I Better Not Be Gay

Great progress is being made towards marriage equality. There are currently 17 states allowing full marriage equality. The movements that have stood firm in making their message heard has played a great role, and I am so happy to see that all of their work is starting to show real results.

It is a shame that we live in a society where this is even considered a serious social issue. The idea that people want to do everything in their power to prevent other people  from getting married  completely baffles me. In some ways however, I need to be grateful that I am alive at a time when this social change is possible. The changing zeitgeist is definitely headed in the right direction but there is still much more to be done.

I am thankful that in my social circle I am only in contact with a few that don’t support marriage equality, while the great majority are in full support, and a couple are even on the front lines of this battle. Now I could be content with this, but something slowly came to my attention while pondering homophobia and similar issues that I think many on the side of equality need to consider, because there is still progress on our side that needs to be made.

As accepting as we have become of homosexuality, even among some of the most accepting, we still view the idea of being gay as a bad thing. Now many of us are right in one sense, being that we could face heavy amounts of discrimination among the less accepting. That is definitely something to fear, and it only further helps us understand the struggle of those who truly are homosexual. But this is not a good enough excuse. Even surrounded by the most progressive groups, many of us would still be embarrassed if someone proclaimed that we were gay. We may go person to person declaring our heterosexuality. What this displays, however, is a belief that being homosexual would devalue a person. This cannot be a tangible belief among the accepting if we want social change to continue to progress.

At the heart of what is wrong with this picture is that we treat the idea of being gay as an insult. If someone were to call us gay, many feel an instant need to defend ourselves against this claim. But why should we? True acceptance of all sexual orientations requires that we not hold any reservations against it. In an interview with The Big Bang Theory’s star  Johnny Galecki on The View, he was asked about the rumors surrounding his sexual orientation. His response was to not respond, with the great reason of, “why defend yourself against something that’s not offensive?”

The LGBT community still faces a mountain of challenges as they fight for equality. We cannot hinder this progress by simple minded fears that we ourselves may hold. If we want true equality, then we really need to believe that we are equal. What this is about is love and being allowed to be yourself. There is nothing more pure, nothing more fundamentally necessary to us as a society than this. We need every fiber of our being to be in support. So if someone ever suggests that you are gay, but you are not, thank them, for they have given a greater compliment than criticism, even if they don’t realize it.

The Day I Quit Caring About God

In my personal circle of atheist friends, we don’t talk about God. To us, it has become one of the least interesting topics to discuss. I remember the day that this really clicked for me. My wife and I were driving with some friends to the store when one of us (I don’t remember who) said something that was essentially mocking the idea of God. This sent us down a conversational stream of reiterating points we had made in the past that made the idea of God seem laughable. We again pointed out the mere improbability (dare I say, impossibility) of God. We were saying many of the same things we had said in the past, perhaps from different angles, but for all intents and purposes, it was the same argument. It was then that one of my friends asked, “why are we doing this?” This wasn’t a sympathetic question towards the Christian faith, suggesting that we were being too hard on them. No, this question was asking; why are we talking about something that is so clearly false?

Soon after he asked this question, we all kind of laughed introspectively. I then began to mock what we were doing by pointing out the clear flaws in the myth of Santa Clause. Bringing up the improbability (dare I say, impossibility) of a man reaching every home over night. I pointed out how Santa was not as generous a man as claimed, leaving the starving kids of Africa without food or shelter while giving a child in America a new XBOX. We all laughed, because the idea of Santa is so clearly false that discussing his likelihood is literally a complete waste of time. It was then that we realized, so is God.

The idea of God is not a discussion worth having once you are an experienced atheist, and I think many atheists would agree. If you have studied religion and science for a substantial period of time, there comes a point when acknowledging the God hypothesis as a valid possibility is to give too much respect to it; lending far too much of our valuable (and finite) time to an unsubstantial claim.  God is clearly a failed hypothesis. Contradiction after contradiction, improbability after improbability in the face of a probable solution, no other hypothesis could fail so often, so explicitly, and still render five minutes of intellectual discussion. So why lend the 5 minutes to this?

The reason that I have taken the time to point this out is because we need to recognize that there are better things to be talking about. There are better things to ponder. The wonders of science are at our fingertips and we need not spend another moment wondering if there is a dictator in the sky waiting to punish us for thought crime. We know this argument is over. It’s time to move on to more relevant ideas.

Now there is a caveat to the points I have made above. What I have said above applies more to the subjective experience. I think that we atheists that have covered all the bases in the God debate need not spend so much time on it when there is so much more to discover in this life. That being said, we still need people that do speak out against religion. Religion is far too popular and we are clearly hindered as a people because of religion. I am thankful for people such as the four horsemen and the various atheist groups that work to keep religion out of our government, we need these groups, we need these people.

And I am sure that we still have people in our lives that we care about that do want to have this discussion with us. We should not ignore this simply because the idea of God is so stale. And due to religions popularity, sometimes we need to present ideas that people haven’t heard before. If we want religion to lose its popularity, people need to feel pressure when they try to claim nonsense. We need to be willing to speak out when someone tries to present an unsubstantial claim with pride.

To summarize, the power that religion still has on society makes our voice in opposition important. But at the end of the day, for me, I know that this debate is over. I have spent a good amount of time this subject and I have quite honestly spent enough. I personally rarely desire the conversation anymore. Now, I am open minded. If someone has a new and revolutionary idea, let me hear it. But I know (virtually, I should say) that it won’t happen. The argument is over. I have better things to think about. There is a universe filled with plenty of wonder and beauty and I need not waste any more of my time on this idea called God.

Fun With Numbers: Binomial Theorem

I have been quite busy over the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t had too much time to put into my blog. In my little bits of free time, I have put together this short post which talks about a clever trick in mathematics that I have always wanted to share with people. One of the best things about this trick is that it is simple and almost anyone can do it once they learn how. If you are ever around a group of friends and you want to blow them away with your computational speed, this is just the trick* to do that. Before I say more, I first would like you to answer the question below;

The question to the poll below is: What is the coefficient in front of  blogpic11 in the expansion of  blogpic12

Now there are probably only two ways that you answered this question. The first way I would suspect is that you guessed, and the second way would be that you took the long, strenuous, and tedious time of actually working this problem out. It turns out that there is a much quicker way to solve this question.

There is an equation used in probability when dealing with combinations known as “n choose k”. It looks like the following,

blogpic13

Now, thus far in my studies of mathematics, this equation has only appeared a couple of times outside of a probability course. When it does come up, however, it is followed shortly by a great tool in probabilistic mathematics which is the Binomial theorem. The Binomial theorem reads as follows,

blogpicbinomial

We can see pretty easily that this is true. Using a simple example, we see that,

blogpic1

And this is satisfied using the Binomial theorem,

blogpicwork

blogpicfinish

So what if someone asks, what is the coefficient in front of the xy in the expansion of (x+y)^2? Well since is raised to the first power, then our value for is one. Thus, the solution is,

blogpic999

So again I ask you, What is the coefficient in front of  blogpic11 in the expansion of  blogpic12?

* I know I call this a trick in this post but it should be noted that this equation was developed with much more serious intent. I use this equation daily by means of solving probability questions and its uses extend beyond into all fields of mathematics.