Looking Left and Right: Pointless Abstractions




Today’s sharply polarized and strategically focused political parties fit poorly with a constitutional system that anticipates collaboration as well as competition within and across separated institutions. As we initially wrote, parliamentary-style parties in a separation-of-powers government are a formula for willful obstruction and policy irresolution. The continuation of divided party government and the promiscuous use of the filibuster after the 2012 election have largely frustrated the policy direction affirmed by majority electorates and supported in polls of voters taken since the election.

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Looking Left and Right: Different Choices? Pt 2




Conservatives are too prone to engage in zero-sum thinking (either I keep my money or the government takes it). They fail to appreciate the possibility of positive sum solutions to social conflicts.
Conservatives hold the laissez-faire ‘minimal-state’ view that, although we have a moral obligation to refrain from hurting others, we have no obligation to help others. Conservatives cling to the comforting moral illusion that there is a sharp distinction between allowing people to suffer and making people suffer.

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Looking Left and Right: The Left v Right Battle Pt 4



Conservatives take a dim view of progress. They are not so foolish as to deny that great advances have been made in science, technology, medicine, communication, management, education, and so forth, and that they have changed human lives for the better. But they have also changed them for the worse. Advances have been both beneficial and harmful. They have certainly enlarged the stock of human possibilities, but the possibilities are for both good and evil, and new possibilities are seldom without new evils. Conservatives tend to be pessimistic because they doubt that more possibilities will make lives on the whole better. They believe that there are obstacles that stand in the way of the permanent overall improvement of the human condition.

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Life Will Answer – The Book: Wars Without End? Pt. 4



Faith would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about religion. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever blind faith rules over facts warps all areas of life. It produces a frame of mind in which concepts are formulated with deep passion but without the slightest attention paid to the evidence that bears on the concept.

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Life Will Answer – The Book: Your God, or Mine?



If there is no Source, no Infinite Intelligence—or Supreme Being, or God, or Allah, or Consciousness, or for that matter, no Flying Spaghetti Monster*—then the Universe came into existence as a result of a magical, outside-of-science science which caused the Big Bang to serve as the first unit and moment of this Universe. How do we define or understand the concept of “no preceding cause?”  

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Life Will Answer – The Book: What If?



With so many different religions espousing so many different beliefs and ideas about what is and what is not permitted by an external, separate, and independent Source, at some point we must all awaken to the fact that what we are doing and believing as it stands now makes absolutely no sense. Asking questions is not only okay, we should do no less every day!  

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Life Will Answer – The Book: Intelligent Design Or Convenient Rationalization? Part 2


Earlier this year I published an eBook entitled Life Will Answer. It’s an exploration of life, religion, and the tenuous connection one has with the other—at least as has been defined to date by the various theologies of past and present-day believers.

A fundamental point of the book is that Life has been established to honor and answer the choices each and all of us make—whatever they are and however they may be judged by the standards and guidelines we as a society have established. I do not accept the notion that there is a God offering wildly arbitrary thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs, or that this Deity has edicts we’re free to abide by or not (although if we don’t there will be hell to pay).

I wrote that book on the premise that there is More to this life than the narrow-minded, conflicting, and occasionally dangerous notions religions offer. Given the several thousand religions claiming followers, it’s absurd for any collection of humans to insist that their Deity assures them It is the One and Only. Several thousand of Its peers take issue with that.

I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar. I am at best a casual observer of some religion-based behaviors, but given that I have also authored a book discussing those matters, perhaps that makes me more than a casual observer.

So in conjunction with that work, I’d like to offer some observations on related issues of the day.

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Greta Christina recently authored an excellent article discussing the science vs intelligent design “debate,” offering a solid explanation of why the latter is just so much more nonsense serving little purpose but to deny many the opportunity to think for themselves and recognize when facts contradict fables. This is the second part of my discussion of her fascinating effort. {Quotes are from that article.]

Those trying to have to both ways will, as Ms. Christina notes, state that God is not actively involved in the day-to-day process of Life unfolding. Instead, this Deity pushed the first domino, and now “is just sitting back watching it all unfold.” A convenient explanation, to be sure, and one which no doubt offers no small amount of comfort to those who choose to believe that there is some kind of creator paying careful attention to one’s every thought and deed. Except that:

[T]here’s not a scrap of evidence for this, either. If your god is so non-interventionist that he’s entirely indistinguishable from physical cause and effect — what reason do you have to think he exists? In all of human history, the supernatural has never turned out to be the right answer to anything….So why would you think that an invisible god who set the wheels of evolution in motion, in a way that looks exactly like physical cause and effect, is more plausible than simple physical cause and effect?

No even remotely-rational person will fail to acknowledge the innumerable marvels and wonders of Life, our planet, and our universe. It is indeed inconceivably magnificent! But how? More importantly, why?

I’m certain that it is beyond frightening to think that the comfort and tether of some Supreme Being in one’s life might not be even remotely true. Now what?

But as the ending quote from my last post suggested, what if the concept of Life and the reasons for It are so much grander than the manufactured rules and judgments mankind has fashioned? Why should we continue to limit the awesome magnificence of Life, this planet, evolution, and indeed our entire Universe by attributing all of it to some Source remarkably human in its whims, judgments, desires, and rules?

Are to we seriously believe yet again that an Entity deemed to be responsible for all of that wonder and complexity is nonetheless mostly concerned with making certain immigrant children—children!—are denied the benefits of our exceptional nation; or that this Deity is tearing Its hair out because Diane wants to marry Denise?

Yes, there are many aspects of biological life that astonish with their elegance and function. But there are many other aspects of biological life that astonish with their clumsiness, half-assedness, inefficiency, pointless superfluities, glaring omissions, laughable failures, ‘fixed that for you’ kluges and jury-rigs, and appalling, mind-numbing brutality….If you’re trying to reconcile all this with a powerfully magical creator god who made it this way on purpose, it requires wild mental contortions at best, and a complete denial of reality at worst.…
If God is so powerful that he could bring all of existence into being simply by wishing it; if he’s so powerful that he can tinker with the genetics and circumstances of evolution simply by wishing it — why would he wish it to be so clumsy, half-assed, inefficient, jury-rigged, superfluous, and brutal?
Which finally leads me to:
If it were true, God would either be incompetent or malicious (Links in original quote.)

Seems to me that a Source so magnificent in scope and capability might be a bit more favorably inclined toward humanity’s various behaviors and choices harming no one (except as conjured up by fear-mongers deriving benefits from keeping the uninformed appropriately stirred and shaken). Too many of our fellow citizens seem inordinately concerned about matters impacting them not at all, and so manufacture concerns to justify irrational fears and paranoia, and then conveniently package it all as the Will of some Deity who also happens to be responsible for the creation of Everything. Hello?

If God were smart enough to know precisely how to set the parameters of existence so that billions of years later it would unfold into conscious human life — why wouldn’t he be smart enough to do it in a way that avoided the inefficient, hideously violent processes through which evolution has unfolded, and continues to unfold?

This God won’t step in an prevent the litany of injustices and atrocities we commit upon one another, but survivors of life’s innumerable ordeals are thankful that they were spared, instead of those other poor schmucks who apparently and obviously must have offended this God so much so that horrific accidents and all manner of creative deaths are the endings doled out?

We’re so much better than that. Life is so much better than that! And Whatever/Whoever is responsible for settings the first domino in motion is likewise so much better than that, as my book discusses at length.

Wouldn’t it be worth our while to step back for a moment and consider that Life—and our own—just might actually be better than what we’ve made it out to be?

~ My Photo: sunrise at Long Beach, Rockport, MA – 08.22.05