Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Talk With a Creationist

I recently had an interesting back-and-forth with someone on a Youtube comment section. I know, this sounds like an oxymoron; interesting back-and-forths on Youtube happen about as often as a Halley’s Comet sighting. The topic which we discussed is a favourite of mine: Theology.
I've taken the time to transcribe this back-and-forth because I feel it's necessary to document any kind of respectful discussion between an Atheist (me) and a Creationist. Usually, such conversations turn sour and spiral into a not-so-clever competition of name calling and juvenile insults — on Youtube anyway.

*Note, because of the platform (Youtube), we were limited in the amount of characters available for each reply. Also, the order of the comments has been changed in an attempt at improving comprehensibility. We were firing off our comments quickly which resulted in different conversations happening simultaneously.

Here’s our conversation:

I think it’s silly how you refer to the theory of evolution as though it’s true.
(This was a reply to someone else's post)

It takes more faith to believe in the theory of evolution than it does God.
(Again, this was not directed at me.)

Wrong. There’s proof that backs evolution. Where’s the proof of God? Easier to believe in things you can quantify.

There is no proof of evolution. Can you prove even one sentence in the bible wrong?

I can’t prove a sentence wrong, but I also can’t prove that any of it is right. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I’m not going to argue with you because unlike you religious types, I’m not looking to convert you. Besides, it would be a waste of my time. You’re allowed to believe whatever you please, as am I. I don’t think any less of you for believing in God. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Deal with it. And I suppose your opinion that evolution isn’t science is based on years of study and research…like the millions of brilliant, dedicated scientists who claim that evolution is a fact? Have a good day.

Can you truthfully tell me that you believe we are random chance that has no purpose. That we came from nothing only to have our complex bodies come together by random chance? I will believe you if you can show me one instance in the universe where something comes from nothing. I don’t have the amount of faith you have to believe in the theory of evolution.

Someone needs to tell this guy the theory of evolution is not science.

Actually, I take back my statement. Here’s my argument (based on rational thought and history): Would a perfect being such as God use fear mongering in order to make people believe? Also, why has he let religion become the number one cause of war, death, famine, and wealth disparity throughout history? If God is all-seeing, all-powerful, and we were created in his image, why are we so imperfect and flawed? I have many more questions that the bible can’t answer. I believe in empiricism, not in fairy tales.

The thought that there is no after life, and that we are here purely because of chance and random events makes life all the more beautiful, amazing, and incredible. By believing that you have another life waiting for you after this one, you inadvertently decrease the extraordinary beauty of life itself — and its importance. Chance is amazing, calculated, pre-destined creation isn't. Your blind belief of life after death gives you something to look forward to (a purely human tendency in order to alleviate the pain and fear of death).

Your desire to have a bigger purpose is part of your flaw, and thus, your humanity. We do have a purpose; it is to procreate and survive as a species, not as individuals.

And no, I don't claim that we've come from nothing and have evolved out of chance. I'm not a scientist and I can't claim that I know anything about our origin — I've not done the necessary research, and I'm willing to bet you haven't either. But I can be certain that I don't believe the Universe is God's work.

I hope you don’t close yourself off to the fact that this universe was created. I can’t wrap my head around why people believe it came about all on its own. Nothing comes from nothing, this is a fact. Although I think this issue goes deeper than facts. I believe people hold the view of evolution because they want to live life the way they see best. They don’t want to submit to the creator.

Evolutionists put faith in the idea that something did come from nothing. That’s why I say it takes faith to be an evolutionist more so than a Christian.

That’s the beauty of science; it doesn’t claim to have all the answers. I am open to pretty much anything, but if it turns out that we were truly created by an all-powerful being, then there are a few things I’d like to discuss with him when the time comes.

If there is, indeed, a creator, why would he need for me to submit to him in order to grant me eternal life? This seems a little narcissistic for a perfect being. He should applaud me for being curious and skeptical…traits which he has apparently bestowed upon me.

Also, if nothing comes from nothing, then where did God come from? Who created him?

I am happy you are open to the truth. You say you want to speak to him when the time comes. The time is now. Speak to God now because he is listening. There is no secret to prayer, it is just us talking to God like we talk with each other. Ask him if he is real and he’ll reveal himself to you.

If you want to debate with me, it would be best if you would read the bible. I have learned about evolution growing up in school and reading on my own… I recommend starting the bible in the chapter John. It would be narcissistic if God forced us to submit but he doesn’t… To answer your other question, no one created God. He always was, is and always will be.

I’ve read the bible. I don’t debate things without having been exposed to both sides of the argument. And he doesn’t force us per-say, but he gives us an ultimatum: believe in me and come to Heaven; don’t, and I condemn you to Hell. Sure, he gives us a choice, but it’s not a very fair one. Narcissism has nothing to do with free-will, and how you came to that conslusion is beyond me — and leads me to believe you have no idea what narcissim is.

The fact that he needs us to believe in him in order to grant us eternal life makes no sense and is by no means indicative of a supreme being. Rather, it makes it seem like he is extremely insecure and dependent of our love.

If you have read the bible you would know that He doesn’t need us for anything. He is all sustaining. If you saw God face to face, you wouldn’t think he was a narcissist. You would worship him because he is amazing.

I have read the bible, but I've read between the lines, made connections, and witnessed the illogical and contradictory claims it makes. The thing about truth is that it isn’t universal. It’s very subjective, and unfortunately, your truth doesn’t necessarily make it mine. But thank you for remaining courteous throughout our exchange. We won’t arrive at an agreement here, so let’s agree to disagree.

You are wrong about there being no universal truth. The statement “there is no universal truth” is in fact a self-contradiction. Thank you for the conversation, it has been stimulating. I will keep you in my prayers. Take care, Pierre.

Sorry if I came across harsh, I didn’t mean to. Sometimes I type things and they don’t read as I meant them to.

Thank you for the conversation. And I didn’t find any of your comments rude or harsh. Believe it or not, this has been one of the more respectful discussions I’ve ever had with a “believer”. Cheers.

After our conversation, and again after re-reading this transcript, it’s become increasingly apparent that most of my hard questions went unanswered. In my mind, devout individuals are extremely adept at deflecting questions and at accusing Atheists of misunderstanding the bible — which is perhaps why politics and religion are so often interwoven.
I have no ill-will towards Creationists — only those who try to shove their religion down my throat — and I believe that there are some inherently positive messages in the bible, and in theory, they could make the world a better place — in theory. In practice, historically, religion has been associated with wars, murders, scandals, and all sorts of unholy things at the hands of supposedly holy men. The argument can be made that they are, indeed, only men, and their transgressions do not disprove the existence of God, but their unwavering worship and dedication to Him, along with the existence of the bible, do not prove his existence, either. We are at an empirical deadlock.

I can firmly say that I don’t believe in God — and perhaps he exists and I’m wrong — but that freedom and right to make mistakes is what makes me human; I am curious; I am skeptical; I am human. If God can forgive sinners who have committed murder, rape, or other terrible acts, then I assume it would be easy for him to forgive me for my seemingly innocent offenses. That said, it makes more sense for me to believe in science — tangible proof — rather than in speculative, wishful, and faith-based beliefs. I have a propensity for rationality, and if that makes me unworthy of a theoretical god’s approval, then so be it. 

But what kind of God does that make him?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Art of Walking

I know…ain't nobody got time fo' dat.

For most people, walking has become just another mundane activity. There are faster ways to travel from point A to point B, and in our fast-paced lives, where time is money and no one has enough of either, walking has become obsolete, so to speak.

Don't get me wrong, people walk, but there's a difference between walking to work — or walking to the grocery store; or walking to the Apple store to get your iPhone fixed; or…you get the picture — and walking for the sake of walking.

I suppose the main difference is the attention one puts into the action. For example, if you're on your way to work, chances are you're half-asleep, or you're checking your emails on your Blackberry, and your pace is rushed and unnatural. The action itself is still beneficial to your health because you're moving. (although, I'm no doctor, so what do I know?) But I digress… The fact is that a lot of amazing things are happening around you which usually go unnoticed, or unappreciated if you're walking towards something, and that's the whole point behind my rambling.

I haven't always been pro-walking. Like most people, I'd prefer to drive, bike, run, or even take the bus to get to my destination. That's right, I said it, even the bus, unless it's a short distance, then I'm walking it. Realistically, despite this post, my position hasn't changed much. If I have to be somewhere, walking isn't my go-to method of transportation. But lately, maybe because it's summer and I don't have to wear 20 layers of clothing to go outside, I've developed an appreciation for lengthy-ish walks. Instead of fusing with the couch and waiting for that feeling of self-disgust after eating too much, I've decided to get into the habit of walking after dinner. 

As a result, for the first time in my adult life, I actually feel as though I'm part of my surroundings instead of being a spectator, watching from a safe distance. It's a surreal feeling, and the simple act of walking has heightened my awareness of the beauty in simple and normally unimpressive things. Suddenly, things I've taken for granted are becoming more and more extraordinary. Things such as sunsets, flocks of birds, trees, and even the simple act of breathing have become mesmerizing.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the time, energy, or the ability to enjoy this seemingly basic, and universally forgotten human activity (and by universally, I mean in the Western world, of course). To those of you who are already in the know about the wonders of daily walking, I ask: why haven't you told us before? Or perhaps you have, but we were just too busy to listen. To those who don't believe, or are skeptical, I say: try it, you might be surprised.

In a world where we are constantly plugged in, sometimes it's refreshing and humbling to realize that there are beautiful things only a short walk away.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quest for the Cup

It’s hard not to become a hockey fan once your city’s team enters the playoffs: people adorn their cars with flags, proudly flying their team’s logo as they drive around town; the bars are filled with cheering fans every other night; and there’s a certain camaraderie and sense of optimism between friends and strangers alike, all of whom are certain that this year will be the year their team wins the Stanley Cup.

This year, the Ottawa Senators, or the “pesky Sens”, are desperately fighting to bring the Cup back to their city for the first time in 87 years — coincidentally the same number as Sidney Crosby, the guy they have to shut down in order to move on to the next round. They upset the Montreal Canadiens in the first round thanks to the outstanding play of their goalie Craig Anderson. Now, in the second round, they face an extremely difficult challenge in the Pittsburgh Penguins — arguably one of the favourites to win the Cup after adding some talented players to their already scary lineup.

            Down 2-1 in a best-of-seven series, the Senators are coming off a rollercoaster, double-overtime win which saw none other than Daniel Alfredsson score a short-handed goal to tie up the score with 29 seconds left in the third period. How fitting is that?

After a grueling back-and-forth first overtime period, which produced many scoring chances for both teams, the players went back into their respective dressing rooms to prepare for another period — and leaving this fan dangerously close to having a heart-attack. After a well-deserved break, the players returned to the ice with the hopes of ending the game as soon-as-possible. Sure enough, thanks to a juicy rebound from an Andre Benoit shot, Colin Greening was able to slide the puck past Tomas Vokoun 27 minutes and 39 seconds into the second overtime period — a goal which turned Scotiabank Place into a frenzy of screaming, towel-waving fans.

With the win, the Senators give themselves a better chance at doing something that has never been done in franchise history: coming back after trailing two games to none in a series — a feat which would have seemed almost impossible had they lost game three.

For the Senators to win the series, they will need: Alfredsson to…well…be Alfredsson; Anderson to continue playing like he has all-year-round; Karlsson and Spezza to provide the offensive flare that they are capable of; and the supporting cast to continue to abide by Paul MacLean’s — and his mustache’s — style of play. Not too much to ask, right?

While obviously rooting for the Senators in this David-versus-Goliath matchup, I have been amazed at the skill level of some of the Pittsburgh players, most notably: Sidney Crosby. I mean, I knew he was good, but when you watch someone play on a more consistent basis, you tend to notice them more…and Crosby makes it hard for anyone to not notice him when he’s on the ice.

