Sunday, July 22, 2018

Thankfulness in the Midst of So Much Torrential Darkness


Of late, with so many destructive, intolerant, oppressive movements, leaders, events--and the lying nature of it all--humans are reacting (understandably, but wrongly).

We as humans need to stand up in the torrential storm of now--and ACT, not react.

BEGIN WITH THANKFULNESS

1. Begin this new journey through hell, in the midst of torrential hurricanes, by starting with choosing despite all that is horrific.

Choose to find the little positives even in the midst of so much bad.

Choose thankfulness, not negativity.

Various others ways of rising up, include:

2. Act in nonviolence in thought and speech, as well as behavior.

3. Care by active, compassionate listening to others, especially our enemies, trying to see and understand their views and feelings.

4. Be meticulously honest in all that we say and do.

5. Give to those who suffer, who are oppressed, who feel hopeless.

6.

BUT HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ONE BECOME THANKFUL WHEN SUFFERING SO?!

By remembering what the famous psychologist Victor Frankyl (neurologist and psychiatrist, a Holocaust survivor) said:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


Focus on CHOOSING in the midst of trauma.

And by seeking to help others who are suffering even worse.

To paraphrase the famous poet, Maya Angelou:
Act as a caring rainbow--a guiding light--in the midst of others' torrential storms.



Create through hope. Start by sharing thankfulness.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Faves of One Shrimpatarian


Introductory Note: As mentioned before, this is my second movement toward vegetarianism. The first one occurred in 1967, but then I jumped from an American diet to veganism, lost 45 pounds, and became malnourished. This time I am taking the very slow, balanced approach. First, about 20 years ago, I stopped eating all beef. Then, 10 years ago, pork.


Since pigs are smarter than dogs and cats, it’s unclear to me why I didn’t stop eating ham, etc. long ago. Seeking the truth, living the truth is very difficult. But it seems obvious that no humans ought to eat conscious, aware, intelligent animals such as pigs.
At present, I seldom have fish, though for years, salmon, cod, catfish, and halibut were favorites.
I’m working my way down the food chain until, I will stop eating anything that has a face, certainly not sentient creatures.

FAVES of Food

Vegetables:
1. Potatoes--French fries, fried potatoes, baked, hashbrowns
2. Celery
3. Cucumbers
4. Mushrooms
5. European blend salad
6. Jalapeno peppers
7. Broccoli
--

Fruits:
1. Bananas
2. Blackberries
3. Oranges
4. Kiwis
5. Tomatoes
6. Figs
7. Dates
--

Meals:
1. Cajun shrimp, especially large shrimp
2. Baseball-sized Hushpuppy with its insides of crab and in the center with sauce, a large shrimp, at Cajun Tex restaurant in Marshall, Texas

3. Delicious Shrimp and Grits, The Conch House in St. Augustine, Florida




4. Crab chowder, best at The Conch House










5. Gourmet Shrimp Taco at Rubios, Huntington Beach, California
5. Jalapeno string cheese, such as Great Value brand
5. Cheese and potato Chalupa at Taco Bell
6. Quesadilla, especially Del Taco’s Spicy Jack Quesadilla
7. Cheese Enchilada
8. 10-grain bread
9. Millet
10.Clam Chowder


Drinks:
1. Mountain Dew Types: LiveWire, Ice (Lennon-Lime), Regular, PitchBlack, Code Red
2. Hurricanes at Joe's Crab Shack
3. Margaritas at Flanigans, Pompano Beach, Florida
4. Siesta Key Spiced Rum, Sarasota, Florida
5. Eggnog
6. Milk and shakes

Favorite Restaurants and Cafes:
1. The Conch House, St. Augustine Florida
2. Flanigan's Seafood Bar & Grill, Pompano Beach Florida
3. Cajun Tex, Marshall Texas
4. Jonahs Fish & Grits, Thomasville Georgia
5. Rubio's Coastal Grill, Huntington Beach California


Enjoy the gusto and deliciousness of good non-meat food and drink in moderation,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Now If That Isn't an Irony!


All through my Christian life—for 55 years—so many Christians emphasized that the only way for all humans to have peace is for humans to accept Jesus as their Savior, to become a Christian.

Then they will change, peace will come in their lives, and they will act in peace, and eventually—at least by the time Jesus returns—peace will come to all of the world.

Here’s one famous phrase—“The Prince of Peace is the only one who can change it [stop war, stop hatred, stop injustice, etc.] by changing one heart at a time.”

BUT the EXACT opposite has happened. For generations.

In every generation, the vast majority of those ‘changed-one-heart-at-a-time,’ born-again-devout Christians are the very humans who are most pro-war, even strongly supporting the slaughter of civilians, and often emphasizing nationalism!

They even now are claiming that everyone ought to put “America First”!

Arrest a 12-year-old disabled girl at the hospital where she just had surgery because she isn't a native citizen, even though she has lived in the U.S. since she was 3 months old.

Send her to a border station internment place by herself.

Forcibly separate thousands of children, including over 100 under 5, from their refugee parents, and move them to facilities far away from their parents in other states!

Utter selfishness, injustice, and no peace.

Now if that isn’t an irony.




Instead,

Seek the Light of justice, reconciliation, compassion, human rights, equality, and so much more.

Act today for those who are impoverished, those who are suffering, those who are oppressed.

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Write for Amal Fathy, an Egyptian Woman Arrested for Writing Against Sexual Harassment


FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:
"On 21 June, Egyptian authorities upheld the decision to release woman human rights defender Amal Fathy on bail in one of the two cases against her. However, she remains detained in the second case for 15 more days. The prosecutor has two weeks to decide whether to renew Amal’s detention on the second case or release her.

"1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

"Immediately and unconditionally release Amal Fathy as she is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing her opinions;
Recognize the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, like Amal Fathy, and in particular the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Contact these two officials by 7 August, 2018:

President
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax +202 2391 1441
Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg
Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
Salutation: Dear President

Ambassador Yasser Reda, Embassy of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400
Fax: 202 244 4319 -OR- 202 244 5131
Email: embassy@egyptembassy.net
Contact Form: http://www.egyptembassy.net/the-embassy/ambassadors-corner/
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-amal-fathy-remains-in-jail-for-charges-in-one-case-egypt-ua-98-18/
--


In the Light of the Enlightenment, stand up for the oppressed, the suffering, the impoverished,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Look at Facts versus Truth, AGAIN


From an Introduction to Literature book [with my own responding commentary and reflections in brackets]:
"Water boils at 212° F." True or false? It depends. In Denver, a mile high, the statement is false; at sea level, it is true, provided we all agree what F stands for, what the superscript means, and what the rest of the words in the statement denote.

“But facts - a kind of truth-are slippery. The fact that water flows downhill can be verified to most people's satisfaction by pouring water down a number of hills, but what practical test is there to verify that the square root of nine is three?
--

[Or that induction is to be trusted?
The philosopher David Hume stated that there is no proof for induction.

Or perception is real?

Or that all of existence is real, not illusion as Asian religions and some philosophers claim?]
--

“All this is by way of suggesting that fact and truth are not always identical. Nor should we assume that the only kind of truth we can rely on is the truth embodied in cold, hard fact. Consider the following for a moment.

“It is a truth about human life -has been and no doubt always will be - that a young man [or young woman] of great gifts must sooner or later make a choice, and in doing so he [she] closes the door on alternative choices.

