Deanna Lawrence (FSW): God Versus Philosophy

Now lets think differently. Lets talk about God, because why not? What exactly has disproved His very existence anyways? On the contrary, what has proven it?
Yes, there were witnesses to the rising of Jesus from the dead, but what do we have today to prove his existence? To that question, I can give only one answer. Feeling. The one thing that God has created that has consistently been replicated is “feeling”, or overwhelming emotion, over the centuries. It is inarguable that over the generations, the human kind has experienced something so extraordinary in the belief of God (or a God) that the word has been successfully passed down. Over time, much like the game of telephone, words or stories from the past can change slightly. Sometimes, those changes cause us to look at the information placed in front of us in a different light. And that’s okay. It is not wrong to question what you believe before you can actually believe in it. Question is the very foundation of truth; Without it, our truths would be nothing but commonalities or norms of everyday life, and therefore defeat the purpose of worship. One must know the value in truth before the truth becomes valuable. However, isn’t it nearly a universal truth that one must experience something for himself/herself in order to actually understand it? The only thing that every person on this planet has in common is emotion. Emotion was given to us by the grace of the Divine in order to own our beliefs and not simply just conform to our culture, society or environment.  Emotion is felt in the power of prayer, worship and by the very grace of God. No, you cannot see or touch emotion. But it is within your very essense that emotion consumes you. And just as in the Christian faith, Romans 8:9 “The spirit of God lives in you.”
But what is the reason for believing in God? In my previous blog post, I talked about “reaching a comfort level” because “humans cannot comprehend infinities”. Without faith, everything truly is “pointless”; We live and then we die. May I ask, where is the “comfort” in that? This is the notorious argument for theism as claimed by Dostoevsky’s statement “If God does not exist, then everything is permissible”. In other words, without a hope in an afterlife, every law ever created and/or followed by humans is simply pointless because we are living without reason.
I challenge each and every person who reads this post to challenge their own beliefs. Believe in what you believe because it means something to you, not just because it “makes sense”. Understand your beliefs and feel the truth in it so that no one can prove you different. Make your beliefs your truths, if they arent already.

Deanna Lawrence (FSW): Religion as a Human Invention

We humans carry a need to find purpose. We find it discomforting and essentially incomprehensible to feel as though we just “are”. Likewise, the idea that there is just some entity that is exceptionally superior to humans in every way imaginable, who has powers that are beyond the capabilities of our own, has been viewed as being too simple of an explanation for our existence. The simplicity of religion leads to its very rejection in many societies throughout time. Relevant to this barrier of past religious structures, people began by the telling of stories to explain natural or social phenomenon that would typically include supernatural beings. As people retold these stories, they became legends or myths and thus beliefs in many olden cultures. These faiths became a way of life in particular cultures or regions as the ideas continued to grow and the masses of people joined into a community and needed reason and instruction. Communities began to appoint leaders, (usually those who either proved themselves worthy by their physical appearance, performance, knowledge or wisdom) and created a structure under common faith and social laws. Although these two ideologies of governing and belief started out as a functional partnership for the first few thousands of years, they eventually began to bump heads.
How did the idea of religion spread? The instinctual need for a “light at the end of the tunnel” made it very easy for the idea of religion to spread or begin in various areas around the globe which induced differentiation of religion by culture. Furthermore and as previously stated, religion was all founded on the idea of a need for purpose. The question is/was not how it rained, how apples grew, or how after the rainy season of spring, fruit could be picked from a tree or bush and eaten for man to obtain the energy he needed to hunt; The question was “why”. If something could not be explained logically, it was explained by myth until that myth was challenged by future logic. For example, people used to believe that deformities in babies were caused by the sins of the parents until future medical evidence came about to prove deformities were caused by incest, malnutrition or drug use during pregnancy. But it didn’t all start with humans after we reached behavioral modernity—evidence has been found to confirm nonhuman religious behavior in chimpanzees, bonobos, and our extinct yet closest relatives—Neanderthals (Valladas 1). All three of these species exemplified religious behavior by burying their dead which is considered to be quite ritualistic. Burying the dead is a symbolic behavior that signifies the intelligence of having the idea that they had concern for the dead (Pearson 3). As humans continued through natural selection, there was a dramatic increase in brain size which gave us the cognitive abilities to develop a sense of “logic”. This new attribute aided in the creation of tools, the development of languages, and finally to customs and living in communities. As evidenced by the first known civilization called the “Sumerians” (people of south Mesopotamia around 3300 B.C.), religion gave rise to prosperous crop seasons which made the people satisfied enough to understand that working together was more efficient than trying to survive alone or in a smaller group (Rochberg 1-7). As people began to stick together, the very simple concepts of human efficiency transformed into societies of massive numbers and thus lead to the need of more structure. The creation of more advanced cities lead to the need of specialization of tasks in order to ensure productivity was at its maximum (i.e. those who hunted better would collect the food for those who could cook better—the chefs). But what would happen when greed and the love for power consumed the morale of the leaders?
From the beauty of the simple idea of religion spawned off its worst enemy—government. With every government comes corruption and the illusion of grandeur to the public eye. It is not only in human nature to deceive, but to trust as well. While early and modern governments were being consumed by bribery, extortion, patronage and embezzlement, so was the church. Money and prosperity became a competition for luxuries, and both institutions became corrupted with greed. Religion was seen as a way to stray the eyes and money of the masses away from the interest of government and toward the way of the church by instilling fear in the church-goers, henceforth provoking the development of “written law” that could be pulled out at any given time in order to replicate consistency and induce guilt.
Oddly enough, there was a merge between these two complex institutions. As both sides saw the benefits of working as one (no separation created one large manipulated group and separation of powers where the authority figures would make out on top), punitive law was birthed. In many cultures, the opinion of the people matter so much that punitory measures have been taken in order to ensure that the structure of the society is not swayed by individuals—or as some may say, “to control the masses”. Although speaking one’s thoughts pertaining to his beliefs is a way to exercise the mind to obtain a “comfort level” so to speak, who cares about what anyone else thinks? Do the authority figures who so deeply desire to consume the minds of their society? Or the less-articulate individuals who need another basis or foundational idea to understand what he believes? Or is it no one but your own mind, in constant battle with itself to find the answer or conform to avoid the issue as a whole?
Religion began as a system of beliefs that could give the people a sense of comfort and worth in a world full of the unknown. Throughout time, the idea of this structure has controlled eminently large amounts of people. Still, as stated by an Evolutionary biologist named Richard Dawkins, could religion just be “a virus of the mind”? We are all just searching for a way to feel comfortable with the fact that we do not know anything about the afterlife.

SN: Spirituality is not necessarily religion-oriented.

references
Valladas, Heléne, et al. “Thermoluminescence dates for the Neanderthal burial site at Kebara in Israel.” (1987): 159-1

Pearson, Michael Parker, and Michael Parker Pearson. The archaeology of death and burial. Vol. 22. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999.60.

Rochberg, Francesca. The heavenly writing: Divination, horoscopy, and astronomy in Mesopotamian culture. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Credit Check for Employment

In September of 2014, I was laid off from my job that I had for 16 1/2 years. It came as a shock, and I and my other co-workers that were let go as well, never saw it coming. It’s bad enough that I had to start all over again, knocking on doors, handing out my resume to everyone, but I was not prepared for one thing in particular. A lot of places that I had applied, required a credit check. I think this is horrible! Someone should not be turned away because of a credit score. But unfortunately I was. Only because even though I was unemployed, I still had bills and rent to pay. Because of all this mess, my credit score declined, and so did my job opportunities.

Like myself, a lot of people need jobs because of their low bank balance. You can’t better yourself financially if you are not given a chance by an employer based on your FICO score. So does this mean that only those thriving and wealthy are deserving? I agree with background checks and drug testing, but to not be considered for a position that you are more that qualified for and have a degree in because of a low credit score is inexcusable.

