Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seals and Crofts' "Intone...": Older Age Hope

A very powerful, inspiring song by Seals and Crofts.

Caution note: I've never been a part of the Baha'i religion, don't take kindly toward any literature or song lyrics that call humans "servants-slaves" or speak of ultimate reality as "lord." So many of the latter represent that which is worst about religion and ideology.

HOWEVER, some aspects of the more liberal parts of the Baha'i faith do represent ethics, justice, and inspiration at their best.

AND, most of the lyrics of "Intone" by Seals and Crofts are very powerful, describing many of the tragic aspects of our lives when we humans get older. Many studies have shown that the most lonely and saddest humans are the elderly.

The irony of when I first heard "Intone," listening to a new album by a new group that one of my buddies had just bought, I was only 24, in good health, and renting a nice apartment in Huntington Beach, California only a few miles to the beach.

But I could imagine and empathize with the individual suffering in the song--of the tragedies and losses of which the singers were relating. The song enthralled and uplifted me spiritually even though back then in 1971, I had few worries, and only the angst typical of young adults.

Besides the intense, lush instrumentation, I felt deeply the words of loss partially because at the time my mom was devastated by the early death of her father, the failing health of her elderly mother, and she was still grieving too vivid memories of her little brother who had gotten killed, run over by a car years before. As years passed, and my mom got older, she agonized even more over her little brother's death.

This song speaks so deeply and powerfully to all of that.

Yes, "Intone" posits holy writing from religion as a hope.

I don't think religions offer real hope. But some writings in religions do inspire. With a little revising, one can listen to this hopeful song, emphasizing what to do when encountering tragedy. (Hopefully, Seals and Crofts won't mind. I wonder where they are and whether or not they are living this song now in their old age.)

>>when everything is wrong...your friends are gone

Intone my [beloved], the verses of [the Light]. Intone my beloved, the verses of the Light
Let me hear you sing, let your voices ring
>>throughout cities of men's hearts...

Don't despair. Don't negate. Don't, for hope's sake, have a pity party (that you probably do deserve).

Instead, look to the wise words of great inspiration.

Seek hope, even when hope is missing.

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, May 25, 2018

Talk About Tragic, Hypocritical, and Contrary to Its Founder's Wise Words

Look at the tragic selfish, unkind, unjust, and immoral position that White Evangelical Christians hold toward accepting refugees:

These devout Christians claim that they follow Jesus who told the Parable of the Good Samaritan and who spoke the Sermon on the Mount,
they strongly refuse accepting and helping refugees.

Notice that these U.S. Evangelical Christians are the most opposed of any group to helping the abused, the impoverished, the persecuted, the helpless!!

Don't look to their selfish and fallacious religion for truth, justice, or hope.

Instead, consider these wise words:

In the LIGHT of kindness, compassion, generosity, help, and rescuing,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

From Abandoned to Hope: An Undocumented Immigrant Teen

Abandoned when he was only 5 years old, Daniel Morales lived and somehow managed to survive on the streets in a Latin American country despite all the crime, poverty, and other dangers.

Finally, as a teen when faced with threats to join a gang, Daniel did what so many refugees have done, he rode the "beast"--on top of trains up through Mexico to the U.S., a very dangerous journey.

Yes, there are horrific stories, too, of the criminals that Daniel managed to avoid. Some of the latter also enter the United States illegally and get lots of front page news because of their immoral actions including rape and murder. But they are a minority.

It's time that we Americans focus on the HOPE stories, the innocent Dreamers whose only crime is sneaking across a border in order to escape crime, poverty, and injustice.

Daniel is one such incredible narrative of hope.

How he managed to get into the U.S. is unknown, but it can be imagined from reading daily news of arrests of illegal immigrants every week along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Hannah Eash-Gates, Daniel's legal representative and former member of Mennonite Voluntary Service, said, Daniel "is relentlessly positive." According to her, Daniel is "incredibly bright. Even without a formal education, taught himself to read and write."

Daniel and Hannah met at the Refuge and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in San Antonio, Texas where Hannah worked for MVS.

"In the two years it took for Eash-Gates to help Morales achieve legal permanent residency status, he made it on the honor roll and learned two languages!"

Read more about helping undocumented immigrants and others in the Mennonite magazines, Extending Beyond, Beyond Ourselves, and the websites of Mennonite Central Committee.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Part #4: Do Animals Have Worth?

Why does the human species seek meaning and purpose?
Why do humans study nature, the cosmos, reality?
Why are we curious, creative, doubtful, rational?

Why do many of us seek to preserve other species, in danger of extinction?

