Author Archives: maldextrin

About maldextrin

Just a young individual who happens to be a wannabe artist and perhaps (I'm still not sure) a pseudo-intellectual.

On My Change of Opinion on Intelligent Design

I’ll be short and to the point.

I used to think Intelligent Design was, well, utter crap. I said to myself, we humans probably are just able to recognize patterns that lead us to believe that the world was designed. Now I’m not so sure. My argument doesn’t seem good anymore; in fact, it’s pretty weak. If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, it probably is a duck. If it looks designed, well, gee, it probably is.

Add that to the fact that I’ve never heard an argument against Intelligent Design that 100% convinced me, and I’m sold on the “Watchmaker” argument being correct.

So, this is where I’m at. I welcome any and all views on this, especially ones that go against my current position. I want to make sure I’m not missing or overlooking anything.


On Clothes and Androgyny

If you had told my younger child self (when I was running around like a crazed little kid) that clothes would become one of the most important aspects of my identity, as well as a insanely efficient mood booster, I would’ve sworn on everything you were wrong.

But it seems I was wrong about that, wasn’t I?

Today, expressing myself through my clothes is some of what keeps me sane. I’ve been fascinated with androgyny for as long as I could remember. At first it was feminine boys and masculine girls that held my fixation, but gradually, it started turning to truly androgynous people. That is, people whose biological sex I truly couldn’t tell.

After my somewhat long detour into the trans community, and thinking I might even transition to the opposite sex, I think I’ve settled on a genderqueer, bigender, or androgyne identity. One of those three, or perhaps something else, the point being, I’m happy in the middle. I like being able to pass for either sex based on the clothes I wear, and I like mixing the two genders in my presentation. It’s great to know that I can pass for whatever I want to on any given day. As my identity shifts, so can my presentation, and this is the reason why clothes are so important to me.

So yes, indeed the clothes definitely make me the (wo)man I am today.

On Improvisation

Recently, I’ve been growing more and more frustrated with songwriting/improvisation. I make up little chord progressions, but I never really get much further. But I realized something.

Improvisation on the piano is the same as improvisation in life. Everyday, we face situations that require us to think on our feet.

I’ve realized something else as of late. Things, especially life, come easier when you relax and have fun. While I stressed about not being to write good songs immediately, countless melodies slipped faded from my mind. It’s like this: if you don’t have fun in life or in music (or whatever your craft is), then what is the point?

No, really, ask yourself: What’s the point without the fun?

Have some fun with it.

On Plato’s Forms and the Watchmaker Argument (On Beauty and Meaning)

So Plato and his Forms have me thinking. He makes a claim that the Forms (the pure essence of something, more or less) of Beauty, Goodness, etc. exist separately. But do they? There’s no real proof for it. There’s no reason to believe it or, especially, know it.

Perhaps I’m stretching this too far, but the idea of the Form of Beauty reminded me, of all things, the (in)famous Watchmaker Argument. (For those who have no idea what it is, it’s basically, “The world is so complex and intricate that it must have been designed.) Why am I relating two seemingly unrelated concepts?

They both search for meaning. The Forms give us these goals to strive for (to know the pure essence of the Form), and the Watchmaker argument is most commonly used to defend Christianity. 

Again, I don’t believe in the Forms; I don’t believe that a separate Form of Beauty exists. And I don’t think that beauty and complexity imply design. The way I see it, it’s our search for meaning that creates both beauty and our creator. We want things to mean something, instead of living in a harsh world where little makes sense. So we created our gods, at first by personifying and then praying to forces of nature, and we created art, which often has great meaning to the artist.

I’ll say it again: our search for meaning created our creator, and if all we have to go on is faith, than perhaps we should redirect or search elsewhere. As always, comments are welcome! (Come on, make my day and comment.)

(P.S. I apologize if this is scattered, it’s still far too early at 10 AM to be coherent.)


Imagine No Religion: A Reply

This is one of possibly more replies to the Explore God campaign in Austin, Texas. Specifically, an article written titled “Imagine No Religion” that I had some comments on.

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The title says it all. Religion is not something author Christopher Hitchens finds merely unhelpful, unpleasant, or out of place within his own life. Rather, religion is “a poison . . . a menace to civilization . . . a threat to human survival.”1

Sam Harris agrees. His 2004 work, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Harris likens religion to the medieval practice of alchemy. He suggests that all “faith-based religion must suffer the same slide into obsolescence.”2

These are not new arguments. A hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud described religion as “a universal obsessional neurosis.”3 He believed that humans created religion as a coping mechanism in light of their fears and unfulfilled desires.4 But science, he argued, has shown religious belief to be an illusion that must be rejected for human civilization to march forward.5

While I am not Harris nor Hitchens, I think what they might be trying to say is that we cannot move forward as a species if our ideas are not examined rationally. That is, if we simply accept on faith, our ideas may be unsound, and unsound ideas generally don’t benefit us. Note that I use generally. Religion can provide many people with comfort, social support and interaction, and a sense of purpose. However, it comes down to one basic question: Do we value truth or belief? The difference is one is rationally investigated and one is not. One has evidence to back it up and one does not. (Please note that while it seems I am saying “Non-belief is truth and religion is mere belief”, what I mean is “Regardless of what is true, non-belief or a religion, let’s look at evidence and come to conclusion, whatever that conclusion may be.” On a side note, if anyone has proof or evidence they want to share, I’m still researching and deciding what I think about things, so by all means share it with me.)

But is religion the chief cause in all these instances? How much do other motives—such as greed, politics, survival, duty, bloodlust, or even nationalism—play a more prominent role?6

My personal view on this is that religion is a sort of mask for both good and bad results; people are behind this mask. It’s the people that started the wars and made the great scientific discoveries, and it’s the people who killed others for not believing in the Spanish Inquisition and it’s the people who help out the homeless.

If this is the case, shouldn’t we also question their existence when they lead to harmful outcomes in society? Why aren’t Hitchens and Harris calling for an end to sports and video games?

I’m sorry, but sports and video games do not count as religion or religious beliefs. Yes, people can get worked up over them, but no one (or hardly no one) is worshiping a ball or their Xbox controller. Also, I’m quite sure that if these things were harmful, Hitchens and Harris would be against them, but they just are not.

That’s not to say the term “religion” is useless. But it means that ideologies often labeled as secular or simply not categorized as religious should receive no less scrutiny than religion. Put another way, perhaps we should be asking: Wouldn’t the world be better off without patriotism? Capitalism? Marxism? Liberalism? Any “ism,” really?

Nobody is saying that no secular “-ism” should be questioned. In fact, I agree with the writer on this one; we should always, always question what they think is true in order to see if it is true. If it’s not true, we must discard it. If it is true, we must keep it.

Here’s the Explore God post, for reference.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

Book Recommendation: “Then We Came to the End” by Joshua Ferris


For those of you looking for a reading fix with a mix of dark and light humor, I have just the book for you. Then We Came to the End reminds me of the hit show The Office in such a way that the book could be considered the show’s darker, more ironic twin. The near invisible narrator draws you into his (her?) world of office antics and office sorrows as the employees of an ad agency balance their fear of the impending lay-offs, their own crises, and the conflicting, yet simultaneous senses camaraderie and disliking that they feel for one another in this excellent first novel by Joshua Ferris.

While on the surface it appears to be a somewhat comedic story (and don’t get me wrong, some parts will have you laughing out loud), the story’s deeper parts force the reader to confront genuine emotions, and might even bring a tear or two.

In all, Then We Came to the End is an excellent read that I would recommend to anyone, but I especially recommend it to those who enjoy satire with a real point laying underneath.

(P.S. If anyone has a must-read book, reply the name in the comments.)