Archive for March, 2006

I have had the pleasure of serving as alpha, or beta after my wife to a number of dogs. In this capacity it became obvious to me that dogs do not have the same sense of time that people have. For people, time is a continuum, constantly seeming to flow from the past to the future.

When a properly cared for dog’s people leave and then return the joy and pleasure on their return is as complete and total whether the absense has been ten minutes or ten days. The dog seems to know no difference! If you go away for a minute or two and return, the dog recognizes that you have only been absent momentarially and greets with only a modest recognition.

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CheatingThe pressure on young people to be high achievers is immense. Only the smallest fraction gain access to the keys to success in academia and sport. When a substantial proportion making “the cut” have done so through cheating, the fabric of our society is in danger.

When acceptance to the most prestigeous colleges is dependent upon test scores, and many of the applicants have subverted the process, then truly deserving exemplary performers are denied access unless they also cheat. When ethical applicants are excluded because their honest performance in testing cannot match those who have the answers, we are selecting cheaters for the leadership positions in our society.

When our popular heroes in sports regularly are caught in using steroids, packed red blood cells and other prohibited substances to enhance their performance, this sends a message to our youth that not only is it OK to cheat, but it is necessary to do so to succeed.

When our school administrators and teachers design systems to stack the deck in standardized tests as part of the No Child Left Behind program they set a standard which condones similar actions on the part of their students.

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Witch BurningThe opportunity for righteousness is diminished when a church has the power of law.

The place for the influence of a church is on the heart and spirit of the individual to encourage righteous behaviour. To command behaviour is to steal the spirituality of a positive act.

p-BraneString theory postulates ten or eleven dimensions, only three of which we can “travel” in. Time is a fourth dimension that we experience “now” and can experience “the past” through memory, but we have no knowledge of “the future”.One could say that we traveling in only one direction on the time dimension, and cannot reliably control our transit through time. (Although when one is bored, time certainly approaches stopping!)The other six or seven dimensions are often referred to being “curled up” in a microscopic manner so that we cannot experience them. This is not something that is intuitive, and is tough to keep straight.

One alternative to envisioning these other dimensions as curled is to postulate a brane – a flat surface that is analogous to an infinitely large and thin piece of paper, but in two (or more) of the “other dimensions”. Any entity that inhabited a brane would have no or little knowledge of anything the might exist outside of the brane.

The existance of branes, facilitates string theory to describe gravity, and could be the source of missing “dark matter” and where particles in an adjacent brane reduce gravity to the weaker than expected effects of recent experiments.

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There has been a lot of research into the human genome. A few very interesting things came to my attention in reading about recent “evolutionary improvements” to some human Genes. It appears that evolutionary pressures can encourage genetic shortcuts that help the survival of one group. Sometimes these shortcuts can cause a lot of havoc. (more…)

Our Endangered Values : America\'s Moral Crisis

Jimmy Carter is an example of a man , who after completing the job that would be considered the capstone of a political career, has gone on to do great things. He has done more through his Carter Center and personal efforts to bring democracy and human rights to the fore than perhaps any other individual. His support for Habitat for Humanity and other valuable grass roots – up by the bootstraps programs have done more to help struggling families than most giant government projects.

His book, Our Endangered Values : America’s Moral Crisis, investigates changes that have occured in American life that are very troubling. Some of our mainstream religions have been hijacked by “leaders” with an unholy agenda. America has become divided over issues that are morally unimportant, while issues that are critical to the moral health of our country are left without attention. Our Endangered Values investigates just that.

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A New Kind of Science

If ever there was a book that needs CliffsNotes, Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science is the one. This book has been dismissed as “no big deal” by some who have read only the first few hundred pages. Unfortunately, you have to wade through many more of the 1200 pages of this book to get to the main points that Wolfram is making.

The insights in this book are be as profound as Newton’s in Mathmatical Principles of Natural Philosophy but they take work to understand. Part of the problem is that his insights are as foreign to our worldview as quantum theory was to Newtonian physicists in the 1920s.

A major premise of A New Kind of Science is that science as we know it is blind to many relationships in nature because of the way that traditional science sets up experiments. Wolfram shows that all of nature is found in the execution of simple rules.,

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C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis said: “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”

Why is this? It is because the religious folks who listen to them are poisoned by their rhetoric, or shamed by their behavior.

When tithes from working folks are taken for sports cars and not the poor, this is not the work of God.

When a fatwah tells to murder, or the word comes from a pulpit to bomb a clinic this is not the word God.

When a priest molests an acolite, this is not the work of God.

This is corruption of the highest order.

Thomas Paine said: “That government is best which governs least.” Thomas Paine

What did he mean by that? Governments are inefficient – Yes, but in his mind that would be a good thing.

Those who run governments are tyranical? – Yes, but that is not the point.

Government, no matter how benevolent and well meaning, will interfere with the desires and rights of someone!

A government by its very nature controls power over individuals. Paine’s thesis is that individuals should cede only enough power to the government to undertake its necessary functions. (more…)

Plato argues that there is no Evil, what we see as evil is just ignorance; what everyone wants “the good”.

Genesis speaks of Adam and Eve being cast from the Garden of Eden because they “ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Evil must therefore be something related to humanity in its current state.

The Bible considers sin as a break in the covenant between man and God. The Koran considers sin to be against the sinner himself. Sin, for purposes of this discussion may be evil, but is not necessarily so.

There are those that find anything that varies from their “normal” is evil: unapproved sexual practices, other religions, disobeying rules within their ethic system, etc. For purposes of our discussion, let us consider only those things that are morally bad, intrinsically corrupt, wantonly destructive, inhumane, or wicked in the abstract.

I propose that we consider Evil not to be terrible acts, but the principles and conditions that lead to destructive behaviors that make the world a poorer and meaner place to live.

I will be writing and revising essays on the following that are proposed for your consideration as Evil:

Corruption Cruelty to Animals Ecological destruction False Witness
Torture Slavery Obsession Fundamentalism
Genocide Greed

This list is subject to revision, and the definitions we want to use may not be the common usage. Please comment and add your views. Perhaps at this site we can come to a “generally accepted” definition of evil.