrived this past Friday, so we are going to be doing some family stuff and whatnot. It should be good. They just recently packed up and moved to Vancouver, so this is the first time either of us have been in their new place.

Of course, because my dad got his new job at a church out here (which was the reason for the move), they have been eager to show off the church and introduce us to a bunch of people. That’s all well and good – I would much rather be sleeping in like I’m used to now on Sunday, but it’s interesting to see how this church handles their services and such. It’s a really large church building, though the congregation is not large enough to fill it, but they seem to do things pretty well. Their worship team is pretty good (much better than the one in Brantford – and I can say that since I was part of it for years), and I enjoy the pastor much better than the one in Brantford as well. So, I’ll put up with a church service or two if it will make my parents happy, and then I can go back to being a blissful heathen by sleeping in every Sunday and increasing my free time each…Continue Reading

Musings on Marriage

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I have apparently crossed a milestone in my life. I am now at the age where all my friends seem to be getting married. I’m not entirely sure why. I just keep seeing notifications on my Facebook feed about people getting engaged or married and even having children. These are people my age, and even a couple years younger, getting married. I’m only 22 – I thought that was supposed to be young!

Now, this scares me on a couple levels. First off, I feel nowhere near mature enough to be settling down with someone, finding a permanent job, etc. Facing the prospect of graduation and then more grad school to come, I feel like I’m just getting started with life. I still feel like a kid who has no idea what he’s doing, and I can’t possibly fathom how a person of 20 years could feel like they’re ready to settle down. I mean, when I was a little kid, 20 years old seemed like you were reaching senior citizen status, but now it feels like 22 is the new “terrible twos”. Secondly, it kind of scares me that these people have been dating their significant others for years now – and I, on the other hand, haven’t had a date where I really connected with the person in years. This makes me feel way too far behind on the game; thinking about this for too long makes me have the impulsive urge to take up knitting in preparation…Continue Reading

Ethics and Emotions

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Every once in a while, I do something rash. I do something so reckless and unpredictable that I even frighten myself. This has recently happened again: I just got Twitter. Oh my, how could you, Jeff?

Well, despite my objections to the watering down of human communication to 140 characters, I was finally worn down and persuaded by a number of people mentioning the cool things happening on it. I decided that I’d set up an account primarily just to “follow” a few people that I had heard about, but I can already pretty much tell that I’m going to be addicted to this thing forever. Well, maybe not addicted. But I have so many random thoughts that come to me throughout the day, and Twitter is pretty much the perfect medium to tell other people about those thoughts. I suppose that most of these thoughts are ones that no one else in the entire world really cares about, but still – they are mildly amusing at times and need to be shared. So, at least for the near future, it appears that I am “on Twitter”. So, any person who actually reads my blog should head over there and follow me, and then I will be happy because the number will go up by one, making me seem like less of a loser.

I’ve also put links to it on the side of my blog, along with my independent music project called Aletheia. There’s not much to…Continue Reading

The Negatives of Nationalism

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Now that I’ve finally got my honours thesis proposal finished and handed in, I finally have some time to sit back and relax. Well, except that I have to work on studying for the GRE. So perhaps not so much relaxing. But at any rate, I’m taking a break from that, so I’ll write something here instead. Maybe it will help my vocabulary skills for the verbal section of the GRE. The more loquacious I am, the more efficacious it will be. I hope I’m using those words properly…

Anyway, with the G8 and the G20 coming up in the near future, and with the World Cup in full swing, it seems as good a time as any to talk about nationalism. I wrote a few things about this on Facebook during the Olympics, and I don’t think people were too pleased with me. It’s at times like these (events that are in a global context) that nationalism and patriotism tend to emerge. To be honest, I find the attitude fairly repulsive. During the Olympics, everyone had their Canada hat and mitts on, and there were Canadian flags everywhere. Perhaps it was partially the drastic change (since Canadians normally aren’t really known for their blatant patriotism), but I found it fairly distasteful. I mean, the Olympic spirit is fairly benign and is certainly not going to fuel any large-scale war or anything, but it reinforces the attitude to be carried over into other contexts. So let me explain a bit…Continue Reading

Books and Busy Schedules

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Boy, things have been pretty busy the past couple of weeks. I’ve had to do some group work to create a presentation, which we all presented yesterday; I’ve of course had other school work, like reading and such, to do; I’ve been working away on my honours thesis, developing a methodology for my upcoming experiment; I’ve been trying to find a place to live for next term; and I’ve been looking at grad schools for further down the road. I’ve probably missed a couple other things as well, but that should give you a sense of how busy I am.

I also had a very busy day today. Despite not having any class time, my day was jam-packed. The morning was spent working on my thesis. After lunch, I went and played some squash for an hour with one of my friends – I haven’t played it for about eight months now and want to get back into it this term. Then, after that, I came back home, spent a little more time working on my thesis, and then went back to the school to be at a club meeting for the atheist, agnostic, and freethinker club on campus. I had to leave that a little bit early, and then hop on a bus to go take a look at a possible place to live. After having some difficulty finding the place, I rang the doorbell and….no one was home. The guy never showed up, and as I found out…Continue Reading