Friday, April 29, 2016

Responding to Blogger Neil Carter: "Are Human Beings Fundamentally Wicked?"

Today in an important article, "Are Human Beings Fundamentally Wicked?" Blogger Neil Carter wrote,
"A realistic humanism will take into account both our capacity for doing wonderful, amazing things as well as our corresponding ability to do things which are despicable."

I responded:
Thanks for your very positive article (in the midst of so much negative, demeaning, even grievously, harmful media, books, and magazines from a wide variety of worldviews).

A couple days ago, writers and bloggers got so negative, I seriously considered giving up on Internet dialog.

But you've made me a believer again (in the Web:-).

One negative note:

Your title sums up too much of Christianity,

especially the horrific creedal doctrine of Original Sin.

I finally gave up on the Christian religion several years ago
(after over 55 years as a committed Christian).

Churches here, including my relative's church keep putting their central focus on teaching book-after-book
of Augustinian-Reformed theology, finally preaching Matt Chandler's
wildly popular book, The Explicit Gospel.

In the book, Chandler states that infants are "in essence, evil."

In the very first chapter, he claims that God primarily created humans for himself, for his own "glory."

Then there is God's foreordination of most of us billions to eternal damnation:-( That's, also, for God's own glory. Very strange.

And according to lots of Christian leaders, the God of Jesus Christ has a secret hidden will that wills all rapes and murders and slaughters! Whatever happens is God's will no matter how destructive, how evil.

Yes, this almighty God has created the vast majority of humans for the sole purpose of torturing them forever "for his own glory."


Doesn't this Christian God, indeed, sound like the negative description of God by Richard Dawkins?

The Christian God is "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Yet incredibly this is the "Christianity" which is being promoted by multi-millions of Christians.

Chandler is the minister of a church in Texas with 10,000-plus members and his book is being taught across the U.S. in thousands of churches, even in at least one Quaker meeting. They even put a Chandler video up on their meeting website:-(

And millions of other Christian leaders are claiming this theological obscenity is the Truth.

I know you are aware of all of this, since you got your theology degree at a Reformed seminary,
and have written in depth against Timothy Keller's theology,
but your title reminded me of what I have been delivered from:-)

Keller's book ought to have been titled The UnReason of Our God.

And since, you also wrote that we humans do have an "ability to do things which are despicable," and you write, repeatedly, that you are for humanism, compassion, and empathy, I gather you are aware that many others besides Christians hold to destructive views.

Maybe, you might consider changing the title of your blog from the negative "Godless in Dixie" to something positive like "Humanist in Dixie."

For instance, lots of atheist leaders are claiming we human beings have no choice, but are "puppets, "meat computers," "bags of chemicals," "tumors all the way down," and other demeaning terms.

And they state that ethics are subjective preferences, that slavery, rape, slaughter are no more wrong than not liking a beverage or a color:-(

To misquote a famous peace song by Pete Seeger:

"Where have all the humanistic leaders gone?"

Fighting against the Ocean of Darkness,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Our Lack of Sensitivity and Empathy for Others

Looking back, especially, on the last 30 years of public discussion, debate, and argumentation, it seems that the chief failing of most of us humans is our lack of sensitivity and empathy for others.

Of course, this is probably the chief failing of homo sapiens generally throughout history. The harsh unfair rhetoric of the bitter 1800 Presidential contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson comes immediately to mind. It, like many others, was filled with ad hominem, distortion, etc.

Or consider the failure of Israelis and Palestinians to empathize with each other.

But rather than dwell on the past, or even the current rash, demeaning political and social debacles in the United States and other countries around this swirling globe,
I will give one brief personal encounter from my own life.

My career consisted of trying to get thousands of 14-to-17-year-old teenagers interested in the significance of their high schools' required literature courses.

Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.

So, not only did I employ all the motivations, skills, and whistles that I had learned from my university classes and the methods used by the amazing teachers who had taught me, I--being of a hilarious sort by nature--also used many funny jokes, puns, and stories to help make those heavy textbook tomes as user-friendly as possible.

But a few times, I spoke before I considered all the real-world ramifications of the humorous comments I was making.

For instance, I used to tell a joke about a guy named Al Alzheimer not understanding the thematic point of a short story we were studying.

One day, a somber 9th grader on left side of the class raised her hand.

I wondered why she hadn't laughed. Most teens did.

"Mr. Wilcox, I don't think your joke about a person being named Al Alzheimer is funny. Because my dear grampa suffers from Als Alzheimers. It's very sad, not funny at all."

I felt regretful and apologized and still feel sad about my callous remark that day.

I realized when I had made that joke I wasn't being fully aware, nor sensitive. At the time I knew little about dementia and Als Alzheimers, and didn't know anyone suffering from such mental illness.

My harm wasn't intentional. But that was no excuse.

Tragically, much of the modern invective, obscene cursing, demeaning references, and false statements that pollute the media and discourse are very intentional and cruelly meant.

I don't know how to help stop such intentional harm.

In contrast, our 9th graders were taught the dangers of connotative attacks, informal fallacies, and other forms of propaganda. In debate, courtesy and respect were watchwords.

So why do Christians, Muslims, and atheists, lawyers, business leaders, political spokespersons (many of them with PhD's), and so many others fixate and obsesses on exactly those harsh forms of miscommunication? I don't know.

But my limited focus here is on those of us who inadvertently fail to empathize with others who we meet, and how we often forget to intentionally be sensitive to them.

Being sensitive and empathetic to the tired grocery clerk, the bad driver in the right lane, the harsh critic, all of the political and ideological leaders is very difficult.

It gets even harder to be empathetic and benevolent toward enemies and criminals as Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out.

Yet King spoke of how empathy for racists is very important! He emphasized that even after he was attacked by a racist during one of his speeches.

Yes, that is our calling as ethical beings-- to be aware, to be sensitive, to be emphatic,

To live in communion with others in the Light.

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Prisoner of Conscience Gets 3 Years in Jail for One Word Against Islam

Egyptian Poet Fatima Naoot Gets 3-year Jail Sentence for ‘Insulting Islam’


In Egypt, "Poet Fatima Naoot was sentenced today to three years in prison and a 20,000LE fine, found guilty of “contempt of religion”:

Photo from Poetry International.

"According to Ahram Online, Naoot goes to prison immediately and must appeal from there.