“He may devote all his talent to becoming, say, a great soldier, and with diligence he may enjoy success. Or he may devote his talent to becoming a politician, and assuming he is willing to make the necessary sacrifices of time and energy, he may very well succeed there.

“Or he may concentrate all his gifts on becoming a playboy and bon vivant, and no doubt he will have success there too, always of course at the cost of realizing his potential in other areas of endeavor. Most of us can do only so much in one lifetime, and to do anything extremely well takes something close to total commitment.

“Insight into this truth is expressed in one of the great myths of classical antiquity. At a feast of the gods on Mount Olympus, the uninvited goddess of discord, Eris, mischievously threw onto the table an apple labeled "For the Fairest."

“Three feminine hands reached for it...To decide, the handsomest of mortals, Paris, was brought to the feast, where each of the three goddesses promised rewards to him if he would give the apple to her.

“...Paris...gave the apple to Aphrodite, and from that choice reaped the reward of Helen, most beautiful of women, with all the consequences-including the fall of Troy and the destruction of his family...

“Whether or not there was ever a man named Paris, there is truth in the myth that is as valid as fact, and more affecting.

“Myth, then, collects the diverse experience of the race of man and fashions it into memorable and enduring form.
--

[But is the literature textbook correct, that non-factual stories are as valid as facts?

Since the term, myth, has come to almost always mean falsehood, delusion, etc., a better word would be “life-stance story.” In such stories, there may be ethical truth, philosophical observation, even a lucid understanding of one aspect of Life or the Cosmos.

BUT on the other hand, there may be only illusion and dysfunction.

Consider for instance President Abraham Lincoln’s belief in fate—he was raised Calvinist but rejected the Christian religion yet kept its fixated belief in determinism!

Because of his deep sense of fate, and his belief in the belief of an inseparable Union, Lincoln caused the death of almost 1 million humans, untold wounding of millions more, the destruction of cities and farms, and an ambivalent legacy that is still with us, etc.]
--

“...Is it not true that men often do evil with the best of intentions?”
--

[For Lincoln’s nemesis—strangely the very military leader who before Lincoln’s war attack into the Confederacy, he had asked to lead all Union troops!--
Robert E. Lee, also, had life-changing beliefs, a strong Christian belief in predestination (not significantly different from Lincoln’s belief in fate), but which led to a completely opposite response in life—which also was involved in causing much of the death and destruction that President Lincoln instituted.

Strangely, Lee as a dedicated Christian said that we ought to love our enemies, but that didn't stop him from causing the death of hundreds of thousands of humans, some of whom he used to work with! Lee killed them in duty, honor, and justice:-(

Indeed, most of the 20th century, and now the 21st century has seen political and religious leaders, with the “best of intentions”
cause more untold evil—the slaughter of millions of civilians, hundreds of millions of humans--beginning with the Great War down to the current slaughters in the Middle East and invasion by the United States who currently fights in at least 7 separate wars among the many on-going Islamic fratricides.]
--

Or consider the famous life-stance story of Jews, Christians, and Muslims:
“the Garden of Eden and the events we are told took place there...

“Some people read the account in Genesis as factual truth, but it is hardly necessary to insist on literal accuracy to appreciate the profound…truths of the story told simply in Genesis…

“The temptation to rise above one's place in the universe…is a universal human experience...their effort to convince themselves that what they have done is right despite all evidence to the contrary. We can recognize these and other truths in the story, although we have never known a world literally like that of Adam and Eve.

“Perhaps the most profound aspect of the story lies in God's commandment that man not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and man's breaking of that commandment. We assume the value of knowledge, but many of the most able observers of man's progress wonder, as they ponder the future, whether what lies before us is ultimately good or evil.”
--

[The famous psychologist and professor Steven Pinker has written 2 lucid, heavily fact-based books, Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now, showing that despite nearly constant gloomy media news, tremendous moral and flourishing life progress has actually been made by humans in the last 50 years.]
--

Contrarily,
“Has our knowledge outgrown our ability to use it wisely? As we learn how to destroy the inhabitants of the earth, and as we hover on the brink of discovering how to create life itself, we might find more significance in the ancient story of the fall of man than we had realized.”
--

[Many nations, currently, are turning to ‘strongmen’ to lead their nations. The U.S.—which already has many thousands of nuclear bombs, enough to destroy the world many times—is committed to building new ones and the current president, too, now wants to militarize Space!

Plus, President Trump has taken thousands of children away from refugee parents and claims that Americans ought to be “first” yet at the same time is strongly supported by over 81% of conservative Christians who claim he is “pro-life"!]
--

"I only have time for facts," the innocent often say. "No time for make-believe." But fiction-the best of it-isn't make-believe.

It is often the more enduring reality, and because it contains truth, it goes beyond personal and national boundaries. Thus, one need not be a Greek to recognize truth in Oedipus the King, or a Roman Catholic to be astonished by the accuracy of vision in The Divine Comedy.

“Nor does one have to insist on a literal interpretation of Christian doctrine in order to find profound truths about man and his fate in, Paradise Lost.

“1. Although facts are not the only form of truth, they are extremely important.

What is a fact?

What is the importance of facts in your everyday life?

What is the relationship between facts and ideas?

Between facts and opinions?

"2. Is man essentially good?

“Or is he essentially evil?
--from a literature textbook
--

[OR is the human primate not capable of good or evil?

IS the human species ONLY--
“You, your joys and your sorrow, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”
-Francis Crick, the famous Scientist and Atheistic Naturalist

OR HOW can any of the life-stance stories possibly be true in the sense that the literary author means (ethically and philosophically, not factually)
since so many contradict each other.

To be continued—


In the Light,

Daniel Eugene Wilcox

LIFE Needs to be Like a Camera


Monday, June 18, 2018

Why I Am a Process-theist, Not an Atheist or Creedal Christian


#1 The existence of Life, that marvelous creative structure of DNA.

I’m not given to anthropomorphizing nature and strongly dislike writing that does that. HOWEVER, despite the fact that non-sentient matter doesn’t have any will or awareness, there does appear to be some sort incredible drive within the natural process of Life itself.

One of Life’s astounding,staggering facts is that while once--more than 2 billion years ago--there was only inert matter and energy, at some point, somehow LIFE came into existence (biogenesis), Life from non-life.

No doubt this extraordinary, stunning change—nonlife to LIFE--came about via the structural creativity and intelligence inherent in reality of which so many brilliant scientists speak of; they sometimes use the word, emergent, to describe this amazing development. And, of course, the 51% of scientists in the United States who aren’t atheists, attribute this spectacular transformation to ultimate reality.

BUT even all of that—LIFE from non-life--isn’t the most staggering fact:
it’s that despite over-whelming odds,
despite the extinction of over 99% of all life forms in deep time;
despite huge natural disasters including large meteors hitting the Earth,
despite the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, etc.
LIFE on planet earth, a couple billion years later
continues to develop,
to expand,
to evolve,
to strongly continue to exist.

Despite the popularity of apocalyptic destruction media and novels, it appears that life will continue to exist and thrive in this universe for at least one more billion years!

After that according to cosmologists, our sun will get hotter and hotter, and boil away Earth’s oceans. Probably the end of life.
But until then...

Life is very stubborn:-)

I see this especially almost daily when my wife and I take hikes and our daily walks. Various plants grow out of places that wouldn’t seem possible. Their stems manage to squeak through narrow cracks in sidewalks, blacktop, masonry, rock faces. Tree roots break thick concrete driveways, uplift heavy slabs.

