Question of the Week — Special Holiday Edition

Dec 22, 2015

New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition. This year, Openly Secular wants to hear about your secular New Year’s resolutions!

What will you do to make the world a better place from a secular perspective?

Our favorite answer will win a copy of Richard Dawkins’ “An Appetite for Wonder.”

The best answers also will be featured on Openly Secular over the next few weeks.

42 comments on “Question of the Week — Special Holiday Edition

  • To convince some of my friends that reason and science can give more satisfying answers than a Holy Book.

    Even if I convince only one, I’ll feel like I helped a mind getting free from the mental cage of religion.

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  • I am a 5th grade science teacher and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to introduce the ideas of evolution and critical thought to these kids every day. It is an interesting battle as many of these kids are very much being influenced at both home and church in a much more conservative manner. I regularly hear comments such as, “I don’t believe in the big bang, I believe in Jesus” but also have many kids listening to the evidence and making progress. Nothing gives me more pleasure than teaching kids about the close relatives of Homo sapiens, showing homologous structures of mammals or dumping on them the fact that chimps also have 206 bones. I believe strongly in the importance of the fight against blind faith as it is a choice of ignorance and a cop out to answering the interesting questions that face our wonderful species.

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  • It’s getting to the end of the day here and you have just made it for me Adam. Your love of what you are doing came out here. Thanks for writing that. Have a great year.

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  • My new year’s resolution is to finish the play that I have been working on for almost a year and get it produced (and win the Pulitzer). This is my secular new year’s resolution.
    I also would like to fall in love. But that is not something we have any control over.
    Happy Holidays to all of you fine, beautiful people on this site – especially, Steve007, Stephen of Wimbledon, Stafford, Laurie, Bonnie, Alan, Phil, Ohooligan, headswapboy, the formidable David, and of course Olgun. Sorry if I left anyone out. (Hard to remember all the names of my many favorite co-members.)

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  • I hide in here and talk to Avatars. I have my favourites and love the arguments, debates, exchanges of knowledge and intelligent humour. This is one of the few places I can speak my mind. In my day to day life, there are only a few people that I can “Come Out” to, that I think about more than the local sports team results. And they being fellow closet thinkers, keep my secret.

    So I am going to resolve to say more in public. To question the irrational statement, even if it means the retired guys coffee club (E=MC2 Entertainment = Mates x Coffee x Conversation) look at me in that funny way. You know. “Weirdo”.

    So Happy Solstice to my secret companions.

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  • As a person who has background in Natural and Environmental science and also studying in Environmental Sustainability, I will try to put science and reason with high priority in my all sustainability efforts. I discuss and will discuss about the role of science and reason as an important dimension of sustainability rather than religion in the class and public . Unfortunately religion is considered as a part of solution in sustainability but I believe religion is an unsustainable concept by itself. Thus we need some changes in our world with huge amount of paradigm shift and mind set and this is not easy in practice. But I believe this the only way to get sustainable and stable world. I have already started with myself.

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  • Perhaps she wants to keep searching, as opposed to finding (her shaker of salt).

    I too am searching for my own salt shaker, as it were.

    Hope never disappoints; the hoped-for usually does.

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  • I will continue my perennial efforts to be skeptical and well informed about the world around me and my place in it. It’s my favorite thing to do, but that’s not all. By doing so I find that I become more helpful to others, and, hopefully, influence them to do the same.

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  • To say, “I’m an atheist” whenever appropriate; and to remind people who point to Christian-Judeo values (for any reason) that the USA is a secular country. Especially important for me because in 2015 I was ostracized by some women in my weekly yoga class when I was asked why I didn’t chant: I said, “Because I’m an atheist.”

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  • Do 5th graders need to know the mathematics, particle physics and other evidence for the big bang? It’s not, and doesn’t even need to be, on their radar. At that age I feel it’s more important to teach them the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, not just the results of science but, science itself.

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  • I feel completely helpless in this endeavor, I have been working with the public all my life but now I can see a sliver of hope thanks to the INTERNET and a web site such as this, it will take a long time because of the long time beliefs that have been imbedded in ones mind. Sadly I don’t think some people will ever change, that’s why it will take so long, with internet access the now generation will have more access to knowledge, especially science and the ability to debate, and ask questions with the whole world. Ron

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  • It’s five o’clock somewhere!

    For once, Bonnie, just this one time, please tell me what that comment above means and what a Poe-O-Meter is. That will be your belated X-mas gift to me. Pleeeease? Tis the season to be kind.
    I may be brilliant, but I am not omniscient. Your cryptic utterances, your perpetual riddles, fascinate me and frustrate me. Five o’clock? What? An allusion no doubt – but to what? You make John Dryden’s allusions seem obvious.

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  • If you don’t solve it then some people will say Bonnie’s to blame, but you’ll know it’s nobody’s fault. And if you do get there you’ll very likely stumble all the way back. So just relax and pour yourself somethin’ tall an’ strong.

    I’m gone!

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  • Since atheists are more likely not to be wasting time on their knees, clasping their hands, closing their eyes and moving their lips in prayer, this is a challenge to them to use their feet, their hands, their eyes and their voices to make a difference in their own communities. Children in many areas generally only have one option for recreation, free admission church programs. There is an alternative. Securing funding and volunteers and assisting with community programs that give children the social interaction they need without the mythology is a way to reduce the relevance of churches in the community. From my experience, church numbers will drop, possibly because parents now have another option or they and their children just prefer the real world and not to have their heads pumped full of silly stories. An interesting note is that corporate funding for children’s health and wellness programs tend to make religious organizations unqualified applicants. This effort toward a more secular society at the community level is a definite must for healthier childhood development and it is so rewarding to know you are making a difference. Perhaps more of you could look into leading, mentoring and volunteering for such organizations and making your own difference?

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  • Got the Poe’s Law thing, but five o’clock? Can’t google that.
    My other new year’s resolution is to read as much as I can about physics – and then prove that Schopenhauer was right about the essential ideality of space and time. This might take many years, and I might not succeed. I am going to start with Asimov’s book Understanding Physics (Motion, Sound, and Heat / Light, Magnetism, and Electricity / The Electron, Proton, and Neutron) and then go from there.
    Perhaps some day you will come across my proof, and it might be sooner than you think.
    (I hope I’m not cracking up.— LOL … Then again, there’s a fine line between madness and genius, as we all know.)

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  • But can’t you see, to read as much about physics to prove Schopenhauer right is curtailing your intellectual space? Popper would also suggest, to be more certain in your understanding of things, hypotheses, if they are correctly formed, need to be tested to destruction.

    Seeking confirmation only leads to the reduced world of the ideologist.

    Despite our best destructive efforts truths are hard as diamonds.

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  • My resolutions are-

    To demonstrate the viability of a sustainable circular economy with at least one working example.

    To better illustrate clear thinking and its virtues by writing more plainly and having actually thought more clearly in the first place.

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  • I will try to be objective. I am. to be honest, somewhat confused about what constitutes proving something. Can you prove that 3+2=5? Kant in his day regarded the ideality of space and time as equally self-evident and irrefutable
    I will be in London in the spring. Wish we could meet for tea.

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  • To prove that science can answer anything by matching religious terminology with the scientific one (soul = energy/frequency, causation = probability, Jesus = ideal model…). I personally think the debates won’t stop until we speak in the “same language”. For instance, theists talk about the kingdom of God which is the world after death, while atheists talk about this present world.

    It is also interesting to note that with the question why God didn’t make the world perfect initially or why God allows sins or evil, the answer leads to freewill. And then I ask if He creates a new earth and a new heaven, will He give humanity freewill (it will be a circular process). But without freewill, will we then call ourselves terminators. The point here is that goodness is defined based on badness, vice versa (e.g. without diseases, there won’t be needed health science). The relativity is that badness is good because it causes development. I can’t imagine the perfect world the Bibble mentioned, for me, the world is perfect the way it is. And due to relativity, if theists consider the Bibble is the absolute truth to believe, think again because it was written by human’s words and observation which is considered to be relative. In conclusion, the pure goodness the Bibble talked about must be nothing. Then something came and it created anti-something, that is the mechanism of the world.

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  • Khoa
    Dec 28, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Hi Koah.

    For instance, theists talk about the kingdom of God

    Once they talk about “God” with a capital “G” that implies the assumption of a particular “default” god of Abrahamic origin. There are, and have been, thousands of other gods worshipped at one time and another.

    which is the world after death,

    Which is a world of fantasy and mythology, where words are very vaguely defined and every believer can have their own version!

    while atheists talk about this present world.

    . . . . and most of them look to science to provide accurate descriptions, details, and repeatable predictions of how reality works.

    It is also interesting to note that with the question why God didn’t make the world perfect initially or why God allows sins or evil, the answer leads to freewill.

    “Freewill” is just a gap-filler to cover-up the fact that non-existent gods actually do nothing in the real world, and that believers delude themselves that they follow their doctrines.
    “Sins” and “evil”, tend to be features of in-group and out-group dogmas, rather than empathy with other people in general or respect for their interests.

    The biggest theist evils, are putting the dogmas of gods before the interests of our fellow humans, and the close cooperative association of religious leaders with some of history’s nastiest political leaders.

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  • I agree with much of what you say, my esteemed co-member and erudite e-friend (if I may call you that). One question, and it’s a serious one. I too regard free will as a kind of illusion, a chimera. But in your view is determinism also a “gap-filler”, or do you adhere to the doctrine of necessity, as I do?
    And I do not mean pre-determinism (Calvinistic hogwash); I mean determinism, the doctrine that everything that takes place, every act (physical and psychic), cannot take place without a cause. And every effect in turn becomes a cause ad infinitum. In other words, nothing is random. There is no chance. Now I know that in the universe there are random events, so let me narrow this down: can human beings conceive of their own acts as being random (free), or conceive of the activity of observable phenomena as being free? If you do, a case can be made that you do in fact believe in free “will”.
    There are those who reject even the law of causality (an infinite regress). What is this world coming to?

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  • 36
    Clayton says:

    My resolution is not just for 2016, but for my life. I am going to not be scared to say what I think and feel about evolution, religion, and god. Especially to family and friends. I am going to do this not to start arguments, but to change my perception so I will be seen for who I truly am. And maybe in the process some productive and thought provoking conversations may occur.

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  • Dan
    Dec 28, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I mean determinism, the doctrine that everything that takes place, every act (physical and psychic), cannot take place without a cause. And every effect in turn becomes a cause ad infinitum. In other words, nothing is random. There is no chance.

    Determinism in physics only works on some scales, giving predictable outcomes according to its laws.

    That does not mean there cannot be random inputs prior to them being recorded as causes.
    In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, also known as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known simultaneously.

    Now I know that in the universe there are random events, so let me narrow this down: can human beings conceive of their own acts as being random (free), or conceive of the activity of observable phenomena as being free? If you do, a case can be made that you do in fact believe in free “will”.

    It is a delusion to suggest that humans have an ability to choose, which is independent of drugs, environmental conditions, threats, etc.! There are plenty emotional and instinctive reactions, which go well beyond the personal decisions of the individual.

    The manipulative propaganda and advertising industries are based on these.

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  • My resolution is multiple things, First, it is to come out as an atheist to the friends and family who do not know. Second, to voice my opinion just as loudly as believers, if not louder then them. Third, when the topic of religion comes up, I want to stop walking around the subject on egg shells out of respect for something that shows no respect for my opinion and tries to stifle my voice. Lastly, I want to get more involved in activism in regards to the secular movement. Happy New Year to all my fellow secular free thinkers have a great one!

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