You are a Genius!

The potential of comments, reactions, and thoughts erupting from this concept illustration is immeasurable. I could prefix it with my own thoughts, but they would be tl;dr. So I must open it to my own audience and encourage engagement as well on the OP’s blog.

Otrazhenie

GeniousFrom QuotesWave

According to a 1968 study by George Land and Beth Jarman, published in their book Breakpoint and Beyond, preschoolers are geniuses in divergent thinking. Land and Jarman administered a divergent thinking test to 1600 people; divergent thinking being the capacity for creativity, the ability to determine multiple solutions to a problem. This is the type of test administered by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists. The results in the sample group were astounding – 98% of the participants scored at the genius level for divergent thinking. The sample group? Five-year-olds.

In this longitudinal study, only 32% of 10-year-olds, and 12% of 15-year-olds reached the same level of creative thinking. Of 280 000 adults tested, only 2% reached genius level. Robinson used an example of divergent thinking in his video provided below: that divergent thinkers would be able to come up with 200 uses for a paper…

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Alpha and Omega

the-thinker

Believe nothing, question everything.

Thus, the beginning and the end. The beginning because it creates a spark of something new. The end because it destroys everything that had stood before in one’s mind. This statement and the “umph” within it was the beginning of my own philosophical journey, and today it serves as its own end, and new beginning. Thus the cycle continues, self-perpetuating.

My first day of Philosophy started with Phi101 in a private Christian college in NYC. Alfredo Cid served as the proctor, and my proctor through the journey through. Today, he serves as a close acquaintance and friend even. The first class began with a mission statement, his mission “To destroy everything you once thought and believed. To tear it all down. Will we rebuild it? Can we?”

This created a ripple in through a conservative and deeply religious audience. Students looked at each other, looked behind them, whispered to their neighbor, and shook their heads. A few mumbles became a pseudo-question, erupting through the chaos. A challenge, even: “What about God?”

I can remember the reaction on the professor’s face, and my new understanding of his deep understanding and journey into philosophy sheds a “hindsight is 20/20″ kind of reflection. It communicated how he knew the question was a challenge. It was a challenge to his standing as a philosopher, and a challenge to his status as a professor in a Christian college. Which should he protect more? The answer was simple: ” Does God need to be protected from questioning?”

There it was. Not an answer, but another question. It forced thought, it pushed through the presuppositions with such veracity that too many were forced into mind-bubble. Instead of answering the professor’s question, sticking to their pre-formulated belief that philosophy was, in fact, satanic and just plain evil. Others, few of us, took this question within ourselves and toiled with it. Certainly God is not threatened by questions, and certainly His truth can stand against them and shine through.

Before we knew what was happening, questions were being written on the whiteboard, shouted out from students. They were being webbed together from a single core,the first question, until everything had something else connected to it. There wasn’t a single thing not questioned. It was frustrating, but enlightening. Like a box being opened in the mind, opened to the universe.

Blink, and the class was over. The students had to leave with their disheveled pieces of psyche. Question everything? Where does it stop? Do we question the question? Do we question that still? Certainly, there are foundational beliefs but what are they? Why do we have them? Must we have them? How do we know they are true? Can we prove it? How do you prove the proofs are true?

Your Thoughts? A penny for them, in fact.

Acts of Kindness

Yes, I know Hebrew. No, I'm not Jewish. ;) It's just my favorite religion and language.

Yes, I know Hebrew. No, I’m not Jewish. 😉 It’s just my favorite religion and language.

I had the privilege of being apart of something small and meaningful. Even though I’m an Atheist, however, I hold strongly to the ideaology taught most well-known by Jesus of not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing: in other words, I do not like boasting about good deeds. I would rather no one know whatsoever. To boast would be taking the attention from the one receiving, to the one giving, as if saying “look at me! I’m doing something good!” This isn’t what doing good is about, and although I can argue philosophically against altruism (which I do not believe exists) philosophical ethics has little to do with actions.

