Friday, December 30, 2011
"Change Your Thinking It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking.. Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed. It faced a blank wall.. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.' Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy. 'Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .'"
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
How did this government come into existence? Orwell doesn't say, but one of the things we learn is that this government is in a perpetual state of war with other governments.
And that's the secret to its success. Since it is at war, it is justified in spying on its citizens, in case any of them are traitors, and justified in arresting anyone who would threaten its existence. For when you are at war, it is of the utmost importance that you defeat your enemies at all costs.
It's 2011, now. Is there anyone out there who doesn't think our government is spying on us as much as it wishes to do so, without the need of a search warrant?
And now Congress is about to give the military the right to arrest anyone it deems a terrorist, without the requirement to produce evidence, and with the right to hold that person as long as they like.
How is it that this state of affairs came about? Because we are at war. At war against terrorism. And since terrorism may strike any place, any time, by anyone, our government has the right to spy on all of us and arrest whoever it says is a terrorist. For when you are at war, it is of the utmost importance that you defeat your enemies at all costs.
1984, just 27 years later than Orwell expected.
God tells Jonah to go warn the city of Nineveh that God is about to destroy it, because of its evil ways. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, which was the major existential threat to the nation of Israel. The best thing that could happen to Israel would be for Nineveh to be destroyed. So naturally Jonah, a patriotic Israelite, does what he thinks best for Israel. Instead of going to warn Nineveh, he goes in the exact opposite direction, by boarding a ship destined for Tarshish, at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea.
God, who is not easily fooled and whose plans are not easily thwarted, causes a storm to rise and tosses the ship about. The sailors cast lots to see who is responsible for angering the gods. The lot falls to Jonah, who explains to the sailors that yes, indeed, it is his god, Yahweh, who is causing all the storm because of Jonah, and that if they want to live, they should throw him overboard. The sailors reluctantly comply and the sea becomes calm. Jonah is swallowed by a wha...er, big fish. After three days of surviving in the fish, Jonah cries out to God for mercy. God has the fish throw him up on dry land, and Jonah goes to Nineveh and fulfills God's wishes.
Well, the people of Nineveh repent, and God changes his mind and doesn't destroy the city. Jonah is pissed off, because this is exactly what he didn't want to happen. He wanted Nineveh destroyed. He's been waiting outside the city to see what happens. God causes a plant to grow, to give shade to Jonah. Then God causes the plant to die. Jonah mourns the death of the plant. The story ends with God asking Jonah why he thinks the death of the plant is such a tragedy, but not the death of thousands of men, women, and children, not counting all the animals in the city.
The moral of the story is that God loves even our enemies, and expects us to love them, also.
So when someone (especially someone who doesn't understand his own heritage) writes:
"Religious morality appears to change under only two conditions: either secular morality moves ahead of religious morality, causing it to change (e.g., treatment of women and gays or, in this case, condom use and birth control), or scientific advances show that the scriptural basis of religious morality is simply wrong (e.g., there’s no Adam and Eve and hence no Original Sin),"
go tell him to read the story of Jonah and the wha...big fish.
Friday, December 2, 2011
"This bill puts military detention authority on steroids and makes it permanent. If it becomes law, American citizens and others are at real risk of being locked away by the military without charge or trial."
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"While nearly all Americans head to family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.
Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a “battlefield” and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself."
"[J. Craig] Venter also points to what the cells–powered by genomes made in a lab from four bottles of chemicals, based on instructions stored on a computer–reveal about what life is. 'This is as much a philosophical as a technological advance,' he says. 'The notion that this is possible means bacterial cells are software-driven biological machines. If you change the software, you build a new machine. I'm still amazed by it.'"
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Assumptions, and Circular Reasoning, and a Literal Adam and Eve".
Friday, November 25, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
As Michael Ruse put it, she was ever controversial. And to me this made her one of the most interesting, refreshing people to read or read about. I'll miss her, as I'm sure many, many others will as well.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Front-loading with Teneurins.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
But here's the parallel with the traditional Christian view: we are all horcruxes. We all have a dark part of us that needs to be destroyed. How did this dark part come to be in us? The traditional answer is that we inherited it from Adam and Eve, when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. (Of course, if there were no Adam and Eve, then we need another explanation for the origin of that dark part. C.S. Lewis suggested that natural evil might best be explained by Satanic influence in nature. If so, and if we evolved from nature, then might the origin of our dark part be Satanic influence?)
Anyway, what Christianity does is offer a way for the dark part in us to be destroyed without also destroying us. The Hero of our story is Jesus of Nazareth, in whom the fullness of God dwells, and who takes on our human nature, and is put to death, and so destroys the horcrux of that nature. Then Jesus rose from the dead, with a new nature that He shares with those who want it. By taking His life into ourselves, we take the death that He experienced and begin to put to death the horcrux in us. And we begin to replace it with His new nature. The process is a slow one, that takes a life time. And it shan't be finished until we see Him face to face. But we might as well get started on the process now. No sense putting it off. Harry wouldn't have waited.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
The Young Faint Sun Paradox and the Age of the Solar System:
"According to theory, the Sun derives energy by the thermonuclear conversion of hydrogen into helium, deep inside its core. There is convincing evidence that the Sun is getting at least half of its energy by this method. Such a thermonuclear source could power the Sun for nearly 10 billion years. Most scientists think that the Sun (along with the rest of the solar system) is about 4.6 billion years old, which means it would have exhausted approximately half its ‘life’.
