Tuesday 17 April 2012

Keep the Faith

It is very easy to be secular, to believe that G_D simply cannot exist, to argue that it is impossible that G_D does exist and to criticise those who happen to believe, however strongly, that G_D or a higher power of some sort exists. I'm not here to argue that G_D exists or anything like that. I don't think that is the point of having faith or believing that G_D does exist and, indeed, I don't think anyone will ever be able to prove that G_D does exist. The point, however, is that there should not be a need to argue for or against the existence of G_D. I do not reject evolution, I do not reject science but, crucially, I do not reject the idea that G_D exists, rather I would say that I have faith that G_D does exist. I am not asserting the existence of G_D - I do not know if G_D exists but that does not matter because I have faith that G_D exists.

I can't stand it when people question why I have faith, what it is I have faith in or call having faith (or a belief in G_D) irrational or something like that. I don't think I can explain the answers to either of the first two questions but I do not think I need to. Perhaps the attempt to explain something infinite (the universe) with something finite (the powers of mind) leaves a gap I chose to fill with faith, namely faith in G_D. Regardless, faith is incredibly personal, it is something for me to fall back on, to look to and live by. Something I can't stand just as much as being blasting faith for whatever reason is people trying to force faith (or religion) upon other people. It is something that should be left to individuals to discover (or not). That is why I do not see the point in arguing for or against G_D. Ignore the fact you could never convince the other side nor prove it either way (even if people argue they have removed reasonable doubt). It comes down to a personal decision of how to attempt to understand what seems unexplainable. If appealing to G_D only creates more questions than it does answers and doesn't do it for you, that is your decision to make. 

It is the last question or comment that really frustrates me, the comment: "Faith in G_D is irrational" or, "A belief in G_D is an irrational belief." I am obviously of the opinion that it is not irrational at all, in fact perfectly rational - an attempt to explain things for yourself and to help you understand things cannot be called irrational. The human desire to understand what it is that goes on around you can be overwhelming and any attempt, on a personal level, to explain those things can only be rational. To hold a belief in G_D for no other reason than because your mum told you G_D exists may be irrational, but to consider how best to explain the universe and your existence etc and to arrive at G_D as your best, personal, explanation is wholly rational. Indeed it helps me live my life, to recover from hardships and fuels my unrelenting positivity that things can only get better. I'm unsure how faith in G_D can be irrational, on a personal level, if it helps you carry on and gives you reason to hope for the future. Rather that seems perfectly and completely rational to me. 

Up until now, I'd not mentioned religion in this post at all. I am not a religious man but a man of faith. There is certainly a difference here, with a religious man going above and beyond having faith in G_D, something I do not really do. I would describe myself as culturally Jewish but certainly not religiously Jewish. When I say I have a faith in G_D, it is not, necessarily, in a Jewish G_D or necessarily in any religious concept of what a G_D is. Perhaps this article can help to explain the concept of having faith but not necessarily (or fully) buying into religion. Again, I do not really know or understand what kind of G_D I have faith in, only certain that I have faith. I do not believe the metaphysics or ontology of G_D need not come into consideration when I say that I have faith in G_D, it is not really that important. It is the having faith in G_D that matters for me, not what G_D is.   

I'm writing this in response to something I saw on Facebook (and I've been thinking of doing so for a while), not to force anyone to believe in G_D, not to argue that I am right but merely to defend my having faith in G_D. There is nothing wrong with not having faith in G_D but equally there is nothing wrong with having faith in G_D. I think having a faith in G_D (or not) should be immune to critique and not require you to justify it to anyone. I would never try and convince people that they should have faith, fully respectful of the personal nature of the belief. I only ask that you grant me the same. 

Friday 13 April 2012

Typos. Who cares?

Some people, clearly! A day doesn't go past where someone doesn't correct one of my typos, smugly pointing out my flaws in the English language. Sometimes they're just being helpful and, indeed, it is necessary but a lot of the time it is completely unneeded and plain annoying. Certain occasions where spelling does matter and correcting a typo is obviously important - on a blog, for example, where the whole point of engaging with that website is to read something. It would help if it was typed correctly - which is why I always apologise for typos in my blog and correct any that are pointed out to me (and I do try and proof read, but I am hopeless at it!).

Maybe I should lighten up and ignore it, but I really don't think that is the issue. It is much easier to look past a typo, ignore the mistake and type out a reply. Maybe it shows a lack of conversational skills, or a desire to be "humorous" but correcting a typo is not the way forward in a conversation online! Assuming you knew what I meant, is there a problem?

"BUT YOU NEED TO LEARN!" I hear you cry as I accidentally type form instead of from or too instead of to. And sometimes you'd be correct. It took me 7 goes to spell "accidentally" there, convinced as I am that it is 'accidently' or 'accidentely' but that isn't a typo. That is me not being able to spell and I am the first to admit in a message when I can't spell a word. And there is a difference between typing "I just come form home" and typing "I love you're mum" because the latter does imply misunderstanding that can be corrected. And even then, you can type "you're" when you mean 'your' just because your brain is working faster than your fingers as you type and don't realise you typed 'you're' by mistake.