Either way, I do what I can to keep this blog anonymous so I can share things like these. It may be futile with the way the internet goes, and I could probably try harder… but alas! I’m not helping myself here.

The point is, I had the opportunity to take part in an act of kindness, and it taught me something. It caused the world to stop around me, and for a brief moment see the potential for good around me. It can be hard when I live in one of the most ignorant-filled, bankrupt cities in the country… but it was there.

I work in the food industry as a waitress. My last table was an older lady, a lady my age, and a child. There wasn’t much eventful about their day, until a friend gestured to myself and our manager. We both listened as we were told my table’s story. In brief, the lady my age had lost her husband on a tour overseas, after having decided to leave the service to marry his wife, who wanted marriage put off until he would be staying home for good. He was asked to do “one more” tour, to his wife’s disagreement, he went, and did not return.   This was 8 months ago. The manager and I looked at each other, both moved and hurt, and wanted to do something. The manager, in fact, insisted, we give her something on the house.

I had the small pleasure of being the deliverer: her bill on the house. I brought the bill to her when they were all finished, with their dinner mint’s inside, giving nothing off, just saying my usual when I drop the check. Then I ducked around the corner and waited til she read what I wrote on the check, “Just wanted to see you smile! 🙂 ” with a circle around the “Total 0.00”.

I snuck up on her, and asked “Well? Did you smile?” He laughed uncomfortably, looked at me, and said “I’m confused!” I just shook my head, and said “The meal’s on us today. We just wanted to see you smile.” I walked off, her friend and our fellow server went to talk to them, and before they left I could see her looking around for me. I went up to them again, she handed me the tab book which I tried not to take because I knew she left a tip for me in there, and said “I don’t know why, but I need to give you a hug” and we hugged, I thanked her, and she left.

She would find out later that we knew her story, we just didn’t want to bring it up at her dinner or make her sad. And yeah, maybe the story would mean something more if it was truly random and without cause…. but would it?

The lesson I learned from this is that… it was Right. It was The Right thing to do. In that moment, in that place, in that time, there was nothing else more Right to do when we heard her story. There are times when we do good and question it, because we know scams exist and people are manipulative… but when someone is in a unique place of hurt, or a place of desperation, despair, or sadness… the human race often finds ways to do good.

I could address issues of world poverty, big business, theological problems of evil, and try to explain all of that through this story… but all of that stopped for a moment in time today. Somehow, something good came through someone’s hurt. I saw a ray of meaning in what I do every day, and what we all do every day. We encounter people with stories, every day, and have the opportunity to do good or do nothing.

Jewish culture and religion call these mitzvot, when’s the last time you did one? How did it effect you?

A penny for your story?

The “O” Word

Shh...  it's taboo!

Shh… it’s taboo!

Nope, not that one. I’m actually going to be talking about the other “O” word, the one that is fuel for online debates, Facebook flame wars, and the breaking up of friendships:

Obamacare.

Try as I may to engage in peaceful, curious, level-headed discussion with individuals on this topic, it goes nowhere. I’ve tried offering a “convince me I’m wrong” challenge, I’ve tried honestly engaging people on their political meme posts, and I’ve had long discussions with people at work over my observations. Usually, it ends nowhere and before we can come to a mutual understanding the other party withdraws from the discussion.

I am an Obamacare supporter because I am Obamacare: I am one of the many it has helped. And before you go directly to the “I’ll give you my penny’s worth thoughts” down below, allow me to offer a succinct explanation of why I feel this way:

The basis of what the Affordable Care Act is, is to broaden the market on healthcare to include more individuals than it previously did. It expands the marketplace to include individuals with pre-existing conditions, and offers subsidies for more lower income brackets.

I fall in the former group. Before Obama-care, I was not insurable. I had the money to pay for premiums just fine, but I was denied on the basis of something I will have for the rest of my life and need treatment for. It’s very manageable with treatment, but without it could and does wreak havoc. To keep myself healthy and functioning, I was paying out of pocket for my monthly health care twice what I am paying now for my premiums, and the care I did get was the sub-par “she’s not insured” type where you never see the same Doctor at the clinic twice.

This is where I offer my challenge to the anti-Obamacare crowd: What is the problem with this?

These are the biggest complaints I have heard, and the most confusing to me:

  1. But I don’t want it and Obama is forcing me to buy what I do not want.
  2. Obama promised none would lose their insurance, yet many received cancellation notices.

1. Granted, but this is not how a functioning society works. It’s a socialist (the “s” word, *gasp!* Yes, I said it) structure that works for everyone. It’s something we all buy in to, and some will reap the benefits more than others. We all buy in, through our taxes, for our police force, our streets, our education systems, etc. Some pay more because they earn more, some pay less because they earn less, but we all have our streets fixed and we all have a say in a democratic system. But you do not have a choice to simply not pay, you do have a choice to try to change it if you wish by making propositions and making your voice heard when bills, laws, and legislature are put into place. But… we don’t do that, do we? Facebook statuses will suffice.

I digress…

2. This one has nothing to do with Obamacare, or its laws, and everything to do back-stabbing insurance companies. You can tell a child to not eat the cookie, but if s/he does is it the child’s fault or the parent’s? We can not always control other’s actions, and rebellion will always take place. Another example, we have a law against killing but that doesn’t mean people do not murder. The law doesn’t prevent it, only punishes those who break it. It’s a little absurd to believe otherwise.

There are more points, but I do not believe anything will be learned from reading a post, it never does. Articles have been out there for quite some time, it is your choice to read.

However, I encourage engagement, so respond with your opposite, and I will reply and we can discuss.

You may want more than a Penny for your thoughts, but go for it. I’ll wager. We can reach a mutual understanding I hope?

What does Religion do Wrong?

I’ve been greatly enjoying this blogger’s input, critiques, and opinions on religion and religious stuff. This one not only stirs the pot, but makes one think. All credit to OP, and although you’re welcome to post here, please also do so on the original blogger!

Rainy Day Phenomenon

rainy day

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. ~Dolly Parton

There seems to be two sides of the opinion on what a “rainy day” means. One side perceives it as a blessing, one that brings harvest and growth. The other side perceive is as melancholic and dreary.

I have been witnessing the later, lately, when rain finally hit my area of Stockton after a long drought of a fall and winter. Even while it was much needed hydration, I saw a stark decline in the moods of those I worked with and were social media friends with.

Another noticed phenomenon comes from having worked in the food industry. I have worked in multiple restaurants, in multiple cities, and without fail people flood in for their serviced meals, often bringing business to volume.

How do you perceive rain? How do you subconsciously react to rainy days? Do you ever find yourself with the blues on a rainy day, and not quite understand why?

Penny for your Thoughts and observations?

Finding Hope

Purpose of shared video: People are capable of some pretty nifty shit.

I’ve been struggling lately to find hope in humanity. There are times when it seems there is far too much wrong being done, and far too much of it being ignored.

A video flitted across my Facebook exemplifying of of the many things that humans seem capable of doing, mostly physical feats. The physical feats, however, if examined closely also takes some form of unconscious mathematical calculation, including statistical risks, split-second reactions, and trigonometry. Besides these feats, one can also, perhaps, recall stories of people surviving impossible seeming odds. Whether it be implantation, gunshot, or extreme weather conditions.

I believe one of the most important parts of such discoveries is realizing that the self is likewise capable of almost anything.

Yet, still, life is incredibly fragile.

Just a solemn, humble, sharing of short thoughts today.

A Penny for your own inspiring thoughts?

Apathy and Hypocrisy

hypocrisy

I used to hear sermons against hypocrisy often on Sunday morning, but it does not seem to be something spoken often about in secular circles unless it is concerning politics.

