To Boldly Go…Away from Religion

July 3, 2009

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I realize the Friendly Atheist has already posted this but I found this article by Nick Farrantello in The Humanist magazine so compelling I have to include it (especially so close to Independence Day since it’s about personal freedom). feel free to call me a copy-cat, FA fans.

Oddly but accurately titled “Star Trek Made Me an Atheist,” Farrantello shows how the original series (TOS to Trekkie Geeks) made him compare the worldview of the USS Enterprise crew with what he saw around him in religious institutions.

He writes: [A]s a boy I found it increasingly hard to understand why Christians weren’t acting the way Kirk and Spock were. If there was a God, some being causing earthquakes and hurling hurricanes, why wouldn’t Christians (or Jews or Muslims for that matter) fight against such a being? What I was learning on Star Trek seemed more moral to me than what I was learning in church.

I really have no other commentary to add. Well said.

For me, the pinnacle of the article is Farrantello’s inclusion of this classic Kirk monologue from the episode “Who Mourns for Adonis?”

[Remember] who and what you are: a bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. And the only thing that’s truly yours is the rest of humanity. That’s where our duty lies!

Such a profound statement from such an often-campy space opera reminds us all why the show was so far ahead of its time (and maybe our time).

Live long and prosper…



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The Wheels on the Karma Go Round and Round

July 3, 2009

Although I don’t see the need for the ancient rituals, robes and other traditions, I have found the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun to offer a more secularized version of Zen (or Chan) Buddhist practice that really provides me with real-world, practical insights.

One of the order’s best online articles is an essay about the Buddhist/Hindu concept of reincarnation or rebirth. The concept seems to take on a mostly supernatural flavor in most Buddhist and Hindu traditions but I found myself agreeing with the more practical explanation offered by ZBOHY teacher Chaun Zhi Shakya.

He writes:

[I]n Zen, questions about reincarnation just don’t arise… we have no use for a system that teaches us that we will be reborn as another creature. That system won’t help us attain our freedom now. Zen encourages us to awaken to ourselves through our own efforts, to understand our true nature as human beings, and to live our lives in that nature.

While many Zen Buddhists will likely say “that’s not the Zen I learned,” I find his explanation compelling and that’s one reason why I consider Zen an effective practice to help me bring about happiness in my life and the lives of others. It’s not a magic formula but the techniques seem to help me better understand the true nature of reality — to the limited degree my “meat computer” can comprehend such a concept.



Back Stroke of the West

July 1, 2009

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As an unabashed Star Wars geek and child of the 70s-80s (no comment on Michael Jackson’s death), I was thrilled and just a little disappointed in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith when it hit theaters a few years back. Although this blog post by Winterson.com is a few months old, I laugh out loud every time I read the mistranslations form the Chinese sub-title version. Winterson has updated the original post.

My favorite mistranslation: “You are a sacrifice article that I cut up rough now.”


This I believe…for now

June 17, 2009

I have just posted a new page on the blog titled “My Beliefs.” Feel free to read through them and comment — agree, disagree, call me a free-thinker or hell-bound heathen. Let’s discuss. Keep in mind like the rest of my body, the beliefs produced by my limited brain will likely change in minor ways (most of these are pretty solid) over time.


Finding Meaning Outside of Theism….

June 17, 2009

This video provides an interesting response to those who ask the non-theist, “How can your life have meaning without (fill in the person’s chosen religion)?

I resonate deeply with astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “sermon” in the video about forming a connection with the cosmos. That defines non-theistic religion for me.