Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ATTACKED! What Are You Going to Do?

How Are We Going to Respond to Attacks?

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A Muslim Palestinian teenager, Muhammad Nasser Tarayra, was killed by a security guard on Thursday morning in an Israeli settlement in the southern occupied West Bank after carrying out a "martyr" attack--
repeatedly stabbing a 13-year-old Jewish girl, Hallel Yafa Ariel, in her own bedroom.
Shortly later, Hallel died from the murderous attack.

Two months earlier, Muhammad's cousin, Yousef, was shot while committing a vehicular attack against Israeli soldiers.
Muhammad wrote on his Facebook page,
"Yousef is not the first martyr nor the last / and before he is my cousin he is a son of Palestine / God willing I will walk in the martyr’s footsteps / God have mercy on him and take him to heaven.”

After Muhammad's murder of the 13-year-old girl, his mother stated that she is "proud" of her son, and that her son is a "hero."
“My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque..."

“Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, he [my son] has joined the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.
Allah be praised.”

A sister of the killer said, “My brother is now a martyr. May God judge the Jews, and may my brother be content with his portion in paradise.”

What Are You Going to Do?

How Are You Going to Respond?

Other True Real Life Events,
(from minor to serious to horrific):

#1 Property Damage/Vandalism: Your New Chevy Van Is Keyed on the Whole Left Side

#2 Verbal Threat:

#3 Assault and Battery: A 200-pound Girl Knocks a 100-pound Girl to the Floor and Beats on Her

#4 Bodily Harm: You Get a Very Bad Cut Across Your Forehead and Lose One of Your Eyes When 2 Thugs Attack and Rob You (This happened to the Brethren in Christ leader Donald Tippet. Read of how he responded at the bottom of this article.*)

#5 Lethal Violence: U.S. Ally Attacks Others
(A Government or Group to Whom We’ve Given Intelligence and/or Monetary Assistance)

#6 Massive Wars: The Great War, The Seven Years War, etc.

#7 Invasions: The Mexican War, the Invasion of the Confederacy, Invasion of Vietnam by the U.S. and French, etc.

#8 First Strike War: U.S. Attack and Invasion of Iraq

#9 Individual Acts of Terrorism:
a. Palestinian Muslim Knife, Vehicle, and Shooting Attacks Against Many Jewish Civilians such as the murder of Hallel Yafa Ariel
b. Omar Mateen, Muslim American Security Guard, Shoots to Death 49 and Wounds 53 Same Sexual Individuals in the Pulse NightClub in Orlando, Florida

#10 Mass Slaughter/Terrorism in War:

#10A 9/11: Muslim Jihadists, originally supported by the U.S. Against the Russians Turn Against the U.S. and use planes to kill over 3,000 people

#10B U.S. Civil War: General Sherman's infamous March to the Sea, creating a 40-mile wide swath of destruction, vandalism, theft, and horror across Georgia, to terrorize the Confederacy into Surrendering;
the intentional abuse and deaths of hundreds of thousands of Union and Confederate prisoners of war by both sides

#10C Pearl Harbor: Japan's First Strike Attack on U.S. Naval Ships on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu--2,335 military personnel killed and 68 civilians

#10D Japan's War Slaughter of Chinese:
"Japan’s China war produced notable cases of atrocities that, then and later, captured world attention."

"They included the Nanjing Massacre, the bombings of Shanghai, Nanjing, Hankou, Chongqing and other cities, the enslavement of the comfort women, and the vivisection experiments and biowarfare bombs of Unit 731."

"Less noted then and since were the systematic barbarities perpetrated against resistant villagers, though this produced the largest number of the estimated ten to thirty million Chinese who lost their lives in the war,
a number that far surpasses the half million or more Japanese noncombatants who died at the hands of US bombing..."

#10E U.S. Counter War-Responses: Later Intentionally Firebombing 67 Japanese Cities Including Tokyo and Atomic Bombing Hiroshima/Nagasaki--killing at least 500,000 civilians, most burned to death.

In the firebombing of Tokyo alone, 100,000 died, and 1,000,000 were injured.
In contrast, at the start of WWII, President Roosevelt had warned European nations, “under no circumstances [to] undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities."

The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey provided "a technical description of the firestorm and its effects on Tokyo:

"The chief characteristic of the conflagration . . . was the presence of a fire front, an extended wall of fire moving to leeward, preceded by a mass of pre-heated, turbid, burning vapors . . . . The 28-mile-per-hour wind, measured a mile from the fire, increased to an estimated 55 miles at the perimeter, and probably more within. An extended fire swept over 15 square miles in 6 hours . . . . The area of the fire was nearly 100 percent burned; no structure or its contents escaped damage."

“...probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a 6-hour period than at any time in the history of man. People died from extreme heat, from oxygen deficiency, from carbon monoxide asphyxiation, from being trampled beneath the feet of stampeding crowds, and from drowning. The largest number of victims were the most vulnerable: women, children and the elderly.”


How do you think we ought to respond to attacks by others?

Here's the answer of only one man in response to a single attack:
*"Bishop Donald Tippet of New York City had a scar that ran across his forehead and he was
blind in one eye from two men who robbed and mugged him.

After his hospitalization, he decided to declare war on them. He went to the jail to visit them and told them God loved them and had a purpose for their lives, and he wasn’t going to leave
them alone until they discovered that purpose.

He visited them weekly, and finally led them both to Jesus Christ. He went to their parole hearings, and testified on behalf of the two men who had blinded him. Finally, he told them that when they got out of prison he would help them finish high school, and then he would help
them finish college if they chose to go.

One didn’t go to college, but the other did. He made outstanding grades, went to medical school, and became an opthamologist!

Donald Tippet won his war. He took back enemy territory. He would have added to the enemy’s victory if he had allowed vengeance and hatred to fester in his heart. Every time we join with Satan’s hatred, it enlarges his territory. Every time we add to his violence, it enlarges his territory.

We are called to take back enemy territory. This young man became a restorer of vision instead of a taker of vision.

He became a healer and friend; he was lost and now he is found...Donald Tippet declared war, and
assaulted those two men with love; he hurled forgiveness and grace at their hearts,
and he stabbed them with truth and compassion.

That’s how God fights wars. If you want to control somebody’s body, kill them, put them in shackles and in jail, but if you’re after somebody’s heart, the only weapons that work are the weapons of Jesus
--Woody Dalton is senior pastor of the
Harrisburg (PA) Brethren in Christ Church.
Grantham BIC,March 4, 2001.
Shalom: A Journal for the Practice of Reconciliation,
Volume 21, Number 2; Spring 2001, page 5

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Living Authentically and Creatively

As already explained, in this transcendental and humanistic reality every single human being is of equal inherent worth (like the Friends, UU, and other hopeful worldviews espouse).
(See previous blog article.)

Step A:
Be aware that everyone of us is complex, a multi-part person. The more aware we are of life, others, and ourselves, the more authentically and creatively we can live, moment by moment.

We humans have at least 3 parts, 3 ego states*, that of--

#1 TAUGHT Part of I (how our parents or guardians raised us in the past, their rules, behavior, and attitudes)

#2 FEEL Part of I (especially how we felt and experienced life as a kid naturally and how we react now to our "internal parent," too, and how we feel spontaneously)

#3 THINK Part of I (how we operate using our reason, awareness, ethics, and sense-of-life to make rational, thoughtful, and smart decisions; our inner computer)

Often there is conflict between all 3 parts of us.

To live authentically, is to let our rational self decide each time our feelings and our internal “taught” get in a disagreement.

Also, keep in mind a very key point:
Remember, you are all 3 ego states/parts! All 3 are important, but your FEELings part--your inner you--is probably the most important.

You cannot do away with your inner you in yourself. Besides, your FEELings
are the most fun and the most creative.
It's your THINKing's job to help meet your inner you's needs, hopes, and dreams without getting into trouble.

It's your TAUGHT'S job to treat your FEELings, your inner you, with respect and love and to provide your THINKing reasoning part with data from human civilization's past, so you can consider, reflect on, and make decisions about each future action.

Here's a bad example of what not to say:

FEELING: "Someday I'm going to be rich."

TAUGHT: "Money isn't everything. Look how it burns a hole in your pocket. You may end up on welfare."

Or take this very real life event:

Let’s say we got to sleep very late last night because we had company—our relatives—for the weekend.
Now it’s 5:30 am and we need to get up, we are so tired, and don’t FEEL like getting up.

#3 If we let our FEEL rule, of course, we’ll be late for work.

#2 If we let our TAUGHT rule, we’ll get up, but probably will be grumpy, maybe even complain like we did (if we did) when we were kids and our parents had to get us out of bed for school. So, we may gripe or grumble as we drive to work. (Not that this is a huge misstep, it’s just a minor example of how our ego states work.)

#2 If we let our THINK operate, we can be aware of our tiredness, but be thankful that we had such a great time the night before,
give ourselves a few seconds to energize,
and then get up and be thankful for a new day.
(A little caffeine will help, probably.)

Living rationally and thoughtfully:-)

But it can get more complicated when our 3 parts meet the 3 parts of another person at work, and far more complicated with other persons (and their ego states), too---when all of us get combined in a group situation.

If other individuals for why-ever, let their TAUGHT or FEEL predominate and direct actions, it is very easy for there to be multi-person conflict.

For example:

If the manager is having a trying time with his teenage daughter or his elderly parent suffering dementia, and he is under a lot of pressure from higher-ups to speed up production, he may be tempted to order everyone to work harder,
but not say so in a moderate, rational tone from his THINK,
but switch to his TAUGHT,
glaring at anyone who takes an extra moment at the coffee machine.

If so, then 6, 9, 12, or even 90 different ego states can get in a brief verbal tussle.

What if I got up grumpy?

I’m going for an extra cup of coffee, wishing I wasn’t at work.
Why didn’t I call in sick, or take a vacation day?

Our manager rushes by and orders me back to my desk.

If I am not THINKing clearly, I may make a negative remark to him, or after he leaves, complain to my work group—
“What’s with Uptight-Joe this morning?!”

Listen closely—as an observer—of yourself and others and you will even be able to hear others or voices within your head say thing like this:

#1 TAUGHT: “You must.” “Don’t raise your voice.” “You listen to me.” “If you do that again…” “You can’t trust_____(Fill in blank-- police, women, workers, bosses, politicians, minorities, bankers, etc.)

#2 FEEL: “Wow, such fun!” I want it now!” “Try and make me.” Or “Why doesn’t my father like me?”

#3 THINK: “Hmm, I see the way that works.” What if we added this new method?” “How does one code that into his computer?” “What is the best way to make sure that everyone is treated fairly?”

Consider this brief story:
A young teen--after he attacked an elderly man and stole his wallet--
when caught, admitted, “I knew taking another person’s possession is wrong because it’s unfair;
yes, I shouldn’t have ever taken his wallet;
but I wanted some money now.”

Figure out which phrase is THINK, which is TAUGHT, and which is FEEL.

To be continued--

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

*Adapted from Transactional Analysis.
See Introduce Yourself to Transactional Analysis by Paul McCormick and Leonard Campos,
Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of TA
and What Do You Say After You Say Hello?
by Eric Berne, psychiatrist and developer of TA

Part #4: What's the Light got to do with UR and us?


Every single human being is of inherent worth, and is an end, not a means.

This is very clearly a HOPE statement.

It comes from the philosophy of the Enlightenment and from radical groups such as the Friends, whose modern affirmation has been—“There is that of God in everyone.”

However, there is no way for scientists to show, let alone prove, that every single human is of “inherent worth.”

And, strangely, very often of late, plenty of leading thinkers, both non-religious and religious, are going out of their way to emphasize that homo sapiens don't really have any "inherent worth," at all.

They state that such a phrase is merely "woo," "superstitious," and "stupid."

Instead, these modern thinkers emphasize that on the contrary, humans are only minor specks in existence, only twigs in evolution, and but "bags of chemicals, and are one insignificant, purposeless result of natural selection, etc.

And so many Christian leaders at present are emphasizing that human beings have no value, are “worthless,” and that humans exist only as a means, exist only to give the Christian God glory, etc.

With all of these dismal statements...

What is a human to do?

What to think with so many, in so many ways, ‘counting the ways’ that humans have no value, except what we assign ourselves with our own subjective preferences.

There is hope, light in this philosophical darkness.

Consider the views of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, social and political activist Thomas Paine, and many others. They all emphasized human “inherent worth" and that has been the position in all forms of theistic humanism ever since.

First, this phrase means that humans are MORE than genetically and evolutionarily of the primate class of animals in biology.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary: primate--“3 [New Latin Primates, from Latin, plural of primat-, primas]
: any of an order (Primates) of mammals that are characterized especially by advanced development of binocular vision, specialization of the appendages for grasping, and enlargement of the cerebral hemispheres and that include humans, apes, monkeys, and related forms (as lemurs and tarsiers)”

Full Definition of mammal
Mammal—“any of a class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded higher vertebrates (as placentals, marsupials, or monotremes) that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands, have the skin usually more or less covered with hair, and include humans”

Notice there is no mention of "meaning," "purpose," or essence.

In the science of biology, homo sapiens is only one branch of many on a long complicated bush of Life.

But we humans aspire to live beyond the instinctive, survival level of life. We are life aware, life able to reason, life able to create, life able to seek meaning and purpose and beauty.

Enlightenment leaders and others such as the Friends and Unitarian-Universalists think that humans have so much
more importance, are of great inherent worth, equal, and with unalienable rights!

First, let us take a look at the Quaker statement--"that of God in every person."

The phrase has been widely used in the twentieth century as an expression which signifies the central truth of the Quaker message--that every human, including oppressive enemies have essential meaning and worth beyond their merely physical biological origination.

This phrase is a modern take-off, re-interpretation of 17th century leader George Fox's spiritual statements such as, "This is the true light which doth enlighten every man that cometh into the world..." Works, IV, page 252.

"Three days before he died he wrote to Quaker ministers in America to 'Let your light shine among the Indians, the Blacks, and the Whites, that you may answer the truth in them, and bring them to the standard and ensign, that God hath set up, Christ Jesus'" Journal,II page 502

"The light which everyone that cometh into the world is enlightened with is not conscience, for the light was before anything was made....So the light is that which exerciseth the conscience toward God, and toward man, where it is loved and the voice heard.'"

"George Fox used this phrase, or variants of it, hundreds of times."
Lewis Benson
from Quaker Religious Thought, Vol. XII, No. 2, Spring 1970;
retyped for electronic distribution by Simon Watson

The LIGHT is a hope-trust-ratopnal concept that Ultimate Reality is transcendent “beyond” all matter and energy,
and that this essential reality
extends itself into the cosmos through reason, logic, math, ethics, and aesthetics as well as other ways.

It is also the source of the regularities of the universe, sometimes popularly called, natural law.
(The latter is what some famous scientists have spoken of as the “intellectual beauty of existence,”
and why they refuse to agree with the naysayers who claim that reality is “meaningless” and "purposeless.")

Take a look at how Immanuel Kant explained this--

from James Rachels, Kantian Theory: The Idea of Human Dignity
"The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant thought that human beings...
have “an intrinsic worth, i.e., dignity,”
which makes them
valuable’ “above all price.”

"According to Kant, in his Lecture on Ethics (1779)
humans may never be “used” as means to an end. He even went
so far as to suggest that this is the ultimate law of morality."

"Like many other philosophers, Kant believed that morality can be summed up in
one ultimate principle from which all our duties and obligations are derived.

He called this principle The Categorical Imperative."

"In the Groundwork of the
Metaphysics of Morals
(1785) he expressed it like this:
Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it
should become a universal law."

"However, Kant also gave another formulation of The Categorical Imperative.
Later in the same book, he said that the ultimate moral principle
may be understood as saying:
Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another,
always as an end and never as a means only."
Kantian Theory:
The Idea of Human Dignity

James Rachels
From James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy,
pp. 114-17,122-23. Copyright
1986 by Random House, Inc.

This focus on rational theistic-humanism has been carried on by various other groups including some Unitarian-Universalists.

Their 1st Principle is:
"The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person"

“Reverence and respect for human nature is at the core of Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith. We believe that all the dimensions of our being carry the potential to do good."

"We celebrate the gifts of being human: our intelligence and capacity for observation and reason, our senses and ability to appreciate beauty, our creativity, our feelings and emotions."

"We cherish our bodies as well as our souls. We can use our gifts to offer love, to work for justice, to heal injury, to create pleasure for ourselves and others."

“‘Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy,’ the great twentieth-century Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote."

"Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each person as a given of faith—an unshakeable conviction calling us to self-respect and respect for others.,”
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker, minister, theologian, and author
from The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide, available from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, August 29, 2016



Part #1: Monads, Quarks..."I," and God
Part #2: Ultimate Becoming, Divine Process
Point #1: Bottom Up
Subpoint A: Choices
Subpoint B: Ethics and Human Rights

Remember, we left off last time delving into the extremely complex controversies of determinism versus ethics.

A large number of religionists (in history some Jews, the vast majority of Muslims, many Christians, nearly all Hindus) and lots of atheists think that everything is fated, that humans have no choice.

If everything that will ever happen in the future, down to the slightest movement of the smallest quark and atom was totally fated--completely determined at the moment of the Big Bang about 13.4 billion years ago—then we conscious primates exist
in a gigantic many trillion-zillion-kilometered
petrified swirl of amber.

All conscious entities in the whole cosmos including us homo sapiens (in the multiverse, if it exists) are but momentary infinitesimal aware specks in solid ‘granite’
—lock, stock, and barrel.

As so many determinists give the analogy--We humans are but only "shot bullets" headed toward whatever target. locked in, without any choice.

Everything is freeze-framed forever.

If so, then there are no ethics, no choices (the ability to choose between good and bad, rights or not), no creativity, no future as commonly meant, as defined by dictionaries.

Then, life is, indeed, absurd.

HOWEVER, don’t lose hope, don’t despair.

There are plenty of other scientists, philosophers, and deep thinkers who reflect,
that while, it is true, that we do exist within a physical matter
and energy system, within that very complex existence, there is openness,
uncertainty, some chance, and even creativity at play.

Form and freedom both exist!

It is true that our lives are situated within certain parameters of our physical nature,
our temperament, our background, culture and society, family, etc.,
within that complex system, we as finite conscious entities can make creative choices,
can make a difference in the real world.

Within existence, to a certain limited degree, there is openness to the future, at every moment.

Form and creativity interplay.

First, let’s take care of the “within a limited degree,” before we launch into the wonder of creative openness.

Many cosmologists speculate based on very real world facts that Existence--all of the cosmos--will expand forever, creating space as it spirals out and out.

Our infant universe, from 13.7 billion years ago
By NASA / WMAP Science Team -, Public Domain,

The astronomy professor Chris Impey, of the University of Arizona, Tucson has written a number of science books on cosmology and astronomy including How It Began,
How It Ends,
and The Living Cosmos.

Impey makes a number of excellent points:

How It Ends: From You to the Universe by Chris Impey (W.W. Norton)
"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms," said poet and political activist Muriel Rukeyser. I agree. One of the greatest myths of science is that is consists of nothing more than dull, obdurate facts. The myth dissolves in the face of the powerful narrative that science has created to help us organize and understand the world.

We have a story of how the universe grew from a jot of space-time to the splendor of 50 billion galaxies. We have a story of how a broth of molecules on the primeval Earth turned into flesh and blood. And we have a story of how one of the millions of species evolved to hold those 50 billion galaxies inside its head.

This is a book about endings. Science mostly answers the question of how things got to be the way they are. Yet if we stop at the present day, the job is only half done, as every good story needs an ending....As a result, the material in this book is rooted in fact but it extends into conjecture. Scientists steer toward the boundary between what they know and what they don't know because that's where the excitement is."

"The material moves outward in scale from the human to the cosmic, and outward in time span from the familiar to the nearly eternal...As feisty apes with more piss and vinegar than wisdom we may not survive troubled adolescence, but visionaries are imagining ways we could transcend the limits of biology."

"Time is the ruler for these stories. We follow it on scales from a heartbeat to the 1080 years it takes for the galaxy to dissipate. Physicist John Wheeler reminded us that we take it for granted when he said, 'Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.'"

"Everyone likes a good ending...[but]this book is factual and it talks about the actual death of our planet, our star, our galaxy, us. It's not a cue to be glum, however, because the universe is filled with such magnificent possibility."
How It Ends by Chris Impey, pages 11-13, Norton & Company

AH, there it is--a word I as a freethinker and free-willer, love--"possibility."

That is the key point of this 3rd subpoint, that we conscious entities DO have possibilities in our very brief finite lives.

We can make a difference in our own life, in the lives of other people, even in the future of our planet!

All of this does show my own intellectual bias, I admit. I earned my university degree in Creative Writing, taught creative writing to high school students, have spent my life in creative pursuits, am an avid poet and novelist, and an active science enthusiast. Therefore, from the get start, I take a dim view of closed systems, rote determinism.

Form without freedom is slavery, and philosophical determinism is the worst form of enslavement.

Form without creativity isn't even death, because that presupposes life.

Becoming is the opposite of determinism. It is openness to this next moment.

Go to that website for some excellent methods to enhance your creativity.

Reach for the gold--what could be.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Part #2: Ultimate Becoming, Divine Process

(Skip, if you are in a hurry.)

At birth (that of our species, and individually), we humans awoke into this cosmos and have been asking "Why?" ever since.

What makes this so difficult is that while many of our brilliant scientists can make fairly reliable observations of matter and energy, so many of them disagree on almost everything else.

It does appear that we humans can only make educated guesses about--Ultimate Reality, traditionally called "GOD."

But even the term causes untold arguments, harmful hostilities, and brutal slaughters. "GOD" is the most conudrummed of all semantic jungles.

Unfortunately, it is almost always a 'con' being 'drummed' into other people's consciousness by Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Hindus, and others.

Usually, one needs to spend hours of writing long complicated explanations of why what others think you mean by "GOD" isn't at all what you mean, nor for that matter is it anything like how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the general word.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
God--"1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality"

So without further ado, I am, again, going to move toward using UR, and seldom mention the traditional empty-bucket term.

That way, hopefully, most readers won't be sent down millions of other rabbit holes
chasing after Alice and Humpty Dumpty;-(

"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."


This article will approach the issue/complexity/conundrum/philosophical WHY from our human 'bottom up' of practical daily living. (For those who want very abstract, more technical discussions, please Google that. There are thousands of such fine sites including,, and

We all have presuppositions that we live with that shape our views and our choices and our actions. Millions of humans are unaware of their central presuppositions in a similar way that a fish wouldn't be aware that he exists in the ocean.

We get "thrown" into our society, culture, nation, family at birth and so grow up seeing the world, time, and reality through those particular glasses. Thankfully, millions of us get a good enough education that we learn to distance ourselves from thinking our own colored glasses are the only real view of reality.



In order to function from moment to moment, each of us assumes that we can make choices, that we can alter our life, that we are responsible, that we can make a difference in the world, etc.

The only exception to this, of course, are the severely mentally ill--those who have no sense of individual self or who have catastrophic delusions.

In my view this is why determinism/fate/foreordination doesn't work in real life despite the fact that some brilliant thinkers claim that all humans are "puppets" and that "human choice" is an illusion.

But those very same thinkers don't actually put into practice their convinced view in their own lives. In fact, it would seem impossible to do so.

Rather, they mostly use their conclusion as a hammer to smash other worldviews that they disagree with.

For example, here is one very clear example:

Biologist Jerry Coyne states almost weekly on his website that no human has any choice. He agrees with neuroscientist Sam Harris that we have no more choice than the mass murderer in Texas whose brain tumor forced him to kill other people.
(Listen to Harris' interview with Jerry Coyne and to his podcast "Tumors All the Way Down.")

According to Coyne, we can't even choose what we want to eat for lunch. Even worse, he argues that every murderer and every rapist has no choice but to murder and rape because it was determined that they must.

Thus there is no moral responsibility, none at all--according to Coyne.

Yet Coyne repeatedly bans individuals on the Internet if they disagree with him or his views; or if (from his perspective) they choose to be "discourteous."

This makes no rational or scientific sense!
(Which is unusual for such a brilliant scientist.
In contrast, Coyne's book on evolution, Why Evolution Is True,
is a lucid, very rational explanation of biology and life!

Take a look at the contradiction.

Today, on his website, Coyne states this:

"But Penn neglects a serious problem when he says this: 'You’re not allowed to hate people for their ideas.' Now that’s just not right. Excuse me for Godwinning, but are we not allowed to hate Hitler, only his Nazism and anti-Semitism? Are we not allowed to hate Jihadi John, who cuts off people’s heads, but only the religious ideology that promoted that action? Are we not allowed to hate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose “theology” has led to the deaths of thousands?"

"The fact is that people instantiate their ideas through their actions, and holding beliefs that can inspire bad acts is itself reprehensible."--Jerry Coyne

WAIT a minute. Coyne declares that no one can even choose what he would like to eat for lunch. And much worse declares that ALL murderers and rapists
aren't morally responsible for their murders and rapes!

YET now he states that people who hold ideas and actions and beliefs that he, Coyne, disagrees with are "reprehensible."

That doesn't compute!

How can anyone be "reprehensible" if they are "puppets" incapable of choice??!!

According to Coyne and other hard determinists' view of reality,
Nazis, Hitler, Jihadi John, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi don't have a choice, can't even move a finger,
let alone choose
what ideas they hold, what beliefs they choose, and what actions they take.

They are only dust in the cosmic wind determined by the laws of physics; always done to,
never able to choose contrary to what has been determined.

Of course, Coyne has already stated many times, too, that he himself has no choice about anything. Nothing!

So I suppose Coyne would now say that he doesn't have a choice but must "hate" others and must write this article.

But see what a confusing, contradictory, endless loop that gets us all into.

The word Coyne uses is "reprehensible" which means "very bad : deserving very strong criticism," but Coyne at the same time says that no human has any choice but to do what has been determined.

Then Coyne goes onto state, "But what about good people who adopt and act on those bad ideas? Don’t they become bad people?"

HUH? Coyne has already stated that murderers don't have any choice, none at all. Neither do civil people. So how in the world could a "good" person "adopt and act on those bad ideas"?

None of us can do 'nothin'.

Some determinists argue that while "human choice" is an illusion, it is yet practical to assume it in daily life.

But, again, notice that in their argument they have temporarily abandoned their determinism and instead now state that any one can choose to "assume" they have a choice, (which is really an illusion), because it is beneficial.


Despite all their brilliance, it seems determinists are wrong about determinism because none of them--none of us--can operate from moment to moment, living as a "puppet" or a "wet robot," not choosing.

Such a view automatically incapacitates my next moment because in order to be human I need to assume that I can choose!


Many atheists and non-religious commentators think that religious people live in illusions. And there is a lot of truth to such a charge.

For instance, consider brilliant scholars like Richard Lyman Bushman, winner of the Bancroft Prize, author of the brilliant biography of Joseph Smith, the founder of Latter Day Saints (Mormon).

Bushman is a fine scholar, yet when it comes to analyzing the rampant adultery and promiscuity of Smith, Bushman clearly shades the facts, trying to exonerate Smith, because of his biases, his own faith in Mormonism.

But religious people can also be motivated by objective ethics, not only by illusions and irrational ideas. Many critics of religion fail to realize this.

Neil Carter, a former Christian, and now atheist blogger wrote on his website today, "Your approach to conversation with the devout must also take into account that they themselves are active participants in their religion, continually creating their own personal experience of the divine on a subconscious level, apart from their own awareness."

Evidently this was Neil's own experience and that of the Christians he knew, but I didn't ever experience God in such a way. I never experienced what countless Christian leaders said Christians did--a vivid sense of God's presence--so I thought there was something wrong with me.

In all my years as a Christian, I NEVER once received an answer to even one of my prayers. (These weren't minor prayers or self-centered prayers). But no answer ever came.

Spiritual leaders told me to wait.

I did for years.

I couldn't understand how other Christians were so dedicated to prayer.

And their claims of answers to their prayers appeared to be illusionary, at times very bogus.

So why did I stay with the sinking ship?

My chief reason for being a Christian was always ethical. I was dedicated to human rights, to the good, the true, the just, the equal, and the beautiful, and so on.

Many of those who opposed my faith and hope--
our professors who were secular, (many atheists), other students (at the University of Nebraska, Long Beach State) who were skeptics and anti-religious, and then later other non-Christians--
often supported and participated in unethical behavior.

So even though I found myself constantly doubting my religion, and totally opposed to other parts of it,
I didn't jump ship for a very long time, because of the ethics.

When it became clear that there was another way to be more ethical, one much better than Christianity, then I left.

Some very smart people assert that there are no real ethics, that we humans "construct" ethics, so slavery is really not wrong, but is advantageous to survival and so is correct, though that is only a subjective cultural, societal view. Back in the past, when most humans supported slavery, then slavery wasn't wrong.

This sounds like an atheistic version of how Neil is describing Christian illusion.

If one's ethics aren't grounded, based in, reality, then they would appear to be delusionary.

Besides, if humans have to "construct" ethics, then there is no basis for holding all humans to the same ethical standards. Then morality becomes whatever an society claims it is.

Some non-religious leaders including Bob Seidensticker and Hermant Mehta state that ethics are "programmed" into the human species, but this is clearly denied by nearly all biologists.

1.If there is no programmer, then no programs can be written.

2.Almost all biologists state that evolution has no goals, no purpose, no meaning.

Many of the non-religious biologists go even further and emphasize that homo sapiens aren't better than other species, but only a twig on the bush of natural selection.

3.And even if one decides to think that humans are more important than other species, there is no basis for deciding which traits of natural selection are better, are more ethical than others.

Millions of humans have chosen the very successful behaviors of deception, enslavement, abuse, and slaughter.
Some humans--a minority--have instead chosen honesty, equality, compassion, and non-violence.

If there are no true, real ethics, no actual "oughts" in the sense that philosophers of the past meant such as Immanuel Kant, then how can humans decide which actions are better and which are wrong?

If we humans must "construct" our own ethics, who is to say that it is wrong for parents to mutilate little girls (as over 80% of Muslim parents do in Egypt)?

Or that it is wrong for all women to be in subjection to their husbands and that women can't be leaders (as the vast majority of Muslims, many conservative Christians believe)?

Or that all humans are equal and have unalienable rights (as Enlightenment leaders and human rights organizations claim)?

The whole basis of the Enlightenment, the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and so forth is that ethics are real and true, and need to be discovered and lived for by everyone.

Some atheists argue that survival is the only true value.

But if there are no true "oughts," then why do they make "survival" an exception?

For many who claim ethics are subjective preferences of human cultures and societies, not objectively real, contradictorily state that the human species "ought" to continue.

But why "ought" we humans to continue if there are no "oughts," none at all?

Besides, a quick glance back down history-way will show the innumerable horrors that the ethics of survival have led millions of humans to commit. Billions of humans have been abused, tortured, and slaughtered including millions of innocent civilians, including many children!

Fairly recently a number of human thinkers have justified the intentional slaughter of many infants, children, elderly, etc. to protect their country and their country's soldiers in the speculative future! This the view of millions of Americans, Palestinians, and others.

Subpoint C

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

1 Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Perseverance and Hope of "How Much is a Person Worth?" by E. A. Kersnovskaya

How did this book come to be written and painted?

Euphrosinia Kersnovskaya, spent many years in Soviet prison camps, exiled to Siberia.

Don't miss this powerful, illustrated autobiography of one individual's experience in the Russian Gulag, her perseverance, and continual hope.

For more extensive background, read the powerful histories, Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by the historian, Simon Sebag Montefiore.

And visit Quaker Johan Mauer's thoughtful, reflective blog at

Live for the Light,
despite the abyss'd ocean of political and religious darkness
that George Fox wrote about,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monads, Quarks, Planks, Patterns, "I," and God

To use turns of phrases--
What’s in a name?

Why speak of a prank, er. a plank?

Names and terms change meaning, often from generation to generation, but sometimes within months.

Which is more real, an object/fact or a pattern/process?

What’s God got to do with it?

“Imagine your uncle died and in his will he left you his beloved old wooden boat. You love your uncle and out of respect for him you decide that you’re going to fix up his old boat, making it good as new."

"And so you start with the hull, replacing old boards with new ones. But as you work rebuilding the hull, you realize that the deck needs replacing as well. And so the next year, you remove all of the boards on the deck and replace them with new ones, plank by plank, until the boat has an entirely new deck."

"But spending all that time working on the deck convinces you that the hardware isn’t reliable; you’re not sure which pieces would work if you were to actually start the boat, and which would snap with the slightest strain. And so you set out to replace all of the hardware..."

"If you keep this up, at some point you will have replaced the entire boat, and yet when you take your friends out for a ride, you will tell them that this is the boat your uncle left you in his will."

"The enduring reality of the boat, then, is in the pattern, not the planks."

"The planks come and go, but the pattern remains."
Rob Bell

Objects, things, facts, cells, atoms and so forth come and go.

But patterns remain...well they come and go, too, but they usually last longer in one 'place' than cells.

Bell, again:
"You are a pattern, moving through time, constantly changing and yet precisely consistent. Some have said we’re like ‘light at the end of a spinning stick.’”
Rob Bell
-What We Talk About When We Talk About God(3)

Think about what Bell said. It’s so true.(4)

From scientists, facts about 'you':

"Your Body is Younger Than You..."

"Whatever your age, your body is many years younger. In fact, even if you're middle aged, most of you may be just 10 years old or less."

"The cells lining the stomach, as mentioned, last only five days."

"The epidermis, or surface layer of the skin, is recycled every two weeks or so."

"An adult human liver probably has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days."
Markus Grompe, an expert on the liver's stem cells,
Oregon Health & Science University

The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so...

"Your body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones at the rate of millions per second. By the time you finish reading this sentence,
50 million of your cells will have died and been replaced by others..."(5)

"In a year, 98 percent of the atoms in us now will be replaced by other atoms that we take in, in our air, food and drink. So that means 98 percent of me is new - every year...If you eat a hamburger one day, then the atoms and molecules in that hamburger will end up making up your cell walls and different organs and tissues."(6)

So does that mean, I'm long gone?


Despite all of these changes in my body in the last 70 years
(I wonder how many atoms from Wild Alaskan Salmon), I'm still me--
different "planks,"
different cells,
different atoms,
but still my same consciousness of self.

Glad to meet you, my name is I-Process;-)

I am still becoming at this very moment, even in the midst of my receding into old age.

My conscious, creative awareness transcends my physical body.

"Since we moderns are accustomed to thinking in materialistic terms, and assuming that the human body is somehow the most real aspect of humanness,
we are caught off balance by the claim that what is most distinctively human is, in fact, independent of the body...
a process which is essentially independent of any one of us."
Dwight Brown, UU minister

I exist in that stream of consciousness, moral choice, and creative endeavor. We all are a part of a creative process in which we get to participate for a very brief span of time. We are the opposite of puppets; we can be creators.

What is happening is far more than matter--trillions of atoms--moving around.

We as finite creatures, become aware, can knowingly participate and bring changes to existence.

So the materialists are wrong.(4,7)

Monads, quarks, and atoms don't drive us like shot bullets.

Contrary to what most atheists say, consciousness isn't only the result of millions cells
hard-determined at the tail ends
of 14 billion-long puppet strings.

Unlike plant biologist Anthony Cashmore's claim that we humans are "bags of chemicals" and have no more choice than "bacterium" or a "bowl of sugar,"
other scientists strongly disagree.

For instance, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Rebecca Gladding, M.D. both
wrote an entire book explaining the exact opposite:
You Are Not Your Brain

Schwartz is a research psychiatrist at the UCLA School of Medicine and Gladding is a psychiatrist at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. They are authorities in field of neuroplasticity.

Consciousness is an aware process that enables each of us intelligent primates to transcend our circumstances, to change our behavior, to seek new goals, choose good ethics.

We are sentient beings, able to take situations and things--and through new combinations of ideas, methods, and actions--to bring new ways into existence that never existed before.

Consciousness enables individuals to make creative choices, not repeat the same unjust, immoral actions of humans in the past,
whether the dysfunctional behavior of an alcoholic father or that of exacting revenge against a different human group by one's 50,000 years-past ancestor.

Consider one last analogy.

The squiggles on this virtual page are made up of pixels like the body of mine is made up of cells. But the squiggles don't determine what I write.

I do.

I as a conscious creator do that.

Then squiggles (with their attached meaning) follow.

The same is true of atoms and cells.

They don't determine whether or not I choose to do wrong or right.

But when I decide to send money for the impoverished refugees of Syria,
when I decide to squander my money on things I don't need,
then the cells and atoms of my hand go into action, pulling out my credit card.

Our future is hope
because we can influence that future, not yet here.

We aren't "bags of chemicals" fated by senseless energy, going no where for no purpose.

We can create poems, digital art, construct beautiful buildings, send probes on 10-year missions to Jupiter and beyond, and make many other significant differences.

That's what Enlightenment theism means.


Openness to God-- to speak of friendship with God, to love the good, true, just, and beautiful.

Now speaking of God--

The Divine Process

The Ultimate Becoming

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

1 monad: According to Hippolytus, the worldview was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the "monad."

2 quark: "any one of several types of very small particles that make up matter" M-W Dictionary

3 Too often in new books, Rob Bell is too new agey. You finish one of his books, which is delicious to our readership taste, but at its end all that’s left in one's mind is mostly a cotton-candy afterward.
Sugar and air.
And throw a away a sticky stick.
No substance, except unusual word placement on the page, and fleeting good feelings.
But with this plank-not-dumb story, Bell struck gold, the sugar-load.

4 Well at least to most people, though not for the Sam Harris atheists of the world who claim that every person’s “I” (each of one of us) is an illusion, that the only reality are atoms determined since the Big Bang.
And such determinists state that if you harmed another person, you would always commit such abuse again, even if you had a chance to face that ethical moment a “trillion” times because you as a person have no real choice.
Your every thought and every action are totally determined, lockstepsecular-fated.
It's “tumors-all-the-way-down” claims Harris in his most fatalistic example.

Harris: "If determinism is true, the future is set—and this includes all our future states of mind and our subsequent behavior...each of us is moved by chance and necessity, just as a marionette is set dancing on its strings."
"There is no combination of these truths that seems compatible with the popular notion of free will."


6 Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

7 "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."
Francis Crick

Sunday, August 21, 2016

He "raped me 3 times," said the 15-year-old. Scars

“My stepfather raped me 3 times. I’m going to kill him!” said this teen girl who was talking to Dave Roever, a motivational speaker, and to her high school counselor.

Roever later said, "I know the difference between a promise and a threat. This was no threat."

"I realized that all of my training in college level psychology and sociology had not prepared me for this confession of pain."

"I didn’t know what to say..."

His own excruciating memories blasted in--

"I lost 40% of my skin and 60 pounds of flesh to a hand grenade in Vietnam."

"She a rapist of a step-father along with her trust, faith,"

"I didn’t know how she felt and I wasn’t going to fake it."

"Not now."

"What could I say?"

"I began to weep..."

Then, suddenly, this distraught young girl
"reached across the table, nervously wiped the tear from my face and said,
'Nobody’s ever cried for me.'”

"I lost it...started crying and threw my arms around her and soaked her sleeve with tears."

"She patted me on the back and tried to comfort me, saying,'It’s okay, Mister. It’s okay.'”

The girl's counselor sat quietly, waiting.

The girl "dried my tears, and then I allowed something I would probably never allow anyone else to do except"

This traumatized student touched the man's severely scarred face, tracing every fissure...

"...only the deepest empathy...She spoke quietly, 'Mister, your scars are all on the outside;
mine are on the inside.'"

"But if you can make it, I can make it, too!”

"...the pain always bleeds through in tears of broken lives...'
By Dave Roever
Unknown Source Article

What a powerfully deep true story.

So many Annie's* and Jim's out there...

Whether in Syria, Iraq, or down the street in any major U.S. city, when “the night comes on,”
the Ocean of darkness...

Weep with those who suffer, with those wounded, with those so tragically scarred.
Reach out and help each individual in need.

Please touch their faces of hurt, wounding, and suffering.
Touch the heart of this hurting world.

Heal their wounds. Touch their scars with empathy, compassion, and caring.

Work for a more humane world, one filled with truth, goodness, and beauty.

*"For Annie"

No one ever noticed Annie weeping
People all around, but she was all alone
Mama's got her meetings, Daddy's got his job
and no one's got the time so Annie's on her own

No one ever knew her desperation
People couldn't hear her cry out silently
Locked inside the bathroom she grabs a jar of pills
The medicine that cures becomes the poison that kills

And it's too late for Annie, she's gone away for good
There's so much we could tell her and now we wish we could
But it's too late, it's too late for Annie

If only we had known her situation,
We'd have tried to stop this useless tragedy
Annie's lost forever, never to be found
But there are lots of others like her all around

[3rd Chorus]
And it's not too late for Annie, she could be next to you...
Robert M Hartman
Published by

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Best of Times, Not Worst of Times

Contrary to the daily news and the views of current political candidates,
this is the best of times,
not the worst by any stretch of the facts.

“By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been.”
Bill and Melinda Gates

“...people will react with incredulity at the very possibility that things could be getting better..."

" prepared for the inevitable recitation of the daily headlines—bad news piled on top of even worse news—that will inevitably follow.
Virtually everyone I’ve mentioned this quote to is sure it’s wrong.”
Steven Quartz

“Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place."

Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times.”

“After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists.”

“The fact is that one can come home in the evening — on a lucky day — without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena.
This has led me to formulate Tuchman’s Law, as follows:

‘The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five- to tenfold” (or any figure the reader would care to supply).’”
Barbara Tuchman, 1978

“It’s easy to focus on the idiocies of the present and forget those of the past. But a century ago our greatest writers extolled the beauty and holiness of war. Heroes like Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson avowed racist beliefs that today would make people’s flesh crawl.”

“Women were barred from juries in rape trials because supposedly they would be embarrassed by the testimony. Homosexuality was a felony. At various times, contraception, anesthesia, vaccination, life insurance and blood transfusion were considered immoral.”
Steven Pinker, 2011

Good News, a Guest Post
by Bill Guerrant:

“...humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least-appreciated story in human history.

So if that’s true, then why isn’t humanity’s progress more well known? Why aren’t we not only seemingly ungrateful for it, but generally oblivious to it?

According to a recent survey, only 5% of people believe the world is getting better. 71% say it is getting worse.

According to Pew’s research, every year since the early 2000’s a majority of Americans surveyed have felt that crime has increased since the year previous. The most recent Gallup poll found a full 70% of Americans think the crime rate is currently increasing.

This despite the fact that crime rates continue to fall precipitously, and are now about half what they were just 25 years ago.

56% of Americans believe gun deaths have increased over the last 20 years.

In fact, gun deaths (that is, deaths caused by gunshots) have fallen by nearly a third during that period.

Two-thirds of Americans believe that extreme poverty has doubled over the past 20 years. Only 5% of those polled responded that extreme poverty has decreased during that time.

In fact, 95% of Americans are greatly mistaken–extreme poverty has been cut nearly in half over the last 20 years and may soon be eliminated entirely.

There has never been a better time to be alive. Conditions in the world have never been better than they are today.

While far from perfect, there is less violence,
less war,
less ignorance,
less disease,
less hunger,
less poverty,
less injustice,
and less human suffering today than ever before.

Indeed, humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least appreciated story in human history.

Crime is falling across the board. Murder and rape are about 20% of what they were in 1973, for example.

We are living in the most peaceful time in human history.

Because war is so rare, battle deaths and war-related destruction has dropped dramatically since the end of WWII and now is statistically nearly non-existent. State on state warfare is now seemingly obsolete.

Rates of violence against women and children are in steep declines. Rates of rape and sexual assault in the US for example, have fallen by over half in the last 20 years. Violence against spouses has fallen by nearly 2/3 during that period.

Over the last 20 years, sexual assaults on children have fallen by more than half, as has other forms of physical violence. Bullying has decreased by 2/3.

Genocide and other forms of mass violence against civilians is only 25% of what it was 40 years ago, even with the uptick associated with the rise of ISIS.

Even in places with very high homicide rates, like Mexico, Columbia, and Brazil, for example, the rates are less than half what they were just a few decades ago and they continue to fall.

And as we’re becoming healthier, wealthier and less violent, we’re also becoming smarter.

IQ testing reveals a substantial, consistent and long-sustained increase in IQ scores worldwide since data began being collected in 1930. One estimate is that the average IQ in 1932, for example, was only 80 by today’s values.

There’s also never been a safer time to be a police officer or an apprehended criminal suspect.

For example, the number of police officers intentionally killed in duty now is the lowest amount ever recorded.

This is the least violent time in American history. US homicide rates are at a 51 year low, falling by nearly half over the last 20 years.

Gun homicides have declined by 49% since 1993, even as gun ownership has increased by 56%.

Gun-related police deaths peaked in the 1920’s and have been steadily falling ever since (other than a sharp brief uptick in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s). There are fewer this year than last year and less than half what they were in 1880.

Crime among African American youth has fallen by 47% in last 20 years.

The decline in violence has been ongoing for all of human existence, it’s just accelerated lately.

Prehistoric remains show that on average 15% of humans once died violent deaths (at the hands of other humans)! Today that’s an extremely rare cause of death–only about .001%.

Slaughter scene from the 30 Years War, when a third of the population of Germany died because of Christians killing Christians!

In 1450, Italian homicides averaged 73 per 100,000 people.
England was relatively safe, with just over 13 homicides per 100,000 people.

In 2011, in contrast, homicides in Great Britain and the United States averaged 1 and 4 per 100,000 people respectively.

From 1997 to 2011 U.S. emergency departments have seen a 48% reduction in adult deaths.

Abortion rates are at all-time lows in the developed world and fewer teens are giving birth than ever.

Abortion rates have been steadily falling since 1980 and have dropped over 35% since 1990. The number of teens becoming moms has dropped by a total of 54% from 2007 to 2015.

Globally the infant mortality rate has fallen by 49% since 1990.

In 1920 82.4% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. In 2015, only 13.6% did.

100 years ago, ten percent of infants died in their first year, compared with only one in every 168 births in the U.S. today.

There are 200 million fewer people suffering from malnutrition than there were 25 years ago.

The typical American spent one-third of his or her income on food 100 years ago, which is twice today’s share, and 13% of his or her income on clothing, which is only 3% of a typical consumers budget today.

In 1920, with a fatality rate of 61 deaths per 100,000 workers, the workplace was about 30 times more dangerous than it is today.

Over the last 150 years global life expectancy has doubled. Worldwide, life expectancy has been rising steadily for well over 100 years.
In the U.S, life expectancy was around 40 in 1880 and is nearly 80 today. Life expectancy has risen nearly ten years in my lifetime alone!

90% of the world’s population now has access to safe drinking water. Since 1990, 2.6 billion more people have gained access to clean drinking water. And since 2000, the number of children who died because of waterborne illnesses has been cut in half.

The total number of people living in poverty is at an all-time low, despite a population increase of 143 percent since 1960.

In the last 35 years, the number of people living on less than $1.25 (adjusted for inflation) has fallen from 42 percent of the population to 16.9 percent.

Experts believe that extreme poverty may be completely eliminated by 2030. Even as we have fewer poor people, the poor are more affluent.

Systemic injustice is being overcome as well. In 1942, 68 percent of white Americans thought that blacks and whites should go to separate schools. By 1995, only 4 percent of American whites thought that.

In 1958, 45 percent of white Americans said that they would “maybe” or “definitely” move if a black family moved in next door. That number fell to just 2 percent in 1997. So rare were segregationist attitudes by the mid-1990’s that the federal government discontinued collection of such statistics.

As late as 2002, only 38 percent of Americans believed that gay and lesbian relationships were morally acceptable.

A mere 13 years later, 63 percent of Americans felt that way. Consider also that in 1996, only 27 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage. By 2015, that number more than doubled with 60 percent of Americans in support.

The threats that are most frightening to many these days, terrorism and mass shootings, are actually extremely rare.
Excluding U.S. military personnel, fewer Americans have been killed by terrorism globally since 2002 than have died from allergic reactions to peanuts.

In most years bee stings, deer collisions, ignition of nightwear, and other mundane accidents kill more Americans than terrorist attacks.

An American is three times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be a victim in a mass shooting.

In Laura Grace Weldon‘s excellent post late last year, she collected even more:
We’re overcoming diseases at extraordinary rates.

AIDS related deaths have continued to drop for the last 15 years in a row and new HIV infections among children have dropped by 58% since 2000.

Malaria, one of the world’s top killers, is on the decline. Last year 16 countries reported zero indigenous cases of malaria. Globally, mortality rates from the disease have fallen from an estimated 839 000 in 2000 to 438 000 in 2015.

In other words, an estimated 6.2 million people have been saved from malaria-related deaths over the last 15 years.

The incidence of polio, which once crippled over a thousand children every day, has now been reduced by 99 percent.

Only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, continue to experience wild polio cases.
The painful parasitic disease, Guinea Worm has effectively been eradicated.

Many more children are surviving childhood.
Mortality rates for children younger than five have been cut in half since 1990 in virtually every country around the world.
That’s about 19,000 fewer children dying every day this year compared to 25 years ago.

More people than ever have access to safe water and bathroom facilities.

Over the last 25 years, an average of 47,000 more people per day were able to rely on a source of clean drinking water.

Now 91 percent of the world’s population has safe water. This saves countless people from suffering or dying from water-borne illnesses.

Over two billion people have gained access in the last 25 years to what the World Health Organization politely calls “improved sanitation facilities.” In other words, 68% of the global population has access to a toilet — critical for health and improved living standards.

Fewer people are hungry.

The number of chronically undernourished people has dropped by 200 million in the last 25 years. That’s particularly impressive considering the world’s population increased by 1.9 billion people during that time.

In 1920, just 28 percent of American youths between the ages of fourteen and seventeen were in high school.

The global literacy rate is now 84%, up from 66% in 1967.

More people can read than ever before.

Today, four out of five people are able to read. In many regions of the world the majority of children and young adults are more literate than their elders, demonstrating that global literacy is rapidly increasing.

At this point, nine out of ten children
are learning to read.

Female literacy rates haven’t risen as quickly due to inequality and poverty, but in some areas, particularly East Asia, 90 percent more girls are able to read than 10 years ago.

As female literacy goes up, other overall positive indicators tend to follow including decreased domestic violence, improved public health, and greater financial stability.

In the U.S., twice as many people are reading books for pleasure than they were in the mid-1950’s.

Internet access is spreading across the world.

There’s been an eight fold increase in the number of people with access to the net in the last 15 years. Right now, there are two Internet users in the developing world for every user in the developed world. With this access comes better opportunities to network, build knowledge, create jobs, and stay connected with others.

The average person’s standard of living has gone up.

Twenty-five years ago, nearly half the world’s population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day.
Today, that proportion has declined to 14 percent. Around the world, the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by half.

In the U.S., homelessness continues to decline. Over the past five years the number of people without shelter has dropped by 26 percent.

Right of indigenous people around the world to protect their land and their identity are, in many cases, beginning to be upheld.

For example, the Makuna, Tanimuka, Letuama, Barasano, Cabiyari, Yahuna and Yujup-Maku peoples of Columbia have won the right to preserve a million hectares of Amazonian forest where they will continue to act as guardians of the land.

Sustainability is accelerating.

In fact, a typical middle class person today is materially richer (and enjoys a better lifestyle) than even John D. Rockefeller did 100 years ago.

As recently as 1960, 16.8 percent of American households were without complete plumbing; today, almost no one is.

Appliances were 4 to 10 times more expensive in 1963 than they are today (even without considering the improvements in capabilities). In 1963 a 23″ black and white TV cost $229 (with trade-in).

Today a 24″ flat screen LED TV costs $130. Adjusted for inflation that TV in 1963 would cost $1,804 in today’s dollars (over 10x more than a better TV costs today)!

Another way of looking at it: in 1963 the minimum wage was $1.25/hr and today it is $7.25/hr. In 1963 a person would have to work 183 hours at minimum wage to be able to buy a 23″ TV. Today a person would only have to work 18 hours at minimum wage to do so.

Same story with the other appliances.
In 1963 a 14.1 cubic foot refrigerator (with trade in) cost $329. Today the same size fridge costs $476. In today’s dollars the 1963 fridge would cost $2,591 (over 5x more than a better fridge today)! It would take 263 hours at minimum wage to afford a refrigerator in 1963 and only 66 hours today.

A 32 lb washing machine cost $209 in 1963 (with trade in) and costs $416 today. In today’s dollars the washer in 1963 would cost $1,646 or 167 hours at minimum wage, versus 57 hours at minimum wage today.

The U.S. and Europe, over the last two years, have added more power capacity from renewables than from gas, coal, and nuclear combined. Renewable energy jobs more than doubled in ten years, from three million jobs in 2004 to 6.5 million in 2013, and continue to grow.

Dramatic improvements in renewable energy technology have lowered costs while improving performance for hydropower, geothermal, solar, and onshore wind power.

Wind energy prices in the U.S. have reached an all-time low and there’s enough wind power installed in the U.S. to meet the total electricity demands of Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming. Investments in wind power are becoming mainstream, including projects being built for, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart.

Protected areas of land and water have substantially increased in the last 25 years. For example, protected lands in Latin America and the Caribbean have risen from 8.8 percent in 1990 to 23.4 percent in 2014.

In fact, more of the planet found protection in 2015 than ever before. In the U.S., President Obama has designated 260 million acres as protected public lands and waters – more than any previous president.

This year nations are setting aside one million square miles of “highly protected ocean,” more than any prior year. This area is larger than Texas and Alaska combined. These fully protected marine reserves are off-limits to drilling, fishing, and other uses incompatible with preservation.

We give ourselves far too little credit for the progress we’re making and the good work we’re doing.

In poll after poll...respondents answer that the state of the world is worsening, even when objective data shows the contrary. Why?

Some attribute this to the media, and its emphasis on bad news. But in fact the human bias toward pessimism and the belief that humanity is becoming worse over time, long predates mass media.

It is found in the two thousand year old poetry of the Roman poet Horace, and four centuries before Horace in Plato, and four centuries before Plato in the writings of Hesiod, and before Hesiod 6,000 years ago in Egypt.

It seems that humans have always preferred the “good old days.” I suspect the supposed deteriorating state of the world has been the subject of campfire discussions since the dawn of time.

[But those "good old days" were far more "bad": My wife's] father had polio as a child. It didn’t kill him, as predicted, but it did leave him disabled for the rest of his life. I’m very grateful I didn’t have to worry about that with our children.

One of Cherie’s great-grandmothers died of pellagra, which is essentially malnutrition even though they didn’t realize it then. That was a common and horrible way to die in the South in those days. I’m glad we’ve put that behind us.

My father died of a heart attack at age 49. He suffered his first heart attack two years earlier. With today’s technology they would have treated him after the first attack and he’d still be alive today.

My maternal grandfather quit school after the second grade to become head of household during the Great Depression when his father went blind. There was no social safety net at all in those days.

I’ve had ancestors who died in childbirth,
who were murdered,
who were killed in wars,
who were tortured to death for their religious beliefs,
who died of illnesses we wouldn’t even consider serious today, etc.

All those things could still happen today, but they’re now exceedingly rare.

For all our problems (and we still have some doozies) we have a great deal for which to be thankful.

There’s never been a better time to be alive than now.

There are interesting scientific theories for why we have a cognitive bias toward viewing the past favorably and the future negatively (the phenomenon called “declinism”).

When I became aware of this phenomenon a few years ago I found it intriguing and fascinating, in part because of the fact that the actual state of affairs (that the world is not declining but instead is progressing rapidly) is so counter-intuitive, especially to my old-fashioned mind. But being aware of our natural bias has helped me resist pessimism and negativity.

It’s helped me to keep the daily barrage of bad news in perspective. It’s helped me to better appreciate human nature and human potential. It’s given me good reason to look forward to the future, rather than dread it. It’s helped me resist despair and selfishness.

I find it much easier to be an optimist now that I’m confident that it’s not just wishful thinking. And that feels good to me.

There has never been a better time to be alive. Conditions in the world have never been better than they are today. While far from perfect,
there is less violence,
less war,
less ignorance,
less disease,
less hunger,
less poverty,
less injustice,
and less human suffering today than ever before.

Indeed, humanity’s amazing progress, which has accelerated in recent decades, may well be the most significant and least appreciated story in human history.

The flood of good news which gets lost in the noise these days would astonish and delight our ancestors.

Despite all the pessimism in the world, and acknowledging that
we still have plenty of obstacles to overcome and plenty
of opportunities to screw it all up, humanity is facing a bright, peaceful and prosperous future!”

By Bill Guerrant
Bill Guerrant is “a chemical-free farmer in Southern Virginia, who is confident that love wins.

"Bill practiced law for over 25 years...retired from practicing law in 2011 to join Cherie in operating White Flint Farm on a full-time basis.

"They are dedicated to being good stewards of their farm and to helping improve the health and wellness of their make the world a better place, one meal at a time."

For those readers who want a book-long study of this controversy, read Steven Pinker’s tome of statistics and other evidences, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker is a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist and professor at Harvard University.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox