Monday, November 30, 2015

Part #4: Life after Death?

Philosopher Hartshorne’s View of Reality: Death and the Question of After Life

For most of us humans, death comes all too soon, to millions of persons even before they even reach 10 years of age.

Of what worth is a tiny brief finite primate life in comparison to the vastness of the universe which is billions of years across?

Charles Hartshorne sought to deal with this deep quandary.

(Recall his complex Process Philosophy, panentheism, which we discussed and reflected on in the first 3 parts of this study.)

Here are 2 key graphics:

“To Hartshorne, a person's life was like a beautiful painting or a poem. It has a beginning and an end, but it exists forever in that those who live on can observe it and benefit from it.”
Beautiful painting? Deep poem?

Or how about the exquisite beauty of the extremely brief life of a Monarch butterfly?

Quality of life doesn’t have to equal length.

Besides the seemingly impossibility of mind surviving its grounding in the brain seems nigh impossible to defy. If the movie projector stops, the very real Academy Award winning film stops. A human “I” is a living process, not a thing. Does not my “I” stop when the billions of my neurons quit?*

And too often the childish literal concepts of the afterlife were an embarrassment to scientists and philosophers who were theists, who wrestled with the great question. Plus, the eternal damnation into Hell for unbelievers in creedal Christianity and Islam was deeply troubling ethically to many.

Probably most of the readers of this blog have heard about the Christian Heaven and Hell most of their lives, so I will only cite a Muslim view:
“Islam teaches that Hell is a real place prepared by God for those who do not believe in Him, rebel against His laws, and reject His messengers. Hell is an actual place, not a mere state of mind or a spiritual entity. The horrors, pain, anguish, and punishment are all real, but different in nature than their earthly counterparts. Hell is the ultimate humiliation and loss, and nothing is worse than it:
“Our Lord! Surely, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed You have disgraced him, and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers.” (Quran 3:192)

“Surely, God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire wherein they will abide for ever.” (Quran 33:64)

Also, since everything happens according to the foreordination of God (called “fate” or “predestination” in Islam), the Muslim afterlife seems as damned horrific as the Augustinian-Reformed one of Christianity. In both cases, before humans are even born, before the universe is created, all humans are predestined to Hell, or in some cases to Heaven:-(

So when Process Philosophers offer a different more scientifically possible hypothesis for life after death, this is accepted by some people avidly.

At first, glance, the idea of being remembered by God for the everlasting future appeals to many of people grasping for hope. They find these metaphysical speculations so much more positive than hellfire or singing praises to God like he is some insecure petty medieval monarch. And the panentheism view is definitely much better than the literal crassness of Muslim men getting 72 virgins and Christians entering through pearly gates.

For my own part, even when I reached an age of critical thinking and abstraction, as much as I hoped for eternal life, the specifics always seemed very vague, and hard to imagine. It was a general hope, not a highly imaged dogmatic belief.

And I certainly rejected the literal description of Hell and Heaven of most Christian leaders. For instance, the brilliant Roman Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas claimed only a limited number of afterlife-humans would look down from Heaven upon the billions of damned humans being tortured in eternal flames including their loved ones and friends, and give God all the praise and glory!

Sick, sick, sick ethically, a horrifically evil doctrine.

Process Philosophy completely rejects such a horrid outlook.
What a wonderfully different hypothesis, that Ultimate Reality remembers us, every detail of our lives forever.

So the theistic philosopher Charles Hartshorne and the brilliant mathematician and thinker Alfred Lord Whitehead
explained in their writings that there isn’t any "subject" aware afterlife,
but rather an objective afterlife. We former conscious ethical entities reside as permanent memories within God’s everlasting process life.

But every philosophical solution, usually has its own problems, right?

This alternative to the traditional understanding of the Heaven and Hell has its own negative aspect.

In the traditional religious view of the afterlife, all wrong will be righted, and justice and mercy and compassion will come to those tragic billions who lived tragic, all too short lives, such as the 3-year-old toddler who is suffering from malnutrition or leukemia.

Think of the billions who suffered in the countless slaughters, plagues, famines, or daily abuse of history, of their all too brief moment under the crushing boot heel of history, under the ruthless indifference of natural selection.

In the new sincere proposal by Hartshorne, Whitehead, and other thinkers of Process Philosophy,
of those who have suffered horrifically
will ever escape the horrors, their suffering. Nothing will be redeemed, only remembered:-(

While all sentient lives will be a permanent memory within God, is that a state to be valued if all the injustices and horrors and sufferings are never rectified!?

Remember, Hartshorne also wrote, “It has a beginning and an end, but it exists forever in that those who live on can observe it and benefit from it.”

As nice as Hartshorne’s image of a person existing like a brief poem sounds, to be remembered, the horrific problem with such a view
is that the vast majority of billions of humans
in the last 100,000 years
don’t get remembered by others even in the present life, not by anyone ever.:-(

As far as the billions of humans living now are concerned or aware, the billions of humans and countless sentient animals of the past NEVER existed. My family members don’t even know anything about our ancestors 3 or 4 generations back, let alone be able to “observe and benefit”!

They didn’t exist so that we "can observe [those past humans] and benefit from [their lives]” (Hartshorne’s phrase).

Once or twice in a generation, an anthropologist (or archaeologist or historian) finds skeletal remains, but even then, no one knows the inner life of that human who existed 60,000 years ago.

On the contrary—think of it--there are millions of recent humans who no one remembers now. For instance, millions of individuals who only lived a hundred or two hundred years ago are erased from human memory already.

There are plenty of faded Brady photographs of soldiers from over 150 years ago in the U.S. War Between the States. The still images are available to us in museums and books, but in many of the pictures the individuals are unknown. No one knows who they were, let alone knowing their deep inner lives. Heck, we don’t even know basic details. Their staring faces look down to us, but no stories are there for us to understand those men and women.

Historians haven't even been able to identify them. On some battlefields in Virginia, unknown corpses lay on the ground unburied even 3 years later:-(

Except for a fading image, all the beauty, poetic or scientific skill and inner life of each person is gone. As well as all the terror, sorrow, and loss.

Let’s say that God does record and remember. Of what help is that to us who live, or to those who are permanently gone?

I realize that Charles Hartshorne was trying to deal with the huge difficulty of how a human’s mind can survive beyond his human brain’s end.

But, as much as one can find keen insights in some of Hartshorne’s philosophical views, his answer that individual humans have no conscious future, that there is no life after death--except as God's permanent memory--seems weak and fraught with sorrow and unredeemable loss.

What do you think?


*A new Danish scientific study in “shows that astrocytes, which are also present in the brain, have responses that are almost as quick as those of the neurons. This, argue the researchers (such as Barbara Lykke Lind of the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen), means that the astrocytes may also play a part in thinking and feeling.”

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lament for 5 Murdered Police Officers in Egypt and Colorado

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Dirge Without Music” from Collected Poems © 1928, 1955 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis.
Collected Poems

And so many more hundreds of thousands of innocent humans recently murdered by religious thugs, Muslim jihadists and Christian rightists and Jewish settlers.

Weeping because of the endless darkness.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

On the 'devil' of Semantics--from Satanism to Theism

Alice wrote...

"...there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —' [Humpty Dumpty]

'Certainly,' said Alice.

'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything...'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'
Through the Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Alice in Wonderland

Consider the current promotion of The Satanic Temple's new ethics:

– "One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
– The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
– One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
– The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
– Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
– People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
– Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word."

These new precepts are marvelous, very good and reasonable, the sort of points that every single human concerned with goodness, justice, and compassion could strongly affirm and practice.

Yes, the precepts represent humanism at its best.

Then why do the supporters of such meaningful ethical statements declare them to be "Satanic"?

What do such humanistic ethics have to do with the selfish ethics from Anton LeVay? For instance, his claim that--

"Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
"Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right."

Note that instead of "compassion and empathy towards all creatures," LeVay's focus is on might makes right, wrath, greed, envy, lust, etc.

Of course, like Humpty Dumpty, Satanists can claim the word "Satanism" means anything they want the word to mean.

But many people will misunderstand. Again, why pick a name, Satanism, which represents the exact opposite of compassion and empathy?

Semantics are such a tough issue, like climbing the moon. Read and understand.

by Shane Bugbee:

"Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple, who first showed up at my door over a decade ago, would fall into the former category. He was a young man, too smart for his own good. He wanted a copy of a book I had republished called Might Is Right. It was a 100-year-old tome, long forgotten by most, with the exception of Anton LaVey, who'd found it in a bookstore as a young man and used it as the basis for The Satanic Bible."

"I asked Anton to write an introduction, and he jumped at the opportunity to introduce the book to the world again. By way of thanks Anton invited me to his home and made me a high priest in the Church of Satan."
Shane Bugbee

Doug Mesner: "I illustrated an edition of Might Is Right,
the text of which LaVey had built
The Satanic Bible from,
and which you published—along
with a forward by LaVey—when
you were running Michael Hunt Publishing."
"And, yes, we are adding to LaVey. LaVey is an excellent
jumping-off point, but his work was a product of its time,
and it’s appropriate to recontexualize it to today’s reality."

"Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible was released in 1969, and contained no indication of the antihuman doctrine alleged by hysterical anti-Satanists."

"I met you, Shane [the interviewer], and you were a priest in the Church of Satan who was conferred with that title by Anton LaVey himself."

Now, don't those remarks sound like the Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan?

Like the Satanic Bible and the book Might is Right?

Like Anton LaVay, Doug Mesner, and Shane Bugbee agree about a lot?

They seem to have a common philosophy and similar bad ethics. LeVay, Mesner, and Bugbee all appear to be for "might is right."

Notice how the official graphics are very similar, too.
There are some differences; read the full interview to see
how Mesner does "recontexualize it to today’s reality."

No where do Mesner and Bugbee deny or diassociate themselves from LeVay's central unethical views, except for "social Darwinism." And even there, Mesner doesn't claim that "social Darwninism" is always wrong, but that only the times have changed.

Yet modern Satanists want people to understand that their view--Santanism--is completely different from the Church of Satan, the Satanic Bible, and Anton LeVay's unethical views.

Yes, like Humpty Dumpty exclaimed, any word can mean exactly what the person in power wants it to mean. Almost all scholars think that words are "empty-buckets" which can carry any meaning including definitions totally contrary to what they meant last year, last decade, last century.

Think of all the changes humans have made to words. For instance, for most people, "free" means that we can make choices, aren't controlled/determined by Fate, Jehovah, or Allah, or the meaningless Cosmos.

Yet, Augustinian-Reformed Christians and almost all Muslims claim "free" means that you only can do what God has foreordained. Their leaders point out that a bullet is "free" because nothing is stopping it from shooting toward its target.

Hello! That isn't "free" in the sense most people mean.

This happened back in the Vietnam War. Words related to war were given new meanings which confused people and caused much destruction. All of this semantic change reminded many people of 1984 by George Orwell where the Machiavellian rulers drastically change what important ethical words mean.

It is very important, too, to remember that words come with heavy historical connotations, and that it takes years for humans to make the transition to a totally contrary definition of a term.

It would seem much better to coin a new word or to use a word not heavily freighted with evil, injustice, slaughter, abuse, etc. like Satanism has been.

Rather than spending hours explaining to people that the new Satanism of the Satanic Temple is different from the Satanism of the Church of Satan, use a more accurate term that clearly explains your worldview. Especially when interviews such as the one referenced are contrary to what the Satanic Temple says are its actual ethics!

Do these unethical statements from LeVay's The Satanic Bible sound like humanistic ones?

"In the closing of the The Book of Satan in The Satanic Bible, LaVey compiled a list of characteristics he endorsed versus those he condemned, adapted from the list found in Might is Right:

Blessed are the strong for they shall possess the earth
Cursed are the weak for they shall inherit the yoke
Blessed are the powerful for they shall be reverenced among men
Cursed are the feeble for they shall be blotted out

Blessed are the bold for they shall be masters of the world
Cursed are the righteously humble for they shall be trodden under cloven hoofs
Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right

Cursed are the vanquished for they shall be vessels forever
Blessed are the iron-handed, the unfit shall flee before them
Cursed are the poor in spirit for they shall be spat upon

Blessed are the death defiant, their days shall be long in the land
Cursed are the gazers toward a richer life beyond the grave, for they shall perish amidst plenty
Blessed are the destroyers of false hope for they are the true messiahs

Cursed are the God-adorers for they shall be shorn sheep
Blessed are the valiant for they shall obtain great treasure
Cursed are the believers of good and evil for they are frightened by shadows...

