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Philosophy: Current Issues May 3, 2007

Filed under: Athiesm,books,Catholic,college,homeschool,philosophy,politics,religion,school — bookwritegirl @ 6:06 pm

Sure, President Bush was idealistic, and as we could tell from our response of Socrates’ “ideal city” that ideology doesn’t always translate well into facts.

One of the major differences I see between Iraq and the US is that while in America we come from separate backgrounds, we all can get along or at least tolerate others. But in Iraq, I see a lot of hatred and aminosity between the Sunnis, the Shites, and the Kurds, and even though they’re all Muslims, the minor differences to them is worth it to kill, because like you said they’re at the lower level of hierarchy and don’t have the esteem of others yet. I’m just guessing, but that’s what it seems like. Imagine Christianity in America. If all of us Christians fought against other Christians just because they’re different Christians, that’s kinda what’s going on in Iraq.

As far as good and evil, better or worse goes, it all depends on your point of view (like we debated in class today šŸ™‚Ā ) Then, the Iraqis were thinking that they had it bad under Saddam, and wanted change. Then the US came in and gave them change, and while they got rid of an evil tyrant, people changed their minds and said that they had it good under his regime, and that America ruined everything for them. Sure, people weren’t fighting under Saddam’s regime, but they couldn’t do much of anything else. Remember the “elections”? Saddam got 100% of the vote. Now there’s just too much democracay in Iraq, and they don’t know what to do with it yet. That’s just my view of the situation.

Now, I’m getting off my soapbox!

***

Actually, in the newspaper it said that many historians already doubt the validity of the finding. (FYI, one historian in particular is investigating it, and he’s an athiest). It’s happened before, last time somebody found something like “James, brother of Jesus” tomb, and it was proven to be fake. Also, “brother” and “sister” were used very loosely back then to include friends and other relatives. EvenĀ cousins were considered brothers and sisters. And, even though generally when we say “Jesus”, we know we mean “Jesus Christ”. But Jesus is just another name that was probably common then just as some Muslims are named Jesus. So, even if it is proven to be Jesus’s tomb, we don’t know for sure whether it is Jesus Christ’s or if it is a different Jesus. So, scientists would have to have a DNA sample of Him to match it to the bones before “chaos” would ensue.

***

Hmm…I know what you’re talking about. But I don’t believe Islam is wholly out to destroy other religions šŸ˜‰ It’s just that it seems like all we ever hear about are these “extremists” and “radicals”. Wait…the same could be said of Catholic and other religions! That is a reason why many dislike Mormons in general…it’s their missionaries going door to door. And after the Elizabeth Smart incident, people tended to think that all Mormoms are weird like the guy who kidnapped her. It’s like falling into the elephant trap. If you build a trap for one kind of belief, that’s all you’re going to find. Or the sterotyping trap. The media likes hyping things up, you rarely hear about things like “In other news today, a Muslim cleric declared “World Peace Day””. That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

It’s not just the Ten Commandments that give a guide to everyday life, there are other passages in the Bible that provides good teaching (or advice, however sounds better). It’s not as if they’re constantly telling us “NO”, it’s more like freeing us so we can actually enjoy life. It’s the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting, like eating a dozen cookies in one sitting. But you feel sick afterwards, and hate yourself because now you’re a pound heavier. Joy is more lasting, and usually comes after a trial, some difficulty, or sadness. If you found an endorsed check for $1200 dollars, sure, you can follow your first impulse and cash it. Instant happiness. But if you go against that impulse, search in the paper phone book, then the online versions, before you finally find the person who wrote it or who it was addressed to, call them to give it back to them, true, that may be difficult, but wouldn’t you feel proud to say, “I returned it!” Think of how many people say “I stole 1200 dollars today!”. What sounds better? Yes, returning it provides joy, and yes, this is a true story that happened to my mom, though I did the legwork for her.

