Religion, atheism, and the dangers of knowing the truth

A storm at sea
A storm at sea
Photo: Matt Hardy/Unsplash

Humans yearn to make sense of the world. Throughout recorded history and before, humans have been in awe of the cosmos. We have struggled for a closer connection to the world— to better understand it and, ultimately, to better understand our place in it. As Rupert Shortt puts it, we are “truth-seeking — and truth-discovering — beings.” What we call religion today can be seen as an attempt to know truth. So, too, can its supposed opposite: secularism.

In this essay, I will examine what I see as the danger inherent in human truth-seeking and will argue that in our…

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle on Aug, 16, 2005 (AP/John McConnico)

US weakened Arctic Declaration to fit the GOP’s extreme fossil fuels agenda

Last week, the United States signed a declaration to protect the Arctic and expand scientific co-operation within the eight-nation Arctic Council. The Fairbanks Declaration references the Paris climate agreement and [reiterates] the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”

International reaction to the signing was cautiously optimistic. The Guardian ran a headline that read, “US signs treaty to protect Arctic, giving some hope for Paris agreement.” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, praised her US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, for his work on the document.

This guarded optimism and praise seemed understandable. In the…

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 35th Premier of British Columbia Christy Clark

BC Premier Christy Clark was trailing in the polls but she got dealt an unexpected Trump card

Donald Trump likely can’t name the premier of British Columbia (BC). He almost certainly hasn’t heard of John Horgan. And when Trump threatened protectionist measures against Canada’s softwood lumber industry, he probably didn’t know that Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal Party and John Horgan’s New Democratic Party were in the midst of a hard-fought election campaign. Nevertheless, after Trump announced tariffs on Canadian softwood, the US President loomed large in the BC election — and may have unwittingly swayed the results to the Liberals (BC’s right-wing party).

How Trump Tipped The Scales

British Columbia, Canada’s third largest province by population, is home to over 40% of…

Women in Northern Syria are waging war against ISIS — and the patriarchy

(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

When you think of women in Northern Syria, what do you picture? No doubt you’re imagining women displaced by war and/or oppressed by ISIS. What you probably don’t think of is its feminist activists and armed militants leading an unprecedented women’s revolution.

Although the Rojava Revolution receives little media coverage, it is fundamentally transforming Northern Syria’s legal, political, and socioeconomic institutions. The dramatic changes in the role, and status, of women in society is perhaps where the revolutionary changes are most apparent.

To appreciate the revolution’s impact on women’s lives, a basic understanding of the context it emerged from is…

Members of what the U.S. calls the Syrian Democratic Forces gather after a training session at a firing range in northern Syria. May 21, 2016,(AP Photo/Robert Burns)

Investigation absolves US-backed SDF of worst allegations but questions remain

In Syria’s brutal, six-year war of school massacres, chemical weapons, beheadings, religious persecution, torture, suicide bombers, and human shields, the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria has emerged as an island of relative stability and a beacon of hope. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party-led authorities are known for their ethnic and religious tolerance and their commitment to gender equity. The federation’s decentralized government structures are experiments in democratic ecofeminist socialism inspired by the political philosophy of American anarchist Murray Bookchin.

The federation’s military arm, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is the most reliable ally of the United States-led international coalition…

From stupid tweet to official government policy: the madness of Trump’s climate change agenda

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, before signing the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) executive order, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted that global warming is a Chinese hoax invented to damage US manufacturing. At the time, this was just the crackpot conspiracy theory of an attention-seeking celebrity. It was stupid and laughable. Now, the attention-seeking celebrity is the most powerful man in the world and this stupid, once-laughable tweet looks increasingly like the United States government’s official position on climate change.

After capturing the presidency, Trump made comments about having an “open mind” on climate change. These comments were less blatantly ridiculous than his Chinese hoax theory but came with new conspiratorial ramblings about “horrible…

EPA chief Scott Pruitt is in charge of regulating the industries he’s spent his life faithfully serving

Supreme Court associate justice Samuel Alito swears in Scott Pruitt as the EPA Administrator in Washington, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster).

Hillary Clinton’s emails dominated coverage of the 2016 election season. Clinton’s opponents saw leaks from the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign as evidence for their long-held belief that Hillary Clinton paid lip-service to the common people in public but cozied-up to corporate interests behind closed doors. In one memorable excerpt from the leaked emails, Clinton told a group of apartment building industry bosses that in politics “you need both a public and a private position.” Hillary Clinton’s email scandals — real, exaggerated, and imagined — no doubt played a role in stopping her ascension to the Oval Office.

Now, over…

Mr. Trudeau goes to Trumpland

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about to shake President Donald Trump’s Hand (Kevin Lamarque /Reuters)

By Spencer Lachmanec

On Monday, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met for the first time. The two men have diametrically opposed public personas and starkly different governmental agendas. Juxtaposed to each other, the pair seem like a heavy-handed caricature of the stereotypical differences between Americans and Canadians. Trump is the crude, loud-mouthed American business tycoon. Trudeau is the fluently bi-lingual, Canadian nice guy. Despite the stark differences between them — both real and imagined — Trump and Trudeau’s first meeting seems to have went well. The Prime Minister called it a “very productive meeting.” …

The Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and “the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom”

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“Do you understand that in this political world there will be people calling, demanding, pushing, insisting on things that they do not know what they’re asking for, and could, indeed, be corrosive of the rule of law, could diminish the respect the Department of Justice has, could diminish, um, the rule of law in the United States?”

“You have to watch out, because people will be asking you to do things that you just need to say no about. …

Spencer Lachmanec

Political commentator.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store