My ultra-boring life

Friday, January 04, 2008

Trials

It has been an odd month. I won't go into details about the 3 people I know whom I have found out have cancer/probable cancer. But it's freaking me out. They are all young -- one is just eleven -- but it's making me feel old and scared and very, very mortal. The thing that has been getting to me the most, though, is an old friend who was in a snowboarding accident Christmas Eve and broke his back, among other things. They have been working to keep him alive since then (which has gone blessedly well) so we don't know many details on the status of the back, but so far he has not been able to feel anything from the waist down. For some reason this sort of thing gets to me more than even death itself. The thought of losing functionality absolutely terrifies me and it terrifies me vicariously in this situation. In fact, I don't want to talk about that much anymore.

This family is full of gems. The Mom is brilliant; she is my best friend from college and she is incredible with all she is able to do. The Dad, who had the accident, is also brilliant and an incredibly hard worker who only recently was able to get past the post-doc world and become faculty at the U of U. Their oldest child (who is far too old :) ) is a great help AND very smart, and the youngest child is a spitfire full of laughs. Their middle child unfortunately has some fairly severe handicaps, but I know this has brought blessings to the family through the struggles, and I think it has brought blessings to many others as well because the Mom fights so hard to make sure the legislature passes laws to help children like him. I mean, tell me, who has the strength and energy to raise 2 normal children AND a severely handicapped child AND lobby the state along with the other jobs she does on the side? She's incredible!

At any rate, I will be going down there in mid-January to help, but if anyone would like to contribute to gifts for this amazing family, please contact me at spamcatcher AT cableone DOT net in the next week or two and I will be happy to put any contributions into the kitty. The Dad is going to be in rehab for probably about a year, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Logic and Blaming Religion for Evil

I was talking with an acquaintance the other day and he mentioned that 'all wars are because of religion.' I was so shocked I didn't know what to say for a moment, then I rebutted, 'of course not ALL wars are because of religion. Many are about power, or land, or ethnicity, etc.' I wasn't very convincing, though I brought up a few examples, and I found myself disappointed with the conversation. It got me thinking again, though, about the common argument that 'religion can't be real/true because it is the source of so much evil.' This is a common fallacy that is put forth, surprisingly, often by intellectuals, even though it violates some of the most basic of logical arguments. You cannot hold up an example of the worst of something and use that as the complete representation of that thing. I believe it is called the straw man argument.

To put this in other words -- if religion is evil because so much of religion has been used as an excuse for evil deeds, then you must apply the same argument to all things that have been used as an excuse for evil deeds -- power, money, possessions, love. I can see many people falsely believing that power, money, and possessions are purely evil because of this (ignoring all of the good that can be and has been done with all three), but few would try to argue that love could be purely evil. Yet ask any homicide cop about the motives for the murders he has seen, and I can guarantee that love -- or some semblance thereof -- will be in the top three. It's just bad logic to take the worst examples of something and use it as the representation of that thing. So stop doing it. If you don't like religion, fine. But you'll have to use some different argument than 'it's evil'. There have been far, far too many good things done in the name of religion -- why, even in the hideous dark ages, religion was the reason we had writing and history preserved -- for it to be pure evil. We don't even have to get into the argument of what constitutes 'truly following God' for me to win this one. So I'll save that one for another day. :)