SoCS — A Means to an End

20C6073F-F930-4AEA-9243-02C86A0F48B2“It’s just a means to an end, that’s all,” Ed said aloud, but more to himself than to his wife, who was sitting next to him on the sofa.

“You always use that expression and I don’t really know what you mean,” Karen responded.

“What are you, stupid or something?” Ed lashed out.

Tears began to form in Karen’s eyes. “Why do you have to say mean things like that, Ed?”

“You’re right,” Ed said softly. “I’m sorry, babe. That was a mean thing for me to say.”

“Thanks, I accept your apology,” Karen said. “Now tell me, what does a means to an end mean?”

“It means it’s something you do only to produce or achieve a desired result,” Ed explained. “It’s like when you have to work at a job you hate, but you have to do it in order to put food on the table. The job is the means and the end is that you have enough to eat.”

“Okay, I understand that, but what were you referring to just now when you said it?”

Ed sighed. “Sometimes, Karen, you gotta do what you gotta do and the end justifies the means.”

“So does that mean that a positive outcome excuses or justifies any wrongs committed in order to attain it?” Karen asked, as a concerned expression appeared on her face.

“Don’t worry, babe,” Ed said. “I’m not planning to do anything unethical, immoral, or technically illegal.”

“Then what is this means you are talking about,” Karen asked, “and to what end.”

“Well, babe, it was going to be a surprise,” Ed said, “but since you can’t seem to let this go, I’ll tell you.”

“Tell me what, Ed?”

Ed leaned in close to Karen and whispered in her ear.

Karen jumped back. “Oh my God, Ed, no!”


Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. We are asked to use the word “mean(s)” with or without the “s,” any way we’d like.

I’m a Believer

If you’re reading this because you think this post is about the 1967 song “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, it’s not. Not even close.

022D0AC0-1820-43FC-91E9-2EF94E30FEDAWhat this post is about is that I was talking to a friend of mine this past weekend. He’s a fairly religious person and he knows that I’m an atheist. He told me that he didn’t understand how anyone could be a “non-believer.” Apparently he believes, like many people, that being an atheist means that you’re a “non-believer.”

Do you tend to call those who don’t believe in God “non-believers”? Well, if you do, your definition of “believer” is way too narrow. You’re thinking that the word “believer” applies only to a belief system, a religious belief system. A belief in a supreme being, a greater intelligence, a supernatural deity. And for most Americans, that means believing in God, Yahweh, Allah, or whatever you call your deity.

As an atheist, I believe that God does not exist. I believe that Christians, Jews, and Muslims made up God in the same way that Greeks and Romans, for example, made up Zeus and Jupiter and all the other gods they believed in.

But just because I don’t believe that God exists doesn’t make me a non-believer. Because that would imply that I don’t believe in anything. I believe in a lot of things.

I believe that we didn’t exist before we were born and that we will cease to exist in any form after we die.

I believe that our universe is almost 14 billion years old and that the planet we live on is 4.5 billion years old. I believe in evolution. And I believe that we are working pretty damn hard to destroy our planet’s ability to sustain human life.

I believe in a woman’s rights to choose. I believe in free speech, in freedom of (or from) religion, in equal rights for gays, and in gun control. I also believe in the separation of church and state.

But wait, there’s more that I believe. I believe that humans are fallible and that we all make mistakes. Some more than others. I believe that most people are good, decent, and moral, regardless of their religious beliefs — or lack thereof. And I believe in my country. Just not in “God and country.”

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking that these beliefs make me a liberal, which is the next worst label a person can have after atheist, right?

You’re also thinking that these are not beliefs. These are philosophies. These are ideologies. And you’re thinking that I’m expressing political opinions, not, you know, beliefs.

Sorry, I don’t believe that. Yes, these are philosophical beliefs. They are ideological and even political beliefs. But they are, nevertheless, beliefs. Other than from a very narrow religious perspective, just because I don’t believe in God, doesn’t make me a non-believer. I have a whole host of beliefs. Because I am a human being and I am alive.

There is not one of us — unless you’re dead — who doesn’t believe in something.

And now, for those of you who took the time to read my 520-word post, here’s a reward for your effort.

Repost — Facts Versus Truth

My blogging friend, James, started a comment he posted on one of my rants yesterday about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “he said/she said” hearing yesterday, with this quote:

Archaeology is the search for fact … not truth. If it’s truth you’re interested in, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.” -Dr. Henry (Indiana) Jones Jr.

Of course, my post and James’ comment were in the context of the testimonies yesterday of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. What James said was, “What we’re looking for is (or should be) facts. What we might have to settle for is truth, but I don’t see how we’re going to get it.”

The Indiana Jones quote and what Jim wrote reminded me of my fourth or fifth post when I started this blog. And so, since it basically went unread when I posted it, I thought it might be a good time to shed some light on it.


Facts and TruthWhen I first read Faulkner’s quote (above), I was perplexed. I had always considered “facts” and “truth” to be synonyms. Even the definitions of the two words cross-reference one another:

Fact: something that actually exists; reality; truth.
Truth: conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact.

Facts are used as proof of what is undeniably “the truth,” but are these words truly interchangeable or do they actually have different meanings and usage?

