Problems with separation of church and state

This is some practical observation. Separation of church and state really means freedom from blasphemy laws. This is why the restrictions on laws respecting religion or prohibiting it are withing the first amendment to the United States constitution, rather separate from it. It’s fundamentally about speech. The problems (or perhaps flaws) arise when the power and scope of the state grows, especially if the religious make-up of the culture has a high degree of diversity. When this happens the state will become atheistic or agnostic over time, as we can see in most western countries today. Why does this happen?…

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Beauty in Art is the Reverence of God

I’ll try to give my broadest, most robust theory behind beauty in art: Beauty in art is the iteration of God’s creation. Yes, this is Platonic. When a painter paints a portrait of a beautiful woman, he is iterating God’s creation directly. If he is painting a woman that is born of his own imagination, he is painting an iteration of the concept of female beauty, which is revealed through God’s creation. This extends to music. Beautiful music is a display of the perfect mathematics that underly God’s creation – an ordering of pitches over time according to mathematical relationships.…

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Judging things by their outcomes

This post is beyond the contest between consequentialism and deontology, before anyone starts firing up his philosophy brain. I notice in our society there is a profound resistance to judging actual outcomes, whether it is a public program, government service, educational process, or even a workout routine. The tendency is to try to judge either the process for its own sake or to judge the intended outcomes of the process. A workout program seems fun at the gym – it’s a great program! But… did you gain strength and muscle, cut fat, or increase your athletic capacity? We can’t abandon…

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Grades – Important Measure, or a Tool of Oppression?

Once again, we have a great tweet as an entry-point into a deeper, more important discussion: Grading students – is it necessary and appropriate, or a piece of convention that ought to be reconsidered? Before we even bother digging into any perspectives, let’s challenge the initial response. It turns out the story that Jesse is responding to was the result of a writer being duped, and the email was faked. Buzzfeed issued the appropriate correction at the TOP of the story. That’s actually a responsible correction, so good on them. Why did this gain such traction? I think its because…

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What is Talent?

The word “talent” is not always used consistently in the English language. Often, it is used interchangeably with the word “skill” to denote a level of accomplishment, such as, “Michael is a talented translator.” However, most people will admit that it is something distinct from mere skill, which can be acquired. “Talent” communicates something deeper than the result of practice – something is at least partly inherent in the subject. At the same time, it is impossible to discern talent in the absence of outcomes which include skill development. Nobody will recognize the talent of an artist who has not…

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Everyday Skeptic: Our Mission Orders Have Been Flawed

Convincing our fellows using reason and evidence is a bridge too far.   A few recent encounters out on the wide world of the internet, as well as social media, have enlightened me to a great failing in my personal perspective and my assumptions when dealing with others. That failing, that misjudgment, is in believing that other people value reason, demand evidence of claims, and have a desire to discover the truth. That failing was revealed through hateful and emotional reactions that people had to simple claims that went counter to their own stated position. The immediate reaction to reasonable…

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Everyday Skeptic, Part 3: Credible Evidence

Note: The video portion of this article could not be completed due to time constraints. It will be added on a future date. While it is very possible to dismiss many claims using the rules of logic covered in the last installment of the series, you are still likely to encounter claims that, while adhering to the rules in their format, still warrant a bit of skepticism from you, the reader. This is because not all claims have credible evidence. Just to review from last week: A statement is true if it is a positive claim and there is credible evidence to…

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Everyday Skeptic, Part 2: What is Truth?

Note: the video contains the same information as the article, but in a more conversational form. Now that we have established why it is important to be skeptical, and what sort of situations should prompt you to be extra careful, we can dive into the methods used to be skeptical. Being a skeptic doesn’t mean you disbelieve everything and everyone, it means that you demand proof of claims before you commit them to belief or take action. In future articles, we will delve into what constitutes good and bad sources of evidence, and how to tell if evidence is used properly. For now, let…

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Everyday Skeptic, Part 1: Why and When to be Skeptical

Please note: The video below contains the same information as the article, but in a more conversational form. Choose which format you prefer! I. Series Introduction: Information and Expertise Everyday life is filled with decisions. Many of these decisions are made without knowing what the outcome will be. We rely on many things to help us make these decisions, including our own experience, intuition, assumptions how other people will act, and, the subject of this article, information from other people. Everybody is an expert in something, but nobody, not even the super intelligent, can be an expert in everything. Each person…

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Teachers make a DIFFERENCE! What about YOU? Huh?

A Reflection on the Ego of the Teaching Profession I had a different article in mind for today, but a conversation I had during work yesterday with my screenwriting partner Matt (find his website here) inspired me to create a different piece. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share! Credit/Source: Zen Pencils, zenpencils.com              I am a teacher.             I have been a teacher for more than ten years, in various faculties. I’ve taught at private and public school. I’ve taught individuals and I’ve taught classrooms full of kids. I’ve taught at the college level and the elementary school level. Given…

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