Friday, January 29, 2021

IF Not putting Our Selves FIRST...

If NOT putting itself First, What Is One of the Central Purposes of a Nation, our nation the U.S.A., every nation?


A nation exists NOT to put itself FIRST.

contrary to what former President Trump claims and multimillions of Americans including 81% of Evangelical Christians still believe.

A nation can protect its citizens NOT by building huge walls, NOT by demonizing refugees, NOT by being self-centered.

In the Light of compassion, generosity, hope, and help,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, January 24, 2021

THE WAYS of a Philosophical Journeyer and Mariner...tacking into the Storm of Life

Many thousands of speeches have passed through my ears and countless millions of pages of writing into my eyes to be mentally swallowed, digested, and then later chewed like the proverbial cud of a skinny cow;-).

True some of all this ingestion, I couldn’t stomach, and spit out rapidly. Sometimes even metaphorically vomited. Other learning was so boring I forgot it before I heard it. But some writing/ideas/themes/worldviews/life-stances stuck inside me like the words of the speaker of Ecclesiastes spoke of over 2,500 years ago, that wisdom is like spikes hammered deep into one’s psyche, truths so powerful they keep inundating one’s mind.

One such speech* I heard online several years ago concerned how we humans hold to what we think is true, what levels describe our way of living. In the brilliant talk the speaker described the various levels of perception from the superficial to those inner bone deep commitments and convictions, to the deepest heart of convincement.

Here’s my own very different adaption of this:

Notions: I am very “low-church” when it comes to traditions. I get next to nothing out of ritual, liturgy, repetition, tradition, hierarchies, etc. IF it had been my choice, I would have gotten married on the beach or in the mountains with a few brief words of romantic love and a few attenders and would have skipped months of planning and a formal service. I was one of the early “Jesus people.” I find nothing meaningful in formal church services, following liturgies, religious holy days, orders of service, etc. Instead, I like creative Christian rock music, lots of unexpected action, change, dramatic sermons with visual illustrations, churches that meet in shopping malls, not in old traditional buildings, etc.

But all of these preferences are just notions, personal likes, enjoyments. I could easily leave them behind if need be. And I realize that multi-millions of other humans find great meaning in traditions, liturgies, and rituals.

Opinions: The liberal Friends-Quakers and some liberal Anabaptists seem the closest to what is true morally and spiritually. But if a moral leader could show me there was another human group or organization that was closer to the Truth, I would change immediately.

Speculations: Based on many years of studying philosophy, theology, religous and secular history, geology, anthropology, biology, cosmology, etc., I agree with some famous scientists and scholars who think that God is Ultimate PROCESS, not Ultimate Substance.

That makes the most sense to my understanding. But it’s all educated speculation. How can any human possibly know or understand the ONE who spangled the Cosmos into becoming before Time?

Beliefs: I believe theism is true, and atheism completely false, that democracy is the best form of government and that democratic capitalism (with restraints) is the best form of economy.

However, I am not a creedal person, am not a Republican or a Democrat, never believed in the Christian Creeds, even though I was a devout Christian for 55 years, serving at times as a Baptist youth minister, elder, Bible teacher, mission worker, etc.

I grew up in a non-creedal denomination: American Baptist. We were concerned primarily with accepting Jesus as our Leader and Deliverer, and then living for him daily, following his moral truths.

However, these are only beliefs, meaning that I hold them moderately.

Beliefs come and they go. As far as I can see, all of them or the vast majority of them have only moderate impact on day to day living.

Convictions: Those values one holds/trusts in/lives by/views so deep one would die for them.

For instance, I think and trust that Moral Realism is true—

that meticulous honesty in medicine, science, criminal justice, journalism, etc. is very important, that slavery, abuse, slaughter, prejudice, racism, etc. are always wrong.

That all humans have the capability to create and to choose among alternatives, to make (LFW) real choices by using their conscious awareness, their reason, their creativeness. That all humans are morally responsible and capable of seeking what is true, good, just, and beautiful.

If these convictions were proven wrong, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t know how to live at all. I suppose I would then say, “Even if Altruism, Mercy, Kindness, Cherishing, Generosity, Patience, Meekness, Humbleness, Honesty, Equality, aren't true, they SHOULD BE, OUGHT TO BE.

That’s how deep this conviction is within me.


In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

*Allusion to the philosophical autobiography of the theist and skeptic Martin Gardner

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Color Me Fiery Red

Color Me Fiery Red

As a kid, expressive, creative, rambunctious, something of a wild card long into adulthood I loved vibrant Green-- for abundant life, for exuberant energy, vividly alive for beauty like in colors, emerald or jade,

for the natural world from creek to timbered woods behind our house on the edge of small Adams to verdant forest green glens of the Sierras, Sequoia, and Yosemite

But-- then, suddenly, unexpectedly, without conscious why; spontaneous, impulsively one day in middle life, I awoke not liking green anymore... viewing green instead as dull, insipid, sickening, repetitious, odd, over-done, humdrum...

Color me fiery Red--riveting, intense, striking sparks of light cardinal, crimson, scarlet burst into my eyes and consciousness —passionate, dazzling, blazing, heated, different...

as in exploding firework sky rockets, as pulsing red coals in a bonfire,

as an amazing psychedelic quilt by my sweetheart, like an Impressionistic painting, luminous, to ruby red lava in Hawaii’s volcano, fiery sunsets, and Utah’s red rock

Red forever

--Dan Wilcox

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Great Barrier Reef of Human Moral Realism

At about 7 or 8, I awoke to moral consciousness and responsibility, alive and mentally kicking; then sometimes affirmed, sometimes regretting, sometimes guilty, crying and thinking, atop a huge barrier reef that first began hundreds of thousands of years in humankind’s/our human species’ past history, back to the dawn of consciousness and moral awareness!

In many ways waking to moral consciousness for every human kid is like new coral life at the top of the great physical barrier reef off the coast of Australia. The tiny new coral lives atop all the accomplishments of millions of coral who lived before it.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest structure made by living organisms. It can even be seen from outer space.

In a similar sense, our present ethics/morality including human rights, fairness, equality, justice, compassion exist atop previous growths in ethics dating back through the many centuries and many millennia, back to the dawn of human time.

To temporarily change analogies, as kids growing up in southeastern Nebraska, we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to play with our movable toys. We came to consciousness of wheels as a given, that ability/method having been discovered/invented over 7,000 years before.

In a similar sense, each generation of young humans don’t have to create basic moral rules such as be fair, don’t harm, don’t lie, don’t steal, and show kindness, tell the truth, be generous...

That doesn’t mean that every child will live by or up to those rules, just like humankind’s universal ability of language doesn’t mean that every child will do exceptionally well at speaking a particular language. Other factors can weigh in—physical problems, abuse, dysfunction, and so forth.

Sometime way back in the past, when human consciousness reached a certain state of being/becoming, such basic moral rules came into conscience, became an ought for everyone. (Exactly how humans came to moral consciousness doesn’t concern us here—that’s a whole other article. Nor do the many aberrations in human history--when immoral individuals, dysfunctional families, and twisted societies distort, even try and reverse the basic moral code).

When we reach an age of moral awareness, the new sense of “ought” comes to us based upon many thousands of years of human history. Most thinkers posit this happens to children about the age of 7, give or take a year or 2.

Very small children, of course, respond to admonishments when it comes to sharing, not harming, etc., but they probably don’t have a strong enough sense of personal “I” within a social group to consciously sense the “ought” as a universal moral code. Instead, they are mainly seeking to please their parents who care for and protect them.

And, at times, they spontaneously share, care, hug, etc., but they can also spontaneously do the opposite, too.

By the time I was 11, my deep sense of the ethical rules, the oughts, not only led me to ask forgiveness and to consciously change wrong behavior, it also led to an acute awareness of how the “moral reef” I found myself on, a part of, was, too, strangely and incoherently, at times inconsistent, and contradictory. Huge gaps existed, dangerous abysses, immoral quagmires put forth as oughts.

For instance, at that young age, I was shocked and morally repulsed when our Sunday School teacher said God had sent bears to attack some kids who had teased the prophet Elisha for having a bald head!

WHAT?! How grievously immoral and unjust! Why would the Bible, the book we were supposed to believe claim that God would do such an unfair, harmful act?

Then 2 or 3 years later I struggled with the Bible's promotion of slavery. How could the Bible—one source from which we got our moral views--condone and insist on slavery as a worthy institution!? How could Scripture in many places, (and Christians later in history and now), justify lying, stealing, killing, and claiming to own humans like tools such as their rake or hammer?

Why did nearly all Christians, Jews, and Muslims agree with this biblical view for hundreds of years?

Later I came across other horrific texts in the Bible. Such as this in the Psalms: "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock." (Psalm 137:9).

From then on, my sensitive conscience--sitting atop that great moral reef of millions of humans who came before my brief time--struggled to understand these contradictions I saw in Scripture and in Christians and others.

Aren’t these clear contradictions chasmic ‘defaults’ at least in my particular area of the deep time moral reef?

Not so argue Christian/Islamic/Jewish/Hindu-New Age/Nontheistic thinkers.

Most Atheists claim that all ethics are "subjective," "relative," "personal/cultural preferences" which change from time to time, and culture to culture. They are only a human construct, not real.

So sometimes acts considered immoral, or even evil are necessary to protect the moral code and civilization itself. For example, they agree with the British leader Winston Churchill who stated, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

While other nations--our enemies--ought to be condemned for acts of torture and the slaughter of civilians, if we choose to torture or kill civilians that isn't wrong but is good. What counts is our survival.

Millions of Christians argue from a nominalist philosophical view--the Divine Command view of ethics and Ultimate Reality. Not lying, not stealing, not harming—such demanding ethical rules aren’t eternally true.

Rather, whatever God wills/decides is what is true for humans. God is free to change the moral code anytime he sees fit to do so. If anyone doubts this, who does the individual think God is?!

In other words, for most creedal Christians (Augustinians, Reformed, etc.), God doesn't have an innate eternal ethical center/essence, but is totally sovereign, totally eternal "will" who only acts when it is for his glory and “good pleasure.”

Many Jews state that G-d created evil in the beginning! They base their view on Bible verses such as "I form the light, and create the darkness. I make peace, and create evil. I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

Muslims believe Allah wills/ordains every good and every evil action and causes all horrific natural disasters. IF it happens, then Allah wills it.

For Hindus and modern New Age thinkers, Brahma causes both good and evil to exist. "God created both because both are needed. God is in the evil as much as in the good." How to Know God by Deepak Chopra

One instance of this denial of objective, universal ethics came from our Christian youth leader at a Bible study when I was 17 in 1963. He claimed and tried to convince us, based on stories in the Old Testament, that sometimes God will order us to commit immoral acts.

When, shocked and morally horrified, I spoke up and strongly disagreed, he told me personally that God was calling me to do what appears to be immoral!

According to such Christian leaders, God does as he pleases and does what will bring him the most glory. They then proceed to give examples of how God led "his people" to lie, steal, enslave, and kill in Scripture, despite the fact that these were prohibited in the 10 Commandments.

How can we human make sense of this reef madness;-)?

Is the great barrier reef of the moral code unreliable, relative, temporary, changeable?

Do the reverses which occurred during the immoral actions of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st show that ethics are subjective preferences no different than whether or not a person/society likes or dislikes the color red?

Was the Chinese practice of binding little girls' feet for a thousand years only a cultural/social preference? Neither right nor wrong?

Is the ritual of female mutilation of little girls in Islamic countries a valid religious practice? Over 85% of Egyptian parents until recently supported female mutilation as good!

What’s your thoughts on this difficult issue?

Is the moral code reef of homo sapiens a subjective construct or as real as the Great Barrier Reef?

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Tails of the New Cat and the Old Mouse

Another homeless cat has adopted us the last few weeks:-) We're calling him Cinder. He's all black on top and sides, with white paws and underbelly. In honor of this new owner of's a poem I wrote for another black cat that owned us a few years back, Zorro:-)

The Tails of the Cat and the Mouse

Beneath my hand the smooth mouse moves, gray and black, Its long, fibered tail swishing this and that way While I, its master, move it around. Sometimes Its corded tail catches on the keyboard tray; Perhaps I ought to buy a tailless fastback.

So goes the tail of the cat and the mouse.

My feline master, Zorro, is at the door; The living tux, white-fronted and black-masked Slinks in to claim my lap, his throne. Having just Fed himself, the cat yowls and demands a task From me. I had been working—but no more.

So swishes the tail of the cat and the mouse.

One hand's fingers peck at the disarranged Glyphs of black and white upon the keyboard; The other strokes his black crown and white jaw, And the mouse again to add more to the hoard Of text that slowly scrolls down the white page.

So curls the tail of the cat and the mouse.

Zorro, in command, sees all; the furry sphinx Adjusts his paws as I move his seat (my knees), And tracks the pad-bound motion of my mouse. Sometimes he lays a white paw on the keys; Then jumbled text appears -- a real screen jinx.

So twists the tail of the cat and the mouse.

The mouse and I, we know who holds the power; My feline Lord meows imperiously Demanding my attention, all at once. What else have I to do but serve? So he Leaps down with tailed pride from his catnap hour.

So waves the tail of the cat and the mouse.

Impatient and commanding, Zorro stands Begrudging time I spend to clear the screen. I open the door; the king of cats takes leave While my obedient mouse sits, quite serene. The jungle tale, not tech, surely rules my hands.

So ends the tail of the cat and the mouse.

--Daniel Wilcox

First published at Anthrozine