Hatred

Your parents probably told you that ‘hate’ was a strong word and not to be used lightly – mine did, anyway. At some point or another, most of us forget this and begin to use it casually in conversation; “I really hate that advert” for example. The interesting thing for me is that the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that contains it is almost always that which holds most emphasis by the person that speaks it. It’s a word that holds our respect even when used improperly.

But what ‘hatred’ really means and whether its use can ever be justified takes a little more thinking than a throwaway comment about a cheesy advertising slogan. To me, hatred represents a seemingly irredeemable repugnance and dislike for a person or thing. Now, the dictionary disagrees with me on this, insisting that hatred can be described simply as “intense dislike.” The reason why I stand by my definition over that of the dictionary’s in this instance is that the dictionary is a representation of language as it is used in its current state. This is why pathetic excuses for words like ‘selfie’ find their way into the dictionary; if people consistently use a sound to represent a thing enough that it becomes generally accepted, then it becomes a word. So people have diluted the meaning of the word ‘hate’ over time by expressing their dislike for petty things like television advertising. I stand by my definition because of the respect we still seem to have for the word even when used carelessly in these situations.

Anyway, I’ve managed to digress as I so often do. Can hatred be justified? Short answer: yes. Long answer: sometimes. It’s at this point I realise that the long answer isn’t all that much longer than the short one – so I’ll expand. For hatred to be reasonable I think we can agree that the subject must have a negative impact on you, otherwise there’s nothing to dislike or be repulsed by, and it must be defined by its impact, else it is redeemable. So, in short, you can justifiably hate anything that falls within these highly selective criteria.

To explain, I shall draw up one of my famously extreme examples, in this case the murder of a child. There are things you can hate in this scenario and things I think you shouldn’t. I’ll start with things you can hate – the act of murder being the obvious candidate. A murder is characteristically negative and can only be defined by the extinction of someone’s life, thus fulfilling all of the criteria. Now on to things you shouldn’t hate – firstly, the murder weapon. People say they hate guns, which seems fair when you see what they can do and what they have already done in the world… but this does flout my criteria I’m afraid. Obviously, guns can have a pretty negative impact on people, I won’t dispute that, but I don’t believe that they are defined by this impact; that undoubtedly falls to the act of shooting someone. People will argue that guns weren’t designed for anything else but I think that’s irrelevant. Yes, they can be seen as a symbol for murder but that doesn’t make them murder and I think that distinction is very important.

Lastly, is it acceptable to hate the murderer? That’s an interesting one – some people would say ‘definitely’ and you can understand why. Others would say ‘only if they showed no remorse,’ which seems equally, if not more, sensible. I would say ‘no.’ Let me explain myself. We said that it was justifiable to hate something that was defined by its impact, else it was redeemable. After all, you can do nothing to change the past – you are only who you are in each moment, so showing remorse allows you to be redeemed. If they show no remorse then they can’t be redeemed so you can hate their thoughts at least. But should you hate them as a person? I can see how this is a bit of a grey area and I would still say ‘no.’ This is because I would argue that this person is mentally ill. I would argue that they never chose to be a person who showed a disregard for human life, that they should be rehabilitated, and not persecuted. But this is a question of free will and one that I know many people will disagree with. It is for you to decide what you think about that.

Living in the Moment

The idea of ‘living in the moment’ isn’t an uncommon philosophy in today’s culture. It’s very closely linked to the ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once) movement that flooded the Twitter-feeds of millions of users over the past couple of years. People around the world became hooked on the idea that you could justify outrageous decisions with the notion that when life draws to a close you won’t have the opportunity to make that decision again. I don’t dispute that this seems perfectly accurate, you do only get one life on this Earth and when it’s over, there’s nothing you can do to change what’s happened, but it would be short-sighted, I think, to simply follow all your impulses and instincts for this reason.

The simple fact is, you may only live once but that life doesn’t end after each decision you make. There are consequences to your actions and consistently following your raw desires just isn’t healthy. For example, there are countless websites and companies out there who are willing to offer you loans of up to £1000 as an instant bank transfer. There’s a lot that you could do with this money, things you’ve wanted for years that this money could get you and you could just live in the moment and get yourself that new TV/Hi-fi system/massaging chair or whatever you dream of. But the pressure of the debt will catch up with you and you could lose it all in a second.

So whilst YOLO makes for a great slogan, like many catchy acronyms it really holds very little meaning with regard to making life decisions; the truth of the matter is far more complicated – you have a future to be concerned about, not just the next few hours and your decisions should reflect that or you can lose things, and people, that you love.

Live your life, not your hour.

Altruism

I’m unsure as to how unconventional my view of altruism is among Christians but, for me, when I logically attempt to derive a conclusion as to whether the phenomenon truly exists, I only ever come to one answer. I should be clear that when I talk about altruism here, I am referring to the idea of complete selflessness; an ability to ultimately and definitively put someone else’s needs above one’s own.

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Life Assurance

I think, certainly in the UK, people see Christianity as a form of life insurance, something that old people turn to in order to feel safe for their future. People have a very traditional view of what it means to be a Christian, and what church is like and see it is somewhere to go to when your mind is slowly deteriorating that gives comfort and peace in those final years. It is true that this aspect of Christianity exists, this is undeniable, but anyone who takes any of the teachings seriously will tell you that faith in the Christian God is far more complex, and far more relational than just a get-out-of-jail-free card.

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Success and Human Relationships

Success is an interesting concept to consider because it’s definition is hyper-variable from person to person. My copy of The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as:

“The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”

You may be surprised as to how general that definition is. Of course, when we talk about success in general we are talking about the success of one’s life; how satisfied we are with the accomplishment of our own personal goals. These vary from person to person from happiness to love, sex, money, power, changing the world, having kids, marriage, having material published in their name – the list is endless. But is there a right or wrong answer?

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The Atheist Preacher – A Curious Phenomenon

There are a variety of different faiths in this world that share the opinion that there is only that faith that can save you from condemnation. Of these faiths, a proportion actively try to convert people to their own belief in order to save them from suffering. This tends to be for one of two reasons:

  1. They believe they are commanded by the laws of their religion to spread the word and change people’s way of thinking.
  2. They feel genuine empathy for the people around them and wish to save them out of pity for their damnation.

I don’t know about you, but I personally have no qualms about these reasons; they seem perfectly acceptable and respectable reasons to share a belief. In fact, in any other context it would be considered immoral and downright evil not to share the knowledge of something that could save one’s life. Try to remember this next time you feel like someone is “shoving a belief down your throat” – they are doing it to save you.

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Existence

The concept of existence is a difficult one to get your head around. It probably seems clear to you that you exist. It probably seems clear to you that your friends and family exist. You’ve never had any reason to question existence in general, and it can be uncomfortable to do so, I assure you.

First, let’s take a look at the people around you, people you share experiences with. Can you really be sure that they shared those experiences with you? You are undoubtedly conscious of the first time you kissed someone, or at least conscious of a time you’ve kissed someone, you remember it. But it is impossible to discern whether anyone else’s consciousness is anything but an illusion; you may, essentially, have been kissing an organic robot that is incapable of experience – it simply follows scripting in a similar fashion to computer software.

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The Validity of Philosophy

If you’ve seen any of my blog posts before you’ll have noticed that my interests ultimately lie in ‘the big picture’; I’m fascinated by things that can never be fully explained, confirmed nor denied. I thought I’d use this post to explore some of the reasons why I think it’s important to consider things that many people dismiss because of their woolly, impossible-to-prove nature.

So, philosophy in my edition of The New Oxford Dictionary of English philosophy is defined as thus:

“The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence…”

What could be more interesting than thinking about the very foundations of our existence, than forming opinions on the meaning of life, what everything comes down to? The word comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘philosophia’ meaning ‘love of wisdom’ and, to me, there is a clear reason why the Greeks considered such a discipline as wisdom.

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The Faith in Science – An Ironic Truth

Atheism seems to be the belief of choice these days and appears to be the encouraged or logical view presented by much of mainstream media. It is also clear to see that the Western world is developing a culture where religion is to be neither seen nor heard, something outdated and old-fashioned, perhaps something that was used to explain the unexplainable before science unraveled all of the answers. But science can never tell us everything we can possibly know about the world. This is partially because there is such a great volume of ‘knowledge’ out there, partially because of the philosophical concept that this knowledge is an illusion and partially because there are some (or ‘all’ if you are comfortable with the former point – I’ll do a post about it another time) things which just cannot be proven.

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Agnosticism – An Unsettling Uncertainty

Agnosticism was where I found myself after seeing the error of my ways, which seemed the logical step to take from my rather depressing nihilism. This is the view that you should see many scientists taking, as it is really the only belief that all evidence supports – the idea that we cannot ever fully know what the answers are. The term is thought to be coined by British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, an avid supporter of the work of Charles Darwin. He writes:

“I neither affirm nor deny the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but, on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it… Give me such evidence as would justify me in believing in anything else, and I will believe that. Why should I not?”

That seemed to make sense to me, because it does make sense. We don’t have enough evidence to prove anything. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to find some for yourself. There are a great many religions out there that claim that a lack of faith grants you eternal damnation and as an agnostic you accept that any one of those religions could be correct. If you really take this concept seriously then I challenge you to tell me that you wouldn’t want to try your best to find the truth out for yourself.

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