Thursday, December 27, 2007

Traveler IQ Challenge

So far, I've gotten to level 6:

Fortune Cookie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Random Thoughts...

1. In Denmark, they celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the 26th of December, which they call "The Second Day of Christmas." Way to draw it out, Denmark.

2. It is effin' freezing here.

3. Girls Aloud are such wanna be Spice Girls.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Burberry & Denmark

I don't know what it is, but Danish people absolutely LOVE the traditional Burberry Nova Check (herein referred to as BNC) pattern to an extent that is probably unmatched anywhere else in the world. Seriously, I imagine Danes love to wear it even more than people in the UK do, which is amazing for a London-based company.* If I earned one kroner for every BNC patterned item I saw each day (scarves are most popular, but I see a fair amount of skirts, gloves, small accessories - wallets handbags, and a woman I work with owns a poncho(!)), I would be able to afford some of it myself - though I'd personally want to spend any significant amount of disposable income on a Mulberry bag. But, yes, admittedly I am guilty of purchasing Burberry London duty free when I flew to Amsterdam a few months ago. I was sick of my Burberry Brit and I like the more honeysuckle-esque overtones of London. Also, a boy recently told me that he really like the way it smelled on me, and that he would forever associate Burberry London with me... have I found a signature scent?! :) I am apparently a fan of Burberry perfumes. Must be my Danish blood.

In other news, check out this recap in Copenhagen revisited of a traditional Danish julefrokost that I attended. I couldn't have written about it better.

* I am making a comparison to Italian-headquartered companies, which are popular worldwide, but seem to be particularly prevalent in Italy - Though this is perhaps skewed on account of the (frankly, rather scant when one considers how much these luxury items cost in the first place) Italian-made discount one receives if these products are purchased in Italy...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Top Christmas Songs

I compiled my Christmas playlist today (Don't worry, Mich. I still have Miami Boys Choir for when I'd like to get in touch with Judaism :)) My top 5, can't-live-without-them during the holidays:

1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Ukranian Bell Carol
(in fact, all versions of Ukranian Bell Carol/Carol of the Bells. This is my all-time favorite Christmas carol of all times and I have even been known to listen to it in, like, June)
2. Mariah Carey | All I Want for Christmas is You
3. Tchaikovsky | Nutcracker Suite
4. Christmas songs by Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra
5. Mannheim Steamroller | A Fresh Aire Christmas (album)

** Bonus: DJ John Mash Up | Lonely Siberian Winter (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Blackeyed Peas, The Beatles mashup)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My favorite gas station in Denmark...

Is definitely Q8. Now that I live in a new apartment, I bike by one everyday (I used to bike by a Statoil everyday). Q8, "under it's distinctive "Q8 sails" logo" amuses me everytime. It's like they know it wouldn't sell in Denmark or anywhere else in the world if it was actually named Kuwait Petroleum and they weren't clever enough to come up with some other snazzy name. Haha.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Inspektør Tingest...OR... if Inspector Gadget was Danish...

Inspector Gadget was one of my favorite shows as a kid. Today, over my normal Danish-to-the-max lunch of smørrebrød med pålæg (open faced sandwich with, um, stuff on it) and tomato soup, I got to talking with Libby about what kind of gadgets my favorite bumbling Inspector would have if he were Danish.

First, his name would translate to Inspektør Tingest, which goes nicely with the song:

Inspektør Tingest
Ooh ohh
Inspektør Tingest

Inspektør Tingest
Ooh ohh
Inspektør Tingest

Gå Tingest gå
Gå Tingest gå

Inspektør Tingest
Ooh ohh
Inspektør Tingest

... but I wouldn't be surprised if the Danes made it something like Inspektør Tingestsen either, to make it as Danish as possible.

Now, for the gadgets... Among his usual helicopter, umbrella, spring and stretch legs, etc., he would have some things suited specifically for living in Denmark. They would be stated in the usual "Go-go-Gadget" command style, but in Danish, of course:

1. "Gå-gå-Tingest-fyrfadslys!" (Go-go-Gadget-tealights!) - Perfect for creating hygge when badies come around to fight. Hygge is like weed. No one ever fights when they are stoned. Likewise, no one ever fights when they are hyggelig. Hygge and Hatred are antonyms.

2. "Gå-gå-Tingest-cykel!" (Go-go-Gadget-bike!) - Extremely necessary for Copenhagen. Everyone needs a bike, not least of all Inspektør Tingest. For night time he would also be able to utilize the command "Gå-gå-Tingest-cykel lygter!" (Go-go-Gadget-bike lights!) so he wouldn't get pulled over and given a ticket while he was chasing badies. Also, "Gå-gå-Tingest-regnbukser!" (Go-go-Gadget-rain pants!) for when it's raining. Handy and so Danish it hurts.

3. "Gå-gå-Tingest-saltlakrids!" (Go-go-Gadget-salt licorice!) - Best when used against non-Danish badies. One taste and they are down for the count, clutching their throats and crying for Mama.

4. "Gå-gå-Tingest-klippekort!" (Go-go-Gadget-clip card!) - The Inspektør uses this when he has to ride public transportation to catch a badie. Danes never cheat and ride for free, and neither would Tingest.

5. "Gå-gå-Tingest-vejkryds!" (Go-go-Gadget-crosswalk!) - Tingest uses this handy gadget for crossing streets to chase after badies in the middle of the night. He shoots out his own crosswalk whereever he wants so he doesn't have to wait for the light to change. It comes shooting out of his wrist, like Spiderman's webs. Spectacular.

More may follow as I continue to Dansk-ify my favorite childhood tv show.

Man, I would totally watch Inspektør Tingest.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some thoughts on religion

I find religion and religious studies absolutely fascinating. Sometimes I wish I could have gotten an undergraduate minor in religion or theology but, alas, it was not offered at my university. No matter; religious meditations (I use the word meditation in the way Descartes used it, not in the way Indian religions) are more of a hobby for me anyway... I do it when I have the drive and motivation, which usually strikes me at the oddest of times.

For example, today I was biking home from work (well, technically I was biking home from Happy Hour irish coffee with Libby) and I started thinking about Pelagianism, which I was reading about last week. What is Pelagianism, you ask? From Wikipedia (though not a true scholarly source, I know, but I recently read an article, Nuclear Exaggeration: Is Radiation as Dangerous as We Thought?, in the English section of Spiegel Online that actually states, in the text!!, "According to Wikipedia," (see page two of the article, if you're reading it)... so...):
[Pelagianism] is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism). According to Pelagian doctrine, because humanity does not require God's grace for salvation (beyond the creation of will), Jesus' execution is therefore devoid of the redemptive quality ascribed to it by orthodox Christian theology.
Hmmm... I think this is interesting because it seems to work with a number of interesting theories. First, it works with the theory of God as an absentee landlord. This theory essentially states that God created the Universe, simultaneously setting the laws of nature in motion, and has since let it and, subsequently, human evolution proceed in a calculated yet "natural" way, given the laws that were set in place at the time of creation. The absentee landlord theory is one I feel some agnostics, like myself, can't seem to let go without a fight. (See my argument for agnosticism: On Agnosticism and the Meaning of Life) Second, Pelagianism interestingly complements the concept of "will" and, subsequently, "determinism," "free will," and what I like to call "determined free will," though I'm sure the latter has a more philosophical, contemplative term I have somehow missed.

I will elaborate more on this later... I'm hungry now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Well, Ad Do Declare!

* Cultural Differences in Advertising: Ikea - United States v. Denmark

* Ad Battle: Audi vs. BMW vs. Subaru vs. Bentley

The Last Brunch

The Last Brunch
Marithe & Francois Girbaud Ad Campaign

Note that there is hardly any actual food on the table. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stop! Wikitime!

* Wikitimesuck (n):
The [often shocking, to the experiencee] period of time during which an individual spends surfing Wikipedia, following a linked term from one entry to another until they realize that a surprising and generally shocking amount of time has passed.

* Wikontinuum (n): The unique spacial and logical spectrum a wikitimesuck follows. Affected by factors such as motivation, boredom, interest, and need.

I am a Wikipedia abuser. I know enough not to cite Wikipedia for papers, etc, but I love reading about random things. Last night was particularly bad. I spent nearly four hours reading about:

Etiquette in the United States and Canada --> Etiquette in Europe --> The United States Flag --> The T-V distinction --> Pluralis majestatis --> Leibniz --> Game theory --> (distracted) --> Lily Allen --> Morcheeba.

There has got to be some sort of help group for this, slightly intellectualized, time wasting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Copenhagen Bike Culture

Copenhagen is a bike city. Seriously, what boats are to Annapolis, bikes are to Copenhagen. I guess I have a habit of living in beautiful waterfront cities that favor alternative transportation. I would estimate that there are probably 1.5 bikes per person in Copenhagen (a lot of people have extras laying about, and who knows how many are sunken in the canals!). I would also estimate that approximately 70% of the Greater Copenhagen population commutes via bike everyday, whether it's warm, cold, raining, or shining. I bike everyday on my SCOcycle; which is specially engineered for the Scandinavian climate... it says so on a small label right on the bike! Some days, I wish that special engineering included a heated seat or handlebars or something. Maybe the fancy Kildemoes bikes have that... Anyway, Copenhagen is a great city to bike in. It is relatively flat (though there are some exasperating little hills), they have bike lanes everywhere and, after pedestrians, cyclists get the right of way. (The hierarchy is peds, cyclists, cars, and busses, I think). One of the things I like best about Copenhagen are the different characters you see whilst cycling. Now that I have been biking for four months, I feel I have become an expert in character cyclist spotting. Below is my guide to Copenhagen Cyclists.

  1. The Christiania Cyclist – These are the bikers that have the huge Christiania Cycle boxes attached to their bikes. They are generally harmless, but annoying because they take up no less than 2/3 of the bike lanes and move slightly slower than everyone else, especially if they are toting their kids in the box. Beware if you must pass one of these cyclists whilst simultaneously passing a tree. This lane narrowing situation is dangerous. Also, they make wide right turns and sometimes don’t signal because manhandling their kid box seems to require both hands on the handlebars.

  1. Kronan Man (Woman) Kronan is a specific brand of bikes. They each seem to come with a kind of license plate on the back with (presumably) serial numbers. They each say Kronan, making it look kind of like a custom license tag. I’ve taken to calling these people Kronan Men and women. I wonder if anyone that owns a Kronan bike is actually named Kronan...? That would be cool.

  1. The Lance Armstrong – These are the people with the hardcore road bikes, you know, the kind with the rounded handlebars. They bike really fast, all bent over in that “professional cyclist position.” Sometimes they wear full out spandex and change when they get to their destination. These may be people that live outside of Greater Copenhagen. They probably bike an hour everyday and think they are so great because everyone else in their area takes the train. Maybe they are all hardcore environmentalists, but I doubt it. I don’t have any idea what they are training for… Perhaps they go to Bornholm on weekends to practice for the mountain legs… or not.

  1. The Amsterdamer – Cyclists in Amsterdam are notorious bell-ringers. Amsterdamer cyclists in Denmark are the cyclists that feel the need to ding-ding-ding their damn bells whenever they pass someone, even though it is the standard here to bike on the right and pass on the left and generally you don’t need to ding to get by. These people are generally tolerable if you, like me, listen to music on your commute at a loud enough volume to drown our their annoying dings-dings.

  1. The Power Chair Pensionister – These people aren’t cyclists, per say… or, well, at all actually. They are old people in their power chairs that think they own the road because they have put in enough time on the Earth to have earned it. The move really slowly and never signal. Luckily, most of these people are retired, so they aren’t a huge problem during commuting times. You’re most likely to run into one of them on a weekend or if you're cycling mid-day.

  1. The Foreigner – These people aren’t to be feared, but you’ll know them when you see them and definitely take notice. As a general rule, are never blonde and never have blue eyes. Sometimes you might even see one that is non-white. These people are extreme rarities because Copenhagen is probably one of the most homogenous, white places on Earth. If you're on the look out for The Foreigner, go to Nørrebro. It's the mecca for them.

  1. The Businessman – These guys are often in a hurry, off to make their next big deal or transaction the seconds the markets open. They are easily identifiable because they are always biking in suits with those little slap bracelet things around their right ankle to prevent their pants from getting stuck in the chain of their bike. They usually are carrying a messenger tote. During the evening commute you will often see them with flowers, probably bringing them home to the wifey.

  1. The High Heeled Wonder Woman – These are the women that bike in heels no less than 3” high everyday. Beware if their heels happen to be stilettos, rather than a slightly chunkier variety. Stiletto-wearers need to be given space to stop. There is always the fear that they won’t come to a complete stop with their brakes and skid out when they put their piddly little heel down. Give them room, but otherwise be impressed by their skills.

  1. The Motorcyclist – One of the most annoying jerks on the road. These guys ride motorcycles/motorscooters, NOT BIKES! They seem to only use the bike lanes during times when road traffic is high. Other times, they use the regular car lanes. How convenient that they get to pick and choose. Unlike the Amsterdamer, they don’t seem to have bells. They just roar up behind you and expect you to scoot. The one thing I like about the motorcyclists is that they always leave a trail of that gas smell, which reminds me of motorboats at home in Annapolis and makes me slightly homesick for the Chesapeake Bay every time one of them roars by.

  1. The Recumbent – These are a rarity, but you should still look out for them. People on recumbent bikes are tricky because they are hard to see until you are right, well, practically on top of them. Some of them are in little enclosed capsule things that look like spaceships. I think these guys are probably science geeks.
Also, check out this fun Copenhagen Biking Blog: Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita

Region Per Capita Consumption
Luxembourg 15.5
New Hampshire 15.2334
District of Columbia 14.5152
France 14
Nevada 13.7214
Ireland 13.5
Hungary 13.2
Czech Republic 12.1
Delaware 11.7558
Spain 11.7
Denmark 11.5
Portugal 11.4
United Kingdom 11.2
Austria 11.1
Switzerland 10.8
Belgium 10.7
Wyoming 10.6596
Wisconsin 10.6218
Germany 10.2
Florida 9.9414
Colorado 9.828
Australia 9.8
Montana 9.7902
Netherlands 9.7
North Dakota 9.6768
Arizona 9.3744
Massachusetts 9.3744
Vermont 9.3366
Finland 9.3
Greece 9.2
Alaska 9.1854
Rhode Island 9.1476
Minnesota 9.1098
New Mexico 9.072
South Dakota 9.072
Hawaii 9.0342
Louisiana 9.0342
Maine 8.9208
New Zealand 8.9
Oregon 8.883
South Carolina 8.883
Illinois 8.8452
Idaho 8.8074
Korea 8.6
Missouri 8.5428
New Jersey 8.4672
Nebraska 8.4294
United States 8.4
California 8.3916
Connecticut 8.3916
United States 8.3916
Pennsylvania 8.316
Texas 8.2782
Washington 8.2782
Poland 8.1
Mississippi 8.0892
Michigan 8.0514
Italy 8
Georgia 7.9758
Maryland 7.9758
Canada 7.9
Iowa 7.749
Ohio 7.6734
Virginia 7.6734
Japan 7.6
North Carolina 7.56
Indiana 7.4088
Tennessee 7.4088
Slovak Republic 7.4
New York 7.2954
Oklahoma 7.2954
Alabama 7.182
Kansas 7.1064
Sweden 7
Arkansas 6.6528
Kentucky 6.5772
Iceland 6.5
West Virginia 6.4638
Norway 6
Utah 4.9518
Mexico 4.6
Turkey 1.5

Places I've lived in or around are italicized.

stats from:

Thanks Libby.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hot Right Now

Bored at work, so...


Ill Seen, Ill said
* frolic!
* Park Avenue Princess
* Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit

* Action Biker
* Ben Kweller, specifically the song Hear Me Out
* The Kaiser Chiefs, Everyday I Love You Less and Less
* Rasmus Nøhr

* The J.Crew Scotland Campaign (FA07)
* The J.Crew Phoebe Dress
* Toggle coats
* Turtleneck sweaters
* Hunter Wellies
* Ruffles
* Tulle
* Hunter green
* Cardigans
* Knit scarves... and hats... and mittens
* Legwarmers, for warmth during winter bike commutes in skirts
* Newsboy caps
* headbands
* duck boots
* layering

Possible Winter Vacation Destinations:
* Switzerland, for some skiing
* Ireland (Cork, Gallway), for some craic
* Spain
* Brussels/Bruge, for some chocolate

* Mojitos (that take no less than 5 minutes to make)
* Irish Coffees, with Jameson
* Hot Chocolate and Bailey's, made with warmed Matilde Chocolate Milk
* Arizona Blueberry Green Tea

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Kom tilbage til mig, Amerikansk stil...

Post title translates to: "Come back to me, American style..," which is what I found myself thinking tonight.

It is now 2:37am, Denmark time (CET). I just biked the 20 minutes home from old city Copenhagen. I can't wait 'til my bike-home-time is halved on December 1st when I move. Anyway, I had an experience biking home that made me realize/believe I am becoming more Danish with each passing day. I had intended to go out to Globe or Dubliner tonight for some good ol' Guinness and Irish craic, but after dinner Libby and I decided we were tired so we lame-d out, went to 7-11 and purchased a bottled of Bailey's Irish Cream (Hey, that'd be ninety craic, except that it cost 130 kroner, which rapidly deducts from craic scores) and a carton of Matilde chocolate milk. We heat the chocolate milk, added a substantial amount of Bailey's, and settled onto the couch to watch Nynne, subtitled.

Apparently it was too much for us. We fell asleep and awoke 2 hours later. My hot chocolate + Bailey's had long grown cold. I pulled on my white knit scarf and hat set (really cute), thanked Libby for a "hyggelig aften," grabbed my bike from the courtyard, and headed home. Biking home in -1 degree Celcius temperatures, sleepyfaced, and perhaps a little whacked from the bit of Bailey's I actually drank, I had an experience that is now prompting me to think that nationalities are like liquids in beakers that you can transfer back and forth, making up people. I will probably read this in the morning and wonder what the fuck I was thinking when I was typing it...

I was biking down H.C. Andersen's Boulevard, near the lakes. There is a lake front restaurant there. I've never been, but it looks pretty nice. Problem is, there isn't much sidewalk, so people leaving the restaurant/bar late tend to congregate in the bike lane. I have seen this dozens of times biking home. This is not okay. This is especially not okay when two drunk retards cross my [clearly straight and unwavering] path, causing me to swerve and cut off a fellow cyclist. Now, getting to the title of this post. Back in the days when I affiliated 100% with being American, a finger probably would have been raised (and, no, not my pointer finger in a "No, No, No, naughty, naughty" manner...), and I probably would would have yelled something from the adjective-noun or adjective-pronoun families. Examples include "fucking retards!" or "Goddamn idiot!" But, tonight, I didn't yell anything of the sort. Surprisingly, no fingers were flipped, and I yelled "Pas på!," which is fairly polite and translates directly to "Watch out!" in Danish. I didn't even think about it. I just yelled in Danish without thinking. Very strange indeed. My Danish has greatly improved since I've been here, but I usually don't reflexively think and speak/yell in Danish inadvertently and simultaneously.

I contemplated this the whole way home. In my tired, stupified state I had regressed to an extraordinarily civil, Danish behavior. How was this!? Somewhere between Rosensomething Alle and Godthaabsvej, I came up with my beakers of national affiliation idea. I was inspired enough to write a post. Where have my American ways gone? Will I ever get them back? Perhaps I will return to the US and be a more civilized person. Perhaps I will continue asking very Danish questions, such as "Is that right?" in English, and using words like "rather" as adjectives. Strange.

One thing is for certain... I will probably look back on this post in the morning/in a few days/weeks time and wonder what the fuck I was talking about. And I'm glad I'm ending the post in a very American way, using terms like WTF. Good.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'd like a Ralph Lauren Seersucker Oxford (!), please

... Like I saw this guy wearing last night. But I wouldn't wear it in Denmark during the month of November... Let's keep it in the warm, summer weather, folks. Don't be gauche.

In other news, this bartender lit a firework/flamethrower thing for me on the bar last night while I was at a party I had planned/ was hosting. Like, sparks and flames and stuff everywhere. I've never seen anything like it. It was wild. America would never stand for fire hazards like that. Denmark is a strange country.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Burgernomics, The Big Mac Index of Purchasing Power Parity

So, I've been traveling a lot. In the past three weeks I've "been" (been, in this case, meaning at least stopped in a country for food or something else involving a monetary transaction on the way to another destination) in at least eight countries and made transactions in five currencies (Euros, HUF, Slovakian, Czech, and Danish crowns...). Both my recent travels and October have ended and my credit statements have arrived, allowing me to survey the damage in comparison to the USD and DKr. In some cases I was delighted, in some, horrified (blast you, exchange rates and transaction fees!). In the case of my corporate credit card (score!), I didn't really care. Anyways, I was bored and reading about world currency exchange rates (Yeah, I just admitted that), and I found this interesting perspective from The Economist... The Big Mac index on purchasing-power parity, regarding the equalization of price of goods and services around the world, over or under value, and trends. It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I thought I'd post it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007


It's very interesting, living in Europe. Compared to the United States, countries are so close together that it's easy to cross through them, similarly to how I would regularly cross between Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, often in the same day. Imagine if people in MD, VA, and DC all spoke different languages like people in different European countries do... This would presumably pose a problem for signage, because one would have to post directions and important warnings in multiple languages so that people could read them. The thing I don't get (and the reason for this post) is why, on such signs, signmakers have found the need to designate the languages, either with a flag or a country symbol (ex. GB, FR, CZ, etc.) prior to the text. You would think that someone reading a sign would recognize their own language and not have to look at a sign thinking "Hmm, I wonder which of these is written in English? Gee, it sure is nice that they put a little Union Jack next to the English language portion of the sign. I could have spent ages trying to read this warning in Russian... Whew!!" No. People presumably don't do that, leading me to conclude that language designation is just a waste of time, space, and sign ink. Stupid.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smokeless bars & the matchbook industry

Today as I was lighting candles in my room I was struck by a thought I entertained long enough to decide to write a post about. Where I live, smoking in bars and restaurants just became illegal on August 15th. Where I used to live, and many other places in the States, it's already been illegal for awhile. To light my candles today, I used a lighter (pink, from 7-11, nothing fancy, like a Zippo). While lighting my nine tealights, I found myself thinking that I really prefer to light candles with matches because I kind of like that sulfur-y match smell. Then, I realized that I don't think I've ever actually bought a book or box of matches. I always "steal" them from bars or restaurants, which technically isn't stealing at all because they usually promote the establishment or some associated product. So, by taking it and displaying (ie. on the table, by the candles) a "stolen" book or box of matches somewhere in my home, or whipping it out to light a cig (something I don't, but many people do), is promoting the establishment or a particular product. If you're super-interested, you can actually find a brief history of the matchbook and matchbook advertising here.

So, my final thought is... I wonder how smokeless bars and restaurants have impacted the advertising and promotional practices within the hospitality industry? I'm making a mental note to look next time I'm at a bar, but do bars still give out matchbooks if they are non-smoking establishments? I guess, technically, you could smoke outside and that it wouldn't really much matter to have matchbooks inside the bar anyway because people that would see them are already there... People would still pick them up and take them away and they would serve the same promotional purposes... Hmmm...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What's the matter with Denmark?

Picture I took last year, in Noerrebro:

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:
1. crocs
2. the fact that people stop at street crossing signs all the time, at all hours of the night, no matter what
3. too retarded to use the slurpee machine correctly at 7-11
4. no word for "please"
5. not enough llamas. :)
... more to follow.

Why _________________ is Stupid.

Dworkin vs. Hovind



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Croc Downdate... 'Cause there's nothing "up" about 'em.

I am in Denmark.
I saw people wearing/saw stores selling Crocs today.
Crocs... in Denmark.
I also saw those gawdawful jibbitz people buy to put in the holes.
The horror!
I thought they were an American atrocity.
I have deduced there is no fashion God.
The end.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Choose your own adventure

I realized I haven't posted anything new in over a month. I was bored and this is a boring, poorly written entry, but oh well.

I think Choose Your Own Adventure (herein referred to as CYOA - because that's what people in "the know" call it) books/stories are RAD. I'm sure I'm thinking about this because I'm approaching a "life crossroad" and making a big adventure choice soon (relatively unimportant to this fluff entry). Anyway, I've always been fascinated by the imaginary possibility that you can go back change the choices you make throughout life if you find yourself riddled with discontent (or, if you're about to get killed - "Damn, maybe going into the lions den to fight the evil Mondor wasn't a good idea... back to page 28!" or "Shit, stepping in front of a bus, jokingly recreating that scene from Stranger Than Fiction, is about to result in imminent death... back to page 4!"). Like, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to a different college? Sometimes I wish I could find out. Or, if I hadn't gone into the lion's den to fight the evil Mondor.

I think if I were granted a superhero power I would strongly consider becoming CYOAgirl. This would be cool because then I could go back and maybe choose to also be Invisigirl or something cause, hey, I'm CYOAgirl and, damnit, I choose what I want.

This past semester, I had a discussion on the merits about CYOA pre-final exam (when I should have been last minute cramming, apparently, because I got a B+ instead of any sort of A...) in one of my philosophy classes. This computer science kid and I were thinking about a CYOA philosophy paper. Wouldn't that be cool?! There could be options such as "If you choose to believe in God as an omni-being, go to page 2," "If you choose to believe in God as a metaphysical but not omni-anything being, go to page 3," "If you choose to be agnostic, page 4," "... atheist, page 5..." etc. It could also include choice such as "If you believe the world exists only in as far as you can perceive it, page 6..." We thought it would be cool, anyway. The philosophical possibilities of a CYOA book are practically endless. It would rival a Homer epic.

Maybe I'll write one someday, but not anytime soon, because right now I find myself unable to focus on writing long enough to even write compelling blog entries anymore, much less epic CYOAs. Ugh.

Leigh Lezark

I'm fascinated by this girl. I'm not quite sure why. Maybe because she's the same age as me, yet is a veritable New York celebutante that hosts cool parties which cater to celebrities and other "people of standing" with her two friends every weekend (see: the MisShapes). Maybe it's her perfect skin, jet black hair, orangey-red lips, and ice blue eyes (Gawker has dubbed her "Princess Coldstare"). Dang, she's just so cool. Like Snow White come to life in ultra-cool DJing scenester form. She kinda makes me want to dye my hair jet black and shield myself from the sun for the rest of my life... perhaps even going to the extreme of using a rain umbrella (rain umbrella is specified, as opposed to a parasol, which is actually made to be used in sunny conditions) to shield myself from the ever-beating sun - asian style.

Also, her lip gloss is cool, her lip gloss is poppin'. (See picture on the right)

This post was utterly pointless, but I'm bored and it's been awhile.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Stop the Crocs!

OMG, vom. For the past few summers Crocs, the brightly colored, lightweight, holey-topped and sometimes jibbitz-adorned shoes intended to be used for boating or gardening have been growing in popularity. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. I sat by with raised eyebrows and watched this trend grow among small children, their parents, and local boaters itching to expand their shoe wardrobe outside of the safe realm of Sperry topsiders. I rolled my eyes as friends and family members were slowly sucked into the trend, possibly spurred by a full page article (with pictures, oh, so many godawful pictures) published in my local paper last summer. I almost died when one of my good friends called me to tell me she was getting her boyfriend a pair, and asked what color I thought he'd like best and what jibbitz I thought he'd like as [awful] additives. "Jibbitz?!" I asked, "He's, um, almost 23 years old... Are you sure??... Crocs... Jibbitz... wait, Crocs?! Crocs with Jibbitz!? Seriously?!" I honestly have no idea what my friend was thinking (or what her boyfriend ever thought about his brightly colored jibbitz-decked new crocs). The subject became taboo.

I gleefully entered the long, cold stretch of winter, pleased that my croc exposure became limited to an occasional kid in a grocery store after soccer practice sporting crocs with socks. As spring peeked around the corner, I found myself looking around nervously. Was the trend over? Would people abandon their crocs, seeing them for the hideous mass of rubbery goo formed into "shoes" that they were? Would they come around and reappreciate the virtues of traditional flipflops and classic topsiders? Looking around my college campus, I began to think that they would. There is a Shoe God. His name might be ChristianLouboutinJimmyChooManoloBlahnik, but as long as it's not "Crocs," I'm happy. I realized that the absence of crocs may be due to my location. Surely college kids aren't a prime croc-wearing crowd. I headed home for the day to visit my hometown. Walking around downtown, I saw a few croc-ladden feet but noticed, delightfully, that the usual rainbow array of foot adornment seemed to be limited. I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew.

Then, I saw them. My friend sent me a link to the shoes pictured above, which are currently being sold for $49 a pair on the Bloomingdales website. I reiterate: OMG, vom. The former, in caps, was my initial thought. The latter, an abbreviated form of the word "vomit" was my initial reaction. Okay, I didn't really vomit, but I wanted to. The people at Crocs in Colorado have got to be kidding us. These are a cruel joke. Look at the name, for God's sake - Sassari!? More like "So Sorry," if you ask me. Clever homophony, Crocs guys. Haha, good joke. IMHO (which is all that really matters in this blog), the red and silver are, by far, the worst. The wedge style is quickly becoming beyond dated in all shoe materials, moreso in a mass of solid rubber foam. Do they have those little massager thingies that Adidas athletic sandals have/had?! Seriously. WTF? I cannot even write about these monstrocities any more. If I ever see these in person, I might die. I don't care how comfortable they are. There will never be any excuse to slip your feet into these uglies.

That is all.

You've got to be kidding me...

I was at Wawa the other day and saw this: Stacker2 Dieter's Water (sorry for the super blurry image). Yes, that's right, my friends. Diet. Water. Diet water. Water for dieters. What a concept. *rolling eyes* The World of diet products has reached a new low. Honestly, who the fuck needs diet water?! Water has 0 calories, fat, sodium, carbs, protein... Nothing!! It's not going to harm your diet. I didn't really get a good look at the water, but I assume that because it's by Stacker it burns calories thermodynamically or something. By the different colors on the two bottles, it may be flavored too. I can't get over this. This is completely the dumbest thing I've seen recently. Erm, get an energy drink. Better yet, get thee to a gym.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

On Agnosticism and The Meaning of Life

Quasi in response to the June 2, 2007 God and Quarks post in Chicken and/or Waffles. And, yes, Greg, I have added my "response" to my MoL paper, for your reading pleasure, even though I said you couldn't read it, EVER(!) because of its abrupt ending, poor format, and overly narrative tone... (is this where the o_O face would be appropriate??) So, it might not exactly respond to your post, but whatever. (You read my "Is it Rational to Question Belief in God" paper, which deals more with rationality...).

Metaphysics, Epistemology, Personal Experience, and Tolstoy

You’re right. Metaphysics is, definitionally, unprovable. However, I maintain that metaphysics does not attempt to answer WHY questions. Metaphysics is not an explanatory theory in the “why” sense. Rather, it is an explanatory theory in the “how it actually is” sense. Among philosophers, the commonly agreed to difference between metaphysics and epistemology is as follows; metaphysics is the “study” of the way the world really is, regardless of what humankind actually knows, and/or thinks we know, or believe through egocentrism about the world; epistemology is the study of what we claim to know and believe about ourselves and our world as we perceive them, taking into account that human perception may be incapable of understanding the metaphysical world entirely. I guess it would follow that human perception is necessarily incapable of understanding the metaphysical world. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be a metaphysical world. Our epistemic beliefs about the world extend to every aspect of our lives, from personal perspectives to scientific theories that we maintain and build upon.

** I wonder, as an aside, if anything can be truly proven to have “epistemic existence.” Couldn’t demonstration of such existence really just be a fallacious mistake made on account of our flawed, imperfect human reasoning and ability to test things? Demonstrating epistemic existence of an object doesn’t seem to truly “remove it from the realm of the metaphysical.” Rather, I would argue that it just becomes something which people claim to be relativistic about. The problem inevitably encountered with being a relativist in every domain is that it conflicts with falliability, which cannot and should not be denied. There are domains which are purely objective! (Natural science) For example, take the realm of physics, because it is one of which you are particularly fond. A Scientific realist would hold that scientific theories describe objects and phenomenons (electrons, genes, gravitational pull, quarks, etc.) but assert that they would exist (metaphysically) even if we did not have any epistemic theories about them. Scientific theories, such as ones that physics surround are things that we think we have proven epistemically, but they may be metaphysically totally different. This is not a plea towards utter skepticism, it just attempts to shed light on the true delineation between metaphysics and epistemology which I believe you may have somewhat confused. There is no “removing from the realm of the metaphysical,” instead, there is merely making things more epistemic within our human perspectives. Desire to make things more believable within the epistemic realm seems to follow from our human nature towards knowledge and discovery.

It, of course, doesn’t make sense to be a total skeptic and doubt everything… Furthermore, it’s impossible. Descartes tried.

When it comes to discovering and touting knowledge of The Meaning of Life, theists and atheists seem to have always been at odds, butting heads for at least for the last 2000 years. With regards to belief in God, theists and atheists are clearly in two different camps. Theists purport to believe in God: an omnipotent, omniscient, psychological being that created the universe, created humankind to have a perception of him/her, etc. etc. Atheists, on the other hand, do not believe in the Judeo-Christian psychological omni-God of the theists. The obvious problem with this disagreement is that, metaphysically speaking, either the theists or the atheists are wrong. According to rules of fallibility, when two parties disagree concerning whether or not something exists, one party has to be incorrect because the world is one way metaphysically, regardless of our perception of it otherwise.

While theists shout “God!” from the rooftops, many atheists and evidentialists praise the virtues of modern science, adding as an aside that many of them would be wholeheartedly convinced of at least the existence of God (aside from being an omni-, psychological being) if the theists simply offered a little uncontroversial, epistemic proof beyond claims of personal “miracles” and images of Christ in grilled cheese sandwiches. When Bertrand Russell was asked what he would do if he were to find himself in the presence of God he famously remarked that he would ask why God didn’t give him and other skeptics more evidence of His own existence!

It has been suggested by some theoretical “peacemakers” that perhaps we can seek and find meaning in our lives which is entirely separate from the existence or non-existence of a deity, be it the Judeo-Christian God or otherwise. In his essay, published in the July/October 1983 issue of Metaphilosophy, S. Jack Odell supports and explicates such an idea, claiming that indescribable, self-justifying, personal experiences that we may have upon experiencing great art, music, or even sexual encounters give us reasons to live and, dare say, even enjoy life. A perspective such as this one, which allows individuals to take personal responsibility for finding or experiencing meaning in our lives through self-justifying experiences, can be appealing to both atheists and theists alike. “Scientific atheists” can find this sort of meaning whilst concurrently denying that God or any other supernatural being has given rise to these experiences. Theists and others inclined to spiritualism can have these self-justifying experiences and attribute them to God, if they so wish. As a simultaneous aside, Odell’s view quiets the incessant pessimism of atheist existentialists who mourn that life is wholly and hopelessly absurd, no matter what. Personally, I wholeheartedly believe that we have such indescribable, self-justifying, personal experiences which have meaning only to us and, to give a nod towards the existentialists, perhaps the “insatiable striving” we are “doomed” to experience ad infinitum until death is really just deep-rooted, Freudian-esque psychological desire to have such experiences throughout our lifetimes.

Unfortunately, I cannot help but wonder if adherence to a perspective such as Odell’s is merely an intermediary move in the game of discovering The True Meaning of Life. Perhaps getting both theists and atheists alike to concede to the possibility of finding meaning in life through personal experience is merely the first step in getting both sides to realize that their views are both foolhardy until they can disprove their competition. Perhaps a true answer as to who is correct in their assertions will come through compromise and a little concession from both sides. The real, rational, default position for all mankind seems to be an agnostic middle ground, until existence of a higher deity can be proven or disproven once and for all, one way or another.

In The Essays: Of Atheism, Francis Bacon wrote that “A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.” I like this quote because, as a student graduating with a degree in philosophy, I have personally run this very gamut that Bacon seems to support. I was raised Roman Catholic and, though I never considered myself a true believer in the Judeo-Christian God, I followed and participated in the religion as a child until I began to gain the cognitive skills needed for logical reasoning [Early. I like to think I'm a smart girl. ;)]. Once these skills began to emerge, I began to question the grounds for people believing the seemingly absurd things that they do. Jesus feeding an entire crowd with a couple loaves of bread and some fish!? Moses parting the seas?! Wandering through the desert for forty days without water and surviving? Has the human race really evolutionarily regressed so much in the last two thousand years that we now can go no longer than a week without water? I have certainly never heard anything of this sort in science classes or in discussion of Darwinian theories of evolution.

Because of this personal confusion and incredulity, I chose not to be confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church as a young adult and it was at that point that I first began to consider myself “non-religious.” I would not go so far as to claim atheism at that point, partly because I think atheistic stance is a bit contradictory – a view that I will explain later. Rather, I did not really see any point in thinking or arguing about religion at all. Any discussion of the religious or spiritual sort between believers, skeptics, and non-believers seemed to be an exercise similar to a trapped monster truck spinning its tires in ever-thickening mud. As Russell once claimed, arguments for religion will only convince those who already believe. Likewise, if someone is a true believer, pointing out religions’ obvious incompatibility with science is unlikely to convince them otherwise.

I began my undergraduate studies in philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park. As Francis Bacon predicts in his quote, after an intro class, a few classes in logic and ethics, and close study of a number of modern and ancient philosophers later, I was apt to officially tout support, if not belief, in the atheistic stance. But, being a big supporter of a “rounded education” (and secretly fearing for my future if I chose to only major in philosophy), I studied other subjects in addition to my classes in philosophy. I added psychology as a second major and took classes in physics, mathematics, sociology, and music as well. I am now about to graduate with degrees in both Philosophy and Psychology (which some claim to be a science, though arguably not a “hard” science because of its many subjective, rather than objective practices), and after four years of study I seem to be coming out on the latter end of Francis Bacon’s quote.

It is not that through “depth in philosophy” I have suddenly come about, abandoning my former confusion to become a religious zealot. I am certainly not packing my bags for Tibet or planning a trip to Mecca. Nor have I been convinced by the arguments of Descartes and others who try to prove the existence of God through seemingly methodical and logical, but ultimately flawed, reasoning. But, I have begun to think about religion and spirituality again and have decided it is ultimately worth thinking about and discussing. I am particularly interested in the Religion vs. Science debate and the fact that many people tend to align their support towards one or the other, rarely, if ever, both simultaneously. I wonder if they are really as incompatible as some people argue. I wonder on which side, religion or science, the burden of proof really lays in regards to universal creation, for it seems to me that there are a number of assumptions based on “faith” on both sides. As I mentioned previously, I have also wondered recently if atheism, as commonly described, is even a legitimate, non-contradictory point of view. I reiterate my feelings that perhaps it would be accurate to say that all of humanity is agnostic until one side can prove their argument, while subsequently disproving the other side, one way or another. In this essay, I will try to explore some of these thoughts and considerations and work through some of these questions.

In his essay, My Confession, Leo Tolstoy writes about his own experience, which is similar to my own, with the incompatibility of science (which he consistently refers to as knowledge) and religion. Tolstoy is a financially well-off and well-learned man who comes to the realization that there is no meaning to his life, that nothing will come of it, and that he cannot justify, with knowledge alone, the reasons for his own existence or the existence of anything else. He seems to be at quite a low point in his life and, believing that human life is “infinite and incomprehensible” through scientific knowledge alone, he searches elsewhere for answers as to The Meaning of Life. In Tolstoi [sic] and the Meaning of Life, Anthony Flew summarizes Tolstoy’s confusion, saying “that “rational knowledge” deals only with the finite, whereas “irrational knowledge” is always concerned with the relation between the finite and the infinite.”

As a result of his confusion and in what I feel is a fervent, hasty attempt to establish meaning in his life, Tolstoy is no longer drawn to those who embrace rational knowledge because he believes that they have or are inevitably bound to eventually deny or write off The Meaning of Life, as he himself has done. Rather, he renounces reason and looks towards “the enormous masses of men, all humanity, recogniz[ing] this meaning in an irrational knowledge,” faith in God. Tolstoy abandons his rational, knowledge-based life to go live with his servants, with whom he feels the secret to The Meaning of Life rests. Living with his servants he finds that this irrational knowledge, or faith, makes it possible for them to live. They express happiness in living “according to God’s law” and striving for eternal paradise. Tolstoy seems pleased that, despite the contradiction he acknowledges between irrationality with rationality, religion and science, faith in God gives humanity answers to questions regarding The Meaning of Life and provides him and others with a sense of purpose.

At one point in his essay, Tolstoy describes the discrepancy between the pull of science (the rational) and religion (the irrational) and their incompatibility as feeling as if one has if one has jumped into a waterless well to escape an infuriated beast. Once in the well, it is discovered that a dragon waits with open jaws at the bottom of the well. I believe that this metaphor can be used as an analogy to describe where we are today regarding some issues between science and religion, namely arguments about the beginnings of human existence. Either way we turn, we hit cognitive road blocks, or face dual sets of gnashing teeth at both ends.

Argument from Design vs. The Big Bang Theory

Scientific discoveries obviously disprove religion in countless ways. Even religious zealots must admit that a number of Biblical teachings defy many of our well-known, largely undisputed laws of physics. But, inevitably, I feel that in some situations until either religion or science can make claims while subsequently disproving the arguments of the other, both come up rather short. This proof/subsequent disproof is simple to observe in dozens of situations, with science clearly winning out over religious claims by presenting scores of contrary evidence. Walking on water, for example, has been shown multitudes of times to be impossible. The same holds true for human beings having the ability to traverse through deserts for forty days without water. Moreover, one does not need to have an advanced degree in a “hard” science to test either of these claims, though I do not recommend testing the latter. Though it seems difficult to find situations in which science is not a clear victor over religious claims, I maintain that there are a few. The most notable example of this science vs. religion proof/subsequent disproof clash lies in the arguments from both sides regarding the beginnings of existence of the universe. Supporters from both sides make interesting and appealing points, yet remain unable to do so while subsequently disproving the other.

The Argument from Design is a teleological argument for the existence of God that claims that, because the universe exhibits design, there must be a designer, God. Supporters claim that God created the universe analogously to how a watchmaker may create a watch. Moreover, God created the universe ex nihlio, out of nothing, simultaneously putting into creation the laws of science, evolution, etc. that we have since discovered through scientific means. This is often an argument used to lend support to monotheistic religions, though it seems it could be applied to polytheistic religions as well, in which case the Gods (and Goddesses) would presumably be working conjointly to design the universe and the properties and laws that it subsequently follows post creation.

The Big Bang Theory is a scientific theory based on scientific observations of universal expansion that proposes that the universe came from the explosion of an infinitely dense, infinitely hot mass of matter and energy billions of years ago. Many members of the world’s scientific community support this theory, though there are a number of issues and problems associated with it that have not yet been solved by modern science. As I am not a physicist, astronomer, chemist, or biologist, I will leave arguments about specifics aside and work only with the primary theory of an ever-expanding universal explosion of mass and energy.

With Whom Does the Burden of Proof Lay?

In the court of law, the defendant of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to find enough evidence to convince the jury that the defendant is, indeed, guilty of the crime they are accused of committing. With which party does the burden of proof lay in the case between the Argument from Design (the religious argument from the theists) and the Big Bang Theory (the scientific argument from the atheists and evidentialists) in explaining the creation of the universe?

The problem I see with both of these arguments is that both supporters of religion and supporters of science tend to purport these views as “first cause” arguments regarding the existence of the universe. Yet, I feel that there are at least two problems with both arguments. First, both purport that the universe was created ex nihlio, which clearly goes against scientific theories that claim matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Following the idea of the Big Bang Theory, it seems just and reasonable to question where this mass of matter and energy was before it exploded and became the universe? Second, both theories seem to commit the fallacy of false analogy. Philosopher David Hume explicates this fallacy, claiming that the only legitimate basis for a causal inference, for example to infer that B because A, is our having observed numerous times that A precedes B, or that whenever A occurs, B occurs.

Returning to the watchmaker analogue of the Argument from Design, the obvious discrepancy here is that we have evidence for the existence of human inventors prior to our discovery of a watch because we have observed numerous times that A (the existence of a watchmaker) precedes B (the existence and our finding of a watch). So, if we were to find a watch, it would seem reasonable to infer that the watch is likely to have been made by a human inventor, the watchmaker. The “watch,” in the Argument from Design is the Universe. Because we have never been able to observe causal inference in regards to universal creation and thus have no observable independent evidence, the argument is circular because we cannot determine if A (the watch/universe) precedes B (God/the maker/creator), vice versa, or neither.

Likewise, it seems that the Big Bang Theory can be subject to similar falsely analogical criticism for a number of reasons. First, as far as I know the Big Bang theory has yet to be replicated in a lab, even on a very small scale. Thus, we have not been able to observe it numerous times, so we have no basis for causal inference. Second, the Big Bang Theory is a theory based on scientific theories and laws that have been found to exist in the world today. Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, for example, is highly undisputed in the scientific community based on strong inductive reasoning (this is also one of the most significant reasons explaining why we cannot walk on water!). However, theories regarding laws of universal expansion, etc. that have led to the Big Bang Theory are based on undisputed laws such as these that have been observed since creation. Because scientists are unable to replicate infinitely dense balls of matter and energy that expand into infinitely large universes in a lab, it seems that it must be, at least technically, impossible for them to claim without a doubt that the scientific laws that currently govern the universe were in absolutely in effect at the time of creation. It seems entirely possible, both logically and scientifically, that these laws were established during the Big Bang, not prior to its explosion and subsequent expansion. Finally, even if the Big Bang were replicable and therefore empirically provable as the origin of the universe, it seems we would still be left asking a rather obvious question. Based on our present scientific knowledge, we know that matter must reside somewhere in time and space as it has been theorized that it cannot be created nor destroyed. Even Georges Lemaître [theist, interestingly - Belgian Roman Catholic Priest], of the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker solution to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (which describes universal expansion and/or contraction), conceded that universal beginnings were a result of a “primeval atom.” Following from our present knowledge about the nature of matter, it seems reasonable to assume that even a primeval atom had to reside somewhere in space and time. I am a human being, made of matter. I reside on Earth, which resides in the Universe, which resides… where? Following this reasoning, one must wonder where that ball of matter and energy originated, and where it was before it exploded and created a universe, or, place for it to be!

At this point, theistic supporters of God as creator of the Universe might smile smugly at the scientists and claim that, simply, God created the primeval atom which gave rise to the Big Bang. Unfortunately for the theists, scientists can easily retort that notions of God ultimately fall away into a state of infinite regress, obviously suffering from the same problems of the primeval atom. Where was God when he was creating the Universe? This ultimately results in discussion of the whether or not we have minds, and that perhaps God is just a matter-less mind, etc., but the mind/body problem is not an avenue I wish or intend to explore in the context of this paper. The point I believe I have made clear is that it is apparent that arguments from both sides ultimately suffer from similar predicaments of infinite regression. Neither supporters of the Argument from Design (which I am claiming is ultimately theistic) nor the Big Bang Theory (ultimately seems atheistic) can prove their position while subsequently disproving the other.

Theism, Atheism, and Agnosticism

For purposes of this paper, I will define belief in a religion (the theistic position) as a set of ideas regarding the existence of one of more Gods or deities that one would reasonably assert to if asked. For example, in the set of ideas that could be labeled “Christian Ideas,” a believer in the set would assert that “There is only one God.” I will define atheism as the absence of belief in a set of ideas which includes one or multiple Gods or deities. This is the position of many academics, scientists, and intellectuals, many of whom feel that there is simply not enough evidence to support the theistic position, thereby reducing it to absurdity. Though I am aware that there are many different “kinds” and sub-sects, I will define agnosticism loosely as the choice not to assert belief or disbelief in a set of ideas regarding the existence of one or more Gods or deities. Note here that I am differentiating between “absence of belief” (“I believe there is no God” – atheists) and “disbelief” (“I don’t believe in God” or “I am not sure if there is a God” – agnostics).

I mentioned previously, though science seems to empirically support it, that I feel complete atheism is an invalid stance because it results in a contradiction of sorts. To explain, it seems that for an individual to claim atheism on the basis of scientific explanation they are essentially committing themselves much to the same sort of, perhaps incorrect, reasoning as a theist. Essentially, atheists claim that if there is no evidence supporting the existence of God, then one may reasonably draw the conclusion that God does not exist. As previously elucidated, I feel that until scientific atheists can prove that their theories hold while subsequently disproving the theistic claims regarding the existence of a God, they seem to be purporting their own kind of omniscience about the universe. By not allowing for the possibility of God, they are ruling the possibility out, and they seem to be doing so based on insufficient claims, at least in the case of universal creation.

Many theists continue to claim support for God based on a number of personal, distinctive religious experiences and intuitions relating to “feeling” or “sensing” the presence of God that are not measurable with scientific means. These personal, individualized experiences may be well and wonderful, but it seems obvious that they clearly do not establish anything outside of an individual’s narration of such an experience because they cannot be proven or shown to anyone else. But, one is naturally apt to wonder if perhaps miracles are examples of such experiences that can be exemplary cases of God’s presence in the Universe. Many theists are apt to tout the wonders of God after a story has leaked that someone diagnosed with a terminal illness has made a “miraculous” recovery through prayer and their unfaltering belief in God as a savior and bringer of salvation to those deserving. Their prayers and plea to God for their life seem to have been answered! This may be an obvious example of the availability heuristic at work, but perhaps not. How can we know for sure, especially if their miraculous recovery has seemingly defied science?

I have previously entertained you, dear reader (to borrow a literary phrase of origin unbeknownst to me), with a narrative of my personal feelings regarding theism and religion, as well as those views held by Leo Tolstoy. I empathize with Tolstoy’s plight. As an academic, and (I would like to imagine, in the best of all possible worlds) an intellectual, I have questioned belief in God on the basis of it being difficult or absurd from a very young age. I have run the gamut between atheism and agnosticism at different points in my life. However, based on reasoning regarding both the theistic and scientifically atheistic perspective (as I have attempted to do with the Argument from Design and the Big Bang Theory), I have concluded that a stance on agnostic middle ground is truly the most rational default position for all of mankind, until existence of a higher deity can be proven or disproven once and for all, one way or another. Until this happens, I feel that the perspective put forth by Odell in his Life is Not Absurd essay remains a valuable perspective, regardless of one’s religious or a-religious stance.