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Humans as pattern seeking devices

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Humans as pattern seeking devices

So much of the human experience can be explained by one simple fact: the human mind is basically a pattern-seeking device — and a very good one.

We like to think of our minds as computers, but we operate on a completely different paradigm. The utility of a conscious mind — which is very costly in terms of the energy consumed by the wetware required to support it — is that it can allow us to adapt in real time to changing environmental conditions. For most life on Earth, the main response to changing environments involves centuries of slow evolutionary change, because most behavior is “hard-wired” into brains and nervous systems. But evolution stumbled on a new trick with a few animals, and perfected it with one particular family of higher apes that eventually became us. That trick is, of course, what we call intelligence. Read the rest of this entry

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The Day Larry Martin Freaked Out

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I wrote this piece of fiction in 1993, as part of a college creative writing course. I dug it up recently and decided to share it here. This was a time in my life when I was still a Christian and it is not like anything else I wrote during that time. I was obviously enjoying the freedom of writing with reckless abandon. 


None of us in Mingo Corners gave much thought to Larry despite his strange ways. Heaven knows we had our share of oddballs in town, and Larry seemed to be just another one of them. No one really knew him, although I think I was one of the few who really tried. He lived alone in a dilapidated house that he had inherited when his mother had died suddenly in 1989.

screaming-146426_640One day Larry freaked out.

That’s the only way I know to describe it: he just plain freaked out. Told everyone he was an alien from the planet Zorbene or something like that, and that he had decided on the fate of humankind. Said that we would all be exterminated. Exterminated. Like a bunch of goddamned cockroaches, he told us. Said we weren’t worthy to exist in a noble universe, whatever that means. Went down to Randy’s Hardware and tried to buy $5000 worth of guns and ammo on credit.

That did it. Read the rest of this entry

A creator worthy of creation

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A creator worthy of creation

Christians sometimes ask how anyone can gaze into the heavens, at the incredible vastness of space and the innumerable stars and galaxies, and not see a Creator.

To me, it’s just the opposite. How can anyone look upon all that and see behind it a god who throws tantrums over whether or not humans eat bacon and love whomever they wish. Or a little god who is supposedly all knowing, all loving, and all powerful, yet who allowed a talking snake to wreck his most prized creation.

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Why I mock religion

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I’m not normally one who mocks anyone or anything. But much of what I write here can (rightfully) be called mocking of religion, and more specifically of Christianity. Most of the time, I’m poking fun at a particular branch of Christianity — that of fundamentalism, or as I am prone to call its adherents, “fundies.”

Why do I do this? I suppose there are a few reasons for it.

First of all, I do it for my own sanity. I was completely and totally consumed by fundamentalist Christianity for nearly four decades. It made me neurotic, afraid, insular, judgmental, and — much of the time — miserable. I would have cowered in fear back then at the very thought of questioning God or anything having to do with God. It’s not a good place to be in. Read the rest of this entry