Here’s a hypothetical question. Would you rather be in a repressive regime that forbids or at least very strongly discourages other religions, kills whole villages when somebody from it accidentally or purposefully speaks out against you, or would you rather be in an uncertain environment, where yes, there is daily car bombings, but now you can openly practice your religion, or marry a guy of another religion, or not have to wear that stupid, stifling hijab on hot Iraqi summer days? Again, it’s choosing which is the lesser of two evils. I notice you’re not comparing Bush and Gore. šŸ™‚ I’ll quote some of my graduation speech here, “It does not do well at all/ To sit around and complain,/ To berate the results/ Previous generations have obtained/ For we are a new generation/ Our eyes are fresh, our minds are clear, our hearts are strong/ Let us put our knowledge to work/ And improve the land to which we belong…”

*

True. We just call them “extremists.” There are extremists in every religion (not just Islam). I’m not justifying the war in Iraq or anything, but Bush is going after the extremists, not just because they’re Islamic. (Perhaps he is, but thought I should offer another view of the issue). We jail extremist Catholics/Christians who bomb abortion clinics (the wrong way to go about it…I much prefer the Supreme Court ruling! yay!).

Still, we can’t judge a whole religion based on the few kooks. I mean, Jewish, Christian, and Islam all have a common history (up to a certain point), and they’re all Abrahamic religions. I don’t admire the people who read the Koran to condone violence, but I admire that Islam also believes that abortion is wrong. So long as we find some common ground, some shared history, then and only then will we have the groundwork for peace.

***

The answer is 42. (According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

I suppose the answer is not to dwell on our demise. It doesn’t do any good to think about our afterlife (or afterdeath) while shunning the present. It only makes us depressed.

The meaning of life is to give life meaning.

“Climb every mountain, Ford every stream, Follow every rainbow, Till you find your dream, A dream that will need, All the love you can give, Every day of your life, For as long as you live!”

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

We can use the earth’s resources to our advantage, because otherwise we would have died off a long time ago! But true, we also need to take care of the earth. If we’re rich enough to.

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

“…For we are a new generation/ Our eyes are fresh, our minds are clear, our hearts are strong,/ Let us put our knowledge to work/ And improve the land to which we belong…”

Who’s to say we’re all going to die anytime soon? “The end of the world is at hand!” If we do things right, our race just might continue to last as long as the dinosaurs, or even longer. Or we might end up like the Galactica, we’ll roam space and try to stay alive until we find the Earth, or we just might be like Captain Picard, and enjoy archaeology on other planets, studying the ruins of other civilizations, possibly including our own.

But…”Do what you can with what you have, where you are”. We can’t worry about that now; that can be a goal for our kind, but what about your personal goal? Striving, striving, striving. What’s the purpose of your life?

***

I agree, technology really has helped in the education arena, even for homeschoolers. A lot of the learning games helped me (and a few didn’t)…like Treasure Mathstorm, Treasure Mountain, Read, Write, and Type, and the Princeton Review ACT. The internet helped to fill in some of the information I couldn’t find in books for my reports. But so long as we don’t train people to rely soley on technology–a well-rounded education is important. Sure, we can watch War of the Worlds, but it’s far better to hold HGĀ  Wells’s book in your hand. Sure, you can find lots of information on the Internet, but it’s my preference to use the Internet to search for books at the library, then go pick up the books. And, like I said, the librarians can’t always rely on the computerized catalog; it fails sometimes (quite frequently in the summer, unfortunately)Ā so they have to keep the Dewey Decimal System in their heads–even the pages have a mental map of most of the books in the library.

We can’t take a blind leap into the future; we must keep a firm foot on the past, just in case. Otherwise, it would be a win-all/lose-all situation, a brave new world, or a steep cliff. We don’t want to be lemmings (which, by the way, is a old wives’ tale, another thing you learn from books!)

***

No, don’t apologize; it’s an interesting topic! (I actually thought you guys might have learned about it last semester…).

Organized religion divides the world only because many choose to divide on the basis of religion. Perhaps it’s the Maslow thingy; most of us aren’t high enough on the Hiearchy to say, “Hey, wait a minute. Why are we fighting? We share the same history and much of the same religious texts. We’re practically family!”. Sure, some families aren’t so great. But some families are. Sure, I may getĀ irritatedĀ at my sister for putting the toilet paper roll on backwards. But do I yell at her? No, I just switch it. Or I endure it. It’s not really thatĀ  big of a deal. Do you yell at someone because they left their dishes in the sink? No, you either deal with it or you put it in the dishwasher for them (If they’re taking advantage of you, then yeah, talk to them. With your mouth, not your fists.)

