Author Archive

On Contention

August 13, 2017

One way to tell the good guys from the bad guys is this: Contention.

Contention comes from the word “contend”, which is another word for fighting and arguing. Contention in and of itself is not bad. Hopefully, each of us live our lives daily contending with ourselves about what we should do with our time. In science, we contend with each other about science and interpreting the results of experiments. In a good religion, individuals content about what is the true and pure doctrine and what is not.

The problem of contention comes when we stop battling ideas and start battling each other. When it becomes more important that the other person lose, rather than just his ideas, we are fighting each other and not ourselves.

I believe this is what is warned about in the Bible. In the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 11, Jesus spells out that contention doesn’t come from him; it comes from the devil.

When you survey the political landscape, you see people arrayed one against another, like vast armies. For your political philosophy, what is your enemy? Are you arrayed against certain ideas, or are you set against particular people or groups of people (regardless of their ideas)? If so, you’re in the wrong.

This brings to my mind a couple of things.

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is why we need to punish criminals, and what should be the punishment for certain crimes. I think it boils down to this: We punish criminals so we don’t have people taking vengeance for themselves. The amount of punishment we meet should fit the crime, so reasonable people won’t feel like they have to supplement the system. For instance, let’s say we were adamant in executing each and every murder, and our justice system worked pretty much how we wished it would. Would a cop arresting a suspected murderer feel any inclination to rough the suspect up (off the books, of course) if he knew that if he were guilty, he was going to get executed? No, I don’t think so. That’s what you have justice for: so that people don’t go around harming each other because they don’t feel like proper punishment was applied. The whole reason why mythical figures like The Punisher exists is because people feel like the guilty are not being held accountable.

So when I say something like, “We need to execute Hillary Clinton for treason against America”, I am not against Hillary directly, but the things she did. If I believed the justice system would work to uncover all of the murders and traitorous acts she was engaged in and then hold her accountable, life for life (and people have died because of her, make no mistake), then that would be the end of my statement. I wouldn’t feel any anger at Hillary. I might even feel sorry for her and her family as I watch them buckle her down to the execution chair.

In other words, a properly functioning justice system would end pretty much all the contention we have in America. If we executed murderers, rapists, and such, we wouldn’t be so angry at murderers and rapists, but merely wait until they got the inevitable justice.

When I look at what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, this is my impression. You had a bunch of racist neo-Nazis (false flag or otherwise) and you had a bunch of so-called anti fascists (who behave like fascists.) Both hated each other’s guts, both wanted blood, and the thing is, when someone wants something, they’re going to get it, one way or the other. How do you end the contention? Swift and fair justice. Take the people who initiated violence, hold them accountable, and make it clear that there is no reason for any retribution. Life for life. If someone dies because of the bad decisions of one or more people, they need to die for it, otherwise, we’re going to have more fighting and more deaths.

The good guys, meanwhile, know that justice is coming, in this life of the next. They don’t act except out of self-defense. They hold their hands out in an honest gesture of friendship. The endure bitter abuse and intolerance and even some degree of violence, turning the other cheek, so to speak, and only resort to violence as a last measure.

Keep that in mind.

Can Censorship Work in the Internet Age?

August 11, 2017

As I watch Google and YouTube struggle to stem the tide of dank memes and pro-Trump messages, I wonder if they realize they can’t win this battle.

Recently, they de-monetized Diamond and Silk, popular supporters of Donald Trump. Of course, there is huge backlash building. Because Diamond and Silk are black women, they’re being compared to Rosa Parks.

But with so many alternatives to YouTube, and so many ways to reach their supporters, how does Google think such behavior will benefit them? It’s not like Diamond and Silk are silenced, after all.

Can censorship work in the Internet Age? The obvious answer is “No.” There’s simply too many ways to manipulate the internet to get to where you want to go, and too many alternatives to distributing information. It is a well-known fact that in North Korea, you can get access to South Korean dramas, even when people distribute pro-Christian and anti-North Korean propaganda with the shows. If even North Korea can’t block the free flow of information, what does Google think they can do?

Choose One: Oppressive Dictators or Colonialism

August 10, 2017

Apparently on facebook or something people are suddenly becoming aware that batteries are made from dirt dug out of the ground by 4 year olds enslaved in some unknown 3rd world country. Now people are upset, I guess because forced child labor is being used to build their fancy flying machines or something.

I wonder whether people even question how the world works anymore. Do they even know what is inside their phones, let alone the processes used to get that stuff in there and working? Maybe it’s a dying breed that actively questions the world, or maybe it was never really a thing that many people did.

When it comes to dirt that is in 3rd World Countries, there aren’t a lot of options to getting it. And trust me, we wouldn’t be asking for the dirt if it wasn’t cheaper and better dirt than the dirt in our own backyard.

One option is we pay some guy money to give us the dirt. With that money, he can buy stuff that people in his country has never seen before, the stuff we take for granted. He gets his hands on these things and next thing you know, he’s running his country as a brutal dictator using child labor to dig the dirt out of the ground.

Another option is we move in with our own people, take the land with the dirt on it for ourselves, and then dig the dirt out in a civilized way. Maybe we pay off the locals with tokens and trinkets to keep them happy. Maybe we hire some of them to do menial jobs that they are actually capable of doing. Maybe we just build a fence and shoot people who try to cross it. Either way, this is what colonialism is all about.

In the late 20th Century, colonialism became one of those ideas that everyone universally agreed sounded really bad. I mean, you’re “stealing” land, you’re “exploiting” people, etc… During this time, many colonial European nations began the process of handing control of their colonies back to the people from their colonies. Some worked out OK; most did not. After the Europeans left, things got markedly worse, at least for a time. Some places are still really bad. Some places are in a very precarious position and can easily go back to being bad.

Now that we see the world without colonialism, was it really such a bad idea? Are we comfortable buying dirt from brutal dictators with forced child labor? Or would we rather prefer to do things in a civilized way?

Saudi Arabia is a good example of how you can do colonialism “right”. We (meaning, all Europeans) put the Saudis in power. We moved in, with their blessing, with our machines and our people. We hired their people to do work, and it works out OK. Saudi Arabia, especially the Saudi royal family are fantastically wealthy, the average citizen in their country has more wealth than they could even imagine, and we get all the dirt (in this case, liquid dirt we call oil) we want at a good price.

China is also a good example of how you can do colonialism right, at least how we do it today. With the blessing of their leaders, we moved in, built factories, created jobs, and elevated their standard of living way beyond their imaginations. Now China is worried we will move on to other countries such as India or Vietnam or even Africa, and is trying to build what we have in their own country. (Spoiler alert: You can’t do it that way.)

Perhaps it’s time we moved into Africa as well, took over these mines (with their blessing, of course) and hired our own miners to do the work. We are already doing this all over the world with mining operations and farming and much more, so much so that when you see products enter our country from overseas, you’ll see Americans all over it. Over time, we should probably label all the parts of the world controlled by Americans and American corporations, and as we consume more and more of that map and push the native populations into their own isolated corner (with trinkets and toys and more wealth than they can imagine), we can secede and join the US, just like we did in Texas and Hawaii. I’m certainly all for that. That’s the inevitable conclusion to what happens when you invite a foreign power to setup shop in your backyard.

As to how you can civilize a nation, well, that’s another topic. I used to believe that America could do it, America could be the Rome that brings universal peace to the world, but I am not so sure anymore. We have our own problems to deal with, and we certainly can’t solve the world’s problems. And frankly, we don’t care enough about the rest of the world to give us any hope of doing it right. I mean, we didn’t even know that our electronic devices were built with child labor!

Whose Morality?

August 10, 2017

The great struggle of philosophy is the definition of good and evil. These are supernatural descriptions of actions, not objects, and so are ridiculously difficult to nail down. (If you don’t like the word “supernatural” then perhaps the word “metaphysical” will suit you better?)

Christians along with many other religions agree that morality is defined by some supernatural being. Whether the being is good and good is universal, or good is just whatever the being prefers is irrelevant.

The issue, of course, we don’t agree on that being and even if we did, we wouldn’t agree with what the being was saying.

This problem can be solved, rather simply. See, rather than relying on someone telling us what we *should* do, we can instead look at what someone actually did and model our behavior on that.

The question then becomes: Who do we model our behavior on?

Let me propose a good candidate: Jesus Christ.

Whether you believe in God or not, whether that God is even the Judeo-Christian God of the Old Testament or not, we can all agree that there exists a record of what Jesus actually did. And I think we can all agree that Jesus was a pretty good guy, no matter your background.

Let’s examine some of the things Jesus did and use them as examples for how we can behave.

  • Jesus studied and learned and grew. We can all study and learn and grow.
  • Jesus talked and walked with people from all walks of life. We can do the same.
  • Jesus taught people that whatever the law is, you can strive to do better. “Better,” for Jesus, meant putting your heart in line with your actions.
  • Jesus taught people that strict obedience to the law without pure intent is like disobedience. We are not born to be mechanical robots, but to experience life, to love and live it to the fullest, and the commandments are there to make our lives better.
  • Jesus helped people with their physical needs. Not only did he miraculous heal many people, including raising some from the dead, but he also helped people with food and clothing and other important things. We know this because Judas was in charge of the charitable funds for Jesus’ group, and questioned whether it was good to let the woman waste a fortune on bathing his feet in perfume.
  • Jesus laid down his own life for everyone. This kind of self-sacrifice is, frankly, without parallel that I know of in any religion. Jesus, the very being who we either claim was God himself or was the Son of God incarnate, came down to earth and willingly put his life in the hands of his enemies, all so that he can effect salvation for all.

If you’re an Atheist, and you struggle with the question of good and bad, why don’t you try studying the life of Jesus, read the words he actually spoke, the things he actually did, and try to learn a little more about what it means to be good in Christianity? Who knows, maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your own life.

Why Everyone Needs to Study Religion, Deeply

August 9, 2017

Watching the Google fiasco unfold, it’s clear that everyone should spend as much time studying religion as they do mathematics, programming, and civics. Seeing as religion, what we believe to be true, the standards we set, are so crucial in every aspect of our lives, it should be the first and last thing we study each day and throughout our lives.

One of the things you learn rather quickly in studying religion is that no matter what, no one can possibly live up to the impossible ideals of any religion.

Let’s walk through the waterfall of choices.

  • Shall we lie about our obedience to the standards? If we put on a good face, then we can appear to be righteous and just and not have to worry about the consequences. Except, of course, for the fact that we are leading double lives and we’re not actually keeping those standards. If no one is keeping the standards in their private life, why bother at all?
  • Shall we lower the standards? To do so is to give up. No matter how low you lower the standards, eventually, you’ll reach rock-bottom. There are always standards we aren’t willing to budge on.
  • Shall we try to force ourselves and others to live by the standards? The problems here are numerous, not the least of which is denying everyone the freedom to choose how to live their own lives. Sometimes, however, a violation of the standards are so egregious and harmful that we decide it is justifiable and preferable to deny those who violate the standards their freedoms. For instance, we will stop someone from murdering someone else. Here, we must be very careful and judicious. This is where government steps in. Gratefully, throughout most of our history, we have lived by the adage that the best government governs least. Unfortunately, it’s not so true today.
  • Do we internalize and accept the fact that we cannot live all the standards? At some point, every religious person is confronted with the fact that no matter what they do, there are always going to be contradictions between their behavior and the standards. Accepting this fact is crucial to making progress in any religion. It is, in effect, the entire reason why religion is even a thing.
  • Do we forgive and forget?  If we forgive and forget, the weight is lifted from us, and we give room for the perpetrator to try again and improve. What do you do when you kid messes up in piano practice? You practice some more, and leave that mistake behind you.

The conclusion that every (good) religion leads is the following:

  • Standards can’t be lowered.
  • Lying about obedience hurts and doesn’t help anyone.
  • Some standards are so important that we must punish violators, but we need to be very careful. (This is the realm of government.)
  • We need to accept the fact that we can’t keep all the standards.
  • We need to forgive and forget.
  • We need to keep trying.

Google doesn’t get this. They have this ideal they’d like to implement, but they are lying about their implementation, they are punishing people who seem to violate it (or rather, refuse to lie about it!), they do not internalize and accept their contradictions, and they do not forgive and forget and give people room to learn and grow.

A good study of religions would help remedy this.

Is Commerce the Anti-Zion?

August 8, 2017

This article from buildingzion.org is intensely interesting. He starts off by listing the parallels between the Zion built in Enoch’s day and the Zion built in 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Among the things he lists, he says:

It appears likely that it wasn’t just the desire for nice clothes, but it was the introduction of commerce, the buying and selling of goods and services, which triggered the collapse of their unity. Before those who desired nice clothes entered some marketplace, the people “did have their goods and their substance” in “common among them”. In other words, everyone likely had a share in the produce of the land; the people worked together as one large family to produce the goods and services they all needed. Enter commerce, and the family-style economic unity crumbles.

I am a huge fan of the free market. I have long believed, and I still do believe, that markets, free markets, are something that exist in Zion. The author is very careful to try and distinguish between Zion economics and pride-based commerce economics, and I agree with him. This might surprise many who are against capitalism as some form of evil.

Let me try to add or expound some words in a way that is more secular.

First, what is the great sin? The great sin, as I see it, is pride. This pride is the idea that you are better than someone else, more deserving of substance, more deserving of justice. The basic feeling behind pride is the exact antithesis to what Christianity is all about, which is that all can be saved if they come unto Christ, who came unto them, and we can all be the same with Christ and God. The opposite of pride is the pure love of Christ, or what we might call charity, which isn’t just helping the poor but seeing everyone as you see yourself, valuing them as much as you value yourself.

Markets and economics and money has nothing to do with pride and love. These are just things, things that are assigned value because of the way we perceive them. True, people who have a lot of stuff may be more likely to be prideful, but in my experience, I don’t see a huge difference between the rich and the poor when it comes to pride.

Now, on to economics. I believe that free markets, money, and economics has a lot to do with Zion. It’s how we use these tools that makes all the difference.

Labor and Production

It starts with production. In Zion, we are not working for ourselves, but for everyone. When you see your neighbor is struggling, you will work that much harder to help him out. The same goes for everyone else. In short, you don’t stop working once you’ve gotten everything you want. You only stop working once everyone has what they want.

This is how families work. The breadwinner doesn’t stop working when he has met all his needs; no, he continues to work once his family is all taken care of as well. Members of the family are expected to do the same.

Trade

Let’s talk about trade. In economics, we learn that only when both parties benefit do transactions occur. Thus, trading itself creates wealth. There is obviously a limit to the wealth that trading can create, but moving things and providing services is definitely helpful in directing economic resources to where they are needed the most.

In a Zion environment, if people paid attention to prices, they would know how to help those in need halfway across the world. They would also be able to find things that are cheap and plentiful, and invent new uses for them. I can’t imagine Zion working with prices and all the benefits that price signals bring.

The difference between a pride-based economy and a love-based economy is that both buyer and seller will be carefully aware of the needs of the other. In today’s economy, we see things like Wal-Mart profit sharing with their suppliers. This drives the price to the middle, where both sides can benefit. This kind of conscientious trading benefits everyone greatly, rather than the harsh and cruel tactics we often see employed when one party wants to take advantage of the other.

Money

With prices and trade comes money. We could barter one with another, but it is so much more elegant to use money than barter that I find it hard to believe that anyone, even a Zion society, wouldn’t have money.

There are several types of money. Let me list them. Keep in mind that the problem with money is making sure you don’t have too much (inflation) or too little (deflation). I hope that a Zion society would have a stable currency supply so that prices don’t change very much, if at all, making it easy to plan for the future.

Commodity Money is money based on things like gold and silver. The more of these things you have, the more money there is. You cannot expand or contract the money supply without creating or destroying these commodities, unless you are dishonest and claim to have more than you actually do. In a Zion society, there would be no dishonesty, but with commodity money, it is terribly difficult to keep track of how much money there is versus the amount of commodity, so I don’t think this would work very well.

On the other hand, if we used the commodities themselves and not certificates, this could work. This would mean actually carrying gold and silver around. Perhaps God can control how much gold and silver there is in the economy by leading people to find gold and silver or whatnot. Ultimately, the supply of gold and silver depends on what it is used for and how hard it is to get, so maybe we’d control the supply of the commodities by putting it into statues and sculptures and buildings when there is way too much of it.

Debt Money is created by banks or bank-like institutions. It all begins with a loan. Someone borrows money from the banks, and then the money enters circulation. I can’t imagine debt being a part of Zion society, so I can’t imagine this form of money existing. (We have debt money today, which I detest.)

Credit Money is the exact opposite. It is created when someone creates something of economic value. The institutions that can issue this currency are the exact opposite of banks. They don’t want to hoard money, they want to hoard goods and services. In Zion, it is obvious what institution would issue money: The bishops who manage the goods and services for the poor. The bishops can issue you credits when you do something for him or donate something to the bishop’s storehouse, and thus, you can get paid for your labor. Of course, you can just give it to him for free and tell him to keep the credits. These credits can then be traded and finally end up back in the hands of the bishop when you buy something from the storehouse.

In this way, the local bishop’s storehouse becomes part of a global network of storehouses. Say you want to buy a bed because your last bed broke. You live in a part of the country where there are no bed factories, but halfway across the world there is a bed factory and you’d like one of their beds. So you go to the bishop and ask for a bed, but the bishop says nothing is free, why don’t you turn over some of your labor or goods and he’ll issue you a credit that you can use to buy that bed yourself. Or he sends some credits to the storehouse with the beds and gets a bed sent to the storehouse that he can give to you, in exchange for credits or whatnot.

How would credit money work? The same way money works today. Each bishop has their own currency. Each bishop can issue currency as they like, but there is a global currency exchange that shows the going rate of his currency versus all the others, based on how much demand there is for his goods. If a bishop is in a poor spot of Zion where they aren’t producing things people want, then his credits will become less and less valuable. The bishop can choose to issue more credits, depreciating the value further, or he can engage the community in finding something more productive they can do, or he can ask for charity from other bishops to stabilize his credit value.

Another key benefit here is that the bishop’s storehouse becomes the storehouse. There, all economic goods will flow, and the bishop will have a part in all services rendered as well. He will have a clear picture on how people are working for each other, who needs to pick up the slack, how much their labor and their work is valued, and so much more. All the while, people get to keep what they earn, own their own things, and use their own heads to figure out the best way to do things. Thus, the bishop becomes a sort of stock market, the center of trade in any Zion city. Whether the bishop is connected to the global network or even if he is all alone, he and the people in his ward will have everything they need to build their corner of Zion.

Investment and Savings

Of note, in a Zion society, people don’t save. They turn their surplus over to the bishop. If we are using bishop’s credits as money, then they can just hand over a stack of credits to the bishop saying, “I am not going to use these.” The bishop can re-issue these or destroy them, thus maintaining some sort of control over his currency on the other end. Or if they have a surplus of goods, they can turn that over to the bishop. Or if they have too much time on their hands, they can go to the bishop and say, “What can I do?” I expect that you’ll just hand over to the bishop a stack of cash at the end of the year. The goods and services will always be traded in for credits.

Without savings, though, how do you do investments? If no one has any surplus, it would seem it is impossible to raise the money necessary to, say, build large projects and such.

This isn’t true, though. The bishop, you see, will have access to all the economic goods and resources in his area. If someone comes forward with an idea to improve the economic productivity of his ward, the bishop can invest all of his surplus into this project. If there is a project that requires more than his entire ward can do, the bishops of the region can get together and work together on it, each pitching in a few of their resources to get it done.

Indeed, what is the difference between helping the poor and investing in the future? The answer is there isn’t much of a difference at all.

Final Notes

Note that the bishop doesn’t have to use coercion at all to do his job. If someone doesn’t want to work for him, they don’t have to; they can just work for others around them. As described in the Doctrine and Covenants, if you get sick of Zion, you can leave whenever you want, and keep all the property you have. This is an important distinguishing factor between socialist ideas that rely on government force and my concept of Zion.

Most importantly, Zion can be a place where people can put all their strength and might into working for one another. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can find a way to help everyone around you, even if the things you do are not immediately needed by the people in your neighborhood.

Proof of the Christian God

August 7, 2017

To my atheist readers, let me begin by saying you cannot prove that something doesn’t exist, let alone a supernatural being.

However, proving that you cannot prove something doesn’t exist is not the same as proving that it does exist.

In order to prove that God exists, we must first describe what God is.

Here’s a thought experiment to describe how this would work. Suppose you wanted me to prove that water exists. I would first detail the characteristics of water:

  • It makes things wet.
  • When pure, it is a clear liquid at room temperature. It is a solid below 32° F. It is a gas above 212° F. (All at standard pressure, of course.)
  • It is composed of two parts hydrogen gas and one part oxygen gas.

Each of these are different ways of proving the same thing. Some are more objective than others. For instance, “wet” is hardly a scientific term. It could probably mean “covered with water”, which would be circular. The other two are based on thermodynamics (from physics) and chemistry.

Given the above description, I can come up with a very large number of experiments to prove that water exists. When I demonstrate these experiments, you would have to conclude that water does exist, or that I am very good at tricking you.

So to prove that God exists, let’s examine some important characteristics of God.

  • He is supernatural, beyond the laws of nature and logic.
  • He is the same sort of being as man, but He is the man above all other men.
  • He created the universe and the world. The universe and world are ordered according to logic because He made it so and he likes logic.
  • He is the source of good and evil. God is good, everything else is evil. He gave us free will, the ability to make moral decisions for ourselves.
  • He gave us the Savior, Jesus Christ, who died and was resurrected and atoned for our sins.

Proof by Comparison

It’s rather simple to prove that such a being as the infinite man must exist. If you can compare two men and say one is better than the other, then there must be some man who is better than them all. This is God.

This is the simplest proof of all.

We can apply this to other realms beyond mankind. Is there a “god” cow? Yes, there is. Is there a “god” number? Yes, and it is infinity. Should we worship these things? They don’t promise anything, so no, don’t waste your time.

Now, Anselm takes this line of reasoning to prove that God exists, since men that exist are better than men that are mere fantasy.

We can go through every measurable attribute of man and figure out what is “better” and what is “worse”. For instance, is it better to be mortal or immortal? Is it better to be intelligent or mentally retarded? Is it better to know more languages or fewer languages? Is it better to be logical or random?

Proof by Pattern

There is another sort of proof. When you see a cow, you are really looking at something that is entirely distinct from all other cows. Why do you call it a cow? Because you have, in your mind, a template, a pattern. The creature you are looking at fits that pattern well enough, and so you call it a cow. Now, someone who is familiar with cows but never saw a buffalo nor conceived of a buffalo, will see a buffalo and say, “That is one weird cow!” That’s because it deviates quite a bit from the “cow” pattern.

Man also has a pattern. What is it that makes a man “man”? The pattern is, itself, God. Such a pattern exists, and even materialists who deny the reality of the supernatural realm must admit, that it exists at least as a concept in our mind. This pattern contains all the information on what a man can be, what a man should be.

Just like we can find a lot about what a “cow” pattern is by looking at lots of cows and finding their similarities and differences, so too, by looking at humanity, we can learn a great deal about God.

Proof by Cause

This one is more esoteric but it is important.

When we describe things in the universe, we see that everything has a beginning. And at that beginning, things did not spontaneously pop into existence, they were brought about by other things. If we are persistent, we can go all the way back in time and find cause after cause after cause.

Now, those of you who don’t like infinity (probably because you haven’t understood calculus) will look for the First Cause, the one thing that gave cause to everything else. This First Cause is God.

Those of you who do appreciate calculus will say, “So what? It’s an infinite series.” Well, where did the infinite series come from? That is God.

In other words, God is the “causeless cause”. God didn’t exist from something else. God has always existed and surpasses the entire causal relationship of things.

Note that atheist physicists struggle with this. What caused the universe? The Big Bang. What caused the Big Bang? Well, we don’t know, but we do know it must be supernatural in origin, since nature cannot explain itself here. If there was a Big Bang (and I am one of the few who doesn’t think there was), then God was behind it. In fact, many Christians cite the Big Bang and the perfect proof of God, since only God could’ve done something like that. (I think the universe is infinite, but whatever.)

Proof by Nature

Let’s leave the realm of logic, at least slightly, and look at the world around us. Why does the world and the universe conform with the rules of logic and math? This is the greatest mystery of all. There is no logical explanation for why the universe should be logical, except that it was made so. Whatever or whoever created the universe, it made a decision that it should be logical and so it was. This is the only logical explanation. There can be no logical explanation for it otherwise.

Logic itself doesn’t exist without assumptions. Logic is an assumption, in the end. If we start with no assumptions at all, then there are no logical manipulations we can apply to form new statements.

The universe itself is a careful arrangement of fundamental constants. The slightest variation of these constants and the universe could not exist at all. Why is the universe this particular combination of constants? The only logical explanation is that it was made that way.

Some physicists try to argue the following:

  1. There are a very large if not infinite number of universes with random combinations of fundamental constants.
  2. The only universe that supports life is this one.
  3. The only universe that will ever be observed is this one.
  4. Therefore, this universe has the precise combination of fundamental constants to support life, especially life that can observe and reason about the universe.

This is a rough summation of what is commonly called the “Anthropic Principle”.

This line of thinking is not only absurd, it leads to bad science.

First, let me demonstrate why it is absurd.

  • We have never observed another universe.
  • If they did exist, this doesn’t explain where the universes, including this one, came from.
  • Whether or not we are here to observe the universe, it still exists, just like the other universes would exist.

Until we have some evidence of other universes, it is complete fantasy to consider the idea that they exist.

The idea that something doesn’t exist until it is observed is ridiculous. Did the planets orbiting distant stars exist before we saw them?

Now, let me demonstrate why this leads to bad science.

Suppose I roll a dice, and it turns up a 6. I can say, “Well, this dice always rolls a 6!” or I can say, “Sometimes it rolls a 6, but sometimes it can roll other numbers.” Which is correct? The Anthropic Principle is trying to make some sort of determination about the nature of the dice with only a single roll. Worst of all, if my theory was “The dice only rolls a 6 one time out of a trillion” then I can use the Anthropic Principle to say I just got really lucky. Of course, if the fundamental constants were set randomly, there is no range to what values they could’ve taken, but there are a finite (at least 1) combination that is our universe. In essence, our universe, if there are random universes out there, has a 0% probability of existing.

Good science says to roll the dice again. If you can’t roll the dice again, then the best assumption is that the dice always rolls that number.

This line of thinking continues and explains everything we see around us. After all, when we look at nature, we see evidence upon evidence that things were not the products of random chance. Mathematically speaking, evolution is not only highly improbable, but impossible. The naive person, looking at the diversity of life on the planet, is left to conclude that someone put it here. The scientist, understanding some of the most intricate details, also concludes that it was not chance or happenstance, but that there is obviously evidence that some super-intelligent being designed everything around us.

There is really no other plausible explanation for everything.

The Problem of Free Will

Philosophers have struggled with the problem of free will, morality, good and evil, and such for all time, and they still struggle today.

The simple fact of the matter is that either we are free or we are not.

I choose to believe that we are free.

In order to be free, you must have some capacity to choose for yourself and you must have some capacity to see the consequences of your choices before you make them.

If we are able to choose, then we are not robots, programmed and destined by the giant machine that is the universe. No, something must allow us to override nature and let us insert ourselves into the equation, and it must be supernatural in origin. Physics stops where free will enters into the equation. We can only explain the natural behavior of things once free will and acts of God are eliminated.

In that sense, every tiny decision you make is really a miracle, no different than when Jesus turned the water into wine or cured the lepers. Nature was going to resolve itself one way, but you asserted yourself and interfered.

If we were to interfere without the ability to see the consequences of our actions, then what is the point? Did you really make a choice or are you just adding more randomness to the universe?

Being able to see the consequences of our actions means we need to understand, at least a little bit, about what is going on around us, and understand, at least a little bit, about what our actions will accomplish.

If we are to have moral agency, the ability to choose between good and evil, then that means that good and evil must exist and that we can determine whether something we do is good or evil.

Is morality relative? That is, can we each choose for ourselves what is good and what is evil? Of course not. Moral relativity is no morality at all. There must be a universal morality that is objective and available to all.

Is there some way to calculate good and evil through some examination of the intrinsic qualities of the action? If there is, we have not found it yet. All attempts have failed. This is one of the problems of morality: It surpasses the natural world as far as we know.

If there is a universal morality, and it isn’t intrinsic to the universe around us, then it can only exist in the supernatural realm, the realm of thoughts and logic and numbers and fantasy. Someone must set the rules for morality, and it can’t be us. Therefore, it must be God. Either God defined good, or God defines good. Meaning, if God didn’t write the rules of what is good and evil, it doesn’t matter: He always does good. If God did write the rules for good and evil, then whatever he does is good by definition.

Now, if we have moral agency, and I believe we do, then somehow God has to tell us what is good and what is evil. This requires revelation. It requires a sort of communication. You cannot truly understand what is good and what is evil without first consulting with God. If you cannot consult with God, and He cannot communicate with you, then you are not free to choose between good and evil because you do not know what good and evil is.

Thus, if you believe in moral agency, then you must also believe that God communicates with mankind.

Historical Proof

This brings us to the next point. Having determined that if God exists, if good and evil are real, and God is the author or ultimate practitioner of good, then He must tell us. And what proof do we have that He has talked and does talk to people? We have history.

History is what was written down. If someone wrote down, “Today, I went to the store” then it is a matter of history.

But we don’t believe everything everyone wrote. Oftentimes, historical records disagree with each other.

Our first test is, was the author trying to record what actually happened? For instance, we don’t believe Odysseus to be history because we know it was a story. Now, some of the things in Odysseus could be historical. For instance, in the various adaptations of the history of the 300 Spartans, the creators of those works have adapted some things from history. But largely, we can ignore works of fiction.

Our second test is, do we believe the author? Suppose we found a record from the 1200s that was written by a monk who says he was writing history. In it, he recorded the visit of the magician Merlin, who could teleport through time and space and perform all sorts of miracles. Obviously, we wouldn’t believe he was being serious. On the other hand, let’s suppose he recorded the various mundane acts of a king who lived right before his time. We’d be much more likely to believe that account, even though he may embellish some things or even contradict himself in some places.

The test for believability is not how fantastic the claim was. It is how many witnesses do we have and how fantastic the claim was.

If we have 500 authors recorded the acts of Merlin, and they all agreed, and they were from similar times, then we would have to admit that Merlin was real even though it is unbelievable.

Here’s the ultimate historical proof: Jesus Christ was resurrected.

This fact isn’t the idle words of a few people. We have books upon books written on this very topic. In one book (Luke), the author claims to have gone to extraordinary lengths to validate the claims. In another, we have the records of Paul who thoroughly examined each of the claims of Jesus (he himself not being an eye-witness to the events). Paul regularly questioned the specific actions and words so that when he communicated it, he would be as accurate as possible.

The New Testament is full of proof upon proof.

You know what did it for me? I asked my Jewish friend, “Was Jesus made up?” Remember, he comes from a tradition that dates back to that time and rejected Jesus. All he had to say was, “Yes, Jesus was totally fake.” But he didn’t say that, because he knew it wasn’t true. Instead, he said something like, “Jesus went into the temple and read the name of God when he wasn’t supposed to, and so he was a sort of magician.” Was Jesus resurrected? “Yes.”

The Jews at the time couldn’t lie about what happened because so many people watched the events unfold with their very eyes. Not only was Jesus resurrected, but thousand upon thousands of others were, and they went to visit the people. No Jew can deny the events that were described in the New Testament today anymore than they could at the time.

Some people try to justify the claims of Jesus and his resurrection by saying that equally strange things have happened in other cultures at other times. Regardless, none of those are as well attested-to as Jesus’ resurrection. I feel comfortable calling the other stories fantasy but I cannot, in good faith, deny the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus Atoned for Us

The final proof is the only proof we really need.

Suppose I offered you a magic box. “If you flip the switch on this box,” I tell you, “all your worry and regret and doubt and sorrow will go away, and it will be replaced with joy and happiness you cannot possibly understand now.”

How do I know? I have done it for myself, and it actually works.

Would you flip the switch?

In Moses’ time, God sent venomous snakes to Israel and many people were bitten and suffering and dying. God told Moses to make a snake out of brass and put it up on a pole so everyone could see it. All they had to do was look at the brass snake, and they would be instantly healed. You would imagine that everyone would look at the snake, but surprisingly, many did not. They died. Are you that sort of person that would pass up that sort of chance?

Well, let me show you this magic box, the brass serpent. I’ve done it, it absolutely works, and I know it will work for you.

Read the Bible, especially the New Testament. Read about the things Jesus did, how he healed the sick and raised the dead. Read about what he taught. Ponder on what it all means, what Jesus really thinks about people who are broken

Find a quiet place, go there by yourself, and kneel down. Open your mouth and pray to God in the name of Jesus. Ask for forgiveness of your sins. Promise to live according to the inspiration he gives you.

If you do this sincerely, meaning, you actually will do what God tells you in your heart to do from then on, then I guarantee you that you will feel the weight of all the sins you have ever done in your life wash away. Worry and fear will be replaced with happiness and faith. It may happen in an instant, it may take some time (most people go through a process that takes time), but it will work for you too.

I have not yet met anyone who did these things and it did not work. I have seen it work hundreds of times. In other words, I keep rolling the dice, and it keeps showing a 6, meaning, I am very certain it will always show a 6.

Why I Know God is Real

As to why I believe in God, despite whatever evidence people try to create to convince me otherwise, this is the simple answer: There is no other source of happiness, and happiness is all I really care about. Happiness is all you should care about too. What good is it, to understand the true nature of the universe, if you cannot also be happy?

PS: Materialism

If you are the sort of person who only believes the things they can see, feel, and touch, there really is no hope for you. Have you ever seen, touched, or felt the number 1? Then what is math? What is logic if there are no abstract statements? I beg you to reconsider and adopt Platonic Reality with the rest of us.

Hard Truths

August 2, 2017

Think about this for a moment: The worst enemy of the American people is the American government.

If you believe that, a whole lot of behavior of the government would make sense.

Second part: The government knows that they do not stand a chance if the people rose up to overthrow them.

Donald Trump is the vanguard in the Civil War that is unrolling in front of your eyes. Make no mistake: We are watching a new American government being reborn in front of our eyes. Donald Trump has proven himself absolutely loyal to the American people and willing to do whatever it takes to remove the anti-American elements of the government.

8 years will not be enough to complete the process peacefully. It might take 30 years, judging by American history, to fully see the political transition that is happening come to complete fruition.

To help you see this, let’s look back at some of the transitions from our early history:

  • British Government to the Confederation Congress.
  • Confederation Congress to the Federalists.
  • Federalists to the Jeffersonian Republicans / Whigs.
  • Whigs to the Democrats (Andrew Jackson.)
  • Democrats to the Republicans (Abraham Lincoln)

Most of these transitions were bloodless, but the Civil War was not. The only reason the South rose up to defend the status quo of slavery was because of the crash that had momentarily ruined the Northern economy. They though “King Cotton” could carry them through the 4 or so years it would take to secure their independence. They were wrong, and completely outnumbered, outgunned, and everything else.

If we were to have another Civil War, it would be more like the Revolutionary War than the Civil War. The government would be the enemy, and the American people would rise up together against them. There’s no way the government can possibly survive a war with its own people.

Why I Love Scaramucci

July 28, 2017

Liberals and weak-kneed “conservatives” or “republicans” are watching in horror as the new White House Spokesman is conducting business in a less than savory way.

I’m cheering him every moment, hoping to see more of the same.

You know why? Because Donald Trump campaigns on “Make America Great Again.”

He didn’t campaign on “Make Government Great Again.”

He didn’t campaign on “Make the Republican Party Great Again.”

He didn’t even campaign on “Make Trump Great Again.”

Do you get it yet?

When Government loses, American wins. For far too long, the government has grown way beyond its purpose and has become like a cancer in our land, consuming our liberties and violating our natural rights all to feed their insatiable appetite for power. We’re sick of it. We love people like Scaramucci that go into DC and tell us what’s actually going on, and actually fight against the people who don’t give two cares about the average American.

Fight on, Trump! Drain the Sewer!

On Obamacare

July 18, 2017

Is there any doubt now that the Republicans and Democrats in congress are both opposed to the American people and American values?

Whatever show the Republicans in congress put on before Trump was elected president, it is now clear that it was a show. Even though they never cast a vote for Obamacare, they were just as much behind it as the democrats, and they are showing that today.

What to do?

Sometimes, you just have to let the system collapse in on itself because the representatives in congress (representing whom, exactly?) won’t do a thing about it.

In a few short years, health care prices will rise even higher, along with insurance rates. More and more people will openly and fragrantly violate the health care laws and regulations, and people will increasingly see that a Laissez Faire approach to health care is the ideal approach.

What should government do about all the sick and the elderly? The answer is nothing. It is not government’s job to take care of your parents and grandparents for you. It is your job. If you feel bad about the people suffering around you, then get off your butt and do something about it, and stop asking someone else to pay to ease your conscience.

Socialism never works, never. Socialism is the road to communism. Socialism is designed to get people so dependent on government and to have that government collapse under its own weight and corruption. Once this occurs, according to Marx, then you can have the communist revolution where the working class rises up against the owning class and people “take back what is rightfully theirs” in a massive bloody event. After that, they are all supposed to reside peacefully in communes where everyone shares with each other, sans government.

It won’t turn out that way, at least not in the United States. No, we are far too charitable and rich to let that happen. As government fails, people pick up the slack, restoring order where there was only chaos, all without needing government officials to force them to do so. Government here in the US came from the people, not the other way around. We’ll be fine if we don’t have a formal government for a few years, trust me.

I don’t know what President Trump’s contingency plan is, but I am sure he was planning on it. Perhaps he will come back next year when insurance rates are even higher and even fewer people are getting quality care, and propose yet again a repeal. I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that President Trump is no fan of socialism and would like to see it all disappear. How he intends to do that remains to be seen.