Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What is HUMAN?



HUMANNESS:

1. Ethics--Morality, OUGHT, Good versus Evil, Justice, Human Rights

2. Reasoning

3. Creative Choice--limited 'free will,' ability and moral responsibility

4. Sense of Awe, Ultimate

5. 4th Dimensional Being--
Self Awareness
Historical Awareness
Futuristic Awareness
Transcendent Awareness

6. Sense of Beauty--Aesthetics

7. Mathematics

8. Scientific Method

9. Invention

10. Exchange of Things by Symbolic Means--Economics

11. Story-Making--Literature, Media

11. Pattern-Seeking

12. Becoming--Evolving


REFLECT:

"Those who forget the past are condemned to fulfill it" (repeat, repeat...).
--Philosopher George Santayana

"Those who remember the past are condemned to fulfill it" (repeat, repeat...).
Also,shown in history and current events to be true.

"The past is never dead; it isn't even past."
--Nobel-Winning novelist William Faulkner

"Stories are at the center of the human condition. Everybody dreams. Try and dream in nonfiction."
Journalist Jim Trelease

"I've always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make movies are teachers--teachers with loud voices."
--Film director and writer George Lucas, Star Wars Trilogy

"Films are the parables of our time. Ideas underline every film produced and ideas have consequences."
--Terry Lindwall, movie producer

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting."
--Edmund Blake




CONTRADICTORY PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS OF EXISTENCE:



The novelist John Steinbeck wrote that all of his life he wished he had never been born!
--

Even if one had to stand on a narrow ledge with his face against a cliff for 70 years, it would be better than not to have been born.
--statement by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian writer
--

"People are froth on the molten mass."
the main character in The Sea Wolf
by Jack London, highest paid writer in the world at the start of the 20th century

All humans have no more worth than a speck of gravel on the bottom of a shoe...
from Online discussion
--

"We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility."
Humanist Manifesto III
--

Every human is a "biochemical puppet."
"The Marionette's Lament" and Free Will by Sam Harris

"Murderers and rapists aren't morally responsible."
Biologist Jerry Coyne
--

In contrast, according to retired astrophysicist George Ellis, all humans do have free will.

George Ellis: "Yes.
Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
--Retired astrophysicist professor George Ellis, co-wrote The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time with Stephen Hawking
--

Liberty, equality, human rights, free will etc. are all "myths."
Historian Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens

--
In contrast:
"...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts...
UN Declaration of Human Rights

TO BE CONTINUED...


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

My Response: a 'tail' of 2 Divergent Christianities, 2 Different Spiritual Flights to the Good Flock, Friends


From Chuck Fager's intriguing--shocking, probably to most non-Catholics--account of his visit as a senior to a Catholic University in Denver, Colorado, 1959:
"To this end, it was announced one day that we would soon be treated to a field trip, all the way to Denver, to visit the nearest Catholic colleges: Regis, for men, run by the Jesuits...

"I enjoyed the trip, though I was already clear that, as a budding atheist, wherever I went to college, it would be at a secular school. This resolve was greatly strengthened when we visited, of all places, the Regis library.

"I had long had fond feelings for libraries, and at first glance, the one at Regis seemed a fine specimen: well-lighted, relatively new, with many long open shelves. Open shelves of books to me embodied freedom of thought and learning, and its liberating possibilities. But something didn’t jibe with this appealing tableau. Behind the reference desk, my eye was caught by a large area enclosed by heavy mesh metal partitions, like chain link fencing but thicker, with a locked gate. Inside were more books; I could see the shelves through the mesh.
Were they antiquities? Precious manuscripts of historic value? They didn’t look like that.

"No. My question to a cheerful librarian got a straightforward answer: the enclosure was for books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.

"I stared at it in fascinated horror: of course I had heard of the Index. It was hundreds of years old. Where the Church was part of or protected by governments, it went hand in hand with censorship.
--
"A statue marks the place in Rome where Giordano Bruno was burned in 1600. He was held prisoner for six years before execution, but refused to recant his “heretical” views...But in 1959, there were more philosophers (Kant, Spinoza, and Sartre) on it than racy novelists, or for that matter, astronomers."

READ the rest of Chuck Fager's Friendly blog article at: http://afriendlyletter.com/a-tale-of-two-nightmares-one-asleep-one-wide-awake/

MY RESPONSE:
Chuck Fager's experience in Christianity as a teen (Roman Catholic) is so utterly different from my own (free-will Baptist), it shows, again as so often, that there isn't and never was just one Christianity, but many contradictory ones.

It's beyond my understanding that a Catholic university in 1959 would still have a jailed section of its library for some philosophy books!
Whew...Incomprehensible to a free-wheeling moderate fundamentalist boy as myself.

Of course, we Baptists had our own no-no's--no movies, no dances, no cards, no wine, no rock n' roll, etc. BUT I could read anything that I wanted, spent many an hour at the town library, school library, etc. During my senior year, I was into reading zen (Alan Watts), Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, etc.

I'm also shocked that Regis was run by the Jesuits! About the only fact I used to know about that Catholic movement was that it was very liberal, probably far more liberal than us Baptists.

What's intriguing is that while Chuck Fager and I grew up in such completely different religious backgrounds, like many other spiritual seekers, both he and I finally found our brood in the Friends.

What was that disjointed aphorism? Friends from very different brooded feathers flock together;-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Jordan Peterson - The Existence of Free Will--meaning conscious moral responsibility













A very thoughtful reflection from Jordan Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, McGill University.

Don't be confused by the contrary claims of various thinkers who state that all humans are only helpless "puppets," incapable of moral responsibility and creative choice, etc.


Seek the Good, the True, the Just, the Altruistic, the Kind, the Equal,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

STEPPING BACK FROM CERTAINTY: remembering we are finite, seeking what is true


Have you noticed that most of the voices currently shouting for their side (which ever one it is) seem to think they know for sure and that the other side is completely wrong?

As has happened endlessly in history past, leaders of today are forgetting that they are finite humans seeking what is true, but instead claim to know and that anyone who disagrees with them is________ (fill in the demeaned name-calling).

A few words from a brilliant character in Michael Crichton's book, Timeline, would seem good to reflect about and muse on by everyone today:

"The present is like a coral island that sticks above the water, but is built upon millions of dead corals under the surface...in the same way, our everyday world is built upon millions and millions of events and decisions that occurred in the past."

This is why confirmation bias and hostility are so present often in Republicans versus Democrats, Theists versus Atheists, Capitalists versus Socialists, and so on. Each opposing human's view of reality is partially shaped by his/her perceptional view from his/her particular coral reef.

Of course the Timeline quote is hyperbole, overstatement. Our Pasts--whether liberal or conservative, religious or non-religious don't define us completely.

We rational primates have the ability to advance, to make creative new choices, to advance closer to reality.

Most humans can choose to step back and question their presuppositions, their own understandings based upon their own worldview and life-stance which came about in the past,
BUT
it ain't easy.

If in doubt, look at how few of us are doing so.

So, let us PAUSE, and study again what we are stating, promoting, in all of these current philosophical and political conflagrations.

1. Are we aware how much of our past is leading us to hold to one position, rather than engaging in careful rational thought about it?

2. Are we remembering to be civil and courteous with those with whom we strongly disagree?

3. Are we open to new thoughts, new perspectives on these contentious arguments?

4. Do we seek to view the best arguments of our enemies with careful consideration?

5. Are we always seeking to be aware of our own confirmation bias?

6. Do we demonstrate benevolence toward those whose views we strongly, rightly, oppose?


Seek what is true,

Daniel Wilcox




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The strange unethical world of Christianity and Atheism: SITUATION ETHICS

Here is a somewhat positive response to situation ethics by a leading Christian ethicist, based upon Augustine and Luthers' views--

FROM Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson's blog:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/
What Is “Situation Ethics?” What Should Be a Christian’s Response?
SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

"It was also the year that Episcopal theologian-ethicist Joseph Fletcher’s little book Situation Ethics: The New Morality was published."
"Later...I remember thinking that it was not actually as bad as I had been told. Its essence...the principle laid down by Saint Augustine “Love and do as you please.” (“Sermon on 1 John 4:4-12”)

"What I am suggesting is that there is some common ground between them and Fletcher’s proposal...As I recall, Fletcher portrayed all rules as flexible, able rightly to be violated in the name of love depending on the circumstances. I do not think Augustine or Luther would go along with that...Both treated love—as they defined it—as the sole absolute for Christian ethics. (Both tended to view justice as a form of love.)"

MY OPPOSING RESPONSE TO ROGER E. OLSON'S BLOG ARTICLE:
Wow, Fletcher's book! I read it in the late 1960's and was morally horrified. And all these years later, I still think that it is the worst book, ethically, of all the thousands of theological books I've read.
But let's get to your two Christian leaders (Augustine and Luther) who claimed to base their ethical decisions on love.

Augustine and Luther made many horrific immoral, unjust decisions based upon their Christian situational ethics.

If one judges their immoral, unjust actions based upon the concept of love as defined by 1 Corinthians 13, they didn't actually practice loving action at all, but the complete opposite. Check any history book for the many very immoral actions they justified with their ethical stances.

Their immoral statements and actions show the extreme danger of centrally basing one's ethical decisions on love and adjustable rules as they did.

BACK TO ANOTHER QUOTE FROM OLSON'S BLOG:
"As a Christian ethicist I am sometimes asked...what I think about “situation ethics.” I always insist on first discussing what is meant by “situation ethics” and explaining that if and insofar as it means discarding all ethical rules and norms except “love,” I am opposed to it. However, if and insofar as it means love reigns supreme over all rules, I have to admit it and say that I have Augustine and Luther on my side."

"Luther married Prince Philipp of Hesse to a woman while he was still married to another woman. He by default justified bigamy which was technically illegal (within the Holy Roman Empire) and almost universally considered immoral by Christians—both Catholic and Protestant."

MY SECOND RESPONSE TO ROGER E. OLSON'S BLOG ARTICLE:

HUH?! What a horrific example! Luther married a woman to a prince who already was married to another woman. That's a form of polygamy, bigamy.

Based upon Luther's justification of bigamy, I wonder if Roger E. Olson has an opinion of the recent adoptions of polyamory by some creedal Christians?*
It appears that some modern creedal Christians are basing their views in a similar way that Luther did in the case of his choosing bigamy for the prince.

However, what also troubles me about Luther's action is that he did this secretly.

As much as I strongly oppose the adoption of plural marriage by humans, I do appreciate that the creedal Christians who have done so have been public about it, not hidden it as Luther did in the case of Prince Philipp.

*I don't know what Roger E. Olson thinks on my response because he has deleted my comments from his website, like Atheist Neil Carter did in the past when I courteously disagreed with his unethical outlook, which also involves loving situational ethics.

Don't give into this blind, wrong dead-end path of situation ethics. Certainly NOT in the sense that Augustine and Luther did.

Seek the LIGHT. Live ethically.

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Regarding the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh


Clean out the cesspool of American politics: The current debacle, regarding the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

1. For Brett Kavanaugh’s biographical details and the formal accusations, see below.

2. A. Opening statement: An individual—unless convicted of rape, molestation, armed robbery and other such heinous crimes—ought not to be judged by wrong moral choices when he was an adolescent but by his moral and ethical choices of over 35 years.

B. Second, a counter statement: Women seldom lie about sexual assault, rape, molestation. Indeed, for most of history, even in the recent past, women have been intimidated, (in some nations and religio-ideological groups still are), if they come out and state they have been sexually attacked, so they often stay mute.

SO
Christine Blasey Ford, who has come out and stated that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while drunk at a prep school party, needs to be listened to rationally and empathetically.

Also, Ford isn’t a questionable person of doubtful morals but a psychology professor in Palo Alto, California. And she has taken a lie detector test and passed.

SO Republicans, the Reverend Franklin Graham, and other right-wing leaders ought not to dismiss Ford’s accusations before all the facts are in.

3. HOWEVER, an individual is presumed innocent until convicted of a charge.
SO, since Kavanaugh has declared Ford’s accusation is untrue, that he never did what Ford accused him of doing, and that he never did what another woman has accused him of doing to her in college, either, then Kavanaugh ought to be listened to and not found guilty in the popular press or by national Democrats.

4. WHAT NEEDS TO STOP IMMEDIATELY IS THE REALITY SHOW BEING CONDUCTED BY BOTH WINGS OF CONGRESS AND BY BOTH SIDES OF THE MEDIA.

We Americans need calm, rational analysis,
NOT propaganda,
grand-standing,
political posturing,
extremism,
character attacks,
name-calling,
and all of the other distorted Orwellian statements being made at this time.

Thankfully, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
Instead, I’m way out in the left-leaning Independent-Libertarian wing of political discourse. We’ve got problems, too. But, hopefully, most of the time we try and view controversies and life-stances with rational judgment, care, and civility.

We as Americans need to change from our political in-fighting, and change to truth-seeking.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox
--

END NOTE: From Wikipedia:
“Brett Michael Kavanaugh…born February 12, 1965 is an American attorney and jurist who serves as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“Kavanaugh graduated from Yale College cum laude, with a degree in American history…After graduating from Yale Law School, Kavanaugh began his career as a law clerkunder Judge Ken Starr. After Starr left the D.C. Circuit to take the position as head of the Office of Independent Counsel, Kavanaugh…assisted Starr with his various investigations concerning President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh played a lead role in drafting the Starr Report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“After the 2000 U.S. presidential election (in which Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount), Kavanaugh joined the administration as White House Staff Secretary…

“Kavanaugh was first nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Bush in 2003. His confirmation hearings were contentious; they stalled for three years over charges of partisanship. Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in May 2006 after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators…Kavanaugh had the most or second-most conservative voting record on the D.C. Court in every policy area.

“To fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh on July 9, 2018, to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“On September 16, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, said Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was a 17-year old high school student. Specifically, Ford stated that in the early 1980s, when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers, Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, corralled her in a bedroom at a house party in Maryland. According to Ford, Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, ground against her, tried to pull off her clothes, and covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream.

“Ford said that she was afraid Kavanaugh "might inadvertently kill [her]" during the attack. Ford stated that she got away when Judge, one of Kavanaugh's friends from Georgetown Prep School, jumped on the bed, knocking them all over. Ford's attorney, Debra Katz, has stated that Ford considers the assault to have been an attempted rape.

“Ford also took a polygraph test, administered by a former FBI agent. The test concluded she was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter on September 14, 2018 in which 65 women signatories who stated that they had known Kavanaugh "for more than 35 years" asserted that during the time they had known him, Kavanaugh had "behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

“Twenty-four women who attended the Holton-Arms School along with Ford sent a letter to Congress expressing support for her.

“Over 1,000 alumnae of the school signed a letter stating that Ford's accusation was “all too consistent with stories we heard and lived” while attending the school.

“Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied that the event occurred.

“On September 23, 2018, The New Yorker reported that another woman had accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his college years and had requested an FBI investigation.”
--From Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

You Can't Teach an Old Dogma New Traits


"You can't teach an old dogma new traits."

That is my adaption of American writer Dorothy Parker's incisive punning aphorism against religionists who seek to revitalize their ancient beliefs by revising their old dogmas and then claiming the dogmas to be current with modern knowledge and achievements.

Parker's actual words were: "You can't teach an old dogma new tricks."


Whether tricks or traits, the satirical insight does seem to be true. (Side Note: I think my adaption more accurately reflects the nature of her point, and is less caustic in its view of religion).

Either way, consider the way that many conservative Christians and Muslims attempt to show that their scriptures--especially the Old Testament and the Quran--are accurate when it comes the beginning of the universe and other modern scientific discoveries. Or the religious leaders, instead, use other modern knowledge to claim that modern scientists are misled, (or deceiving), about the true nature of the cosmos and life.

But which ever, many Christian and Muslim scholars read into their scriptures modern concepts and views that actually don't exist in the ancient texts. They are guilty of unscholarly eisegesis, when what they ought to be doing is describing their scriptural texts as they actually were, exegesis.

As clearly obvious in her caustic comments, Parker had a very negative view of religion, especially the Roman Catholic faith, though she did attend a RC elementary school at Convent if the Blessed Sacrament. According to Wikipedia, she "once joked that she was asked to leave following her characterization of the Immaculate Conception as "spontaneous combustion."

Evidently her father, though Jewish, sent her to the elementary school because he thought it would give her a better education than public school.

Though negative toward religious doctrines, Parker was a strong supporter of human rights and the Civil Rights Movement. In her will, she gave all of her estate to Martin Luther king Jr.
--

Here's another satirical aphorism:

"Look at the dog, Ma, no paws."

--

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are wrong because of the broken places."

This adaption emphasizes that when tragedy strikes, some humans choose to do right and good despite the bad circumstances, while other humans choose to lash out and blame/harm others for the bad circumstances.

The actual famous quote is from Earnest Hemingway:
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

The irony of Hemingway's aphorism is that he himself wasn't strong after bad times, but often instead did much harm to others. And that he drank so heavily that it was a major factor in his serious ill health in his late 50's. He often drank a bottle before breakfast and drank 17 drinks once at the Cuban bar, El Floridita!
--

Related to that is another aphorism:
"I've taken way more out of alcohol than its taken out of others," the infamous self-deception of heavy drinkers.

Adapted from:
"I've taken way more out of alcohol than its taken out of me."
-Winston Churchill
--

"In war time, political lying is so specious, that it needs to be attended by a bodyguard of truth."

The actual quote by Churchill is horrifically dangerous, as shown by many historical wars of the past.
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
-Winston Churchill

And, of course, don't forget all of the red ball-caps on Americans at present which state, "Make America Hate, Again."
--

Do you have any satirical aphorisms to share?


Please, lighten the load of b.s. (bad snark;-) that all of us seem to be getting buried under by the current U.S. Evangelical-Christian-Political Debacle.
And the diametrically opposite nonreligious-political debacle.

We need to defangle it all.


Daniel Wilcox