Can delve more deeply into an area of specialization with efficiency andappropriate conf idence' Are an informed and appreciative audience for works of arts and science' Have an informed appreciation and understanding of the nature and societyCompetent laypeopleV,now their intellectual limits, but also have the confidence andcompetence to expand them. Most of our lives are spent working and dealing withissues that are outside of our specific training: dealing with everything from carproblems to personal problems, from doctors to computer technicians, from trou-bled children to architectural decisions, from an appreciation offilm to the under-standing ofpolitical affairs. The sheer breadth ofenterprises can seem daunting, butthat is what is involved in the kind of personally, professionally, and publicly rich liveswe hope for.Mark Battersby teaches philosoplry at Capilano College, in Vancouver, British Colum-bia, and is completing a field guide to statistical and scientific information, intended tohelp laypersons do the kind of citical thinking and research discussed here. This essayis reprintedwith the author'spermission andis excerptedfrom alonger piece, which maybe accessed at http://merlin.capcollege.bc.ca/mbatters/competentwerson.html.in the Goddess?GovierRemember the joke about the man who saw God and was asked to describe the vision?"You won't like it," he said. "she's black." To some, this is more than a joke: the orig-inal religion was goddess worship, emerging from traditions in Africa.Belief in a Great Goddess is quite fashionable these days. The notion of an EarthMother is extremely attractive: it removes divinity from associations with malepower' domination, and war, and puts worship closer to life and the earth. Formanywomen, the Mother Goddess has extraordinary appeal, soothing and healingthe wounds of millennia of woman-hating.Books and lectures on goddess religion tend to avoid intellectualized theology.Mysticism, motive, and wishfirl thinking are more conspicuous than clear straight-forward arguments for the existence of a goddess. For me, this is a serious gap.
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