True, religion is a little bigger deal than toilet paper or dishes. But it’s only as big a deal as you let it be. Most of us live in harmony with one another. It’s just that in journalism, you don’t have a headline of “Another day of neighbors living peacefully with each other”. The real story is “Israelites bomb Palestinians” (or vice versa). That’s sinking to the belonging needs level. But you can still belong to a religion and progress up the Hiearchy, so long as it’s not your whole life. It’s a facet of your life, that’s all. Just like I’m Catholic, a homeschool graduate, a book lover, a sister, a daughter, a student, a library employee, deaf, an American, etc. None of these take over my whole life. Even nuns and priests and married couples don’t make their life-changing vows take over their own life. Their personality still endures, the other facets of your life still endures. If I became a nun, I’d still be able to read/write/pray/volunteer like I usually do. And I’ll still treat people alike; even if I hate them, I still treat them like I do everybody else. I don’t begrudge Islam. Like I said elsewhere, Jews, Christians, Islamics all have the same background, some common ground that we can find a footing of peace on together. I would have bought a cookie from the Islam Awareness table today, if I had cash with me.

In conclusion (yeah, it’s long enough for a conclusion) the chasm between religions are only as wide as you make them.

***

I agree that the clash of beliefs and ideology are like crossed wires; you don’t get the effect you want from your religion or policy. (Like a few months ago, whenever I shut the microwave door, the back doorbell would ring. Obviously not what I was intending.) I do think that you can fix crossed wires. If you can’t uncross them, you can at least sheath them in a protective covering that keeps the wires from interacting. This is what America tries to do, allow for the multiplicity of religions and ideologies, all while keeping us from being at each others’ throats. We use that sheathing to take a step back and say, “Okay, you don’t believe what I believe. You don’t step on grass. I can live with that. What’s theĀ big deal anyway?”

I agree that today’s conflicts, while having a religious name, are based out of power, land, and political gain. They just use religion to cover up that true meaning.

About the land, what’s interesting is that our textbook says that the Jewish people were there before the Muslims drove them out and took over. So, you side with the Jews if you say that “they had it first, give it back”, and you side with the Muslims when you say, “Survival of the fittest”. Now, reduced to those terms, don’t they sound like a bunch of toddlers whose parents have different ideas of parenting? However, if you side with the latter, then that gives precedence to continual bickering and pushing and shoving until the next person is the king of the hill. (Remember that game when you were little?) Neither response is fair in the long run, however, as our mothers knew. After a while they’d say, “Why don’t you share?” I think that’s what the Jewish and the Palestineans have to learn in order to have peace in the land.

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Philosophy: James, Russell, Sarte

Filed under: Athiesm,college,philosophy,religion,school — bookwritegirl @ 5:59 pm

“There’s no multiplicity of gods, all religions follow the same God. Besides, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions share very similar histories, so why would the Islamic Allah be different from the Christian God, or the Jewish God? That’s why the Bible keeps repeating, “The God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob”. Plus, God has many different names. Allah, God, Yahweh, I AM, etc. etc. So, a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. Just because one religion is the one and “true religion” doesn’t mean all other religions go to Hell. We all get full cups of grace in Heaven. It’s the size of the cup that differs, no one religion get’s a cup that’s half full (or half empty). Everybody thinks they’ve got a full cup, so how can they argue? Even Hindu people can go to heaven in Christian views (or at least Catholic views), if they don’t know any better, but were good people on Earth. Unbaptized babies go to Heaven, because they’ve never a chance to learn. (This was a recent change in theology, which goes to show that the Church is not stagnant, as Nietzche paints it to be). It’s the ones who’ve learned and decided against believing that go to Hell, in Church doctrine. So it’s really not a gamble between the multiplicity of religions, it’s a gamble between belief and non-belief, as Pascal originally said.One thought…Can you prove God doesn’t exist any better than we can prove God exists? “

 

Philosophy: Nietzche

Filed under: Athiesm,college,philosophy,religion,school — bookwritegirl @ 5:57 pm

Hmm…Nietzche had some good arguments, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong…And no, it wasn’t the fact that he derides and pokes holes into the entire God and religion beliefs–I’m used to that by now. But then I realized, like I said in class, Nietzche uses the “straw-man” fallacy frequently in the Twilight of the Idols. Fallacy isn’t a bad thing when you’re writing persuasive papers becauase it’s obviously very effective, but isn’t philosophy about logic? Orderly thinking reaches orderly ends and answers (though that makes some philosophers sound very dry). That’s the goal of all philosophers, is to find the ultimate answer through very logical means so that nobody can poke holes into it (though somebody invariably will).

I feel that he wrote his thesis in a fit of passion, and gave short shrift to many things, religion and the Church included. It’s a lot more complicated than he makes it out to be. I mean, “lifeĀ ends where the kingdom of God begins”? That the Church is an enemy of human desires? Some desires ought to be regulated through the “shalls and shall nots”, otherwise we’d be slaves to our passions. Tempering of passions seem to be the ultimate reason for all the “commandments”–everything in moderation and all that. Too little fire dies. Too much fire gets out of control. But some passions, some fires, are useful for forging tools to use to advance in life. This is what the Church does (contrary to some views); it frees us from being slaves to our passions and gives us the templates to forge tools to make the most of our life, of our moment, so that (if you believe in this) when you die, you’ll be rewarded in heaven for not being a Prufrockian. Thus doesn’t life end where the kingdom of God beings, rather it’s life begins where the kingdom of God begins.

This is just one portion of the whole essay that I can answer and poke holes into Nietzsche’s hole-poking, but that takes time and, alas, I don’t have time as of the moment. You can poke holes into my hole-poking of Nietzsche’s hole-poking if you want, which I suspect with reason that many of you are itching to do right now. It’ll help me strengthen my argument šŸ™‚

***

In philosopher soccer, he’d be the player who stabs the ball (which the other philosophers have proven to exist), put it on his head, and goĀ running aroundĀ and sayingĀ “So what about your idea now?! It doesn’t exist anymore!” But I noticed he’s not creating a new logical ball, really, for the other philosophers to play with.

***

Well, according to my astronomy teacher the Big Bang is the most likely cause for the creation of the universe. But he couldn’t answer me when I asked where the dense little pinpoint of material came from, that exploded to make the universe. Where did it come from, I ask you? It must, therefore, have been created ex nihlo. That’s what many religions believe, that the one supreme God created life, the universe, and everything ex nihlo.

Yes, there are many religions. But are there many different gods that we all worship? No. I think I already said this somewhere, but in every religion that I know of, even the polytheistic ones, there’s one head honcho that’s more powerful than all the other minor powers, just like God is more powerfulĀ than Satan. One could argue that’s what Satan is, a god. The other minor gods could be misunderstandings of legends, etc., for example, we could possibly believe that Paul Bunyan is the god of tallness and of trees. So, there’s no need to wonder which religion has the correct God. It’s how they interpret God’s will that differs, if that makes sense.

True, we should give our life purpose whether or not God exists. But the fact that God exists doesn’t preclude giving our own lives purpose. We can’t sit around and wait for a lightning bolt to hit us and inspire us. We have to work at it; faith isn’t all inspiration. We have to actually be in the world, that is our purpose, because our lives touch so many other lives. How is giving our own lives purpose better than God giving our lives purpose? It does make us feel more in control of our lives, I grant that. But where does the moral guidance come in? Anyone can say the purpose of their life is to kill, or do drugs, or etc. This is perhaps how God giving our lives purpose is better, because we have the Ten Commandments to keep us on the “straight and narrow”.

 

Philosophy: Berkeley

Filed under: Athiesm,college,philosophy,religion,school — bookwritegirl @ 5:51 pm

