Reframing the conversation: Theism, atheism, and more

This post should be the first in a series of a general ‘umbrella topic’ of “Reframing the Discussion.” I hope to talk more about this topic in future posts, podcast episodes, and speeches dealing with the sub-topics of how to be a better communicator, engage in a genuine conversation, and change perspective of how people view disagreement and discussion in order to encourage others to view disagreement and discussion as a positive ‘thing.’

In previous months — and especially following a wonderful discussion I had with philosopher Peter Boghossian (discussion is now available here) — I have been really interested in the general topic of how a person can effectively communicate with others and what — if there is an ‘answer’ — is the ‘best way’ to engage a person whom one happens to disagree with whether a discussion is regarding what one considers a ‘heated topic’ or something as non-controversial (or what one would think would be non-controversial) as how science informs philosophy/how philosophy informs science. I don’t think there is just one way to be an effective communicator…but I also don’t think that any given way of communicating messages to others is permissible simply because there is not just one way to be an effective communicator; some methods of communicating can rightly be labeled as ineffective.

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A response to those who claim offense

(A fitting poster for this post…)

It’s often the case that people are quick to respond to content or people they happen to disagree with with a ‘sit down and shut up’ mentality in which they believe that certain ideas just shouldn’t be discussed. Is this an appropriate attitude to have? In a pluralistic society, I argue, claiming offense and objecting to content — simply because you happen not to like it — is unacceptable and immature.

Throughout my ‘career’ as a ‘professional atheist’ [a label, expressed with derision, that WILK Newsradio host Steve Corbett used to dismissively refer to me on a recent episode of his radio show] many people — no matter how mild my tone is or how much I write that persons should not interpret disagreement as disrespect — claim that my work is offensive. Some people even go so far as to assert that I should cease publishing content, criticizing religious ideas, and simply just ‘sit down and shut up.’ I’ve posted several responses to these concerns in the past, but wish to, in this post, hopefully put this issue of offense and objections to my work to rest.

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PowerPoint: “Perception is Reality: A skeptical viewpoint”

You might have heard or perhaps endorsed (!) some ideas regarding the nature of truth. Perhaps you believe that all truth is relative, individuals create their own realities, or what people believe is ‘true for them.’ The phrase ‘perception is reality’ is often mentioned by many, but there’s often — as far as I’ve experienced in casual conversations with the ‘philosophically unwashed’ or perhaps people who aren’t thinking very critically — a large misunderstanding surrounding this phrase that seems to lead people to accept conclusions about the nature of truth this is, unfortunately, profoundly unreasonable.

Disagreement, not Disrespect: Attacking Beliefs, not Persons

During many discussions about ‘hot-button issues,’ no matter what the specific topic is, people often feel that disagreement and scrutiny of arguments is a ‘confrontation’ and people are being attacked. This, I feel, is one of the greatest misconceptions I believe people have had in the many discussions I participated in during the last two years. In this post, I will argue that people should not interpret disagreement and critiquing of arguments as a sign of disrespect toward a person. I will also explore the psychology behind belief including why people hold beliefs and interpret disagreement as an attack on a person’s character. Read More

Making Sense of Ethics in a Modern Scientific Worldview: Essay

I just finished a “prototype” of my final paper for my Modern/Contemporary Philosophy class answering the question that has plagued modern philosophy in the West, “How, given the advent and advance of ‘the modern scientific worldview,’ can we capture ‘the fact of value:’ the fact that we all have and act from ideas about how to live?”. I had to consider three philosophers from a list and discuss their ideas regarding moral philosophy, evaluate their ideas, and select which philosopher I most agree with and then offer a conclusion regarding how to make sense of values.

I could have easily written a long treatise on this (expanding on ideas and further considering other philosophers), but kept discussion to five full pages. Enjoy.