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Wellness Wednesday for February 1, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Why is sleeping on my stomach so much more comfortable than sleeping on my side and especially my back? I find sleeping on my back very uncomfortable for my upper back while sleeping on my side is hard on the bottom arm and I have to switch sides dozens of times before falling asleep. Sleeping on my stomach is very comfortable by comparison and makes my upper back feel much better, but I've heard it's bad for you. I'm particularly concerned about the effect it has on my face.

Is there something I can do to make sleeping on my back more comfortable?

Welcome to the windy city! I think we have plenty of mottezans here if you want tips on neighborhoods.


I moved from the hot Southwest desert to Chicago, and while I'm not a fan of cold, it wasn't as bad as I had imagined it to be. Especially, the city is quite efficient at clearing snow, and it's only moderately cold, being on a lake that doesn't freeze, so it's really just January and February that are cold, though the forests are mostly deciduous and ugly until April. Afterwards I spent two years near Lake Superior, which also wasn't as bad as expected, on account of getting higher quality winter clothing and multiple layers. Buy a high quality coat and gloves! The museums, public parks, Lakeside areas, zoos, restaurants, and forest preserves are lovely! There are already frogs out in March, which isn't bad. I would recommend oysters at the Press Room bar's happy hour, a March or April overnight outing to the cypress swamps of Souther Illinois, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Miwaukee Natural History Museum, proceeded or followed by a bloody mary, beer, and pretzel from a German bar.

Jesus. What do I have to do to make that kind of money? I have programming experience but struggle to even get an interview. I'm currently making 34,000 USD.

Are you in the united states?

No, Canada.

A classic blunder

What are your personal small-scale failures of rationality?

A failure of rationality would be something that you 100% intellectually know makes perfect sense, but you fail to execute or act on anyways. Avoiding low-hanging examples such as exercising, eating well, etc.

Failure mode 1: Assymetric laziness

When a task has steps A, B, C...Z. Doing all the steps will result in a much superior output than just doing a majority of the steps, sometimes from step A to step Y.

The final few step(s) don't even take that much additional effort. For example often times I make a soup or a stew and skip adding some lemon juice because I will have to walk to the fridge, find the lemon, cut it, then store it properly after use. But all of that is exceptionally easy, and the lemon juice would make the food significantly better.

Another failure mode related to this is, if I start doing something suboptimally, I just continue suboptimally even though fixing it would take minuscule effort. For example at a recent bbq, I could have easily gone to my car and pulled out a foldable table to make it much easier for me to cut and arrange the food, instead, I did not do that for much longer than I should have because going to the car takes effort.

Any tips to not fall for this trap?

Failure mode 2: Asymmetric cost/benefit

Caught a girl smiling at me multiple times at the grocery store. No, I am not hallucinating or overextending the implications of a simple smile, it was blatantly obvious. I'm regretting not approaching and striking up a conversation quite badly. At the moment I thought "nahhhhh it ain't gonna work out". But the cost would have been an awkward conversation, the benefit would have been meeting a girl who might be into me, and probably more.

Even better, if I were immune to awkward conversations and rejections, approaching people becomes a 0 cost affair.

Everyone knows about this, everyone says this, it's so obvious, but no one does it. I can't figure out a scenario in which this an a negative expected value over the long term unless you really really really bungle up all your approaches, or the probabilities of success are much much much smaller than I think they are.

Failure mode 3: Reluctance to shuffle a schedule

When I make a planned schedule, I have a strong tendency to stick to the ordering.

However, things are dynamic and that means schedules should be readjusted frequently. I have a strong reluctance to readjust a schedule even though doing it means I achieve better medium-term time allocation. I almost wasted 6 free hours not doing something yesterday, because I planned it for today, keep in mind, those 6 hours, nothing would have been done.

I ultimately did it, but I aim for a default mental state where that comes naturally and not at cost of much thought and willpower.

Failure mode 4: Low weightage to novel experiences

I should prioritize explore over exploit when it comes to doing new things, trying new food, etc. But I tend to default to exploit. I understand this is just the natural conservative tendency, but I intellectually know exploring has been better for me in the past.

Failure mode 5: Overly pennywise

I recently spent far too long on whether I should buy a 2 USD game on steam. Or pay a road toll of 1.5 USD. These amounts are rounding errors on my total expenses, there is the opposite failure mode where small amounts of daily spending add up to a somewhat substantial amount, e.g buying coffee instead of making it at home. I might have overcorrected against this failure mode.

It seems to me that I default to being thrifty on all expenses not only the big ones, and this creates a lot of unnecessary stress and time wastage than it should.

How would you classify procrastination of sleep? I know intellectually that I prefer not to put down my phone, and that I’m unlikely to go to bed before 2am if I do the Wordle after midnight. However, it doesn’t seem as bad when I’m doing it, versus waking tired at 7 or 8 and shaming myself for it.

Avoiding low-hanging examples such as exercising, eating well, etc.

Would go into the category above. I was thinking about more generalized and obscure examples than the obvious ones such as optimal lifestyle.

Steps 3 and 5 are related, in opposite directions: overanalysing. I lose more time perfecting certain things than I could ever gain through perfection. 2 dollars is not a cost worth optimizing. I calculate my hourly wage for most optimizations and it's usually pitiful.

Similarly, I decide to stick to my schedule not because it's the best schedule ever, but because I don't want to put a few dozen 10-minutes 'is this the best schedule for the circumstances?' brainstorming sessions into my schedule. YMMV, but I have enough difficulty sticking to a schedule in the first place, I don't need the additional excuse for sitting around not doing it because it's no longer perfectly aligned with the ticker tape. Some people definitely don't optimize enough. But I'm never at risk of falling into that particular trap, because I'm always jumping into the other.

Caught a girl smiling at me multiple times at the grocery store.

Is this common? This has never happened to me. I thought it only happened in movies.

I have noticed it happen maybe 4-5 times in my entire life. But I wouldn't wager its a common occurrence for the average guy, maybe once in a blue moon.

You've never noticed it happening to you.

On three separate occasions, I've taken a girl out to a restaurant, and afterwards had her comment that the waitress was obviously hitting on me the whole time and that it had been touching/hot/ego boosting that I was focused on her and didn't notice the waitress.

Maybe it's the preselected thing or she just had nre jealousy glasses, but I've never once in my life noticed a waitress hitting on me. So... It's probably happened to you and you had no idea.

Yeah, I've heard those types of comments on rare occasions. I've always been highly skeptical.

But now that I think of it, I have had a strange woman grab my penis, another run her hand down my back, another make a weird comment about wanting to see me naked (when I was a teenager and she was middle aged), and a few compliment my looks. So, you're probably right that I'm only picking up on the obvious stuff. This is all still very rare though.

Maybe it's the preselected thing or she just had nre jealousy glasses

That's what I assumed on most occasions because it came from a girl I was dating.

1: Correct practice. I know that learning something or implementing a lifestyle change should be done roughly one at a time, and that the practice should be separated over days across weeks, with variable inputs. Do I do this, with anything? No.

2: I’m going to say it anyway: vegetables — I have kale in my refrigerator right now, but when I look at it I become unhappy and do not eat it.

3: Proper repentance / development of disgust for sins. I have some personal theories on optimal repentance involving cues and associations and boredom to develop a disgust for sins, but I don’t do them.

4: Sitting down and actually writing something worthwhile. I have the topics, I know better phraseology, I know intellectually that there are much better forms of piece development for maximum clarity and enjoyment. I only did this like once.

For the vegetables I usually sneak them in with meat dishes that includes some kind of gravy or sauce to combine everything. For example I make make a homemade version of chinese takeout chicken and brocolli, but with a lot more vegetables than brocolli and a lot of additional squce so that I can just scoop in the vegetables with rice, the sauce makes anything taste good. If you want to cook good tasting vegetables look into the cuisines of Asia and the Middle East.

Also expand more on the sinning/repentance.

I think most of our cognition happens unconsciously. We build up intuitions and principles over time, then when it's time to evaluate things, we mostly evaluate something based on those intuitions/principles and not all the way from first principles. Doing otherwise would be impossibly time-consuming and would utterly paralyze anyone.

I think that a lot of my "small-scale failures of rationality" come from this though. I'll come up with a fairly good principle, then refuse to rethink it even in situations where it doesn't make sense. Paying $2 for a steam game is a good example; I have a principle of not spending money unless I really should, even when it's a very small amount of money and the time spend deliberating over the decision is worth a lot more than the purchase itself. Another example is work--I have a hard time pulling myself away from my job even when I'm getting absolutely nothing done and know that nothing will be done for the rest of the day because my brain is exhausted.

Somehow, abandoning these (often useless) principles feels extremely dangerous. Eat out once, and maybe I'll start a habit of eating out every day. Give up on work early once and maybe I'll just get lazier and lazier until I get fired. This seems very true to me, so I would characterize this sort of cognitive error less as a flaw and more as an inevitable result of being human.

Side note, I like your "explore vs exploit" term; that's a nice concise way to describe that tradeoff.

Im thinking that allowing some minimum frivolous miniscule spending daily should help me with that. Im thinking I will allocate 3 USD a day maximum for spending on stupid shit without thinking twice. This will add to roughly 100 USD a month and wont kill my wallet. As for eating out you can limit it to once a week.

The explore exploit dichotomy is a common phrase in Reinforcement learning theory.

Ha, yeah that might help, hopefully you don't end up deliberating too often about some meaningless $3.50 purchase.

Anyone else fascinated by saffron and ginger for purposes of health?

Ginger has wild effects on serotonin. Scientists gave alcoholic mice a ginger extract and it ameliorated the reduction of brain serotonin induced by alcohol. Saffron on the other hand is nature’s Ritalin, has been domesticated for 4000+ years, and at 30mg is as successful as the leading ADHD medication in children while being neuroprotective!

Do you have a link to the Saffron study? I'm kinda interested, but my in laws would be super interested.

A lot of stuff helps with alcohol, and saffron does not have enough high-quality evidence. There was no control group in the trial.

The effects of ADHD medication are very noticeable, so I wonder what people who have actually tried saffron instead of ritalin say.

Dialysis Diaries Week 3 & 4:

So I just didn't get round to writing it last week but my machine (let's call her Clara) is still pumping away.

Not much previous week. Went to Belgium again with some friends on a sports multipitch. I led all the pitches, the first one in boots because it was blood cold for cragging at -2 (celcius).

The water retention situation is ongoing so I have begun to cut down on the water/fluid consumption. This is a bit weird. For instance two days ago I didn't drink a single cup. I was still not thirsty because I indeed had excess. Its quaint to be offered tea/water etc and having to refuse it. One really doesn't truly appreciate how much social interaction revolves around drinking things.

One thing that I am very aggressively pursuing is changing my field of work. I work as a postdoc and I am on track towards an assistant professorship. My area is mechanical engineering. But lo and behold, I want to change towards bio. Why? Well I know that my disease will be with me for the rest of my life. Fuck me if I won't try to combat it with every fibre of my being. And the only solutions I see that will make me whole are biological, ie regenerative medicine technologies that rely on expert understanding of cellular biology and methods. Well shucks, I don't have this.

So I am essentially spamming researchers in the field asking for... Anything really. I am not looking for payment, just training, which of course takes up someone's time. But I am sure this would be worth both for them and me in the long run. I have never felt this much motivation before. In any case so far I am getting mixed results. I managed to visit one lab and did some lab work. I felt as though they were treating me as a cancer kid. Which they might have been as today I got the reply that they are looking for experienced postdocs and did not gave PhD funding. Which is fair enough. Regardless, another professor elsewhere seems to be open for an internship. I will talk to him soon. I feel as though if I knock enough doors someone will say yes. If not, I'll have to take the slower approach.

Other than this my mother is being looked at to see if she can donate soon, so fingers crossed for that. I should have a clearer picture of the time line after that.

Also on the topic of donation. I think it was either here, ssc or the EA sub. Someone said they would never donate as it increases the chances of end stage renal disease. Only to someone younger than then and otherwise much fitter.

Now of course I am biased in this but I was thinking about it. And indeed if you think post donation risk of lifetime esrd being order of about 1% is unacceptable I have no logical arguments against it. Then I thought some more. Most of this risk is at a very late age. Say you are 30 now. You probably have 40 years before (low chance of) esrd. Now if we don't singularity our way to whatever you can count on a lot of technological development in 40 years, perhaps and I believe we will based on my research to date, have artificial organs by then. So having this in the calculus I think the assessment becomes more positive towards donation. Thoughts?

This would absolutely depend on the person. In a hypothetical where I could donate to my wife, I would do so unequivocally and mostly disregard relevant risks. The tradeoff is so clear and simple that it would be as easy of a choice as I could ever make. If I had children, I would say the same and it would probably be even more clear and obvious. A parent? Well, I guess I'd want to look at the life expectancy, but with our current ages (me late 30s, them about 60), I would lean towards a yes. Close friend? Probably. Distant friend? Maybe, I would surely consider it. Random person that I've never met? Nope, definitely not, I'm not interested in trading off any of my life expectancy and a significant medical procedure for someone that I don't know.

This is a good example of ways in which I am not a utilitarian.

Yes, the poster that prompted my thought had a much more "extreme" tuning curve which is why I thought they weren't considering potential medical advances in their calculus.

I also often think to myself how close would a friend need to be for me to be cool with a donation of this sort. And I am not sure myself. I would probably consider it for anyone I was already interacting strongly prior to their diagnosis. But that's because I know the disease, making me more sympathetic than I otherwise would have been.

It's actually a pretty good way of thinking about how close you really are to someone. If you're genuinely willing to give them your kidney, you're either quite altruistic or they really mean something to you. I can think of a half dozen people that I'd put just about the in same category as wife and kids above - "yes, without question, that's worth it to me, and if I lose ten years off my life, I can die happily with that choice". After that collection of deeply loved friends, I don't think I'd know until I was in that position. I'd need to do a lot more homework.

No idea if the spark will still be there.

My personal experience has been that it absolutely has been every time I've done something with an ex, with some additional spiciness of time and distance making it more exotic.

No idea what kind of lasting emotional damage it would mean for either of us if it all goes south.

The kind that's worth it. Tis better to have loved and lost and all that - it's a cliche for a reason.

I don't know the original post, but I wish you luck.

Good luck. My wife tells me nothing is in retrograde this month astrologically, so you've got good omens. The past two months have had a tremendous amount of good fortune for me, I wish the same upon you.

For those who didn't see the original comment, can you give us a tldr?

Good luck!

I don't understand this approach to relationships. Isn't the main thing just whether you love her? If you love her, how could you stand not being with her, and if you don't love her, why would you want to be with her?

Wow your description made me value my own partner more. Thanks for that.

I'm a lurker, posting here because I'm struggling with a big issue of belief, faith, etc. I just needed to get this stuff out there, if anyone has any comments. I am even, truthfully, open to evangelization or proselytization -- and quite honestly, the weirder the better if you're going to offer up something. I will state that my religion of origin is Christianity, and I am doubtless formed by this. But ultimately I'm tired of this faith, I find the inter-denominational fights tiresome and useless, I have found each of the Christian sects (and I have explored more of them than most have ever even heard the name of) troublesome in certain ways, and would much rather look beyond the religion of the Nazarene if I were to adopt a new faith.

This is going to be a very stream-of consciousness diatribe, because that's what it was originally. I apologize for any uncharity towards anyone, and I ask for leniency because these issues seriously trouble me. I mean everything I write sincerely, not in a vicious or cruel way, but in an honest, open, and vulnerable way. I present them as true and necessary in the Victorian Sufi Buddha lite system, because they are true about my mental state and necessary for me to express in order to hopefully get help on that mental state. I make no warranties about their truth value relative to the world as it is, only that they fairly represent my feelings and are necessary to present in order to gain the most helpful feedback.

I'm a religious person but lately I've been losing my faith. I lost my faith in my youth but it didn't have this big of an impact on me then; after it returned and I lost it recently, it's been a big issue, a soul-rending, terrifying issue. Ultimately I've realized my problem with living without faith isn't about the supernatural but about ethics.

The big heart of my issue is moral certainty. I feel like we’re in a time of tremendous moral uncertainty and have been for at least a hundred years. I just want to be grounded in something greater than the whims of the present, to be solidly connected to something that might survive the values shift that’s going on. Something that doesn’t require me to say that everyone who lived more than 60 years ago was irredeemably evil, and that perhaps things that will someday be considered morally obligatory are not. A stance, perhaps even a tradition, that can survive the coming apocalypse. A true ark.

Something that affirms the significance of the human person above and beyond other species, something that says a human being, no matter how dull or how evil, is more significant than a dog. Something that says that a canine is not a "furbaby," and a child is much more significant than a pet.

And further, something that affirms that sexuality is real and significant and important, not something that should be wantonly thrown about or abused casually. Something that says sex with a committed partner is morally better than a one-night-stand. (I'm asking for a lot with this one.)

Something that says veganism is not morally obligatory. Some factory farming practices may be unnecessarily cruel, but I want something which says that the bare fact of raising and killing animals for meat or using them for eggs or milk is not intrinsically immoral.

Something that says that some forms of nationalism or patriotism are organic and valuable — that a positive nationalism, which values the positive and life-affirming aspects of one’s history and culture, is good and healthy and to be expected in a well-adjusted person. And conversely, that unhealthy nationalism, which seeks to oppress and trample over others in the name of one’s nation, is wrong. Something that says borders are real, but that ethnic supremacism is wrong.

Something, perhaps, if I’m optimistic, that offers a good answer to the abortion question.

There are all sorts of moral questions that are undecided in society. I want something that can give me a good answer to those questions, in continuity with people in the past who provided good answers to that question. I want to have an answer that rests on something greater than what I am accustomed to or am biased towards, and which someone who lived 500 years ago would at least find intelligible, even if they disagreed with it.

I’ve come to realize that answers to these questions is the real attraction to religion that I have. But I’m open to any reasonable answer.

"Most people seem to agree with something” is not a good enough answer for me. “Most people” have once upon a time agreed on things that “most people” today find utterly repugnant. I want something that can give me an answer based on something far greater than that. It seems as though we have no moral mooring and all of society is being drug along to accept whatever the people who currently have power in society think is right. And I think it may well have always been so.

But I want to believe in something deeper and richer than that. I want to believe that there is a greater moral purpose in life other than “follow the leaders, peasant,” or “look out for one’s own.” Because otherwise I have no grounding on which to base any of my judgments at all.

Like many, but certainly not all, who post on this forum, I am not a fan of the political persuasion commonly known as "wokeness." But if I have no grounds on which to object -- if I have no objective moral school from which to ground my rejection of this system of beliefs -- then I might as well become the wokest wokester who ever woked, as that might at least work to my benefit, or at the very least spare me the anguish of watching all of society adopt a group of beliefs I reject.

(This is perhaps a "selfawarewolves" moment, and I brace for the possibility that those who disagree with me might use this to mock or belittle me.)

Basically, I feel deeply morally uncertain and profoundly troubled. I don’t know what to believe about anything, even the things I feel strongly about. Because my feelings are not a relevant ground on which to base a moral judgment.

When Christians say to atheists, “what do you base your morality on?” I think the atheists often misinterpret the question. It’s not an attack, it’s a lament. Or at least it is to me. I wish to God I could have the moral certainty of an atheist I once met who publicly pronounced she wished Hell existed so Donald Trump could go there -- this is not a joke, this is an actual thing I once heard. This is a statement that even the most devout Christians would hesitate to make about their enemies in this day and age.

I think the old "where do you get your morals from" is interpreted as an attack because most people, even most atheists, haven’t taken the time to ponder the vacuousness of most moral judgments, even those made by political liberals about political conservatives like Trump. I think most atheists haven't pondered that the same chain of logic which leads them to reject theism would just as easily lead them to reject ethical realism. Most people believe what they've been taught, and do not question it.

I want something that is not vacuous, and I want it quickly. I don’t know how much longer I can stand feeling utterly unmoored to anything, because I feel like it's eating me alive.

So, anyway, proselytize to me, sell me your belief system. Beyond the realm of religion, I am also interested in various moral theories and would be open to hearing yours. I am uncomfortable with pure act utilitarianism, particularly because, on such a view, organic relationships between friends and family members don't weigh more than one's obligations to strangers (all pleasure and suffering being equal), but I would be interested in other forms of consequentialism that don't eschew the moral preference towards such relationships, or deontology, if that's your thing.

I'm sorry you're feeling troubled, spiritually adrift, morally uncertain, etc. I think these experiences the core issue. There may be a variety of solutions (religion, philosophy, exercise, meditation, a deep and abiding acceptance of these experiences as okay, diligent safe use of psychedelics, finding a group with common


Secular Buddhism and meditation suit me just fine, but I'm not sure if these would work for you. I have been heavily influenced by the works of David Loy (in particular Lack and Transcendence), as well as various meditation retreats. This epistemic universe attracts a disproportionate amount of wokies, lefties, and nonsense woo-woo. However, these things are not inherent to the philosophy or practice, and can be ignored/accepted with some effort. Buddhism and meditation are about not losing the balance of the mind in any situation. They seek to solve/dissolve existential angst and/or moral uncertainty by accepting them without becoming mentally or emotionally perturbed. For moral philosophy I've been influenced by Sam Harris (in particular The Moral Landscape, as well as Waking Up: A guide to spirituality without religion). As I said, these may not be a good fit for you, but I think they're neat. Importantly, they focus on reducing the experience of suffering, including feeling troubled by moral uncertainty. It's the journey to realizing you never needed an ark, or answers; of accepting being lost at sea, of being at peace with the fact that we all eventually deteriorate into worm food. The Waking Up meditation app is free if you ask. I've never used it, but I hear good things.

There are some contradictions or paradoxes in your post. I'm not criticising you personally. On the one hand you feel morally uncertain. However, you appear to be asking for moral reassurance to questions for which you already have rigid answers. You feel strongly about things, but are not sure if you believe them. You want something deep and rich, but you want it quickly. Ultimately, this is all fine. So long as it gets you looking for a solution to how troubled you feel. You may want to talk to various mainstream spiritual teachers. I think priests, pastors, and the like are open to talking with members outside their flock. Also, there are Unitarian churches which takes all manner of spiritual seekers, from atheists to Mormons. At a minimum, you could talk to a half dozen or so such people. I think you'll reap and immediate benefit of getting some stuff off your chest, and you may find the next step.

As as I said at the beginning, I think worrying about all this stuff to the point where it's eating you up is the core issue. I don't want you to feel this way for any longer than is necessary. Talk to some people. Try some new things. Best wishes on finding what's best for you.

Have you read much ancient philosophy? I was not prepared for how practical much of it is, centered as it is on the exact kinds of questions you are asking. Humans thousands of years ago wrestled with the exact same feelings and came up with some compelling answers. Best of all, they all competed for followers, so they wrote to be persuasive, and you can decide what seems most correct to you. For me, it ended up being Stoicism, but there are plenty of others, from Cynicism to Epicuriansim.

If you're looking for a religion, you fundamentally need one that not just teaches correct morality but is also true. There are a few reasons for this--it's impossible to back up morality without relying on truth, truth leads to good morality, believing in a lie is not moral--but I hope that the statement itself just rings true to you. You don't want to deliberately choose to believe in a lie, right?

So, given that, anything we sell you will be insufficient, and you will have to find the truth of it for yourself. I think philosophy can lead towards the truth, but at the end of the day it's hard to tell whether a given moral system truly "works" without "seeing its fruits" so to speak.

I could try to sell you my religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) but I think there are some more important principles that are worth discussing here. Why are we in this situation to begin with? Why does everyone not agree on morality? Alma 32 says:

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.

18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

19 And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression?

In other words, with knowledge comes responsibility and accountability, so God will only give us the knowledge that we are ready for, as quickly as we are ready for it. Let me be clear here that by "knowledge" I mean "evidence"--knowing what the will of God theoretically could be is very different from knowing the will of God.

The rest of the chapter goes on to explain what is, in my opinion, the best method for finding the truth of these things, and I encourage you to read it. I'd share more detail, but honestly I'm pretty bad at starting from the beginning in these matters, so I'd give you an enormous rambling sermon rather than anything useful. I hope the chapter helps.

Haha I was reading the bullet points and my missionary brain just suddenly came surging back into full force, like that's a bingo. /u/Questioner1, you could always reach out to local missionaries in your area (google it, shouldn't be too hard to find an online chat to hook you up) - you can shoot the breeze with them, ask them whatever you want, if you grow tired of it you can tell them to get lost - might meet some interesting young people from who knows where.

I'm an atheist, with a protestant background, so I am not going to be much help in suggesting a religion for you. But I will observe that it seems you want two somewhat contradictory things: (1) a faith that affirms things you already believe and does not prescribe anything you don't believe in; (2) a faith that will provide you with moral certainty about right and wrong.

Somewhat cynically, I see this taking you in the direction of most religious believers, where you embrace a religion and adapt it to your beliefs rather than the other way around. Hence liberal Christians who are certain that Jesus was woke, and conservative Christians who are certain he was not. Or in the example I mentioned in the Brandon Sanderson thread, woke liberal Western Muslims who somehow find a queer-friendly pro-feminist message in the words of Mohammad.

If I were really going to seriously embrace a religion as the Word of God (or some other source of absolute truth), it seems to me I would have to accept everything it teaches, even if it conflicts with my personal intuitions. I would be very suspicious of a religion that purports to be a source of moral certainty and absolute truth that just happens to coincide with all my own beliefs.

If I were really going to seriously embrace a religion as the Word of God (or some other source of absolute truth), it seems to me I would have to accept everything it teaches, even if it conflicts with my personal intuitions.

Really this depends on the more foundational stuff it teaches, no? For instance Christianity puts a lot more stock in what Jesus taught than what your pastor teaches, and you could well decide your pastor is wrong on some point because Jesus said otherwise.

Of course, it becomes a bit circular if you decide that "trust what Jesus taught" is itself a principle taught by the pastor, which is why I mention foundational (or hierarchical) beliefs. "Listen to Jesus" is probably a more foundational principle to the denomination than the nature of the sacrament, or whatever it is that you disagree with your pastor about.

At a certain point you do have to bite the bullet and admit that Mohammad wasn't queer-friendly, or otherwise deny your own personal intuitions, but I think doing so is less "I need to conform with the religion I have decided is true" and more "I need to resolve internal contradictions in my own beliefs." The Quran is pretty clear that homosexuality and transsexuality are bad, so once those internal contradictions are resolved, you're either left with "Mohammad was not queer-friendly" or "the Quran isn't fully correct." I don't think those people that you mentioned have even tried to resolve those contradictions--their beliefs seem (to me, on the outside) to basically just be naked status-signaling.

The issue is really that it's simply impossible for a healthy person to embrace something as absolute truth. Doubt is a good, fundamental part of human cognition, and you can't just order your brain to never doubt something just because you like it, at least while remaining mentally healthy. Even if you've decided that a given church is for you, there will still be plenty of critical thinking involved regarding how to interpret their teachings, how to prioritize them, etc. and even allowing yourself to think critically in these ways means denying that that church is 100% absolute truth.

One thing I think would help you get better answers (not that I feel qualified to provide them necessarily) is if you explain why Christianity doesn't meet the needs you state. From my perspective, every one of the items you want can be fulfilled by basically any denomination of Christianity. Obviously you don't feel that the church is fulfilling those needs, or you wouldn't be looking elsewhere - but why not?

I think that this is important because if you don't identify where Christianity isn't working for you, nobody can really suggest an alternative with confidence that it would work better for you. Personally I'm Christian and I am ultimately going to be biased towards that, but I would at least try to give you some thoughts that don't center around the church if I knew what bothered you about it.

I recently got free access to a bike-sharing platform for 1 month, and I have been abusing the shit out of it, I cycled 30 km (18 miles) just a day back and already plan on riding again today. I used to cycle a lot as a teenager but I thought I grew out of it, certainly not what happened, cycling is just as enjoyable to me as it used to be. I really cannot understate how much I am enjoying cycling again. I wake up and immediately start thinking about and preparing for the next ride.

For those of you who live in a city with bike sharing, I strongly suggest you give it a try. Viewing a city through the eyes of a cyclist is much unlike viewing it through the window of a car or viewing it as a pedestrian. You are exposed to the weather like a pedestrian but traveling fast enough that you can scan an entire neighborhood and its venues in a reasonable amount of time. You can also stop anywhere you want as opposed to the stressful process of finding and paying for parking with a car. And of course, having a meal after the trip is a lot more satisfying once you have done 2 hours of exercise. Also, it's better if you can convince a friend or two to ride along with you.

I grew up next to a big city (Dubai, Population 4 million) but lived in the neighboring small city of Sharjah (population 1.2 million, ik not really small). Imagine NYC and northern NJ suburbs to get the dynamics between the two cities. So cycling in the big city, I've been able to experience the city I grew up next to through the eyes of a tourist because I rarely ever visit it other than for school or work.

There's fewer better ways to spend a summer day than on a brewery ride with good friends. I'm lucky enough (and deliberately selected for) living in a city that's very bike friendly in the urban area and small enough to get to more open roads quickly. There's a brewery situated on a river that has live outdoor music on summer weekends that is ~18 miles to bike to, which is just about the perfect distance for me to go before feeling like a bit of a break.

First time I am hearing of a brewery ride. Does cycling and drinking copious amounts of beer mix well? Assuming you have to ride back home.

I can vouch for the fact that is very fun, if not very safe.

Ha, have to stay away from the copious end of things. A pint or two and hopping back on works fine (at least for me). Stick to lower ABV stuff.

Do you get people who say it's too hot to cycle in Dubai half of the year the way we get people who say it's too cold to cycle in Moscow half of the year?

Huh. I just looked at the average temperatures in Moscow and it's much warmer in the winter than I was expecting. Biking can get kind of rough at those temperatures, but year round outdoor running there seems like it should be fine. Maybe a couple weeks per year that are so cold that it's truly unpleasant, but mostly not that big of a deal.

It definitely is too hot to cycle for 8 months of the year, I will say that. Most of the year the temperature is above 40C (104F) even at midnight (tourists really don't see that one coming)! And gets up to 50C (122F) and stays as such during the truly hellish summer months. I don't know if you experienced 50C but you will be drenched in sweat in 5 minutes. Some people keep an extra pair of clothes in their car to work around that.

During the winter months, it's 20C (68F) in the daytime and 10-15C (50-60F) at night and is perfect outdoor activity weather.