Random Wedding Song

Set to a tune in my head…try to find one (yours)

 

Could you be the one to make me happy

Could you be the one to show you care

Could you be the one who breaks me open

And makes me fly through air

 

I didn’t think I could but now I might

Couldn’t think it through but that’s alright

I’ve set aside my walls but now I don’t know

If what I’m doing is right

 

Could you be the one with me at the finish line

Could you be the one to take my pain

Could you be the one to make me feel love

and captivate my brain

 

I know it’s true and in my soul I feel you

Passing back and forth our hears to each in time

The sharing of our consciousness fulfills me

What’s mine is yours is mine

 

And even though music sometimes dulls down

We’ll spin out on our heels to dance through life

You know it won’t be over ’til it’s over

And I’m glad that you’re my wife

True Love – Script

Recently updated this..It’s a bit dark but worth a read

Good Answers to Obvious Questions

Lights up shows the set – a psychologist’s office with a chair and a couch across from each other at a slight angle toward the crowd. The room can be set up however, but there needs to be a door so actors can enter the set. Also, the lamp must have a pull-chain to turn on/off since the psychologist “operates” the scene change – should be made somewhat obvious to the audience.

Characters:

W = Dr. Chambee – psychologist (older man)

L = Lilly – patient (20’s)

R = Rob – patient (20’s)

H = Henry – patient (20’s)

(Front and center)

W: Good morning, afternoon, and evening. I hope everyone is doing well and has left their emotions and preconceived notions at the door, you won’t be needing them. Also, this story is between you and I, so mum’s the word – keep it to yourself. You see, before…

View original post 2,601 more words

What is Faith and Critical Reason – Response

After re-reading my first reflection essay, I now realize how much a mind can change in three months. It’s actually quite unnerving; who knows what I’ll be thinking three months from now? Despite this uncertainty, I have come to understand that it’s not about ‘the right answer’, but ‘a right answer.’ There are many different interpretations that are seemingly correct, and the one we buy into doesn’t fluctuate in an indiscriminate way. It fluctuates because we’re keeping our minds open. In my first essay I tried to nail down definitive terms for faith, religion, and critical reasoning; I failed miserably. Here, I am going to discuss some of my favorite points of view and show that there are not only different ways up the mountain, but there are different mountains and planets with no mountains at all. In every reality there is reality.

David Foster Wallace attacks a multitude of fundamental issues specifically noting that the “awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: ‘This is water. This is water’” (7). When was the last time you looked up? Walk outside and look up. We are in empty space on a huge chunk of rock spinning and orbiting a mass of hydrogen that has collapsed in on itself. This is my water; my effervescently still water that has me grounded, literally, on a ground I cannot trust. I don’t realize my water every day, but I swim through it nonetheless. My overarching desire in this life is to know the truth of reality, but as I have come to understand this is a seemingly impossible goal. Not because there isn’t truth, but because there may be multiple truths. Paul Tillich says in Dynamics of Faith that “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned,” and that “if it claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim, and it promises total fulfillment even if all other claims have to be subjected to it or rejected in its name” (1). I think what Tillich says is correct, and it’s a great answer to what faith is, but I don’t think it’s ‘the answer.’ This understanding of faith does project itself onto my overarching desire, making my want to know the truth of reality my ultimate concern – my faith. In my previous paper I defined faith as the underpinnings of our thoughts; the unshakable beliefs held suspended by nothing. Our blind conceived or learned facts of reality. After some thought I now realize that faith isn’t believing the sky is green when it’s clearly blue, it’s the ultimate desire to understand the sky. If the sky is our ultimate concern and we learn that the sky doesn’t actually exist, but it’s just an area of air between earth and space, our faith isn’t lost. We haven’t been stripped of our ultimate purpose leaving us in a sky-less depression. The sky still exists just as it did before, and the inherent risk of it not existing also exists as it did before. Creating a mutually exclusive dichotomy is as easy as picking a side and both practices are wrong. There are three sides to a coin, the middle part, which is full of a multitude of possibilities, is just very hard to land on.

If what I’m saying so far seems a bit ambiguous, that is not my intention. However, I’m trying to get at the fact that things aren’t always what they seem. Every question can be answered easily, but no question can be answered certainly correct. In my first reflection essay I wrote about a sort of mental map that starts with imagination and ends with religion. My argument was essentially that imagination is tested with critical reasoning, which could be some sort of logical test using mathematics, experiment, observation, etc. If the thought passes the logical test, then it is considered a truth/fact. If this thought does not pass the logic test, but is still held to be true for a reason that extends further than logic, this thought is considered faith. This cyclical logic can be applied to religion and I made the statement: “Religion attempts to prove faith through critical reason.” At the time I didn’t know what I meant by this but now I do. If one declares stories and ideas to be factual, such as the bible and God, and people believe these stories and ideas without proof, faith has been loosely created. This faith is then strengthened through subjective critical reasoning provided by weekly meetings (going to church, synagogue, etc.). In essence, I was saying that every faith is based on some illogical idea that gets strengthened through groupthink in some cult-like setting. While this is no longer my belief, it is ‘an answer,’ but not ‘the answer.’ Alister McGrath in The Twilight of Atheism spoke about Feuerbach’s desire to rid the world of God in the same way Copernicus changed our view of the solar system. He wanted atheism to be so much of a fact that “no king or mob could sway this judgement, which was held to be grounded in the reality of the world” (56). Feuerbach thought God and certain religions made people live for a tomorrow that doesn’t exist. Sigmund Freud, another venerable figure, agrees with Feuerbach and says that “Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that is falls in with our instinctual desires” (68). I tend to agree with Freud here, and I think he’s on to something. It’s unfortunate he ends up over-focusing on the paternal aspect and turns his theory into a phallic battle with ‘Dad,’ very strange indeed. Karl Marx takes a ‘more real’ approach by noting people’s social position – a very empirical phenomenon. He thought that religion made people complacent to the hardships of life, an idea that in some situations sounds like a good thing. The argument cannot be stated better than from he himself: “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions” (66). This seems a bit like a chicken and an egg sitting next to a straw man. Was it religion that caused the condition or the condition that caused religion? Regardless of the answer, is religion even relevant in this equation? The answer if probably no, but he is arguing against religion, so the reality of the ideology will likely be realized differently depending on one’s preconceived notions. For an atheist this is a no brainer, for a religious person this is ridiculous, and for me, I’m just pointing out a logical fallacy. To Nietzsche, God can be dead, sure, but he makes a point that I think sort of sums up everyone else’s. Nietzsche said “’Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.’ Moral and philosophical truths are simply beliefs that we create to enable us to cope with the world.” He goes on to sum up one of my firm beliefs that “there are no facts; simply interpretations – and those interpretations are to be judged by their utility in coping with a meaningless world” (151). All of these thinkers have done a great job critically reasoning their theories. The problem is that religion extends deeper than this. The earth does revolve around the sun and no matter how hard you think, you’re not going to change that. No one knows if God exists, but what’s at stake isn’t the future of science, but the future of one’s human experience.

John Caputo in On Religion says that “any religion is better off without the idea that it is ‘the one true religion’” (110). I think Caputo makes a great point here, and it would certainly stop a lot of conflict occurring in the world if people would adopt this ideology. I want to take this a step further though. Religion is often mixed up in a footrace with science that it’s not going to win. The people who engage in this race on the side of science think the religious people are stupid, and the religious people who engage in this race think the scientists are naive. In my opinion they’re both ignorant. Science is attempting to understand patterns and universal truths. They want to observe reactions and achieve the same result every time. The intended goal is not happiness or fulfillment, but progress. I personally think the purpose of religion is fulfillment. Every religion or faith is ultimately in your heart to fill some gap. Some people, like Stephen Prothero, beg to differ. We cannot put religions under one roof, and we certainly cannot understand them unless we do so on their terms. What everyone “fail[s] to see is religious diversity. Rather than ten thousand gates they see only one” (334). Sure, each religion is different, but are they each affecting a different portion of the human mind? If there’s a place for thoughts of the infinite, or simply things that extend further than our basic human necessities, can they all be that different? Prothero has a clever 4-step technique in which he categorizes religion. There is a problem, solution, technique, and exemplar. For example, in Christianity the problem is sin, the solution is salvation, the technique is faith and good works and the exemplars are saints or people of faith. Another quick example: In Buddhism the problem is suffering, the solution is nirvana, the technique is the Noble Eightfold Path, and the exemplars are Arhats, Bodhisattvas, or Lamas (14). Religions are definitely different and it would be ignorant to say they’re all fundamentally the same. Prothero gives us another great answer, but it is not ‘the answer.’ Religion is only relevant if brains follow them, and what is their effect on the brains? What is the 4-step technique to understand the human experience? Using Prothero’s model I would say our brains’ problem is that our unconscious feels a lack of fulfillment, the solution is filling this gap, the technique is a belief, deep interest, study, or practice of something ‘more’ (religion, science, some ultimate concern), and the exemplar is our conscious mind. This is my opinion and thought, and it is just another answer.

