Sunday, June 4, 2023


Nihilism of major LIFE STANCES versus Opposing Views

1. Hinduism: ALL that comes about in the cosmos was and is and will be is CAUSED by Brahman.

2. Buddhism: Many different views, some totally deterministic, some emphasizing human creativity and hopeful choice.

2. Greek and some Middle-eastern religions: FATE causes all that happens.

That’s why Oedipus must murder his father even though he doesn’t want to, tries to avoid doing so.

3. Orthodox Judaism: Divided views, depending which version of Judaism is asked.

“The Pharisees held that not all things are divinely predestined, but that some are dependent on the will of man; the Sadducees denied any interference of God in human affairs; while the Essenes ascribed everything to divine predestination ("B. J." ii. 8, § 14; "Ant." xiii. 5, § 9).”

“In an essay entitled "Iggeret ha-Gezerah," Abner of Burgos propounds the Ash'ariya doctrine of predestination, according to which every human act, both in the material and the spiritual life, is predestined. This doctrine, however, was combated by all Jewish thinkers, and especially by Maimonides, who pointed out all the absurdities to which the Ash'ariya were compelled to have recourse in order to sustain their views ("Moreh Nebukim," iii., ch. xvii.).”
“Talmud…asked…God how long he would suffer from his poverty.” [God[ answers “Eleazar's poverty could not be helped, he having been predestined to be poor.”

“…saying of Ḥanina's is, "A man does not hurt his finger in this world unless it has been decreed above" (Ḥul. 7b).

4. Islam: Allah causes all /wills all—predestines all (Qadar).

(Like some versions of Judaism, and most versions of creedal Christianity, IF SOMETHING HAPPENS and EVERYTHING THAT HUMANS DO—all is predetermined by God.

However, there are a minority of Muslim leaders such as in some Shia branches of Islam in history and now who reject this total determinism.

“Naser Makarem Shirazi gives a similar example: They say, “Does God know that so and so at such and such an hour on such and such a day will kill someone or will drink an alcoholic beverage?” If we say, “He does not know,” we have denied God's knowledge. And if we say, “Yes, that person must do this, otherwise God's knowledge will be imperfect,” then, in order to preserve God's knowledge, a person is obliged to sin and obey God!” Shirazi, Naser Makarem (12 May 2015). "The Issue of Predestination and Free Will. God's Knowledge". The Justice of God.

5. Augustinian Roman Catholicism, Reformed, Lutheran, Calvinistic, etc. (most creedal Christians):
They claim as a central doctrine of the Creeds and most theologians based in Augustine/Calvin/Luther that the Trinity predestined/foreordained/willed/caused all that happens.

For example,this is extremely claimed in Luther’s The Bondage of the Will. Luther had first been an Augustinian monk.

6. In contrast, Wesleyan, Quaker, Anabaptist, etc., and Eastern Orthodox Christianity take a very different view: They OPPOSE the hard DETERMINISM of the Augustinian West (Roman Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, etc.)

Eastern Orthodox-- “…these two principles can be at odds one with another. God may always will the salvation of man, but man may not always accept it. Such was the case in the Gospels, when it was said of the Pharisees and the lawyers that “they rejected the will of God for themselves.”

7. Most of Atheism-Naturalism-Materialism very strangely strongly agrees with creedal Western Christianity such as famous leader R.C. Sproul who claimed that Not a single molecule moves in the cosmos but that God planned/willed/ caused it.

The HUGE difference, of course
is atheists claim, NOT that any god caused all of history going back over 14 billion years, But Nature-Cosmos COMPLETELY DETERMINED ALL at the beginning of the Cosmos,
determined at the microsecond of the Big Bang or the Laws of Physics.

For instance, the famous scientist and atheist Sam Harris claims that all actions of all humans, etc. even if the universe repeats a “trillion” times will happen exactly the same.

All humans are “puppets”--our sense of "I" is an illusion--according to Harris, that Reality is like gigantic “tumors all the way down” that force everything to happen in the past, present, and future, at least until the cosmos ceases to exist. Harris states that just like a guy in Texas was forced to commit mass murder from a university tower, so ALL humans are forced by the Cosmos/Big Bang to do what happens.

IN CONTRAST, some life stances OPPOSE DETERMINISM; INSTEAD they STATE that the Cosmos is OPEN to Hope, Creativity, etc.

While there are givens in the Cosmos, in nature and history, such as the Laws of Physics, and that one human can’t be everywhere at once, so is finite and limited, YET
Individual humans can creatively (and hopefully reasonably) make one choice out of many possible ones.

All humans do have moral responsibility and by their moral choices and discoveries can give new creative directions to themselves, and to a finite extent, even nature!


Despite all of the suffering, havoc, disasters, diseases, and destruction in the Cosmos, and many immoral and unjust choices of humans,
There is YET HOPE to counter the horrific tragedies.

--Dan Wilcox

For FB and Blog

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tightrope Wonder, Discarding, After Backpacking

Tightrope Wonder

Precarious life,
To be present here
In this moment
Between birth and death;
Not unknown skyrocketing futures
Or dead-bogged pasts;
More difficult than the highest trapeze
Artist—our brief human
The poised tightrope balance
Of this present



On the way to the town dump
Our junk in the back jostles in the turn.
Dark blue clouds curtain rain down.

I pull onto the miry dirt road
Past tall leaning one-story screens
Where many dark birds and wrens perch

But launch to flight as I pass and reverse.
Backing up my loaded van to trash heaps,
I get out and step through thick hogged mud,

Throw out our old broken stand and chairs,
A rusted bike, worn shirts and old ‘genes,’
Failed hopes and my grouchy frustration;

Yes, and my bulging head off-tilted
With church dogma, loads of heavy tenet,
And too many years of clouded regret.

Driving home—so empty and satisfied.


After backpacking

Half Dome
Granite monolith eoned in time
Glaciated but not destroyed
Majestic time lord
But unaware of anything--
Ever mattered

half done
fragile being decaded in years
ruined and soon inert
temporary time slave
but conscious of the Ultimate--
soon matterless



In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

1st published in Tipton Poetry Journal
and the poetry book, Dark Energy

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

MORAL REALISM: Lying, Stealing, Fornicating, Abusing, Raping, Killing are ALWAYS WRONG!

The end never justifies the means.

To live for MORAL REALISM is to always Seek and Do the Good, the True, the Just.

HOWEVER, then what is a human individual (or government of humans) to do in a CRISIS WHEN faced with only 2 alternative choices and actions and both of them are immoral and unjust?

1. We ought, always, to check, again, for MORE possible choices than the only 2 morally wrong actions! Avoid that EITHER/OR fallacy.

2. IF we humans can’t seem to find a third way to deal with the moral crisis and, thus, feel God has let us down, we ought to reject such a “feeling” as wrong. God is the GOOD. Instead, we ought to, despite our honorable effort, realize we have failed morally whichever moral wrong we do.

3. And, for the future, we ought to spend far more time and effort in figuring out new ways to solve moral conundrums.

4. For instance, I lived and worked in Palestine-Israel where daily (and for hundreds of years in the past), devout religious people--Jews, Muslims, and Christians—continue to make immoral choices based upon the end justifies the means.

Americans (and Europeans and Asians, etc.) do this all the time such as when Americans choose support Trump because they oppose Biden because the latter supports trans, abortion-on-demand, etc.

And we Americans have repeatedly bombed civilians including many thousands of children, because we were certain otherwise worse would happen to us and our soldiers.

Many conscientious religious people even support euthanasia, because we say otherwise, we will be causing terrible suffering,
and we should give healthy teens hormone blockers and distorting surgery because otherwise they will commit suicide,
And we should...
endless actual historical actions justified. A wrong on our part never makes a right.

4. IF I lived when faced with Islamic State or other horrific evil and I fail to find the true good action, I might choose to do one of the wrongs.

HOWEVER, my lie, theft, abuse, etc. would still be wrong.

In the LIGHT,

Dan Wilcox

Thursday, April 6, 2023


1. FIRST AMONG FRIENDS by Larry H. Ingle
3. QUAKERS IN CALIFORNIA: The Effects of 19th century revivialism on western Quakerism by David C. LeShana
4. FRIENDS FOR 300 YEARS by Howard H. Brinton
6. QUAKERS IN CONFLICT: The Hicksite Reformation by Larry H. Ingle

First California yearly meeting of Friends
Gardiner, R. H.: photographer
A group of people stands before Founders Hall at Whittier College (Calif.). [Printed on paper attached to matboard] First California Yearly Meeting of Friends Church. R. H. Gardiner, Arist. [Handwritten] March 1895. [Followed by lists of names from various states.]"

Joel and Hannah Bean, from Iowa Yearly Meeting
College Park Association of Friends

From Friends Historical Library:
"Joel Bean (1835-1914) and his wife, Hannah Elliott Bean (1830-1909), were prominent Quaker ministers in Iowa Yearly Meeting in the mid-nineteenth century when Quaker settlements were expanding in Iowa. Joel Bean was born in Alton, New Hampshire, in 1825, the son of John and Elizabeth Hill Bean, and educated at Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island. He migrated to Iowa in 1853, and taught school at West Branch, Iowa, from 1850 to 1861. In 1859, he married Hannah Elliott Shipley in Philadelphia. Hannah was the daughter of Thomas and Lydia Shipley of Philadelphia. Joel Bean was appointed Clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting in 1867, and he and Hannah traveled in Europe from 1872 to 1873. The Beans opposed the extremes of revivalism, but declined to join the Conservatives in withdrawing from Iowa Yearly Meeting. After their move to California, they joined a group of Friends who were initially affiliated with Iowa Yearly Meeting. They helped to form the College Park Association of Friends. However, Joel and Hannah were deposed as ministers by Iowa Yearly Meeting in 1893 and disowned by them in 1898. This action caused a strong reaction among Quakers outside of Iowa Yearly Meeting, particularly among English Friends. The Beans were subsequently received by New England Yearly Meeting as members and ministers. The Bean Papers consist primarily of the writings and correspondence of Joel Bean, although some material by Hannah Bean is also present. Joel Bean's writings include accounts of the Iowa separations, sermons, religious writings, school lessons, poetry, historical writings, memorials, and personal reminiscences. Over 1600 letters and 57 volumes of diaries
complete the collection"
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

In the Light,
Dan Wilcox

Friday, March 31, 2023

How Republicans and Democrats are so very tragically similar to opposing sides in Germany in the 1920's

What is most scary about the Republicans and Democrats currently dehumanizing, lying about, claiming false charges against (besides that it is uncivil and morally wrong)
is that it is a milder version of what happened in Europe at the start of the 20th century! For instance, this unfair vitriol, hateful rhetoric, name-calling, is very similar to the opposing sides in the democracy of Weimar Germany in the 1920's and 1930's.

John Minchillo AP photo (of just one instance of rightwing versus leftwing immoral and unjust attacks. For a Democratic photo take a look at the riots in Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon that many leading Democrats defended. ETC.

IF You DOUBT this, please read the long biography (based upon his private diaries) of the National Socialist leader Goebbels. Goebbels: A Biography by German historian Peter Longerich, available at Amazon.

In many instances, Goebbels is almost "normal" (meaning like American leaders) in how he acts and presents himself. Take his efforts at raising his children, particularly his difficult little daughter who often defied her daddy!

And in his obsession with being liked by his acquaintances, how insecure he was within himself, (though a genius with a PhD), how he could be very sensitive and sensitive to others, yet could quickly dehumanize his enemies, and feel that he was 'good' in doing so!

All this happened years before the German leaders began to systematically mass murder enemies.

Reject the current political and religious-secular debacles currently ruining the U.S.

Seek, instead, the Light--the Good, the True, the Just, the Kind.

Dan Wilcox

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Nature of Reality; and why I became a Friend

Most of my life, I have been of the Friend-Quaker lifestance.

In the past, in 1967, during my conscientious objector service in a Pennsylvania hospital for emotionally disturbed teens, I regularly attended BackBench young adult meeting in Philadelphia. Later in California, I (and my sweetheart) became members of California Yearly Meeting and later I was a member of Pacific Yearly Meeting.

One of the main reasons I was drawn to Friends-Quakers in 1967, beside commitment to peacemaking, is because of Expectant meeting. In those open open, transcendent meetings, I experienced the Immanence of the Light--the Good, the True, the Just, the Caring.

Besides that day-to-day Friends lifestance, what view of Reality of billions of humans is closest to the truth?
I am not a philosopher, just a rather average guy who reads a lot of books on cosmology, philosophy, and biology and advocates for human rights.

Here's a brief description of the Process view of Reality which I think is true and try to live up to:

#1 All reality is coming about by the everlasting but limited cosmic reality that is becoming. Essential reality is Process influencing matter and energy. This is the view of brilliant thinkers such as philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead.

This cosmic but limited ultimate/transcendent reality--God, the Light--who is far beyond human understanding works toward changing matter and energy and conscious, creative life such as homo sapiens into increasing patterns and forms of beauty, meaning, and purpose. This is also the view of some liberal Jews.

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.

We are living in a universe about 27 billion light-years across, and about 13 billion years old and, according to cosmologists, the cosmos will last more billions of years.

This view aligns well with liberal Quakerism, but most of the technical philosophical explanations are BEYOND my understanding. I'm a relatively average teacher and former mental health worker (who got born with a "why" in his throat;-).

But to function, we need to take a stand somewhere in order to live and create.

However if my speculative understanding is incorrect, what are other--many far more popular--views of Reality exist?

#2 All reality came about by cosmic chance. Seemingly the view of the French biologist Jacques Monod in Chance and Necessity, a powerful book I read a few years back, and the view of the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

My take on this as an average person: I think this view is possible. I guess given cosmic time even the "laws" of nature, math, reason, life, ethics, consciousness could all blip into existence.

