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August 8, 2022

 

Does everything happen for a reason?

It doesn’t matter what you think about this world, but why we are here as a human race comes down to two question: does everything happen for a reason? or is everything the way it is because it just is? If everything in our life did revolve around the fact that everything does happen for a reason, signifying our life is already shaped to its extent and the course of our life is predetermined. Humankind has found no way or evidence that “everything happens for a reason.” Let us say you woke up sick because your life schedule had programmed you to be sick that specific time and illness; let us now say one thousand people woke up sick around the world the same day; how could a bigger force or power program that to happen? It would come down to charts, statistics, probabilities, and ratios worldwide. This is something that we could not even do for each singular life in this universe. People always say “everything happens for a reason” and I believe it doesn’t. Nothing happens for a reason; it just happens because it just does.

The universe works the way it does because that is how it evolved. We are  not here because someone brought us or made us here; we are here because nothing happens for a reason. We were not planned. There is no way that someone or something could program everything in this universe and make it work the way they want it to. Or is there?


Will we ever be able to get religion out of politics?

I have recently been thinking about my original thesis for my essay, the only concern of it was if it was possible to be a good person without believing in a god or holding a religion. After reviewing it and thinking more in-depth about that topic, I realized that the thesis that I originally had not only been argued throughout the history of mankind but was also easily agreed with. To put it more simply, it would be difficult to write a long paper on the topic on an agreeable topic and one that, quite frankly, doesn’t really matter. It was difficult for me to craft another thesis relating to my original that was important to me, especially after doing so much research on my original topic which made it so I couldn’t change my thesis. It took me a while, but after digging into my topic and reading articles about the involvement of religion in today’s political landscape, I decided to shift my thesis towards the political side of things, stating that state should be more separated from church because it is possible for people to be good without god.

What really sparked my interest in this new direction of thesis was a couple of articles that I read about the Mormon Church’s involvement in Utah politics and interactions with lawmakers. It’s something that resonates very strongly inside of me and is something I’m sure I’ll be able to write very passionately about. The article that really sparked my interest was written for KUER, titled “Carl Wimmer Opens Up About LDS Church, Utah Legislature Relations”, which details the tension that exists between the political identity and the religious identity of our lawmakers here in Utah. Wimmer said that the Mormon Church had a large influence on a number of bills that went through the Utah legislation, including those on 2011 immigration and 2008 ban on flavored malt beverages. Carl Wimmer “described meetings behind closed doors between legislators and church lobbyists being akin to LDS Personal Priesthood Interviews.”

These are the types of policies that have been put into place where I feel that my writing could have a real impact and hope to change things. After talking to my ‘expert’ on religion in american politics, I have come to see that we will never fully be able to get all religion out of politics, but it is up to us, as reasonable people, to fight for reasonable legislation with a good, concrete reason behind it other than a dominant religions reason. For example, here in Utah, it is very easy for us to see the influence of our one, dominant religion in our public policy. It is illegal to buy or sell any malt beverage in a grocery store with more than a 3.2 percent alcohol by weight. Lately, many legislators have been trying to lower the legal driving under the influence limit to .05 BAC from .08. Compared to other states, this unbelievable and it is truly evident of the preposterous amount of influence that the Mormon Church has in Utah politics.

 

Evans, Whittney. “Carl Wimmer Opens Up About LDS Church, Utah Legislature Relations.”KUER 90.1, 6 Apr. 2015, kuer.org/post/carl-wimmer-opens-about-lds-church-utah-legislature-relations#stream/0.

Link to hypothes.is annotations of “Carl Wimmer Opens Up About LDS Church, Utah Legislature Relations”: https://hypothes.is/users/totorobinson

Photo by Humphrey King


Argumentative Research Essay: “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?”

Upon my reading of “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?”, I came to find a number of new evidences supporting my side of a person not needing God to be a good person. It provided me with new arguments I hadn’t thought of, and a concession to a previous argument, one which I discussed in previous Youth Voices post, with a rebuttal. Olli-Pekka Vainio, in his arguments, opened up more doors of persuasion for me to explore in my own essay.

