Thursday, November 30, 2017

Queries: Growing Old into Questions

“Friends, these…we do not lay upon you as a rule or form…but that with the measure of light…may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding…”
From Meeting of Balby, England, 1656

Personal Living
1. Do we center our lives in awareness of the Light—
ultimate/inherent reality--so that all our thoughts
and actions flow from the Center?*

2. Do we advance in our receding, hope despite our loss of many long-held dreams and aspirations?

3. Do we live above, beyond our ill health, trials and tribulations (deeper than our fading physical selves), remembering to live in the true, the good, the beautiful, even when we fade and all that is wrong stridently shouts?

4. Do we focus on the positive, negate the negative, sparking as small lights in this darkness?

5. Do we work creatively, using our talents to encourage others, bringing our best to each moment, here and now?

6. Do we remember that the preparation of war begins in each heart and one's negative voice, not only with physical weapons?

7. In the midst of the denial of the inherent value of all humans by so many secular and religious leaders at present, do we speak up and emphasize that every single human has inherent worth?

8. Do we speak to and answer that of the Light in all individuals? In all of our relations with others, do we treat them as equals?*

9. Do we let heartache, disappointment, and discouragement constrict our daily life because 2 more Friends Yearly Meetings have split down?

10. Do we take time each day to quiet the rat-race in our busy minds, and be open to the Transcendent?

11. Are we avidly writing and speaking for human rights, equality, and justice in the midst of the crowding instances of wrong, harm, and slaughter?

12.Do we not lose communion though we are no longer part of a local meeting? Where might we find community since we so miss the open meditation, sharing and caring?

13.In older age, how can we still make a difference in others' lives and the world at large, given our own loss of energy, and weakened abilities?

"For age is opportunity no less than youth evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

*Adapted from Faith and Practice, Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1973, 2001

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Revisiting Death Boat Ethics

At times, doesn’t much of religion and politics seem like a lot of crock? Yes, and so it did through most of history, though few humans realized it. And, even now, not much has changed. Billions still rush pell-mell into religious and political debacles and horrors. Abyss after abyss.

The current slaughter, such as the one in an Egyptian mosque 2 days ago, usually involves devout Muslims killing devout Muslims, a very delusionary, destructive life-stance Speaking historically, however, most worldviews have engaged in destruction, including the killing of children.

And then there are the modern views which also justify killing for the good.
A prominent one is Integral Theory, a secular version of Hindu philosophy.
Consider the books of its religious thinker Ken Wilber. At first, Wilbur's
modern synthesis sounds positive. His writing is lucid, and he makes plenty
of insightful points in the Vision and his other books.

Wilbur shows the fusion of a vast amount of learning and much creativity, and has a light-hearted sense of humor as well.
His Integral Theory seeks to combine modern psychology, spirituality, and science into an integrated whole. No small undertaking!

BUT Integral Theory is a modern re-envisioning of "death boat ethics."

What of stopping massacres? According to Wilber, killing is necessary that the nations of the world stop tyrants if they are killing unarmed civilians. Yet at the same time, Wilbur claims that it is really God, in the Hindu sense, who is using the tyrants to do the slaughtering. Furthermore, Wilbur emphasizes that war is necessary.

According to Integral Theory, it is God who brought about 9/11, slaughtering the helpless civilians in the Twin Towers.
See, God, is playing both sides of the fence. See, God is both good guy and bad guy.
From Wilbur: "Totally insignificant, infinitely significant--no difference, truly. Atoms and Gods are all the same, here in the world of One Taste; the smallest insult is equal to the greatest; I am happy beyond description with every act of torture, I am sad beyond compare with every act of goodness."
No, I don’t get it. I don’t see that at all.

But, of course, this is only another horrific version of the hard determinism of Augustinianism, Reformed Christianity, Islamic theology, and modern Atheistic determinism.

The only difference is Wilbur promotes his philosophy with vivid secular prose and throws a few sacred bones to spiritually inclined humans.

Then Wilbur begins to argue for his “Life Boat ethics.” According to him, NOT all humans can live on this earth; so we higher ones must decide which lesser humans—people of less value--
to cast over the sides to their deaths.

This is according to his “depth and span” ethical system. We should/must throw out lesser people from the Life Boat to their deaths! (from Wilber’s Kosmic Consciousness Interview tapes)

Here we have the fallacious view that the “end justifies the means.” It is from such ethical systems that so much of the horrific tragedies and mass slaughters of the 19th and 20th centuries came about.

Haven’t you noticed that when the “end justifies the means," it is always to the advantage of the killing nation or ideology, never for the enemies?

If other countries torture, that is horribly wrong, but if we do it, well, it’s not really torture, and, besides, the end justifies the means for us.

If someone else lies, how wrong, but, of course, if we lie, it is necessary. Yes, Wilber defends some forms of lying! As do most religious and nontheistic humans.

And then, his views get really weird, definitely not of the puritanical Gandhi sort: For Wilber says that it’s okay for husbands and wives to have sex with individual outside of their marriage in an "open marriage”!
(Ken Wilber website)

Furthermore, he seems to agree with another author that Jesus may have had sex with Mary Magdalene.
(“The Meaning of Mary Magdalene” by Cynthia Bourgeault and Ken Wiber,

These “Life Boat” ethics are really anti-life. They go against the moral views of Jesus and Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh and Abdul Ghaffar Khan and many other ethical leaders.

It’s time to realize that all such “Life Boat” ethical systems are really moral death boats.

Of course, according to Wilber most of the humans who oppose his system are lowly “oranges” on his rating scale of human development. What is an “orange”? Don’t ask; it’s not good; a large number of stages down below Wilber’s own advanced spiritual trans-human stage.

Well, at least it’s better for us to be “orange” rather than being “red.” Reds are even worse.

Later, Wilber points out that we do need to include the lesser valued humans, up to a point, (unless we have already bombed/executed them, of course).

And besides, according to him, they will be reincarnated.

Doesn’t this sound a bit like the designations of humans in the highly satiric novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? Or George Orwell's very bitter fable, Animal Farm?

What about Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Kurt Vonnegut, and others who emphasize that humans ought to learn to show benevolence their enemies?

No, Wilber emphasizes. On the contrary, he thinks that even in a thousand years humankind probably won't overcome the need to war.

In his novel, he has one character say “turning the other cheek is exactly what you don’t want to do with pre-orange memes.”

But Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, in contrast, reached out to the marginalized “less integral” humans, to their political enemies, even to terrorists.

But as mentioned above, Wilber emphasizes that it is all humans’ duty to kill.
Like in the Hindu religious classic, the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna doesn’t want to kill his relatives in war, but the God Krishna tells him it is his duty to go into battle and kill his relatives.

So the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria are justified and so are other wars which our particular nation thinks we ought to fight out of duty.

Again, the end justifies the means.

Are we to forget about the nonviolent ethics of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Palestinian Eli Chacour?

Jesus dealt with the powerful immoral Roman Empire, with ruthless Roman soldiers who crucified thousands of Jewish individuals, yet Jesus didn't become a zealot and slit Roman throats saying they hadn’t reached his level of spiritual development.

So have many other spiritual leaders down through history, going against the dominant human way of slaughter.

In contrast, Ken Wilber’s view (as expressed by his characters at and in an extended interview in Kosmic Consciousness by Sounds True) is that nonviolence only works when your nation’s enemies are, basically, nice people.

Also, Wilber emphasizes that humans shouldn’t live by nonviolence because, not only does peace-living not work, but “your death doesn’t even buy you good karma, but the karma of the coward”!!! (

Wilber claims if we don’t kill in war, then we are responsible for what the enemy does! So were the Jewish people of Europe responsible for what the Nazis did? Etc.?

And what makes this all the more confusing is that Wilber has one of his characters later say that God is actually ‘behind’ all such human evil:

"Precisely because I am not this, not that, I am fully this, fully that. Beyond nature, I am nature; beyond God, I am God; beyond the Kosmos altogether, I am the Kosmos in its every gesture. Where there is pain, I am there; where there is love, I am present; where there is death, I breathe easily; where there is suffering, I move unconstrained."

"On September 11, 2001, I attacked me in a distant part of the galaxy on an unremarkable planet in a speck of dust in the corner of manifestation, all of which are wrinkles in the fold of what I am. And none of which affects me in the slightest, and therefore I am totally undone, I cry endlessly, the sadness is infinite, the despair dwarfs galaxies, my heart weeps monsoons, I can't breathe in this torture."

"Totally insignificant, infinitely significant--no difference, truly. Atoms and Gods are all the same, here in the world of One Taste; the smallest insult is equal to the greatest; I am happy beyond description with every act of torture, I am sad beyond compare with every act of goodness."

"I delight in seeing pain, I despise seeing love. Do those words confuse you? Are you still caught in those opposites? Must I believe the dualistic nonsense that the world takes as real? Victims and murderers, good and evil, innocence and guilt, love and hatred? What dream walkers we all are!”
(Ken Wilber Website)

Wilber’s God is the One behind all the evil (as well as the good)!

Yet Ken Wilber thinks the “God” of Christian Fundamentalism is a “nightmare”!
(Page 155)


Think about it: Somehow in Wilber’s philosophy humans need to be executed and bombed, but
behind all those horrendous evil actions is really Ultimate Reality playing:-(!

“until I decided to play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.” (Page 204)

Finally, Wilber states, "Well, it does if you use the W-C Lattice...
Begin using IOS and suddenly it all starts to make sense, at least enough to climb out of the nightmare of fundamentalism…”
from The Integral Vision by philosopher Ken Wilber (pages 147 and 155)

The devil in the “Integral Vision” is hidden in the ethical details. Wilber’s worldview turns out to be much worse than the fundamentalist Christianity he thinks is a “nightmare.” His own philosophical dream makes even less compassionate sense.

How can such a brilliant, knowledgeable, insightful individual be so deceived?

Some ethical issues are so difficult, so ambiguous that morally concerned individuals may disagree.
For example, I could agree to disagree with Wilber’s strong support for execution.

His adamant support for capital punishment doesn’t seem to square with his own spiritual philosophy, but every ethical system has its conundrums. And, besides, capital punishment is a tough, ambiguous issue.

However, Wilber’s attitude is very troubling. When asked if he thought that criminals guilty of murder should be helped to turn from their actions, to change ethically, he said that he didn’t think it was worth society’s effort to help them.

And besides, with reincarnation, the criminals would be reincarnated anyway, so it’s time to “recycle” them. (Ken Wilber’s answer in Kosmic Consciousness tapes)

Again, here is displayed a tragic, uncaring attitude that has often clung like dung to the belief of reincarnation in the past, where the doctrine contributes to the problem of human evil rather than encourages humans to try and solve unjust systems and to help those who do wrong.

Wilbur's view is, Why help the low class, low caste? Why help criminals? Why help the poor? They are all paying for bad karma!

Those humans did something wrong in their past lives. Or since ‘they’ do evil now; why help them? They’ll be back soon with another life.

That’s definitely not the way of the Light. Jesus showed compassion for all the lost, even for criminals and terrorists. While no one should be excused for murder, (like often happens in U.S. courts today, where intentional murderers sometimes get off with only serving as little as 4 years in prison), mercy to help is vital.

All of us need to keep in mind that something like 80% of criminals in prison were abused as children. As Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely pointed out, how do we know that we wouldn't be like the individuals we condemn if we had grown up in their abusive environment?

Though their evil actions as adults are inexcusable, and they do need to be separated from society to prevent harm to others, surely these morally deformed individuals (some of whom had their arms burned by their mother’s cigarettes or were bashed in the face, or sexually abused, etc.)--surely, they do deserve to be rescued.

Hopefully, they will choose to change. At least that is the philosophy of psychologist Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis and other forms of human hope and creative change.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

"Good without God," "Colorful without Color"?

A very popular phrase of late, among many, is "Good without God." It's even the title of a secular humanist book by Greg Epstein.

It would seem based on history that many, probably most, theists think that God is Good. That doesn't mean that they don't contradict themselves. They do that in spades. Because most of them also claim that God creates, foreordains, wills, causes, (etc.) all evil. Just take a look at the Bhagavad Gita, the Hebrew Bible, Quran, and so forth. But, at least, in general belief, most religious humans do think that God is Good in some sort of way or to one degree or another.

In contrast, secularists of various sorts and types claim that God isn't,
but that yet humans can be Good.

However, doesn't that sound like thinkers asserting that Color doesn't exist,
but that yet humans can be Colorful?

If there is no God, how can there be Good?

And if there is no Color, how can there be Colorful?

Ah, semantics, again...

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thompson Square: Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not Lyrics

Beauty of Romantic Innocence

a few of my very favorite romantic poems of innocence:

from the poet, Gary Soto--


The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.

A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We

Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.

I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

--Gary Soto,
retired professor at U.C. Berkeley;
Grew up poor in Fresno.


from songwriters David Lee Murphy and Jim Collins--

Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?

We were sittin' up there on your momma's roof
Talkin' 'bout everything under the moon
With the smell of honeysuckle and your perfume
All I could think about was my next move

Oh, but you were so shy, so was I
Maybe that's why it was so hard to believe
When you smiled and said to me
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I like you a lot
But you're 'bout to miss your shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

It was the best dang kiss that I ever had
Except for that long one after that
And I knew if I wanted this thing to last
Sooner or later I'd have to ask for your hand

So I took a chance
Bought a wedding band and I got down on one knee
And you smiled and said to me
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I love you a lot
I think we've got a real good shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

So, we planned it all out for the middle of June
From the wedding cake to the honeymoon
And your momma cried
When you walked down the aisle

When the preacher man said, "Say I do"
I did and you did too, then I lifted that veil
And saw your pretty smile and I said
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Are we gonna do this or what?
Look at all the love that we got
It ain't never gonna stop
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Yeah baby, I love you a lot
I really think we've got a shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Songwriters: David Lee Murphy / Jim Collins
Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not lyrics © Spirit Music Group, Carol Vincent & Assoc LLC


And romantic innocence when faced with problems and trials:

from the songwriters Jon Nite and Ross Copperman--


Trying to live and love,
With a heart that can't be broken,
Is like trying to see the light with eyes that can't be opened.
Yeah, we both carry baggage,
We picked up on our way, so if you love me do it gently,
And I will do the same.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
'Cause we are glass.

I'll let you look inside me, through the stains and through the cracks,
And in the darkness of this moment,
You see the good and bad.
But try not to judge me, 'cause we've walked down different paths,
But it brought us here together, so I won't take that back.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
We are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.

We might be oil and water, this could be a big mistake,
We might burn like gasoline and fire,
It's a chance we'll have to take.

We may shine, we may shatter,
We may be picking up the pieces here on after,
We are fragile, we are human,
And we are shaped by the light we let through us,
We break fast, cause we are glass.
We are glass.

Songwriters: Jon Nite / Ross Copperman
Glass lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Jon Nite grew up in Amarilo, Texas, married his sweetheart,
and they had an infant while still in high school; then they
moved to Nashville.

In this time of twisted views, lurid obscenities, and sexual assault,
let us turn away from such ethical darkness!

Turn to the Light of Romantic Innocence and Beauty,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, November 20, 2017

Please Write for Lee Su-jun, NOT to be forced back to North Korea


"Lee Su-jung (name being used in China, aged 24) and her son (aged 4) are currently in detention in Shenyang, China, along with 8 other North Koreans. If forcibly returned, they are at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment and possibly execution.


Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

Stop the forced return of any person to North Korea, including Lee Su-jung and her son;
Grant refugee status to those North Koreans who are entitled to it, give them immediate access to UNHCR or allow them to travel to South Korea or other countries to seek asylum;
Ensure Lee Su-jung, her son and the other eight North Koreans in the group are protected from torture and other ill-treatment while in detention and have prompt access to legal counsel of their choosing and any necessary medical treatment.
Contact these two officials by 27 December, 2017:

Xi Jinping
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017,
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025
Salutation: Dear President

Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 495 2266 I Fax: 1 202 495 2138
Email: OR
(If you receive an error message, please try calling instead!)
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, November 17, 2017

Light and Rearranging Chairs in the Midst of Multiple Hurricanes

Again, and again...rearranging deck chairs in the midst of multiple hurricanes...
one discouraging image that comes to mind when reflecting-ruminating-contemplating
on the recent breakups of two more Friends Yearly Meetings (NCYM and NWYM)
while the world suffers endless severe crises,
millions are destitute,
many persecuted, abused, and slaughtered.

And on the current absurd political wranglings--leftovers and rightwrongs...

Been there:

Was a member and leader in California Yearly Meeting shortly before it broke from Friends United Meeting, back when the Yearly Meeting opposed freezing nuclear weapons. In fact, many members defended nuclear weapons, though their Faith and Practice clearly condemned ALL war.

Instead most time was focused on lesser doctrinal points and the danger of possible uncontrolled behavior during open worship...

Attended a local Arizona meeting of Intermountain Yearly Meeting with my wife, where to our bafflement and shock, some Friends followed forms closely, yet defended killing...

Was a member of Pacific Yearly Meeting where some members opposed support and involvement in peacemaking in Iraq because the word "Christian" was part of the name, even though Friend Tom Fox, as a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, had already been died witnessing for and working for peace in Iraq.

Instead, we spent considerable time on plans to get a peace pole erected....:-(

And worse...

Since I'm an extremely liberal Friend far out on the edge and have plenty of my own shortcomings and failures,
no doubt, other Friends could point out many ways that I, too, don't live up to the Light.


Think about this: What is the Friends/Quakers beyond an empty form?

Even back in the 19th century, social activist Friends were opposed by their meetings because of their abolition work.
Most Friends instead focused on their religious forms.

Modern Friends insert totally contrary, contradictory views,
advocate opposing ethics,
even deny that the Light exists,
or insist that only a doctrinaire understanding of God is the Light.

At times, as a UU-leaning Friend, I'm tempted to jump ship.

Only the Unitarian-Universalists are also rearranging chairs, still order their services like traditional churches! And are caught down in a severe controversy right now, too (including opposition to their UU president).

And, strangely, like some Friends, many UU's claim the lifestance of Pagan!

Huh? How could any rational, contemplative members of Quakers and UU ever think that the cosmos is polytheistic?

Furthermore, such a worldview--Paganism--is completely contrary to everything that is essential to being a Friend (and a UU).

If you think differently, please comment on why you believe my observation is incorrect.

What if instead of inserting almost any and all contrary ethics and philosophies into the empty-bucket called Quakers...

What if instead of acting like lawyers arguing over minutia and forms...

What if all of us, instead, centered,
stood up against all war, inequality, injustice
and focused on seeking
the True, the Good, the Just, the Beautiful?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Despairingly UN-funny: MOORE and LESS

Probably no one needs more sordid details about 32-year-old Alabama district attorney Roy Moore's alleged molestation of a 14-year-old girl. Or that Moore told the young teen's mother that he would watch out for her!

So, let's skip to some very Kurt-Vonnegut sort of commentary on this moral debacle, neither moore nor less:

Infidel753 already has made a number of very strong points on his web blog. For instance, he wrote, "What's striking to me is how closely the divide over Moore on the right correlates with the religious/secular divide. The very people who generally exhibit an outright obsession with Christianity's sexual taboos are going all out to defend a man plausibly accused of sexual misbehavior..."

It's even more absurd than that. Because in the past Christian leaders obsessed on Bill Clinton (and others) "sexual misbehavior" BUT
all of those ethical choices were
with adults.

Even Christian leaders' past defense of Newt Gingrich (who twice committed adultery, once when his wife at the time was dying of cancer!:-( isn't as bad as this current hypocrisy.

This Christian defense of Moore is much more like the Roman Catholic leaders' responses to priests having sexual relations with young teens.

How could anyone defend such immoral, unjust actions against innocent young teens?!

How can so many Christian defend a famous Christian leader, former Alabama Supreme Court Judge who in the past, when a 32 district attorney, committed alleged sexual relations with a 14-year-old and made unethical advances to other teen girls.
(Of course, his legal 'out' is that he, Moore, didn't go all the way. BUT
that was also true of the priests who molested young teens.)

So really nothing new here.

Christian leaders have been defending fellow Christians who engage in serious sexual misconduct for many years.

BUT WHAT DOES surprise me is the nearly complete condemnation of Ray Moore's actions by secularists (after you ferret out their hostility to right-wing politics).

Heck, many secularists claim that sexual misconduct--even rape!--isn't really wrong.

Instead they assert that all ethics are "subjective," even raping, enslaving, slaughtering!! All ethics are only "personal preference" or opinion.

Some even claim that various unethical actions are only about "like" or "dislike."

According to these secularists, enslavement,
little girl mutilation, etc.
are no different than liking (or not liking) coffee or tea or soda.

All humans need to promote the view of the Humanist Manifesto III, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Enlightenment view of thinkers such as Thomas Paine--
that humans have "inherent value."

THAT ethics are real!

THAT molestation, sexual misconduct, statutory rape and adult rape are ALWAYS wrong.

Deeply troubled in this "ocean of darkness" that corrupts and poisons the religious and secular world today.

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, November 3, 2017

Guest Post: "Why I am a Free-Speech Fundamentalist"

from Secular Outpost on Free Speech by Keith Parsons:
"I am a free-speech fundamentalist. That is, I hold that public forums, including public universities, should be open to the free expression of opinion. Period. Even when the opinion is offensive and obnoxious. Especially when the opinion is offensive and obnoxious. There can be no free speech if it is required that the speech not offend anyone.

There can be no free speech if only certain viewpoints or ideologies are permitted. There can be no free speech if certain topics are sacrosanct and not allowed to be touched. Does that mean that white supremacist Richard Spencer should be allowed a platform? Yes.

Does it mean that professional provocateurs such as Ann Coulter and Milos Yiannopoulos should be allowed to do their odious act? Yes.

But what about those whose feelings would be deeply hurt by the mindless effusions of such trolls?

Tough. You have no right not to be offended.

You also have no right to shout down such speakers or prevent their audience from hearing them. If you do so, you should be forcibly ejected from the premises."
Why I am a Free-Speech Fundamentalist


Thank you, Keith Parsons!!

Though I never thought you would describe yourself as a 'fundamentalist;-) of any sort. (Though, of course, I get your humorous hyperbole:-)

It is so scary, so irrational, so undemocratic, so aberrational that these many humans now want to deny for others what they claim for themselves.

And the strange current view that you mention, "But what about those whose feelings would be deeply hurt by the mindless effusions of such trolls? Tough. You have no right not to be offended."

When did civilization, democracy, progress come to mean not being "offended"?!

Also, during the many years that I taught literature to high school students including basic debate (on the most controversial topics from abortion to same sexuality to war), our school never had a problem, nothing like the current upsets at some universities from New England to Berkeley. By my insisting on a few courtesy rules and that they present their views with reasoning and evidence, 9th graders and 11th graders, for years, were able to espouse ANY view they wanted to, without censure.

During all of those debates, students learned much. Never once, though they were immature teens, especially some of the 9th graders:-), did I ever have to send any one out for discipline problems. NOT once.

What is wrong that so many now demand that the free speech of others with whom they disagree, be restricted?!

In the Light of Freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion or non-religion, freedom of the press, freedom, freedom, freedom!

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What Is the Essential Nature of Reality? Many Leaders Claim to “Know.”

How do so many human leaders "know" the essential nature of reality?

Exactly how and why such human hubris exists among most Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists is uncertain.

I’m not going to try and unravel that conundrum in one blog post.

Rather I am going to describe the most common alleged claims for us seekers to take a careful look, study, and then make a tentative, educated guess about.
Here goes; hold on to your virtual hats;-):

Living in a universe about 27 billion light-years across, and about 13 billion years old and, according to cosmologists, a cosmos that will last more billions of years, that is the huge existence which we humans in cosmic time 'blipped into'. And there is a real possibility that this cosmos is only one of an infinite number in an alleged multiverse--
that is educated speculation by many prominent human thinkers, scientists, and philosophers.

What is "essential or inherent reality"?

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

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

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

Indeed, every molecule, everything, every event, every human action was petrified to happen at the moment of the Big Bang. Consciousness, reason, etc. are all illusions. According to the scientist Sam Harris, even our sense of “I” is an illusion. And even if existence happened again a “trillion” times, everything would happen exactly the same.

So the Germans will gas millions in the Holocaust eternally, never able to choose a different action:-(
Despite my studying this determinism at university, and for many years since, and so many times trying to imagine my "I" as an illusion who is only 'done to' by the cosmos, I still think this is one of the least likely views of reality.

But the view is very popular these days--sort of an atheistic version of Calvinism.

#3 All reality came about somehow by a temporary, finite, imperfect, even distorted, expression of the perfect eternal Ideal Forms of Platonism.
But why did this happen? Where did evil come from?

#4 All reality came about by emergent possibilities in a quantum singularity vacuum or some unknown ultimate reality. But how did the quantum singularity vacuum originate? Here goes "turtles all the way down."

This view seems to posit an eternal matter and energy reality with no meaning 'transcending' it.
Like in #1, life, consciousness, humankind, reason, ethics are all "flukes," "accidents," "lucky" breaks.

#5 All reality came about by an impersonal ultimate reality of cosmic beauty. Scientists such as Albert Einstein stated this was his view, that he thought the cosmos was meaningful, but impersonal. This view seems similar to a combination of #3 and #4.

However, unlike #2 and #4, the emergent-possibility cosmos isn't meaningless and purposeless, but is filled with intellectual meaning.
Interesting, but I doubt it.

#6 All reality is coming about by the everlasting but limited cosmic reality that is becoming. This is the view of thinkers including philosopher and mathematician Alfred Lord Whitehead, process philosopher Charles Hartshorne, etc.

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

But where is the evidence for this?

Process thinkers explain that consciousness, reason, ethics, mathematics, natural law, creativity, aesthetics, life itself, etc. are evidence, the hints that this isn’t a “meaningless” cosmos.

This view is appealing, but most of the technical philosophical explanations are BEYOND me. I'm still trying to understand the science tome, The Elegant Universe by the cosmologist Brian Greene.

I'm a relatively average literature teacher (who got born with a "why" in his throat;-)

#7 All reality came about as just one of an infinite number of universes of an infinite multi-verse, the view of some modern cosmologists. What is the ultimate of the multi-verse is unknown or maybe the multiverse itself is ultimate. And, besides, while finite humans can seek to understand, the actual nature of reality is probably forever beyond finite mental abilities.

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

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

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

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

Not significantly different from Christian, Muslim, and Atheist determinists who use very different terms but come to, basically, the same results.

Given that I am a human rights worker, ethicist, and educator from way back, for about 55 years, obviously this isn't my cup of philosophical tea.

Also, I still vividly remember as a Gandhi devotee in the 60’s being shocked when a Hindu priest in L.A. tried to persuade me to go to Vietnam to kill (when I was drafted), saying insects are killed all the time in reality.:-( Or as I learned later that Gandhi claimed, that all humans are “playthings” of the gods.

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

Allegedly, this is the view of the Mysterians such as the modern skeptic Martin Gardner and Roger Penrose, the English physicist, mathematician, and philosopher, etc.

#10 All reality continually comes about by infinite impersonal reality which never had a beginning. No creator god exists. Some forms of Buddhism hold this view (though other forms of Buddhism are theistic).

At this point in my life, I lean toward some view of #3 and #6, though I am open to #1 as a real possibility.

And furthermore realize, as I already said, that maybe we finite humans don't have enough knowledge to even decide this question.
But we need to operate from some worldview, engage in life as it happens, hold to some form of ethics.

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox