November 9, 2018

Cannabis is legal for recreational use in Canada now. It’s already far exceeding most peoples’ wildest expectations in terms of tax revenue and excitement generated. It’s a significant moment that has much of the world watching either in triumph or horror. As a nation unto itself, Christianity is split practically down the middle. Many liberal-minded Protestants tend toward supporting cannabis legalization. Some even favor additional decriminalization for other drug types as well. They see these measures as stepping stones toward a more… Read more

October 29, 2018

What do people need? It’s a serious question. Apart from food, water and sleep, what do humans really need in order to be complete and satisfied? Surprisingly, nearly everybody on earth has a similar answer. The difference lies in how honest we are with ourselves about the nature of those needs, what we’re willing to do to make sure they’re met and whether we’ll ever figure out how primitive most of our needs really are. Remember learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy? Many of… Read more

October 25, 2018

Belief in magic might be the very last taboo left on earth. In fact, it’s so universal that most people who study such things will tell you we’re probably vastly underestimating the number of people in the world who don’t identify with any particular religion. You are a believer until you prove otherwise. Until you out yourself. Thankfully, the price for outing yourself as a non-believer isn’t as steep in America as it is elsewhere in the world. The point is,… Read more

October 3, 2018

Whether or not He exists elsewhere, it’s clear God lives in the deepest parts of many human minds. Belief in God helps satisfy several psychological needs in humans — so it’s not surprising that the idea of an omnipresent benevolent companion has maintained center stage in the fight against drug and alcohol addiction. But why? Why is the idea of “belonging to something greater than oneself” such an intense psychosocial need? More importantly, is “God” the only path to that… Read more

September 2, 2018

Last week I offered up a rather dense introduction to the storytelling problem of “sacrifice” and “societal regression”. And I admit, writing punchy blog posts is not my forte. The underlying issue–suffering–has a literary canon as old as literature itself, and I lack the deftness of, say, an Umberto Eco or Christopher Hitchens for seamlessly interweaving a multitude of socio-political and philosophical threads in 700 to 1100 words. But I do have one secular story that I have been refining for… Read more

August 26, 2018

This week in Colombia, the Constitutional Court overturned a two-year-old ban on bullfighting, citing its traditional nature as a reason for preservation of the practice. The news reached me in the middle of processing another societal regression: the struggle, in countries like Brazil and Ecuador, to keep the influx of Venezuelan refugees from destabilizing local socioeconomic networks. In Brazil, 1,200 refugees were driven out of the country for the alleged actions of a few Venezuelans against a restaurant owner. In… Read more

August 12, 2018

It happens with uncanny frequency here in Colombia: when I talk to a male person, mid-20s to late-30s, eventually any conversation on societal expectations wends its way to The Dark Knight–and in particular, to the character of The Joker. Hesitantly, a good seven people I know here, Catholic and atheist alike, have confessed that they admire The Joker’s philosophy–resonate with it, deeply, even though they know this makes them atypical, and even though they’re a little ashamed to be inspired… Read more

August 10, 2018

One way or another, everybody believes the whole Universe operates according to some kind of order. Religion and science both came about as institutions because we needed a way to 1) understand the Universe and 2) talk about what it means for us as thinking animals. In a lot of ways, the religious animosity we see all around us, between major and minor faiths, and between sub-groups of sub-religions, has distracted us from the point of congregating with one another… Read more

August 4, 2018

I had the opportunity a few days ago to read a column on atheism in El Espectador, and to delight in how easy it is to find like-minded thinkers even in a country as overtly Catholic as Colombia.  Valentina Coccia’s “Una vida sin Dios” is a meditation on whether one needs religion to live a full and happy life, and it’s an op-ed that wisely focuses inward, using the example of her own upbringing, with a deeply religious mother and… Read more

July 25, 2018

I suspect it’s clear by now, to readers of this blog, that I am more interested in discussing proactive humanism than in waging war against persons of faith and their beliefs. I’m not naive, though: I know it’s neither as sexy nor as interesting to talk about how we can all strive to be better humans from our respective cosmological positions. How much more delicious the click-bait, when someone uses fighting words for or against religion on the internet! But… Read more

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