I am relatively new to rational wiki. I am somewhat of a skeptic but I enjoy playing devil's advocate. I am not a good typist so I will frequently make editing mistakes which I will have to go back and correct.
I am a college student from New England. I am a convinced agnostic but I was raised and still identify as a Jew. I am an extremely cynical person but I nevertheless have a strong interest in politics. I am for all intents and purposes, a Democratic Socialist (who therefore votes Democrat). This reflects my economic beliefs more than my social beliefs which can be described as moderate. My interest is in Archaeology and Middle Eastern politics. I have a very low tolerance for stupidity which is probably the reason why I enjoy rationalwiki so much. It may seem weird for me, a young adult, to identify myself as being closer to the "old left" but that's probably the best way to describe my politics. Simply put, when it comes to politics I tend to put economic issues before social issues. Here on this wiki it will probably be more common for me to get into arguments with other leftists rather than conservatives. How civil I am when I argue with conservatives depends on how civil I think they are being to me and what we're talking about (this is true for real life as well on the internet).
I am rather cautious in editing work that I feel should be formal. Hence most of my contribution will actually be suggestions I post on talk pages. I also have a bad habit of posting on threads that are months or even years old. I don't really consider myself to be the best writer so while there are articles I want to create or add on to, it will be a while before I actually go through with my plans to do so.
I am easily distractable not only in real life, but even on online conversations which is rather impressive (though not in a good way). I also tend to bore quickly.
Thoughts on Recent Supreme Court Cases
These here are my thoughts on some recent and not as recent but still relevant SCOTUS cases.
- Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: The Genco Pura Olive Oil Company approves of the Court's decision.
- Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: What happens if my employer is a Christian Scientist?
- McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union: Justice Breyer tells Conservatives Christians to stop being pricks.
- Van Orden v. Perry: Justice Breyer tells Liberal Atheists to stop being pricks.
Because of the way I view the last two cases on this list, some people on this site may be compelled to accuse me of adhering to the balance fallacy, I regard this accusation as being irrelevant. Justice Breyer's legal thought can be summed up in a single sentence: "Don't be a jackass." The litigant, by virtue of being obsessively pedantic in his attempt to enforce the establishment clause, was being a jackass. And hence as far as Justice Breyer was concerned he was little different in character than the idiots in Kentucky who tried to put up the ten commandments in a courthouse. The only thing an old monument with religious overtones does is make people feel slightly uncomfortable, you know, sort of like how I as a Jew feel during the entire month of December. Consider this: if you can defend keeping Christmas as a public holiday but object to Justice Breyer decision to ignore a forty year old ten commandments monument in Texas, than you are being a hypocrite.
Beliefs about Religion and stuff
For starters I am Jewish, but that is mostly because I was born Jewish (and will remain so to the day I die). For all practical purposes I am an agnostic. This, as I have mentioned before, is not a label for atheism. My bottom line is this: the G-d of the gaps idea states that G-d is responsible for what science is unable to explain. Unlike apologists I interpret this to mean that a G-d may be responsible for what science is unable to explain. The charge that this is an Argument from Ignorance is as true as it is completely irrelevant. It is impossible for science to know everything. In other words there will always be gaps and hence we will always be ignorant of those gaps and thus there will always be a possible God to fill those gaps.
One important thing I ought to mention is that I am not an anti-theist. My views regarding religion's place in society are similar to those expressed in the Sky Cake skit done by Comedian Patton Oswalt. Unlike anti-theists I regard Religion as having actual worthwhile uses. Let's be frank, the most immediate concern for intelligent life is death. No sane person can cope with the bleakness of eternal oblivion. And those who claim that they can are liars who are trying to give the appearance that they are not afraid of death. On an intellectual level you may say that you do not believe in an afterlife, but on an emotional level you will always believe in an afterlife. This fear of death is where religion started, it is why religion has always had such a firm grip over people, and it is the reason why trying to eliminate superstition and by extension, religion, is utterly impossible. The best that we can do is to try and keep religion from interfering in science where it isn't needed and in people's lives where they don't want it.
On a slightly different subject, I am fascinated with Biblical criticism and Biblical studies.
I actually enjoy reading ancient classical stuff when the topic is something to my liking (comedy and history). Here are some thoughts on people whose works I've actually read, enjoyed, and remembered.
- Aristophanes: A brilliant satirist. Unfortunately unless you understand Greek history very well you won't really understand his plays with the exception of The Birds, The Clouds, Lysistrata (the whole premise of the play is hysterically funny in any time period, it is truly ageless), and to some extent Ecclesiazusae (better known as the Assembblywomen). In order to truly understand this man's funny you have to think like an Athenian living in the 5th century BCE.
- Herodotus: He was indeed the father of history, he was also the father of telling tall tales. This is a problem that has been recognized since antiquity. It is still perfectly acceptable to accept what he says so long as it doesn't contradict what we know archaeology tells us. He gives us enormous incite into the ancient world and informs us both intentionally and unintentionally of some amazing achievements in history. He himself said that he was working off of hearsay stories largely because to him hearsay stories were better than no stories.
- Flavius Josephus: I am Jewish but I regard Jospehus as a sympathetic character who was trying to save his religion from extremism. The Rabbis took the middle ground pronouncing Josephus to be a traitor but at the same time condemning the Zealots for their fanaticism and general craziness (they often referred to the Zealots as Biryonim which means "wild beasts"). My favorite work of his is The Jewish War. In the context of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict this book makes for an interesting read, mostly because if interpreted that light the history it recounts is objectionable to both sides of the conflict. And given that I tend to find both sides objectionable I kind of like that. Someone who believes in the rightness of one of the sides would probably disagree.
Thoughts about Spelling
This is going to annoy a lot of the Brits on this site but as an American I prefer American spelling (note: though unfortunately I am neither a great typist nor a great speller). Nonetheless I am not deluded enough to believe that (as some Americans and British people do) that such differences in opinion are in any way reflective of an individual person's political views. Ironically I nevertheless oppose most proposals of spelling reform. The primary reason for this is due to the large differences in dialect currently present in English. Simply put, the current English orthography (both British and American) does not substantially privilege any one dialect over another.
Articles I want to create at some point
If someone else creates these first then good for them, I just want to see articles about these subjects written on this wiki: Averroes, Maimonides, Erasmus, Bartolomeo de las Casas, and Pre-Columbian Contact.
If you want to complain or make conversation feel free to post on my talk page.
Temporary Notice Concerning Recent Activity (Fall 2015) on Rationalwiki
I will not be answering any questions regarding my stances on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. While the topic is very interesting to me I have a lot of work to do at the moment and I simply do not have the time to deal with the eventual argument that I will feel obligated to follow. It's not that I won't
instigate a flame war discuss or bring up this topic at some point in the future. It's that I just don't have the time to do it now.