Archives for category: Life

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

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I’ve seen my share of references, so I assume you’ve seen the headlines too.

Pope Francis is reported to have said those who refuse God eventually disappear. Official sources clarify that the report is exactly that, a report, not a quote. Given the Pope’s penchant for unorthodox views, I wouldn’t put it past him, but this ancient reporter seems likely to have added his own slant. I’m not sure why the Pope would interview with someone who is known for overt agenda, but oh well.

Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to be an interview at all. “A recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview,”” … “Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist…”

I pulled from the Catholic News Agency, CNA news report here.

Regardless of what the Pope may think, Jesus had a few things to say about hell, and folks talk about translation and context, which is certainly needful, but Jesus didn’t pull any punches here: http://biblehub.com/matthew/18-8.htm What might he have meant by fire that endures the ages if not a fairly conventional definition of hell?

There are limitations to the information we have, and there is even more limitation to our potential to understand. Our understanding is truly finite and limited.

What a conundrum we have when we consider time.

If we exist, there is time. It exists as sure as anything.

Time is hardly more than the running down of our universe. Sure, we can complicate, and when we must consider the things that time affects, we must be more precise, but I consider here time of itself, moreover, eternity.

If time exists, eternity must. Time began with the universe. Time is a property of the universe, the space-time continuum, we correctly call it.

Eternity is without time; there is eternity; eternity is.

See? Eternity is not a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Time is what you have when you do not have eternity, or rather, when you are limited and expiring.

Can we accept eternity as a foundational, fundamental, encompassing premise? I assert we must. We know time is finite, at least as it pertains to our existence, our reality. If time is finite, must there not be more, something beyond time, something that has nothing to do with time, something for time to happen in? How can we be reasonable if we reject the notion.

How can we reason at all if we assume that all that exists is finite? Accepting nothing beyond the finite defies meaning as a premise. It reduces all to fundamental happenstance with no intent, no direction, no meaning, no reason. I hold it unreasonable to assert there is no reason. I hold it meaningless to assert there is no meaning. As has been rightly observed, we act as though we believe in reason and meaning. We act as though we mean something when we say it, as though we are reasoning when we suppose something.

Let us agree on eternity as a foundational premise.

Now, is eternity divine?

That is a question that seems certain to have two, and only two, possible answers, yes or no.

A religious view would probably shun the notion of eternity as the divinity, but can it not be fundamentally divine? Yes, it can. It is also possible that it is not. If not, we are looking again at utter happenstance with no possibility of meaning.

Still, blatant finitude, absolute meaninglessness, is a possibility we cannot disprove. Yet, if there is infinity, eternity, and it is divine, we end up assuming some divinity, some ultimate divine, eternally existent, infinite (not finite in any way) being. Well, hold up. Not necessarily a being. Still, something ultimate, infinite, unlimited, unbounded.

Shifting from the external and ultimate, let us look within. We do not, and perhaps cannot, understand consciousness. We have working models—workable, useful tools, but no understanding. We act as though we have a soul, but we explicitly denounce the soul as unknowable, unverifiable. We treat each other as sovereign souls (at least ideally–we know we should), as entities embodying the divine, the image of God, be that defined as it may. We, at least ideally, act as if it is so. If we act as though we have a soul while discounting it, what can we surmise as basis? Can we suppose that there must be something divine, eternal, within? Is there some attribute and capacity of ourselves, our consciousnesses, that is actually and truly eternal? It seems a reasonable assumption, a justifiable premise.

If we accept eternity, and we assume we are, at least in some way, part of it, then ultimately, we will exist long after the universe, long after world’s-end. (There I go assuming time again.) Fundamentally, the worthwhile possibilities for consideration are only two: With the divine in eternal existence, or without the divine in eternal existence. Unbounded existence with God, or without God. Regarding this latter, what more definition of hell might one propose?

I find it an undeniable possibility that there be no heaven, but if there is heaven, there most certainly is hell.

Micah 6:8

 

An unrelated article brought this to mind.

Argue all you want, complicate all you want, but God is, or God is not. If you prefer, there is a divine ultimate, or there is nothing.

If we acknowledge the divine, then we are eternal, it seems a certain consequence.

I assert free will. “Good heavens, gentlemen, what sort of free will is left when we come to tabulation and arithmetic, when it will all be a case of twice two make four? Twice two makes four without my will. As if free will meant that!” (Fyodor Dostoevsky [c8p2, c8p3])

There is no free will if one may not choose eternity to at least the extent of with-God or without-God.

I assert the good. I assert that choosing to add harm to life is the evil.

We have before us life or death, good or evil. Therefore, choose life.

I aver that Martin Luther King Jr. was a pretty good example of a husband and father, and it seems fitting on the day we honor him to note that for the most part, we’ve solved the problems for women of not having husbands.

That is, in most of our circumstances, we support single mothers. We don’t shun them. We typically work with them in personal and public ways.

For the most part, a single mother’s life is hard, but it is not life-threatening as it used to be.

Thus, we have many single mothers. That is, while there are still problems, the biggest problem, the problem that made women fear being a single mother, has been mitigated. While we have improved the lot of women, we have not improved the overall lot.

Fatherlessness, lack of a husband in the family, is a problem for society. It is a serious problem for children. Fatherlessness of families results in harm.

How do we fix that? I think it is obvious money and government programs cannot fix it.

How do we fix it?

I just watched the movie Correspondence (2016) with my wife.

I doubt most people will like.

I suggest you don’t look it up. Don’t read reviews. Don’t look up the trailer. Go with your gut. Watch, or don’t. It is about a love affair with a star, with the universe, but it is supposed to be about a love affair of a middle-aged astrophysics (Jeremy Irons) and a young PhD candidate (Olga Kurylenko).

If you decide to watch it, forget everything. Don’t think. Just feel. It might do for you what it did for me.

Some say I’m too emotional. At times like these, I’m glad of it.

~

Are you worried about WWIII? You should read this. Do you love history? You should read this. Do you wonder at Russia, especially the enigma of the old USSR? You should read this. Russia is not the USSR. Putin may be cold, but he is rational, and he is a patriot. Russia plays defense. It does not think offense. Even the unimaginable numbers asserted by the Soviet at the height of the Cold War, Russia thought of defense. Her offense was only intended, at least in the Russian heart, to ensure the battle lines were drawn far from Russia’s heartland.

Perhaps the grand communist experiment, the epic failure (which was and always will be inevitable), was able to happen largely due to the mindset of the Russian-related peoples. Perhaps they had lived in danger so long, that stable dread was tolerable. I hope it cannot happen again. Surely enough people know that communism, socialism, in all its forms, fails, moreover, it kills and destroys.

The article is long. Read it anyway. Grab a mug and learn, enjoy it all.

Mr. Hitchens mentions a movie, a documentary of the sorry conditions in the USSR.

In Russian, of course. No English text. So, learn your Russian or guess.

A note of one who was looking for the movie in 2015. https://www.reddit.com/r/russia/comments/2uhv7b/trying_to_find_a_movie/

From the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100738/

 


The misreading of Russia’s geopolitical situation is especially sad because for the first time in . . . .

Source: The Cold War Is Over by Peter Hitchens | Articles | First Things

Jesus said, “You will be hearing of wars and acts of terrorism. Be alarmed? NO! Such things are normal, not the end of the world.”

http://biblehub.com/matthew/24-6.htm

The angel said, “Be not alarmed!  You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, the crucified one. He is risen!”

http://biblehub.com/mark/16-6.htm

Note, Mark wrote that to end in awe. Within a few years, others added. Mark left it at the low point. I think he expected people to find the risen savior and understand the joy of Easter inwardly, rather than in writing.

The ladies entered the tomb, and they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

They were afraid.

At least a dozen times, Jesus told us not to be afraid. “Fear not! Only believe.”
http://biblehub.com/search/luke/8-50.htm

There are problems to address with immigration into our country. There are big problems with ignoring our own laws.

There are no reasons to fear immigrants!

We need to improve our laws and reopen our country. We need to have faith in our fellowman. No man is an island.
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island/
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devotions_upon_Emergent_Occasions

Referencing this article, http://www.conventionofstates.com/feds_take_4_5_billion_worth_of_private_property, from the Convention of the States effort, which referenced the Washington Free Beacon as source.

Regarding civil asset forfeiture:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

First, keep in mind that the men who wrote these rights were worried that they would restrict our rights. Most felt it important to trust to logic and our better nature when it came to rights, the law, and the courts. The founders were trying to ensure as much rights to the people as possible, while not restricting the rights of the people. Our founders believed we were free in deed.

Note the key is security. Our constitution, our founding document, confirms our right to our own stuff, including our life, our person. Search and seizure requires sworn warrant.

Seldom do we hear of civil asset forfeiture that occurred with a duly issued warrant. That is simply un-American and obviously illegal per the Constitution.

Next, consider:

Amendment XIV, Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Civil asset forfeiture laws abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States as protected by the Fourth Amendment. The civil asset forfeiture laws are un-American and obviously illegal per the Constitution.

Note that there can be no deprivation without due process of law. No deprivation!

It is un-American and obviously illegal per the Constitution to deprive anyone of anything until after due process has been completed.

This article indicates that in just 2014, in just that one year, the Fed, not to mention the states and municipal police forces, raked in $4.5 billion. Only 13% of that was attributed to criminal penalty. That is only 13% of the $4.5 deprived from citizens of the United States of America was taken after due process.

There is simply no excuse for civil asset forfeiture laws to exist at all.

There I no need to discuss the abuses, for obviously there are many, there is no need to discuss the conflict of interest, for the entire concept is un-American and obviously illegal per the Constitution.

Any sheriff or DA who supports civil asset forfeiture laws is simply un-American and antipatriotic.

At the moment of writing, my dear father-in-law is comfortable, but apparently the prognosis is quite dire. Measuring minutes, rather than hours, certainly not days. My wife, our children, and I are a few hours away. A family friend called to encourage us not to hurry in travel. Perhaps it is useful to suppose he reached a physiological cliff. Cancer can go that way. It is hard being distant at such times.

Lyle has had a good and full life, filled with success in his professional field, mathematics. He has been an excellent father, father-in-law, and grandfather. A blessed and successful man. I’m better for knowing him.

He is 89. He has been able to work in the yard, which he perhaps loves even more than his mathematics, even this spring. He has stayed active with friends, family, and professional associates. He still has full command of his impressive mind. All in all, a good life.

Still, we are, each one of us, a light mist that appears for just a little while, then vanish away.

Reference James 4:14 (Note the cross references on the page.)

It is so hard to keep things in perspective.

We all see ourselves so overlarge. We also undervalue our loved ones.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. http://biblehub.com/psalms/116-15.htm

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/7-1.htm

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery. http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/8-6.htm

It is a miserable day, but it is a good day.

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