It has been something on my mind very frequently lately. I can boil it down to a simple conceptual understanding of it:

1. What do I feel strongly about/ What do I believe is wrong?
2. What am I doing about it?

The later part of 1. tends to be much longer for people. One can even gently prod a person with specific questions, “Do you think this is wrong…” I suppose, we can brush off 2. with an “I am only 1 person.” Which is true. One can hold that there are many evils in the world that need to be eradicated, but one also has but a short life span to help eradicate such things.

I tend to be an optimistic in such things. I simply refuse to believe that the evils in our world ( ex. starvation, sex trades) will forever remain and there is naught we can do about it. If this is true, then I don’t see much point in continuing to live my life as such a disgusting species. I have hope that we can change things.

Do you? What would you like seen changed in your lifetime? What evil or maltreatment is occurring in our world today that you want stopped? What can we do about it?

A penny for your thoughts? A Nickel for your action…? Or, perhaps we can just graft a joint venture to change, and share the benefits?

The deeper question: My reaction to Nye vs Ham

Well, that's not very nice, God! :(

Well, that’s not very nice, God! 😦

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You can see the debate to which this post replies to here and my open invitation to discussion upon this topic here.
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As I listened to the above debate, I found my inner past Creationist Christian self erupt and lend an ear. It forced and coaxed me to recall and address one of the first and foundational issue that had lead me to my de-conversion into an Atheist. That key issue, is also what I boiled the foundational issue of this debate into:

Christian: I do know, and my source is God/Bible.
Secular: I do not know, let’s find out!

When I was a Christian, nothing could shake my belief that I was in a personal relationship with God. It was as real to me as the air I breathed, and I believed we were in commune. When I came across an unanswerable question, I turned to God and He answered it for me to me personally, usually through scripture.

There came a time, in my journey, where the answers from scripture became not enough for me. It seemed too easy, too circular, and too binding. I hungered and thirsted for more, as well as for observational proof.

Then, I encountered questions Science could not answer in my philosophical pursuits. “How did consciousness come to out of matter?” and the question of consciousness and self-awareness is one of the basic questions of humanity, and thus philosophy. Descartes, and many other philosophers struggled with the question of consciousness. Although Descartes built a foundational observation in his meditations “I think therefore I am,” it proves comforting, but hardly any sort of an answer to the question. However, science fundamentally, as Bill Nye said, exclaims: “I do not know, let’s find out!”

When I addressed this question as a Christian, the answer was simple: God breathed into man life.

Although I can not come up with an example right now (tired brain), there are other instances in which science will say it does not know (yet), and a Christian will answer by pointing to God, and accept when God provides no answer in His great mystery.

There came a time with my life, when I struggled with this. Both the not knowing, as well as with what became quite clear as a failed argument that ended with “therefore God.” To me, this was insufficient and a fire was lit under me to find for myself the answers. To search, dig, twist, question, and keep going until I could find. When this grew deeper in me (and also pointed itself towards questioning God’s existence), I had to ask my Christian self if God, if He existed, could punish me for my honest, curious, and deep curiosity. My Theology studies communing with my Philosophical studies, told me surely not. And so, my Agnosticism was born until it gave birth to a mostly certain Atheism.

Now, I stand on the side of Atheism and Science and question every Christian I encounter to prove it all to me. Give me an argument, give me proof that your claim is true. None has been sufficient enough for me, none stands the test of logic. To a Christian, this will never matter because God simply Is and He is the Foundation.

Although I am not shaken by this return to my own foundational questioning, as I had gone through this inner struggle for a long time and found my own questions, it raises many questions and issues that are not often addressed.

What are your thoughts? Can we start with God and continue onwards? Is this simply too illogical to do? Are you comfortable with your not knowing? What other questions does this raise?

A penny for every thought!

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate

bill nye

I am sure there will be much discussion concerning this across the internet for days to come. But seeing as my blog is all about sharing thoughts, I’ll be watching this tonight and sharing my own follow up opinion in a post.

However, if any followers are also watching, feel free to share here as we go along so we may, hopefully, build a synthesis of understanding through discussion.

Watch here: http://debatelive.org/ or on the live HD youtube channel.