With that said, I truly hope that Ottawa finds a way to win, not only this series, but the Stanley Cup as well, if not for the city, then for the man who has been the face of the franchise since being named captain in 1999; the man who wears number 11 on his back but plays for the logo on his chest, the man who carries the weight of the city on his shoulders every time he puts on his jersey; the man who has contributed not only on the ice, but who has immensely impacted the community which he now calls home; the man who the city has adopted as their hero: Daniel Alfredsson.

Although unconfirmed by Alfredsson, this could be his last season wearing the only NHL jersey he has ever known, and seeing him lift the Stanley Cup would be the fairy-tale ending to a hall-of-fame career. Winning the Cup is no easy task, but if the Senators can continue to "out-pesky" their opponents, they should see their playoff success continue all the way to the Cup final...hopefully.

Welcome to Canada; we take our hockey extremely seriously.

Go Sens Go.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vocabulary Woes

Possessing an expanded vocabulary is instrumental for anyone who intends to write. So many words, so many synonyms, and picking the right one is paramount to expressing a variety of things: meaning, tone, etc.

I read somewhere that: "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a firefly."

I view every sentence, and consequently every word, like a construction worker views the steps of the construction process: each is the prelude to a finished product. Constructing sentences — much like building a house, to continue with the analogy — requires the right tools and materials. As a writer, words are my tools, my instruments for building abstract pieces of work which have the potential to be as beautiful as the Pyramids of Giza, or the Sistine Chapel.

Like any skill known to man, writing requires years of practice to master. Mixing passion with motivation and dedication, while combining it with inspiration and creativity can lead to some extraordinary results. Throw in some patience, and success is almost inevitable. The question is: how long am I willing to wait? Unfortunately, I'm in the passenger seat with time at the wheel, steering, driving towards the unknown. Hindsight is a walk in the park next to the uncertainty of the future.  

Alcoholic Thoughts

When pain becomes realer than joy, it’s time to walk away. Sometimes it’s easier said than done for us masochistic individuals. One ounce of loneliness and one ounce of fear, mixed in a glass three-quarters-full of low self-esteem, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a cocktail. I used to be drunk with your presence; now I’m drunk with your absence.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Path That Lies Ahead

I'm somewhat surprised by my decision to pursue writing as a career. I was tempted to say "become a writer", but I don't feel as though that's appropriate since, in my opinion, one does not become a writer on a whim, one is molded into a writer through years of experiences. It's amazing where life takes you when you let it.

Pure, honest writing allows the reader to catch a glimpse of the author in his most vulnerable, naked state. A gateway into a writer's mind and soul is directly through his written work — or at least that's my romantic view.

Which brings me back to my initial surprise. As someone who's used to keeping people at a safe distance — mostly at an emotional level, which I suppose inevitably creates a physical distance too — I am somewhat baffled at this path I've chosen to follow.

Although my fear of revealing myself intimately may seem counter-intuitive for a writer, I feel as though I possess a number of other qualities which may help me, or have led me to pursue writing. Now I'm not going to "toot my own horn", as they say, by listing these "qualities" since boasting has never been a talent of mine. But I feel as though it's important to be aware of one's flaws and talents. That way, choosing a path becomes less daunting.
So I've decided to give 'er the old college try. You know what they say: "the best way to overcome your fear is to face it head on." — or something like that. At the very least, succeed or fail, I know I'll be doing something that I love...while apparently using every cliché in the books while I'm at it.


Beauty. What is beauty? Something that is appealing to the eye? Something that evokes a strong emotional reaction in the form of attraction? It's a word often used without much forethought, like love and hate. I don't believe that we'll ever be able to agree on what the true definition of beauty is — or what makes one more beautiful than another — because beauty is a subjective word, leaving it to be interpreted differently.

But if there's one thing I understand about beauty it's that it's not attributed to something which is flawless — because such a thing does not exist — but is attributed to something which shines through its flaws.