CONSIDER THIS AMAZING OTHER CREATURE IN NATURE which shows the incredible creativity and intelligent potential in life and existence:

It gives new contrary meaning to the negative term: bird brain.

"A red knot’s incredible journey"
by Jeremy Taylor

"Imagine flying the equivalent of the distance from the earth to the moon and partway back. Now imagine doing this if you weighed only four ounces! Sounds incredible, but this is exactly what one bird has done over the last two decades."

"The red knot (Calidris canutus) has one of the longest migrations of any bird, travelling nearly 10,000 miles each spring and fall between its summer breeding range in the Arctic to the winter range in southern Chile and Argentina.

"...this trip has successfully been made twice a year for at least 21 years in a row by a male red knot, dubbed “Moonbird” due to the cumulative
distance he has flown.
"First banded at two years of age in 1995 in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, Moonbird...B95...has become a celebrity of sorts.
Read the rest at:
And read, The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Deborah Cramer

How do the young Red Knots do this?! When they are born, they have never been from the Arctic to the bottom of Argentina.

They leave separately later than the adult Red Knots and have no guide. As the science writer Chet Raymo points out, how do the young on their own "make their way along a route they have never traveled to a destination they have never seen?"

According to scientists their DNA contains "...the map of the migration route and the skills to follow it...The red knot's brain is a flexible organ, capable of wiring itself by experience." p.25, Raymo, Skeptics and True Believers

Factually amazing things about nature, astronomy, animals, etc. intrigued me as a kid, and still do as a retired oldster. When I was in 4th grade our teacher had us do bird studies, find feathers and nests, and do so many other interesting activities.
And as an aging learner, I was astounded to find out that now scientists think that crows have the intelligence of a 7-year-old human!!

So I don't understand those human leaders who have a demeaning attitude toward existence, to those who state that live species are "just chemicals," or only atoms, or many others who take a predatory approach to animals, denying they have any inherent worth.

Yes, I know that nature is often 'tooth and claw.' Especially when our cat Smoke brings us a gift of a small bird. And I used to be a hunter, had a Remington shotgun and a rifle (given to me at 12 by my grandfather).
we humans are more than instinct. We have a sense of transcendence, a sense of ought, and a rational understanding that reality isn't only survival, isn't only about us, but that reality has the real potential for creativity, beauty, and truth.

Animals didn't come into existence for us humans. The sentient ones have their own worth and value.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Nature of Religion--Best of Ways and Worst of Ways

Journalist Christopher Hitchens: “If you gave Falwell [a Christian leader] an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.”

Hitchen also wrote that religion "poisons everything."

On the other hand,even some religious leaders realize the dangers/contradictions/oddities of their systems.

Take these jokes, such as this sharp satire from Jews themselves poking ironic fun at themselves, at the contradictory branches of Judaism:

“At an Orthodox wedding, the bride’s mother is pregnant; at a Conservative wedding, the rabbi is pregnant;

at a Reform wedding, the bride is pregnant; and at a Reconstructionist wedding, both brides are pregnant.”
from God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero, p. 271
Here's one from liberal versus conservative Christianity:

A Unitarian-Universalist minister walked across a road after being accosted by an irate Southern Baptist leader who had shouted at the UU leader:
"Your church is a joke! You reject all the creeds!"

Finally, the Southern Baptist ran across the road yelling sputtering,
"YOU, YOU...!"

And the Unitarian Universalist turned back and very politely said, "Yes?"

Religion is another one of those 'empty-bucket' words which are so semantically wiggly and slimy that it means many different things to many different people.

One way to systematize it is to distill the central focus of various religions.
(Some of the following is an adaption and expansion from a list in God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero.)

#1 Judaism: the problem is exile—solution is return
[my own view: problem is rebellion/disobedience—solution is repentance and Torah]

2. Islam: the problem is pride—solution is submission

3. Christianity: the problem is sin—solution is salvation

4. Confucianism: the problem is chaos—solution is social order/propriety

5. Hinduism: the problem is samsara cycle of reincarnation/karma/impurity/–solution is spiritual release via devotion/ritual/duty
[my own view—solution is cleansing/separateness]

6. Buddhism: the problem is suffering—solution is awakening
[my view: problem is suffering--solution is complete negation]

7. Taoism: the problem is lifelessness—solution is natural flourishing and freedom

8. Paganism: the problem is disconnection from nature--solution is reverence of the natural world

9. Atheism: the problem is superstition/faith/religion—solution is atheistic reason

10. Deism/Enlightenment: the problem is injustice/oppression/superstition--
solution is theistic reason and democracy

11. Humanism: the problem is delusion or meaninglessness--solution is affirmation of the good/worth/flourishing

12. Religious non-religious Ideology: the problem is bourgeoisie capitalism--solution is dictatorship of the proletariat
This odd animal is secularism that adopts many of the trappings and behaviors of religion including ritual, reverence of dead leaders, heresy trials for those who deviate from dogma, etc...

Prime examples: U.S.S.R. Communist Party: the preserved bodies of Lenin and Stalin lying in state in a mausoleum in Red Square based upon a religious building from humanity's past. And for over 70 years many millions of people have gone to view the two famous communist leaders of the Russian revolution, and millions have been spent on displaying and preserving the corpses.

A lesser example--civil religion in nations such as the U.S. where the American flag is treated with reverence like a sacred object and people pledge themselves to the flag, where myths are believed about their most revered dead leaders.

And the leaders are venerated with huge monuments including Washington's monumental tower and Lincoln's Memorial based upon a a Greek temple!

13. Heresy: One EXTREMELY odd fact about religion is that various aberrant versions of official religions are often closer to other religions or ideologies than the specific religion they are listed under!

For instance liberal Quakerism is far closer to Humanism than to creedal Christianity. Heck, some Quakers claim to be Pagans or Nontheists, some Jews are closer to Atheism than any religion, a few Muslims closer to Deism/Enlightenment than orthodox Islam.

And consider the bottomless chasm between many Arminiam Christians
most Reformed/Augustinian Christians!

The former think that the God of Christianity infinitely loves and seeks to save every single human and that God created all humans with infinite worth, and for eternal communion and fellowship.


Reformed/Augustinians wno believe that the God of Christianity chooses to only loves a limited number of humans who have no choice, that all humans are conceived/born totally depraved because of God's hidden will.
And that from before the foundation of the cosmos, God foreordained most humans, billions of us, to eternal damnation/torture for his own glory.

Not a molecule moves in reality, according to Reformed Christianity, but that God moves it. God is the cause of all natural disasters, all disease, all evil.
In this sense,
the Reformed are MUCH closer to the total determinism of orthodox Islam, where whatever happens is Allah's will. And the Reformed are much closer to the versions of Atheism which believe in hard determinism than some forms of Arminiam Christianity which emphasize free will.


Jainism: the problem is ? solution is

Sikhism: the problem is solution is

Zoroastrianism: the problem is solution is

Shintoism: the problem is solution is

Baha’i: the problem is solution is


In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

1 Some of these are adapted from GOD Is Not ONE by Stephen Prothero

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Science...Skeptical...Yet Drop-Jawed Amazement"

According to the science writer, Chet Raymo, and many other scientists,
“Science is founded on twin cornerstones of skepticism and astonishment.”

“The thoughtful person will try to walk the line between drop-jawed amazement...and cautious skepticism about the correctness of our knowledge."

Science, is "A story of sublime dimension. Tentative, evolving, and not always comfortable, carrying us in our imaginations to the farthest reaches of space and time..."

"Scientific knowledge enlivens our every experience and tunes us to the deepest the world that evades our limited senses. Science cannot nor should not be a religion, but it can be the basis for...” wonder and awe.
From Skeptics and True Believers
by Chet Raymo, p. 252, 254 Raymo, a professor of physics and astronomy, has received commendations for his science writing from evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and other scientists and the general reading public.

According to the Jewish thinker Martin Buber, all of us humans, to one degree or another, live in both the I-examine-the-it and the I-experience-the-'other'.

My thoughts: It’s only when these 2 very different categories get confused, mixed up, and muddled that bad trouble results.

Science is we-it, the impersonal objective study of the cosmos, nature, life, and human primates.

However, I, as an amateur, an enthusiast of science, and most professional scientists, first got into science itself because of WONDER AND ASKING AND SEEKING--the we-experiential...

When young, we science-lovers felt jolted over by little creepies and/or big animals, dandelions and tall trees, by the natural world, the ocean and the mountains, the stars and the UNKNOWN.

So before we formally studied anthropology or astronomy, etc., we first encountered the I-experience of awareness, life, relationship--whether between 2 individuals, between a human and an animal, or even the impersonal experienced as a fascinating rock or sea shell, a scenic vista, or the awe-inspiring falling meteors, distant planets, stars, galaxies and Existence itself.

For example, a professional scientist studies and writes about human primate behavior such as kissing. That’s we-it.

But when the scientist gets home and kisses his/her sweetheart, the scientist isn’t thinking about biology, physiology, matter, molecules, atoms, but experiencing passion, joy, intent, commitment, sharing, etc. That’s I-personal-experiential.

Imagine him coming home, and when his wife kisses him, he pulls back and says, 'let's discuss the molecular structure of your primate vermillion border.'


The experiential encounter is lost. Maybe he will have to sleep on the couch...

But if she suddenly feels wracking pain in her lips, the scientist, especially if he is a physician or medical specialist, will quickly switch to the I-examine it.

Only when we humans confuse study with personal experience, and vice versa, do we get into all sorts of trouble.
Would anyone choose to give up the wonder of the star-spangled sky, and choose to relate his/her spouse via a test tube and statistics?

I wouldn’t.

But, tragically, billions of humans now (and in the past) choose to reject healthy skepticism and the scientific method in order to keep what they feel is true based on their own experiences, which are actually illusions and delusions.

I wouldn’t.

ONLY when humans are balanced using both the scientific method AND personal experience—are we whole, having both a mind and a heart.

In the LIGHT--we-experience and we-study and we-relate,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Part #3: Animal Rights--The Case Against A. R. Activist Peter Singer by Stella Young

The case against Peter Singer
The Drum By Stella Young

"Australian bioethicist and philosopher Peter Singer has argued the case for selective infanticide.

"Singer, who is arguably better known for his views on animal rights, has views about disability that have been discussed far less here in Australia than they have in the US where he lives and works. I am open about not being a fan of Singer's work, a statement that's often met with confusion among friends and colleagues. "But he does such great things for animal liberation!" they exclaim.

While that may be true, animal liberation is not the only subject of Singer's work. He also believes that parents should be given the choice to have their disabled babies killed after they are born.
His argument is not about the right to terminate pregnancy based on the presence of a disabled foetus, although he does believe this as well, but the active killing of babies born with particular disabilities.

I was once one of these babies.
[emphasis added]

Let me be clear: Singer does not object to my life as it exists now. I am now what he considers to be a person with a right to life. But I, along with all other babies, was not born this way. All babies are born without the capacity to make conscious choices about their preference for life, and so Singer does not consider that they have a right to life in the same way as humans who are capable of this choice. This is especially true, he says, where the infant has a disability.

In his book Practical Ethics, Singer argues the case for selective infanticide. He deems it unfair that "At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents' choice to these particular disabilities.

If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant's condition than is possible before birth."

FROM Stella Young is a comedian, television presenter, disability advocate and was formerly editor of ABC's Ramp Up website. She is an ambassador for Our Watch.


I didn't post this "case against Peter Singer" because I am opposed to animal rights. On the contrary, Singer makes some good points. Furthermore, I think all humans ought to NOT eat or enslave sentient animals!

Furthermore, I think that animals, besides the human primates, homo sapiens, do have inherent worth.

Furthermore, no animals ought to be caused to suffer as an 'end justifies the means' by humans.

HOWEVER, what is problematic is that some animal rights activists including Peter Singer demean humans--such as his claim that infants AREN'T "PERSONS"!--and claim that all animals are equal to the human species.

Related Questions

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Liberal Religion and Humanism Are Kissin' Neighbors While Reductionistic Nonreligion and Fundamentalism Are a Bad Couple

Religion Versus Non-Religion, Christianity Versus Atheism and many similar such debates usually make for intriguing mental and verbal jousting and philosophical wrestling.

They are fascinating, especially because, often, both of the debaters are brilliant, highly educated, well-prepared with extensive reasonings and plausible evidence. Yet they hold totally opposite life-stances and worldviews.

One particularly fascinating though somewhat irritating debate on YouTube is:

Probably the most baffling aspect of this debate is that both individuals aren't arguing contrary views!

Marshall states he is presenting 7 central truths of the Christian religion, BUT then instead of arguing for 7 key points of creedal Christianity, he presents fallacious and distorted historical claims that were only partially true of some tiny heretical Christian groups.

These he contrasts with the worst of non-Christian ideologies such as the Vikings' worldview of raiding, rape, and slaughter.

And, oddly, Zuckerman contrasts Secular Humanism NOT to liberal religions including Liberal Christianity but the worst of Fundamentalistic, Creedal Christianity!
For instance, he contrasts the modern successful society of Denmark, very secular, to the modern dysfunctional and violent society of Mississippi and other southern U.S. states, very fundamentalistic.

Actually, a more accurate historical and contemporary comparison would show how similar Secular Humanism is to Liberal Christianity.

And how similar Reductionistic Nonreligion is to Fundamentalism.

Examples abound of the latter especially. Here are two central ones:

#1 Reductionism and Fundamentalism both emphasize that humans have no inherent worth.

And Reductionism and Fundamentalism, this bad odd couple, often use demeaning terms when speaking of the Human Species.
Negative examples of this include for Reductionism: All humans are "just complex chemicals," "puppets," "jumped-up apes," "wet robots," etc.

For Fundamentalism: All humans at conception/birth are "totally depraved," "in essence, evil", are "clay pots;" and some humans God created as "toilets and spittoons," etc.

#2 Reductionistic nonreligion and Fundamentalism also are very deterministic emphasizing that all humans have no choice.

Everything is determined (in the case of Reductionism) by the "Laws of Physics," or the "Cosmos," or "Evolution," etc.
Everything is determined (in Fundamentalism) by Yahweh or Allah, etc.

To be continued--

Say No to a Bad Couple--Reductionism and Fundamentalism

Say Yes to Kissin' Neighbors--Liberalism and Humanism.

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 3, 2018

American Race, Poverty, Social Dysfunction, and Ethics

"The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent...But why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940"??!!
Walter E. Williams, Black Economist

Below is a very powerful article worth reading again, and again. I don't agree with all of the points, especially not the dubious right-wing ones, BUT Williams raises many important issues about poverty, race, government, social dysfunction, and ethics.

First, let me emphasize that I don't think getting out of poverty is nearly as easy as successful leaders such as Williams claim.

Many poor people work very hard. Many of them don't have the 'good life' that Williams' statistics claim.

I spent most of my adult life working with teens from poor and/or dysfunctional single parent families (usually the mom; the deadbeat dad gone:-( .

Here's one powerful example.
A nice teen had fallen behind on his homework. I put pressure on him, required a meeting with his parents.

As it turned out, the teen had gotten behind on his homework because every day he watched his little brothers because his mom (dad missing) was having to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet at a basic poverty level.

Have you ever tried to make ends me on minimum wage?!

And work 2 jobs?

And care for 1 teen and 2 children--all of them boys?

I've worked minimum wage before (though as a single), too. It wasn't easy, couldn't make ends meet even by myself.

So while we need to encourage all people to work their way out of poverty as Williams emphasizes, we need to be compassionate and help!

There are many poor people doing the best they can, such as that very hard-working poor mother that I met.

My hat goes off to her.

Think about what former President Jimmy Carter has to say:

from Dependency, Not Poverty by Walter E. Williams
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

"There is no material poverty in the U.S. Here are a few facts about people whom the Census Bureau labels as poor. Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, in their study "Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor" (, report that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly three-quarters have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers."

"Forty-two percent own their homes. Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. What we have in our nation are dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives...The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent....why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940?"

"...A statistic that one doesn't hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8 percent. For married white families, it's 5 percent.

"Now the politically incorrect questions: Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency? Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?"

"...census data "going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery ... showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940"? Is anyone willing to advance the argument that the reason the illegitimacy rate among blacks was lower and marriage rates higher in earlier periods was there was less racial discrimination and greater opportunity?

"No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault. If he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault."


"Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage."

"And finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. It turns out that a married couple, each earning the minimum wage, would earn an annual combined income of $30,000."


READ the rest of his debatable, thought-provoking article at:

Please rescue the impoverished, the persecuted, the abused.

Live in the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Christianity and Abuse

Religion gets even worse:
Christian leader Paige Patterson, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and head of one of its seminaries tells a woman to accept abuse from her husband!

So she got black eyes this time.

What did Patterson then say?

Paige Patterson said, "And sure enough, he [husband] did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black.

And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.”

And Patterson said, “Yes ma’am, I am...I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

Patterson was happy because he saw the abusive husband in the back of the church!

This is so immoral and revolting--for him to tell her to accept abuse! Oh but a happy ending NOT. Contrary to what Patterson claims, the end doesn't justify the means...accept abuse so that eventually your husband will change.

We've heard this before in human relations: Waterboard (or other forms of torture) and you will rescue innocent people from terrorists...bomb hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and you will rescue others in the future...refuse equal treatment toward others and you will be blessed by God, ETC. ad nauseam....

American Christians often go off the deep end into unethical, unjust, unequal beliefs and behaviors, BUT Patterson's speech has definitely reached an abyss, a low below low.

How hellish to state that some forms of abuse aren't that bad, and that a woman ought to submit to abuse and obey such a husband and stay in the same house with him.

This sounds like the Muslim university professor here in California who defended the Quran's statement that husbands ought to beat their wives.

When I strongly protested, he explained, ah, but the beating is only a "light" beating, not a harmful one.

Good grief. More and more religion is showing its toxic character. Of course, it has in the's only repeating.

Even a little abuse is far too much!

Stand up against toxic, abusive religion...

And seek the Good, the True, and the Just,

Daniel Wilcox