Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Moral Relativism and Subjective Value

Moral Relativism and Subjective Value

Imagine a universe in which there are no sentient, conscious beings. How valuable would gold be? How long would a meter be? What would be the meaning of good or evil or beautiful or ugly? With no one available to ascribe those values, what value would any of these concepts hold? Indeed what is meaning, itself, without sentience to assign it? Read On…

Forgiveness and Compassion

Forgiveness and Compassion“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Not Buddha

Despite my imperative to discover forgiveness and compassion by any means possible, I was reluctant to use this quote — simply because it is so abused by spiritual novitiates and pseudoscientists. It is most frequently attributed to Gautama Buddha, but I suspected the ascription might be incorrect, so I did a little digging. And I’m glad I did. Read On…

Gödel and the Proof of God

Gödel and the Proof of GodIn 1931, Kurt Gödel introduced his Incompleteness Theorem to the world, and established that any system cannot be proven to be true using only its own content as premises — that is to say, it must rely on at least one external component for its validity. Likewise, that external component also cannot be proven to be true, intrinsically. The theorem is, essentially, a mathematical expression of the famous liar’s paradox:

This sentence is false.

Regardless of the point of origin, the riddle cannot be solved. Read On…

The Dangers of Militant Atheism

The Danger of Militant AtheismI am a loyal fan of Richard Dawkins. As a Darwinian evolutionary biologist, his ideas are foremost among contemporary scholars in the discipline. In his 1976 masterpiece The Selfish Gene, he coined the word meme — which he used to represent the evolutionary spread of ideas and knowledge. Since then, the concept of the meme has gained universal adoption as a construct in human language and thought. Dawkins’ contributions to the growth of knowledge are immeasurable.

Dawkins also describes himself as an atheist, and can often be found debating and discussing in the company of other superb theological critics like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a quick YouTube search show how viral Dawkins’s work has become). Yet as much as I admire Dr. Dawkins (and I have for over two decades), I am somewhat put off by his approach to the criticism of toxic religious ideas. To me, he squarely embodies the dangers of militant atheism. Read On…

The Disease of Dogmatism

The Disease of DogmatismRarely have I struggled the way I do when I am confronted by the disease of dogmatism. It is, I believe, the greatest impediment to the growth of human knowledge — and to the betterment of mankind. It is a conundrum that has become less complicated over the centuries, but the continued slow rate of its exodus from our collective ethos troubles me deeply. Read On…

Why Is the Government Impeding Same-sex Marriage?

government impeding same-sex marriageIn 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Virginia law that had been in place for 43 years, prohibiting people from different races from marrying one another. At stake was the freedom of an interracial couple who had each been sentenced to one year in prison for breaking the Virginia statute — categorized as “mixing of the races,” or miscegenation. Fast forward almost five decades, and we find ourselves battling yet another form of prejudicial ignorance, and forcing ourselves to ask the question: why is the government impeding same-sex marriage? Read On…

Pseudoscience is Dangerous and Destructive

Pseudoscience is Dangerous and DestructiveThere is nothing more perilous to human progress and the growth of knowledge than spiritual, philosophical, or religious principles that are packaged up and presented as “fact” — under the guise of science. The practice is most terrifying because its presentation is so often seductive and subtle. But make no mistake about it: pseudoscience is dangerous and destructive. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to compare it with pestilence, poverty, and even war — when considering its pernicious consequences. Read On…

Approaching Certainty

Approaching CertaintyIf I had to point to the single most problematic weakness in human beings, it would be the dogmatism and arrogant certitude that leads us to entrench. Individually and collectively, we become so confident in our beliefs that we will sacrifice everything in order to defend “being right.” Families disintegrate. Wars take millions of lives. Still we persist: we arrogantly proclaim that dissent is poisonous and must be punished. And yet, even the most perspicacious human being would have to consider himself fortunate even to be approaching certainty. Read On…

Surrendering to the Indomitable Direction of the Universe

Surrendering to the Indomitable Direction of the Universe“The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Dao.” – Lao Tzu

Some people are surprised to discover I am an avid fan of traditional Taoist and Buddhist teachings. This bewilderment derives from the misconception that Taoism and Buddhism are necessarily organized religions. Read On…