He begins his essay by defining the difference between what moral realism is and what anti-realism. Basically, moral realism refers to the idea that morality is independent of ourselves, and our free will. Moral anti-realism is the polar opposite in saying that morality is completely oriented around what we have come to know in our own experiences and life. Naturally, empirical science pushes us towards accepting the idea of anti-realism morality, or the idea that we control how we see our own sense of morality. Tying this idea into my own essay topic, this means that an atheistic view would be able to shift and change perspective based on his or her own experiences. Now, this was used as an argument for why god was needed in order to be a good person, and I discussed and provided my own counter argument to that in a previous post. In this essay, however, Kerry Walters provides not only a counter argument, but uses it to further use logos in support of his position. By saying that atheistic values are able to remain flexible, they “will also be flexible enough to take into consideration extenuating circumstances arising from context, agent, and situation.” So, a reasonable atheist would be able to see a person faced with extreme circumstances and not condemn them for the choices they make, but be able to see the situation that faced them before passing judgement. For example, a moral realist might find herself getting an abortion and consider herself an immoral person, regardless of the situation that faced her because her sacred text told her so. On the other hand, a moral anti-realist is able to look at the context in which she is getting an abortion. She perhaps doesn’t want to ruin her chance at an education, raise a child alone, or work another job to support her child. She would be able to take a look at her difficult situation and be okay with her decision.

Vainio goes on to further discuss why we, as humans, would not have faired well, evolutionarily speaking, to have held a moral code from God. What it basically comes down to is that our brains were, and still are, survival oriented. What is considered immoral is oftentimes what allowed us to survive. We naturally want to kill in order for us to eat. We naturally want to have sex in order to reproduce. We naturally want to steal in order to benefit ourselves. These ‘immoral’ things are what allowed our species to make it so far down the evolutionary chain. Because of this, “moral anti-realism is the only available meta-ethical theory for us”. There is nothing morally wrong in bad acts other than hurting others without any personal gain. As the author quotes Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, “…what makes it morally wrong to murder, rape, steal, lie, or break promises, for example, is simply that these acts harm other people without any adequate justification.”

I found this article from the EBSCO database to not only be incredibly helpful to my own topic, but to also be a very interesting read. It provided a thought process which I never fully looked into on my own, and brought together a number of really good arguments.

 

Vainio, Olli-Pekka. “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?” The Heythrop Journal, The Heythrop Journal, www.academia.edu/10638604/Objective_Morality_after_Darwin_and_without_God_.

Link to hypothes.is annotations of “Objective Morality after Darwin (and without God)?”: https://hypothes.is/users/totorobinson


Can you be Good Without God? Argumentative Research Paper, part 2

After reading “Secularism and Islam: An Unacknowledged Kinship,” I was able to take away an incredibly strong point that I will be able to use in my argumentative essay. Furthermore, I learned about a number of similar beliefs that Muslims and Secularists hold in common. Along the way, I learned quite a bit about Islam, a religion that I have never known very much about, and it was very interesting to be given a brief history in comparison to secular beliefs.
The most important takeaway from the “Secularism and Islam” that is most relevant to my essay is the fact that Islam believes “in a total divorce between faith and reason.” Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazn said in the 11th century that “God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us.” They believe that He is not bound by his own word, and later on in the article it’s made clear that God is also influenced easily by his passions and desires. By that logic, why should one be left to think that God is the end all know all of reason?

The key argument that I am able to make here is me being able to say that there is a Religion who keeps the divine out of matters of reason. While one might say that the basis of my essay is an argument of morality, I am easily able to say that there is no such thing as a moral judgement without reason and logic behind it. A Christian would argue that faith is married to reason, and the other way around. A Muslim would disagree, and argue that reason and faith must be kept separate. Secularism and Islam coincide when they affirm that there is a very distinct difference between the two entities.

However, the author makes a claim halfway through the article that I don’t agree with at all. The point he is trying to make is that both Muslims and secularists claim that there is no such thing as free will. He argues that Islam claims that God knows and controls everything that is going to happen; “by asserting that what God wants is what he decides and that what he decides is what happens, it leaves no room for human choice either.” Any human action is just a result of what He wants and what He thinks is best for us. He then goes on to claim that an atheist would agree with the outcome, just not the means. He says that an atheist would argue that there is no human free will because every way a human acts is due to an observable cause, and that any other way of acting is considered irrational. By saying this, he is saying that there is a social cause for every action a human performs, and I don’t buy that argument.

While one could make the argument that free will deteriorates with age, I do not think it is fair to say that free will doesn’t exist. You can see babies make free choices every day, to be corrected by their parents. Everyone starts off with their own will, but sure, it definitely gets molded. Furthermore, you could go on to argue that somewhere down the line, there was someone using their own free will to start movements, influence people, or begin a trend.
Although I disagree with the authors later argument, he brings forth a number of good points throughout the entire article, and he does a marvelous job of summarizing the similarities between Islam and secularism. I very much enjoyed hearing some of his arguments, and plan to re-purpose a few of them in my own writing.

Source

Bastien, Richard. “Secularism and Islam: an Unacknowledged Kinship.” Gale Reference Collection, Catholic Insight, 2006, go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T003&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=4&docId=GALE%7CA156002647&docType=Article&sort=Relevance&contentSegment=&prodId=GPS&contentSet=GALE%7CA156002647&searchId=R7&userGroupName=pioneer&inPS=true.

Link to “Secularism and Islam” that we can annotate with hypothes.is.


What Makes a Person Religious?

Over the course of thousands of years, the vast majority of people have been a part of a religion. Despite having no clear evidence of the existence of a god or religious figures being who they say they are, they still cling to the idea of our lives being a part of something more, and that we were created as we are now, and not evolved over a period of time. The fact of the matter is that people being religious is not a result of evidence, reason or logic, but rather feelings and emotions. According to (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/religious-people-beliefs-cling-contradict-evidence-facts-moral-compass-research-athiests-analytical-a7863446.html), researches have found that the brains of atheists are far more analytically oriented than those of religious people, who rely more on their emotions to lead them in their quest for truth.
According to the article, “Emotional resonance helps religious people to feel more certain – the more moral correctness they see in something, the more it affirms their thinking.” In other words, people naturally want things to be morally correct, and when they see something like religion that is as morally correct as can be, they see it as far more factually correct than if it were not. The article continues, saying “religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments.” For a lot of people, emotions top their ability to think reasonably and use logic to come to a conclusion.
There are many people who to this day believe that atheists, because they don’t believe in God, must be bad people with no moral compass (https://via.hypothes.is/https://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T003&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&docId=GALE|CX3446800128&docType=Topic+overview&sort=RELEVANCE&contentSegment=&prodId=GVRL&contentSet=GALE|CX3446800128&searchId=R1&userGroupName=pioneer&inPS=true). This is not true to even the slightest extent, as the article claims that despite not believing in God, there is no convincing evidence to say that atheists are any less moral good than those who believe in a faith.
Another article (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/) explains why people that were religious growing up left their faith. About 79% of atheists grew up in a religious family, while only 21% have been atheists their entire life. According to the article, “About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%) indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion.” This includes people that turned away because of science, in other words analytical reasoning. One-in-five express an opposition to organized religion in general. There are many other reasons people leave the faith as well, including “the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”
There are other stances on religion as well. For example, many are agnostic, and studies show that those people tend to walk the line of following their emotions while also using analytical reasoning. There are also people who consider themselves to be a part of a faith but are inactive, meaning that they believe in God(s) but choose to practice their faith in their own unique ways. These people lean towards the emotional side of their brains but also use their own logic and reasoning to decide what their faith life should look like.
Many people believe that religious people are more moral because they have an external force that is forcing them to be as morally correct as possible. According to http://theconversation.com/are-religious-people-more-moral-84560, when meeting someone who isn’t religious many have a prejudice against atheists because they feel that they are less morally correct than those who are a part of a faith. However, this is not entirely true. Studies have shown that while people that are a part of a faith have a much more powerful external motive for good deeds, people with no faith tend to have internal motives for good deeds that are just as high as those that are a part of a faith. While many use religion as a way of indicating up front how morally good someone is, it is truly not an accurate representation of how morally correct someone is.


Can You be Good Without God?: Argumentative Research Essay

In my research, I found more and more compelling arguments as to how it is possible to be good without god. Louise M. Antony, writing for the NYTimes, points out that morality and god do not necessarily go hand in hand. She explains that if there was no god, torture and human suffering wouldn’t mean anything to us. I then went to a Catholic website to find ‘rebuttals’ to the arguments that I had read in the New York Times. I was not convinced by their arguments. One of their main points was that atheists don’t base their moral code on anything, and people saying “ ‘I’m a good person because I’m living my personal moral code’ is dangerously close to saying, ‘I’m living the way I want to live.’ “ They make the argument that people in the South during the 1800’s were able to say they are living their own personal moral code, holding slaves, and consider themselves to be moral. What the article failed to discuss were the people who held slaves and used their faith to justify the morality. We as humans are always able to find convenient excuses for our actions.

Link to hypothes.is annotations of NYTimes article: https://hypothes.is/users/totorobinson

Antony, Louise M. “Good Minus God.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Dec. 2011, opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/good-minus-god/.

Aglialoro, Todd. “Can You Be Good Without God?” Can You Be Good Without God?, 28 Jan. 2014, www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/can-you-be-good-without-god.

 


Good God, Bad World

If there is a God, why do such terrible things happen? This question has haunted my thoughts for a long time, and going to catholic school, I have never found a sufficient answer. The most common response I get from my theology teachers is that we can learn from the pain and loss that was caused. That’s fine and dandy, but why do those things happen?

Most religions believe in some sort of higher power which controls all things, be that directly or indirectly. In Hinduism, Karma is the ruler which gives each person what is due to her. Islam has a similar belief to Karma; bad things happen because of something else done before. Christianity states that any bad inflicted by a person can be forgiven if that person wishes to repent. Again, the answers aren’t quite hitting the nail on the head for me.

I want to know why natural disaster ruin livelihoods and tear families apart. I want to know why there are so many poor and vulnerable people in the world who can’t find the help they need. I want to know why my best friend died before she could legally drive. What my research showed me was bad things happen, and there isn’t any justification behind it. Maybe Karma carries over from a previous life. Maybe it’s just terrible luck. But maybe there is a method to this madness, and I need to keep looking.


“God and Love”

You can be bisexual, gay, lesbian and be christian,

Even though according to God’s word it’s a sin.

It aso says in the bible, that God forgives all sins.

So to me that a happy win.

Ignore anyone who says you can’t be christian because you’re not straight,

Because they can’t control your fate.

It may be a sin but, that sin opened world of possibilities.

My love for both sexes is the same as my deep love for God.

So if God can forgive me, then he can love me no matter what I choose.

That’s why Jesus died on the cross


Are you there, God? It’s me, the Global Population

I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person when it comes to my knowledge of different religions. I have taken multiple courses on ethics and culture in my lifetime, and I have a particular knowledge of Catholic and Judaic religion. During these classes the fact that religion is used for good was mentioned many times. “Jesus died for our sins,” a priest will say, “Our people have suffered for thousands of years, even though we are God’s chosen people” a rabbi will say, and yet Muslims are still cast out of America. It is painfully obvious that throughout history, people have used religion to form societies, maintain governments, and to use their moralities for good. But would people be able to still be ethical without believing in God?

The average person with a link to national media in the United States of America would be (hopefully) able to tell you about ISIS. For those who may not know, ISIS is a group of terrorists, who call themselves “Islamic”. They use the name of God to commit acts of heinous crime–and some other cults and religions use the same practices. At this point in time, it makes me want to ask whether or not organized religion has a good impact on society. What do you think? Could the world be a better place without organized religions?

Photo by fusion-of-horizons

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/god/