We have journeyed through the general thoughts of many different great thinkers, as well as my own (an average thinker). Although a firm conclusion has not been, and cannot be, made, I hope the pattern has made itself apparent. There are many realities, many truths and many interpretations of these realities and truths. If there is a goal, it’s not to pick one but to notice the merits of each. Everyone’s minds work a bit different and we’re all missing different pieces to a puzzle that has no instructions, nor form. The way up the mountain of fulfillment, if your reality has a mountain, is as real and true as anything else.

Faith, Religion, and Critical Reason

It seems as though traveling chronologically would make sense when it comes to belief. Seeing as it takes time to form thoughts, first typically adopted, then slowly edited. I always wonder if an original thought is even possible, or if our thoughts are simply a combination of what we’ve taken in. Is it possible to formulate something truly original? In my opinion that directly correlates to one’s perception of knowledge, how it is acquired, and whether one can transcend knowledge. After a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that transcended thought is very similar to imagination. Affected by prior information, yes, but original in some ways. It is imagination that creates progress and change in the human world. Some imagination does not work. In fact, I’d say that most imagination does not work, which is why we need erasers on pencils, 10 years of clinical trials, and skydiving equipment when testing new jets. Nevertheless, it is when imagination passes empirical tests of validity that progress occurs. But just like in quantum physics, chance is a very real concept.

My thoughts about faith, religion, and critical reason began as a child. My father is a born German Jew, and my mother was raised Catholic, but converted to Judaism before I was born. My father never really cared too much for synagogue, but he went on high holidays because it’s the thing to do. My mother very much enjoyed the Jewish community and was heavily involved. Ironic how that goes; the converts are often better members. Growing up, I was the only Jewish kid at Saint Francis Elementary School, so it became almost a challenge to maintain my religious identity; I was “different.” I had to be at chapel 3 days a week (it was mandatory for all students), but I didn’t have to believe what they were saying because I was Jewish – that is what I was told; “You have to go to chapel, but you’re Jewish so you believe different things.” I was never really sure what that all meant at the time, but I remember sitting in the pews thinking, “This all sounds nice, but it’s ‘a bunch of bull’ according to my father.” Naturally I became a skeptic, but my skepticism didn’t stop with Christianity; it continued into my Jewish beliefs. If what the priest was saying was “BS,” why couldn’t what the Rabbi was saying be “BS” as well? Anyways, I continued my journey through Hebrew school, Bar Mitzvah, and Confirmation all with a subtle and growing skepticism. I adopted the title of an “Agnostic Reform Jew,” basically meaning I was liberal, not sure about God, but I wanted to retain my Jewish Identity. I found myself often wavering between atheism and a strong belief in God. The oscillation was entirely correlated to my mental state as I moved between normality and depression. I grappled with the idea of God; on the one hand it’s ridiculous to conceive of such a being, on the other hand, what if he/she does exist and my not believing puts me in a terrible light. Superstition was instilled by my mother, so I definitely didn’t want to generate any sort of bad luck. If God did exist, I wanted him/her on my side.

As I developed into a young man my thoughts pertaining to God shifted. However, right when I began to think critically I hit some rough patches in life, and God became my saving grace. I took the responsibility out of life, made my existence God’s problem, and put all my faith into him/her. I couldn’t muster up the power to think because my mind went into survival mode seeking a concept that would let me live. My faith saved me, so I understand the need. Nevertheless, this period of my life ended, and a new era of cognitive development occurred. I stopped my superstitious fears and began to critically reason with the idea of God and faith. I put every concept on an even playing field. Yes the idea of God is ridiculous, but what if our conception is just wrong. Maybe God is some unquantifiable power without form that gives us consciousness, or maybe God is simply the prime mover but is now gone. I started studying Cosmology (very broad science, includes physics) and Psychology with two primary objectives: how do we think and what is all of this? Psychology seemed to be easy because people are all around us giving off cues into the depth of human cognition, and Cosmology left most of the concepts up to theories and models – all seemingly based off imagination, but empirically validated. Both topics are very ambiguous in their own nature, so I continued down my path of objective skepticism.

Atheism is too easy. It’s just another heuristic to make our lives easier. People love to classify. They have a favorite song, artist, director, country, color, etc. They put themselves in a box because it’s like checking off a to-do list. Accomplishment and closure are great feelings, but I stopped doing that. I opened up the flood gates of thought and allowed myself to really think about topics while removing my greatest fear: “That if I didn’t come to a conclusion I was stupid.” It’s ironic when I say that I did find a conclusion, and that it’s similar to my fear but applied to all of humanity: I do not believe the human mind has the capacity to understand any reality in totality. God is a concept that cannot be determined, but faith is both objective and subjective.

It seems odd to think of faith as objective and subjective, but it is indeed both. Faith is subjective in the sense that there is not a lot of data backing it, and people usually have faith where critical reason falls off. It is almost just a “gut feeling” for some people. One cannot prove that God exists or that miracles have happened, but one can have faith that it is the truth. This faith likely has a positive outcome on the person; it makes them feel good and whole – a feeling that I believe is wrong, but I admire. I think it says a lot about a person’s psychological profile when they say something like: “I wish I could believe in God; it would make my life so much easier.” Not to say that people who have faith don’t take responsibility for their own lives, but I have experienced and can say that putting one’s faith in God does take a load off. Now, how can faith be viewed as objective? Well, it all depends on how one views truth. Humans do not even know what gravity is, but people talk about it like it’s a well-known fact. The same goes with God and religion, but people are more skeptical because there is no empirical evidence. Well, if a person feels God’s presence and is convinced of his/her existence through various mental exercises either imposed or more innate, God can be just as real and factual as gravity.

The objective view of faith is critically reasoned. Following my belief that the human mind is incapable of truly processing and understanding any reality in totality, it makes sense that faith and critical reasoning are intertwined. Nevertheless, pure critical reasoning is more based off of psychology and cosmology, whereas faith is more concrete imagination. The typical view of critical reasoning is logical in nature, where there is typically a cosmological and psychological test. Why people do things falls under psychology, and why/how matter and all its interactions occur falls under cosmology. Every topic starts off with imagination, and that’s why I’ve been stressing these specific sciences and thoughts. Specifically put, I believe critical reasoning with regard to religion involves taking apart imagination and testing it with either psychology or cosmology. I use the term imagination very broadly, for example, the bible is considered imagination. It becomes valid through the use of critical reason, and if the imagination doesn’t pass muster with critical reasoning, faith is the bottom line. If it passes through faith, the concept is considered false in the mind of the analyst (any person).

Now we will try to put all the pieces together in a way that can be more easily understood. Imagination is where one begins. This imagination is tested with critical reasoning. In most cases, and in the case of religion, this means some sort of logical test. This can be done using mathematics, experiment, observation, etc. all essentially tied to either psychology or cosmology. If the thought passes the logical test, then it is considered a truth/fact. If this thought does not pass a logic test, but is still held to be true for a reason that extends further than logic, it is considered faith. Religion attempts to prove faith through critical reason. If one declares stories and ideas to be fact, and convinces others of the validity using faith, it is faith that is being created through critical reasoning. An interesting thought indeed. Create faith to critically reason something, and once the critical reasoning is done the faith remains. If one adds culture and community, then one has a full-fledged religion.

To finish off I will add my emotional opinions on each topic. In the case of faith and critical reasoning I think they are heavily intertwined and both valid and truthful in their own right. I tend to lean more toward atheism, but like I said, I don’t believe the human mind has the capacity to comprehend any reality in totality. I think critical reasoning will achieve a conclusion that will be more testable and correct, but I do not dismiss the possible truthfulness of faith. Faith and critical reasoning are emotionally neutral in my mind. When it comes to religion I like the idea of community and ideals. I think a sense of community is always important, but the ideals must be positive: charity, etc. – absolutely no prejudices. I cannot stand religions negatively affecting people’s happiness (ex. anti-gay marriage). In addition, I do not like formalized thought at all, let people think, so with all this in mind I would say I’m neutral/negative. I think religion brings a lot of good into people’s lives, but it also has some distinct downsides. For me, the most important capacity we have is to be and promote the happiness of all.