Jim McGaw's Blog


Hiya. I'm an open-source web engineer who likes to write.

The Story of God

This is what all of us are looking for, really: a convincing story. This is precisely what I started to look for a few years ago, when I started to dig into various religions and the chronologies that surrounded their histories. How did we get to here and now? How did we get to the point where Christianity is a religion that has captured the minds of over a quarter of the world's population, in...

Argument

"Facts are meaningless. They can be used to prove anything that's even remotely true." -Homer Simpson Truth is a tricky thing to find. This has always been true in our world. We didn't need Facebook's susceptible platform--or the rest of the Internet machine, for that matter--in order for us to start disseminating misinformation. Or for some of us to start believing in it. If you want to figure out what's really going on, you have...

The Familiar

I remember when I first listened to the Beatles. I was in middle school band at the time, and one of the pieces we were playing was medley of a few of their songs. We played a lot of different music, but I knew that my parents happened to have a bunch of Beatles CDs in their music collection. So, one afternoon, I grabbed the album that had the first song, which was "Eleanor Rigby",...

Mysticism

When I was in college, a friend told me about a book she was reading. The overall premise was this: that all the major world religions are basically the same. I nodded in agreement at the time, because it certainly sounds like a reasonable thing to think. Now, I find this point of view to be puzzling, because in letter and in spirit, it's completely wrong. I would agree that all major religions have probably...

Game of Words

I wrote recently that religion is all about the search for truth. Perhaps that's not true, so much as it is a search for understanding. I'm still not particularly comfortable with all of this. Until relatively recently, I thought of myself as some kind of Christian, albeit a liberal and non-fundamentalist one. I had this belief not because I had ever investigated the religion itself and found it satisfying, but because I absorbed some of...

Toxic Fumes

About 10 years ago, I saw M. Night Shyamalan's film The Happening. This film starts with large numbers of people killing themselves for some inexplicable reason. They seem possessed, in a trance-like state, before walking off the ledge of a tall building or jamming a pencil into their own necks. Like most of M. Night's movies, this is left as a mystery for the first part of the film. Abandon all hope of enjoying the...

The Flying Saucers

There's very little that I can say with certainty. This came about very recently in my life, and at first, I thought it was a problem. You lose self-assuredness, and you begin to believe that your brain is somehow in decline. You used to know everything, and then, all of a sudden, it feels like you know nothing. You second guess every thought that crosses your mind. This is what comes with being wrong just...

The Moralizers

It is morality that drives people to learn about philosophy more than any other topic. Indeed, this is what drove me to seek it out my first year of college. I learned from this class that I would never be interested in becoming a philosopher, because I didn't want to become a long-winded professor droning on in monotone about the nature of right and wrong in a manner that ultimately boiled down to personal interpretation...

Age of Reason

I find Biblical literalism confusing. We live in a scientific age. Our modes of thinking about the world were born of the Enlightenment and the philophical ideas that sprung from this era. We value reason, evidence based on empirical observation, and truth based on this evidence. I'm not a scientist, and I don't fully understand how to properly go about applying the scientific method, but I can bandy the term falsifiable around like I know...

Tales of a Scorched Earth

For me, this really begins about 10 years ago, while I'm having a discussion with a friend. I can't remember what it was we were talking about, save for the fact that my friend is belittling the intelligence of creationists. True to his nature, he's not just making the point: he's also seeking confirmation that I agree with him in full. I shrug, and refuse to answer. This visibly bothers him, and he presses me...