Perhaps theĀ solution doesn’t lie in whether we should categorize things into two absolute boxes, eg. there is/isn’t such thing as matter, the universe does/doesn’t exist, perhaps the solution isn’t much of a solution at all. True, there is such thing as matter. But there is also such thing as anti-matter (bringing in ST again). There is such thing as ‘hot’, but everything is relative (thanks, Einstein!), so what is hot to a baby is lukewarm to me (that’s why you test using your elbow–hands are too subjective). And what is hot to me may be cold compared to Venus or Io. We thought we had it cold when we had -20 degree windchill, but to Russians, that’s balmy. Perhaps there is no such thing as absolute truth, just truth as each of us percieves it. That may be why there’s tension between Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and athiesm/humanism, to mention a few religions. But along the scale, there are extreme and polar ends. There are extreme pro-choice people, and there are extreme pro-life people. There are extreme Democrats and Republicans. There are extreme Islamic jihadists, and extreme Christians (though they’re not exact polar opposites). Most of us lie somewhere within the norm, and that ‘norm’ is subjective, for who can claim what is normal? One psychologist wrote a book (sadly, I don’t remember the names) about how happiness is abnormal and people with “depression” are actually well-adjusted. We claim him strange. But there are those of us who pursue pure happiness. These people are strange too. ‘Normal’ is a synthesis of all things. The synthesis of happiness and depression is joy. Joy is the particular kind of happiness you experience after bearing difficulties/trials/sadness/crosses; it is more lasting than the extremes; all things in nature seek an equiblrium. Maybe we shouldn’t argue about the differences between sensible and insensible things. They balance each other out, though many of us feel we need to pick sides. The mind can’t exist without the world, nor the world without the mind. Like was said in class, if we all died off tomorrow, the world would cease to exist. If many of us died, but some survived, the world would cease to exist as we know it. But the reason why the world continues to exist because even if all mortal minds cease, there is an immortal Mind at work, a Mind that witnesses the tree that falls in the forest even if no-one else was around to see it, a Mind that witnessed the eldery slave women who are left alone in hutches to die, to ease her passing when no-one else was around to wipe the sweat from her fevered brow, a Mind that has and will continue to witness the atrocities that men try to cover, to hide, from the Apple to the Holocaust to Darfur to fetalcide and infantcide, and turn these horrendous things to the better, orchestrating it so that evil may serve the greater Good, and so that justice will prevail.

***

Remember Occam’s Razor? We keep the simplest answer. True, God is complex, but that sort of in depth study is best reserved for theology. The existence of God isn’t so complex is what it boils down to. You exist. I don’t question that. God exists. That’s what strikes me as funny when it comes to evolution. The way evolution is now is a very complex thing, how one cell can evolve without any direction into the lungs, heart, brain, etc., when it’s simpler to say that God designed Man well? Seems as if Darwin is forgetting Occam’s Razor. I understand that to many it’s akin to saying, “just because”, but asking my astronomy teacher why Kepler’s laws work would yield the answer, “I don’t know! Just because!” So, science accepts “just becuase” answers, and if philosophy is a progenitor of science, why can’t we use “just because” answers?

 

Belonging needs March 29, 2007

My professor was talking about belonging needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Since he’s a cool professor and it’s a cool class, a friend and I asked him about something (don’t remember what) after class, and we started talking about belonging needs. He was talking about when Bono turned down the offer to play for the Queen of England, he was showing that he was above the belonging needs of needing the prestige of playing for the Queen. Then he talked about how people tend to like to be in groups and travel in packs (remember cliques and the “jocks”, the “nerds”, etc? It’s still like that in college). That’s the reason why people are Catholics, Democrats, Republicans, etc., is because at a level we still need to satisfy our belonging needs, and those who operate outside of groups are higher up on the hierarchy. I left the classroom, thinking.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I came up with a counter-argument a few minutes later, but I couldn’t very well go back to the classroom and tell him that could I? It’d look like I was arguing, and it’d look like I need to satisfy my physiological needs. He is of the same opinion of a few philosophers, where religion is “the opiate of the masses” and (this is unconfirmed) God’s existence is not proven. So, it is obvious that he might think that religion is only for those who are at the belonging needs. My brilliant counter-argument is that perhaps for some, religion is a person’s identity, and when it is, that person is at the belonging needs. But for some enlightened people, religion is just a part of a person’s identity. It is not an overwhelming aspect of those people’s lives. True, I am a Catholic, and I am pro-life, and I am a college student, and I am a sister, a daughter, a honor’s student, a Hermione-type, a Harry Potter fan, a reader, a writer, and a girl, and many other identities. Religion shouldn’t be shed just because you want to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy, or just because you’re in college now and can do what you want. In fact, I wonder whether those who deny the very existence of God are, despite their best efforts, succumbed under the popular movement and opinion and joined a group called Athiesm, and embracing and living out the ideals of Humanism in their lives. They can be said to have made their identities wholly humanistic. I just wonder.