How can you tell if a group of people who seem to share many of your beliefs, values and goals is a genuine supportive social environment or one that has a rather hidden or peculiar agenda of its own?
Personal stories of many people who have been brought up in religious cults or who have willingly joined as adults have shown that, most of the times, life in these communities is not as idyllic or as enlightened as one would have imagined or expected it to be.
What if someone would tell you that they are both an atheist and an agnostic at the same time? Would you tell them that they’ve got their terms wrong? That they are confused? That they simply do not understand important matters of spirituality and knowledge?
To some, the term agnostic is simply redundant. To others, it is the equivalent of atheist. There are also people who state that the agnostic is a believer who has yet to understand religious matters.
At the end of December I came across a story in the News whose main subject continued to echo and reappear in my mind with different nuances and feelings attached, culminating with my decision to write this blog entry: a British couple welcomed the birth of two puppies via pet cloning services provided by a South Korean company.
I will start this post by saying that no matter what you’ve read or heard, there is so far no scientific evidence that living beings possess a soul and therefore there is also no subsequent proof that if we would indeed have a soul, that soul continues to exist after our death.
Even so, since ancient times, there have been claims that certain people can communicate with the soul of the departed, through various means. And many people chose not to pass up the opportunity of having a final or a series of talks with someone they love, but who is no longer with us.
Critical Thinking Applied to Church of Scientology Promo for one of their Free Online Courses
Some time ago I came across the following video posted on the official YouTube Channel of The Church of Scientology. From what I understand, the series of videos is part of a “giving back to the community” policy, which at first may sound OK, but in my opinion, this is a rather poisonous gift they’re giving.
So, The Church of Scientology provides some Free Courses for those willing to improve their life in different areas – human interactions, marriage, education, work, etc -, but what kind of skills are they conveying?
A few days ago I watched a TED Talk called “10 Myths about Psychology, Debunked”, by Ben Ambridge, and although it’s less than 15 minutes long, I had to split it into two viewing sessions because the first 3 minutes were such a load of false and random information, that I needed a break to process what I just witnessed under the label of “Education”.
@DeepakChopra: Critical Thinking. You’re Doing it Wrong.
His tweets, my tweets and the fallacies in-between.
Since I am involved in promoting Critical Thinking as both concept and set of abilities, I thought that a short analysis of the recent small interactions between me and Deepak Chopra that took place on Twitter may be a good example on how to deal with manipulation and pseudoscience by means of reason.
Like it or not, most of us are being exposed to at least one main religious belief system from a very early age. Like everything else that occurs in our early childhood, religious beliefs will shape our development, meaning they will impact our personality, self-image, motivation and desires, behaviors and affectivity.
Although I do believe everyone is entitled to their own belief system and that there are objective pathological situations in which these beliefs are not to be challenged, I also consider it useful to acknowledge the kind of influence religious beliefs can have on the individual’s inner dynamic and interpersonal relationships.
When it comes to bold life choices, there’s always a win some, lose some situation. Personal Development is one such choice. You deliberately make a decision to change yourself in order to live a more authentic and purposeful life. Most of the time, this process involves changing the way you think or behave, and emotional changes soon follow as a result of the first (or often even guide the process by letting the individual know how close they are to their goal, their Authentic Self and the life they want).
I’m an advocate of Critical Thinking and Assertiveness. Thus, I am a huge supporter of the freedom of thought and the freedom of speech. Freedom of thought includes the right of all human beings to refer to whatever belief system they consider as valid (what valid is, that’s another topic). Furthermore, one is entitled to act upon one’s belief – receive information, be in touch with others that share the specific belief system, engage in common actions and maybe even try to convey the message towards people outside the main belief group. As you’ve probably noticed, this kind of right (like anything that has to do with assertiveness) revolves around the individual and relations are created based on similarities and shared purpose. However, we all step outside the circle so to speak, and come in contact with various people whose views on life do not resemble our own.