Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Carnivals…

Several carnivals have recently included my piece Vengeful Paths to Truth: The Carnival of the Godless #91 at State of Protest, The Humanist Symposium #19 at Letters from A Broad, and The Catholic Carnival #170.

My favorite pieces included…
1.) Aliens, Mummies, and The Visit at Tales of an Ordinary Girl recounts how during family visits she has to set certain rules for herself including:

  • 1. No swearing
    2. No drinking (except around my sister)
    3. No talking
    about science or politics
    4. No talking about religion
    5. When my parents
    ask me questions or make judgmental comments about my lifestyle I must be
    evasive and quickly change the subject.
    6. Do not get dragged into a
    conversation about: government conspiracies, the end of days, Christian
    persecution, or anything scientific.

Admittedly, as she writes and as I’ve had to do myself, these rules are meant to avoid “controversy.” There are consequences to such rules, particularly in the nature of our relations to our relatives. She writes:

  • *But in the process I have put a lot of distance between me and my family. I
    visit, but I’m uncomfortable the entire time I’m there because I’m like a
    mindless automaton… In my case I suspect I’ve already lost any kind of
    meaningful relationship with my family by becoming so distant. I just don’t know
    what else to do other than sit in mummified silence. So maybe a little
    experiment is due this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.
    *

.) In a two-part piece, The Difference between Secular and Religious Faith and Why Religious Faith is Irrational, Greta Christina attempts to slice through the semantic and logical web of what “faith” means in secular and religious contexts.

Secular Faith: In everyday speech, we often say: I have faith in someone; I have
faith in democracy; or I have faith in myself; etc., which, for Christina,
equates to a nexus of words tied to “secular faith,” namely: “Trust. Reliance.
Confidence. Conviction. Hope.” Moreover, secular faith means a reasonable
belief.


Religious Faith (for more details, see entire list of quotations),
Christina summarizes, as:
believing in God. (Or gods, or the World-Soul, or
the immortal spirit, or whatever. For the sake of brevity, let’s say God for
now.) And it means believing in God no matter what. It means an unshakeable
belief in God. It doesn’t necessarily mean an unquestioning belief in God –
again, many believers do ask questions, and hard questions at that – but it
means a belief in God that survives those questions, and any questions. It means
having belief in God, not as a hypothesis that so far has stood up to the
evidence but might not always do so, but as an axiom. A presupposition.

While there are clear connections between secular and religious faith, it must be stated that “not one of these synonyms for secular faith implies a willingness to maintain that faith in contradiction of any possible evidence that might arise.” Secular and religious faith diverge radically when it comes to believing something in spite of or in the face of “overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” In fact, such beliefs in spite or against evidence is not really faith, but rather, in her words: “pigheadedness” or “blindness,” “willful ignorance” or “delusion.” Religious belief in its strongest, pigheaded form means that your faith trumps reality. Even though belief in the impossible, unlikely, irrational and extreme is common amongst humans, that doesn’t mean your faith changes the world nor the reality as such.

Thanks to all of the organizers and contributors of these carnivals.
If you’re someone who blogs about humanistic ethics and atheist thinking and want to participate in a blog carnival, check out the submission forms and guidelines for the Humanist Symposium and the Carnival of the Godless. Keep reading! And, of course, keep blogging!