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Thomas Bushnell, BSG
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Attended University of California, Irvine
Lives in Sunnyvale, CA
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Thomas Bushnell, BSG

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In Bavaria, steak is the side-dish you can optionally add on to your asparagus. As it should be.
ARCADIO CASTILLO's profile photoScott “marsroverdriver” Maxwell's profile photoJürgen Erhard's profile photo
Vee Germans love our asparagus!
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Thomas Bushnell, BSG

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Today I was in xkcd.

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Not the first time, actually: <>.
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So I just read this rather crappy rant:, because +Scott Maxwell  linked to something else at the same site. And +Gavin Doughtie  said something similar recently in a lovely conversation, as did +Tim Campbell

I don't mean to say that these people agree with this post (though they might) though their comments seemed on a similar page. And here's why the post is really kinda sadly wrong.

"I define faith specifically and narrowly as the willful explicit or implicit willingness to believe propositions that the believer perceives to be either unsupported by scientific, historical and/or philosophical evidence and argumentation or has good reason to suspect are undermined by such evidence and argumentation."

That's the quote. Now certainly there are religious believers who have held that their beliefs are of that sort. This point of view is called "fideism", and has a long history. However, it is an extremely rare view, so rare that those who are often thought to hold to it reject it; it's a thing that gets inferred about them even though they don't accept it.

If you ask religious believers why they believe what they do, with almost no exception they proceed to give you a reason for what they believe, what in their life or the world around them leads them to the beliefs they have. And, interestingly, the more thoughtful, the more committed, the more well-read the religious believer, the more likely they are to have a richer account to offer of the reasons for their beliefs.

Now I have no complaint about people who think that this or that person's reasons for religious belief are insufficient, but that's a far cry from what the linked post is concerned with. Remember, the problem isn't belief which happens have insufficient evidence; the problem is the holding it while also thinking there is not sufficient evidence

So my question is: where did this odd little meme come from? Where did the idea come from that religious faith has anything to do with believing a thing while also thinking it doesn't have evidence? This has nothing to do with the word; "faith" means trust or confidence in someone or something. Where did anyone get this meme that it means this kind of foolish believing without any reasons with a kind of middle finger up at rationality? It doesn't match the professed beliefs of actual religious people, but for a pretty tiny minority.

The linked article is filled with other foolishness too, such as the idea that religious believers are all followers of authority (which is, by the way, contrary to fideism, since "I believe it because X says it's true, and I have reasons to think X is a reliable authority" is not believing X without reasons (even if it happens that X isn't a reliable authority after all).

So where did this made-up little fiction about religion get started?
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Ah, and another sense of "faith" which explains some of these uses which are not really about grounds-for-belief.

Suppose I trust John very highly, and John tells me, "hey, there was a nasty accident on the highway." And I report to you: "I think there was a nasty accident on the highway." And now you ask me, "why do you believe that?"

Normal grounds are, "well, because I saw it" or "there were many reliable reports; here, you can read them yourself." But in this case, it's actually, "Because John said so, and I trust John."

Keeping in mind that faith = trust/confidence, this is essentially equivalent to saying, "on faith". Now, there are other questions to ask: "How do you know John told you that" and "Why do you trust John". But note that those are different questions.

It doesn't mean there is no story to be told, or that my belief about the accident is cut off from normal sources of knowledge. Now what about sense of "immune to reasoning?" Well, you're going to have to convince me not that "accidents are really unlikely" or something like that; you're going to have to convince me "John doesn't really exist" or "John can't be trusted because he lies" or "John can't be trusted because he might have gotten this wrong" or "John didn't really say that."

So when someone says, "on faith" as an answer, and the sense is "immune from other reasoning or evidence" that's because the attendant other propositions in the religious context are things like "God doesn't really exist" or "God can't be trusted because he lies" or "God can't be trusted because he might have been mistaken" or "God didn't say that to you."

But those are different propositions, and the person may simply take their opposites to be really about as self-evident as arithmetic propositions. (At least the first three of them.)
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Just watched Pride. I knew the basics of the story, only because I'd heard of it twenty-odd years ago shortly after it happened. I'm a couple years younger than the protagonists. My first pride parade was in 1987 instead of 1984.

At the end, I bawled my eyes out. Literally collapsed. It was a stunning evocation for me of what it felt like in those days. I wore the loose t-shirt with the rolled up cuffs, didn't have the guts for the crazy hair, and danced to Dead or Alive.

But for the grace of God, I could so easily have perished along with Mark Ashton.

Mark, I hope we have done you proud. I'm proud I could have followed in some small way behind you.
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Reshared because reasons.
Thomas Bushnell, BSG originally shared:
A poem I wrote a few months ago; a recent conversation between +Br. Karekin Yarian, BSG and +Daigan Gaither brings it to mind.


would have me know my attachments
and would teach me
the path to releasing them.

But that’s wrong
as if
were attached
to my non-attachment.

is not attached to
what is unattainable.)

would have me be attached
and would teach me
the path to attachment to him.

But that’s wrong
as if
to be needed by me.

does not need
what is unattainable.)

My detachment
at the feet of Buddha
is not unattainable.

My attachment
at the feet of Christ
is not unattainable.

Christ and Buddha
ironically twinned
and ironically separate
both desiring and not desiring
both focused and not focused
on me alone
as if
there were nothing else.

What in my life
are the attachments
which keep me
from attaching myself
to Christ?

What in my life
are the detachments
which keep me
from learning
from Buddha?

Buddha and Christ
mystically separate
and mystically twinned
both teaching and not teaching
both followed and not followed
by me, alone,
as if
there were nothing else.

I have spent my life
to what is not attachable
and detached
from that to which I am

To reverse this,
to turn around,
to find the attachments
to detach from,
to find the detachments
to attach to,
is the task
of a human life.

My past
is a burden
with no weight.

The fear of change
of releasing the burden
weighs around my neck.

My future
is a weight
I need not carry.

The fear of stasis
of it pressing upon me
holds me back.

What is the Eightfold Path
for a Christian
if not
the Beatitudes?

What are the two great commandments
for a Buddhist
if not
compassion and detachment?

How happy are they
who release their attachment.
How compassionate those
who are rightly attached.

In fear
and terror
of losing
can I move

Is it possible
to move forward
by standing
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Thomas Bushnell, BSG

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Today I realized Sgt Rizzo and Lt Provenza are the same guy.
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Second thought... from the article...

As the technology of these machines, particularly of their displays, improves, and as their price declines, a lot of briefcase computers will probably be sold. And as the software that is capable of turning them into true satellite offices becomes refined, they will probably even be used - in fact, profitably so.

But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.

So would the public have really gone hot on laptops and portable computing if the Internet wasn't a thing (and more to the point - email, spacebook, and umpteen other killer apps)?  I doubt most of the public even knew what a MODEM was around that time period... much less whether they really wanted to spend money on a computer at all (if memory serves me right).
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The Lord knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Without a doubt, every one of them is known to him, while we know only those which he lets us read by the grace of discernment. Our spirit does not know all that is in us, nor all of the thoughts which we have, willingly or unwillingly. We do not always perceive our thoughts as they really are. Having clouded vision, we do not discern them clearly with our mind's eye.

- Baldwin
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For the record, the dress is obviously green and purple.
Corey Gerritsen's profile photoNoah Friedman's profile photoSebastian “tokkee” Harl's profile photo
... or was it white and black?
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So funny.

If WALL.E Was A CHRISTOPHER NOLAN Film (Interstellar):
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No, Fox. He was fired for being a bigot.
Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran’s storied career is up in smoke – all because of a book he wrote for a men’s Bible study group at his Baptist church.
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+Mark Shieh​ That one involved plenty of bigotry on all sides. :-(
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Thomas Bushnell, BSG, normally
  • University of California, Irvine
    MA, PhD: Philosophy, 2000 - 2007
  • Virginia Theological Seminary
    Theology, 2007 - 2008
  • Carnegie Mellon University
    Mathematics, 1985 - 1985
  • University of New Mexico
    Mathematics, 1986 - 1988
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
    BA: Philosophy; Classics, 1996 - 1999
Basic Information
Other names
Michael Innis Bushnell (once, but no more)
Religious Brother, Software Engineer
  • Google
    Software Engineer, 2010 - present
  • BorderStylo
    2008 - 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Software Engineer, 1998 - 2000
  • Free Software Foundation
    Hacker, 1990 - 1998
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Sunnyvale, CA
Albuquerque, NM - Pittsburgh, PA - Somerville, MA - Irvine, CA - Alexandria, VA - Los Angeles, CA
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