Heck, there is a series of long twining weeds that have squeezed through one door jam in our garage. They trail up the vertical side of the door and over onto the wall. I absolutely know that they have no sentience, that plants have no awareness, no will, no drive,
YET somehow Life ‘urges’ to exist
and overcomes very difficult circumstances.

Some of plants are so life-driven that they drive me and my wife crazy;-)

We have over-and-over, for the umpteen time, killed all unwanted life-plant forms in our front rock and rose garden;
we’ve laid down thick layers of plastic;
repeatedly I've used weed killer;
my wife constantly pulls weeds, etc.

YET there they are again,
driven up through poison,
up through heavy plastic, up past my wife’s persistent fingers,
more ‘determined’ to live than most anything.

So even small ‘persistent’ survival-persistent weeds astound me.

At 71 years of age, I have almost no energy compared to those thick weeds, skinny small vines, ugly intruders:-).

Here's bit of scientific data on DNA:

“The structure of DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid, illustrates a basic principle common to all biomolecules: the intimate relation between structure and function. The remarkable properties of this chemical substance allow it to function as a very efficient and robust vehicle for storing information.”

“A major role for many sequences of DNA is to encode the sequences of proteins, the workhorses within cells, participating in essentially all processes. Some proteins are key structural components, whereas others are specific catalysts (termed enzymes) that promote chemical reactions. Like DNA and RNA, proteins are linear polymers. However, proteins are more complicated in that they are formed from a selection of 20 building blocks, called amino acids, rather than 4.”

“The functional properties of proteins, like those of other biomolecules, are determined by their three-dimensional structures. Proteins possess an extremely important property: a protein spontaneously folds into a welldefined and elaborate three-dimensional structure that is dictated entirely by the sequence of amino acids along its chain (Figure 1.6). The self-folding nature of proteins constitutes the transition from the one-dimensional world of sequence information to the three-dimensional world of biological function. This marvelous ability of proteins to self assemble into complex structures is responsible for their dominant role in biochemistry."

"Folding of a Protein. The three-dimensional structure of a protein, a linear polymer of amino acids, is dictated by its amino acid sequence.
How is the sequence of bases along DNA translated into a sequence of amino acids along a protein chain? We will consider the details of this process in later chapters, but the important finding is that three bases along a DNA chain encode a single amino acid. The specific correspondence between a set of three bases and 1 of the 20 amino acids is called the genetic code. Like the use of DNA as the genetic material, the genetic code is essentially universal; the same sequences of three bases encode the same amino acids in all life forms from simple microorganisms to complex, multicellular organisms such as human beings.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22415/
Copyright © 2002, W. H. Freeman and Company.

There “...is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over."
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton, New York, p. 115, 1986

#2 The amazing and intellectually beautiful regularities of the Cosmos (often called the Laws of Physics or Cosmology); Time-Space’s wonder; quantum physics;

The physicist Steven Wineburg wrote that for him the cosmos seems “pointless.”
“The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”
Dreams of a Final Theory: The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (1993), ISBN 0-09-922391-0

But some other professional scientists, (and me, an average literature and writing teacher who has an amateur fascination with studying science on my own) have come to the extreme opposite conclusion:

The more we discover and learn about the cosmos, the more it seems meaningful and pointfull.

This whole area of astrophysics, cosmology, and astronomy often brings in the G-word, for good or ill, often by anti-religious thinkers who castigate all theists as fundamentalists.

The G-word is problematic because it is so ambiguous, so contradictory, so empty-bucket when it comes to its denotative meaning.

Give a hear to the thoughts of the famous astronomer Carl Sagan:

"The word “god” is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god.

"But let me give a sense of two poles of the definition of God. One is the view of, say, Spinoza or Einstein, which is more or less God as the sum total of the laws of physics. Now, it would be foolish to deny that there are laws of physics. If that’s what we mean by God, then surely God exists. All we have to do is watch the apples drop."

"Newtonian gravitation works throughout the entire universe. We could have imagined a universe in which the laws of nature were restricted to only a small portion of space or time. That does not seem to be the case....So that is itself a deep and extraordinary fact: that the laws of nature exist and that they are the same everywhere. So if that is what you mean by God, then I would say that we already have excellent evidence that God exists."

"But now take the opposite pole: the concept of God as an outsize male with a long white beard, sitting in a throne in the sky and tallying the fall of every sparrow. Now, for that kind of god I maintain there is no evidence. And while I’m open to suggestions of evidence for that kind of god, I personally am dubious that there will be powerful evidence for such a god not only in the near future but even in the distant future. And the two examples I’ve given you are hardly the full range of ideas that people mean when they use the word “god.”
https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/12/20/carl-sagan-varieties-of-scientific-experience/
--

I do strongly agree with Sagan that the "concept of God as an outsize male" isn't real, that there is no evidence for such an anthropomorphic god. Indeed, as a small child, I NEVER thought that God was a superhuman man up in the sky, in heaven. On the contrary, I looked at life, existence, and the night sky with awed wonder. My image of God was like of oxygen or some other gas!:-)

God was invisible, everywhere, and necessary for life to exist.

And my own view of the nature of Reality—often called ‘God’ even by famous scientists—is somewhat related to Sagan’s definition: “the sum total” of natural laws.

Only, I think, that Life, reason, ethics, etc. exist inherent within the nature of Reality.

And from Astrophysicist and theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin:

“If I were to ever lean towards spiritual thinking or religious thinking, it would be in that way. It would be, why is it that there is this abstract mathematics that guides the universe? The universe is remarkable because we can understand it. That’s what’s remarkable. All the other things are remarkable, too. It’s really, really astounding that these little creatures on this little planet that seem totally insignificant in the middle of nowhere can look back over the fourteen-billion-year history of the universe and understand so much and in such a short time."

"So that is where I would get a sense, again, of meaning and of purpose and of beauty and of being integrated with the universe so that it doesn’t feel hopeless and meaningless. Now, I don’t personally invoke a God to do that, but I can’t say that mathematics would disprove the existence of God either. It’s just one of those things where over and over again, you come to that point where some people will make that leap and say, “I believe that God initiated this and then stepped away, and the rest was this beautiful mathematical unfolding.” And others will say, “Well, as far back as it goes, there seem to be these mathematical structures. And I don’t feel the need to conjure up any other entity.” And I fall into that camp, and without feeling despair or dissatisfaction.”

--
Here, Levin seems to be disbelieving in the same god that Sagan and many of us non-scientists emphasize there is no evidence for. This is the god of popular superstition and creedal religion.

Many scientists, on the other hand, use the term, god, to refer to ultimate or essential reality, as Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary's first definition: "1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality:"

For example Albert Einstein: “My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit [‘spirit’ meaning the nature of, not meant in the organized religion sense] that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality."

#3 Related to those staggering realities, is the remarkable fact that in this vast, seemingly infinite expanding Time-Space reality, there is on a minor planet in a middling galaxy a finite primate (us), who in historic time only recently became consciously aware, rational, with mental capabilities able to discover these astronomical, cosmological, astrophysical complex theories and facts!

It is humbling true that it appears we human primates have only begun to tap into the whole of Reality; and there may even be a multiverse, beyond the billions of galaxies within our own universe. Like Einstein emphasized we as a species are like a small child who has discovered a vast library far beyond his/her little capabilities. There are billions, trillions of volumes.

Yet, it is so extraordinary that we as a species, with our basic brain, can understand even the barest minimum of Existence.
Various cosmologists, astrophysicists, astronomers, and mathematicians are enthralled by the wonder of it all.

#4 Math; how some mathematicians think that the ultimate nature of Reality is actually mathematical!

I’m a math-light-weight;-) I did make it through algebra, geometry, college math, did fairly well, (mostly B’s) BUT realized that I wasn’t given the brainpower to do heavy lifting when it comes to higher math, so had to give up my childhood dream of becoming a space engineer. However, I still have deep appreciation of math’s amazing complexity in relationship to the cosmos.

Consider the view of math from the perspective of Astrophysicist and theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin:

“I would absolutely say I am also besotted with mathematics. I don’t worry about what’s real and not real in the way that maybe G√∂del did. I think what Turing did, which was so beautiful, was to have a very practical approach. He believed that life was, in a way, simple. You could relate to mathematics in a concrete and practical way. It wasn’t about surreal, abstract theories. And that’s why Turing is the one who invents the computer, because he thinks so practically. He can imagine a machine that adds and subtracts, a machine that performs the mathematical operations that the mind performs."

"The modern computers that we have now are these very practical machines that are built on those ideas. So I would say that like Turing, I am absolutely struck with the power of mathematics, and that’s why I’m a theoretical physicist...I love that we can all share the mathematical answers. It’s not about me trying to convince you of what I believe or of my perspective or of my assumptions."

"We can all agree that one plus one is two, and we can all make calculations that come out to be the same, whether you’re from India or Pakistan or Oklahoma, we all have that in common. There’s something about that that’s deeply moving to me and that makes mathematics pure and special. And yet I’m able to have a more practical attitude about it, which is that, well, we can build machines this way. There is a physical reality that we can relate to using mathematics.”

"If I were to ever lean towards spiritual thinking or religious thinking, it would be in that way. It would be, why is it that there is this abstract mathematics that guides the universe? The universe is remarkable because we can understand it. That’s what’s remarkable. All the other things are remarkable, too. It’s really, really astounding that these little creatures on this little planet that seem totally insignificant in the middle of nowhere can look back over the fourteen-billion-year history of the universe and understand so much and in such a short time."

"So that is where I would get a sense, again, of meaning and of purpose and of beauty and of being integrated with the universe so that it doesn’t feel hopeless and meaningless. Now, I don’t personally invoke a God to do that, but I can’t say that mathematics would disprove the existence of God either. It’s just one of those things where over and over again, you come to that point where some people will make that leap and say, “I believe that God initiated this and then stepped away, and the rest was this beautiful mathematical unfolding.” And others will say, “Well, as far back as it goes, there seem to be these mathematical structures. And I don’t feel the need to conjure up any other entity.” And I fall into that camp, and without feeling despair or dissatisfaction."
Astrophysicist and theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin
Einstein's God, Interviews with Scientists by Krista Tippett

#5 Reason:

Think of the stunning results that humans’ rational abilities have achieved, especially when brilliant humans hypothesize in a number of different scientific, historical, and aesthetic fields.

#6 Ethics:

Moral realism!
In contrast, most Atheists and Creedal Christians aren’t moral realists.

It’s baffling that so many Atheists and Creedal Christians claim that morals and ethics, and human rights are subjective.

And many famous Atheist leaders take it one gigantic step further, claiming that human creative choice, moral responsibility, equality, liberty, justice, human rights, etc. are all “myths,” delusions!

And Creedal Christians claim that all humans, since we were foreordained from before the beginning of Time-Space, by their god to be sinful at conception/birth, we are incapable of any choice. Furthermore, God often changes what is moral or immoral. Whatever the Christian god decides—that becomes moral even if it is horrific such as genocide, the slaughter of children, rape, slavery, and so forth.

#7 Aesthetics

#8

#9

#10
--

In SUMMARY:
All reality is coming about by the everlasting but limited cosmic reality that is “becoming.” This is the view of thinkers such as philosopher and mathematician Alfred Lord Whitehead, philosopher Charles Hartshorne, etc.

This cosmic but limited ‘god-ultimate reality’--who is far beyond human understanding--works toward changing matter and energy and conscious life (such as homo sapiens) into increasing patterns and forms of beauty, meaning, and purpose.

This is also the view of some Reform Jews and extremely liberal non-creedal Christians and Muslims.

But where is the evidence for this?

Process thinkers explain that consciousness, reason, ethics, mathematics, natural law, creativity, aesthetics, life itself, etc. are the evidence.
This view is appealing, (though most of the technical philosophical explanations are beyond my understanding).
OR
All reality came about somehow by a temporary, finite, imperfect, even distorted, expression of the perfect eternal Ideal Forms of Platonism.
I already explained that I've been influenced by Platonism though I strongly reject certain portions and claims of the philosophical worldview of Plato.

To be continued--


In the Light of Reality,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, June 8, 2018

Write for Prisoner of Conscience Ahmed Mansoor



FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:

"On 29 May, the State Security Chamber of the Federal Appeal Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sentenced prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1,000,000 Emirati Dirham on charges including “insulting the UAE and its symbols.” He is a prisoner of conscience."

Please write a letter, send an email or call the UAE authorities to overturn this conviction, a miscarriage of justice.

Ask for the immediate release of Ahmed Mansoor.

"...he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, including through his human rights work;"

Ask that he might have "immediate and regular access to a lawyer of his choosing, his family, and any healthcare he may require."

Contact these two officials by 16 July, 2018:
Vice-President and Prime Minister
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin
Rashid al-Maktoum
Prime Minister’s Office
PO Box 212000
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Fax: +971 4 330 4044
Email via web: https://uaecabinet.ae/en/contact-the-prime-minister
Twitter: @HHShkMohd
Salutation: Your Highness

Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba,
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Court, NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 243 2400 I Fax: 1 202 243 2432
Contact form: http://www.uae-embassy.org/contact-embassy
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

READ THE REST OF AI'S NOTICE AT:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-update-ahmed-mansoor-sentenced-to-10-years-imprisonment-united-arab-emirates-ua-200-15/
--


Thank you for caring for human rights.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


Human Rights Have NO Borders


Another massive ICE raid against hard-working undocumented immigrants:

"A family member of one of the arrested Corso's workers: "My soon to be brother-in-law was deported this morning...He was brought here as a young boy. He's worked at Corso's for many years. They paid him good money. By no means did they pay him what they think immigrants should be paid. They paid him good money.
"He did a good job and worked hard to provide for his family. He's got a six-month-old daughter," she added.

Allegedly, many children were left at day-care facilities because their parents couldn't pick them up.

This arresting of hardworking humans is so morally wrong! Arresting individuals who aren't criminals, and deporting people who were brought here as children is not only unfair, it's a violation of human rights:-((((.

If someone has crossed a political border without permission, he/she ought to get a ticket like a person who goes over the speed limit.

Instead of this persecution of so many immigrants, these millions of dollars ought to be spent on the pursuit violent criminals and money could be spent on more local interaction of police with their communities. What a tragic waste to have huge dollar amounts spent on over hundred police officers handcuffing diligent working individuals at their place of employment!

POLICE OUGHT to be arresting violent criminals, not hard-working individuals.

Everyone ought to be ashamed of this self-centered turn away from justice and equality by the United States.

ICE arrests 114 at Ohio garden center in major mass raid
Eric Levenson
By Carma Hassan and Eric Levenson, CNN

(CNN)US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 114 undocumented immigrants working at an Ohio gardening business in one of its largest workplace raids in recent years.

"It is the largest in our region in the last decade," said Khaalid Walls, spokesman for ICE's Northeastern region, which comprises Michigan, Ohio, and Upstate New York.
In April, ICE arrested nearly 100 people accused of being in the US illegally at a Tennessee meatpacking plant. At the time, immigration rights groups said that operation was ICE's largest workplace raid in a decade.
Tuesday's arrests targeted employees of Corso's Flower and Garden Center in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio, Walls said.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/06/us/ice-undocumented-immigrants-arrests-garden-ohio/index.html



Work for justice, equality, and hope for ALL HUMANS. Human rights have NO BORDERS.

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Where Does Graham Get Evidence that Sanctuary Cities Are Like Hell?


Where is Christian leader Franklin Graham getting his evidence from?

How are sanctuary cities turning into "just a little picture of Hell"?

According to 4 academic studies undocumented people don't increase crime or substance abuse.
See this at
https://www.npr.org/2018/05/02/607652253/studies-say-illegal-immigration-does-not-increase-violent-crime


How are progressives who show compassion for the impoverished, the persecuted, the oppressed guilty of being "Godless"?

How are such caring leaders contrary to God?

Franklin Graham is also head of a charity, Samaritan's Purse. So why is he so against helping undocumented immigrants, who are working hard, raising families, etc. living in the United States?

Graham said, "...I do want Christians to vote and I want them to ask God before they vote, who they vote...and turn the state [California] back to God..." He also has said that Christians need to stand up against California's "Blue Wall."

It appears this is another case of Graham's support of Donald Trump's polices. Even when it comes to Trump's repeated adulteries, Graham says it's "nobody's business," yet Graham claims that Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are "Godless" even though they haven't divorced, aren't self-centered, and don't use obscene speech.

Please stand up for refugees. "Rescue the perishing, caring for the dying..."

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seals and Crofts' "Intone...": Older Age Hope




A very powerful, inspiring song by Seals and Crofts.

Caution note: I've never been a part of the Baha'i religion, don't take kindly toward any literature or song lyrics that call humans "servants-slaves" or speak of ultimate reality as "lord." So many of the latter represent that which is worst about religion and ideology.

HOWEVER, some aspects of the more liberal parts of the Baha'i faith do represent ethics, justice, and inspiration at their best.

AND, most of the lyrics of "Intone" by Seals and Crofts are very powerful, describing many of the tragic aspects of our lives when we humans get older. Many studies have shown that the most lonely and saddest humans are the elderly.

The irony of when I first heard "Intone," listening to a new album by a new group that one of my buddies had just bought, I was only 24, in good health, and renting a nice apartment in Huntington Beach, California only a few miles to the beach.

But I could imagine and empathize with the individual suffering in the song--of the tragedies and losses of which the singers were relating. The song enthralled and uplifted me spiritually even though back then in 1971, I had few worries, and only the angst typical of young adults.

Besides the intense, lush instrumentation, I felt deeply the words of loss partially because at the time my mom was devastated by the early death of her father, the failing health of her elderly mother, and she was still grieving too vivid memories of her little brother who had gotten killed, run over by a car years before. As years passed, and my mom got older, she agonized even more over her little brother's death.

This song speaks so deeply and powerfully to all of that.

Yes, "Intone" posits holy writing from religion as a hope.

I don't think religions offer real hope. But some writings in religions do inspire. With a little revising, one can listen to this hopeful song, emphasizing what to do when encountering tragedy. (Hopefully, Seals and Crofts won't mind. I wonder where they are and whether or not they are living this song now in their old age.)

>>when everything is wrong...your friends are gone

Intone my [beloved], the verses of [the Light]. Intone my beloved, the verses of the Light
Let me hear you sing, let your voices ring
>>throughout cities of men's hearts...

Don't despair. Don't negate. Don't, for hope's sake, have a pity party (that you probably do deserve).

Instead, look to the wise words of great inspiration.

Seek hope, even when hope is missing.


In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, May 25, 2018

Talk About Tragic, Hypocritical, and Contrary to Its Founder's Wise Words


Look at the tragic selfish, unkind, unjust, and immoral position that White Evangelical Christians hold toward accepting refugees:


These devout Christians claim that they follow Jesus who told the Parable of the Good Samaritan and who spoke the Sermon on the Mount,
YET
they strongly refuse accepting and helping refugees.

Notice that these U.S. Evangelical Christians are the most opposed of any group to helping the abused, the impoverished, the persecuted, the helpless!!


Don't look to their selfish and fallacious religion for truth, justice, or hope.

Instead, consider these wise words:









In the LIGHT of kindness, compassion, generosity, help, and rescuing,

Daniel Wilcox



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

From Abandoned to Hope: An Undocumented Immigrant Teen


Abandoned when he was only 5 years old, Daniel Morales lived and somehow managed to survive on the streets in a Latin American country despite all the crime, poverty, and other dangers.

Finally, as a teen when faced with threats to join a gang, Daniel did what so many refugees have done, he rode the "beast"--on top of trains up through Mexico to the U.S., a very dangerous journey.

Yes, there are horrific stories, too, of the criminals that Daniel managed to avoid. Some of the latter also enter the United States illegally and get lots of front page news because of their immoral actions including rape and murder. But they are a minority.

It's time that we Americans focus on the HOPE stories, the innocent Dreamers whose only crime is sneaking across a border in order to escape crime, poverty, and injustice.

Daniel is one such incredible narrative of hope.

How he managed to get into the U.S. is unknown, but it can be imagined from reading daily news of arrests of illegal immigrants every week along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Hannah Eash-Gates, Daniel's legal representative and former member of Mennonite Voluntary Service, said, Daniel "is relentlessly positive." According to her, Daniel is "incredibly bright. Even without a formal education, taught himself to read and write."

Daniel and Hannah met at the Refuge and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in San Antonio, Texas where Hannah worked for MVS.

"In the two years it took for Eash-Gates to help Morales achieve legal permanent residency status, he made it on the honor roll and learned two languages!"

Read more about helping undocumented immigrants and others in the Mennonite magazines, Extending Beyond, Beyond Ourselves, and the websites of Mennonite Central Committee.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Part #4: Do Animals Have Worth?

Why does the human species seek meaning and purpose?
Why do humans study nature, the cosmos, reality?
Why are we curious, creative, doubtful, rational?

Why do many of us seek to preserve other species, in danger of extinction?

CONSIDER THIS AMAZING OTHER CREATURE IN NATURE which shows the incredible creativity and intelligent potential in life and existence:

It gives new contrary meaning to the negative term: bird brain.

"A red knot’s incredible journey"
by Jeremy Taylor

"Imagine flying the equivalent of the distance from the earth to the moon and partway back. Now imagine doing this if you weighed only four ounces! Sounds incredible, but this is exactly what one bird has done over the last two decades."

"The red knot (Calidris canutus) has one of the longest migrations of any bird, travelling nearly 10,000 miles each spring and fall between its summer breeding range in the Arctic to the winter range in southern Chile and Argentina.

"...this trip has successfully been made twice a year for at least 21 years in a row by a male red knot, dubbed “Moonbird” due to the cumulative
distance he has flown.
"First banded at two years of age in 1995 in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, Moonbird...B95...has become a celebrity of sorts.
Read the rest at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/0415moonbird.pdf
And read, The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird...by Deborah Cramer

How do the young Red Knots do this?! When they are born, they have never been from the Arctic to the bottom of Argentina.

They leave separately later than the adult Red Knots and have no guide. As the science writer Chet Raymo points out, how do the young on their own "make their way along a route they have never traveled to a destination they have never seen?"

According to scientists their DNA contains "...the map of the migration route and the skills to follow it...The red knot's brain is a flexible organ, capable of wiring itself by experience." p.25, Raymo, Skeptics and True Believers

Factually amazing things about nature, astronomy, animals, etc. intrigued me as a kid, and still do as a retired oldster. When I was in 4th grade our teacher had us do bird studies, find feathers and nests, and do so many other interesting activities.
And as an aging learner, I was astounded to find out that now scientists think that crows have the intelligence of a 7-year-old human!!

So I don't understand those human leaders who have a demeaning attitude toward existence, to those who state that live species are "just chemicals," or only atoms, or many others who take a predatory approach to animals, denying they have any inherent worth.

Yes, I know that nature is often 'tooth and claw.' Especially when our cat Smoke brings us a gift of a small bird. And I used to be a hunter, had a Remington shotgun and a rifle (given to me at 12 by my grandfather).
BUT
we humans are more than instinct. We have a sense of transcendence, a sense of ought, and a rational understanding that reality isn't only survival, isn't only about us, but that reality has the real potential for creativity, beauty, and truth.

Animals didn't come into existence for us humans. The sentient ones have their own worth and value.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Nature of Religion--Best of Ways and Worst of Ways


Journalist Christopher Hitchens: “If you gave Falwell [a Christian leader] an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.”

Hitchen also wrote that religion "poisons everything."

On the other hand,even some religious leaders realize the dangers/contradictions/oddities of their systems.

Take these jokes, such as this sharp satire from Jews themselves poking ironic fun at themselves, at the contradictory branches of Judaism:

“At an Orthodox wedding, the bride’s mother is pregnant; at a Conservative wedding, the rabbi is pregnant;

at a Reform wedding, the bride is pregnant; and at a Reconstructionist wedding, both brides are pregnant.”
from God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero, p. 271
--
Here's one from liberal versus conservative Christianity:

A Unitarian-Universalist minister walked across a road after being accosted by an irate Southern Baptist leader who had shouted at the UU leader:
"Your church is a joke! You reject all the creeds!"

Finally, the Southern Baptist ran across the road yelling sputtering,
"YOU, YOU...!"

And the Unitarian Universalist turned back and very politely said, "Yes?"
--




Religion is another one of those 'empty-bucket' words which are so semantically wiggly and slimy that it means many different things to many different people.

One way to systematize it is to distill the central focus of various religions.
(Some of the following is an adaption and expansion from a list in God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero.)

#1 Judaism: the problem is exile—solution is return
[my own view: problem is rebellion/disobedience—solution is repentance and Torah]

2. Islam: the problem is pride—solution is submission

3. Christianity: the problem is sin—solution is salvation

4. Confucianism: the problem is chaos—solution is social order/propriety

5. Hinduism: the problem is samsara cycle of reincarnation/karma/impurity/–solution is spiritual release via devotion/ritual/duty
[my own view—solution is cleansing/separateness]

6. Buddhism: the problem is suffering—solution is awakening
[my view: problem is suffering--solution is complete negation]

7. Taoism: the problem is lifelessness—solution is natural flourishing and freedom
--

8. Paganism: the problem is disconnection from nature--solution is reverence of the natural world

9. Atheism: the problem is superstition/faith/religion—solution is atheistic reason

10. Deism/Enlightenment: the problem is injustice/oppression/superstition--
solution is theistic reason and democracy
--

11. Humanism: the problem is delusion or meaninglessness--solution is affirmation of the good/worth/flourishing













12. Religious non-religious Ideology: the problem is bourgeoisie capitalism--solution is dictatorship of the proletariat
This odd animal is secularism that adopts many of the trappings and behaviors of religion including ritual, reverence of dead leaders, heresy trials for those who deviate from dogma, etc...

Prime examples: U.S.S.R. Communist Party: the preserved bodies of Lenin and Stalin lying in state in a mausoleum in Red Square based upon a religious building from humanity's past. And for over 70 years many millions of people have gone to view the two famous communist leaders of the Russian revolution, and millions have been spent on displaying and preserving the corpses.

A lesser example--civil religion in nations such as the U.S. where the American flag is treated with reverence like a sacred object and people pledge themselves to the flag, where myths are believed about their most revered dead leaders.

And the leaders are venerated with huge monuments including Washington's monumental tower and Lincoln's Memorial based upon a a Greek temple!

13. Heresy: One EXTREMELY odd fact about religion is that various aberrant versions of official religions are often closer to other religions or ideologies than the specific religion they are listed under!

For instance liberal Quakerism is far closer to Humanism than to creedal Christianity. Heck, some Quakers claim to be Pagans or Nontheists, some Jews are closer to Atheism than any religion, a few Muslims closer to Deism/Enlightenment than orthodox Islam.

And consider the bottomless chasm between many Arminiam Christians
versus
most Reformed/Augustinian Christians!

The former think that the God of Christianity infinitely loves and seeks to save every single human and that God created all humans with infinite worth, and for eternal communion and fellowship.

VERSUS

Reformed/Augustinians wno believe that the God of Christianity chooses to only loves a limited number of humans who have no choice, that all humans are conceived/born totally depraved because of God's hidden will.
And that from before the foundation of the cosmos, God foreordained most humans, billions of us, to eternal damnation/torture for his own glory.

Not a molecule moves in reality, according to Reformed Christianity, but that God moves it. God is the cause of all natural disasters, all disease, all evil.
In this sense,
the Reformed are MUCH closer to the total determinism of orthodox Islam, where whatever happens is Allah's will. And the Reformed are much closer to the versions of Atheism which believe in hard determinism than some forms of Arminiam Christianity which emphasize free will.
--

OTHERS--

Jainism: the problem is ? solution is

Sikhism: the problem is solution is

Zoroastrianism: the problem is solution is

Shintoism: the problem is solution is

Baha’i: the problem is solution is




TO BE CONTINUED--




In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox



1 Some of these are adapted from GOD Is Not ONE by Stephen Prothero

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Science...Skeptical...Yet Drop-Jawed Amazement"


According to the science writer, Chet Raymo, and many other scientists,
“Science is founded on twin cornerstones of skepticism and astonishment.”


“The thoughtful person will try to walk the line between drop-jawed amazement...and cautious skepticism about the correctness of our knowledge."

Science, is "A story of sublime dimension. Tentative, evolving, and not always comfortable, carrying us in our imaginations to the farthest reaches of space and time..."

"Scientific knowledge enlivens our every experience and tunes us to the deepest mysteries...to the world that evades our limited senses. Science cannot nor should not be a religion, but it can be the basis for...” wonder and awe.
From Skeptics and True Believers
by Chet Raymo, p. 252, 254 Raymo, a professor of physics and astronomy, has received commendations for his science writing from evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and other scientists and the general reading public.

According to the Jewish thinker Martin Buber, all of us humans, to one degree or another, live in both the I-examine-the-it and the I-experience-the-'other'.
--

My thoughts: It’s only when these 2 very different categories get confused, mixed up, and muddled that bad trouble results.

Science is we-it, the impersonal objective study of the cosmos, nature, life, and human primates.

However, I, as an amateur, an enthusiast of science, and most professional scientists, first got into science itself because of WONDER AND ASKING AND SEEKING--the we-experiential...

When young, we science-lovers felt jolted over by little creepies and/or big animals, dandelions and tall trees, by the natural world, the ocean and the mountains, the stars and the UNKNOWN.

So before we formally studied anthropology or astronomy, etc., we first encountered the I-experience of awareness, life, relationship--whether between 2 individuals, between a human and an animal, or even the impersonal experienced as a fascinating rock or sea shell, a scenic vista, or the awe-inspiring falling meteors, distant planets, stars, galaxies and Existence itself.

For example, a professional scientist studies and writes about human primate behavior such as kissing. That’s we-it.

But when the scientist gets home and kisses his/her sweetheart, the scientist isn’t thinking about biology, physiology, matter, molecules, atoms, but experiencing passion, joy, intent, commitment, sharing, etc. That’s I-personal-experiential.

Imagine him coming home, and when his wife kisses him, he pulls back and says, 'let's discuss the molecular structure of your primate vermillion border.'

LOL;-)

The experiential encounter is lost. Maybe he will have to sleep on the couch...

But if she suddenly feels wracking pain in her lips, the scientist, especially if he is a physician or medical specialist, will quickly switch to the I-examine it.

Only when we humans confuse study with personal experience, and vice versa, do we get into all sorts of trouble.
Would anyone choose to give up the wonder of the star-spangled sky, and choose to relate his/her spouse via a test tube and statistics?

I wouldn’t.

But, tragically, billions of humans now (and in the past) choose to reject healthy skepticism and the scientific method in order to keep what they feel is true based on their own experiences, which are actually illusions and delusions.

I wouldn’t.

ONLY when humans are balanced using both the scientific method AND personal experience—are we whole, having both a mind and a heart.


In the LIGHT--we-experience and we-study and we-relate,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Part #3: Animal Rights--The Case Against A. R. Activist Peter Singer by Stella Young


The case against Peter Singer
The Drum By Stella Young

"Australian bioethicist and philosopher Peter Singer has argued the case for selective infanticide.


"Singer, who is arguably better known for his views on animal rights, has views about disability that have been discussed far less here in Australia than they have in the US where he lives and works. I am open about not being a fan of Singer's work, a statement that's often met with confusion among friends and colleagues. "But he does such great things for animal liberation!" they exclaim.

While that may be true, animal liberation is not the only subject of Singer's work. He also believes that parents should be given the choice to have their disabled babies killed after they are born.
His argument is not about the right to terminate pregnancy based on the presence of a disabled foetus, although he does believe this as well, but the active killing of babies born with particular disabilities.

I was once one of these babies.
[emphasis added]

Let me be clear: Singer does not object to my life as it exists now. I am now what he considers to be a person with a right to life. But I, along with all other babies, was not born this way. All babies are born without the capacity to make conscious choices about their preference for life, and so Singer does not consider that they have a right to life in the same way as humans who are capable of this choice. This is especially true, he says, where the infant has a disability.

In his book Practical Ethics, Singer argues the case for selective infanticide. He deems it unfair that "At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents' choice to these particular disabilities.

If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant's condition than is possible before birth."

FROM Stella Young is a comedian, television presenter, disability advocate and was formerly editor of ABC's Ramp Up website. She is an ambassador for Our Watch.

READ THE REST OF THIS POWERFUL ARTICLE AT:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-15/young-case-against-peter-singer/4199120

IMPORTANT NOTE FROM PREVIOUS SECTIONS OF THIS SERIES:
I didn't post this "case against Peter Singer" because I am opposed to animal rights. On the contrary, Singer makes some good points. Furthermore, I think all humans ought to NOT eat or enslave sentient animals!

Furthermore, I think that animals, besides the human primates, homo sapiens, do have inherent worth.

Furthermore, no animals ought to be caused to suffer as an 'end justifies the means' by humans.

HOWEVER, what is problematic is that some animal rights activists including Peter Singer demean humans--such as his claim that infants AREN'T "PERSONS"!--and claim that all animals are equal to the human species.


Related Questions



In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Liberal Religion and Humanism Are Kissin' Neighbors While Reductionistic Nonreligion and Fundamentalism Are a Bad Couple

Religion Versus Non-Religion, Christianity Versus Atheism and many similar such debates usually make for intriguing mental and verbal jousting and philosophical wrestling.

They are fascinating, especially because, often, both of the debaters are brilliant, highly educated, well-prepared with extensive reasonings and plausible evidence. Yet they hold totally opposite life-stances and worldviews.

One particularly fascinating though somewhat irritating debate on YouTube is:
THE GREAT DEBATE: MARSHALL VERSUS ZUCKERMAN--CHRISTIANITY VERSUS SECULAR HUMANISM




Probably the most baffling aspect of this debate is that both individuals aren't arguing contrary views!

Marshall states he is presenting 7 central truths of the Christian religion, BUT then instead of arguing for 7 key points of creedal Christianity, he presents fallacious and distorted historical claims that were only partially true of some tiny heretical Christian groups.

These he contrasts with the worst of non-Christian ideologies such as the Vikings' worldview of raiding, rape, and slaughter.

And, oddly, Zuckerman contrasts Secular Humanism NOT to liberal religions including Liberal Christianity but the worst of Fundamentalistic, Creedal Christianity!
For instance, he contrasts the modern successful society of Denmark, very secular, to the modern dysfunctional and violent society of Mississippi and other southern U.S. states, very fundamentalistic.

Actually, a more accurate historical and contemporary comparison would show how similar Secular Humanism is to Liberal Christianity.

And how similar Reductionistic Nonreligion is to Fundamentalism.

Examples abound of the latter especially. Here are two central ones:

#1 Reductionism and Fundamentalism both emphasize that humans have no inherent worth.

And Reductionism and Fundamentalism, this bad odd couple, often use demeaning terms when speaking of the Human Species.
Negative examples of this include for Reductionism: All humans are "just complex chemicals," "puppets," "jumped-up apes," "wet robots," etc.

For Fundamentalism: All humans at conception/birth are "totally depraved," "in essence, evil", are "clay pots;" and some humans God created as "toilets and spittoons," etc.

#2 Reductionistic nonreligion and Fundamentalism also are very deterministic emphasizing that all humans have no choice.

Everything is determined (in the case of Reductionism) by the "Laws of Physics," or the "Cosmos," or "Evolution," etc.
Everything is determined (in Fundamentalism) by Yahweh or Allah, etc.

To be continued--


Say No to a Bad Couple--Reductionism and Fundamentalism

Say Yes to Kissin' Neighbors--Liberalism and Humanism.



In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 3, 2018

American Race, Poverty, Social Dysfunction, and Ethics


"The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent...But why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940"??!!
Walter E. Williams, Black Economist

Below is a very powerful article worth reading again, and again. I don't agree with all of the points, especially not the dubious right-wing ones, BUT Williams raises many important issues about poverty, race, government, social dysfunction, and ethics.

First, let me emphasize that I don't think getting out of poverty is nearly as easy as successful leaders such as Williams claim.

Many poor people work very hard. Many of them don't have the 'good life' that Williams' statistics claim.

I spent most of my adult life working with teens from poor and/or dysfunctional single parent families (usually the mom; the deadbeat dad gone:-( .

Here's one powerful example.
A nice teen had fallen behind on his homework. I put pressure on him, required a meeting with his parents.

As it turned out, the teen had gotten behind on his homework because every day he watched his little brothers because his mom (dad missing) was having to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet at a basic poverty level.

Have you ever tried to make ends me on minimum wage?!

And work 2 jobs?

And care for 1 teen and 2 children--all of them boys?

I've worked minimum wage before (though as a single), too. It wasn't easy, couldn't make ends meet even by myself.

So while we need to encourage all people to work their way out of poverty as Williams emphasizes, we need to be compassionate and help!

There are many poor people doing the best they can, such as that very hard-working poor mother that I met.

My hat goes off to her.

Think about what former President Jimmy Carter has to say:

from Dependency, Not Poverty by Walter E. Williams
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

"There is no material poverty in the U.S. Here are a few facts about people whom the Census Bureau labels as poor. Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, in their study "Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor" (http://tinyurl.com/448flj8), report that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly three-quarters have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers."

"Forty-two percent own their homes. Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. What we have in our nation are dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives...The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent....why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940?"

"...A statistic that one doesn't hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8 percent. For married white families, it's 5 percent.

"Now the politically incorrect questions: Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency? Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?"

"...census data "going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery ... showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940"? Is anyone willing to advance the argument that the reason the illegitimacy rate among blacks was lower and marriage rates higher in earlier periods was there was less racial discrimination and greater opportunity?

"No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault. If he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault."

MY OWN INSERTION: MAYBE, MAYBE NOT.

"Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage."

"And finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. It turns out that a married couple, each earning the minimum wage, would earn an annual combined income of $30,000."

MY COMMENT: TRY LIVING ON $30,000 IN THE U.S.! I WONDER IF WILLIAMS HAS TRIED TO DO THIS YEAR AFTER YEAR?

READ the rest of his debatable, thought-provoking article at:
https://www.creators.com/read/walter-williams/02/14/dependency-not-poverty

Please rescue the impoverished, the persecuted, the abused.

Live in the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Christianity and Abuse


Religion gets even worse:
Christian leader Paige Patterson, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and head of one of its seminaries tells a woman to accept abuse from her husband!

So she got black eyes this time.

What did Patterson then say?

Paige Patterson said, "And sure enough, he [husband] did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black.

And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.”

And Patterson said, “Yes ma’am, I am...I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”
--

Patterson was happy because he saw the abusive husband in the back of the church!

This is so immoral and revolting--for him to tell her to accept abuse! Oh but a happy ending NOT. Contrary to what Patterson claims, the end doesn't justify the means...accept abuse so that eventually your husband will change.

We've heard this before in human relations: Waterboard (or other forms of torture) and you will rescue innocent people from terrorists...bomb hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and you will rescue others in the future...refuse equal treatment toward others and you will be blessed by God, ETC. ad nauseam....

American Christians often go off the deep end into unethical, unjust, unequal beliefs and behaviors, BUT Patterson's speech has definitely reached an abyss, a low below low.

How hellish to state that some forms of abuse aren't that bad, and that a woman ought to submit to abuse and obey such a husband and stay in the same house with him.

This sounds like the Muslim university professor here in California who defended the Quran's statement that husbands ought to beat their wives.

When I strongly protested, he explained, ah, but the beating is only a "light" beating, not a harmful one.

Good grief. More and more religion is showing its toxic character. Of course, it has in the past...it's only repeating.

Even a little abuse is far too much!


Stand up against toxic, abusive religion...

And seek the Good, the True, and the Just,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Helping Displaced Families Despite 10 Nations Warring in the Killing Fields of Syria


For 7 years, at least 10 nations have been warring in the killing fields of Syria, each side claiming to be the just and good, and that their bombing, shooting, and destruction are necessary in order to bring peace!

Because of these warring nations over 460,000 humans have been slaughtered, untold millions wounded, over 11 million displaced from their homes. Think of that--over 11 million individuals; over 6 million have become refugees in other parts of Syria, and over 5 million have become refugees in other countries.

Almost 70 % of the population of the nation is in extreme poverty.

What is the answer to all of this?
Rama, 10 lives in a center for Syrian refugees. Photo by Suzy Sainovski

According to the U.S. government for the last several years, it has been to bomb more, shoot more missiles, send more special forces troops, give more weapons and money to Islamic rebels, etc.

And now since there is some evidence that Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the leader of Syria, dropped chlorine gas on fanatical rebels to force them out of their hiding places in cities on the edge of his capital, the U.S. President calls President Assad an "animal," and bombs again Syria, again.

A few months ago, the U.S. "accidentally" bombed civilians, too, BUT of course we aren't "animals."

The folly and absurdity of war.

HOWEVER IN THE MIDST OF THESE KILLING FIELDS, SOME HUMANS ARE BRINGING HOPE:

MCC of the U.S. and Canada are providing food for impoverished Syrians through the Syrian Orthodox Church in Homs, Syria, in Allepo, and elsewhere. "Young adults with the Charity Society for Sustainable Development in Damascus are responding to the needs of displaced families and other vulnerable people."

"If MCC's partners in Syria are not growing weary of doing good, how can we?"
from A Common Place magazine, J. Ron Byler
--

World Vision is also involved in helping the refugees.
Rami, 3 years old, WV photo by Jon Warren

Key points on this new killing field and horrific debacle in the Middle East:

"So the dance goes on. Everyone pretends to have the moral high ground when no one actually does. Everyone pretends to want peace when no one does, while threatening war, which no one wants."

from "Let’s All Do the Cruise Missile Mambo
APRIL 15, 2018 BY ED BRAYTON

"If it was really about saving Syrians from the government killing them, why is the focus only on chemical weapons? A few thousand people have been killed by chemical weapons in that civil war, while hundreds of thousands have been killed by conventional weaponry and we’ve raised not a peep of protest."

"In fact, it was only a few days ago that Trump was saying we were pulling out, leaving the rebels at the mercy of Assad. And if he actually gave a damn about Syrian victims, he would admit them as refugees to this country..."

"Russia and Iran: They both get to pretend to be outraged by this unprecedented attack on Syrian sovereignty when neither one has ever given a damn about sovereignty when it suits their interests (just like us, of course). But in truth, they’re both thrilled that we only bombed a few facilities with almost no one in them."
--

"Russia is backing Assad because they are not willing to give up their warm water naval base there. Iran is backing Assad because of their business dealings and religious affiliation with him. Neither is going to withdraw that support and we know that. And we aren’t willing, nor should we be willing, to go to war over it and make them leave...So it’s all a big standoff where we all pretend to want to fix it but know we can’t."

"So the dance goes on. Everyone pretends to have the moral high ground when no one actually does. Everyone pretends to want peace when no one does, while threatening war, which no one wants. And Americans still need to figure out that we can’t just snap our fingers and make the world the way we want. And when we try to do that, the result is usually a disaster...We don’t need to participate in this dance at all."
by Ed Brayton

Read the rest of the article at:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2018/04/15/lets-all-do-the-cruise-misssile-mambo/#7CjXsCrtiXvuiPz2.99
--

Please write your congressperson to advocate for refugees, and to oppose U.S. money and weapons going to the killing fields. Especially oppose their being given to Islamic rebels.

And donate money to help these precious people of Syria.

Shine the Light Against the Darkness of 10 nations Destroying in the name of Justice.

Daniel Wilcox