I was curious enough about the similarities and differences between these two words to do some Google research. And I learned that not everyone believes that they are synonymous. Some folks actually differentiate between the them using diametrically opposed logic.

One site argued that facts can be fleeting, enduring for but a moment. For example, the “fact” of someone’s location on a fast-moving train changes every instant. Truth, on the other hand is a more enduring type of fact, this source claimed.

Another site argued that if it’s a fact now, it will be a fact in the future, whereas truth is more temporal. Facts indicate a universal truth, while truth depends upon temporal circumstances. For example, that the sun appears to always rise in the east and set in the west is a fact. It will never change.

I found an interesting site, differencebetween.net, which provided four facts (or truths?) about facts and truths:

  • Facts are more objective when compared to the more subjective truths.
  • Facts are more permanent when compared to the more temporary truths.
  • Facts exist in reality, whereas truths are usually the things that one believes to be true, or the things that are true in the current situation.
  • Facts can also answer the ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ questions, whereas truths answer the ‘why’ question.

Truthiness

And then there is “truthiness,” a word first coined by Stephen Colbert a dozen years ago. Like when Bill Maher says, “I don’t know it for a fact…I just know it’s true,” truthiness is the quality of seeming to be true based upon one’s intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic or factual evidence. It’s when someone feels, believes, or wishes that something is true even when it is not supported by the facts.

So with both facts and truth under siege by Donald Trump and his surrogates, and with “alternative facts” and “false truths” being promulgated, I  have to wonder if Faulkner’s statement was extremely prescient and sadly reflective of where we are in the second decade of the 21st century.

So what do you think? Are the words “fact” and “truth” synonyms? Do you use them interchangeably in your oral and written communications? Or do these two words, as Faulkner believes, have little to do with each another?

And in today’s world, where truthiness means more to a lot of people than either facts or truth, does it even matter anymore?

One-Liner Wednesday — The Flavor of Success

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“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

Author Truman Capote

Is failing at something a motivating factor that drives you to try even harder to achieve success? Or does failure after failure become so discouraging that it causes you to give up?


Written for Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt.

The Game of Life

Blogger Melanie, over at Sparks from a Combustible Mind, posted a series of questions (along with her answers) on the philosophy of living life that she got from A Guy Called Bloke. As one of the great life philosophers in the blogosphere, I felt compelled to respond. So here goes.


Q1] What is your take on ‘free will?’

If it’s free, I will take it.

Q2] We all ask ourselves at one time or another what is the point? So what is the point to our existence?

The point is to stay sharp.

Q3] What is your belief on fate and Karma?

It’s explained here.

Q4] As a species, how do you think humans will become extinct or do you believe that we will not?

Yes.

PQ5] What is your belief with regards the meaning of life?

Life is a game.1537EB0E-A316-4AA0-BB71-DAA64732E0BE

Q6] Ok, fess up, do you believe in aliens from outer space – is there really other life out there in the far reaching galaxies beyond our own?

I hope there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe because if we are the only intelligent life in the vastness of space, that doesn’t say much for the universe.

Q7] What is your best quote for ‘living life?’

“Live every day like it’s your last.”

Q8] What doesn’t kill us – makes us stronger – yes or no? Explain.

Yes. Or weaker, depending upon exactly what it was that didn’t kill us.

Q9] What would you say have been your biggest successes in life?

Given some of the asinine things I’ve done, my biggest success is that I’m still alive.

Q10] If you could find out the exact time and cause of your death – would you want to know?

According to deathclock.com, my life will end on January 28, 2020. It didn’t specify what the cause will be, but I hope it will be peacefully in my sleep.

Q11] Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?

As a pseudo-solipsist, it’s more important to help myself.

Q12] If humanity was put on trial by an advanced race of aliens, how would you defend humanity and argue for its continued existence?

I’d plea bargain and offer to cooperate with the prosecution.

Q13] What is the biggest waste of human potential?

Donald Trump.

Q14] We often see those that write ‘what would you say to a younger you?’ However, what would you say today to a future you?

First I’d say, “I’m sorry.” Then I’d say, “You’re still alive? Good for you!”

Q15] Why do you think that as a species, humans need to believe in something? Be this religion, fate, karma, magical, mystique, and so on.

As an atheist, I am not sure I agree with the premise of this question. That said, I do believe, above all else, in family.

Q16] If we could not retain any of our memories – who would we be?

We would be suffering from either amnesia or Alzheimer’s.

Q17] Time is such an important part of our world, but do you think you would notice if time was altered in any way?

The older you get, the faster time goes by, so time already has been altered.

Q18] How important is play in living a healthy and fulfilling life?

Life is a game that we all play.

Q19] With no laws or rules to influence your behavior, how do you think you would behave?

Well, if there were no laws or rules, I’m not sure human beings would still be around. That said, I think I’d behave pretty much the same way I behave now.

Q20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope, not one.

Q21] Should euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?

Yes. If someone is suffering, is in pain, and is terminal, they should be free to choose death with dignity…for themselves and for those they leave behind.

Feel free to copy and paste these same questions and answer them on your own.