Naoot was charged not for her poetry, but for a Facebook post from October 2014. That’s when she described the Eid Al-Adha’s tradition of slaughtering sheep as the “greatest massacre committed by human beings.”

During questioning, Naoot, a former candidate for parliament, denied that her aim was to insult Islam. Naoot argued instead, Ahram Online reported, “that humans justified their lust for killing and enjoying the smell of cooking game by attempting to bestow a divine meaning to their actions.”

Naoot was convicted under Article 98, which states: “Whomever exploits religion in order to promote extremist ideologies by word of mouth, in writing or in any other manner, with a view to stirring up sedition, disparaging, or contempt of any divine religion or its adherents, or prejudicing national unity, shall be punished with imprisonment between six months and five years, or the payment of a fine of at least EGP 500.”

“I’m not sad about the sentencing as I don’t care about going to jail. I’m sad that the efforts of reformists have been wasted,” Naoot said, according to Middle East Online.

The conviction comes just two weeks before a retrial for novelist Ahmed Naji and editor Tarek al-Taher, charged with offending public morals.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information issued a statement today asserting that “the recent surge in the prosecution of opinion makers comes in conjunction with a fierce security campaign launched by security bodies against freedom of opinion and expression, with the aim of narrowing the overall climate of freedom of opinion and expression...hostility to freedom of expression as well as press freedom, especially that about 59 journalists have remained in prison so far.”


Stand up for those who are persecuted, attacked, imprisoned, slaughtered by Islam,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, April 17, 2016

How to Fall Into Blessing

On the mountainous Big Sur coastline 3 months ago, I ran up a steep blacktopped incline from the State campground.

In a huge hurry, I rushed to cross over California Highway 1, between speeding vehicles, to our parked Toyota Sienna on the other side.

Preoccupied, I didn't spot loose gravel, failed to remember the number one rule of hiking, keep an eye on the ground.

Suddenly, my feet flew out from under me, my knees bashed into the hardened blacktop, then the camera (around my neck) and my chest hit.

Lastly my rigid arms and hands smashed into the highway and my neck was jerked forward wrenching it, giving me a headache.

But instinctive action and my camera had stopped me from getting a concussion.

Today, I still have wide scars on my knees and vivid bruising. My knees look like Rudolph's nose.

But thankfully the pain and ache are gone.

And the broken Cannon camera.

Yes, a dangerous, though not serious, accident
because of haste (makes waste!) and lack of attention.

A bad fall.


What's intriguing is this morning we were listening to a speaker talk of their efforts to help malnourished children in Nicaragua, and how they were going to conduct a silent auction of donated items.

Suddenly, I remembered my expensive telephoto lens back in my van.

What a blessing that would be for someone who could use it. Then the funds would go to the orphans in Nicaragua.

What a way to turn my bad accident, a negative experience into a blessing for those impoverished children.

I hurried out to my van and got the large lens and caps.
(Oops, hurrying again).

A blessed morning; not only did I hear great encouraging talks
and rousing folk music about how to turn negatives into positives,
I learned specifically how to turn a fall into a rise.

Yes, How to fall into blessing.

Of course, this was a minor accident, and my giving a lens an easy action.

But it's a new start for me.

Don't waste your accidents, disappointments, and heartaches.

Look and reflect what you might do to turn your negatives around
for even a little good for others.

In more severe, more tragic events,
it would be much harder to
fall into blessing.

Yet even in the worst of tragedies, there are victims who have turned
their horrific experiences into blessings for others.

Even in great loss,

Even in concentration camps,

Even when stricken with cancer.

How about us?

Especially when dealing with daily irritations, minor problems--
the things that are so easy to complain about and to worry over.

Are we going to focus on regret, worry,
and loss or turn
bad events into blessings for others?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How Our Generation Got Lost

"There’s the known. And there’s the unknown. And what separates the two is the door, and that’s what I wanna be."*
Jim Morrison of The Doors

After their Celtic Pagan wedding in June 1970 in which she and Jim Morrison wed in the summer of 1970,
Patricia explained, [It] "is a blending of souls on a karmic and cosmic plane that has an effect on future incarnations of the two involved: death does not part, and the vow taken is "forever in the Goddess’s sight."

They stood inside a circle during which a little of their blood was drawn and it was mixed with wine and then drunk by them.
However, they never filed for a legal marriage license.

A few months before, Patricia had told Jim she really loved him. And he told her he loved her.

Except for the false and superstitious Paganism, this ethical emphasis upon monogamy and permanence sounds so positive, so loving...

But it wasn't.

Like so many actions and events in the 1960's to the present, talk is cheap, actions speak much louder than words.


Kennealy wrote that she became pregnant from Morrison after he pulled out her diaphragm.

Jim was most cordial as they drank at the hotel bar, but whenever Patricia tried to direct the conversation toward her pregnancy, he skated away.

Again he dodged Patricia, telling her twice on the phone that he would see her but never did, spending time with another friend instead.

In August 1970, Patricia talked with him during a break in his trial, "I know it’s not exactly the best time and place to ask you to deal with this, with the trial and all but the fact remains, it happened and now—"

Jim smiled awkwardly and said, "We’ll manage."

"Listen, I’m not exactly thrilled by the idea either, you know. But you happen to be the only man I ever considered good enough to father a child of mine, and now it’s come to pass and I don’t know what to do. I do think you owe me a bit more than your checkbook."

Jim glanced at her, then away. "If you have that baby, it’ll ruin our friendship. A baby isn’t going to change my life at all, but it would alter yours tremendously, forever."

"I could take it to court."

"And I would deny the charges..."

"I can't believe you said that." By now, tears were streaming down her face.

"Well, what did you expect me to say?"

"I don't know, goddamn you! I suppose it makes no difference that it's our baby, yours and mine not yours and Pamela's."

[Jim was sleeping with both at the same time, plus carrying on one-night-stands with groupies and brief affairs with other girls he met. One night he ripped rings off from the hands of a girl he had taken back to his motel room.
When Pamela, suddenly, showed up at his door demanding to know who he was with, he told Pamela, "Look, these are for you."
And he handed the other girl's ring to Pamela.]

"I--no, no difference. I won't support a kid. Any kid. I can't afford it and I don't want the responsibility."

"The only way you can't afford it is emotionally," she shot back at him.

"Well now, wouldn't it be better to have a kid with somebody who wanted to be its father?
It's really up to you. If you have the kid, it'll be your kid. If you want the abortion, I'll pay for it and I'll come to New York to be with you when you have it. I promise I'll come."

[He also had at least 20 other paternity suits against him. But he said] "You know, this subject has never come up with me before."

Patricia exploded. "Don't give me that bullshit! I know it has. I've been told..."

"No, no it's not true, none of it--it's never happened before."

The first week of November Patricia Kennely entered a hospital in New York and Jim's child was aborted in the 20th week of fetal development.

Contrary to his promises, "Jim was not present and he did not call."

"Well, I just got into town about and hour ago
Took a look around , see which way the winds blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows

Are you a lucky lady in the City of the Night?"

"L.A. Woman" by J.M./Doors

At a concert in Florida, he had yelled, "...ain't nobody gonna love my ass?'re all a bunch of fuckin' idiots! you're all a bunch of slaves...I'm talkin' about love...I wanna change the world..."

One of his defenders at his obscenity trial in Florida said, "...I mean for all the obscenity, he was really telling the audience,
"Fuck" meant love...and to love each other."

Jim told reporters, "This trial and its outcome won't change my style, because I maintain that I did not do anything wrong."

"And then he fought so bitterly with Pamela that she left him--flew off to Paris to be reunited with her rich French count."

Days past "spent in bars and the nights were passed in the Strip hotel, where he told a buddy, ...look at this!"

"Jim was hanging from the balcony railing outside his room in the Hyatt House Hotel, ten stories above the Sunset Strip. He had been drinking and snorting coke."

He worried about LA cops who "...are almost fanatical about in believing in the rightness of their cause. They have a whole philosophy behind their tyranny."

Excerpts from No One Here Gets Out Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman

Jim "devoured Friedrich Nietzsche," who wrote of Dionysian excess, the uber-man, and going "beyond good and evil." Morrison would often speak of Nietzsche and include his ideas in his writings and poems.

A young Frenchman, Gilles Yepremian, came across Morrison being evicted from a Parisian hotel...

“He was totally drunk. Nobody recognized him...Jim saw some policemen and he rolled down the window and shouted, ‘Fuck the pigs!’, so the driver kicked us out."

"It was no secret that Paris was awash with heroin, nowhere more so than in the rock clubs."

“A lot of drugs, yes, a very free time for sex, a lot of jealousy and tension. The night club scene was heavy – gangsters and very bad cops. There were a lot of fistfights inside, which wound up on the stairs and in the street. There was a gunfight outside the club. I used to carry a bayonet for protection. Crazy but necessary."
L.A. Woman and the Last Days of Jim Morrison
By Max Bell

Jim's father was a "Naval Captain—later Admiral—who participated in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, an event which marked the beginning of large-scale US military involvement in Vietnam.

As Captain/Admiral George Steven Morrison rose in the ranks of the Navy, Jim rejected him and his mother. "In 1964, at the age of 21, he spent his last Christmas with his family...
Jim’s original bio for Elektra records indicated he had no family and his parents were dead."

Then Jim "heard that Janis Joplin was dead of an overdose. First Jimi [Hendrix] Then Janis."

Jim's repeated comment to friends was, "You're drinking with Number Three."

Soon he was dead of a heroin/alcohol overdose, and probably, cocaine abuse.

Isn't there so much in that brief vignette
from the biography which captures our generation's contradictions?

It's hypocrisies, empty political and spiritual rhetoric,
abuse of others, demeaning cruelty,
heavy drug/alcohol addiction
and refusal to accept our infants, the ones we had chosen to create,
while all at the same time,
we were rejecting the Establishment, and seeking to help everyone find peace and love and justice?

Early on in Jim's meteoric rise into rock, I was a devoted fan of The Doors' first album. I listened to it over and over. I loved the songs, especially ones like "Light My Fire," "Backdoor Man, "Break on Through (To the Other Side)."

That is until one decisive night; I actually sat down, while very alert and rational, and read the lyrics, and figured out what each of his songs meant.

They were ALL songs of abuse, adultery, drugs, immorality, and even killing and incest.

Allegedly, "The End," is a song about his own hatred for his military father. But why does Jim, in the lyrics, emphasize obscene incest for his own mother?

The latter one, a very powerful rock anthem, was so gross and obscene that it got him and the Doors thrown out of the famous Hollywood nightclub, the Whiskey a Go-Go. The owner strongly objected to Jim's screaming the last line.

One night, he kept repeating those lines over and over, like an immoral mantra. At one concert, even though he saw his mother and younger brother in the audience,
he screamed the incestuous obscenity, and refused to see them,
having his team repeatedly lie to his mother that he would see her later in the evening.

But like with his lies to Patricia in the pregnancy case, and to other friends, he never did.

How tragic was our generation,

Daniel Wilcox

*The inspiration for The Door's name was from Aldous Huxley's book on mescaline, The Doors of Perception.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

UN Article 18 and More Prisoners of Conscience: Speak Truth to Power

Yklas Kabduakasov
Bauyrzhan Serikov, Aidin Shakentayev and Murat Shopenov

Many more prisoners of conscience, denials of freedom of the press and speech...more misuse of vague accusations such as "insulting Islam" to deny freedom of conscience and religion....

"On 15 February a court in Kazakhstan's capital Astana upheld the Prosecutor's suit to ban four further Christian books as 'extremist.'The books were among 47 items seized when Christian prisoner of conscience Yklas Kabduakasov was arrested. Prosecutor Temirlan Adilkhanov said, he 'can't remember' in what ways the books might have caused harm."

"Religious believers have expressed concern over a list of 254 "radical" religious books, including Muslim, Ahmadi Muslim, Christian, Hare Krishna and Jehovah's Witness items."

"Nurlan Belesov, the same secret police Investigator who prepared Kabduakasov's prosecution, is also leading the criminal cases against six Sunni Muslims accused of membership of the banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat."
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

Yet these bans and arrests are clear violations of the UN Declaration of Human Rights which has been signed by the world's nations.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,"

"Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Then there are other related Articles such as 19 which say "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression..."

But what intolerant governments do, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan is create false charges related to "extremism."

In Saudi Arabia, there is no religious or speech freedom whatsoever, even though the Kingdom signed the UN Declaration, and even is represented on the UN human rights group!

Yet at the same time it is incarcerating and caning prisoners of conscience such as Raif Badawi.

"In Pakistan various innocent prisoners of conscience are falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam. Asia Bibi has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman."

"A high court in the eastern city of Lahore confirmed the death sentence last month, dashing hopes it might be commuted to a jail term."

"We are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President (Mamnoon) Hussain grants her a pardon..." husband Ashiq Masih wrote in an open letter dated November 17 and published by the New York Times...
Masih added his wife was not guilty of blasphemy."

"Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the majority Muslim country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence."

Additional Information:

"The City Court in Kazakhstan's capital Astana today (28 December) increased the punishment handed down to Seventh-day Adventist prisoner of conscience Yklas Kabduakasov...He was prosecuted for alleged incitement of religious hatred while talking to others of his faith, charges he and his fellow Church members reject...KNB secret police officers seized Kabduakasov at the end of the hearing and took him away to prison."

"Nurlan Belesov, the same secret police Investigator who prepared Kabduakasov's prosecution, is also leading the criminal cases against six Sunni Muslims accused of membership of the banned Muslim missionary movement Tabligh Jamaat. The six prisoners of conscience are being held in Astana's KNB secret police Investigation Prison. The court-ordered period for pre-trial detention for five of them has already expired and appears not to have been extended. Three other Muslim prisoners of conscience accused of Tabligh Jamaat membership have been in pre-trial imprisonment in Karaganda for nearly 12 weeks."

"Three more Sunni Muslim prisoners of conscience are being held in the KNB secret police Investigation Prison in the northern city of Karaganda [Qaraghandy] awaiting trial. The three - Bauyrzhan Serikov, Aidin Shakentayev and Murat Shopenov - were arrested on 7 October and ordered held in pre-trial imprisonment on 9 October. They too are accused of membership of Tabligh Jamaat"
F18News 12 January 2016

Is Tablighi Jama'at dangerous? Has it engaged in criminal activity?

from Pew:
Tablighi Jama’at

"The Tablighi Jama’at (“Society for Spreading Faith”) is a global educational and missionary movement whose primary purpose is to encourage Muslims everywhere to be more religiously observant. It currently operates in roughly 150 countries around the world, including in Western Europe."

"According to the teachings of the Tablighi Jama’at, the reformation of society is achieved through personal spiritual renewal...Founded by Islamic scholar and teacher Maulana Muhammad Ilyas in 1926 in Mewat, India."

"The movement does not have a large formal membership. Instead, it is largely comprised of small groups of itinerant male preachers...who travel, eat, sleep, wash and pray together and often observe strict regimens relating to dress and personal grooming...they reach out to Muslims of all social strata in an effort to remind them of the core teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and encourage them to attend mosque prayers and listen to sermons."

"The Tablighi Jama’at is thought to be one of the world’s largest religious movements. Exact membership figures are difficult to determine, however...estimates range as widely as 12 million-80 million."

"...founded in 1926 in Mewat, India, by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, an Islamic scholar and teacher. The movement began as an effort to counteract the activities of Hindu revivalists in India, who at the time were attempting to convert Muslims to Hinduism."

"...for decades a generally apolitical and pacifist movement..Theologically, the Tablighi Jama’at movement is closely tied to the scriptural, conservative Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which emphasizes strict adherence to religious orthodoxy. Most of the religious scholars and leaders associated with the Tablighi Jama’at are followers of Deobandism."

"...the movement has shown a great willingness to partner with non-Muslim political institutions...In France, for example, local Muslim groups were unable to build a mosque in the southern port city of Marseille until the Tablighis succeeded in partnering with the city’s conservative mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, who publicly backed the initiative. This helped clear a path for the mosque’s construction in 2007."

"While most followers of the Tablighi Jama’at are primarily interested in matters of personal piety and spiritual self-renewal, some have been accused of having ties to radical networks."

So while there are concerns of real extremism and terrorism, it appears that the 6 Sunni Muslims arrested by the secret police in Kazakhstan were only practicing their UN-Declared Human Rights, not engaging in any criminal behavior.

Please speak truth to power for all of these prisoners of conscience and so many millions of other ones.

Rescue the perishing...

In the LIGHT of Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Religion, and Justice,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Corny Quaker Humor #10: "'You Don't Take Communion? What's the Beef?"

Early in a Pennsylvanian morning, a Quaker farmer forked hay over the fence for his cattle.

Cows came over toward the elderly man in the straw hat with the hay, all mooing at the same time, as if to say, "Hello 'Fodder.'"


At the large but mostly empty old Meeting House in North Carolina, a couple of visitors raised hands during an opening welcome to visitors.

A stocky middle aged man stood and said, "My wife and I are visiting from Reno, Nevada, here to see our son who is at Fort Brag. We've heard about Quakers before, and had the morning free so thought we would visit for the first time. We're Lutheran.

Our question for you is, 'Why don't Friends take communion?'"

The young adult Friend doing the welcoming, responded, "Well, see, since our coming into existence during the religious English Civil War in about 1646, we've felt it best to stay away from all theological 'feud.'"

A little confused, the middle aged visitor stared blankly until his wife poked him and he, suddenly, got the double meaning and grinned.

Continuing, the Quaker said, "Just kidding. George Fox, when he had his mystical vision...came to realize holy communion is a group inward spiritual experience, not an outward supernatural ritual. God is within us, not in bread and wine."

"Hmm..." the visitor responded, "no vestments, no priest, no Eucharist? As an economist by career, I would say that's putting a lot of 'investment' into a bunch of people sitting silently, waiting for spiritual insight.

What 'prophet' is there in that? Are you sure this George Fox knew what he was talking about? Rejecting 1,500 years of church doctrine?"

"We Friends hope so. Many rituals have 'mass' appeal, but that doesn't mean they are good food for the spirit."


What did the elderly Nicaraguan Friend say when she stood in the vigil outside of the Managua military barracks?

"Dear young men and women, Open your eyes to the Light. Be blessed! I am from my head to-ma-toes, with lots of catch up and S.P.I.C.E.S."


Heard about the Oregonian Quaker who didn't go to meeting for worship after all, but instead hurrying through heavy fog, prayed before he walked into a bar on the way home?

He hadn't even had a drink yet, but sure got a headache from that bar.


A visiting Northern atheist sat in the back of the Friends worship meeting in South Carolina. Afterward he approached one of the younger Friends and asked, "How do you Quakers know that you aren't deluded with all your talk of spiritual discernment and testimonies?"

The young Southern woman smiled and set down her herb tea, and inwardly thought, maybe a touch of humor would Lighten the visitor's intimidating manner. "Good morning, Visitor. I'm Georgina. And yours is? Where y'all from?"

The petulant questioner didn't answer but only said, "Answer my question!"

"'Shore,'" she said. "Thanks for asking the excellent question. Please take a look out there," and pointed through a plain glass window at the pelicans hovering over the Carolina beach or sitting near the pier. "See how that Paley-can watch the ocean of light below? He's like that famous analogy."

The atheist fidgeted, not even noticing the corny puns, but listened.

"A Godly scientist--"

Now he interrupted, "Science proves there is NO god!"

The young Friend continued, "--But suppose we found a pelican watching with its keen eyes for fish in the water. Would his amazing abilities have come about for no reason, without purpose or meaning? ' should be inquired how the watching happened...There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer' who created for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.'
Notice, I'm quoting and paraphrasing from W. Paley, Natural Theology (1802)," she said and grinned.

The atheist backtracked over what she had just said, and suddenly laughed. "You got me on that one! Seriously..."


A Quaker business leader and his wife were visiting old Friends meeting houses in North Carolina. They were from the largest Friends Church in the West, Newport Beach, California Yearly Meeting, an Evangelical branch of the Friends.

He stopped his new BMW on the edge of an old cemetery and a stone Quaker meeting house near the tiny rural settlement of Elias, North Carolina. Then stared with disappointment at the old plain building.

"Look, Margaret, it doesn't even have a cross on top. What a 'hick' site!
It shows what happens when some country Friends adopted liberalism."


Recently among bloggers, mythicism is becoming the new in-group view with plenty of non-historians having decided that Jesus never existed.

If so, Friends have believed in one huge 'mythstake.' (Groan)


The Space Friendly Clown

When caught in
The romantic comet
Of the moment,

One futuristic Friend
Touched his sweetheart's pixied face
And said,

I wish I could make love to
You on 3 million different planets
All at once;

She pixeled a look so scientific
And said,
Oh don't clone around with me

First pub.
in Right Hand Pointing


Notice how quiet pelicans are when they sleep. Look at these ones who have really piped down.;-)

In the Light-Hearted Way,

Daniel Wilcox

*For further jangled word play visit

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How Does One Escape from the American Nightmare?

Another election year, another boondoggle...only it's even worse than usual because of the harsher rhetoric, blatant lies, put-downs, and ad hominem. The candidates seldom explain in careful detail new proposals.

A great country seems headed deeper into a worse nightmare.

This presidential primary season is so much more vulgar, so much less than what Americans could be achieving if they used their intellect, wisdom, and technology to spend all their time laying out practical, yet idealistic programs for significant change.

Look at how in the last 10 years NASA was able to send a probe all the way to Pluto, scientists made major discoveries in genetics, anthropology, medicine, and other areas of human learning.

Only in religion, the media, and in politics do humans seem caught in a endless cycle of pathetic tragedy and mindless absurdity.

Look back at the last few months--both a combination of Animal Farm and 1984.

What if instead of spending 30 million dollars in one state alone to try and win a primary if that one presidential candidate had used that wealth to create new programs to help impoverished and at-risk kids?

Think of all the many millions spent by the large number of primary hopefuls. What if all those many millions had been donated to actual projects?

Think of what FDR did in the severe Depression of 1930's in only one project--The Civilian Conservation Corp which created roads and trails, parks, built amazing architectural wonders, etc. Many millions of citizens yearly use the CCC's striking accomplishments.

"By September 1935 over 500,000 young men had lived in CCC camps, most staying from six months to a year...the men planted millions of trees on land made barren from fires, natural erosion, or lumbering—in fact, the CCC was responsible for over half the reforestation, public and private, done in the nation’s history.

"Corpsmen also dug canals and ditches, built over thirty thousand wildlife shelters, stocked rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restored historic battlefields, and cleared beaches and campgrounds."

"In less than 10 years, the Civilian Conservation Corps built more than 800 parks and planted nearly 3 billion trees nationwide." The Reader’s Companion to American History, Editors Eric Foner and John A. Garraty

What if instead of building a multi-billion dollar wall across the southwestern border with Mexico, the U.S. and Mexico worked more together to make significant changes along the border?

What if the two governments used those billions of dollars to coordinate heath care, improve land ecology, and help the many kids, teens, and adults who wait at the Mexican border trying to get across, or wait on the U.S. border in holding places to be deported?

What if instead of 'to the nth degree' rehashing again and again various politicians' past failings, we instead focused on making wiser decisions now and in the future?

What if instead of large amounts of time being taken up on the various news channels with Hilary's email mistake, Ted's refusal to work with other senators, Donald's flip-floping on abortion, George's first strike war, etc.


all that time and money would be spent educating the general populace and various leaders on the complicated nature of the civil wars in Syria, Iraq, and Libya?

and why we, the U.S., ought not to get any further involved financially in those wars between opposite Islamic groups and countries?

We could spend all the many billions that we give in military aid instead for rescuing millions of refugees and getting them resettled in safe places, in helping worldwide aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, in creating reconciliation groups...

And spend more billions on improving education, transportation, etc. here at home.

Of course that would be the American Dream again.

Most humans instead seemed fixated on more nightmares.

In the Light of Human Rights, Justice, and Equality,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Impressionistic, Psychedelic Sunburst Quilt

My sweetheart created this sunburst quilt of color for me recently. What if I had gotten this quilt from her back when I drove my Chevy van across country in September 1967? On the side of my van I drew a sign which scrolled--The Mystical Hippopotamus.:-)

I got my first draft notice when I was living in Haight-Ashbury in February, had dropped out of Long Beach State where I was working on a degree in Creative Writing.

As a conscientious objector to war, that fall I headed for Philadelphia to work in a mental hospital with emotionally disturbed teens and children.

Long ago, and far away.

Living in the brilliant Light of Beauty,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Abortion Question: The Light Versus the "Right" to Kill Very Little Girls

Amnesty International: “By not providing access to abortion services and information, each country fails to meet its human rights obligations set forth under international law.”

“Let’s celebrate Ireland’s people for demanding what’s right for women.”

“…the Irish people are calling for these same principles of equality and non-discrimination to apply to women and girls.”


When did killing an “unborn infant girl” become a “human right”?

Amnesty International, usually a ship of light for humanism and rights and justice and compassion, has swerved off into jagged cliffs on this one.

No one ever has a “right” to kill a human life.

The medical profession recognizes that life begins at conception.

Police officers sometimes seem to have no alternative but to shoot a murderer, but such lethal tragic action is never a "right."

Doctors used to take the Hippocratic Oath to protect life. “Nor shall any man's entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.”

But tragically, now doctors do kill life in the womb and kill the elderly and kill convicts.

According to AI editors, Ireland has “enacted draconian and harmful abortion laws that put women’s and girls’ lives at risk.”

On the contrary, rules against abortion-on-demand protect. And they are the way to live peacefully, rejecting lethal violence.

They protect tiny little girls (and boys) in the womb and give guidance to pregnant mothers, emphasizing that killing one’s unborn infant is wrong.

CAUTION: We aren’t speaking here about therapeutic abortion. Ireland allows for tragic cases where a mother has to allow her newly conceived infant to be killed because complications endanger her own life and most likely the life of the infant, too. Something has gone wrong in the course of becoming pregnant. Doctors need to operate.

A real case in point. A strongly pro-life Quaker lady we knew became pregnant, but tragically, discovered she had the case of an ectopic-tubal pregnancy and had to have an abortion. Usually neither mother nor infant survive such pregnancies. So she did, but she didn’t think this was her “right,” and she deeply grieved the loss of their little infant.

Even in these tragic cases, we aren’t speaking of a woman’s “right” to an abortion. That’s a misuse of language!

Imagine as a woman going into an operation for a tumor and the doctor tells you that as a woman you have a “right” to get that tumor removed. Sounds a bit weird does it not?

It only makes sense to cut out malignant tumors.

It doesn’t make humanistic or Enlightenment sense to cut out normal healthy tiny little girls (or little boys) in the womb.

If a mother decides that because of troubling reasons she doesn’t want the unborn infant that she has chosen to conceive, then giving the little bundle of joy to a childless mother is the way to go.

Everybody wins—the infant, the new family, and the troubled mother.

But none of this has anything to do with a woman having a “right” to kill her infant in the womb.

Only in tragic cases of therapeutic abortion does the mother grieve and decide to have the tiny one killed.

She doesn’t declare, “I have a right to kill.”

And the criminal justice system in the United States takes a similar view when prosecuting killing. It often prosecutes a killer for two murders if he has killed a pregnant woman and her unborn infant.
See Laci and Conner’s Law:

Long title An Act To amend title 18, United States Code, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to protect unborn children from assault and murder, and for other purposes.
Nicknames Laci and Conner's Law
Enacted by the 108th United States Congress

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a child in utero as a legal victim, if they are injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb".

The law is codified in two sections of the United States Code: Title 18, Chapter 1 (Crimes), §1841 (18 USC 1841) and Title 10, Chapter 22 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) §919a (Article 119a).

The law applies only to certain offenses over which the United States government has jurisdiction, including certain crimes committed on federal properties, against certain federal officials and employees, and by members of the military. In addition, it covers certain crimes that are defined by statute as federal offenses wherever they occur, no matter who commits them, such as certain crimes of terrorism.

Because of principles of federalism embodied in the United States Constitution, federal criminal law does not apply to crimes prosecuted by the individual states. However, 38 states also recognize the fetus or "unborn child" as a crime victim, at least for purposes of homicide or feticide--Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin...

The bill contained the alternate title of Laci and Conner's Law after the California mother (Laci Peterson) and fetus (Conner Peterson) whose deaths were widely publicized during the later stages of the congressional debate on the bill in 2003 and 2004 (see Scott Peterson and Laci Peterson). Scott Peterson was convicted of double homicide under California's fetal homicide law.”

Of course, there is the opposite extreme from abortion-on-demand, that of the right-wingers who, while opposing abortion, don't want to help little infants and children.

Oppose abortion-on-demand, the killing of the most innocent and vulnerable.

Oppose anti-immigration forces which ignore impoverished children and teens stuck alone on the border.

Oppose the bombing of foreign countries where hundreds of thousands of civilians suffer and die.

Oppose the killing of civilians by Muslim “martyrs” who attack with knives, cars, and guns.

Oppose the intentional killing of the elderly.

Be prolife for the unborn, for the born, for infants and children in poverty, for at-risk teens, for poor and persecuted people around the world, for humans of all ages.

To paraphrase: ALL human lives are created equal, have certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Stand up for Rights. Do the Right Thing.

Live in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wise Words

Nothing does reason more right, than the coolness of those that offer it:
For Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders, than the arguments of its opposers.
-William Penn

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.
Nothing is divine but what is agreeable to reason.
-Immanuel Kant

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
-Albert Einstein

Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
-C.S. Lewis

Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave inrrationally in the name of reason.
-Ashley Montagu

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, and the children of men, as a whole, do not experience it... Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
-Helen Keller

The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the same principle which teaches the former bears witness to the latter. Duties and rights must stand and fall together.
-William Ellery Channing

Spend 10 billion on the welfare of others, not on warfare against others.
-from Dave Traxson

A nation that continues year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift, is approaching spiritual death.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

-Returning violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars...
Hate cannot drive out hate:
only love can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable...In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous.
-Dalai Lama

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.
-Nelson Mandela

One of the ironies of human worldviews is that ‘law and order’ individuals who reject civil disobedience often in the end accept violent war and rebellion;
in contrast ‘civil disobedient’ individuals who break unjust laws as wrong and believe in nonviolent resistance usually reject violence, war, and rebellion.

One would think that 'law and order' individuals would oppose war, especially the slaughter of civilians, but historically that hasn't been the case.

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
-Thomas Jefferson

What you commit yourself to be will change what you are and make you into a completely different person. Let me repeat that.

Not the past but the future conditions you, because what you commit yourself to become determines what you are – more than anything that ever happened to you yesterday or the day before.
-Dr. Anthony Campolo

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
-W C Bryan

To be educated means to have the ability to be aware of yourself and your worldview, and thereby be able to make corrections when you are wrong; then you will be lead to new insights.
-Lit Insight

Man's ultimate concern must be expressed symbolically, because symbolic language alone is able to express the ultimate.
-Paul Tillich

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.
-H.L. Mencken

You don't get to advertise all the good that your religion does without first scrupulously subtracting all the harm it does and considering seriously the question of whether some other religion, or no religion at all does better.
-Daniel C. Dennett

Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind and within the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.
-Alfred North Whitehead

The fact of the religious vision, and its history of persistent expansion, is our one ground for optimism. Apart from it, human life is a flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery, a bagatelle of transient experience.

The power of God is the worship He inspires....The worship of God is not a rule of safety — it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.
-Alfred North Whitehead

Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of human life is to grasp as much as we can out of the infinitude.

Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science. Its principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development.
-Alfred North Whitehead

I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with morality.

True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.
-Alfred North Whitehead

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-George Bernard Shaw

The artistic representation of history is a more scientific and serious pursuit than the exact writing of history. For the art of letters goes to the heart of things, whereas the factual report merely collocates details.

There are sports stars who make 10 times the annual salary of the President. They are national heroes. Why, exactly? There is something here transcending the diversity of political, social, and economic systems. Something ancient is calling.
-Carl Sagan

The hero is an individual who gets up when one can't.

Why listen to the pithy maxims and aphorisms of various thinkers?

As the Teacher said 2,500 years ago:
12 " warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body."

11 Sayings from the wise are like cattle prods and...well-driven nails."
-Ecclesiastes 12:12 and 11, Hebrew Bible

I actually like endless books--both the writing of them, and the reading of them; and the studying of them and the reflecting on them, and then the meditating on them, but
there is a grain of insight in what the teacher said, especially when like him, one becomes discouraged.

Wise phrases can inspire hope.

Pointed statements do break through our daily rituals, cognitive biases, and tendency toward ethnocentricism.

In the Light of Reason, Truth, and Justice,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, April 1, 2016

Part 2--Father of the Burning Acid: Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Dennett

Review of DARWIN’S DANGEROUS IDEA By Daniel C. Dennett

This is a very dangerous book; it proves Christians and Muslims are correct about their worry and fear of evolution, that the latter is very anti-religious.

According to Dennett, Darwinian evolution destroys all religious faith, is indeed a powerful super-acid which burns away all traditional beliefs and explanations about life and humankind completely!

A mighty big claim is it not?

But coming from one of the most brilliant of modern scientists, the claim ought to be studied carefully.

Despite the sincere, thoughtful efforts of scientists who are Christians such as Francis Collins and Simon Conway Morris, most religious people think religion and evolution are opposites, and incompatible.

Secondly, even though intriguing compromises by brilliant evolutionary biologists such as nontheist Stephen Jay Gould put forward ways that evolution and religion can co-exist in harmony as with his N.O.M.A., most don't agree.

Non-religious people think of religion as delusional and contrary to science.

Dennett strongly agrees.

He goes even further, beyond the factual disagreements, and emphasizes that Darwinian evolution is completely atheistic and deliberately hostile to Christianity!

In the lucid and powerfully written book, Dennett explains in great detail, making a fairly convincing argument for Darwinian evolution, not just in the area of scientific detail but as overwhelming fact and the very cornerstone of Existence.

He traces the development of life through natural selection from over 3 billion years ago down to the modern day.

There is a strong tendency toward materialistic determinism as a philosophical truism in this brilliant tome, though at other times Dennett sometimes sounds almost like a secular pantheist!

It's difficult to tell from his prose if this is only a pleasing rhetorical flourish to liven up the complex scientific evidence or if Dennett is conflicted within himself as to the essential nature of reality. My guess is the former.

However in other writings Dennett has stated that he isn’t a hard determinist. So it is difficult to ascertain his real philosophical views based on Dangerous Idea alone.

Maybe he threw in the positive pantheistic-sounding phrases to alleviate the gloomy almost nihilistic negation of his central thesis—that Darwinian evolution burns away everything that humans think.

Consider Dennett’s negative example of a priest’s commitment to celibacy; he says such an outlook and commitment is an “infestation”!

What a biased extremely negative assessment.

However, then—apparently aware of his overstatement--Dennett states two sentences later that he isn’t making a moral judgment on whether celibacy is good or bad.

It’s sort of ironic that even though he emphasizes atheism is the result of the evidence of evolution, he refers to the natural world as “Mother Nature."

His use of the cliched phrase just seems another ‘short hand’ method like many literary writers refer to “Father God,” not meant literally but metaphorically. a tendency to personify nature, evolution, natural selection

Yet how well do we theists know that atheists constantly harp at us for using anything symbolic as drastically deluded and “dishonest.”

But, of course, if they do the same, use language symbolically, it’s fine.

Also, Dennett often uses ‘intentional’ words despite his claim that existence has no intention.

This is a characteristic I have noticed in all atheistic scientists from Bertrand Russell to Richard Dawkins—a tendency to give evolution agency:
“evolution gave us,”
or our brains were “programmed” by natural selection.

Why do they do this?

This is in direct contradiction to their claim that nothing happens for purpose and that there is no meaning, and that evolution has no direction.

What an oxymoron of a word for atheists to use since programming is one of the most complex rational skills one can acquire. What sort of sense does it make to claim that evolution has no purpose, no meaning, no direction, but that it is "programmed"?

Watching my relatives program hour after hour and then trying to read a programming book to understand how it is done, I realize programming is much more difficult than most people realize.

Also, scientists who are atheists will give pages of scientific and philosophical reasons why there is no purpose to existence, how moral realism is fallacious, but then go right ahead and use essentialist terms such as ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and say how it is important to do the “right thing”!

Some even claim to support human rights, yet immediately at the same time claim that there are no ethical truths, that “evil” is only what is “unpleasant” to someone. Heck, some of them even claim that murder is sometimes good or that in a different time and place, rape and slavery would be normal.

Is this perhaps evidence that whether they like it or not, even atheists are “meaning-centered” creatures?

It’s intriguing that Dennett (like Russell, Kurtz, etc.) adopts meaning-centered words such as “sacred’ which would seem to imply that he is at least at a weak level, a secular pantheist, as mentioned before.

But if the whole cosmos and everything in it, especially nature, is totally meaningless and purposeless, how in the world could anything be “sacred”?

Again, in this book, Dennett treats humanity as only a complex organism in a meaningless algorithm repeating eternally.

Indeed, Dennett repeatedly quotes Nietzsche—almost with delight it seems—in his attempt to kill every sacred cow of all theists and essentialists.

It is only when Dennett verges into utter nihilism that he back-steps and uses pantheistic terms and talks about “moral values.”

Despite all of these negative points about Dennett’s questionable philosophical base and a number of ‘sore-thumb’ contradictions in his rhetoric, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea is an amazing scientific tour-de-force.

Daniel C. Dennett is an example of a brilliant scientist who has "fathered" my understanding of existence and the natural world, of how natural selection has moved over several billion years to result in us--and in me living now, thinking in Big Time, and typing this book review on a state-of-the-art computer.

Yes, at a scientific and philosophical reasoning level, the book is convincing—at least in the part that I could understand.
(Much of the middle section of the tome is quite technical for the average reader.)

The book maroons us from any theism in relation to specific scientific evidence. It does burn like a super-acid through all our hopes and beliefs, and values and ethics. At least it did mine.

Where Dennett’s argument becomes weak, however, is when he tries to argue that existence could have come from nothing and that life could have come from non-life, etc.

Speculatively, it is possible that everything that IS could have all come about by a cosmic Chance or by a cosmic meaningless Determinism of eternal matter and energy.

But, even given all the evidence that Dennett provides for evolution not having a direction, the question is, how the origin of everything including life and the algorithms of evolution, and the cosmos itself with its “natural laws,” came about?

That is a very different sort of asking. And there is no evidence at this point in history for the whole cosmos coming from nothing; that's only speculation.

There is no scientific evidence that billions of everything only popped into being from nothing for nothing.

So my question for Dennett is, “Why do you prefer to think that meaningless impersonal algorithms eternally ARE rather than think that Intelligence eternally IS?

Based on the existence of consciousness, reason, math, “natural laws,” creativity, and purposefulness which humans discovered in their evolutionary development doesn’t it seem more likely that reality itself has intelligence, purpose, creativity, and purpose?

Which seems more plausible that matter and energy by chance or fate (determinism) brought forth existence and then life in all its incredible forms and then produced millions of intelligent species stretched across the universe or the multiverse
that Intelligence via natural laws brought about existence including life, consciousness, creativity, reason, and purpose?

I agree that there is no scientific proof either way for essentialism or for materialism.

So, yes, I agree with Dennet, the super-acid of natural selection has proven that young earth creationism is bogus and delusional. Most of the public's understanding of life and how everything came to be is illusionary.

Only the most compartmentalized and unthinking humans can hold to such an extreme view. Their irrational commitment to a particular text of ancient literature--whether the Bible or the Qur'an blinds them to the very clear facts of science.

But scientists who adopt the opposite extreme—that of complete materialism, where intelligent life is a complete fluke also seem to have let preconceptions distort the evidence.

Materialism isn’t a necessary, or even a more likely outcome of evolution.

Worst of all such negative speculation ends in nihilism. Then not only has the “super-acid” burned away religion, it has burned away all hope and all humanism.

It’s one thing to show through scientific evidence that evolution led to homo sapiens, that there are no miracles; but it's a totally different claim to state that all of this means nothing and is totally unrelated to intelligence.

Making speculative philosophical claims is very different from the solid evidence of fossils and DNA.

This can be seen by the very fact that many famous scientists totally disagree about such ultimate issues. Despite all the evidence that Dennett marshals in Darwin's Dangerous Idea, about 51% of scientists still think that some God or some higher power is true.

41% are atheists.

Currently, young adult scientists, according to Pew Research, are more likely to think God exists, than older scientists. Why is this so if evolution proves atheism?

For every atheistic Daniel C. Dennett, there is a theistic Simon Conway Morris or a Orthodox Christian Theodosius Dobzhansky. After all, Dobzhansky is one of the most famous evolutionists of the 20th century, yet is a committed theist.

Even atheists disagree about the most basic philosophical issues related to existence and life. Some atheistic scientists such as paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and French biologist and Nobel prize winner Jacques Monod write that life came about by “chance” and “accident.” Gould says that if the universe came only one more time, it's unlikely that homo sapiens would even evolve into existence!

Others contradict that claim and state homo sapiens are part of a vast deterministic necessity. This is the proclaimed view of biologist Jerry Coyne and neuroscientist Sam Harris and others.

Everything is so determined that if Time/Space happened again a “trillion” times, a professional golfer would miss his short putt every time.

And in all those "trillion" times, you would never get to choose what to have for lunch.

So much more tragically worse, every unjust human will by cosmic necessity again pillage, murder,and rape. See, no one has an iota of choice.

Why does Dennett appear to agree at least partially with such nihilistic determinism of those like Coyne and Harris?

Especially since in the book he keeps emphasizing that natural selection has no direction. If natural selection has no direction and involves any chance whatsoever, it would seem that each time the universe pops into existence, that things and events would most likely be different. Because, of course, by definition, determinism is lock-step directional, is, completely, one cosmic block of time/space amber.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Determinism: “philosophy : the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens”
“1a : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws.”

Figuring out reality, ‘ain’t’ easy:-)

For those who would like to be fathered by a scientist who is a theist, check out professor Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University.

As a cell biologist and convinced Darwinian evolutionist, Kenneth R. Miller wrote a powerful book, Finding Darwin's God, against religious creationism and against Intelligent Design.

But as the title emphasizes his book also strongly disagrees with the views of atheists such as Dennett. He doesn't think that evolution leads to atheism. Miller, himself, is a convinced theist.

In conclusion, Daniel Dennett does a great job explaining in layman’s terms the complex and difficult concepts of Darwinian evolution.

His powerful writing style shows best in his humorist use of metaphor such as the central motif, comparing Darwinianism to super-acid.

Despite Darwin’s Dangerous Idea leaning toward nihilistic conclusions, and at times being difficult for a non-scientist to understand, it is truly a landmark book.

Read the book and be stretched intellectually and philosophically.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox