Tag Archives: religion

On Manny Pacquiao’s comments about homosexuality and the case for examining our thoughts

Manny Pacquiao was recently dropped by Nike over his remarks about homosexuals (click here for more). Manny reportedly said, amongst other things, that homosexuals are worse than animals..

Any form of discrimination should not be acceptable

Understandably, many people are upset about what the famous boxer has said. I myself am deeply disappointed as he is someone that many people look up to. Although nobody has ever suggested that Manny Pacquiao is an intellectual whose words should be treated as the truth, I fear that because of his status, success and undeniable popularity, his opinions may strengthen the backward beliefs of some and may influence the thinking of some.

I agree that people have the right to have their own opinions. However, I am frustrated when this right is abused. Sure, we are entitled to disagree and think differently from everyone else, but we must never think that another person is a lesser human being just because they are romantically involved with a person of the same sex. This is no different from any other forms of discrimination such as those based on religious and/ or racial grounds. How would Manny feel if he is publicly degraded by someone based on his nationality or religion? Would he be pleased? I think not.

The case for examining our own thoughts and beliefs

I can only ascertain that Manny’s comments are based on his religious beliefs which are passed on to him, perhaps by elders in his community as well as by pastors/priests/preachers. If this is true, this highlights the importance of examining our own thoughts and beliefs. We must ask ourselves the following questions from time to time:

  • ‘Why am I thinking this way?’
  • ‘Why do I believe what I believe?’
  • ‘Are my beliefs detrimental to other people’s lives?’
  • ‘Is what I believe supported by evidence?’
  • ‘Are there any alternative ways of thinking that are supported by better evidence?’
  • ‘How are those evidence collected?’

It is not a bad thing nor is it ever too late,to change our minds based on better quality of evidence. The reason why I am writing this is to explain that although Manny Pacquiao is an influential figure, not only in his country but worldwide, his opinions must be questionned, challenged and opposed. The same goes with the opinions of others who are more ‘powerful’ and have more authority than us.

Please, let us all use our brains.

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Je Suis Charlie

 

I am very angry at what has happened in France over the last couple fo days. The killings at Charlie Hebdo, the hostage situation and killings at a Kosher grocery, the feelings of distress, loss, sadness, anger, despair and unsettlement not just in France, but around the world.

Why? Just why? Why would people do such terrible things? Protecting your set of twisted beliefs?

As i’ve said on the picture above, if you want to start killing people to protect your beliefs, start with yourself!!!

Aside from the fact that these idiots unsettled the whole world, they are misrepresenting the whole of Islam and the Muslim population. Islam is a religion that teaches peace and loving one another, not killing because some magazine joked about you.

Je Suis Charlie

A Philosophical Question From a Busker

Below is a photograph of a piece of paper with one of the most interesting philosophical question ever given to me. I was walking around Cardiff city centre when a very friendly busker gave me this. I no longer believe in a deity, but this got me thinking. I did not ask myself whether I am good enough for heaven. If there really is a god, then god will decide for me.

What I asked myself is whether I am doing a good job in life. Am I serving my purpose? Am I doing my part to help others become better people? Am I doing enough? Are my methods correct? What am I doing for myself?

It offered me a chance to reflect on my life- my actions, my decisions and my future plans. 

I’ve literally just seen God! Can you explain why?

Over the course of our history, there have been people who claimed that they have seen God (Christian and others). These people are often able to vividly describe the ‘god’ that they have seen. They usually have an interaction with this ‘god’, which changes the way they live their lives. This phenomenon has been experienced by people, regardless of their stance on religion. But why? Did a ‘god’ really visit them? Or is it all in their minds?

 

Temporal Lobes and Spiritual Experiences

UnknownOne theory proposes that there is a part of the brain, called the Temporal Lobe, which possesses the circuitry for religious experiences. This theory was proposed by Professor Vilayanur Ramachandran, who found that around 25% of people with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) are obsessed with religion. After an episode of intense seizure, these patients claimed that they saw ‘god’ and afterwards are convinced that they should follow the path shown to them by that ‘god’. Prof. Ramachandran mentioned in an interview that after such an experience, most patients will be walking around with huge necklaces with crosses and bibles.

In order to test this theory, Prof. Ramachandran and his colleagues seeked to find out how people respond when they are shown neutral words (e.g. chairs and tables), sexual ones and religious words by measuring their Galvanic Skin Responses. What they found was that TLE patients are highlly responsive to religious words, but not on sexual and neutral ones. In addition, based on their skin responses, they are far less interested in sexually loaded words that neutral ones. Participants without damage to their Temporal Lobes on the other hand, were highly responsive to sexual words.

 

Can this be induced?

A better question, I suppose is that is it possible to give healthy (people without TLE) people these experiences by altering their brain circuitry? Dr. Persinger set out to do just that. He developed a helmet connected to a machine which if worn, alters the function of an individual’s Temporal Lobes. He asked participants, who did not know what the experiment was about, to wear this helmet while doing various activities. 80% of them reported feeling that something or someone (which they cannot see) was around them. It should be noted that Dr. Persinger insisted that the susceptibility to experience such a thing varies from one person to the next.

 

 

 

A better way to be an Atheist?

As a person who does not believe in a deity, I often refuse to be called an Atheist due to the negative connotations that people attach to the term. I may be wrong but based on the conversations I have with other people, particularly those who are religious, athieists are often conceived of as people who hate religions and religious people because of their beliefs.

As someone who subscribes to the scientific methodology, I do not believe in any gods or spirits but I  do not hate the people who believe in a god or are members of any religion. From my experiences of being around religious people (I was raised as a Catholic and now work with Jewish people), I have seen the benefits of having a religious belief. For instance, being a follower of any religious faith gives one a sense of belonging- they often feel that they are a part of a tight-knit community that shares the same beliefs. Religions also teach people how to be kind to one another, to forgive each other and to love one another.

Positive aspects of different religions were described in greater detail by the philosopher Alain de Botton in his book, ‘Religion for Atheists’. An atheist himself, Alain was interested in how religious beliefs and teachings can help believers and non-believers alike, to live a better life. In this book, he argued that every religion has something positive to offer and that we should not shy away from adopting these beliefs into our own lives.

Here’s Alain explaining the book in more detail:

 

As Alain explained, this book might offend the strictly religious since it implies that it is healthy to ‘cherry-pick’ doctrines and teachings that suit one’s own personal set of belief system. Therefore, I recommend this book to anyone with an open mind. Please read this book!!!

A brilliant book about the ‘Self’

      

When asked the question who are you, what would your reply be? Would you say your name? Your gender? Your job? What about when asked to describe yourself, what would your response be? There has been many attempts by psychologists, philosophers and even religious authorities to define who we really are. In my opinion however, none of them have successfully defined and explained what the Self consists of.

In the Ego Trick, Julian Baggini described and dissected existing theories of what the Self is. Topics such as gender, memory, personality amongst others were discussed in his aim to find what the core of the self is. This book was written in accessible language and the arguments are presented in logical sequence. There is a balance between empirical and anecdotal evidence althroughout the book. What made me like it even more is that almost every point raised more questions than it answered.

Whether you’re a psychology/philosophy/theology student or teacher or maybe someone who is looking for a good read, I highly recommend this book.