A typo is a genuine mistake, usually derived from typing to fast or not quite being able to touch type properly. I could not care less if I accidentally typed "get's" when it is "gets" and I know I did not cause you major offence. You understood what I meant. Life goes on. Conversation wasn't halted. Stop correcting me. Rant over.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Revision will start soon....honest

There is nothing worse than getting to a holiday after 5/6 weeks of school to realise that you are going to have to do revision and it is not a holiday at all. Or at least you should do revision and you will do your best to put it off but more importantly justify putting it off. As you get older, it seems, you get better at justifying putting off revision (or indeed work) despite it being more important - similar in a way to justifying eating chocolate because it comes from a plant and therefore is essentially a vegetable. All sorts of excuses come out and the older you are, the better you are at convincing yourself of the soundness of those reasons. For example, I shall proceed to put this into an argument and claim that I am therefore doing philosophy revision:
  1. I need to do x amount of revision
  2. I can and will do  x amount of revision later
  3. Therefore I need not to do revision until later. 
If the two premises are true this argument is such that I can convince myself that the conclusion follows and is true and now it would seem that I can put off revision until later. In fact, this argument is paradoxical, because while I've just concluded that I need not do revision until later I have, in the process of formulating it, also managed to convince myself that this counts as philosophy revision. As you get older you get better at not only procrastination, but also convincing yourself that procrastination can count as revision. It's a funny old world. 

You also get better at convincing yourself you need a break after slaving away for approximately 10 minutes, possibly underlining three words that were already underlined and telling yourself it would be good if you knew what they meant but you will figure it out later. At this point I usually go for a banana all the while mentally going over what you have just "revised", again convincing yourself that, despite being on a break, you are actually still revising and, as a result, deserve a longer break. This can get so bad as to watch TV and start finding subliminal messages in the Disney Channel's programming that further convinces you that you are still revising - last year, for example, I was watching Wizards of Waverly Place (as you do), and managed to spend the entire programme asking myself if they were determined to make the decisions they were or if it is was fate or free will. Definitely solid philosophy revision there. Yet again, your second break wasn't really a break at all and you need another break.

Having gone off for the "another break" that you now need after two unproductive breaks, you often end up on social networking sites. The undoing of many, vain attempts to deactivate facebook "for exams" often fail with this being nothing more than simply logging out, Facebook can claim the revision of many teenagers. Twitter is no better and between them, they must see numerous posts about "should be revising but on here" or something along those lines, often complaints about how easily distracted people are and funny things they found whilst procrastinating (like this blog? Nah...). With these sites comes the most deadly and convincing type of justification for not doing revision. Again I shall do some philosophy:
  1. X is online
  2. X is a hard worker and likely to get top grades
  3. Therefore, if X is online and not working, I can be online and not working 
Whilst possibly the most flawed reasoning in the world, this can be the most convincing and for as long as X remains online (let's say s/he left his computer on), you feel you can remain online - after all, is s/he isn't revising, you obviously don't need to be. 

Finally, you decide that for you to "revise" a subject, you have to have known it in the first place. No point trying to learn something that the teacher hasn't taught you so you do one of two things:

1. You email your teacher safe in the knowledge that s/he won't reply because it is not term time and thus convince yourself that you are not able to revise that topic until you go back to school and ask him/her about it. Or rather, that you would have revised it if you could and therefore count the time you would have spent revising it but didn't, as time you actually spent revising.

2. Convince yourself if you needed to know it, the teacher would have taught it and therefore not only do you not need to know or learn it but also you can cut down revision time in the knowledge you have less to revise. 

Having procrastinated but actually revised, taken a break but actually done revision and managed to cut your revision time down despite not revising it is probably time to end the hard day's revision and find a way of adding in revision you've only technically not done to the next day, to convince yourself you will eventually do it, only for the process to start all over again. And with that, I am already 3 minutes late for maths revision but then, I do 3 essay subjects so writing this blog counts as writing practice, so really, I've already started revision...

Sunday 1 April 2012

April Fools'

This article is not an April Fool. Apart from it being difficult to make an actually funny and/or believable one, I am sure I'd be the one to cross the line and go too far. No, this is an article on April Fools' themselves. A basic Google search will yield the necessary history and I have helpfully linked the Wikipedia article on April Fools' Day if you do wish to read more about them. I do enjoy April Fools' Day. Once I remember to sit back and ignore everything that comes up on twitter and Facebook, I quite enjoy watching people get fooled. Even if it is infuriating when you realise that the once in a lifetime offer turns out to be a harmless April Fools' - the City Tickets offer on twitter being the offending April Fool that got me this year.

It is, of course, imperative to remember one thing:

Stuff still happens! Just because it is April Fools' day does not mean that things don't happen - don't just ignore everything. I'm convinced controversial stuff like the legislation to monitor internet use which I am assured is true, although I still want to have my doubts, is deliberately posted on April Fools' so people ignore it until it is too late and BAM, internet use is monitored, being poor is made illegal and all forms of tax are abolished. Just approach with caution!

I feel odd posting an article with advice. Strangely patronising, no? Ah well.