On This Day Five Years Ago

On this very day five years ago I published my first post on This, That, and the Other. It was basically an introduction to who I am, and it was aptly named “Practical Pragmatist.”

In case you are at all interested in reading my first post on this blog, here it is. It’s a rather long post for me — almost 500 words; my average post length so far this year is around 240. But if you have a minute or two, you might enjoy it.

Practical Pragmatist

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I am a pragmatist. And I think of myself as a practical person. Thus, I am a practical pragmatist.

So what is a pragmatist? A pragmatist is a person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.

A pragmatist is an advocate or adherent of pragmatism, which is the philosophy or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

Philosophical Pragmatism

The pragmatic philosophy is based on the belief that the best way to evaluate the practicality of ideas, policies, and proposals is through their workability and usefulness. Pragmatism stresses action over doctrine. The philosophy embraces the notion that ideas base their meanings from their consequences; that they are essentially instruments and plans of action.

So how do I know that I’m a pragmatist? When I was a young adult working a full-time job and attending graduate school at night to get a Master’s degree, the girl I was dating at the time lambasted me for putting more emphasis on “dollars and degrees” than on my relationship with her. I wasn’t, she bemoaned, giving her as much time and attention as I was giving my job and my school work. She didn’t like being the third priority in my life, yet she was.

I knew I needed to work hard at my job in order to pay for rent, food, school, and, well, life. I knew that getting a graduate degree would enable me to be more successful and secure in the future. I knew these things because I’m a pragmatist.

So what about “practical”? I describe myself as a logical, rational, and reasonable person. I am not ruled by emotions but by facts, observations, and evidence. That’s likely why, in addition to being a pragmatist, I’m an atheist. There is nothing logical, rational, or reasonable about religious doctrine or dogma. Rather than being based upon facts, observations, and evidence, religion is based upon faith and beliefs where there is no empirical evidence.

This is not to say that I can’t be open to beliefs or faith, either. Every time I board an airplane I have faith that the aircraft is mechanically sound and that the pilot and copilot are sober and competent. I just don’t buy into this whole God thing because there is no empirical evidence that such an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supernatural being exists other than in the minds of those who have embraced ancient mythologies over logic, rationality, and reason.

Nor does my pragmatism mean that I am devoid of emotions. I am empathetic and have been known to shed a tear or two when I encounter the pain or suffering of others. I may not feel as intensely as some others feel, but I feel nonetheless.

So bear in mind as you read my posts, should you decide to read beyond this first one, that, as a self-identified practical pragmatist, my perspectives are borne out of practicality and pragmatism.

And that works for me.

One-Liner Wednesday — Politics and Hatred

“Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”

Henry Adams, American historian, descended from two U.S. Presidents

Henry Adams died in 1918, and I find that this quote from him was incredibly prescient, given when he said it. It’s certainly an accurate reflection of the hatred displayed in politics in America today.

And if that isn’t controversial enough for you, let me suggest that if you were to substitute the word “religion” for the word “politics,” the statement is equally as true.


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

Fandango’s Provocative Question #37 Revisited

Note: Because I am participating in the A to Z blogging challenge this month, I will not be posting any new provocative question until May. Instead, I will be revisiting some previous provocative questions that you might have missed. This one was originally posted on August 21, 2019 and can be found here. Please feel free to respond to it if you haven’t already.

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

For this week’s provocative question, I am concerned about how partisan just about everybody appears to be. We seem to have reached the point where everyone behaves as if “you’re either with me or you’re against me,” and there is no middle ground.

I remember that there was a time not that long ago when people could disagree about specific issues without animosity, but those days seem to be over, particularly in the areas of politics and religion.

So my question to you this week is simply this:

Is it possible anymore to disagree without being disagreeable?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #163

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Those of you who read my blog know that I’m an atheist. Just to be clear, an atheist is someone with an absence of belief in the existence of supernatural deities. It’s essentially a rejection of the belief that any such deities exist. That’s about it. There is no book, no dogma, no rituals, and no set of rules to being an atheist.

About a week ago, a blogger I follow and enjoy wrote, “Atheism is the religious belief held by those who don’t believe in religion.” I know this blogger was being tongue-in-cheek in that wordplay, but I responded in a comment that, “atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion.” I added to my comment, also being a bit tongue-in-cheek, “Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

Anyway, that exchange sparked a series of comments back and forth where that blogger continued to argue the position that atheism is a religion, while I continued to state my position that atheism is not a religion nor a defined set of religious beliefs. We finally ended with that old “let’s agree to disagree” discussion ender.

For this week’s provocative question, I’m not asking if you do or don’t believe in God or any other deity. I’m also not asking whether or not you practice any religion or are a religious person. My feeling, when it comes to a belief in deities and religion is, hey, whatever floats your boat. That said, my provocative question today is this:

Do you believe that atheism is a set of religious beliefs or is a religion in any sense? If so, why? If not, why not? Or, do you have no opinion on the matter or just don’t care one way or the other?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Note: Because I will be participating in the A to Z blogging challenge in April, I will not be posting any new provocative question until May. Instead, I will be revisiting some previous provocative questions that you might have missed. Please feel free to respond to them if you haven’t already.

Throwback Thursday — Religious Influences

Maggie, at From Cave Walls, and Lauren, at LSS Attitude of Gratitude, alternate hosting Throwback Thursday. The idea of the prompt is for them to give us a topic and for us to write a post in which we share our own memories or experiences about the given topic. This week, Lauren chose the topic of “the impact of religion.”

Well, this should be interesting, given that I’m an atheist, but let’s give it a go. Anyway. Lauren wants to know…

  • Did your family attend services together?
  • Did you attend weekly, more than once a week, only on specific holidays, or some other designated time frame?
  • Was everyone of the same thought as to what faith to follow?
  • Did you have friends specifically from church/synagogue/ temple/ mosque, etc.?
  • Did your family practice religious ceremonies at home?
  • If you chose to depart from what your family believed (and feel like sharing) why did you do so?

I started to craft an answer to each of Lauren’s questions as asked, but then I decided that doing so didn’t really make a lot of sense for me, an atheist. Yes, I went to church (with my mother and my two older sisters), to synagogue (with my father), and to Sunday school as a kid. I appreciated all the great Bible stories, but I just couldn’t think of them as anything more that very imaginative and highly entertaining stories. They are great fiction. That did not please my parents at all, although by the time I was a teen they pretty much wrote me off as a lost cause when it came to embracing their faith.

I could not fathom how anybody could believe that what was written in the Bible — written by many different men hundreds of years after the virgin birth and crucifixion of the alleged son of God — as being the “gospel” truth of what actually took place 2,000 years ago. And the religious rituals seemed totally ridiculous to me.

The fact that Christians didn’t like me because I was half Jewish and Jews didn’t like me because I was half Christian didn’t help me embrace either religion. Organized religion seemed to foster divisions between people of different faiths, rather than attempt to bring us all together as human beings who theoretically prayed to the same God, only in different ways and in different languages. And even for those who shared the same overarching religious beliefs, many were designated as the “other” based which version of the Bible they read or on the color of their skins.

Yet for a long time I wanted to believe that, despite all that, some sort of god did exist. But then I thought about all the lives lost and the atrocities committed throughout human history in the name of God. I read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust. How many people were persecuted, hunted down, and murdered, not because they didn’t believe in and celebrate God, but because of the way they believed in and celebrated God? How could an all knowing, all powerful, ever present creator permit all of his children — supposedly created in his image — to behave in such a destructive manner?

I had my epiphany that God didn’t create humans in his image. Humans created God in their image. God became our answer to unanswerable questions, an explanation for the unknowable. That’s when I knew that God is a fiction.

And as we continue to destroy our planet, to fight wars, to judge and harm our fellow human beings based upon the color of their skin, their religious beliefs and practices, their gender, or the place of their birth, I am more convince than ever before that God is a contrivance designed to control the masses while the precious few gain immeasurable fortunes from the tithings of their flocks.

So when it comes to my personal perspective on Lauren’s question about the “impact of religion,” it’s very negative. But hey, that’s me. For those of you who are true believers in whatever god it is that you worship in whatever way you worship him (or her), well, all I have to say is “whatever floats your boat.” Just as long as you don’t try to sink my boat because it’s not the same as yours.

Sorry for this rather long and perhaps whiney rant.