Monicks: Unleashed

Thinking Critically


We can’t save the world.. but, who’s trying?

Every time I hear the phrase “save the world,” I can’t help but think about the superheroes, such as Superman; this implies that only someone with superpowers can save the world. These superheroes and superpowers do not exist in the real world. If you are a theist, then your superhero would be the god you worship, and its super power would be, um.. magic.

But next I think: What does the world need to be saved from? As Sam Harris points out, in a different context, we need to rid the world of bad ideas. This was brought to mind recently by this article by my knowledgeable friend Paul Fidalgo. Please go read it, and come back for more.

Then Paul’s article, as it usually happens in the blogsphere, generated reactions. My friend, and occasional contributor of this blog, Martin Pribble, posted his perspective on the subject, in this article. Please, go check it out. I’ll wait for you to come back.

Are you back yet? Great! Welcome back.

Excellent articles, right?

It is not my purpose to oppose my friends’ points of view on the subject. Now I’ll give you my perspective.

I want to point out that I don’t remember having ever signed up for any movement. I don’t belong to any atheist organization; nor do I desire to to be a part of any organized, official group of atheists; nor do I think such organization needs to exist. However, I do want to be counted among the 22%(?) of unbelievers worldwide, which is why I do not hesitate to speak up, every chance I have, (and seems propitious as opposed to useless and conflictive), about my lack of belief, and the reasons why I loath religion.

I get it: It is tiresome, boring, sometimes repetitive — but it is necessary.

For what it’s worth, it is not my style to have endless debates with theists, nor do I partake in the ‘in-fights.’ It is futile; a waste of time. If you’ve ever checked out my Twitter timeline, I only say things that are, hopefully, eye-opening.

I think we are challenging unfounded beliefs. See, there is something about being wrong that is inherent to most human beings. To realize that one is wrong is, to say the very least, uncomfortable. Therefore, the people who are not religious, smug know-it-all’s, read something we write, and reflect on it, instead of lashing out with disproportionate rage and hatred when their beliefs are challenged, and realize that something doesn’t quite add up to their holy stories, are very unlikely to say out loud: “Oh! I have just realized how wrong I was! Please, teach me more.” No, that’s highly improbable. Someone who feels that something goes *click* in their head, will try to educate themselves, probably driven by an honest desire to prove us wrong. They will find a way to learn more about the subject, and will become thirsty for knowledge; once that spark has been lit, nothing can put it out. Nothing.

That, my friends, is what I aim for.

This silent journey of learning and self-discovery, my fellow unbeliever, might have even been how you grew out of your theism.

As for lacking focus, like Marty says in his post, I foresee our ilk having a really hard time trying to get unbelievers to aim for the same goal. We can agree on many topics, but when it comes to interests and ideals, the whole ‘group focus’ can get blurry…

We need to rid the world from bad ideas, which brings us back to where we started. How can we rid the world from bad ideas? By stopping the early indoctrination of such ideas. By speaking up; by raising awareness; by fighting for the right of every child to receive a proper education.

Every child should have the right to receive a scientific education, an education based in facts and experiments, regardless of his or her parents’ religious beliefs. He or she should learn about Galileo Galilei, Pythagoras, and Newton; that the Sun is a star in the middle of our Solar System; and understand why humans and apes have shared ancestors who lived a few million years ago. For this to be feasible, we need the laws to change, and we need to enlighten the parents.

We have no superpowers.  Unlike Superman, we cannot aim for legendary accomplishments. I would not try to save the world; it would be frustrating and unrealistic. Part of being successful is choosing one’s goals wisely.

Religion may play a small role in the whole problems-of-the-world scheme, but it is an enabler of many, too many terrible things. It is in our laws, in our money, it narrows our rights, and, in extreme cases, stems terrible deeds against humanity.

We can’t sit around and wait for the state of things to get worse. We need to do something if we want to see humanity headed for a better future, even knowing we won’t see this happen in our lifetime.

Have a better plan of action? Let us now in the comments.


Celestial Fireworks – Astronomy Picture of the Day

Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Click to Enlarge image

Resembling the puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworksdisplay in this image from NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, these delicate filaments are actually sheets of debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy. Hubble’s target was a supernova remnant within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a nearby, small companion galaxy to the Milky Way visible from the southern hemisphere.

Denoted N 49, or DEM L 190, this remnant is from a massive star that died in a supernova blast whose light would have reached Earth thousands of years ago. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars in the LMC. Our own Sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago.

Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


Astronomy Picture of The Day – The Red Spider Nebula: Surfing in Sagittarius

Credit: ESA & Garrelt Mellema (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

Huge waves are sculpted in this two-lobed nebula some 3000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. This warm planetary nebula harbors one of the hottest stars known and its powerful stellar winds generate waves 100 billion kilometres high. The waves are caused by supersonic shocks, formed when the local gas is compressed and heated in front of the rapidly expanding lobes. The atoms caught in the shock emit the spectacular radiation seen in this image.


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