Some Thoughts

I was reading up on Hume, Kant and some empirical arguments for the existence of God, and I had some thoughts which I think is appropriate to share. Nothing religious nor anything deep, just some first hand thoughts as I read. 

To prove the existence of God, we need empirical evidence to justify it to be true. Which is to say if we cannot have direct experience of God Himself, we need to at least have an experience of the demonstration of His experience,which likely would be a display of His powers. This would not be a question of whether the parting of the Red Sea did happen or not, or if Jesus did exist; this would be questionable as human account of historical events is fallible and accounts differ. (With no offence to anyone, I believe in Jesus entirely, as I do with the other great great teachers and beings such as the Buddha)

Rather, to prove this existence today, we need God to demonstrate His powers to us in the form of a miracle. Take for example, if God raises a mountain in front of the world; this would be a good demonstration as there are no means known to mankind to raise a mountain out of nowhere in a matter of seconds. This would be an apt demonstration of God’s omnipotence (one of three omnis).

Can you imagine though, if that really happened? People will find ways to know God even more, given that God is proven to exist. Man will attempt to use Science to understand this “phenomena”, and probably go to extreme means to comprehend this. This is really where the problem starts.

A paradox will happen. If God is logically supposed to be beyond Science, and a demonstration is used to prove God’s existence, then Science cannot be used to prove this. If something happens not to be understood but is sought to be understood, then a cyclical dilemma occurs.

That is to say that if the existence of God or God Himself is not to be understood, then this existence is only logical not to be proven or revealed directly. And if God is really proven to exist, his omnipotence etc will all be thrust into the spotlight, and God’s infallibility itself will too be diminished somehow. (We will find a way to reach God physically if He shows Himself to us)

So it is perhaps the desire of man to know God that probably prevents such a knowledge, and it too is the inherent need for man to gain all possible knowledge that it is unlikely for us to know God directly. Which in itself is a complex issue since it is taken to be believed that God created Man, and thus also created this desire in us which keeps us from knowing Him.

The Irony Behind Advice

Advice can come in all forms of shapes and sizes, and from anyone at anytime. It can come from your mum when needed most (“Just follow your heart sweetheart, everything is going to be okay”), or it can come unwelcomed from a rival (“Why don’t you learn how to dress for success even a little like me?”) 

Given the assumed constructive nature of an advice, most are friendly and designed to improve a situation or an individual, be it in influencing a decision or how to do things better. Friends advice each other all the time when things look a little dry for the other, and the Internet is full of people writing advisory articles in forum pages and websites. 

The irony however, is this: we often tend to take the advice given by strangers or random sources more seriously than those given to us by our families and close friends. This is a weird phenomena, but it’s true for a large part of us. Take for example when we’re young: When our mums tell us to eat our vegetables, we tend to shrug it off but when we read up on the advices online on the importance of vegetables to our diet, or when we see our friends or crush enjoying their greens and egging us to eat them, we start to appreciate and consume them. 

How different is it from when your mum nicely tells you to eat your veggies at dinner time? Not much really, the vegetables still taste about the same. 

There’s something strange about this really, that we choose to ignore or neglect the advice of those who know us best, and those who want the best for us. Perhaps it is taking for granted the goodwill that our loved ones have for us, or maybe we seek to learn only from experiencing it for ourselves. The hard way, if you ask me. 

It would probably be good if we learn to take advice for us more seriously, and give them a thought before throwing them away into the mental garbage bin at the back of our heads. We should of course have a mind and an opinion of our own, but we could always use for a different (perhaps previously hidden) perspective in a situation. We may think we know better, but sometimes.. we really don’t. 

(P.S another irony of advice is that we often give them to people like they are free, but use them ourselves as though it’d cost us a new car or apartment, but thats to be saved for another day. Haha.)

Moral Courage

Before I proceed with today’s post, I would like to take a moment and do a little advertising for the WordPress App that is available on the Apple App Store. It’s neat, easy to use, and makes blogging and posting a very simple process. Definitely something to get if you’re keen on reading WordPress articles or writing a post on the move. 

To begin proper, I would like to just briefly talk about Moral Courage. I don’t have a very long window to write today, so I’ll keep it short and simple.

All of us (sort of) know what moral courage is; it is simply understood as having the courage to do what is right, in the face of inconvenience or possible consequences and repercussions. It takes moral courage to speak the truth, and it takes moral courage to ensure that justice is preserved against tyranny. 

How do we apply moral courage to our daily lives? We can do so by allowing our moral compass to guide us in our thoughts, speech and actions, so that we do what is right when people watch.. and when people don’t. While it may seem like an abstract notion, it could just be as simple as defending a victim in the face of a bully. It is the right thing to do, hence moral, and it requires a degree of boldness and strength in face of a possible consequence, therefore c0urage. 

Just to highlight, to settle for a peaceful settlement sometimes can be a lack of moral courage. (We assume this example happens in a vacuum theoretical setting where there is no larger picture involved, or larger peace to preserve.)  For an authority to call for mutual apologies and a peaceful resolution without punishment when an injustice has occurred and victimisation is involved, is a lack of moral courage on the side of the authority. For the injustice to go uncorrected because the authority lacks the courage or ability to discern the truth and right the wrong in the situation is a failure on the moral plane of the authority. 

We thus see that the moral courage of individual(s) have an impact not just on themselves, but on other people involved as well. It is thus important that we know what is right, that we do what we can to preserve what is right, and correct that which may be wrong. You can be a person of moral authority or otherwise, but morality should always apply to everyone and anyone. To have moral courage is to be true to ourselves and to what is right and just. 

Not easy definitely, but to have moral courage is something we certain can aspire towards. It is a weighty topic, but our conscience is a good guide to knowing what should be done when faced with a situation or dilemma. 

Have a good evening everyone! 

The Art (and Science) of Decision Making 

I picked up a couple of books on philosophy and psychology awhile back from the local library and I came across a chapter on decision making. While we do know vaguely how decisions are made (or at least, how we make them), I don’t think the majority of us would delve into the technicalities of how we reach certain choices or how we make up our minds. I didn’t manage to read a single sentence from that chapter the night I chanced upon it; just the chapter heading (“How We Make Our Decisions”) itself got me thinking already.

When faced with two or more options, we are likely forced to, or would instinctively, make a choice or decision between the various options. Whether it be between a pair of Adidas and Nike sports shoes, or choosing between different political viewpoints, or even between two tomatoes to pick up at the supermarket.. We all have to make decisions every single day. (Just staying alive is a decision in itself.) It is possibly the most important thing we do everyday, and we sure do a lot of it.

There are many levels in this seemingly simple process. The first level that we consciously or subconsciously make our decisions on is called instinct, or better known as intuition. Something inside us tells us that A makes more sense than B, and choosing A is definitely a better idea than B. It is something that operates on a subconscious level and it makes the decision something that is not deliberated by a conscious thought process. This level is usually the determinant in urgent situations where the decision to act (just to act, or act in a certain way) is made within a spilt second that offers little time for thought, such as whether to dive and push someone out of danger, or whether to pull the trigger or not. 

In less pressing situations with more space and time to think, our rational minds become a larger factor in the decision-making process. We tend to consider various external factors such as the circumstances surrounding the decision, as well as the possible short and long term repurcussions that could result from making the choice. Depending on your personality, you may either consider first the short or long run. Spontaneous and outgoing personalities tend to consider the short run as more crucial, while individuals who prefer planning and are generally more systematic and meticulous (and likely more reserved) would see the long term as more important. 

It’s something like voting for Party A because they dangle a carrot of cash incentives and rebates (short run) over Party B which offers long term solutions to possible problems (long run) which could occur in the future (maybe like providing an alternate voice in government), and vice versa depending which you consider more important. This example shows it the short and long runs form the bedrock of whether you choose instant gratification, or delayed gratification. Of course, this is very general because most of the time the short run interest and long run interest coincide, where the short run benefit over time leads to the long run (economically, we live in the short run and I quote, ‘in the long run we are all dead’ (Keynes)). Economic theory aside, deciding and planning for the future is still inevitably important.

That being said, there are definitely many other factors that contribute to the process of decision making. Our emotions make up a huge chunk of this process, as how an angry person loses most of his rationality while a sad person tends to make a random decision given his emotional state. The process is also influenced by the words of others, whether it be by friendly advice or political directives or so many other possibilities. Circumstances certainly play a critical role as well.

As we have discussed, there are so many factors that affect our decisions (whether directly or indirectly) that we have to know which factor is most important to that decision. Now that we know a few of these factors, we can thus consider if one of these factors (say, emotions) is overbearing on our ability to make a sound decision. We thus have to balance all these factors out before we put our finger and mind on one of the various options facing us. 

Now that we have done some thinking, I think it is time for me to start reading the chapter on Decisions. I guess we pretty much have control over how we decide and what choices we make.. Unless we believe in predestination and fate, which would effectively remove us of our free will and our ability to choose. That however, is a story for another day. 

Til next time, have fun with making decisions!

Crossroads

Sometimes we are led to crossroads
With a left and a right down each side:
Paths which lead on to the unknown
Where the destinations are purposefully out of sight;

We cannot know where each will take us to and
We cannot tell how the journeys would be but
One thing we can be sure of is that
We can only head down one of the two pathways;

How do we make up our minds at crossroads?
.
.
.

I have a feeling they lead eventually to the same end point.

A Tale of Two Mugs

(5 min poetry challenge before bed again!)

 

This is a tale of two mugs,
Yes you’ve got it – two mugs;

The first mug is the prized mug,
One that is beautiful and exquisite,
Where it sits neatly at the top of the cabinet,
Nicely out of reach;

The boy thinks that that is the mug for him,
Where drinking from it would make him happier,
That the beverage (even if water) would taste sweeter,
But unfortunately it is what it is –
Nicely out of reach;

The other mug is the regular mug,
One that looks plain and average,
That if it had a name it would be Jane for plain Jane,
A mug in hand that brings the beverage with it;

The boy uses this mug everyday for his drink,
Be it water or coffee or tea or even the occasional coke,
This is the mug that the boy drinks from,
But plain as it is and used as it is,
It is little thought of and hardly cherished;

The unattainable prized mug serves little purpose,
Yet he reaches for it as though it should be his mug;

The everyday regular mug is of much use and great purpose,
Yet he reaches for it with little regard and a mind set on the other;

Oh what a pity really,
That in reaching for both neither is obtained,
Where the outstretched hand fails to reach the prized mug,
And the other hand with the regular mug spills the drink in it;

This is as such a tale of two mugs,
With a floor splashed with milk and a boy left in tears.