Friday, November 28, 2014

With Us or Against Us: The All or Nothing Logic Trap

I could be naive, and I'm willing to admit my intellectual limitations, but saying all cops aren't racist is akin to saying all black people aren't criminals. No serious person disputes this sort of claim. As a nation we suffer from a severe lack of critical thinking. In my opinion, the biggest outward sign of this lack is our collective inability to look at situations and recognize the gray areas contained in them.

We continually fall into the trap of declaring 100% allegiance for or against a proposition without looking for any overlap. America is either the greatest nation on earth or the worst; instead of a more realistic view that America has done a lot of good things, yet she has her share of dirty secrets as well. We're forced to make choices in which all of our proverbial eggs are in one basket. I reject the notion that I have to be left-wing or right-wing, up or down, in or out. Situations like Ferguson, Missouri have the tendency to bring out the worst in our country when it comes to in-group out-group distinctions.

Race is such a sensitive issue that important questions related to the topic are trivialized. For example: why is the unemployment rate for black veterans almost twice that of white veterans? That's a legitimate question, but if I ask it I'm a"race hustler". We(as a nation)are almost to childish to have adult conversations.

Over last few years I have donated money and supported several groups that peaceful protest and fight against laws I feel are unfair I.E. stop-and-frisk, but my support isn't an indictment against all of the individuals in law enforcement, but a critique of the system itself. I'll always stand with black people fighting for equality and dignity, but I'll never (voluntarily) live in the hood again. I know that gang violence is a problem, but I reject the notion that every black kid is in a gang or a threat. It's funny, the majority of pedophiles in this country are white, yet when I see a white person I don't automatically assume they molest children, nor do I fear that they will shoot up a school or movie theater.

It seems odd that when someone of color stands up for our people controversy ensues. I have stood in solidarity with gays and lesbians in their fight for equal treatment under the law without my motives or patriotism being questioned. It's like I have to choose between being a black man or being an American. That's a choice I won't make for anyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Faith of Atheists and the Reason of Theists

I've been blessed to study with many people who hold a variety of religious and non religious beliefs. I have a friend, Wilfredo, who converted to Islam; another friend, Andrew, who is devout to his Jewish heritage and religion. I've studied with Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, and a number of people who have lesser known religious beliefs. What became clear to me was the way faith and reason functioned inside these systems of belief.

Theism and Atheism are in contradiction with each other. Dialectically speaking, investing in one is divesting in the other. Faith and reason, at their simplest levels, are also thought to be contradictory notions; I believe this assumption, by some, is due to a breakdown in language. Faith is understood to be religious based and reason science based. What I've found is that faith can be derived from reason, and that a constitutive part of reason is faith.

At our instinctual level we seek to put order in the world around us. I'm a Christian metaphysian (small m) the claims I make about the nature of the world are in no way an attempt to make a universal philosophical system of thought. I understand the world through language, culture, and socioeconomic realities that I didn't choose. With all of that said, my perception of reality is limited by my stationary existence. I could be wrong in my interpretations and that could cause me to make false conclusions.

At their purest levels faith and reason supplement each other. Before many make pronouncements about their religious convictions they have reasoned with their interpretation of reality and made a leap of faith. This holds true for the nonbeliever as well. Scientific experimentation is based in a certain kind of faith: are my hypothesize grounded in enough hard evidence? Will the theoretical conclusions I've made coincide with reality?

The dumbing down of our culture has led to narrowly viewing science and religion. There's a faction of angry Theists who hold the view that they are morally superior to their Atheist contemporaries; while their equally angry Atheists contemporaries hold the view that they are intellectually superior to their theist contemporaries. Faith and reason are not opposites. They are vital components to any belief or set of beliefs about the world.