Deanna Lawrence (FSW): Mental Stability and Perception of Reality

As one begins to explore the universe of philosophical thought, questions concerning the essence of or purpose of life arise. Why are we here? How did we get here? And, most importantly, what is “here”? Is it truly possible to claim we know anything for certain besides our very own thoughts? These questions have been challenged by people all over the world who have made it a large priority in their life to discover the meaning behind our very existence. But, we are all just circumventing the real problem with more questions when the fact of the matter is that we will never truly “know”.
Is our mind the only thing of which we can be certain? Is it possible to believe that the only truth we can actually know for certain is the fact that we are thinking? A common misconception lies in the abyss of what we each define as knowledge in our own reality. Our mind constructs these thought processes in a matter such that we will all reach a comfortable end; Whether that comfortable level (or end/final thought) is low or high, it is created by our minds to keep us sane. If one truly believed he or she constructed his or her own reality, and in retrospect, our mind was simply a floating piece of extraordinarily complex material in space, that would mean that everything we currently do and live for is absolutely pointless. Humans simply do not have the capacity to go about their lives believing everything we see, feel, touch and hear is solely a construct of the mind. That type of complexity shoots and incredibly horrifying discomfort through our spines, in relation to the possibility that our souls are non-existent.
Even if one did claim to be a solipsist (believe the only thing that exists is our own mind), how could that be possible if we cannot conceive the definitions of “infinity” or “purposeless life”? For the sake of common thought, let us instead pose the question: If the mind exists, it must exist somewhere, but where is that somewhere? Of what is that “where” created? And, by whom and for what purpose was that “where” created? The questions continue into that infinite abyss of “knowledge”—or should I say—“question”?
Although speaking one’s thoughts pertaining to his own beliefs (or philosophy) is a way to exercise the mind to obtain this “comfort level” previously mentioned, who cares about what anyone else thinks? Do the philosophers who so deeply desire to discover the answers to these questions? Or the less-articulate individuals who need another basis or foundational idea to understand what he believes? Or is it no one but your own mind, in constant battle with itself to find the answer?
There is no universal truth; How can one define knowledge based upon anything other than opinion? Yet, knowledge (in philosophy) is defined as a justified belief in what is real. Unless one gives rise to evidence that something can be proven and not simply created for the purpose of definition (to define the purpose of other things), then we are all just looking for an answer that cannot be discovered in nature, or created by our own minds. So doesn’t that make knowledge impossible? Or can knowledge be defined as a justified truth that varies among each individual based upon opinion to comfort the complexities of the unknown?

Season

I HATE SEASON!! Why do we Floridians have to suffer every year with “snowbirds”? They clog up the streets, take all the great early doctor and dentist appointments we need before work, and make our lives miserable. Just because they can afford more than one home, why does one of them have to be in Southwest Florida? Stay in your own state or pick another one. I’m a third generation native, and can tell you this, Florida can survive without you! Our state is already over-populated as it is. If channels are opened up again with Cuba soon, there is a potential for more people from there as well. Snowbirds are the reason are insurance rates are high. They cause more accidents than any other age group. They also have their cars imported here each year, which means they can’t even drive them down without problems. It’s bad enough trying to eat out, or finding a place to park downtown, but they add to all the congestion that our state doesn’t need. Prices go up for everyone during season because businesses know they can get it from them, but the rest of us live here all the time, and it’s not fair.

Megan Royall- Poverty

In our world poverty is everywhere- whether it’s in our own family or it’s in the neighbors family. Sometimes you don’t realize how close to home it is, until the neighbor comes over asking you for some bread to feed their baby. This has happened to my family personally, and I take the matter quite seriously.

You never know what it is like until you experience poverty. One event clearly stuck out in my experience. It was freshman year in high school, we had to move out of my moms boyfriends house because of his poor decisions. We were forced to live at my mom friends house, she already had two kids, and we had three.

One afternoon my mother brought us all to the store for groceries. She let us pick out some snacks and some soda. She got all of the rest, pasta, veggies, fruits, and everything else you can think of. We reached the check out with our cart full of stuff. The cashier rung everything up, $163.47 was the total. Mom slid her card; denied. She tried it again; denied.

She started to walk away without anything, crying she couldn’t provide for her children. Then, from behind us, an angel voice spoke “I got it”. This made my mom cry even more, it even made me cry. We were both thankful for what this woman did for us. My sisters didnt quite understand the meaning, as they were pretty young. This will always stick in my mind.

My point is, poverty is everywhere. We do not know which family cannot provide for their children, like mine. Since it’s so close to Christmas do the little things, tip the cashier at Tijuana Flats $5 instead of $2, say thank you, smile, and enjoy your life. You never know who’s family it could be..

Siddiga Milord (Title: Promotion Overload Stops!)

You ever noticed how you just left a clothing website and once you get on Facebook the store promotions pop up? Unfortunately, Facebook is putting a stop to that. The company claims that the other companies promote their products a little too much and tend to overflow user’s timelines. To see a product or company pop up on every social network you get on can get annoying, and you’ll probably no longer interested in the company anymore. Majority of these promotions only push people to buy their products and interfere with what the person’s purpose on Facebook. In order to fix this issue Facebook now regulates everyone’s timelines to minimize the amount of ad’s present on a timeline. Promotions will be cut out but the ad’s will still remain. Companies are always competing with each other regarding what they have to offer. Also, their ads/promotions pops up either on top of the user’s timeline, in between posts on their timeline or even on the side. Business owners are going to have to be a little more precised on what they are trying to promote. For instance, the benefits of  their product, or why they are having the sale that is going on. The whole purpose of banning the promotions is to allow user’s to view more of what they like on their timelines.