Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Clear thinking: vaccination

2017/06/18

I really hate discovering irrationality in my thinking.

I hate seeing a cherished belief go up in smoke, not because of new evidence, but because I had been committing the sort of error that I was long ago trained to avoid.

Rational thinking, scientific skepticism – these are among my core values as a human. As such, it is very hard to watch people I love and respect express ideas or engage in actions that seem to contradict those values.

So, when a Facebook friend recently commented favourably on an article titled “Harvard Study Proves Unvaccinated Children pose no risk“, I went through a familiar and disquieting sequence:

  1. I wanted to scream at this friend, to tell them that they were wrong, to warn them away from the irrational and harmful anti-vaccination path. But of course, screaming at people rarely changes their minds. Even worse, it sets me up as an enemy, rather than as a potential ally in the search for the right answer. More awful yet, if I happen to be wrong on this point, this reaction would make it harder for my friend to correct me.
  2. I wanted to dig up a mountain of references to hurl at my friend, to help them see the error of their ways. Links to good, scientifically-sound rebuttals of the original article. Sadly, research has shown that even this approach tends to backfire – making someone even more committed to the false belief.
  3. I felt like letting it lie – there is no way for me to change my friend’s belief, so why even wade into that morass? But … but that’s not going to help anybody. At least one of us is wrong, and I want us to be as correct as possible. On anything. But especially something like this that can affect our health and our children’s health.

So what am I left with?

I am left with this: No strategy. No clever potted response. Just a conversation. An invitation.

My friend might be wrong. I might be wrong. I cannot force my friend to open their mind and accept my position, nor would I want to. That’s not how true understanding comes. What I can do is openly, publicly acknowledge my current position. I am more persuaded by the science of vaccines, and by critiques such as this one, than by the article my friend commented on.

Now, if anyone wants to have the discussion, I’m here. (“Here” means in the comments section of my blog, as well as on the Facebook post that it will create. It also means by email, for those who have my email, and any other venue that a person legitimately has for pursuing a discussion with me.)

(Once upon a time, I fantasized that my blog would be a way to reach thousands of people, to persuade and influence en masse. Today, I am content for it to be a platform to open one-on-one conversations. It may not be much, but it is enough.)

 

Are most farms still family farms?

2016/09/08

This is the second in a series of posts examining claims in a Facebook meme I shared. Go here for the setup.

Claim 2: Most farms are still family farms.

This is a claim I should never have put forth in the first place, because I have no reason to believe it, and nowhere near the experience to be able to say how likely it is to be true or false.

I grew up on a family farm, surrounded by family farms, so it feels true. But I don’t know whether my experience is anomalous or not.

For this article, I’ll define the claim as meaning that more than half of farms by number are family farms, and that they represent more than half of the agricultural production of the country. (Yes, these are two separate claims, and will be dealt with separately where possible.)

When I tried to research this claim, I came across various barriers. For example, the 2011 Statistics Canada report on agricultural demographics contains lots of information but doesn’t anywhere seem to address the question of how many family farms there are, their proportion of farming (either by a count of farms or by acreage), or anything like that. A 2012 article in the Globe and Mail discussing the same StatsCan census information claims that the number of family farms has decreased by 10% and the average size has increased by 7%. This suggests to me that family farms don’t look like what we are used to thinking of. But it doesn’t define “family farm”, and doesn’t tell us what proportion of farms are family farms, by number or acreage.

Looking at our southern neighbours, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in 2015 that 97% of farms are family-owned, and 88% are “small family farms” (annual gross cash income less than $350k. So the original meme, which came from the US, is almost certainly true, at least regarding number of farms. Again, I didn’t see data on proportion by acreage.

A 2016 article in the journal World Development looks globally. (This article is dated November 2016, which seems odd given that it is now only September 2016. I’m guessing the electronic version comes out early, and is dated to when the print version is due to come out.) They find that, worldwide, 98% of farmers are family farmers, and they hold 68% of farming land. So far so good. They don’t directly report on Canada’s numbers, but Figure 1 in the article seems to suggest that in Canada, between 40% and 60% of farms are family farms:

World map with countries covered and the percent of family farms in each ...

Figure 1. 

World map with countries covered and the percent of family farms in each country.

 

But one caveat for conclusions from this study is that the authors acknowledge a broad lack of consensus about what the term “family farm” means. Different countries define it differently. Does it mean a farm owned by a family? That would, conceivably, mean any farm that is not a publicly-traded corporation. (My own family’s farm is a privately-held corporation. Would it count?) Does it mean a farm that has been operated by members of the same family for more than one generation? And what does it really tell us about the economic structure of farming? Many farmers contract their production to food manufacturers. Consider a family farm producing potatoes for a potato-chip factory. If the farm’s business is dependent on that factory, would its effect on our society be closer to a family farm or to a comparable farm directly owned by a corporation?

Conclusion

I’m afraid the conclusion for this one is far less definite than I’d like. Worldwide, the lcaim seems definitely true. In North America, the claim seems definitely true. In Canada, the most specific information says we have between 40% and 60% family farms, which sounds like a toss-up to me.

What’s important about this claim? I think there are two aspects. One, more social or nostalgic, is an image of the rustic hayseed producing food because that’s what the family has done for generations. I think this side of farming is declining: the stats do say that acreage is increasing, meaning that all farms – family-run or otherwise – rely on technology to work more land. The other is the independence of farming from the sort of large-scale corporate interests that reduce consumer choice and affect our health and economy in ways we don’t always want. I cannot say where we are on this scale.

I’m sorry to leave you with such an open, unsatisfying conclusion. But better that than pretend to know something I don’t actually know.

If anyone has better data on this, please let me know. I’d love to have a clearer perspective on this issue.

If family farms – whatever that means – are important to you, the best way to express that is to support them as directly as possible. Farmers markets. On-farm stores.

Eagle Creek Farms

In fact, if you live in or would like to visit central Alberta, why don’t you check out Eagle Creek Farms? The farm I grew up on currently produces seed potatoes in a wide range of varieties, from plain white to blue to candy-cane and more, for gardeners across Canada. It also has community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions for both summer and winter, as well as a flower and vegetable U-pick patch during the summer, and a wide variety of mazes – including several acres of corn and sunflower mazes. My great-grandad, Tope Mills, first moved out to the area, and my family has been farming there ever since. Right now, my dad, Stan, and my brother, John, are working hard to keep the farm running. Mail-order potatoes, U-pick flowers, and CSA are all ideas that would surprise Tope, I think. But the basic idea of feeding people and supporting a family in a beautiful rural setting hasn’t changed all that much.

 

Truth is stranger than fiction

2016/01/18

Of course it’s stranger. What else would you expect?

I mean, truth comes from out there – the world outside our heads. Fiction comes from human minds. Naturally fiction will seem more comfortable and familiar to those minds, and truth will sometimes seem alien and strange.

That is all.

Where is this blog headed?

2015/11/14

Well, I’ve now polished off the latest series of posts. What next?

In posting those reviews from the conference, I discovered that even after long periods of neglect, this blog retains some readers who come back for more as soon as there is more to be had. This is unexpected and tremendously encouraging, and I thank all of you for sticking with me.

Looking back, this blog has tracked through some interesting developments and transformations in my life. I started it in the early blush of learning about Humanism as a philosophical and practical outlook on life, when I was still working out how it fit me as a personal identity.

Since finishing my PhD, I have become more involved in research and teaching, leaving less time for writing.

Although the research and teaching continue today (and, I hope, will do so for many years to come), I find myself entering a new phase, where I write not because life is unsettled and I need to process it, but because life is becoming settled and I need to make the effort to keep my mind active in those areas that are important to me.

And so Deena and I went to the Alberta Secular Conference. We listened, asked questions, talked. I wrote a series of posts on it (indexed here). A couple of other developments came out of the conference that I may share with you before long.

In wider news, this year has seen a left-leaning party (the New Democratic Party, or NDP) given a majority mandate in the Alberta provincial government, and a centrist party (the Liberal Party of Canada) in the Canadian federal government – both replacing conservative governments that had become complacent and abusive in their exercise of power. I grew up in this province, in a rural community with conservative leanings. This May was the first time in my life that the Progressive Conservative Party was not in power. It is an invigorating time, here at Friendly Humanist headquarters.

I still find that I really enjoy writing – to crystallize my thoughts, to trigger discussion, dissent, and possibly even reasons to change my mind.

I am also, for the first time since high school, working on a long work of fiction. I am currently in the middle of my first ever crack at NaNoWriMo.

So, back to the opening question. What next?

Well, I am currently in a glut of creative outpouring – blog ideas, novel writing, the odd poem. So I suspect that you’ll get at least a weekly post for the foreseeable future. (Currently, my foresight has about a 2-week horizon, in case you’re wondering.) I am contemplating some more book reviews, as well as some local activism-related things (growing, at least in part, out of the conversations at the above-mentioned conference).

If any of my other creative bears fruit – published fruit, that is – I promise you’ll hear about it. I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops, including the rooftop of FH HQ here. (Oh dear. I think I’ll need another acronym for my headquarters. I just sounded that out in my head, and it wasn’t what I expected. Not Friendly at all. Oh dear.)

If there is anything that you, my loyal readers (or you others, my random wandering-in-off-the-Internet readers), would like me to tackle here, please let me know. Nothing motivates me like knowing someone is already waiting to read what I’m about to write. (That’s what got me started on NaNoWriMo this year: my wife asked for a novel for Christmas.)

Until next time!

Bradley Peter: Dying With Dignity

2015/10/28

(This is the first in a series of posts about the talks at the 2015 Alberta Secular Conference: None of the Above.)

Bradley Peter is a tall, slender man with a soft voice and a gentle, methodical manner. He is just the sort of person you can imagine being a therapist or a funeral director.

Actually, he’s a biologist.

But after witnessing his grandmother’s final weeks – where her options were to keep suffering, be drugged and “live” as a vegetable until her body expired, or to voluntarily starve to death – he found a passion for reforming our laws around death to enable people more dignity when the choice is no longer one between life and death, but between an excruciating, humiliating death and a dignified, comfortable death.

This February, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition on physician-assisted death is contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, denying people important rights. (It’s more involved than you might think. Apparently suicide itself isn’t a criminal act in Canada, but someone – including a doctor – can be jailed for up to 14 years for counselling or aiding in a suicide.) The ruling itself is here (somewhat hard to read, but it’s there), and there are many news reports and commentaries – here are some: 1, 2, 3. Their ruling, which strikes down the portion of the Criminal Code that pertains to physician-assisted death, comes into effect in 2016, on February 6. If nothing else happens, we will be left in something of a vacuum, with no prohibition and no clear guidelines on how to deal with patient requests for assistance in dying.

Our new Alberta provincial government, our new Canadian federal government, and various medical bodies all bear responsibility to prepare for this deadline by consulting with public and medical professionals and drafting legislation. Dying With Dignity, an organization which Brad is part of, is campaigning on various fronts to ensure that the rules we end up with respect patient rights, physicians’ conscience, and court rulings. We need to ensure that people are not abused – either by greedy relatives pressuring aging invalids into suicide, or by moralizing naysayers who would see suffering as some sort of heavenly gift, or anyone else.

A couple of things you can do right now from the comfort of your own browser are to complete online surveys for the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada (which will advise the federal ministers of justice and health – survey here) and the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons (which will determine best practice in Alberta for physicians around this part of end-of-life care – survey here). I am sure the colleges of physicians and surgeons of other provinces are also working on this – if you know of them and any surveys they have going, leave a comment with links and I’ll add them to the post.

It is important to be aware that these surveys are not necessarily unbiased. Whether intentionally or not, some of the questions may be leading. Read carefully, and respond honestly and thoughtfully. At least the first one has space throughout and at the end for you to note things you think are important but were not covered in the wording or choices on the survey.

Brad’s presentation came at a perfect time to motivate many of us in the audience to take an active role in shaping the attitudes of legislators and informing our fellow citizens about the issue at stake.

There is also an upcoming National Day of Action on November 4th (Wednesday next week – there are events in cities across Canada). Will you join us, and Brad, and others who feel that the time has come for a careful, compassionate look at how we treat death and dying people in our country?

Dying With Dignity logo

None of the Above conference

2015/10/27

Alberta Secular Conference: None of the Above

Earlier this month, on October 17 and 18, Deena and I attended our first ever secular conference: “None of the Above”. Around a hundred people, variously identifying as humanists, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers – the usual spectrum of labels you get in this community – came together in Red Deer. (For non-Albertans, Red Deer is a delightful small city, about equidistant between Alberta’s two larger cities, Calgary and Edmonton.)

If you’re not an active member of the community, you may expect we spent the time congratulating ourselves on escaping the “delusion” of religion, and whingeing about how religious people make everything worse.

Yes, there was a bit of self-congratulation – though it was tempered with the knowledge that all human understanding is fallible, and we might be wrong.

And yes, there was some complaining – though it was focused and action-oriented rather than just self-pitying.

There were several social action issues raised that are important, not just for non-believers, but for anyone interested in having a tolerant, open, free society.

And then there was the whole social side of it: meeting people (some local to my own city) who I had never seen before, but who hold similar values and beliefs to me. It reminded me that I’m part of a larger community.

The fact that the conference was immediately before our federal election gave it an interesting tenor, especially when we were discussing politically potent topics.

So what did we get for our delightfully modest attendance fee? Here is a quick rundown of the schedule. I will be posting a series of short articles over the coming days on some of the talks and discussions.

Day 1:

Opening remarks. The MC for the conference was Karen Kerr, president of the Society of Edmonton Atheists, one of the conference’s two sponsors. (The other was Atheist Alliance International.) She set a nice tone – neither too formal nor too loose.
Bradley Peter: Dying With Dignity. Canada is on the verge of a shift here, as a Supreme Court ruling decriminalizing physician-assisted death will come into effect in February. What things will look like after that will depend on how legislators prepare for this shift. How legislators prepare will depend on what they hear from constituents. Now is the time!
Rob Breakenridge: Openly Secular in the Media. An Alberta radio and newspaper personality, Rob talked about the issues faced by public personalities around their beliefs and identities.
Lunch. Not really relevant to a summary of the conference’s events, you say? Of course it is! This is where the ideas are digested, batted around, and where the human connections are made. People differed on the gastronomic value of the food on offer, but the opportunity to break bread together and share our thoughts was a crucial part of the whole conference experience.
Ali Rivzi. A Muslim who no longer believes in Islam. This was a compelling presentation on the difference between culture and beliefs, and on the danger of conflating the two, especially in areas of the world where democratic freedoms are still tenuous at best.
Lynn Honey: Statistics. Oh, to live in a world where every community of belief spent some of their time together talking about how to critically examine the numbers that wash over us in the media. And oh, to live in a world where Lynn Honey can teach these things to everyone!
Nathan Phelps: Son of Westboro. This presentation moved through Nate’s childhood in one of the most poisonous and hateful churches on the continent, through to a call for action and encouragement to vigilance. Not all religion is bad, but too many people use religion as a cover not just to be assholes, but to actively harm others in many ways.
Debate: Matt Dillahunty vs Jon Morrison on whether science points to God. An atheist heavy-hitter with dozens of debates behind him, against a Christian with no debate experience. This debate turned out much more engaging and worthwhile than I had feared.

Day 2:

Greg Hart: Critical Thinking. The perfect complement to Lynn Honey’s statistics talk from Day 1, this talk wound through several pitfalls of critical thinking. Just to reiterate: this wasn’t a talk about how we do it so much better than them, but about how all of us need to be careful in all of our reasoning about the world.
Shelley Segal. A musical interlude with a thoughtful, expressive artist whose songs, often, express feelings and experiences in the world that no religious singer can capture, but which are central to the experience of an atheist life.
Panel discussion: Education in Alberta. Three panelists, with experience and knowledge about different aspects of education as it is influenced by religion: prayer in schools, creationism, and sex-ed. Enlightening, rather horrifying at times, and well-articulated.
Keynote: Matt Dillahunty. A wonderful, personal call to action – Matt responded to some of the things he had learned about “Canadia” during the conference, and gave a talk that left room for everyone – from a timid, closeted agnostic to a brash, letter-writing, sign-toting activist – to do their bit in making the world a better place for us all to live.

Deena and I left this conference energized, motivated to do a little bit more to engage with our atheist community and to push against infringements on our rights and values. In the posts to come, I will dive down a little deeper and give you a more complete recap of the message I took away from each presentation and event at the conference.

This was not just our first secular conference. It was Alberta’s first secular conference. There is already a plan afoot to hold another, to make it a recurring event in the province, rotating between the cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer (at least). Things are looking up!

If you are in the area next year, I hope you will join us.

Big Girls (redux)

2015/05/25

Way back in the early days of this blog, I wrote a post about women and body size.

I was just listening to that Mika song again – “Big Girl, You Are Beautiful” – and it got me thinking. I thought maybe I could repost that article. Maybe even update it a little.

After all, the baby girl that I talk about is now a seven-year-old in grade 2, still big for her age (tall enough to pass for 9). She’s starting to be aware of some of society’s attitudes to women’s body size.

I thought perhaps I could introduce a bit more subtlety. For example, despite what I said in that article, it is often possible, with a lot of work and long-lasting lifestyle changes, to change one’s weight into a more healthy range. One prominent example in my mind is Greta Christina’s journey, precipitated by joint problems in her knee.

Or perhaps I could point out that, in celebrating big bodies, I am not trying to denigrate those who possess conventional beauty. Just like I can celebrate same-sex marriage without diminishing other types, or enjoy Alberta weather without sneering at Massachussetts weather. Enjoyment of something is often just about enjoying that thing, not about being repelled by alternatives. It’s not a zero-sum game.

There’s all sorts of stuff I could talk about, but everything I try to say seems to be captured far more wonderfully by the song I posted back then. Yes, it leans ever so slightly toward salaciousness – suggesting, perhaps, that being sexy is the point of femininity, and that “even fat girls can be sexy”. But watch the dancers. Watch the passersby. This video isn’t about sex. It’s about fun.

It’s about people celebrating who they are; about celebrating each other for who we are.

If you can hold onto that fact – the fact that every person, including yourself, is worth celebrating – then you’re on the right track for an awesome and fulfilling life.

Openly Secular

2015/04/23

openly-secular-logoToday is Openly Secular Day. It’s a reminder to non-believers of the benefits of being open about your non-belief. It’s also a gentle nudge to those of us who are able to be open, to tell friends, family, and others who we are and what we believe. At the Openly Secular website, there are videos of many people, of varying levels of fame, discussing their atheism.

I don’t think anyone reading this blog will be surprised to learn that I am not religious. But maybe some of you also identify as atheists, humanists, or some other non-believing label, and have not yet told anyone. If you want some practice, I invite you to try it out here.

Or, if you need a venue that’s a little less public, message me privately.

Now, I also know that there are many people in my circle of family, friends, and readers who are not secular – who hold some form of religious belief. That’s awesome. But this post is not the place to hash out the arguments (any more than a church service is a good place for an atheist to start putting forth arguments against God’s existence or Jesus’ divinity).

Oh, and if you’re reading this one some other day, it’s still a good time to come out, however you are able and comfortable. And if you are not able to come out, that’s okay. There are certainly times and places where it is not only uncomfortable but frankly unwise to talk about this stuff. I may be open about my atheism, but I never, ever discuss it in my university classes. It just isn’t the place for it – my role there is as an authority on linguistics, and I don’t want any student to get the impression that they would experience negative consequences for being open (vocally or visibly) about holding some other belief.

Cranky about voting

2015/04/22

500px-Flag_of_Alberta.svgIt’s election season again here in Alberta.

Last time I ranted about this (here, here, and here), I was living abroad. Now, I’m right in the thick of it. I’ve been living back in Alberta with my family now for four years. We have put down roots here – bought a house, established good jobs in the city in our chosen fields, reconnected with family and friends.

And I have a whole new swath of rants. Most of them, I will confine to private complaints shared with Deena, but I think a few deserve to be aired more widely.

First, on a personal note, I want to declare my deep dissatisfaction with politics. It’s an ugly, depressing, foul window into the dank recesses of human nature, recesses that are more concerned with power and image than with substance. So, you know, politics. What are you gonna do?

With that out of the way, I want to offer a little meta-observation. I noticed, as I was browsing the platforms of our parties and candidates, that my own impulse to tribalism kept wanting to take over. For candidates or parties that I identify with, I want to let vagueness slide. “It’s a platform – they only have room for so much detail.” “I’m sure they would work that out in a way I like.” And if I don’t identify with them – especially if I identify myself in opposition to them – they get the opposite: “They’re evading responsibility by offering empty words.” “I just know they’d find a way to wiggle out of that (apparently sensible) commitment.” Even when they’re not vague, I am inclined to trust or distrust specifics according to my own prejudices.

This is a very important thing to remember. I really don’t like the idea of identity politics – of saying, “This is my team, so I’ll ignore their faults and exaggerate their virtues and treat anyone on another team as the enemy.” That’s divisive and unhelpful, but it is a deeply human way to look at the world. One of many human traits that this humanist strives to overcome.

And, getting past that, I see that most of the parties are essentially saying exactly the same thing. Even when it sounds like they’re not. For example, the Wildrose Party* promises to “Expand the use of clean burning Alberta natural gas and propane for industrial and residential electricity production and transportation”. Which is all about promoting Alberta’s fossil-fuel-based natural resource economy. On the other hand, the Liberal Party promises to “phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025”: a clear commitment to cleaner energy, reducing our reliance on the worst-polluting energy sources.

But, on reflection, it occurred to me that both of these policies could be met with the same action (moving from coal power plants to gas and propane power plants). The same action, with two very different spins. (I don’t know that both parties have the same actual plan in mind, it’s just that their promises aren’t as different as they first seem.)

None of the parties are very heavy on specifics (except, it seems, for the New Democratic Party, the NDP**). And where they give specifics, I confess that I’m not qualified to judge what they really mean. I wish we had the folks from BBC’s More or Less program reviewing our election campaigns. Listening to their recent election coverage (round 1, round 2), I feel a twinge of numerical envy. (If anyone out there knows of people who are doing this, in Alberta or in Canada more generally, please let me know!)

At the end of the day, I have the same choice that citizens in democratic countries everywhere have to make: which person or party is the least bad?

I am zeroing in on my favorite. I don’t think I’ll have to resort to ballot eating. But I would like to close with two pleas which I have made before.

First, if you can votedo it! For all that we whinge and complain about the type of people that we have to choose between in our political system, democracy is still less bad than any of the alternatives. And if you’re going to vote, have a little respect for the power you are wielding and try to get informed. Don’t just vote along identity lines. Find out who is actually promising what, and vote for the person you think will create the change you want (or prevent the change you don’t want). I honestly mean this, whether you vote the way I do or not.

And second, can we please, please try something more informative than a single-mark ballot? Transferable votes are easy to fill out, and give me the option to vote my conscience without worrying that I’m letting the Awfuls in by not voting for the mediocre-but-more-likely-to-win party. As it is, I am sometimes inclined to give the whole thing a miss because it seems so likely my vote will end up counting for nothing. Electoral reform could help to solve the voter apathy problem that is rampant in Alberta, as in so many other places.

Okay, I’m done for today. Maybe my next post won’t be a rant. Have I become a cranky old man? Might have to merge with The Not-Quite-So-Friendly Humanist (written by an old friend of mine). Or start the “No Longer Friendly Humanist”.

Footnotes:

* The Wildrose Party is our current contender for far-right – think a slightly more moderate Republican party. (Oh, how I’m glad to be Canadian!) The wild rose is the provincial flower of Alberta.

** The NDP is the most left-leaning of the main four parties. Roughly, from left to right, they are conventionally ordered NDP, Liberal, PC (Progressive Conservatives), Wildrose.

Apologetics

2015/04/22

Hi, my name is Tim, and I have a problem with apologetics.

On the one hand, I want to remain open-minded: open to new ideas that don’t fit with my existing beliefs; open to the possibility that I’m wrong about important things. I want to be a person who can see both the positive and the negative of an idea, whether it’s an idea I want to believe, or one I want to reject, or one that I’m indifferent to.

On the other hand, I’ve read a few works of religious apologetics. They have all been singularly lacking in philosophical rigour, scientific literacy, or open-mindedness. They have been disappointing. And that makes it hard to give the next work of apologetics a fair hearing, because I can already hear all of my well-exercised objections starting to clamour for attention, almost as soon as I open the cover.

So, when I crack into a new work of apologetics, I feel the cynicism, the disgust, and the contempt start to bubble up. And that’s not the type of person I want to be. I am not a cynic. I am not a contemptuous person.

My solution, for the moment, is to go cold-turkey on reading apologetics. No more giving them the benefit of the doubt. No more slogging through mind-numbing obsequiousness or self-congratulatory drivel to determine whether some new apologist has an amazing insight that I haven’t yet come across.

If you are a believer and think there is a knock-down argument, or even just a thought-provoking speculation, that I should be exposed to, please share it with me in the comments section. I am still determined to remain open to dialogue.

Anyway, rant over. Also, happy Earth Day everyone!