#3 All reality came about by a cosmic determinism of meaningless matter and energy which is eternal. Everything is lock step. There are no choices, not for what I supposedly ruminate on having for lunch or whether or not to commit murder or what to choose for my career.

Based on our studying this at university, and for many years since, and many times trying to imagine my "I" as an illusion who is only 'done to' by the cosmos, I think this is one of the least likely views of reality. But the view is very popular these days--sort of an atheistic version of Creedal Christianity.

#4 All reality came about somehow by a temporary, finite, imperfect, even distorted, expression of the perfect eternal Ideal Forms of Platonism.

#5 All reality came about by emergent possibilities in a quantum singularity vacuum or some unknown ultimate reality. But where did the quantum singularity vacuum come from? Here goes "turtles all the way down."
This view seems to posit an eternal physical reality with no "super" reality 'transcending' it.
Humankind is a "fluke," an "accident," a "lucky" break.

#6 All reality came about by an impersonal ultimate reality of cosmic beauty. Scientists such as Albert Einstein stated this was his view, that he thought the impersonal god of Spinoza was true. But this seems similar to a combination of #3 and #4.

The emergent-possibility cosmos isn't meaningless and purposeless, but filled with meaning.
Interesting, but I doubt it.

#7 All reality came about as just one of an infinite number of universes of an infinite multi-verse, the view of some modern cosmologists. What is the ultimate of the multi-verse is unknown or maybe the multiverse itself is ultimate.

Intriguing, but seems too speculative for me. However, I'm not as skeptical as Martin Gardner, one of the co-founders of the modern skeptical movement who wrote a scathing dismissal of this view.

#8 All reality came about by the impersonal Brahma God of Hinduism and some modern New Age leaders such as Ken Wilber with his Integral Theory, and Deepak Chopra, etc.

The impersonal Ultimate, Brahma is conducting a cosmic dance in which it forgets its self and dreams into billions of separated forms including in one minor edge of the universes, thinking humans.

But all is illusion. And all events both good and evil are produced by Brahman. That is why Ken Wilber and other such leaders claim that Brahman caused 9//11, causes all murders, all rapes, etc.

Given that I am a human rights worker from way back, for about 55 years, obviously this isn't my cup of philosophical tea. Also, I still vividly remember as a Gandhi devotee being shocked when a Hindu priest in L.A. tried to persuade me to go to Vietnam to kill (when I was drafted), saying insects are killed all the time in reality.:-(

#9 All reality came about by unknowable factors. Everything beyond and before the Big Bang is such a complete unfathomable mystery that it will probably not ever be solved by finite humans at least not for a very long time.

Allegedly the view of the Mysterians such as the skeptic Martin Gardner, Roger Penrose, etc.

#10 All reality continually comes about by infinite impersonal reality which never had a beginning. No creator god exists. Some forms of Buddhism are atheistic and nihilistic, though other forms are theistic.


What do you think?

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Side Bio Note: My career for many years was as World and American literature and writing teacher after I dropped out of seminary and quit being a youth minister. However, I've also worked driving a caterpillar on a kibbutz farm in Palestine-Israel, driven a chrome truck, and been an assistant manager of a backpacking-camping store.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Inspiring Guest Post about Pete and Chasten's adopted, endangered premature twins

INSPIRING STORY from TODAY, last fall:

from "Pete Buttigieg and husband celebrate their [previously premature and very ill] twins' 1st birthday"
By Liz Calvario

"The couple’s son and daughter, Penelope and Gus, celebrated their first birthday with a cake-filled party. Chasten shared photos of his little ones seated in their high chairs and delightfully eating their mini cakes.

Gus wore a multi-colored printed shirt as he devoured the dessert with his hands. Little Penelope, wearing a pink Hawaiian print shirt, looked off camera after snacking on her portion of the treat.

-- "In November [2021], little Gus got sick and spent three weeks in and out of the hospital. The couple didn’t elaborate on their son’s illness but later shared that he was home and “doing great.”

“After 3 weeks in and out of hospitals, 125 miles in an ambulance, and a terrifying week on a ventilator, Gus is home, smiling, and doing great! We’re so relieved, thankful, and excited for him and Penelope to take DC by storm! Thank you so much for all of the love and prayers,” Chasten tweeted..."

"In October, Pete shared...that it was “most demanding thing I think I’ve ever done.”

“I used to think of 5 a.m. as early. Now, I think of it as naptime if I’m lucky. And yet, I catch myself grinning half the time,” he said.
Adding, “I think the biggest thing that surprised me is just how much joy there is even sometimes in the hard
Liz Calvario
"Liz Calvario is a Los Angeles-based reporter and editor for who covers entertainment, pop culture and trending news..."