You CAN Change My Mind

“Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds. Fools won’t. Dead men can’t.”

Often I get accused by Creationists that I am “closed minded” and fixed in my beliefs, so it is pointless arguing with me because they claim they cant change my mind.

WRONG.

DEAD WRONG.

YOU could change my mind if you have a good reason why I should. I can’t change yours because you have already decided in advanced that it does not matter what reason I give.

Beliefs should be tentative and subject to obligated change if the evidence demands. We should have some way to correct the flaws in our current perception and thus improve our understanding – THAT would be reasonable. Because if we love truth at all, then what should matter most is that we not allow ourselves to be deceived. But faith is the very opposite, it requires that we literally “make belief” that we ignore what we really do see and pretend something is there when it apparently isn’t. It means that we fool ourselves.

It is quite common to hear people like Creationists (and conspiracy theorists) accuse me of having the same faults they have. This could not be further from the truth, I do not share their flaw. Unlike creationists, I am not “closed minded” I am a skeptic who follows practical and testable data AND I am wise enough not to jump to the first conclusion. Unlike people of “faith” – which is a asserted conclusion based on no evidence and defended against all reason – people of faith are by nature demanded to never doubt and continue believing even when all the facts conclude their belief is incorrect. I am the exact opposite.

If given good reason, I will change my mind. I’ve changed my mind before, multiple times. And that is what I am going to talk about in this blog. I will give a brief walk through several of the times I changed my mind on important issues – and every time it was because the evidence drove me to change my mind.

Religion: Christian to Godless Apistevist

This one will perhaps be the longest story to tell, so I will keep it real short.

I was raised in a somewhat religious family, and believed in God throughout my life since my “born-again” experience and prayer at age 7. But all that changed when I turned 17. I never questioned my faith, perhaps the biggest reason why is because I never bothered to give it much thought. Despite all that time reading the Bible, I never once considered or entertained the thought “did that happen? How can I know that?”

Actually, the first time I questioned my faith was when I turned 17. I knew squat about science, I was never concerned in the slightest with the origin questions, and I knew nothing about the theory of evolution. In fact, in my Freshmen year I passed my only Biology class with a “C-” and we only had one lesson that whole course about evolution, and I didn’t pay the slightest attention (c’mon, I was a lazy “C” Freshman student, but I got my act together next year.) I only mention this because over and over I hear Christians accuse atheists like myself that we “lost our faith because of evolution” – I am living proof that is bullshit. IN FACT, I did not bother to learn anything about evolution almost eleven months AFTER I became an atheist. Like I said, the questions about origins never seemed important to me. All that time being an atheist who didn’t know about evolution or any other field of science, my answer would always be “I don’t know, but my lack of having an answer does not mean that a god did it.”

Anyway, backing up. When I turned 17, the very first step for me to go from theist to atheist was questioning the problem of a omniscient god. If you think about it for a while (really, just try), a omniscient god just does not make any sense.

After that, the belief in a personal god slowly crumbled. And after giving omnipotence and omnibevolence some thought, among many other things from prayers to prophecies, every time it just did not make sense. God was disappearing. I then settled with Deism. But even that faded away. I was only a Deist for 6 days. Give it a little thought, and realize that if you cannot explain the unknown of where everything comes from, you do not answer a mystery with another mystery because that ultimately answers nothing. Just because I did not have the answer does not mean that the universe was magically created by some deity. It just did not make sense. Then BOOM, I came to the conclusion that there is no god. In the same way that I say there are no mermaids, it’s because the evidence and logic behind god is just as non-existent as mermaids.

In sum, the fact that I went from theism to deism to atheism, it seems pretty self-evident that I am a person whose mind can change. But it is more than that. I became a skeptic. From then on, bold claims had to meet the burden of proof. I decided to never take things on faith again. (If you are one of those people who say everyone has faith in something, read this)

Gay Marriage: Opponent to Supporter

When I was considered a Christian, I did not agree with gay marriage – BUT NOT FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. Don’t jump to conclusions yet, hang in there.

Gay marriage was one of those things that did not ever interest me, it was never brought up by anyone, to me it was completely ignorable.

It wasn’t until Sophomore year in High School that I finally gave it some thought. When a handful of students were doing that whole “remain silent” all day thing, whatever it is. In my Studio Arts class, my teacher brought up the topic of gay marriage. Studio Art class is a pretty silent class, but once in a while it can be a social class where people talk and chit-chat as they draw. Anyway, the teacher asked the whole class who was against gay marriage. Four other students plus myself raised our hands. The teacher was surprised, she said “I’m kinda shocked. I just thought artists like everyone here would’ve have a more open mind.”

That remark stirred some thought. I never once cracked open the Bible to see what it said about “homosexual marriage,” my views towards gay marriage were secular. So, for a couple of weeks, I gave it some thought.

Back then, I thought the entire point of “marriage” – at least, the only reason why it was made up by humans in the first place – was to have a child together. Seriously, I thought that was the only reason why marriage was invented. So based on that conception, I thought that ruled out gays because they cannot reproduce. But a couple days later, I learned that old people get married all the time and they can’t have kids. That was all it took to blow my idea of “marriage” out the window. I later on heard that infertile couples marry too, but my old idea of “marriage” was already gone.

So I then looked into the history of “marriage.” During my search, I often heard that the gay community wanted to “redefine” marriage… but I learned that had happened many times. Nobody gets married for trading cattle and money anymore. It was only recently that people married out of love and romance. For centuries, marriage was often arranged for financial and property reasons between families.

So now, I stand with marriage equality. They are consenting adults, they love each other, so let them marry and they can be just as miserable as the rest of us.

Climate Change: Doubter to Believer

In my High school Senior Year, one of my English classes decided to have a student debate. The topic: climate change. We finished watching Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, then we decided to have a debate. Six students signed up to take the “Climate Change is Real and Man-Made” but nobody wanted to challenge it. So I said ‘what the hell,’ and decided to sign up as a challenger.

So I did some research to find holes in Al Gore’s movie. Funny, my Auto-Shop teacher was very resourceful. He did not fully accept climate change, and he provided several sources. So I got to work and wrote my paper. It was perhaps the biggest paper I ever wrote in High School, like 24 pages – I think I still have it stored away somewhere. But for the main thesis, I decided to tackle the claim that climate change was man-made.

Anyway, debate day came, and apparently only one other student joined my side (she was pretty cute). So it was 6 against 2, and we had our debate. It seemed to me that every point my opponents made was easily shot down, but looking back that was most likely because their research and debating skills were poor.

But in the end, I walked out of that debate feeling like a winner. My paper was graded, I got an A++. That amazed me, few students ever got a grade that big. I ended up sharing that news with my Physics teacher, perhaps my favorite teacher ever. Anyway, he was glad I got a great grade, but was disappointed I took that side. He said to me “I am more convinced that climate change is real than the sun coming up tomorrow.” That surprised me. I highly respected the man, he made science exciting. So I tried to do some research, but it was quite a struggle because all throughout High School, I never payed attention to any of my science courses besides Physics.

It wasn’t until I enrolled in college that I started making serious headway regarding climate change. I spent most of my summer reading and researching science. Eventually, well into my college year, I could not help but come to terms that the scientific community had overwhelmingly supported climate change and all their data and evidences fit the climate change model.

In the end, I accepted that climate change is happening and humans are a factor. Even if humans are not the main cause of climate change, that does not mean we don’t contribute to it. Even if our behavior and pollution contributed a small fraction of climate change, that does not excuse anything. Imagine a whole house was on fire, and a person pouring half a gallon of gasoline on it. It’s only a half gallon, plus the whole house is pretty much on fire anyways, right? Wrong. It doesn’t matter, even if it’s a small amount, that person is contributing to the problem, not helping towards a solution.

So, I firmly say that humans should take responsibility. Even if our contribution to climate change is as low as 5%, we should not add fuel to the problem. We should be looking for solutions.

One more thing, I MUST give credit to YouTube user potholer54 for helping a layman like me understand the science behind climate change and recognize the BS of climate-deniers.

9/11 Truther: WTC 7

After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, I accepted that we were attacked by terrorists who hijacked airplanes.

It wasn’t until I saw the film Zeitgeist in 2003 that I started to accept the 9/11 Inside Job conspiracy theory. I watched the whole thing, but practically everything they showed me I kept saying to myself “that looks normal.” I saw the cut steel beam poking out of the debris, listened to the noise made in the elevator shafts, heard about the red particles claimed to be thermite, but everything seemed to fit the official story of 9/11.

The one thing that caught my attention was WTC 7. I wondered how and why did that building fall. So for a while, I speculated what if the official story was a cover up? So for a while, I included myself amongst the crowd who questioned the story behind 9/11.

Only a few weeks later I revisited the issue, and researched the science behind WTC 7. I noted the damage it took from the falling debris, as well as the neighboring building WTC 3 was cut in half by the falling debris. The science behind the fall of WTC 7 was sound, and it concluded that the building came down due to a combination of a weakened base and fire.

GMOs: From Anti-GMO to Pro-Science

This was the latest of the thing’s I changed my mind about. In fact, I changed my mind over this in 2013.

I’m kinda embarrassed about this one.

The main thing that drew me into this “Anti-GMO” crowd was through several Documentaries targeting GMOs and Monsanto. Now, the things I saw spooked me. I did not understand how the science worked, and I think it is because of that lack of understanding (mixed with fear spread by the documentaries) is what planted me alongside the anti-GMO/All-Organic lot (no pun intended).

The documentaries did not explain the science at all behind GMOs, but the unknown part mixed with my anger towards corporations like Monsanto was all they needed to trick me. Almost immediately I joined a movement to Label GMO Foods. I participated in a demonstration, holding up a sign, and actively sought out signatures to get a Proposition on the ballot to label GMO foods. That Proposition did not pass.

After the ballot casting, my activism tired down. Before I knew it, I was caught up in my studies in college and had no time to research into GMOs. One day a TED Talk appeared in my watch-list. I watched it, and this brilliant scientist briefly said in his talk that GMO’s are scientific and safe and the argument is over. I thought “WHAT? Is this guy serious?”

I did not bother researching GMO’s after that… but then another video came to light. Made by Dusty Smith, and this was the ultimate eye-opener for me.

Dusty walked through pretty much every argument presented by the anti-GMO lot that I was familiar with. And just as Dusty suggested, I found time to research it myself. Turns out, the science sides with GMO’s. I was amazed, and ashamed that I did not do this sooner. Granted, I knew he was up to my nose in school work, so I forgive myself here.

The bad side is that a great deal of my family and friends have strongly invested themselves in the anti-GMO crowd. I have not shared with them my change in views because organics has become a new religion. They speak of people like me as if we are heretics.

But just because I am no longer against GMO’s does not mean I think Monsanto is good corporation – I think the opposite. Nor does my change of views mean I am suddenly anti-organics, I’m not. I still highly recommend people replace lawns with gardens; I promote urban farming and aquaponics; and I support the idea we should construct Vertical Farms (because it creates local food, fuel, and jobs).

So I still maintain several organic ideas, but I think GMO’s are essential because they can be vital to feed millions. So I am kinda the “All of the Above” guy, because we have 7 billion people on this planet and we have to feed them all.

One last thing, I recommend watching these two videos by Penn & Teller: “Penn and Teller Bullshet: Eat This” and “Penn and Teller Bullshit: Organic Farming.” I did not even know they did this all this time. I was only concerned with watching videos on Astrology, Religion, Area 51 and Pseudoscience. But these two shows are really worth the watch.

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