The Nine Satanic Statements

Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates.
Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.

Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
Satan represents man as just another animal (sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours),
who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development", has become the most vicious animal of all.

Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.[39]

Confusing isn't it?

In the new statement, the Satanists share, "One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason."

But other Satanists like LeVay state,

"Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates,"
"Cursed are the poor in spirit for they shall be spat upon,"
"Blessed are the victorious for victory is the basis for right."

But what in 'hell' does compassion and empathy have to do with the list of the Church of Satan--taking power, not wasting your time with some humans, being indulgent, and getting vengeance?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, November 22, 2015

North to Alaska (with Quaker professor Arthur O. Roberts)

If you are interested in Quaker history and outreach, there is probably not a more intriguing book than Arthur O. Roberts’ famous study of Friends missions to the Eskimos of Alaska in the 1800’s.

It’s a long history, over 550 pages, but well worth the time and effort. I read it many years ago, but still remember the power and inspiration of the tome.

Tomorrow is Growing Old: Stories of the Quakers in Alaska by Arthur O. Roberts. Newberg, Oregon: The Barclay Press, 1978. 567 pages,
Arthur O. Roberts – a Quaker scholar, historian, philosopher, professor at George Fox University, editor of Quaker Religious Thought, recorded minister, poet, and author.

“He later studied briefly at Harvard and earned a PhD at Boston University. It was while in Boston he met a fellow student by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. “It was a sunny day and we sat outside and chatted,” Roberts says of the encounter. “I asked him what he was going to do next, and he said, ‘Go back to Atlanta to help out dad.’”—Sean Patterson

I checked online at Amazon to see how much money Tomorrow would cost, and was shocked to discover that it is out of print, and is priced $195! Whew! (In the past when I wanted to read an out-of-print book, it was going to cost $285 from the University of Michigan. But instead I finally found the book at a used book store for $30.) And Tomorrow isn't available through any Quaker Bookstore.

For those who love history, especially of the Friends, but you don’t have sacks of gold nuggets hidden next to your copy of The Journal of George Fox, fear not, the fine book is available for study at university libraries including UCLA, California State University-Fullerton, Yale, Harvard, Swarthmore College, Fairbanks North Star Borough Library, Earlham College, etc.

While you are contemplating where to find this great study in Quaker history and outreach or planning to dig deep into your gold card, check out this great old country song by Johnny Horton,
“North to Alaska.”
(It’s one of my favorite old goldies.)

Or read an excerpt from my speculative/science-fiction novel, The Feeling of the Earth, whose central characters are Quakers.

The Feeling of the Earth, Chapter 12 North to Alaska

The Feeling of the Earth is available from Barnes & Noble, local bookstores, and Amazon.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Islam and the Question of Sharia Law

These 3 statistical graphs show
how dangerous and wrong Islam
is and why all those
concerned with truth, justice,
and goodness need to oppose
it in all its various

Of course, a thorough reading of very bad
current events going on in Islamic countries
and in Palestine/Israel, and in France show
the horror in detail--
persecution, imprisonment, denial of
freedom of religion, speech, and the press,
subjugation of women, little girl
female mutilation, stabbings,
honor killings, executions, crucifying,
bombings of civilians and of other
Muslim groups, and so forth.

At the same time as our dedicated opposition to the horrific religion, we need to be compassionate, generous, and helpful in helping individual Muslims escape this false destructive way of life.

And we need to be aware that there are some progressive Muslims who do reject Sharia Law, reject the eternal perfection of the Qur'an, reject the unjust and immoral actions of Muhammad, reject jihad, etc. We ought to enlist their aid.

Please write letters for human rights groups, share your resources with aid agencies who are helping refugees escape from the slaughter, and offer a better hope than the false deceptions of Muhammad and Muslim leaders since.

There are many good books on Islam. I've read too many to list. One of the most personable and powerful is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Her autobiography is startlingly suspenseful and emotionally impassioned. She shares of her growing up as an African Muslim, her forced marriage, and her escape to the Netherlands. There she tried to oppose the wrongs of Islam, especially the many Islamic honor killings in that society, but she was persecuted for her stand for freedom.

Muslim women in the secular society of the Netherlands

Eventually, she moved to the U.S. The powerful book is in many ways so different from the fictional but accurate view of Islam in A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (the novel about a girl growing up Muslim in Afghanistan). But both books are so tragically similar in showing how horrific life is in Islamic countries and even in sections of secular countries where mullahs hold sway.

Because of the craziness and evil of Islam in her life, Ayaan has rejected religion. She has to have body-guards to protect her from the millions of Muslims who think she should be killed for rejecting Islam.
Outstanding book.

Live in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, November 20, 2015

"The Grinch and the Grouch," a Friendly Christmas Story

Heard the story of a modern Quaker mother telling her bright young son how important reading is?

The mother helped her child onto her lap and asked, “Remember when we read The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr.Seuss?”

“Yes!” and the small boy grinned. Christmas was one of his favorite vacation days along with 4th of July. Little did he know that originally Quakers didn’t celebrate Christmas or any other holy days.

“Well…” said his mother, while he squirmed a bit trying to get more comfortable on her lap, “that’s more than a deep 'holy' water in the ground— “

“Mommie, you're so funny.”

"Guess what, there’s another writer who’s funnier than the Dr. His name is the Grouch, not the Grinch! The Grouch Marx said, ‘Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.’”

The boy got a confused look on his face, then burst out laughing.

His Friendly mother's eyes twinkled like stars, “So that’s why we also ask questions of each book we read, especially religious ones. We want the Light, not all that darkness."

He grinned wide, pondered, and then exclaimed, “Yeah, I remember, because of all that dark dog, Ma." ;-)

The mother herself laughed uproariously. Later, while her son took his daily nap, she pondered, Could warm family times, even ridiculous humor, be worthship?

Look up!

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Live the Light for Khalida

...and So Many Millions of Other Suffering Humans.

c photo by Mary Kate Macisaac, WorldVision

from World Vision:

“I loved school. I was learning. I wanted to learn how to write. I loved it.”
— KHALIDA, age 8

"Khalida lives in a cement stall once used by farmers to sell their vegetables and chickens at the market. More than 100 children and their families live in the market place without proper sanitation, running water, or electricity."

"Once living in neighborhoods in middle-class suburbia, millions of children and their families now seek shelter in tented settlements or abandoned and unfinished buildings in neighboring nations overwhelmed by refugees."

"Khalida’s days are filled with caring for her two younger siblings, as well as cleaning and cooking. Her father, slain by militants in a recent upsurge of violence, has left her mother unable to function."

By Sevil Omer

But Light shines in the darkness...

"Students enjoy class in a new literacy center, a joint education project of UNICEF and World Vision in Raijab." ©2014 Ludwig Rauch/World Vision)

Four risks that children face:

"Children are susceptible to malnutrition and diseases brought on by poor sanitation, including diarrheal diseases like cholera.
Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they labor in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay."

"Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Without adequate income to support their families and fearful of their daughters being molested, parents — especially single mothers — may opt to arrange marriage for girls, some as young as 13."

"Between 2 million and 3 million Syrian children are not attending school. The U.N. children’s agency says the war reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children."

"Syrians fleeing conflict need all the basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, health assistance, shelter, and household and hygiene items."

"12 million Syrians have fled their homes because of conflict; half are children.
4 million Syrians are refugees; most are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
More than 700,000 Syrian refugees and other migrants risked their lives this year to travel to Europe." Photo ©2014 Elias Abu Ata/World Vision
- See more at:

"About 630,000 refugees have settled in Jordan...About 80,000 live in Za’atari, a camp near the northern border with Syria, and about 23,700 live in another camp, Azraq, where World Vision set up much of the water and sanitation system."

"Syrian refugee boys take turns at a water tap stand to drink water or to wash their hands. World Vision installed water taps in Azraq refugee camp to provide clean, safe water to more than 10,000 resident refugees."
©2014 Elias Abu Ata/World Vision

Help bring safe drinking water to Syrian kids like this:

Live the Light for Khalida (and so many others),

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nietzsche and the Nazis, a powerful documentary, and the Islamic State

Be sure to see Nietzsche and the Nazis by lecturer Stephen Hicks, a powerful documentary which shows how philosophers such as Fredrich Nietzsche in the 19th century laid the intellectual structure for the development of Nazi Germany in the 20th. And of how the leading Nazis often quoted Nietzsche and followed many of his key beliefs about what humans ought to become. That led to the "Triumph of the Will," the Holocaust, and World War II.

But what could the Islamic State dedicated to Allah have in common with the famous atheist philosopher Nietzsche and Nazi Christian Germany?

A strange case of history and similar philosophy and political action...

First, many Muslim leaders such as the Islamic Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, avidly supported Hitler and Nazi Germany. The photograph below shows him meeting with Adolph Hitler in Germany in in 1941.

Second, there are many key agreements between the philosophy of the Islamic State and Nazi Germany.
"...Long-term, generalized conflicts are always about abstract principles in collision…Terrorism is first a mindset—committing to a cause that includes a willingness to kill anonymous others indiscriminately..”

From “How to Tame Religious Terrorists” by Stephen Hicks, PhD., November 14, 2015

Let us hold all humans in the Light
and work for peace and justice and compassion
that this time of darkness will pass away,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Qur'an, Sura 8:12 OR "Where Were You When the World Stopped..." To Paris in the Light

by Alan Jackson

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that [November] day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in [France]?

Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?

Did you burst out with pride for the [blue, white, and red]
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

Hold France in the Light,

Friday, November 13, 2015

Help Stop Forced Child Marriage in Burkina Faso

ALERT from Amnesty International:

"Girl Forced into Marriage


Maria was just 13 when her father forced her to marry a 70-year-old man who had five other wives. When she resisted, he told her: “If you don't go to join your husband, I will kill you.”

Across Burkina Faso, thousands of girls and young women like Maria are being forced into early marriage. This has to stop.

Write a short letter to Burkina Faso's Justice and Human Rights Minister, urging him to protect girls and young women from forced marriages.

After you've written that letter, please also take a moment to write a short solidarity letter or postcard to the young women and girls of Burkina Faso, letting them know that you are taking action for their human rights. All the information you'll need can be found in the case sheet and sample letter below.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In Honor of Those Who Suffered in the Past, Work for Peace NOW!

by Shane Claiborne

"One of my favorite Veterans (other than my dad of course) is Charlie Liteky.

In 1968 Charlie Liteky was given the highest award in the US, the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson. In the movie, "Forrest Gump", they dub over Charlie to put Tom Hanks in as he is given the award.

What is not as well known is that in 1986 Charlie joined some of the most decorated veterans in the US as they returned their Medals of Honor and renounced all war.

Charlie and I got to be in Iraq together in 2003 with the Iraq Peace Team.

One of the things he taught me is that veterans often know the horrors of war better than anyone. We can see it in the suicide rate (one a day for soldiers, 22 a day for veterans) and in the rate of homelessness and addiction of vets (there are 50,000 homeless veterans).

When we fight for peace, we are fighting for them. We honor the men and women in uniform by trying to put an end to war. In Iraq, I remember Charlie holding a sign while we were there that said:
"I hate war as only a Veteran can."

It reminded me of the words of Ernest Hemingway: "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead."

Let's commit ourselves today, as many folks celebrate "Veterans Day" -- to honor the infantry and the dead by committing to build a world without war.

In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen."

by Shane Claiborne


My response:
May we all remember that the best honor we can do for those who suffered in wars of the past is to work for peace NOW. Vote for candidates who will stop funding Islamic rebels, stop supporting undemocratic governments, stop sending our young adults into quagmires where every side is doing wrong.

For instance, why are we supporting the Islamic government of Afghanistan which supports Sharia Law? Just this week, Afghans stoned a young woman to death again! Most government leaders there oppress women, support punishment of Afghans who reject Islam.

Let's start a new movement in support of Martin Luther King's ideals. Be a peacemaker, not a warmaker.

And give and help those veterans who are still suffering from the past.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Part #3: Is God Omnipotent?


Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Rather shockingly, philosopher Charles Hartshorne writes that's correct.

Hartshorne explains in his books such as Omnipotence and other Theological Mistakes, this severe misunderstanding by most Christians and Muslims is the cause of many tragic problems in theism.

The omnipotence doctrine is emphasized by Roman Catholic, Reformed, and Islamic theologies and is traceable all the back to many Greek philosophers who thought of perfection as totally unmoved, not changing, not even experiencing, not suffering, etc.

In contrast, Hartshorne suggests that becoming is better than being! Relational changing is more perfect than immutability.

According to the view of philosophers such as Hartshorne, God is goodness in process, is in relationship with everything that exists.

God is transcendent, but also is immanent, is growing, advancing in relationship to the cosmos, matter and energy, and finite conscious beings such as humans.

Absolute power, absolute immutability can't live in relationship.

But the real God is relational, strongly opposes evil and works against it in all of its many forms. God suffers with all in existence who suffer; God empathizes deeply, remembers and never forgets.

But even though God is completely goodness in becoming, God can’t force the whole cosmos to become good. Force by its very nature isn't relational but rather power used against others. That's why even God can't make any particular group of mass murderers like ISIS on a tiny sphere in the Milky Way to stop massacring.

God can't change the universe or any conscious beings in it--Except by persuasion.

How does that happen? How has that happened?

God influences existence toward truth, justice, and goodness through interaction with each conscious species and influences the rest of natural world through gradual development.

God “persuades” the universe toward the good, the true, the just, the beautiful.

In Hartshorne’s view of reality, what he calls panentheism, (also termed process philosophy), there is no room for an omnipotent/sovereign determiner like in traditional Christian and Islamic theology, where God is a meticulous foreordainer/controller who plans every flood, mass starvation, black plague, genetic defect, disease, rape, and slaughter. There is no omnipotent god who causes every slight mistake, such as an individual typing the wrong key on a computer or dropping a can.

Traditional creedal thinkers emphasize God is so omnipotent that not even a molecule moves but God moves it. According to Martin Luther, God works evil in most humans! Humans are the axe that God wields in life:-(

Not so! argues Hartshorne.

In drastic contrast, Hartshorne emphasizes that God is relational with existence in a vaguely similar way that a human is in relation to the cells of his body. A human can influence his body by good food, exercise, meditation, but he can’t make a particular cell do exactly what he wants.

But Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders and the Greek philosopher Epicurus ask, “Then why call him God?”

And modern cynics ask, “Of what good is such an unpowerful god?

While panentheism sounds good to many concerned humans that God doesn’t do accidents, tragedies, and horrific massacres,
there is a HUGE HOWEVER--

But then God doesn’t do miracles either—no sudden resurrections, no cancers cured, no paralyzed individuals suddenly up walking and leaping, no help from God for us to do well on a university final exam or job interview, or our team score a seemingly impossible last second touchdown in the Super Bowl....

Again, as Epicurus, asked, "Then why call him God?"

People who dismiss Hartshorne’s (and Whitehead’s, Cobb’s, Williams’) view of God, ask, what good is a deity who isn’t all powerful, who can’t or won’t perform miracles for us?

The process philosophers respond that it is true that a God who is becoming, who is in process, who is primarily relational, a God who isn’t in absolute control of everything doesn’t provide the absolute security of Augustine’s, or Aquinas’, or Calvin’s God that millions of humans want.

However, keep in mind, that then God also doesn’t ever appear to be demonic and horrific.

There is no God who foreordained billions of conscious beings to eternal damnation for his own glory.

No God who majors in hurricanes, cancers, and all actions of evil like the John Pipers and Munammads of humanity worship.

Besides, where is the evidence of the God of omnipotence?

Where’s is the evidence for any miracles?

Any evidence that God caused the tsunami that slaughtered over 250,000 Asians in only a few hours?

Where is the evidence that God was on either/or any number of sides in the Great War or the Vietnam War or now in the Syrian Civil War?

But most spiritual and religious people in history and now, much prefer the traditional understanding of God--full of all of the omnis, the ultimate security.

They think God (incomprehensible, to the rest of us, of course) has picked them alone—their elect group, nation, religion—especially and only!

All other humans aren't IN. Mostly, the chosen ones think of everyone else as foreordained reprobates, workers of iniquity, enemies of God to be opposed and defeated. The philosopher Erice Hoffer explains this outlook so well in his book, The True Believer.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Part #2: Toward a Skeptical Worldview of Hope—God as Becoming

Being and/or Becoming, that is the question…
(to misquote the Bard).

What is the term “God” at a basic level but the Good with an additional exclaimed, “OH!”

Who is/was/will-be/does/becomes?

Before launching into the second part of this series on God, which will deal with philosophers’ reasoning about God such as that of Professor Charles Hartshorne’s analytical speculation on the nature of Ultimate Reality, here's a few introductory notes.
(IF you don’t want to be bored with the important introduction, skip DOWN to SECTION #2: CHARLES HARTSHORNE.)


I suppose it goes without saying (but I will type it;-) that we finite educated primates have taken on a seemingly impossible task, sort of like one human swallowing the wide ocean whole--hook, line, and sinker;-)

We who only have a lifespan of about 70-80 years in developed countries show observation, ingenuity, creativity, and complicated thinking. But usually it also includes much hubris.

Think of various religious spokespersons now who claim the founders of their religion knew in detail what God was doing before the Big Bang, yet they excuse their founding leaders for horrific ethics-- burning people at the stake, enslaving millions, and so forth--claiming that the thinkers were only believing, behaving and doing like most other humans in their time period! The prime example, of course, is the intellectual Reformed religion and its founders John Calvin, John Knox, Martin Luther, and Hudrych Zwingli.

Who are we to think that we can understand and explain Reality, let alone Ultimate Reality? Heck, the existence of Homo sapiens has only occurred in the last second of the finite existence of one minuscule planet in a very small solar system on the edge of one of billions of galaxies. Let’s not even speculate on the multi-verse.

“Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them. It’s not our fault—the spans of time in human history, and even more so in natural history, are so vast compared to the span of our life and recent history that it’s almost impossible to get a handle on it. If the Earth formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm—1 second. And if human history itself spans 24 hours from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ.”
Tim Urban
TIME By Wait But Why

Human insight and understanding are on a long trajectory from basic self and natural awareness of early humans to the present when scientists understand enough of astronomy, complex math, an innovative technology to send a probe all the way to the dwarf planet Pluto, a journey which took almost 10 years.

“The New Horizons mission has taken what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It's why we explore -- to satisfy our innate curiosity and answer deeper questions about how we got here and what lies beyond the next horizon."

FAR BEYOND THAT—is the comprehending and understanding of the ultimate nature of existence.
What happens in the essence of reality?
What took place before the Big Bang of the universe?
What will happen after humans become extinct?
After our cosmos ceases to exist?

Or for that matter who can explain exhaustively the nature of the Cosmos right now? Cosmologists are working on the seemingly infinite task. We don’t yet understand dark matter or dark energy and so much else.

But humans are in a process of becoming. As mentioned before, think how far Homo sapiens have come since they first discovered fire, math, abstract thought, and reasoned speculation.

Since we humans are a self-aware, conscious, rational, ethical species, even though we understand so little, we need to think about meaning and purpose in order not to lapse back into only instinctive responses in our brief journey of living. Every day, every moment we make choices--

Let us THINK!

A a person who questions everything, including her own conclusions, all the time. She craves knowledge and understanding, so she loves bumping into people and ideas that challenge her assumptions. A skeptic views disagreements as opportunities to refine her knowledge and understand more today than she did last night.
Paul Mahan

“speculation (n.)
late 14c., "intelligent contemplation, consideration; act of looking," from Old French speculacion "close observation, rapt attention," and directly from Late Latin speculationem (nominative speculatio) "contemplation, observation," noun of action from Latin speculatus, past participle of speculari "observe," from specere "to look at, view" (see scope (n.1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary

skeptic: related to skeptesthai "to reflect, look, view"
Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found. [Miguel de Unamuno, "Essays and Soliloquies," 1924]
“The extended sense of "one with a doubting attitude" first recorded 1610s.”

“Meaning "pursuit of the truth by means of thinking" is from mid-15c. Disparaging sense of "mere conjecture" is recorded from 1570s.”


First, the essential nut of God without even the shell:

Second, Charles Hartshorne answers Epicurus' striking questions with his own complex philosophy of God reduced to a poster:

And that's only the beginning:-)


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox