Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reflection: "Can an atheistic worldview support the...sacred?"

Can an atheistic worldview support the concept of the holy or sacred?
by Professor Randal Rauser

MY REFLECTION on that short article:
Baptist professor Randal Rauser gave this quote by Dworkin: “religion is deeper than God. Religion is a deep, distinct, and comprehensive worldview: it holds that inherent, objective
value permeates everything, that the universe and its creatures are awe-inspiring,
that human life has purpose and the universe order.”

Huh?! This conundrum seems to show that a HUGE amount of discussion of theism versus atheism is semantic and based on differing definitions.

For Dworkin's definition would appear to be the very definition, not of religion, but of God!

Rauser wrote, "For this discussion, I will define “God” as a personal being who is the ultimate explanation for everything else that exists."

The first general definition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is somewhat different:
God "1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality:"

Those definitions don't necessarily disagree, but the M-W C. D. one would seem to make Drwokin a theist, not an atheist.

For Drwokin wrote, "...inherent, objective value permeates everything, that the universe and its creatures are awe-inspiring, that human life has purpose and the universe order."

Such a statement is so incredibly different from what most famous atheists claim.

The latter atheists emphasize that existence-cosmos has no value,
that everything is "meaningless," "purposeless," and "pointless,"
that human primates are without worth,
that humans have no choice,
that everything is fully determined from the Big Bang,
that ethics are "subjective," "relative," and only personal "preferences," "likes or dislikes,"
and that liberty, equality, and human rights are all "myths."

That atheists can so completely disagree about the very nature of the reality astounds me.

Though I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Heck, theists do this as well. John Wesley once wrote he would rather be an atheist than believe one version of Christianity.

A few central reasons why I am a theist is that I think that ethics are real, that creativity is possible for humans, and that the cosmos and life are amazing, that the ultimate nature of reality is full of meaning. (I do speculate about whether or not panentheism or some form of Enlightenment description might be true, BUT I know that is only educated guessing.)

So I am curious, would you characterize me as an atheist or a theist?

In the Light of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful,

Daniel Wilcox

Whose Is Jerusalem? THIS LAND IS MINE by Nina Paley

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.


JERUSALEM: This Land Is Mine...says various human groups, all demanding it go their way. It's called selfishness. How about a little kindness and sharing and generosity?

An excellent satire
by Nina Paley

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reflection on "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"


by Walt Whitman

FLOOD-TIDE below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you
also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how
curious you are to me!

On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross,
returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,

And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are
more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of
the day,
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme, myself disintegrated,
every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,

The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings,
on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,

The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to

Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and
the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;

Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence,
others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood- tide,
the falling-
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,

I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,

Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the
bright flow, I was refresh'd,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift
current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-
stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

I too many and many a time cross'd the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air
floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,

Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left
the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,

Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of
my head in the sunlit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward,
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the vessels arriving,

Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender
serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-

The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of
the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of
the granite storehouses by the docks,

On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd
on each side by the barges, the hay-boat, the belated
On the neighboring shore the fires from the foundry chimneys
burning high and glaringly into the night,

Casting their flicker of black contrasted with wild red and yellow
light over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of

These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,

I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same—others who look back on me because I look'd
forward to them,
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)


What is it then between us?

What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails

First portion of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
by Walt Whitman


Not sure when I first encountered this powerful poetic meditation on Life, time, place, travel, and death...

The first time I remember was when I introduced it to recalcitrant students at Westminster High School in the fall of 1979 during my student teaching...
and strangely there I encountered one of those transcendent ALIVE moments that sometime occur in our life, and shock us awake! But then shortly afterward--a few several weeks--one of the first "deaths" of hope struck my life. I was still an idealistic, naive individual, though I was 32 years of age, traveling late into my career because of the wanderings and wonderings of my 20's.

Somehow, someway, the day I stood amidst the desks, orally interpreting Whitman's prescient awareness of the relationship between him and the people of his day and those of future times who read his poem...
for some students, and especially myself, I encountered one of those deeply alive times when I experienced that wide consciousness which Whitman refers,
a vivid awareness which explodes out from our usual unaware, hum-drum daily life--

A moment in which suddenly we are so aware that place and time even "...hundreds of years...avails not"...

That moment in the midst of the stress of student teaching to earn my credential, dealing with some intractable teens, in the midst of more world political crises, in the midst of personal troubles, in the midst of long hours,
there came
a moment of mystical clarity
that has stayed with me
and which
often leads me
to re-read
poem of transcendence,
of being,

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

John Adams: "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

This is such a catchy maxim, one written by President John Adams
to his son, John Quincy Adams: "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

However, quickly, deeply, key questions arise:

1. Is this true, that you will never be alone?

2. Which poets ought one to include, without so stuffing your pocket it begins to look
like you have a huge wart on your leg?

3. Besides, Adams, spoke of only one poet at a time. So that leads to the more difficult question,
what poet ought one to put in his/her pocket first?

4. And most of all, what poem deserves to be hugged closely to yourself, bleeding deep into you--
one that you read with shock, powerful reaction,
sometimes in delight or in horror,
and eventually with deep reflection
that gets down into the marrow of your bones and heart?

You--with that pocketed poet in your soul and gut--then like the proverbial camel who chews his cud,
you chew on it for years.

The camel goes incredible distances through difficult terrain and inhospitable weather, and can survive without water and other things that most animals must have.

Does any poem do that for you?

Here's one powerful poem, a stunner:

in time’s a noble mercy of proportion
with generosities beyond believing
(though flesh and blood accuse him of coercion
or mind and soul convict him of deceiving)

whose ways are neither reasoned nor unreasoned
his wisdom cancels conflict and agreement
– saharas have their centuries; ten thousand
of which are smaller than a rose’s moment

there’s time for laughing and there’s time for crying –
for hoping for despair for peace for longing
– a time for growing and a time for dying:
a night for silence and a day for singing

but more than all (as all your more than eyes
tell me) there is a time for timelessness

by e.e. cummings

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, December 24, 2017

On this Eve, Please Write for Those Suffering in Eastern Ghouta, Syria

Rescue the perishing!

from Amnesty International URGENT ACTION:

"14 individuals have died since July in Eastern Ghouta, as the Syrian government blocks their medical evacuation and those of another 572 other severely injured and ill people. More deaths are expected if authorities do not approve their immediate evacuation to hospitals in Damascus...and cases of acute malnutrition." Damascus is "just 10 kilometres away..."
Sahar died of malnutrition in besieged Eastern Ghouta, Syria, on 22 October 2017.

"According to medical personnel in Eastern Ghouta, an area near Damascus where government forces have been holding around 400,000 civilians under siege, 14 people have died while awaiting medical evacuation. The medical evacuation of 572 people suffering from severe injuries and chronic diseases has been pending approval from the Syrian government since July."

"According to the testimonies, a majority of patients can be saved with basic medical supplies that are available in Damascus, just 10 kilometres from Eastern Ghouta. No medical evacuation has been allowed so far."

"Doctors and medical workers are unable to provide adequate medical care to the injured and ill due to lack of adequate surgical supplies, medical equipment and medicine, particularly for treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes."

"As a result, doctors are using expired medicine from destroyed hospitals. There has additionally been a rise in cases of acute malnutrition, especially in children, exacerbated by the lack of access to food, humanitarian aid, and other life-saving necessities."

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
 Calling on the Syrian government to immediately lift the siege on Eastern Ghouta;
 Urging it to unconditionally allow medical evacuations to Damascus;
 Calling on it to provide unfettered access to UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners.

Contact these two officials by 30 January, 2018:

Bashar al-Assad
Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying, if it does not go through, include your message to the president in an e-mail to the Ambassador, asking for it to be forwarded)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Ja’afari
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
820 Second Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
Fax: +1 212 983 4439
Salutation: Your Excellency

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, December 22, 2017

Beautiful Vistas

from our cameras

Sculpture by Oglala-Sicangu Lakota artist Colleen Cutschall
at Last Bighorn Battlefield, Montana

In the Light of Beauty,

Photos by Daniel and Betsy Wilcox

Friday, December 15, 2017

3 Sons of Abraham

For Hanukkah and Christmas:

Three Sons No Longer Fight

Disking the rock strewn
Objected earth near Bet Shean,
Underneath the Middle Eastern sky
Rows of mean earth riven by the blades,
We cut away our anger, hate, and pride,
Stopping to drink, not from the liquor

Of fanatic corruption but from
The precious water welling up,
Our oasis of Jacob'd sharing,
In this Hanukkah season
Of Christ's mass after


We three sons of Abraham,
Muslim, Jew, and Christian,
Fight the true battle
Not each other but
To be found worthy
In compassion
And purity--
The true
To God


--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, December 10, 2017

REGARDING JERUSALEM: Missing Star and Cradle

Missing Star and Cradle

Weird Christmas Eve 40 times past
With no holly, blinking red or green lights,

No 'holy' decorations, only the gaudy glare
Of cold Jerusalem's neon theater sign;

We watched Catch 22 with our kibbutz bunch
After being frisked for bombs at the entrance.

Years explode by while politicians yet pitch
Uncradled in the maze of their doctrinal hype;

The sacred cave's still dark and unstable,
For more unwise men, so starless, misrule.

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Danse Macabre
and in poetry collection,
Psalms, Yawps, and Howls



Every human "I" experiences at least 3 experiential senses of self, sometimes called "ego states."


For instance, notice how the 3 senses of self exist in a juvenile delinquent's statement:

"I knew we were harming the old woman; (THOUGHT)

we shouldn't have hurt her; (TAUGHT)

but I felt like it."* (FELT)

Or another way of describing our 3 ego states of TAUGHT/FELT/THOUGHT:




Or in more abstract terms:


This is adapted from Dr. Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis. His creative, life-changing theory of the human psyche
was transformational for millions of people in the last 60 years. Dr. Berne demonstrated keen insight into human nature
in his books such as Games People Play.

Sometimes his terms got misapplied or misunderstood however.

For instance, in his effort to get away from psychoanalytical abstract terms--and displaying a sense of playfullness--Berne defined
the inner realities of the
Human Psyche as

“PARENT” (implanted instructions from adults)

"CHILD" (creative, how we felt as a child, and feel experientially now)

"ADULT" (fact-checking now)

Berne wrote that these senses of "I" were real and experiential, not abstract descriptions such as earlier psychologists and psychiatrists had termed
3 divisions of the human psyche.

For examples, Sigmund Freud's abstract terms:
ID (BERNE’S “Little Fascist”)

The most misunderstood aspect of Berne's theory was his statement of "I'M OKAY; YOU"RE OKAY." This view of positive psychology was popularized by other psychologists including Thomas Harris in his famous book, I'M OK, YOU'RE OK.

Too often, people in general, and scoffers thought that "okay" meant that TA leaders were stating, every human is fine just as he is.


Obviously, based on the wars of the 20th century which slaughtered multi-millions of humans, the millions of rapes and enslavements, constant abuse of children, and unending domestic violence,
this wasn't Berne's key point at all.

Rather Berne was giving the Enlightenment, humanistic ethical truth of "inherent human value/worth" a new-face-over uplift into popular user-friendly words.

The central key of Transactional Analysis was that every single human is of inherent worth, is "ok."

That ALL of human miscommunication, intolerance, abuse, and destruction come from distortions and denials of each human being inherently valuable.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

*Adapted from Games People Play by Berne, I'M OK, You're OK by Harris, Introduce Yourself to T.A. by Paul McCormick and Leonard Campos, etc.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

True Ethics in the Midst of Left and Right Hypocrisy

Seeking true ethics is one of the most difficult tasks any of us human primates can do.

And it becomes much more difficult when human leaders display hypocrisy and contradictions when speaking of ethics.

Consider that so many Christian leaders are now avidly supporting leaders (such as Roy Moore and Donald Trump) who have allegedly committed gross unethical actions...

And that so many secularists are claiming that all ethics are “subjective,” “relative,” only “personal” or cultural “preferences,” only a matter of “like or dislike,” that slavery, rape, slaughter, dishonesty aren’t objectively wrong. And that there are no human rights. According to these atheists, rights, equality, liberty, etc. are “myths.”

Is it any wonder that millions humans are confused when it comes to the questions of "ought"?

Or consider the strange anomaly of so many religious leaders in 2017 claiming that various immoral or unjust actions are only wrong because such actions contradict what God has commanded, Divine Command Theory. If God changes his commands (as the Deity often did in the past), then true ethics change.

Worst of all many Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders claim God--before the universe began--pre-planned every murder, every rape, every molestation, every natural evil disaster for God's-self! And if you question such a gargantuan horror, they ask who do you think God is?!

God can do whatever he wills because God is God!

Forget such horrific beliefs.

Eliminating those majority views at least narrows the multi-pronged choices staring at us at every moment when we need to choose.

Now for coming the New Year of 2018, Let's seek the Light, seek the Life, seek the Good, seek the Just.

But how does one do so? The difficulty, the Good, is in the details.

One online commentator challenged me to provide a better method.

First, it would appear to most people who study history that neither religion nor atheism hasn't provided a good code of ethics. On the contrary such ideolgoies have committed mass slaughter and supported everything from slavery and dishonesty to theft and torture, to discrimination and persecution. No, Christianity hasn't provided a reliable ethical guide. Check out books such as Jesus Wars and The Great and Holy War: How W.W. l became a Religious Crusade by Phillip Jenkins. And read the critical commentaries on Islam and its horrific history.

Second, the human conscience (except in sociopaths) declares we are to do right, to do the good, but doesn't usually clarify what or how. In fact in history, the most evil actions were committed not by immoral choosers, but by conscientious, dutiful humans!

Let's get an eagle's overview of the mountainous region of ethics:

#1 Probably, the spiritual side of the Enlightenment has achieved the most ethically.
Since then a majority of humans have come to give, at least give lip service, to the ideals of human rights, equality, justice and to condemn the slaughter of innocent humans, poverty, prejudice, torture, slavery, and so forth.

Reason has shown to be more true, more effective, more real than any religious dogma ever was.

However, even in reason and transcendent claims there are doubts and problems and dilemmas. Fortunately, most humans seldom have to deal with the extremes such as the trolley car dilemma and other difficult choices.

Indeed, I wonder why so many ethical skeptics immediately jump to the most extreme difficult examples when the subject of morality is brought up.
In general, for instance, it would seem that honesty and justice are reliable goals, even if in a few severe situations, one might choose an action of dishonesty or injustice in order to save human lives.

But if I moved back to the Middle East and soon was faced with a dire threat by HAMAS or Hezbollah, and chose to lie to protect innocent Jewish civilians,
my lie still wouldn't be true.

Later after human rights organizations got the innocent individuals safely out of the clutches of "Godly" religious organizations, I ought to then print an acknowledgment of my dishonest statement, explaining that I know all lying is wrong, and that I had only told the lie to protect innocent lives.

Too often humans quickly jump to the immoral choice--declaring it good--when encountering a difficult trial. For example Americans constantly condemn Muslims in the Middle East for using torture and terrorism, but quickly defend the U.S. government when it tortures and slaughters.

Let's take non-religious leaders' most extreme example: Ought a good human--if there are no other possible options--murder or rape to defend innocent people?


When making ethical choices, the means is part of the end. When you pick up the immoral ethical stick on one end you get the other, too, even if your intentions are good.

Just for the sake of illustration, what if a U.S. Seal could only save a young Syrian or Afghan girl from being tortured and murdered by Muslim jihadists by pretending to attack and rape her?

Such an undercover individual might choose to rape the girl because he thinks raping her isn't as evil as letting the Islamic State thugs behead or stone her.

HOWEVER, his act of rape--even though done with good intentions--still will harm the girl and is very wrong.

One evil in response to another evil doesn't make a good.


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Lean In Toward The Light - By Carrie Newcomer

The Nature of Doubt and Experience

Since there are so many fallacious, illusionary, and destructive views among humans, it seems that the OTF* is a great idea. However, I spent most of my life doubting so it's unlikely that John Loftus' book would be of much use for a natural skeptic such as I. On the other hand, I enjoy reading John's lucid prose, even though I strongly disagree with his central assertions.

Two important factors led to my own life-long skepticism and movement away from my religious background and upbringing.

1. My sister and I grew up in virtually the same environment, were close, talked all the time in depth, BUT our temperaments were entirely different. She, basically, accepted the religion she grew up in, and hasn't changed, other than increasing her knowledge within that religion.

In contrast, I was never satisfied. Never. It's like I was born with a WHY in my throat and mouth:-)
My parents regularly wondered why I constantly asked questions from age 3-4 on, never ceasing. Danny, why don't you just accept it (whatever the 'it' was that hour or day)?

2. Secondly, when I was 16, I encountered a new Christian leader at a teen Bible study who so shocked us
that I still get upset about what he said, and the horrific ethics and theology he espoused as the true
Christianity (which TOTALLY contradicted everything that we believed).

Two 'also ran's' were factors, too, in my own unofficial OTF experiences:

3. Unlike the current sort of Christians, such as the leaders who support Trump and Moore, my parents weren't harsh fundamentalists. On the contrary my dad, a Baptist minister also had a degree in history. And both of my parents were practical.

During my early teen years such as when I came home from church camp, on religious fire, they told me to tone it down:-) When I went around putting tracts on all of the cars' window shields in our small downtown village, they gave me a serious talking to, about how, I was over-doing it.

4. Unlike my sister, I attended 2 secular universities, first the University of Nebraska, then transferred to and graduated from Long Beach State. Most of our professors were outspoken agnostics or atheists, one a hard Marxist, etc. I majored in Creative Writing, and for a while in anthropology.

Nothing like being drop-kicked into an 'alien' environment to get a why-caught-in-the-throat Baptist teen to question everything:-)

Along the way, beginning when I was drafted and served as a conscientious objector, I got involved with the Quakers in 1966.
Photo: Live Oak Friends Meeting, Houston by Turrell

At Back Bench Friends Fellowship in downtown Philly. And have been a Friend to one degree or another ever since.

What if I had been born a regular guy;-), not an obsessive questioner?

How different my life would have been.

*The Outsider Test of Faith by John Loftus

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox