Soapbox Entry Archive

Monday, February 6, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website November 2nd, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

To start off, let me say that when this soap box entry was written, it wasn't completely up to date with current events. I began writing this in August, before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. But, like it says on my homepage, my website's just a hobby, so with my focus being on other things, it's taken me a little while to write this entry. I've even put this essay aside to complete two other pages on this site that were more important to get done quickly (Guatemala 2005 Photos and Homosexual Marriage Soapbox Entry). So, there are many things I've seen since I started writing this essay that would go right along with the topic, especially remarks I've seen related to Hurricane Katrina. However, in the interest of actually completing this essay and getting it posted on my website, I'm not going to write about them. In fact, I'm even going to drop one of the original topics I was going to discuss, Justice Sunday II, just because it's taking me so long to write this.

2 November 2005

Okay, I don't want to beat a dead horse. I know I've gone over the subject of evolution several times. So, I'm going to try to stear clear of that in this essay. (Maybe I'll start a new section on my site, Evolution Rants, so I can just write away about it to my heart's content, and not have it interfere with the rest of this site.) Anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading over the past couple months on evolution, creationism, science, religion, etc., probably devoting more time to it than I should. And so it's making me notice these things more in daily life. And now I think that the whole evolution vs. creationism debate is just the symptom of a larger problem in this country. I'll just throw out a few examples here in the opening paragraph, and then discuss them later on. First, just the other day, I got an e-mail, the same one from two different people (though one guy sent it to me just to get a rise out of me, but it still shows that it's making the rounds), that correllated the September 11th terrorist attacks with taking prayer out of school and the moral decline of our country. Second, and I don't remember exactly where I saw this, but at the time, some book called Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau was the second best selling book in America, followed behind Harry Potter. Actually, as I began writing this in August 2005, and again when I checked in October 2005, it's at the number one spot for Hardcover Advice on the New York Times bestseller list. And finally, I was watching the National Geographic Channel the other night, and on their new series, Is It True (which is a very good series, by the way), they did a special on excorcisms, and showed all the people that are buying into it.

All of these examples, as well as my previous rants on evolution, show a society that's increasingly abandoning science and embracing the mystical. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a Christian myself (though my views would probably get me branded as a heretic in most circles), so I believe that there's more to the universe than just what science can tell us. And some home medical remedies do work. But I think that for the most part, scientists, doctors, and other technical people know what they're doing and what they're talking about, supernatural explanations are usually the wrong explanations, given the choice between homeopathy and modern medicine - I'd take modern medicine any day, and that some of the religious views in this country right now, to put it frankly, just plain scare me.

Continue reading "Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II" »

Monday, January 30, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legalizing Homosexual Marriage, Part II

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website October 26th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

26 October 2005

On November 8th, among other things, Texans will vote on Proposition 2, "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Now, I know I've written about the issue of homosexual marriage before (2004-04-02 Soapbox Entry, but in light of the upcoming vote, and considering that I live in Texas, I thought it would be worthwhile to visit the issue on my website again (actually, this current essay began its life as an e-mail written in response to a chain mail that I received about Proposition 2). I won't try to cover all of the points in that original essay - no sense in repeating everything here since I've already written most of it down, once. However, there will still be some repetition, because I feel that the additional time to think has allowed me to reword some of the points in a better manner. This essay will also contain a few new points I've thought up since that original soapbox entry.

Continue reading "Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Legalizing Homosexual Marriage, Part II" »

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public & Religious Fundamentalism

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website August 15th, 2005. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

15 August 2005

It seems like religious fundamentalism, specifically Fundamentalist Christianity, is on the rise in this country. I don't know if that's actually the case, whether regligious fundamentalists are just becoming more vocal, or whether it's because I moved from the northeast down to Texas, so I've noticed it more. Even though I'm a Christian, to me, religious fundamentalism seems like a bad thing. It takes a mindset that ignores scientific evidence and fosters ignorance, keeps scientifically knowledgeable non-Christians from accepting the religion, causes scientifically knowledgeable Christians (like myself) to question their faith, and in general makes Christianity seem like a religion for ignorant people. Worse, even though so many people claim to be Christians, I see a huge amount of hypocrisy in this country.

So, I'm writing this Soapbox entry. This is probably one of the least organized and least constructive essays I've ever put on my site. It's mainly just a chance for me to vent about things I see going on around me. Several of my friends fit into some of the things I'm complaining about, so don't take this too seriously. Yes, these things bother me, but my wording's probably a little bit stronger than I actually feel about it. They certainly haven't come in the way of any of my friendships.

Continue reading "Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public & Religious Fundamentalism" »

Monday, January 16, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Evolution, Why Won't People Accept It?

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website December 14th, 2004. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

14 December 2004

Evolution is a subject that gets me pretty worked up. I don't know exactly why. There are other issues in the world that are more important, but it just gets to me how so many people can ignore or reject something so scientifically important, and so well accepted among scientists. It bothers me even more when I read about people that want to force their ignorance on the population by denying evolution from being taught in schools, or by teaching creationism as valid science. It's like saying that the Earth is flat.

I've been meaning to write a well thought out, convincing essay, to try to convince people to accept evolution. That's not what this is. This is placed exactly where it needs to be on my site, My Soapbox. I'll throw in some important information here and there, but a lot of this is just for me to get it all off of my chest. Maybe by actually writing all of this here, it will help me organize my thoughts, and I'll be able to write that well thought out essay, but who knows.

Why I'm Writing This Essay

I never even knew there were people who doubted evolution until I was in high school. I watched a lot of PBS before my family got cable, and then a lot of the Discovery type channels once we got it, so evolution was just something I'd heard about my whole life, and it's not like it's a topic that comes up in everday conversation. Anyway, I was sitting there in biology class, and the teacher had just announced that we were getting ready to learn about evolution. My friend leaned over and asked me if I "bought" evolution. I said something like, "Yeah, what about you?" And he said, "No,it's got too many holes." That made me realize two things- first, that there were people that doubted evolution, and second, that I had just been accepting it based on faith in scientists knowing what they were talking about, without really knowing a lot of the evidence. To the second realization, I started to look into the evidence for myself, starting with what I learned in that biology class. And after getting a better understanding of evolution, it made me about as positive as you can be about anything that it did indeed occur, and is still occuring. Which made me figure for the first realization that my friend was probably just an isolated case, especially since it was before we had studied it in school. I figured that once you learned about evolution you would accept it, so I didn't give too much more thought to the fact that there people that doubted evolution.

After that biology class, I went on for years still naively thinking that most people accepted evolution. I knew there were a few uneducated people out there that didn't really understand it, and some religious fanatics who wouldn't accept it unless Jesus himself came and told them it was true, but I thought that by and large, most people were educated/smart enough to accept evolution, or at least smart enough to realize to accept the word of scientists who devote their lives to studying it. I went on thinking that way all through college, and for the first few years after I got out of college. Then, one day in the lunchroom where I work, somehow we got started into a conversation involving evolution. I don't remember how it got started, but I remember being the only one of the five of us in there that believed it. That just shocked me. Granted, I'm living in Texas (part of the Bible Belt), and a lot of the guys I work with don't have college educations, but they're still smart guys, and they've been through high school. I just couldn't believe that 80% of the people in that room thought that evolution was a bunch of hooey. So that started me doing some research and a few informal interviews on my own. And what I found disturbed me even more. I'd say that well over half of the people that I talked to either flat out rejected evolution, or thought of it as "only a theory" (which I'll address later). And once I got to looking at formal polls of the U.S. population, I found that there weren't a whole lot of people nationwide that believed it, either. Actually, according to a Gallup poll cited on, in 1997, a full 44% of the American public agreed with the statement that, "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." 39% agreed with, "Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation." And only 10% agreed with, "Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process." Those stats have stayed pretty constant since the 1980's. And that just amazes me, that almost one half of all Americans reject evolution. It's a pretty sad statistic on the intelligence/education of our nation. What's even scarier, according to a poll cited on, "According to a survey of 400 high-school biology teachers conducted by two University of Texas (at Arlington) sociology professors, 30 percent believe in Biblical creationism. Nineteen percent believe that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time." (Waco Tribune-Herald, September 11, 1988, p. 2E.) Biology teachers. What are these people doing teaching science to our children?

Continue reading "Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Evolution, Why Won't People Accept It?" »

Monday, January 9, 2006

Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Grammar Police

Note: This is a post of an essay that first appeared on my website April 2nd, 2004. The original essay can be found here. This is part of an ongoing effort to put all of my soapbox entries onto this blog, to give a space for user feedback. A "new" retroactive post will be made every Monday.

15 September 2004

I'm the webmaster for the company I work for. I recently received an e-mail from someone telling me about a grammatical error on the site. The typical- this is the grammar police, you used "good" when you should have used "well." And yeah, I know better. I should have written it the right way to begin with, but it just kind of bugs me that someone goes around nit-picking the site that way. Actually, this is a subject that I've given some thought to since language is one of the things that interests me, and I think that a lot of people put way too much emphasis on the rules of grammar.

People have been around for a long time, tens of thousands of years. Most likely, language has been around that entire time, and probably in more primitive forms in the species leading up to people (even if you don't believe in evolution, at least accept the fact that language has been around for thousands of years). Were there schools all the way back then? Were there grammar guidebooks, or scholars studying the language? Probably not. People just spoke. Yes, there was structure to the language, but the rules to grammar were something that were learned through use and practice, not through formal studying.

The main point of language was, and still should be, to convey an idea to another person. Grammatical rules help to make language more efficient to a point. You can't just throw together a string of nouns and verbs randomly and expect someone to fully understand you the first time around. But if you spend your time getting hung up on whether or not there's a split infinitive, or a preposition at the end of a sentence or some other nit-picking thing like that, you're missing the point. Like when I said that it worked good instead of saying that it worked well, do you think anybody really misunderstood what I meant?

Language is not an invention of scholars. It is a tool of the people. It has slowly developed over time, and it's only been in the last few hundred years that scholars have taken the time to write the rules of grammar. Since language is a tool of the people, however the majority of a population speaks a language is the correct way to speak that language. And it's dynamic. Language changes over time. Just take a look at Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or a King James version of the bible, and compare it to modern English. Does that mean that everyone speaking today is speaking incorrectly because it's not the exact way that English existed at one point in time? Or that those people in the past were speaking English incorrectly because it doesn't match our modern rules of grammar? Of course not. Like I said above, however the people speak it is correct. And since we've seen changes in the last few hundred years, we can surely expect changes in the future.

Yes, grammar is important, but language has survived for thousands of years without scholars, particularly without "grammar police." I don't think there's any reason for that to change now. So get off your high horse and let people speak.


Selling Out