Category Archives: FreeThoughts

Questions for a Liberal, a response to Facebook Post

So, its been a while since I did anything controversial but I am having withdrawals and need to vent a bit. I saw the picture above posted on Facebook by a few of my more ‘right-leaning’ friends. There are a few things wrong with the text if you look or think for any time more than the time required to press the Like button.

24a4ee151a0400d33e640ad299e1159a

We’ll take each of the questions individually, I’ll go out on a limb and take the stance of the liberal and address each of them.

Liberal: I am pro choice.

Yes, most liberally minded persons are pro-choice. No, this does not include “choices” that are asked about in this picture. Pro-Choice is a stance of women’s right to choose to have an abortion, not anything to do with choosing health care, taxes, or gun rights. From Wikipedia; the term is most often used to emphasize a position of bodily integrity, individual sovereignty and self-determination, particularly on issues of public policy, law, political controversies and medical ethics.

It is wrong to knowingly use a term which has a specific meaning in one type of conversation (pro-choice=abortion choice) and use it in a different type of conversation (pro-choice=choice about anything) but not clarify which definition of the word you are using.

Me: Can I choose my own health care?

Liberal: No.

No, because, well, that’s not what pro-choice means, it doesn’t have anything to do with health insurance, unless you want to choose which plan to sign up for but that’s a different meaning of the word pro-choice.

We all know this question is directed at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare, so we won’t beat around the bush. Before I say anything else check the market place for yourself and see what is available to you. I pay $408.00/mo for my coverage from CHS, I went to the marketplace and found a plan very similar to mine, so similar, in fact, that I simply didn’t want to change plans because it didn’t have a clear reward (that does not mean it isn’t better for anyone). I have a very good job and I am grateful for it but I am conscious of the fact that many, many, people aren’t in the position I am in. The majority of the nation is at the level I am at or below that, the ACA was crafted for our benefit.

It seems, more and more, that the people who look into and attempt to understand the ACA like it and are confident that it is and will be a positive step forward. It is quite a long read but click here for a comic representation of “ObamaCare: What it is, what it’s not.”

That said about ObamaCare, the question is clearly only for a slight glance because the marketplace is for choosing your healthcare plan! The ACA is not national health care for everyone as in the U.K., it provides coverage for everyone from different providers, you choose which one you want!

Me: Can I choose what to do with money I earn?

Liberal: No.

No, because, well, that’s not what pro-choice means, it doesn’t have anything to do with taxes or penalties set by law. The government doesn’t say anything about your personal funds management, we are a Republic not a Commune. I can only imagine that this question is aimed at either general taxes or else at the penalty set up as a part of the ACA.

Me: Can I choose how I defend my family and possessions?

Liberal: No.

No, because, well, that’s not what pro-choice means, it doesn’t have anything to do with gun rights.

Me: What can I choose?

Liberal: An abortion, and a same-sex marriage.

Because that’s what pro-choice is about (not really about same-sex marriage but oh well).

Me: I don’t agree with your opinions.

Liberal: OH MY GOD STOP OPPRESSING ME YOU RACIST SEXIST BIGOT!

59ae035732c9f8a13cfb70d5cdfde659c99f2009c912d719e4242393c6146cb2

Yeah, you can not agree with whatever you want. Pro-Choice isn’t about health care plans, gun rights, or taxes, that’s not an opinion.

 

I think it’s pretty clear that this post is again in response to a right-wing fanatic Facebook friend who posted a hastily put together and not very well thought out picture or argument with no personal comments about the subject. These things really get me fired up. I’m trying to not react to them on Facebook so my blog is where they will end up.

Advertisements

The Wisdom of a Fictional Character

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and I know I had planned and promised a lot with my last posts, just know that I am continuing while not as strict as I was in my infatuation phase.

I just finished Wool, the first in a trio by Hugh Howey. I found a couple of quotes that I thought were quite fitting to be shared. Over this past year we have seen and heard of so much violence and death from those that are meant to enforce laws; not mete justice like Judge Dredd.

dredd__i_am_the_law__by_magnetic007-d648ygt

The Washington Post reported, as of 12/24/2015, 965 civilians had been killed in officer-involved shootings. If that’s not bad enough The Guardian puts the number at 1126!

From the recent ones like Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier to the unthinkable ones like Jeremy Mardis the news reports a new crime to humanity every day. I understand the need for an officer to kill a suspect in the line of duty if his life is in danger, but to think that an officer could kill a 6 year old boy and not be charged with a crime is illogical!

500310p5952EDNmain6520mr-spock-2

Though not in this year, the most illogical one in my mind is the nearly 2 seconds that police took to shoot 12 year old Tamir Rice. This is recent in my mind because the grand jury came out today to state that the officers wouldn’t be charged with any crime concerning the encounter.

These occurrences have weighed on my brain each and every time I hear a news article or see a video online. I recently finished Wool and found two very fitting quotes. Mr. Howey wrote the book in 2011 which wasn’t that very long ago but I feel that the shootings weren’t nearly as large of a problem just 4 years ago. These quotes seemed to be placed for someone to find as a response to our current situation, not as forewarning of events to come.

The short-term rage to be sated at the end of a barrel was too easy to act on. Staving off extinction required something else, something with more vision, something impossibly patient.
-Hugh Howey, Wool

The book is about a nearly Utopian society that has been forced underground. The population lives in a silo under the earth and each person plays their part in keeping the society running smoothly. As in all things the society begins to crumble and in the resulting, inevitable collapse weapons are forged and used. Some of the characters, and most especially the author, realize the gravitas as seen in the words below.

Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.
-Hugh Howey, Wool

wool._SL1417_.jpg

Pick up the book, not only is it a good read but it may just help us see that society is fragile and we all need to work together to keep it functional.

Hero or Zero

What do we consider a hero? It’s been a point of contention lately with the publicity of Caitlyn’s transition from Bruce (Jenner, obviously). With pictures like the ones below circulating on social media, I feel I must weigh-in.

hero1hero2hero3

So, the first thing that I want to put out there is the definition of a hero. From Dictionary.com:

1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal:

Besides the peculiar use of masculine pronouns we can look into the actions that define being a hero.

Distinguished courage.

Admired for a brave deed.

Noble qualities.

Is regarded as a model or ideal.

This is the Vanity Fair article, I would really encourage you to read it. Especially those of you who are against the idea that Caitlyn’s transition is real and should be respected. The decision to make the transition from one gender to another must be a hard one to make; the decision to make that transition publicly must be even more arduous.

I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people.
-Caitlyn Jenner

Everyone goes through difficulties in life. Someone who publicizes their struggles for the benefit of others should be recognized for their bravery. Perhaps even with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Think about the last really difficult thing you went through, let’s say you are a public figure and just imagine the intimate questions you would have to answer because the world feels entitled to an answer. Not only that but whatever you are going through someone, somewhere, has gone through it before and someone, somewhere will go through it in the future. Being the person who publicly faces these challenges for the sake of others could even be called a noble quality.

Those more right-leaning of my readers are unlikely to know the struggle that is faced daily in the LGBT (whatever extra letters you want to add) community. Even though we aren’t all, strictly speaking, a member of the community, my left leaning friends and family understand that the LGBT community needs those people who can make their struggle public to make the path less intimidating for future members. In fact making that public stance would probably make that person some sort of model or ideal to look to.

So, yes, I agree that Caitlyn is deserving of the title hero.

hero5

A Response to a Blog’s Response to a Blog’s Response to a Meme

I don’t know how I did it but I came upon an almost year old post by an old acquaintance which happened to be a response to this post by an unacquainted third-party. This is my response to each in turn. My initial comments are directed at the unacquainted one or to anyone who holds similar views. Just in case the links don’t work I’ve posted them below.

Original Post: http://brianhblack.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-honest-concern.html?spref=bl

Witzlaw’s Response: http://blog.witzlaw.com/2014/04/reblog-raised-brow-tech-honest-concern.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was brought to your blog randomly (and, yes, a year late) but I must make a few comments about what you have written. I am admittedly much less pithy with my comments than you and for that I’m sorry. First and foremost about this meme and the following quote:

i-think-that-svg4go

“What leaves me laying awake at night is that people can force repercussions on someone for their beliefs, totally contradicting the first Amendment of the Constitution.”

In reading this quote I am forced to assume that you aren’t aware that the Constitution is a restriction on the actions of the government only. The Bill of Rights offers specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government. The Freedom of Speech says only that you can’t be prosecuted by the government for your speech, it says nothing about the backlash you can receive from its citizens.

The Free Exercise Clause guarantees a person’s right to hold whatever religious beliefs he or she wants, and to freely exercise that belief. Since when did exercising a belief mean that someone else couldn’t have the same rights as you? Your belief is that homosexuality is wrong and you shouldn’t marry someone of the same gender, the free exercise of your belief isn’t being hindered; Believe it, but you can’t force your belief system on everyone else. The only way your right to free exercise would be dampened would be if the government said that you could only marry someone of the same gender (just so you know, I would be against that position as strongly as I am against yours). Being unable to force everyone to follow your belief system isn’t persecution.

“I understand the hate, the fact that we are closing an option for them.”

I don’t think you understand the hate completely. Most of the ire that is directed at the religious is based on the religious person’s stance that their belief is more important than everyone having the same rights. Believing, in your head or heart, that a homosexual person is sinning is very much different from taking actions against that person. Whether it be refusing service or publicly harassing/demeaning them.

I wonder what your position on race relations is. Some very similar statements to those you are making about sexuality were not too long ago made about race. I’m not saying that you are a racist, I want you to think about how hard people fought against desegregation and interracial marriage and now it isn’t even a thought in our mind (most of us at least). Marriage equality will be accepted in the future, don’t be one of those protesters everyone sees pictures of in the history books!

imagine-how-stupid-you-are-going-to-look-in-40-years

“Three years of late night programming and frustration may go to waste if employers start to reject potential leaders on the basis of what they believe.”

“As soon as someone takes a stance against gay marriage, you may as well quit your job.”

This could very well have been a legitimate fear decades ago but there are restrictions (laws) put in place to keep an individual safe from faith-based discrimination in the work place. Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you can not lose your job because of your faith/belief; religion is a protected class. You can however lose your job if your actions bring the company into a negative light. It is then no longer about your faith, it is about your actions. In most jobs you are acting as an extension of the company and as such you are acting as that company, quite like in John 15:2, if you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to you get cut out. Religious belief has very little to do with most careers and shouldn’t even be brought up, especially yours unless you are currently coding for some church.

“It is an opinion and a belief that I hold to be true from God Almighty. It won’t affect how I work in a position at a company.”

What if your company was contracted to program something for a gay person? Would it then affect (it’s affect, by the way) your work? If not, good for you! I hope it wouldn’t, as it very well shouldn’t. What if you said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work because of that belief, do you think you should be kept on at that company? How could your belief that you personally shouldn’t be homosexual or marry someone of the same gender have ANY impact on the quality of work you would/could do for a client? Why would their sexuality even come into play/question?

Hopefully you say ‘it doesn’t, it wouldn’t affect my work’, again I say kudos, why then would their being able to get married possibly affect your belief system?funny-protest-signs-7

It is well-known, perhaps more so than Mormons against gays, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are bound to not receive into their body that which isn’t from their body; most notably no blood transfusions. This is a religious belief that they hold dear and will fight to be able to keep, but what is different in this scenario is that they aren’t out in the public arena denigrating those people who have had a transfusion, they aren’t attempting to pass legislation to make it illegal for people who don’t hold the belief to abide by it, they aren’t screaming “persecution” because someone disagrees with them.

Those who want to ban marriage equality must admit that it isn’t about their beliefs being attacked, it’s about attempting to make everyone see things the way they do. Why not hold your belief about homosexuality like the JWs hold their belief about transfusions; Think it’s wrong, don’t do it yourself, but it’s none of your damn business if someone else does it as long as they aren’t forcing you to do it.

Lastly, and possibly annoyingly, you could do with some spell and grammar check, specifically, change the “effect my carrier” to ‘affect my career’ as I assume that’s what was meant.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now I switch my commentary to Witzlaw’s post.

 I don’t see this as being very far removed from posting the Family Proclamation (which, incidentally, I’m going to do here), in a public forum, such as my own timeline on Facebook, in my own blog, or over on Twitter.

Actually, it is a bit different. You aren’t the CEO of an internationally recognized company. Also a financial contribution (however small compared to his salary) is a bit more meaningful and has more grip than posting the Proclamation to your personal Facebook wall. What’s that saying… “Actions speak louder than words”.84a3296e2686be248e9d22a6babe8d0e

The last General Conference was, I thought, pretty emphatic about the need to respect others, but doing so does not require that one adopts the views or orthodoxy of the person(s) with whom you disagree. In my mind, it means that one acknowledges the differences, agrees to disagree on those points, and then move on.

This is the best thing I’ve seen you write but I wonder if you see any hypocrisy. In not simply holding your belief but attempting to make marriage equality illegal the protesters are trying to make everyone “adopt the view” that homosexuality is wrong. I said it above and I’m sure you read it but I’ll ask again; Why not be like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are with transfusion? Respect and “acknowledge the differences”, “agree to disagree”, don’t require others to adopt your view, and “move on”.

I don’t know much about you Sander but I think you are in law, as part of that I assume that you very well know the laws about the EEOC and protected classes. I must confess that I was a little stunned that you didn’t say anything about these things when you responded. At the very least you could have reassured this person that their job wasn’t in limbo.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I will leave you with a quote routinely attributed to Paul Mattingly (I know it isn’t actually his, it’s a joke from the Ice Cream Social Podcast).

“You have the right to be offended, you don’t have the right to not be offended.”

White Wine in the Sun

It is finally past Thanksgiving so Christmas posts are in full effect.

white_wine_in_the_sun_by_blistas-d3cq4q6

I wanted to bring this song to your attention, it’s by Tim Minchin. I am going to copy the lyrics below the video so you can appreciate them as well. I got them from LyricsMode.com. I know, I know, you don’t really like him because of the atheistic leanings to his lyrics but this is a beautiful song and some great piano work. This is a heartfelt and love filled song about him spending time with his family. He’s from Australia so Christmas is in the summer which is he mentions getting together in the sun; in stark contrast to our snow/fire songs about getting together.

I would like to point out a few lyrics that really ring true for me, the first about Christmas:

I’m not expecting big presents,
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate’s is just fine by me

And then one about family, I included this in my letter to Sariah and Sophia for when they grow up:

And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world

Please enjoy the song, take what you like and overlook what you don’t. I don’t know about wine, only drank it once (in Italy just for kicks), but the message of bonding and togetherness is evident even without it. I hope you all have a good season and are able to find those who “make you feel safe in this world”.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I’m looking forward to Christmas
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus

I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don’t go in for ancient wisdom
I don’t believe just ‘cos ideas are tenacious it means they’re worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are spooky

And yes I have all of the usual objections
To the mis-education of children who, in tax-exempt institutions,
Are taught to externalise blame

And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs

I’m not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate’s is just fine by me

Cos I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes

Your brothers and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Waiting for you…
Waiting…

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know…

Sacred Temple Clothing, a video review

Many people would say that my treatment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been unfair but I maintain that it is truthful. I do not see criticism as disrespectful or insensitive, nothing is above critique. I am completely opposed to Elder Packer who is quoted as saying:

“I have a hard time with historians… because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.”

Once again the church has put itself out there by producing something undoubtedly directed at its critics. Like the recent essays on LDS.org (see the links below), the video below is set to face a pivotal part of the LDS faith, Sacred Temple Clothing. (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/temple-garments)

Like many other videos from the church, this one is produced very well. It explains the garments fairly well and takes away some of the secrecy that has surrounded them for the nearly 180 years since Joseph Smith, Jr introduced them. First, I must point out a few parts of the video that need to be examined beyond a cursory glance at the video. Just a fun part to point out is the guy at 0:50 and how enthused he is at holding a plate to catch crumbs during a Catholic sacrament.

Twice, the video shows or speaks of Buddhists when referring to a religious garments being worn to “show their inner most devotion to god” at 0:41 and again at 1:30. Though they do wear certain garments, a distinction must be made when Buddhists come into the conversation. The video states that “the saffron robes of the Buddhist monk” (1:30) are worn as a “devotion to god” but this is a mistake, mainly because Buddhism isn’t devoted to divinity, the Buddhist doesn’t believe in a god.

Was the Buddha a God?
He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience.(http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/5minbud.htm)

Explaining the robes:

The robes serve not just as a kind of uniform to remind the wearer that he or she is a member of a larger universal community…Above all, they remind the wearer that he or she has committed him or herself to high spiritual ideals — to master the Dharma, liberate oneself and show others the Way. (http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/robe_txt.htm)

Continuing in the video, at 3:20:

“There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of good will.”

It is true that many sources from the church state that the protection afforded to the saints who wear their garments is merely a spiritual protection.

When you wear it properly, it provides protection against temptation and evil. (LDS Manual, True to the Faith, p.173)

But, then there are the ‘stories’.

Some Mormon lore also invests the garments with a power to protect — there are stories about people who got through car wrecks, floods and other calamities unscathed, and thanked the godly power of the underwear. (Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/26/AR2007122600781_pf.html)

Beyond this article, which tried (just as the video above) to demystify the garments, even the leaders of the church itself speak of the powers of the garments.

Though generally I think our protection is a mental, spiritual, moral one, yet I am convinced that there could be and undoubtedly have been many cases where there has been, through faith, an actual physical protection, so we must not minimize that possibility” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 539)

In his book about the history of Mormon temple worship, David John Buerger wrote:

“Early on, the garments were seen as protecting those who wore them. This idea was underscored by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor John Taylor had been wearing his garment. Willard Richards, who had, escaped unscathed in the attack.” (The Mysteries of Godliness, 146)

Buerger cites several early LDS sources that confirmed and propagated the belief that Willard Richards was spared injury or death at Carthage because he was wearing his garments.

With the prophet, the highest power on earth (from the point of view of the LDS obviously), speaking of “actual physical protection” and stories like that of Willard Richards it isn’t hard to imagine why people outside of the faith would designate them as “magical” when the stories abound within LDS lore of the power they have; not just a power to resist urges or remind one of their covenants.

Hank Stuever, of the Washington Post, recounts a story of an encounter with a member of the LDS church ending with Stuever asking the man if he was wearing his garments.

“That’s a rude question,” he said, and grew quiet. Well, I told him, I had to ask. The Mormons welcomed the world, after all, and showed us what they’re all about. Showed us almost everything. (Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/26/AR2007122600781_pf.html)

Almost. After watching this video (more than a few times I’ll tell you) I was left wanting more. The video made no mention of the veil for women nor of the symbols on the garments.

Also at 3:20, the video shows a woman selecting garments and then a set is laid out on a table for showing. Strangely and very clearly both at 3:20 and at 1:55/2:10 it doesn’t ever show the veil that women are made to wear during parts of the secret sacred ceremony. The only remark that could be seen to reference this is in the statement “men and women wear similar clothing” at 2:22.

Another item that isn’t mentioned in the video are the symbols that are part of the garments. The compass, the square, the slit on the knee all representations of potentially good qualities but unrecognized in this video. To say they weren’t mentioned because they aren’t particularly interesting is in itself intriguing. The church has strict rules to follow when discarding garments.

To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment. Once the marks are removed, the fabric is not considered sacred. (https://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/selected-church-policies?lang=eng)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the end, the video is well made and informative if not lacking in certain points. Many of you know that I was a member of the church but never went so far as to get into the temple. How then do I know so much about the goings-on? The internet! I will end here but below this will be a set of links that anyone who watched the above video from the LDS should check out. The above video was produced, edited, scripted, and set out to very carefully give certain information. Don’t stop there!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Google is your friend.

Wikileaks,

YouTube,

MormonThink,

and many others will give you ALL of the information.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click here for a video of the actual temple ceremony.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Essays from LDS.org / MormonThink.com

First Vision Account – LDS/MT

Race and the Priesthood – LDS / MT

Polygamy – LDS/MT

Translation of the BoM – LDS / MT

Book of Abraham – LDS / MT

BoM vs. DNA – LDS / MT

Christian or Not – LDS / MT

Violence in the Church – LDS / MT

Deification – LDS / MT

Women and the Church – LDS / MT – Not out yet.

God’s Not Dead, Chapter 4 – Could the Universe Pop into Existence (pt46)

COULD THE UNIVERSE POP INTO EXISTENCE?

 The author quotes Stephen Hawking from his book The Grand Design about the possibility that the universe could have popped into existence ex nihilo. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.” As I have mentioned already Hawking speaks of quantum mechanics that allows particles to pop in and out of existence.

This is in contrast to Newton’s laws of physics, which assert that objects were set in motion because they were influenced by other objects.

I’m not absolutely positive about this but pretty sure Newton’s laws break down and are not relevant at the quantum levels. The author surely knows this and knowingly omits the information from this book. Also, Occam’s razor comes in again.

To the average observer, it seems as if the discussion is over.

Definitely not. Theoretical physicists like Hawking are not done with their theories. They aren’t done examining and understanding. The answer may still change, the discussion is not over.

 If science shows that everything could simply pop into existence without apparent cause, then God as a needed First Cause is rendered unnecessary.

Unnecessary? Yes. Completely proven false? No.

However, in their rush to eliminate the need for causality, atheist scientists fail to mention that without the laws of nature, nothing would take place at all.

A thought experiment. Imagine the theory of quantum mechanics accurately explains the creation of the universe. Imagine dozens, hundreds, even thousands of universes popping into and out of existence. The laws of nature different in each instance. Who would question the laws of nature being correct if a universe emerged that couldn’t support life?

No one. The only iteration of the universe that can question the laws of the universe’s “fine tuning” are the ones that support life. We don’t know, nor can we likely ever know how many times the universe has come into existence without the “fine tuning”.

The author fails at analogizing the laws of nature to the Wizard from OZ. ‘Pay no attention to those laws behind the curtain.’ The laws are not problematic to my position, as I explained above.

The world consists of things, which obey rules.

So where did the laws of physics come from? They must be assumed in order for particles to pop into existence.

Actually, that is a bit backwards. When thinking about the “laws of nature” you must change the way you think about some words. Gravity isn’t simply a law that must be followed. It is a scientific theory that most accurately describes the way particles in our universe attract each other. If at some point in the future we find out that some particle or other didn’t act that same way the theory (law) would be changed. The “laws” aren’t unchangeable facts about the universe. With sufficient evidence for a law breaker, the law is adapted to fit the new information. All that said it is very unlikely that the Theory of Gravity will be changed very much, only slightly adapted, but think back to Newton.

Newton may have had that apple fall on his head that gave him the idea of gravity but he had no idea of super massive black holes that could bend or even trap light. The law of gravity was formed before some information was available, it wasn’t an immutable law of nature then because since we have found things like Hawking radiation that escapes black holes. Science is adaptive, you mustn’t think of the laws as set in stone as the author is alluding. The laws don’t direct the actions of the universe, they only explain those actions in terms that we can understand.

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Not Dead, Chapter 4 – Much Ado About Nothing (pt45)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

I must digress for a moment and acknowledge how obscure and pedantic this discussion may sound to many. In spite of this, it must be addressed because it is within this obscurity that the proof for God’s non-necessity or non-personality is asserted.

The nothing that so many spend so much time on is the nothing from before the Big Bang (or creation). What was there, or here, before the universe began? This problem of nothing isn’t just for the atheist, the author points out that this nothingness can be so defined as to eliminate god from the equation. Michael Shermer is quoted:

God, therefore, would have to exist outside of space and time, which means that as natural beings delimited by living in a finite universe, we cannot possibly know anything about such a supernatural entity. The theist’s answer is an untestable hypothesis.

I must point out that the god question isn’t actually untestable if some religious traditions are true. Miracles and divine intervention are physical, temporal, acts in our world by this supernatural being. If this being can act on our universe, physical evidence can be produced, the problem then lies in its reproduction.

Ironically, Shermer goes on to propose multiple untestable hypotheses about why there is something rather than nothing.

Correctly, the author comments that Shermer makes “hypotheses”, not claims. Shermer doesn’t live his life predicated on his hypotheses, he uses them as a basis for further action and inquiry.

However, the universe can be observed, its properties ascertained, and its theoretical implications, including the existence of a causal, personal Agent beyond space and time, be put to rigorous scientific testing. Therefore, the theory that provides the best explanation is believed to be true.

Again the author speaks well but the rest of his arguments don’t follow. With this great statement about “rigorous scientific testing” for a “causal, personal Agent” you would think the author would propose some test(s) that could be performed, but, alas, no we are left wanting yet again.

Another mistake Shermer makes is to assume that just because we as humans are limited by our finite existence, the Creator is not limited by space and time and can choose to make Himself known to His creation.

I may have understood this incorrectly or the author stated it incorrectly but what I got from this sentence is that the “Creator” can’t make himself known. ‘Another mistake Shermer makes is to assume that the creator is not limited and can choose to make himself known.’ That’s what I got out of that sentence without some extra words.  If you understand it differently let me know. Obviously by the next few sentences, the author doesn’t believe god is limited so I am forced to think this is simply a misstep in the book or a misinterpretation in my head.

 

 

God’s Not Dead, Chapter 4 – Why is there Something rather than Nothing (pt44)

WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING

Recounting a story of an interaction with a student about the beginning of the universe. The author proposed two choices about the beginning of the universe, 1-it began unaided or 2-someone/something began it, the student proposes “Maybe we aren’t really here at all.” Speaking of the student the author makes a very good point.

People say anything they want, regardless of the evidence or logic, and expect the idea to be given equal consideration to other, far more reasonable voices.

I will agree with the author, that student’s point is ridiculous. But also the author’s quote is very useful for my argument and others, namely, the argument about Intelligent Design being taught to our students. Just because someone has a different view doesn’t mean it earns equal respect to reputable scientific standpoints.

The author attempts to ridicule Richard Dawkins as he ridiculed the student above by attacking Dawkins’ position on the “why” question.

In fact, in a debate with John Lennox, he stated that the why question was what lured him into his career in science. It wasn’t a silly question when he asked it.

The problem with this is that Dawkins didn’t just start his career in science, that was more than a few scientific discoveries and decades ago. When we are children we believe in Santa and when we grow up we realize that belief was silly. Dawkins was only being honest saying that the why question got him into the field, he has since come to the conclusion that asking why is fruitless. I leave you with a Bible verse

.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:

but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

-1 Corinthians 13:11

 

 

 

God’s Not Dead, Chapter 4 – The Logic of Faith (pt43)

THE LOGIC OF FAITH

Maybe a person can’t articulate her or his faith logically, but that doesn’t mean faith in God itself is illogical or irrational.

For that person it actually is. If you can’t articulate the basis or confidence in a belief it is by definition illogical. A person may have an experience that confirms 100% that the Christian god is true and exists, but that subjective evidence is only logical for use for that person. A systematic belief in a god based on second and third hand (or worse) stories from thousands of years ago is irrational.

The author brings up the cosmological argument, made most famous by William Lane Craig. The basic steps are as follows:

1-Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2-The universe began to exist.

3-Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Step one is undoubtedly true. The key phrase is “begins to exist.” This obviously would not include a Being with no beginning.

And I’m sure the author simply forgot to mention it wouldn’t include a universe with no beginning. As you will remember the Big Bang is a proposed theory in science the mathematics and science breakdown as we near the singularity so the hypothesis of a rebounding universe (big bang, big crunch, big bang, etc) still fits and would still be considered infinite.

Step two is as close to a physical fact that there is.

Step three is a cause that must itself be uncaused.

Dan Barker probably refutes this argument much better than I so I quote him here.

The curious clause “everything that begins to exist” implies that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist (BE), and those that do not (NBE). In order for this cosmological argument to work, NBE (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty[2], but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God. If God is the only object allowed in NBE, then BE is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise “everything that begins to exist has a cause” is equivalent to “everything except God has a cause.” As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God’s existence, and we are back to begging the question.

Beyond the logical refutation of the argument by Barker, a philosophical argument isn’t enough to prove something physical. The philosophical evidence is but the proof of the possibility of such a being. If the being can interact with matter and our universe then physical, demonstrable, evidence can be found or produced to prove its existence.

In anticipation of the disagreement to what I just said, No, if god were to produce evidence to prove his or her existence, it would not take away free will. It would not make us into automata. The devil (and Adam and Eve), supposedly, had perfect knowledge of the existence of god and chose not to follow him.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: