Ryan Bennett

Boulder, CO, United States

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Ryan Bennett
Posted about 2 years ago
Would atheists benefit from a community? Are they maximizing such benefits?
This question would be better phrased as "Are atheists human?" To which the answer would be your same 'YES!' It seems self-evident that we humans all need and benefit from community. This is probably the reason we've come up with so many religions over the years. And we atheists, despite our flat non-belief in the supernatural, still need community. Which is why we find ourselves now contemplating forming a religion of our own. Chris Anderson asked a very good question in Atheism 2.0 about the need to be part of something greater than oneself. Alain De Botton, despite having just delivered an excellent sermon, gave what I consider to be the typical cop-out atheist answer. And I've given it more times than I can count, so there... Being part of the hugeness of the universe is inspiring and numinous to the right sort of person yes, but I think the real meat of the issue lies elsewhere. It is not enough to be a part of something greater than the individual, one must feel that he or she is a contributing part of such greatness, whatever it may be. And so the standard secular answer fails to fulfill this need, for it's hard to feel like we actually contribute anything substantial to the greatness of the Cosmos itself. By contrast, devotion to pleasing the creator(s) of everything feels both within our reach and important. So what can we become a part of, what can we devote ourselves to, that is real, improvable, and worthwhile? Ultimately we all must decide for ourselves (such is the problem with lacking an infallible deity), but I'm currently leaning towards "Each Other."
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Ryan Bennett
Posted over 2 years ago
Can we really become happier? Happier ourselves? Can we create happier places to work? Or even happier societies?
I wish I had found this conversation with longer than two minutes left to comment. Such is life. Seeing as I have sixty seconds, I'll leave this with a quote I heard. not sure who said it. Happiness is like a butterfly. Chase it and it will always elude you, but divert your attention to other things, and it will come and rest quietly on your shoulder.
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Ryan Bennett
Posted over 2 years ago
Would you eat "in vitro" meat?
It's an interesting question. I've been a vegetarian for most of my life (with the exception of a few rebellious months in my teens). My reasoning has always been less of a health one and more on the grounds of ethics; for the sake of both the animals and those who go hungry when meat production is so wasteful. So for most of my dilemma's regarding meat, it might be viable, though I would approach it more as another meat-substitute then thinking of it as real meat (even though it would be).
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Ryan Bennett
Posted over 2 years ago
Should public schools in the United States eliminate the traditional A to F grading scale? And if so, what assessment do we replace it with?
I think the A-F system is just like any other status quo; It got us this far, and has admirably served it's function for many years, and many are understandable a little reticent to just up and throw it out the window without a lot of thought as to why the wheel needs to be reinvented. And certainly traditional grades will be around far longer than us early adopters would like. That being said, the way grades are assigned across subjects and teachers is nowhere near as consistent as a standard report card would have us believe. Some teachers weight homework highly and tests lowly, so a student who has a perfect command of the subject matter and little inclination to do homework that is unneeded in order for them to learn will receive a lower grade than someone who does all the work, but still walks away from the classroom with only the faintest understanding of the subject. Others grade on perceived class participation, which is measured extremely subjective at best. My principle problem with A-F is not that it's a standard rubric, but that it claims to be and isn't. What would be more equitable in my opinion is a system that gives students goals, and checks them off the list when completed to a high standard... if not up to par, they get bounced back and get to try again. There should not be a penalty no matter how many times you get it wrong before you get it right, as long as you eventually get there. Likewise, there should be no unnecessary grinding for those that get it right the first time, they should simply get to move on. And now that I've ventured past the OP by a fair margin, I'll get back to the point: Should we get rid of A-F? Eventually. Is there anything better? Of course! There's always something better, it's just a matter of when and where we find it.
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Ryan Bennett
Posted over 2 years ago
As 2011 draws to a close, what is your personal takeaway this year? What did life teach you in 2011?
2011 was, to say the least, a trial and error year. Very heavy on the error. But at the end of it all, I think the takeaway is that even though arguably I've messed up in a lot more and bigger ways this year than in years previous, I think at the end of it I actually learned lessons from these mistakes, rather than just writing them off for a later repeat. What's more, I'm finally starting to forgive myself and accept myself for who I am, flaws and all, which is allowing me a greater sense of agency as I try to tackle 2012.