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Douglas Adams and Me May 11, 2011

Posted by thegodless in atheism.
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A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?”
— Douglas Adams, paraphrase of a parable spoofing modern creationism that Adams often told, as retold by Richard Dawkins in “Lament for Douglas” (14 May 2001)

As a child, I spent a lot of time unknowingly reading books by a man that held a completely different and opposing worldview than nearly all of my friends and family. If it wasn’t for the humorous accessibility of Douglas Adams, I may have never managed to get a glimpse of true reality. I’m certain that if the Hitchhiker’s Guide had been titled the Radical Atheist’s Guide to Freethinking, I would have likely never been interested or allowed to read it. I was too young at the time to even realize it, but Adams planted the seeds for my escape from superstition and religion. In Adams’ ultimate wit and skepticism, I found a previously unknown ability and strength to look at things in a different light; A light that turned out to be perfectly clear and rationally illuminating. With nothing more than comedy and more than any scholarly “new” atheist, Adams cracked my near impenetrable and absurdly illogical religious indoctrination. I may mourn that Adams died far too young, but I find plenty of comfort in knowing that he got to live the only kind of life worth living; The enlightened life of a freethinker.

I know that he is gone, but for anyone listening; Thank you Mr. Adams. You did your part to make the world a much better place.

The Atheist President January 20, 2011

Posted by thegodless in Uncategorized.
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As America slips further down the dangerous path of irreconcilable division, politicians on both sides of the fence have only made matters worse with their fear based decision making, mud slinging, and worst of all, complete uncooperation with one another. Even in times of prosperity, these behaviors would be considered unacceptable, but to see this going on when America’s future is currently in a bit of a crisis is a crime against every US citizen. When many are quick to lay blame to those that got us where we are, it would be even more damnable to have an opportunity to fix things and squander it. Upon originally learning of the crisis, Americans were quick to act by voting for change and when that change did not come quick enough, Americans again voted for change by shifting power. We can all safely assume that America would like to change, though I am sure that many of us would argue about exactly what kind of change it is we need.

Change is difficult enough to achieve for the individual, so it is no surprise that America is having such a tough time of it. It’s almost as if we can see the mountain that we are about to crash into and we are only willing to slow down instead making a sharp turn. I would still like to think that we are capable of turning the wheel of this beat up old hot rod. The problem we seem to have with grabbing the wheel is that everyone is turning in different directions and even when most of us want to go in a particular direction, the engine we’ve installed fails. The way our politicians have been conducting business in the last few decades is counter to how a useful and productive organism works. I don’t know of a single person that would not be willing to compromise if they knew it could help others, nor do I know of anyone that is willing to publicly announce their complete disdain for another individual, nor do I know of anyone that would willingly let self serving organizations guide them on the decisions they make for their family. When people say that politicians have lost touch with America, it should also include that they have lost touch with democracy and civility. Looking at our representatives, one could get the impression that all Americans are spoiled brats that throw tantrums and insults to get their way, yet everyday I see differently. If Americans are typically a kind and considerate people, why then are we represented to be the opposite?

So, how are we to escape the vicious spin cycle that appears to be leading us in no direction but down? In my humble and very willing to admit that I may be wrong opinion, we are going to need to oust the demagogues and replace them with leaders that have the ability to rationally consider things and communicate with openess and compassion for opposing views. In order to ensure that any of this will ever work, we Americans must quit looking for leaders that play to our emotions and instead look to those that display critical thinking skills. This will give us a higher probability of electing a leader that can not only use logic and pragmatism to make better decisions about America’s myriad of problems, but also present a more informed argument for why tough decisions were made. It’s not realistic to expect that we can just set aside all differences for the sake of compromise, but having a leader that is always open to changing opinions based upon credible evidence will at least keep opposing views permanently on the table. This kind of openess will help to satiate those that disagree with decisions being made. This kind of openess can only come from someone that is willing to set aside personal bias and majority held opinions in order to clearly and rationally examine issues.

If we are to ever get serious about solving some of America’s various woes, we will have to come to grips with the fact that some of our own opinions may not be supported by the evidence. All of the opposing views can’t all be right. I’m not so sure that we are sufficiently ready and willing to start looking to only unfiltered evidence for decision making. I do know that it will be easy to tell when America is ready to start making more informed and thus better decisions, as it will be the day that America has elected it’s first reason based (atheist) President. One can only hope that this change occurs before we have completely wrecked our once great hot rod of a nation.