Over the Sun’s lifetime, the thermonuclear reactions would, according to theory, gradually change the composition of the core of the Sun and alter the Sun’s overall physical structure. Because of this process, the Sun would gradually grow brighter with age. Thus, if the Sun is indeed 4.6 billion years old, it should have brightened by nearly 40% over this time.1
Evolutionists maintain that life appeared on the Earth around 3.8 billion years ago. Since then, the Sun would have brightened about 25%,2 though there is some uncertainty in that figure.3 This would appear to present a temperature problem for the evolution of life and the Earth. With the current hand-wringing over global warming, one would expect that such a large difference in the solar output would have greatly increased the Earth’s temperature over billions of years. Yet most biologists and geologists believe that the Earth has experienced a nearly constant average temperature over the past 4.6 billion years, with perhaps warmer conditions prevailing early on.4 The problem of how the Sun could have increased in brightness while the Earth maintained a constant temperature is called the ‘early faint Sun paradox’.
Just how great is the problem? A simple calculation can be made assuming that, over time, there has been no change in the Earth’s reflectivity or the ability of the Earth to radiate heat. While this approach is almost certainly unrealistic, it is useful to illustrate the problem. With these assumptions, we find that a 25% increase in solar luminosity increases the average temperature of the Earth by about 18°C. Since the current average temperature of the Earth is 15°C, the average temperature of the Earth 3.8 billion years ago would have been below freezing (-3°C). Thus when life supposedly was just beginning, much of the Earth would have been frozen."
"...people get freaked out at the notion of being wrong about anything. It makes them feel insecure. If you can be wrong about this or that, what about all the other stuff that you think you know? It’s a bad feeling.
And the more important the subject, the more unnerving the emotion. It’s not too scary to be incorrect about a math concept, but how about the car you bought? Or the doctor you chose?
Your question goes to the heart of much unsound thinking. First, we develop beliefs throughout our childhood and teen years before we learn enough facts and have the experience to process them adequately.
Then, after we leave school, we tend to head down one of two roads: 1) We close our minds to new or different information while becoming more and more sure of ourselves as we get older; or 2) we watch, listen, and continue to learn as we increase in wisdom. The second road has way more bumps and curves."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
"To a human mind this working-up (in a sense imperfectly), this sublimation (incomplete) of human material, seems, no doubt, an untidy and leaky vehicle. We might have expected, we may think we should have preferred, an unrefracted light giving us ultimate truth in systematic form -- something we could have tabulated and memorized and relied on like the multiplication table. One can respect, and at moments envy, both the Fundamentalist's view of the Bible and the Roman Catholic's view of the Church. But there is one argument which we should beware of using for either position: God must have done what is best, this is best, therefore God has done this. For we are mortals and do not know what is best for us, and it is dangerous to prescribe what God must have done -- especially when we cannot, for the life of us, see that He has after all done it." (Reflections on the Psalms, "Scripture," pp. 111-112)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
"Thus something originally merely natural -- the kind of myth that is found among most nations -- will have been raised by God above itself, qualified by Him and compelled by Him to serve purposes which of itself it would not have served. Generalising this, I take it that the whole Old Testament consists of the same sort of material as any other literature -- chronicle (some of it obviously pretty accurate), poems, moral and political diatribes, romances, and what not; but all taken into the service of God's word. Not all, I suppose, in the same way. There are prophets who write with the clearest awareness that Divine compulsion is upon them. There are chroniclers whose intention may have been merely to record. There are poets like those in the Song of Songs who probably never dreamed of any but a secular and natural purpose in what they composed. There is (and it is no less important) the work first of the Jewish and then of the Christian Church in preserving and canonising just these books. There is the work of redactors and editors in modifying them. On all of these I suppose a Divine pressure; of which not by any means all need have been conscious. (Reflections on the Psalms, "Scripture," pp. 110-111)
Monday, November 7, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
"But I can't think of anyone (any thoughtful person anyway) who actually believes that science is about discovering TRUTH. Science is about developing the best explanation for data, until such time as that explanation is falsified. So why would it matter whether a scientist actually believed his argument?"
Intriguing. So I guess Todd wouldn't think Jerry Coyne is a thoughtful person. I'm not sure I disagree with him.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
By John Donne
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Now I'm only a layperson in theology, so I don't know exactly how original sin is defined. I've always thought it referred to our natural inclination to rebel against God and to want to be gods, ourselves. And that is certainly more than a metaphor. It is indisputable fact. If you doubt me, try raising a two year old. Whether humanity began with two people or ten thousand, none of us naturally wants God to be in charge of our lives, and all of us want to be the sole masters of our fate.
One of the reasons that Jesus died, so we Christians believe, is to help us to put to death our natural inclination to rebel against God and to want to be gods. We try to take Jesus' life into ourselves in various ways, through baptism, communion, prayer, fellowship, and attempts at obedience and love. And through attempting to take up our cross daily and deny our natural tendencies to want to be in charge, slowly, imperceptibly, our old nature will die away and a new nature of wanting and living the way that God wants us to live will grow. We do not believe that we will reach a state of perfection in this life time, but only when we finally see Jesus will we be changed in the twinkling of an eye to be like Him.
The issue, then, is why we do have original sin? Most Christians have believed that originally humans were created with a natural inclination to want God to be God, and not themselves. The first pair of humans were thought to have rebelled against God, and lost this natural inclination to obey God, and now we all have a nature that rebels against God. But if humanity began with several thousand people, how do we explain our natures? Did they all disobey at the same time? Or is there some other explanation? It is worth pondering.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Today's column was of particular interest to me and any other ID proponents who might read it:
"I’m a math instructor and I think you’re wrong about this question: “Say you plan to roll a die 20 times. Which result is more likely: (a) 11111111111111111111; or (b) 66234441536125563152?” You said they’re equally likely because both specify the number for each of the 20 tosses. I agree so far. However, you added, “But let’s say you rolled a die out of my view and then said the results were one of those series. Which is more likely? It’s (b) because the roll has already occurred. It was far more likely to have been that mix than a series of ones.” I disagree. Each of the results is equally likely—or unlikely. This is true even if you are not looking at the result. —George Alland, Woodbury, Minn.
My answer was correct. To convince doubting readers, I have, in fact, rolled a die 20 times and noted the result, digit by digit. It was either: (a) 11111111111111111111; or (b) 63335643331622221214.
Do you still believe that the two series are equally likely to be what I rolled? Probably not! One of them is handwritten on a slip of paper in front of me, and I’m sure readers know that (b) was the result.
The same goes for the first scenario: A person rolled a die out of my view and then informed me the result was one of these series: (a) 11111111111111111111; or (b) 66234441536125563152. It was far more likely to be (b), a jumble of numbers."
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I'm all for Ahmadinejad giving up being a 9/11 Truther. However, if Al-Qaida wants the credit for bringing down all three WTC buildings, perhaps they can explain how and why they came down, which is more than NIST can do. And perhaps they can explain how their pilot, who couldn't pass a test to fly a very simple, small plane, was able to fly a large commercial jet on a very challenging path into the Pentagon, which most pilots say is next to impossible for the best pilots to do. We are all waiting with baited breath.
And if Al-Qaida is unable to provide an adequate explanation, shouldn't that count against their being the sole party in the conspiracy? Perhaps they thought they were the sole party, never realizing that they were being used.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Personally, I think people who don't become 9/11 Truthers are in deep denial, while those of us who do are just a bunch of whackos.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
And Jesus replied, 'When the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl, and the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.'
And the disciples said, 'What?'"
It may not happen in our lifetime, but if it does, I suggest you turn before you burn, baby.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I'm not sure I succeeded, but I think I enabled anonymous comments, though all comments will be held for moderation, first. But I'll only delete foul language.
Monday, August 22, 2011
On "August 19, 2008, 53 year old Barry Jennings died, two days before the release of the NIST Final Report on the collapse of WTC7. Jennings was Deputy Director of Emergency Services Department for the New York City Housing Authority. On September 11th, 2001, he saw and heard explosions BEFORE the Twin Towers fell, while attempting to evacuate the WTC 7 Command Center with NYC Corporation Counsel Michael Hess. Jennings publicly shared his experiences with a reporter on the day of 9/11/01, as well as in a lengthy 2007 video interview with Dylan Avery, a small clip of which was then released; subsequently his job was threatened and he asked that the taped interview not be included in Loose Change Final Cut.. However, after an interview with Jennings was broadcast by the BBC in their program The Third Tower ostensibly refuting what he had previously stated to Avery, Avery felt compelled to release the full original video interview to show the distortions made by the BBC. The cause of Jennings' death has not been made public, and a private investigator hired by Avery to discover the cause and circumstances surrounding his death refused to proceed with his investigation. In spite of the significance of Jennings' position with NYC on 9/11 and his controversial eyewitness testimony regarding the collapse of WTC7, the media has not investigated or reported on his death, nor reported on his statements."
What the summary did not make clear is that both Jennings and Michael Hess were trapped inside WTC7 for about an hour and a half after the explosions inside the WTC7. Mr. Hess at first confirmed the core parts of Jennings' story: that they were trapped inside the building because of explosions inside the stairways. Later, Hess recanted. As far as I know, Mr. Hess is alive and well. Mr. Jennings is not.
Friday, July 22, 2011
WTC 7 Expert Witness Danny Jowenko Dies in Car Crash.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Genetic Switch for Limbs and Digits Found in Primitive Fish
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
George H.W. Bush, who was running against him, called Reagan's promise, "Voodoo economics."
It was the truest thing he ever said.
So here we are 31 years later, most of it lived in terms of voodoo, with our government on the edge of economic collapse. I expected it sooner than this. But I knew that 2011, the year the first of the baby boomers turned 65, would be the year that we would discover voodoo doesn't really work all that well.
I suggest increasing taxes on the wealthy, simply because our government needs to increase its revenue, and the wealthy are the ones who can most easily afford to help out.
We could also increase revenue by increasing tariffs on imports. No doubt this would result in trade wars. But since we import much more than we export, I don't see how this would really hurt us all that much. We would simply buy more domestic products, which would increase domestic employment, which would increase tax revenues, which would decrease the deficit. A win-win-win situation.
Friday, July 15, 2011
We can look at a painting and focus on different aspects of it to determine what was designed (by humans) and what wasn't. First, we can focus on the material of the canvas, and decide whether that was designed. Then we can focus on the paint, and determine whether that also was designed. Then we can focus on the actual pattern of the paint on the canvas and determine whether that was designed as well. We might decide that the actual pattern of the paint wasn't really designed by anyone (it was caused by some open paint cans spilling there contents on the canvas , when a tornado caused the shelf to fall over). This does not mean that we don't think the canvas and the paints were designed.
Likewise, when Theists want to determine what God designed, we can focus on the laws of the universe, or on the material that makes up the universe, or on the various objects in the universe. We might decide that God created the laws and the material, but that the objects in the universe were produced secondarily by the laws and the material, not directly by God. Or we might decide that God also directly produced some or all of the objects in the universe as well.
ID typically focuses on the foreground of the origin of life and its development and argues that it was designed by somebody (most IDists are Theists and usually think that God is that Somebody). But if someone could show that ID is mistaken, this does not mean that arguments that God created the laws of the universe, or the material that makes up the universe, are mistaken. But if ID is correct, then there is additional evidence for God. Not only must the existence of the laws of the universe and the material in it be explained, but also the origin and development of life.
So when I hear theistic evolutionists or Thomists object to ID, that somehow it puts at risk the case for God, my answer will be: you've lost your focus. The case was whatever strength it was before ID came on the scene. ID cannot weaken it. It can only strengthen it.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Well thanks to an article tying a chief researcher (whose research rejects any link between vaccines and autism) to money laundering, I now wonder whether there is such a link. I may need to expand my level of whacko-ness.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
On lack of Air Defense on 9/11:
"Here is a short video by the German freelance journalist and author Paul Schreyer, based on his new book Inside 9/11, which "contains a short summary of the publicly available--but still widely unnoticed--evidence for a supposed attempt to obstruct the air defense on September 11th, 2001." The video focuses in particular on the actions of Colonel Robert Marr, the battle commander at NEADS on September 11, 2001."
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
No. I believe the two bullies of my youth weren't out looking for me in particular. It was just their lucky day to find a lone, little boy with no one watching out for him. I was never accosted by them again. Conspiracies are not always easy things to pull off. Things must go just right. The more difficult the plan, the greater the likelihood that something will go wrong and be discovered. Therefore, the less likely it will be for people to try pull off something very significant, unless the payoff is great.
So in evaluating the likelihood that a conspiracy has occurred, one should always ask, was it really worth it to the supposed conspirators to try to do this? In my case, it might be worth it to someone to attack me in various ways. But am I worth it to them? I'm a rather insignificant person, whose opinions matter to nobody. I might become a victim of a conspiracy sometime. But it will be a very inexpensive one.
Meanwhile, the conspiracy of 9/11 (and even the official story admits that there were conspirators), may have been of great value to many people. How many hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the two resulting wars? Who benefited from that? Who benefited politically? How much would one be willing to spend to achieve those benefits? How much risk would one be willing to take?
Asking questions like these keeps me from constantly suspecting the worse. But it also allows me to rationally consider whether a conspiracy is worth investigating.
Monday, June 27, 2011
So at a very early age I learned that at least some people are capable of being quite cruel and inflicting pain on others with no apparent remorse. I have no trouble believing that the world is full of such people and that many of them have succeeded in "making it to the top." And that there are others, equally cruel and callous, who are willing to do their will, for the proper price.
So when I hear people dismiss conspiracy theorists for all sorts of psychological reasons -- one commenter even said it was due to our "fear and tribalism" -- it falls off me like water off a duck's back.
The psychology of this conspiracy theorist is quite easy to understand: reality.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I realize that there are problems with this view. I keep promising myself that someday I'll study and resolve them.
Meanwhile, there is a related problem. Possible worlds. Suppose that there are possible or potential worlds. We're not saying that possible worlds actually exist. Maybe they do or maybe they don't. But we are saying that they at least have the potential to exist. Now imagine the following:
In possible world 1 I choose to do x.
In possible world 2 I choose not to do x.
Is it possible for me to choose not to do x in world 1?
Is it possible for me to choose to do x in world 2?
Let's suppose that the answer to both questions is yes. Then even though I choose to do x in world 1, I could have chosen not to do x in world 1. And even though I choose not to do x in world 2, I could have chosen to do x in world 2. If we define free will as having the ability to do other than I actually choose to do, then I seem to have free will in both possible worlds.
If so, then we seem to have a problem with what is known as the "free will defense against evil." This is the argument or theodicy that God must allow the possibility of evil, if He wants us to have free will. But let's look at possible world 1 and world 2. Let's suppose x is a morally evil action. Couldn't God choose to create world 2, where I do not do x? And wouldn't I still have free will? If so, then it seems possible for God to create a possible world where I have free will and a morally evil action does not occur. And it seems that God could ensure that I wouldn't do x by creating world 2, instead of world 1. Likewise, it would seem that God could create a possible world where we all have free will and no evil actions occur. And it seems that God could ensure that no one would choose to commit evil actions by creating this possible world.
I suspect there is a problem with this view, and that it is not possible for God to ensure that a possible world where we all have free will, will also be a world where we do not choose to commit evil actions.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I was able to display the paper, today. A fascinating read. The abstract:
"The alleged flight performances of inexperienced terrorist pilots accused of proficiently operating complex flight control systems of four aircraft during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has surprised observers. Moreover, official information presented to demonstrate terrorist pilot control of the said aircraft has been either unverifiable or demonstrated to contain noteworthy anomalies. The flight paths of the September 11, 2001 attack aircraft bear characteristics common to the capabilities provided by precision automated flight control systems and related commercial aviation technology that emerged just prior to these attacks. The clandestine use of precise augmented GPS guided auto-pilot aircraft systems in order to perform the said aircraft attacks is hypothesized."
Monday, June 20, 2011
The first relevant fact is where the Pentagon was hit. As Jim Hoffman informs us, the plane hit the one part of the Pentagon where renovation was just being completed to reinforce the building against a terrorist attack. As a consequence, instead of thousands of people being killed, there were only 123 fatalities.
The second relevant fact is that Hani Hanjour, the hijacker who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon was unqualified to make such a technically complex flight maneuver.
The third relevant fact is that the technology existed that made it possible to hijack the hijackers. Aidan Monaghan, in his paper, "Plausibility of 9/11 Aircraft Attacks Generated by GPS-Guided Aircraft Autopilot Systems", explains how this could have been done.
So it is possible that our military "hijacked" Flight 77 and flew it into the only part of the Pentagon that was relatively empty and just lately reinforced to withstand such an attack.
So why would the Pentagon attack the Pentagon? Because our military knew that it was safe and that it would deflect suspicion away from our military.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
First, I think it very probable that Al Qaeda planned and carried out the hijackings of the planes on 9/11.
But I suspect (emphasis on "suspect") that their plan was known by our military and allowed to proceed, and that our military planted explosives in the WTC to make sure they would collapse and cause a major catastrophe that would be televised around the world.
Why would our military do such a thing? The usual reasons: to justify huge increases in our military budget, that would feed the military/industrial complex, supplying huge profits and kickbacks for all involved; and to increase our hegemony in the Middle East and control of Middle East oil.
Is there any evidence that the heads of our military would ever even think of trying something like this? Yes. They proposed similar false flag terror operations against the U.S. back in 1962. The idea was that they would make it look like Cuba was responsible for the terror attacks, providing us with the justification for invading them and deposing Castro. The whole thing was known as Operation Northwoods.
Kennedy rejected the idea and demoted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But suppose Nixon had been president. Would he have been as likely to reject their plan? I doubt it.
But it could be that the Pentagon learned their lesson and planned and carried out the controlled demolitions on 9/11 without telling the president. It could be that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were as innocent as you and I. If there ever is an investigation of the matter, we might find out the truth.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
So I thought I should, at the very least, distance myself from those against whom the charges seem to apply. I believe that the Jewish people are the chosen people of God. I support the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist. I seriously doubt that Israel, or its intelligence agency, the Mossad, had an active role in the events of 9/11. And I denounce any who accuse Israel or the Mossad of participating in the events of 9/11, since there is no substantial evidence to back up their charges. Further, I denounce anyone in the 9/11 Truth Movement who uses their blog, website, or other vehicle of mass communication to single out Israel for special criticism, while ignoring all the other injustices perpetrated by other nations throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, where Israel stands out as a model of how a democracy can exist and thrive in a area of great instability.
This leaves me with a difficult decision. I find the blog "Debunking the Debunkers" to be a very useful source of information when researching the various arguments used against the 9/11 Truth Movement. And I have previously recommended their blog to others. So should I remove it from my list of blogs on the sidebar or not?
Saturday, June 11, 2011
If it isn't aluminum, then what kind of metal is it? And since the temperature of office fires or jet fuel fires wouldn't be hot enough to melt other metals that would be in great quantity in the towers, what would produce the great amount of heat necessary to melt whatever metal it is? If thermite or nanothermite was used in large quantities in controlled demolitions of the towers, then there would be a great deal of molten iron, which would maintain its orange/yellow color for a very long period of time. A good presentation of the evidence can be found at Debunking the Debunkers.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Basically, he teaches that dogs are pack animals, with a pack leader and the rest followers. A good pack leader exhibits calm, assertive authority, and good followers exhibit calm submissiveness. The correct way, then, to be a good dog owner is to be a calm, assertive leader, which will result in the dog being a calm, submissive pet. When the owner fails to be calm, or assertive, or a leader, then the dog tries to become the pack leader, and all sorts of problems develop. Cesar has thirty or so rescued dogs of his own, where he demonstrates that his philosophy actually works on a large scale. He is the calm, assertive pack leader, and consequently all of the dogs are calm and submissive and get along with each other just fine. Of course, Cesar is a good owner, who always looks out for the well-being of his dogs.
While reading his book and watching the DVD, it occurred to me that Jesus is my calm, assertive pack leader, who looks out for my well-being. Therefore, I should be the calm, submissive follower, who doesn't try to become the leader, and who gets along fine with everybody else, realizing that my pack leader has everything under control. I've been trying to put that thought into practice the past few days. Easier said than done, I'm afraid.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
"I’ll leave this one to the philosophers...," apparently never realizing that their materialism is a philosophical position that needs to be philosophically defended. Or worse, they will say something truly idiotic like:
"Saying that thoughts have meanings that “lie beyond themselves” simply assumes what Torley’s trying to prove,"
apparently never realizing that would mean that their own thoughts have no meaning that "lie beyond themselves," such as the thought that "evolution is true."
So how does one reach such thoughtless people? Since they have made Science their god, then ID may be the only way to reach them. I realize how scandalous this will seem to Thomists such as Feser. And I sympathize with him. But does he really think someone like Jerry Coyne gives a fig for what a mere philosopher has to say? Whereas Coyne cares a great deal about why someone like Behe might say. Enough to read his books and attack them as forcefully as he can. Unfortunately for Coyne, his attacks fall short, and deep down, I think even Coyne realizes it.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Prof. Edward Feser responds to Prof. Jerry Coyne's rather meager attempt to explain intentionality.
Feser does a fine job, but I couldn't help but make some sort of comment about Coyne's startling statement:
"Saying that thoughts have meanings that 'lie beyond themselves' simply assumes what Torley’s trying to prove."
Does he really mean that thoughts don't have meanings that lie beyond themselves? So when Coyne says that, "Evolution is true," this isn't a thought that refers to something called evolution and asserting that it corresponds to historical reality? What then does Coyne mean by saying it? Is it the same as belching? Spitting? Blowing his nose? What exactly are we to make of his statement? Just Coyne passing more gas, I suppose.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I've been watching or listening to sports, lately, hoping it will keep me sane and level-headed. I'm following the Tigers, and if the NFL lockout comes to an end before the football season starts, I'll be following the Lions. And it looks like the Lions might have a decent team this year.
Of course, the problem is that when you listen to sports talk radio, you find out that they have their own whackos: people who become very passionate about whatever issue is the controversy of the day. And if you listen long enough, you find out what the issues are all about, and then you develop an opinion, and the next thing you know, you too are a sports whacko.
So there really is no escape.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The problem is that NIST won't release the data, because it "might jeopardize public safety." Supposedly they're afraid that terrorists might learn how to bring down skyscrapers by starting office fires.
Of course, by refusing to release their data, they also make it impossible for architects and engineers to study it and learn how to design buildings so that they don't collapse from office fires. Or as professional engineer Wayne H. Coste put it:
"Suppressing this analysis from peer review is unconscionable. Public safety is endangered when engineers are precluded from studying how an ordinary office fire could completely and utterly destroy a forty-seven-story modem skyscraper such that for more that 100 feet it exhibited free-fall acceleration."
So who to believe? Demolition expert Danny Jowenko, along with 1500 architects and engineers, who say that WTC7 was brought down by controlled demolition, or NIST, who refuses to release the data that supposedly supports their conclusion that office fires are to blame?
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
"People often invent conspiracy theories when they feel dejected and disenfranchised, but are unwilling (or politically unable) to admit the possibility they are wrong. Such theories are often an attempt to save face by inventing opponents who can then be blamed.
Apparently imaginative (and as far as I am aware, totally and completely false!) conspiracy theories about censorious pressure and lawsuit threats from William Dembski or other ID proponents are easier for these ID-critics to believe than it is for them to simply accept that perhaps their methods were distasteful to the average scholar who believes in civil, well-reasoned academic discourse. But given that the whole issue was co-organized by an NCSE leader and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, perhaps their conspiracy-theorizing and unwillingness to admit incivility and error isn't that surprising."
Now I happen to agree with him that the editors-in-chief realized that some of the comments of the ID-critics were "distasteful to the average scholar who believe in civil, well-reasoned academic discourse." (Though I wonder why they allowed the sworn enemies of ID to have a special, self-edited edition to publish their opinions. As I wrote previously, that is where I would suspect a conspiracy theory).
My problem is with Casey's statement that, "People often invent conspiracy theories when they feel dejected and disenfranchised, but are unwilling (or politically unable) to admit the possibility they are wrong."
For believe it or not, Casey Luskin is a conspiracy theorist himself. He is an admitted advocate of Intelligent Design Theory, which posits a designer to explain the origin of life and perhaps some or all of its evolution. In other words, Casey rejects the idea that the origin of life can be explained without the need of someone conspiring to make it happen. Now did he become an advocate of ID because he felt "dejected and disenferanchised" and is "unwilling to admit that he is wrong"? Let's hope not. Let's hope that he became an advocate of ID because he thinks there is good evidence for it. And let's hope that he is willing to admit that he is wrong, if only someone could show him the light.
Likewise, people often accept other conspiracy theories, besides ID, because they think there is good evidence for them. And let us hope that they would be willing to admit that they are wrong, if only someone would show them the light. The 1500 architects and engineers (who reject the official conspiracy theory) who believe that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolitions would be a good example of people who claim that there is good scientific evidence for their position.
As far as I know, no one has presented adequate evidence to refute their position.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
So why am I giving advice on how to prepare for the end? Because your life or my life may end today, just like many lives ended yesterday and will end tomorrow. So how do we prepare for it? If you're an atheist, you believe that the end of your physical life is the end for you. I disagree, but I won't argue with you. The point is that there is at least the possibility that you are mistaken and that you will continue to exist after your physical body comes to an end. If so, is there something you can do about it today? I could tell you to ask Jesus into your heart. But you don't believe that Jesus, if he existed, was more than a mere human being. So what would be the point? So I won't tell you to do that.
What I will tell you to do is what Jesus told people to do: Be merciful. If someone has wronged you, forgive him. Why? Because if it turns out that there is a God, He will then be merciful to you.
Take care of those around you. If you see people in need, help them. It may only mean a kind smile and an encouraging word. It may mean more: giving money to someone who really needs it. Giving a ride to someone who really needs it. Visiting the sick or those in prison.
Why? Because, if there is a God, then your purpose on Earth wasn't so you could just help yourself. You were put here to love and take care of others.
In other words, the way to prepare for the End of the world is the same way you should prepare for the End of your life. Live as if God exists, even if you think He doesn't. That way, just in case you're wrong, you've got your butt covered.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Well we know the conspiracy theory of James Fetzer: the ID movement threatened the editors-in-chief of Synthese, until they caved and issued their disclaimer.
But Fetzer hasn't gone deep enough for me. Why would Synthese issue a special edition of their journal and allow the avowed enemies of ID to say whatever they wanted to say about the people they so despise?
Some ideas: The editors-in-chief of Synthese wanted to say all those nasty things about ID proponents, but knew that they couldn't and still maintain their high scholarly level. So they came up with the idea of a special edition, where the known enemies of ID could be do the dirty work for them. Then, in case there was an outcry against the low level of etiquette in the special edition, the editors-in-chief could issue their disclaimer and wash their hands of the whole mess.
OR, they really could care less about ID, but were willing to do anything to improve dwindling subscriptions of their journal, knowing they could always issue a disclaimer if things turned sour.
OR, they really like the word "brouhaha" and wanted to see somebody use it in conjunction with their Synthese.
I think you know which alternative I prefer.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
So I thought it was a rather interesting coincidence that ae911truth.org just happen to put up their assessment of the DEW hypothesis.
Maybe they like the word "brouhaha" as much as I do.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
The Synthese brouhaha (I love that word) has even made the New York Times. Despite accusations by Barbara Forest and others that the editors-in-chief had caved to pressure from the ID community, the only evidence we have of pressure is from three philosophers who do not support ID:
Three philosophers have, however, admitted to contacting the editors who issued the quasi-apology for Dr. Forrest’s article. One is the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga, of Notre Dame, who recalled sending an e-mail to the editors two years ago.
“I thought her article didn’t measure up to the usual academic standards of Synthese at all,” he said on Thursday. “It was heavy on character assassination and innuendo and light on anything Beckwith ever said.”
In May 2009, the Calvin College philosopher Kelly James Clark also wrote to Synthese. “I reject intelligent design and I don’t think it should be taught in the schools in the U.S.,” he said in an e-mail dated May 5, 2009. Like Dr. Plantinga, Dr. Clark accused Synthese of “character assassination."
Dr. Beckwith, the article’s subject, also wrote to the editors in 2009.
“For a couple of days, I was really depressed,” he said by telephone. He was baffled by what he felt were ad hominem attacks, and what he saw as guilt by association. (He says he has nothing to do with Christian Reconstructionists, for example.) He wrote a letter to the editors, but said he never asked anyone else to complain on his behalf. “I don’t know these guys well, but to have philosophers of that stature come to your defense — I was blown away by that.”
"I’m speaking independently of my co-editors and the publisher here, but I’m sure they’ll concur with me fully: To be clear, the editors in chief of Synthese in no way “caved to the ID lobby” or to threats of lawsuits. Regular readers of the journal will find many instances of intemperate language and ad hominem in this issue which we regret and for which we take full responsibility. We are in no way shifting this responsibility to the guest editors. We failed to prevent this language going into print and because of this failure we felt the obligation to write this preface and to acknowledge that we compromised the standards of the journal."
Sunday, May 15, 2011
First, it occurred to me that if Professor Feser accepts Scholastic Realism (the view that Platonic Forms exist in the mind of God), then perhaps his objection to ID is unfounded. As he wrote here:
"...In the case of a snake or a strand of DNA, for example, there is for A-T simply no such thing as a natural substance which somehow has all the material and behavioral properties of a snake or a strand of DNA and yet still lacks the “information content” or teleological features typical of snakes or DNA. And so, when God makes a snake or a strand of DNA, He doesn’t first make an otherwise “information-free” or teleology-free material structure and then “impart” some information or final causality to it, as if carrying out the second stage in a two-stage process."
On an Aristotelian view, this would be true. The form of a snake would be contained in the natural substance of which it is composed. No further Form needs to be added to it. And apparently this was the view of Aquinas, also. But it's not at all clear that it needed to be his view. If as Feser wrote in The Last Superstition, Aquinas was a Scholastic Realist, then it seems to me that if he wanted he could have maintained that besides the natural substance that snakes were made out of, the additional form of Life needed to be imparted to before they could become living snakes. Thus Feser's objection to Dembski would only hold for those who thought that the form of Life was contained actually or eminently in natural substances. (Somebody please tell Daniel Smith that I think he can be a Thomist and still think that Life is something that only comes about by direct, special activity of God).
Second, I had replied to Professor Feser that I thought if Dembski read his latest post on ID, that Dembski would either correct or clarify his own position. Well it turns out that Dembski had already done so. As he wrote:
"I don’t think this criticism hits the mark. I have to confess that I’ve always been much more a fan of Plato than of Aristotle, and so I don’t quite see the necessity of forms being realized in nature along strict Aristotelian lines. Even so, nothing about ID need be construed as inconsistent with Aristotle and Thomas."
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Feser on the Reality of Plato's Forms: Or what he takes away with the left-hand, he gives back with the right.
1. The "one over many" argument.
2. The argument from geometry.
3. The argument from mathematics in general.
4. The argument from the nature of propositions.
5. The argument from science.
6. The vicious regress problem.
7. The "words are universals too" problem.
8. The argument from the objectivity of concepts and knowledge.
9. The argument from the possibility of communication.
I find all of the arguments listed to be cogent and the conclusion that Forms exist independently of material reality to be true. Which is why Feser's (apparent) rejection of Plato's view in favor of Aristotle's view of the Forms puzzles me. Aristotle believed that the Forms were real, but that they did not exist independently of the material world. But most if not all of the arguments that Feser presented for the reality of the Forms would seem to refute Aristotle's position as well.
I remained puzzled by this until I read further, and found out that Feser doesn't really accept Aristotle's view of the Forms. He accepts something known as "Scholastic Realism," where the Forms exist in the mind of God, independently of the material world. So good, Feser remains consistent.
Only now I'm puzzled why he took away the Platonic Forms with the left-hand of Aristotle, only to give them back with the right-hand of Scholasticism. Oh well, after putting up with Feser fighting against ID, until he really admitted that there was nothing wrong with it, only with Dembski's (apparent) interpretation of it, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Friday, May 13, 2011
"Researchers the world over, speaking hundreds of different native tongues, all use the technical term “Hemiptera” to refer to the same group of insects [bugs]."
Yeah, but do they also call them "bugs"? Or is that just an Anglo/American thing?
Monday, May 9, 2011
It's a good thing I didn't try reading the book before my confidence in Feser had been established. As he himself describes it, it is an "angry book," wherein not only does he try to refute Atheism, but also takes potshots at liberals and conspiracy theorists. Since I am both of those, I probably would have thrown the book out before I got past the first chapter. So if you are a liberal, conspiracy theorist or a "secularist," my guess is that you would find Feser's book to be rough sailing. Which is too bad. I'm in the second chapter, where he presents a very concise yet clear view of Greek philosophy, which is the foundation for Western thought. I want to read his book, since I've always had trouble understanding Aristotle. How significant is Aristotle? According to Feser,
"Abandoning Aristotelianism, as the founders of modern philosophy did, was the single greatest mistake ever made in the entire history of Western thought."
Having obtained an undergraduate degree in philosophy from a university where modern analytic philosophy was the thing, I can vouch for the fact that Aristotle was never taken very seriously. If modern philosophical problems (and there are many) can be traced to rejecting Aristotle, then understanding him may be the key to fixing those problems. So I look forward in hope to Professor Feser being able to explain Aristotle (and Aquinas) to me.
And Feser has also eased my conscience. I often doubt the wisdom of occasionally spouting off about my liberalism and conspiracy notions. He's reminded me that there is a need for a voice like mine, if only to show that one can believe in God without being a conservative who swallows, unexamined, whatever official account is given of major political events.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
What Peterson ignores is Lewis's chapter 9, "Animal Pain," where he writes:
"It seems to me, therefore, a reasonable supposition, that some mighty created power had already been at work for ill on the material universe, or the solar system, or at least, the planet Earth, before ever man came on the scene: and that when man fell, someone had, indeed, tempted him. This hypothesis is not introduced as a general "explanation of evil": it only gives a wider application to the principle that evil comes from the abuse of free will. If there is such a power, as I myself believe, it may well have corrupted the animal creation before man appeared. The intrinsic evil of the animal world lies in the fact that animals, or some animals, live by destroying each other. That plants do the same I will not admit to be an evil. The Satanic corruption of the beasts would therefore be analogous, in one respect, to the Satanic corruption of man. For one result of man's fall was that his animality fell back from the humanity into which it had been taken up but which could no longer rule it. In the same way, animality may have been encouraged to slip back into behaviour proper to vegetables. It is, of course, true that the immense mortality occasioned by the fact that many beasts live on beasts is balanced, in nature, by an immense birth-rate, and it might seem, that if all animals had been herbivorous and healthy, they would mostly starve as a result of their own multiplication. But I take the fecundity and the death-rate to be correlative phenomena. There was, perhaps, no necessity for such an excess of the sexual impulse: the Lord of this world thought of it as a response to carnivorousness -- a double scheme for securing the maximum amount of torture. It it offends less, you may say that the 'life-force' is corrupted, where I say that living creatures were corrupted by an evil angelic being. We mean the same thing: but I find it easier to believe in a myth of gods and demons than in one of hypostatised abstract nouns. And after all, our mythology may be much nearer to literal truth than we suppose. Let us not forget that Our Lord, on one occasion, attributes human disease not to God's wrath, nor to nature, but quite explicitly to Satan. [Luke 13:16]
If this hypothesis is worth considering, it is also worth considering whether man, at his first coming into the world, had not already a redemptive function to perform. Man, even now, can do wonders to animals: my cat and dog live together in my house and seem to like it. It may have been one of man's functions to restore peace to the animal world, and if he had not joined the enemy he might have succeeded in doing so to an extant now hardly imaginable."
So should there be good evidence for ID, then Lewis would not have been troubled that there might also be evidence for evil ID. For him, Satan would be a prime candidate for the role.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
"If the Ultimate Fact is not an abstraction but the living God, opaque by the very fullness of His blinding actuality, then He might do things. He might work miracles. But would He? Many people of sincere piety feel that He would not. They think it unworthy of Him. It is petty and capricious tyrants who break their own laws: good and wise kings obey them. Only an incompetent workman will produce work which needs to be interfered with. And people who think in this way are not satisfied by the assurance given them in Chapter 8 that miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of Nature. That may be undeniable. But it will still be felt (and justly) that miracles interrupt the orderly march of events, the steady development of Nature according to her own inherent genius or character. That regular march seems to such critics as I have in mind more impressive than any miracle. Looking up (like Lucifer in Meredith's sonnet) at the night sky, they feel it almost impious to suppose that God should sometimes unsay what He has once said with such magnificence. This feeling springs from deep and noble sources in the mind and must always be treated with respect. Yet it is, I believe, founded on an error.
A supreme workman will never break by one note or one syllable or one stroke of the brush the living and inward law of the work he is producing. But he will break without scruple any number of those superficial regularities and orthodoxies which little, unimaginative critics mistake for its laws. The extent to which one can distinguish a just 'license' from a mere botch or failure of unity depends on the extent to which one has grasped the real and inward significance of the work as a whole. If we had grasped as a whole the innermost spirit of that 'work which God worketh from the beginning to the end', and of which Nature is only a part and perhaps a small part, we should be in a position to decide whether miraculous interruptions of Nature's history were mere improprieties unworthy of the Great Workman or expressions of the truest and deepest unity in His total work. In fact, or course, we are in no such position. The gap between God's mind and ours must, on any view, be incalculably greater than the gap between Shakespeare's mind and that of the most peddling critics of the old French school."
The whole chapter is worth reading, but I think I've quoted enough, for now, to show that Lewis would have no problem with the idea of God intervening in natural history in order to accomplish His ends, such as possibly bringing about the origin of life, or causing the necessary mutations needed to bring a new form of life into being. In other words, Lewis would have no theological or philosophical objections to Intelligent Design theory.