reflecting on a group discussion on God’s existence

It was a group of seven of us, and I was one of the quietest ones in the discussion. It wasn’t until the last part of the discussion, where we opened up to the others in class who had watched the discussion, that I was able to speak. It was only because someone specifically wanted my opinion on a question I don’t remember anymore. My answer had something to do with rationalizing against a response to the problem of evil (an argument against the existence of God). I’m not going to raise my response here because I don’t remember the whole context of the moment, and it would be wrong to assume I could give it without any other given person not in the event being able to grasp what I’m saying.

But to be more clear, I’m an atheist. I was one of the two in the group, and the quieter one, so I guess it was expected that someone would be singling me out for an opinion, because one really didn’t come from me until then.

I can only reason my inability to participate equally in the discussion was due to a few reasons:

  • I have no, or rather little, value on my opinion on anything. I place more value on others’ opinions; I want to listen to the conversation, not exactly be a part of it.
  • I was raised to speak only when spoken to, as I did in this case of being singled out.
  • I’m not strong on coming up with any kind of quick reply. I don’t like having impulse opinions, I usually enjoy watching others go at it, especially when they’re good at responding.

Someone had a specific question to the theists: did the discussion change your views in any way. None were swayed much. I mean, my response that first time was well received (understood) and conceded. My favorite part was others outside of the group trying to grasp what I was saying.

One question within the group was “how to find morality without God,” and my response was the use of rationality, coming to some sort of code that would work with that little we knew we had: ourselves and this earth we seem to be alone in; I became a consequentialist, and argued that we should do our best to further humanity in a way that served the most possible people (utilitarianism) usually at my own expense (moral altruism). That is my specific moral code.

A response was an example of being completely alone in a place where no one could ever know I could do something immoral, but then the question used the specific example of finding a wallet on the floor with money and an address and phone number etc… The obvious thing for me is to simply ration “if that were my wallet I’d want it return, therefore I would do everything I can to return the wallet. Similarly I do what I can to not unjustly hurt people because I wouldn’t want to be hurt unjustly.” Something like that.. which led to a final discussion of the golden rule, something that was fairly acceptable for everyone. We ended on that positive note.

To add more context: Tat was about 5 minutes of my responses, in a one our session. The discussion started with the philosophers we had read about, what we agreed with from them and disagreed with, then talking about the validity of a holy scripture over time.

I wanted to bring a question into the discussion, but as I reasoned above why I couldn’t, I didn’t bring it up: can we separate God from religion? This question I am truly confused about. I try to answer it but I get confused quickly, because I don’t know what answer I’m looking for, but I guess one idea I can try is to pick a side and try to argue against it. I mean, that’s how most philosophers go about proving their ideas, right? I’ll try in a later post, eventually. And I’ll clean up any grammatical errors I made on here.. eventually.

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emotions

The question goes: Are emotions irrational?

Well, I understand emotions as feelings, and feelings are brought upon us by outside stimuli, be it through literal perceiving with our eyes or touch or taste, or with abstract concepts that may come our way, like hearing someone’s ideas. And to me, what’s more real than the things we perceive in our day to day lives, in our adventure of life?  I understand rationality as the ability to use logic, to think, to analyse the world for understanding. It’s my inclination that the more we do, the more we are. And we can’t do if we don’t perceive, they might as well be the same thing. We can not reason if we don’t have the ability to know our surroundings. Of course our feelings will deceive our judgement, but if that didn’t happen how boring would it be understanding the world so simply.

How irrational is it to have my intense feelings with my dogs and my cat and my family and my friends (precisely in that order how dare you)? I think it makes too much sense that I love these individuals, because I experienced the world with them more often than other individual dogs or cats or families or friends. I shared more similar moments with them, perceiving like things more than with strangers, to be exact. The more time we spent together, the stronger the bond got. That seems rational to me.

I’m not saying emotions are never irrational though, how many times have we known of a person who made so many wrong turns over another they loved dearly but didn’t love them back? From the outside perspective, it seems irrational because we have more analytic eyes for the story, but to them, or hell forgive, if we were in that position we’d be calling it a rational thing to go the extra mile for someone who isn’t seemingly responsive.

Our emotions can drive us to a certain level of reason, let’s say, though to see the world and understand it using reason is preferable. In either case, that’s how I finish my understanding, thinking how does this makes sense?

I love a well expressed emotion. I enjoy wondering how it made sense.

If any of this made sense….

Meaning

We ended up spending three more days at Yosemite. I didn’t enjoy the second half as much though because we didn’t have much planned as compared to the first half.

Some pictures from Yosemite taken on my camera before it died:

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Crossing the river through this tree was a little riskier than last time, given how the water was running up to the bottom of the trunk; last time the stream was calmer and not touching the trunk. The water isn’t deep though, maybe up to my waist, though ya know, depth perception..IMG_0775I don’t have many more to show, so I’ll hold on to them like I’ve held on to so many other pictures. Now I have three batteries and two chargers. I will try adding more pictures to these posts. Let’s say at least 5. Of course all being pictures I’ve taken.


Questions:

I’m moving way from the Book of Questions in favor of a different list of questions. These questions are less trivial, more philosophical. I’ll still put trivial questions on, and those will come from me, just to satisfy my own ego.. :F

A simple question asks: What is the meaning of life?

Life is what you make of it. All the things you do, experience, refine who you are. Note: Not Define – defining yourself puts you in a corner you’re expected to live by (The expectations coming from others and yourself). You don’t need to have a definition the way words do. That’s what separates you from just a word. The more you experience things, the harder it will be for you to be defined. Call yourself a lump of clay. Let yourself be picked up, let yourself be dropped. Picked up again. Punched into, sat on the shelf, kicked, caressed, lifted into the sky, forgotten and remembered, hated and loved. Do the same to the rest. The more the clay gets handled the more refined it becomes. Life doesn’t have to look like a perfect sphere, it can be just a lump of clay. Of course we want more though.

Some though will search for meaning, like if it’s something not inherent, something you gotta work to achieve, rather than the work itself. The pursuit of happiness is the same. We search for things that might make us happier; things that can be taken away from us. Babies don’t need much, or anything really, to be happy. Maybe they know that’s up…

Some will look to religion for help in meaning. Organised religion will claim to have the right answers and guidance for finding the worth in life. It will always go too far though. To me going too far would be a disregard for science or logic, an obligation to pay materials, or indoctrination of young. I wanted to find meaning on my own, so I rejected faiths, I rejected gods. Even if I came up with similar ethics like the golden rule of respect, at least I was able to come to it on my own using logic, not writing it down on paper over and over again.. that’s what it felt like before.

Meaning in life is not easy, it shouldn’t be. It should be a constant struggle to become more of who we are right now, to be more of who we were yesterday. We get there by having new experiences, of any kind, of any weight. The world is going and going and it it gets heavier, or it feels heavier, once we start slacking off, once we feel the pressure and it takes its toll on us. Losing something precious can challenge our meaning, and more our perspective. The world will suddenly get heavier. The world will seemingly slow down, but it never does. We’re simply falling behind. And that’s okay. Because we get to struggle, and then we keep up.

Reminds me of these messages I found a couple years ago:

I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore. It would have been nice to work on this during the day and not the middle of the night. But I found out yesterday that I’m both a morning and night person now. I take naps throughout the day if I can, and I usually can.

You don’t give up on yourself, EVER. You find self-rules to live by an guide you to the next step, even if it all just for that literal next step. As long as what you do is doing right by the social contract, I’ll be fine with what you become. Okay future me?

We are judged by our actions. Others will judge us, help us find ourselves through their perspectives. You can say you’re a nice person all you want, but that takes away time being a nice person. If others call you a nice person, then there’s no need take time analyzing yourself.. unless you don’t wanna be a nice person, by which I’d say you’re breaking the social contract and being in the wrong. Because if someone were to call me a jerk, then I’d need time to analyze what I’ve done to get me there. And hopefully I can find a way to correct that wrong. This world doesn’t need more jerks. Being a jerk violates my standard of keeping the social contract healthy. And the point is to live in a way that maintains or can further benefit society.

Another question asks: Can food be art?

Gut reaction: Hell no! Food’s purpose in the world is to be eaten! How about make food in a way that I’m not distracted and hesitant to eat it just because of its beauty..

Yeah. Food can be art. Some food takes forever to make, and I value effort in art. So if that food can make its mark in my mouth, who am I to say it wasn’t art. Art is perceived. Food is perceived. Food can be art. Not brand cereal, because of the effort it takes to prepare. But if I were to pick a beautiful ripe posque off a posque tree (posque is my made up fruit/vegetable), and it looked so good, and tasted so good, then I guess it can be art. It takes time for these edibles to grow, and care from mother nature.

The last question asks: One million dollars you can only spend on yourself, GO..

Pianos. Upright pianos, grand pianos, not so grand pianos, and another piano

Oh yeah that reminds of a song I recorded a while back. I was bored and stressed that I hadn’t recorded anything yet at that point, so I worked this song and recorded it and it took the whole day. It’s supposed to be a response to entitled individualism, but it’s really just me poking fun at life. This is is how i have funnnn.

I thought it was already online, but it wasn’t, so I reuploaded it.

Here is the song: “They’re All Crazy”

Here are the lyrics:

For differences in views
I don’t wanna meet you
I just wanna choose
According to my own news
There goes everyone I met
They’re all crazy
It’s not the other way around
That’s just lazy

But get away from me
Or I’ll just look, so much dumb
Please go away
I don’t want to be upset

I could have spoken sooner
I didn’t wanna ruin her
She’s walking through the walls
The pretty one inside my mind
The animals we slaughter
To mainting our guts
Things don’t seem to matter
Until they happen to us

Stay away from me
Or I won’t stop, you don’t want that
Please go away
I don’t want to be upset


Effort, as in, apparent effort. Break a sweat getting things done. Have emotion in your reactions to others’ hard work, or in how you describe the work you went through. If it didn’t look like I went through hell and back to make an epic food art, a painting, or piano song, then it ain’t worth the praise it can get on display.

posque (pronounced posk, o as in Oh), as I can see it, is a fruit-vegetable that can be picked from trees. It ranges in size, from that of an apple to that of a mango. It has a skin thickness like that of a banana, so no as rough as an orange. BUT, as soon as you try to peel it (oh yeah it has a wobbly form, like that of another posque), the posque can spill out quickly. The insides of a posque is liquid form. No kind of soft body like a banana or slices like an orange.. it’s just liquid. The good part is it doesn’t stain, magically.

Excuse

My efforts to keep this blog active never work. This is a recurring issue since after the first few months of having this blog! x) So it’s been years. One major reason I can say is lack of a computer desk. I don’t have a desk. I don’t like typing blogs (what I consider a formal platform for me) on my phone or a laptop; I don’t enjoy typing with the keyboard on my lap. We never had enough space for a fully fledged out desk. One requirement I can never bargain for is having a window near the desk, and the lack of space is another problem.

I’ve tried the 1,000 words method of writing, where I would write 1,000 words exactly of anything that came to mind, similar to what I’m trying to achieve right now, but those attempts never made it as far as I  wanted, and I didn’t feel right filling this blog with “filler” thoughts and aimless talk. I have a strong sense of quality over quantity, so I ended up not publishing those kinds of attempts at keeping this site alive. One method that does work more often is the series of questions. I take a few questions off The Book of Questions and answer them as thoroughly as I can. I never did them as frequently, but I haven’t stopped trying. Another thing I thought of last night was posting more of my pictures (I’m currently in my photography phase), at least once a week, and trying to go along with the saying “an image is worth a thousand words.”

I’ll try it right now:


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The message in the photo says “It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.” Immediately I thought of the golden rule, which is respect. I value this idea so much; putting yourself in front of others is part of what I consider the greatest sin: selfishness. It’s such a vile toxin that degenerates any relationship one has with any and everything around them. It’s always there in each person, in some degree. It is easily abusive of others and the immediate environment. And when money is thrown into the formula, you get corruption. With a selfish mindset you get corporate politicians, you get garbage patches in the ocean, you get polluted rivers and lakes, you get murder, rape, identity theft. Small acts build up. You don’t take advantage of others when you’re not being selfish. I put everyone above me, and that could have selfish motivation too. I don’t want to be raising red flags for anyone. I’ve always lived with this mindset. Most people do. I more or less think I have because it benefits everyone and everything more than if I were to be driven by selfishness. The process of life and the day-to-day world aren’t ruined by my acts. That is accepting and facilitating the social contract.

I feel like I went off a tangent there, but maybe you still get me. I love being the one that “comes second.” Is it related when I say this lets me be a listener better, an observer better? Does it relate when I say I don’t want to be the main character in “the grand story,” even for a second? I want to be the support for the main characters. Of course, in my own story I’m still the main character, and that story is filled with everlasting struggle; a struggle through the darkness looking for the light.

I don’t want to be the lily; I want to be the lilypad.

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Again, I feel like I approached this wrong. Let me be so objective instead: I found the mural in downtown LA at the corner of Winston and Los Angeles St. I see it every time I go to DTLA; I go about three times a week. Just to walk around. To wander and wander and find a new perspective. I won’t be walking through downtown for much longer, since I’ll be going to school in Sacramento in less  than a month.


A questions asks: Does the fact that you have never done something before increase or decrease its appeal to you?

Increase; I’m a sucker for doing new things. When I enter an eatery I always look for different and interesting items. Or different flavors of a given item, since ya know there’s dozens of different flavors of any thing these days. I always look for a new place to travel to in LA; I’m not bored of visiting the same places because I space out those visits over time, and plan the order of places I visit differently. It’s part of the improvisation I like to add to my day-to-day life, though in the long-term I do have a more clear and straight path ahead of me. When I repeat a routine I get stressed, because I felt like I could have done something differently. Again though, this is only for day-to-day life, where regret is more quickly forgivable. A whole new dimension is added when I get to travel or eat or do anything with another person(s); I don’t mind repeating the exact same things I’ve done recently while with another person, because each person has their own unique perspective, and I always enjoy that. I welcome new experiences, even when there’s nothing significant to learn.

Another question asks: If you were at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and you found a dead cockroach in your salad, what would you do?

I know exactly what; I would freeze and stare at it, assessing the overall scene in the few split seconds I have to react so no one finds it weird I paused for a second. I would search for a way to cover up the roach a bit and then get up and take the salad plate off the table. I would then call over to the host of the dinner and let them know in the calmest voice I know, whether or not I’m able to say it with others listening in. After giving them the place, I’ll let the host handle it from there, staying silent about it from then on. And then I would bring out a remote control from my pocket and point it upwards, where the ceiling would open up in four parts, and a bright light would shine on the table and the guests. We would all seemingly evaporate, and then reemerge in a new dimension. This new world would be full of tall grass, too tall so look over, though we would all be in a path that lead in two directions. We would split up due to conflicting leadership and eventually we would all be searching alone. A loud voice would be heard proclaiming that an ocean of people in bear costumes would be released into the dimension, now known as a maze. The bears would ‘eat’ whoever they met, and the last person standing and not ‘eaten’ would win.


If you’ve noticed my bolding of phrases, those are keywords, standout information that is most relevant in who and how I am. I’ll spend more time explaining those boldings at the end of each post.

So, to start, quality over quantity is a preference I’ve adopted more over time as a response to the glutton I was during high school. I was a glut for specific candies and cookies and chips and nothing better. I’ve paid the high price of dozens of dentists appointments (to little avail) and slowly swore off many of these foods. But the overall theme of quality has spread to other aspects, like the amount of time I spend on the internet, or the amount of posts I’ll publish..

My photography phase is the time I’ve been more focused on photography than other art like drawing with my markers or writing lyrics or playing piano I have had phases of those arts, and I know that I’m engulfed in photography. I recently bought a Canon Rebel T6 camera and am really impressed with what I have done with it. I always have an itch for doing other art, and it’s not like I don’t try other things in this ‘phase;’ all I’m saying is my effort goes more into the camera than the pen or keys.

The thought of improvisation enters my mind pretty often. I never want to plan out anything too much or too little. I always want flexibility in my ability to react and adapt to a detour, in a way I can still feel totally in control of myself. Don’t we all?

Apologies for any typos. I’ll be looking out for any.

-E

satisfactions

The question asks: If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?

I might believe fewer than half. Let’s say I’d find at most 44 people more satisfied than myself. I feel that coping with loneliness will be a pretty large factor in others’ answers, and I don’t believe the majority of these 100 random people would have mastered the skill of being alone. I think I have, though. I always see a hint of loneliness through the things my friends say on social media. Sometimes it’s the core of their problems.. I spend most of my time alone, at least three days a week traveling completely alone on busses, trains, through LA County. I go to parks and museums with my camera and search for other signs of loneliness in the world, but do not find it. We are all vastly connected, instantly reachable. I understand that the older we get, the less time we have to spend with people we met in the past who we’d like to be with for a bit longer. Communication is key; every few months or years I send short messages to people I don’t see on a regular basis because I still want that friendship to exist. A friend to me is anyone who, as of the last time we had met or contacted, I had a positive connection with; Everyone else is a potential friend. So if anyone ever has the (unlikely) existential crisis of “omg does Elmo even care about me anymore?!” just think of how the last time we met went. The answer might be so clear, it is unclear.

Money seems to be another issue. I don’t find money as a problem for myself, but I recognize I wouldn’t be able to survive/ sustain living alone or being in a relationship with the job I currently have. In fact, I can’t make friends in job because people leave very quickly, which further reinforces the loneliness in my life. It’s not that good a job; but why should I get myself one any better than this at my age? Also, The largest portions of money that I spend is on marathons or half-marathons. Clothing is my next largest investment, though I only buy plain t-shirts and running/ comfy stuffs. And even then I only spend on these things like at least every 5 months or more. So having even the slightest positive flow of moneys each month keeps me highly satisfied. I don’t think half of the random people would be okay with the basics of life as I have, in the context of moneys and loneliness. Because they want greater things in life, because maybe they’re falling behind in their dreams, because their time in the world is never certain, I dunnooo really, I’m not a fan of having to speak for 99 random people my age..  I don’t think students being given large sums of moneys from the govt will be dealing with the money issue though. I live with what I got, and it’s barely enough. Doing things in the name of money, other than for basic necessities, to me is unhealthy. I have a feeling most people would disagree.

So using these two examples, I know it’s not a perfect way to live, but hey, at least my life leads me to believe I’m having it better than 56 of 100 random people my age. xP