Category Archives: life

Religion

I’m also coming to terms with religion. After much soul-searching (and an unbelievable amount of Googling), I’ve realized quite a few things about myself.

I’m an atheist. There, I’ve said it. Doesn’t mean I’m going straight to hell (not that I believe in hell). Doesn’t mean I’m going to go and be a nasty person. It just means that I have no particular belief in a god.

I guess I should explain that before my parents start wondering where they went wrong. =)

I came from a Catholic grade school run by Benedictine nuns (they’re really nice), and when I was growing up, I think I really believed in it. I attended mass. I took communion. I eagerly devoured stories of saints and miracles, and wondered if I’d ever be one of the beatas or witness a miracle.

Then again, I also believed in all sorts of strange things back then, like spirits and ghosts and cloud castles and stuff like that. Blame it on people trying to use the supernatural to scare little kids. (Note to self: Never ever do that to small kids.) In retrospect, it was sort of embarrassing. |)

I think I was losing bits of it already in the last part of grade school. I was never really one for retreats. Going to a nonsectarian high school forced me to reexamine many of my beliefs as well.

I was never too comfortable with the somewhat fundamentalist stance that many people took when it came to religion – “I am right, you are wrong. I will be saved, you are damned.” You know, that sort of thing. It’s a good thing my parents were pretty moderate and tried as much as possible to explain to a rather confused girl that not everyone thought that way. On the contrary, many people thought that all the different religions were just different ways to reach one God and one truth.

I think it all started with the afterlife. Haven’t we all thought about death and life after death? While thinking about it, I realized that I didn’t really believe in hell – no fire and brimstone, no eternal boredom or loneliness, no eternal punishment. It just didn’t make sense to me, partly because I have a hard time thinking that anyone’s absolutely and irrevocably evil, and partly because I didn’t see how useful Hell would be as a deterrent.

So naturally I turned to thinking about purgatory. I never really did feel comfortable with the thought of indulgences or souls hanging around in limbo waiting for people to pray for them so that they can enter heaven. Didn’t make sense to me.

What did that leave? Heaven. I was still a little okay with the idea of, well, a heaven with everyone in a perfect society. Utopia. That sort of thing, yes? So heaven remained, and for a while I was okay (although a little unorthodox).

Then a friend of ours died, and I found it strangely acceptable that his corpse was, well, rotting away in the ground, and that was it – finis. End of existence. No flying around in heaven. No disembodied spirits hanging around. No consciousness. No resurrection, no second chance, zip. I didn’t need the idea of heaven to reassure me that everything was going to be all right, and besides – on what had I been basing my idea of heaven on? Just what I’d been taught? So that faded away, too.

One life. One chance. After this, that’s it! Tough luck. Bye. =) No hanging around trying to influence others. No praying for intercession. What makes life worth living? Maybe the difference I can make in other people’s lives – the great experiment that has yet to be performed.

Around this time I was also examining my beliefs about good and evil. I used to actually believe in a literal personification of evil, what with all of the stories told us, but I realized how that didn’t really make sense. I’ve had the luck not to run into anyone I could really call evil, and that also means I don’t quite understand it either. That’s one of the TODOs I should probably get around to resolving. =)

So there’s that – the realization that I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in a god, or some higher power that watches us and loves us. Not that I’m saying that God doesn’t exist – people can believe whatever they want. I’m just saying that for me, well, I don’t strongly believe in that. I’ll still go to church because my parents would like me to, and I’m still going to try to be a nice person because I like being a nice person.

Perhaps one day I’ll emerge from the other side. Who knows? But I don’t want to pretend to beliefs that I don’t have. =) Nice to have things out in the open, yes?

Religion, friendship, whatever

Today I had a rather deep discussion with Paolo Venegas about – of all
things – religion, or my lack thereof.

On another note, this person scares me sometimes (but in a good way).
He’s learning LISP and PHP, absorbing so much information at such a
rate. I find this encouraging. He’ll probably catch up in a short
while, but in the meantime I’ll try to do whatever I can to help him
learn more.

Today, too, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Turned out that I didn’t
actually lose one of my best friends – Eric Vidal. We just had a
slight misunderstanding.

Today I learned more about Emacs, too. Emacs is fun. Emacs is good.

Sleep is good, too.

I’ll be more coherent when I wake up.

Woke up. Overslept for my class. Oh well!

Computer Aided Instruction (school, education)

I think I’ll go for HTML. If animation is necessary, then I’ll use Flash. I won’t be able to reach the auditory/kinetic people as much, but I’ll be able to provide them with more material.

The module definitely has to be downloadable and ‘runnable’ on any system.

Sleepy. Was rewriting script. I think I’ve got a much better idea now.

Head TAs?

Doc Sarmenta story. I arrived at F228 a little too early for my 3:00 CS21A class, and I ran into Dr. Sarmenta packing up. Some students asked him if they could consult with him, but as he’ll be fairly busy due to Faculty Day, I volunteered to meet them instead. Got introduced as Sacha Chua, one of the head TAs around here. I replied, “We have head TAs?” Dr. Sarmenta continued, “She does most of the stuff.” :D

Volunteered to conduct CS21B tutorials at 10:00 AM tomorrow, F230.

Doc V story. Had thorny discrete mathematics problem that I needed help with. Doc V stumped. :) Actually, talked about problem with Eric over dinner, and he had a nifty insight that greatly simplified the problem.

Doc Sarmenta story. Presented thesis proposal. Earned “That’s very exciting” comment. :)

Gino story. Gloated about the fact that my thesis is humanitarian, useful, involves Linux, and doesn’t have a GUI. Wooohooo! :D

From the Philosophy handout just distributed today

“A human being who is weaned from all attachment to internally unstable
pursuits such as love, sexual activity, power-seeking, and
money-making is automatically at the same time rid of many of the most
common grounds of value conflict. In part, the superior harmony of the
philosopher’s life results directly from this reduction in the number
of his or her commitments. The pursuit of mathematics and the pursuit
of love will not come into conflict for a mathematician who does not
care about love or a lover who does not care about mathematics. But
the philosopher or mathematician’s particular choice of content
contributes powerfully, too, to his harmonious condition. He chose
these pursuits precisely because they were always available and did
not require any special conditions for their exercise. He can think
about theorems in all kinds of circumstances; they are always
available for his activity, regardless of his political circumstances,
regardless of the activities and attachments of other human beings. So
how often will he be forced to make a painful choice? The
self-sufficiency of individual pursuits leads, then, to a reduction in
conflict.”

Interesting thought, isn’t it?

Notes

Heavy traffic on the way home. Much work still to be done, but at least my Linuxchallenge stuff sorta works.

I don’t know about my core subjects this semester. I really have to learn how to write focused papers. I think I will redo my theology papers until I get them right.

One of my friends gave me a particularly neat gift – chocolates for programming, a stuffed toy for company and a ticket to LOTR in order to unwind. Nice, right? (Thanks, Byron!)

Another of my friends is doing me a christmas favor by bringing me a Square1 and cooki[es?]