Category Archives: Philosophy

“Oh No He Di’ent?” And Other Responses We’re Sure To Hear Next

The man who brought you rap for Jesus (“Jesus Walks”), Kanye West, went on record yesterday in support of gays during an MTV interview and that’s got to be a good thing overall but I couldn’t help but laugh during one part of the story. (I’m sorry but “yo” is as silly an expression as “yea” to me and very nearly as silly as “behold”, but you probably would’ve had to have been there.)

Realizing that “gay” has become an antonym to hip-hop, West contended that hip-hop has always been about “speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.” He proceeded to clarify: “Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.’”

Certainly the term “gay” has come to represent any thing that isn’t hip and it is one of my least favorite popular expressions (I literally cringe when I hear someone use it.) It is a glib, pedantic, chronically over-used term and I am in total agreement concerning its negative effects on a hip-hopping-abbreviated-expression-seeking generation. Using the term “gay” in the pejorative sense is just another way to show what little command of the language you can achieve, and must only be appealing to small-minded, barely-motivated faddist followers. If your expression skills still are primitive, chances are you’ll find pleasure in rating something as “gay” but you’ll seem childish to me for doing so. As much as I hate to do this I must say that it is gay to use the term “gay”, okay? As desperate as that was, I needed to get my opinion across. Capeesh?

West says that when he was young, people would call him a “mama’s boy.”

That’s certainly the quickest and one of the most brutal ways to discover how hurtful labels can be. Though why do we need to experience repressions first-hand before we accept that they are wrong? Can we not use our imaginations?

“And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, ‘cause it’s like I would go back and question myself,” West says on the show, “All Eyes on Kanye West,” set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET)

According to West, he changed when he learned he had a gay cousin.

“It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I’ve been discriminating against gays.’”

Sadly it has become cool to say something is “gay” and there’s a reason for that. When you have no respect for something you have no regret for reducing it to a one syllable put-down. Others consider your rash assessment and too often find it succinct and enviable. Soon all of your friends are saying “gay” this and “gay” that and if someone hears it who happens to be gay, mores the pity. Eventually they’ll get the message that everything “gay” is, by definition, bad. Everything! Even gay sympathizers must stop and wonder, for once and all, if their reasoning abilities are reprobate.

We help to popularize slang-terms and use them to communicate complex opinions and positions, as if any of them could ever prove adequate. One isn’t likely to seem articulate for offering mono-syllabic grunts of derision for the things s/he despises. Yet the myriad of feelings and fears we carry onward are each, all too often, summed up for us with that one cretinous epithet “gay” and it isn’t nearly good enough for any of the purposes it serves.

Props to Kanye for having the courage to take a stand, even when that stand could then take away from his ends.

 

Let’s Get Things Back Into Perspective Here!

Les, I just went thru a thing on my blogspot allanjanssen.blogspot.com that got me going enough I though I would run it here too!

The fact that we can examine ourselves thinking, (Like mentally looking in a mirror) is one of the great mysteries. This, along with the existence of God, the process of evolution, and much more in the metaphysical sphere are questions that do not easily lend themselves to interpretation.
Not to take anything away from the Eastern Philosophies, (Since they probably have a better handle on things than most Western Religions) but these are answers we mistakenly try and understand from a here and now point of view. As long as we look at these questions from a materialistic, egocentric point of view I dont’t think we will find an answer.
Perhaps the question “Is there a God” or better yet, “What is God?” are areas that we are not meant to address in this life. They could, by their very nature, be unanswerable. (Here we go, now everyone is going to tell me THEY have the answer. Save your breath, unless you have a REALLY bad Messianic Complex!)
The point is, perhaps we should be more concerned with attaining a “State of Grace” in this life, and then sitting back to see where it leads us in the next! Remember..(from my book God-101) When all else fails, the simple solution is usually the correct one! OR If you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras!

After that, sure enough, all sorts of people replied to tell me the answer!!!!! The best was two pages on variations of “one hand clapping!”

Why can’t some of you people LISTEN instead of grabbing anything at all as an excuse to once again spout your bullshit nonsense. Listen to me please, I don’t need double talking, asinine, convoluted, self absorbed, deluded rants to make me see the light! The truth is not in the Bible or the Koran. (Or the Bhagavad-Gita for that matter!) They should all be thrown in the garbage because they were written by sun-baked, wandering nomads who mostly ate bugs and honey….. of course they saw God~!
God is not in a book because that is other people trying to tell you what is right and what is wrong. You are not going to find paradise by listening to 2000 year old, hallucinating, camel jockeys.
KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don’t jump thru hoops trying to explain the infinite. Don’t manufacture all these grand theories on the nature of God. Certainly don’t sit there and try and second guess what God wants, and CERTAINLY don’t tell me that you know what God wants ME to do!
I don’t think it’s our job to probe these questions yet. When we are ready they will be revealed. But they will be revealed to EVERYONE. I think God is big enough that he doesn’t need translators. Remember-the simple solution is usually the correct one! God is love!!!!
In other words, God is within you and no one should ever come between. If we must refer to religious texts I would like to quote from the Book “G0d-101” once more.
One of the core sayings of Jesus was “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For behold, that kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Jesus tells us quite clearly that the “Kingdom of God” is not a coming kingdom, or a future kingdom, but rather something already in amongst his disciples. It is not a place, but rather a state of mind! Or, to quote James Breech once more: “Your concept of the kingdom of God, whether it belongs to the future mythological conceived, in either eschatological or apocalyptic terms, misses the reality of the kingdom. The symbolism really refers to a power that is a basic factor in human experience!”
** The foundation of Christian ideology revolves around “Love” for one and another. To understand this we need to define exactly how the term or meaning of “Love” is used! In the first instance, there is the true Christian “Love” which means it is rooted in the power of the kingdom of God. This is the “Love” that the historical Jesus preached to his followers.
The second type of Christian “love” (small L) is defined solely as an ethical idea that was propagated by the spreading Christian faith in trying to define the words of Christ.
Nietzsche probably best defined this form of Christian ‘love’ as a masked feeling of pity or charity. In other words, we feel sorry for others and from this superior moral ground to lend a helping hand.
Nietzsche claims that Christian ‘pity’ (love) is a device used by those who are not themselves truly vital and alive to obtain a perverse elevation of their own position by undermining others. In other words, “I can make myself feel better by thinking you or someone else is worse-off and deserving of “love.” We often confuse the feeling of Christian “love” for someone with:
1. Pity for them.
2. Humanitarianism-or a love of Mankind.
3. Altruism, or self denial, and
4. Sentimentalism, or wanting to be with others.
These concepts of “love” have been re-enforced over and over again in the Bible through one story or another.
What Jesus actually said was something much more basic and infinitely harder to achieve. The historical Jesus did not urge us to love Mankind or to feel pity for someone else.
He did not tell us to deny ourselves for someone else’s sake, or flagellate ourselves, or even to enjoy another’s company! What He did say was pure and simple and straight to the point, “Love one another.” This sort of Love is not the altruistic love of Mankind, nor the possessive love for our mate, but rather, something that requires hard work, tenacity, and sacrifice.
It is easy to love your wife or husband, child or parent, but to Love your neighbor (or stranger) is a task that is never ending and always requires effort.
It is a Love that seems to have no immediate benefit and is therefore not practiced by many people. However, in the long run, this is what will make Humanity rise up to it is potential and approach what Jesus referred to as the “Kingdom of God (Father).”
This is not something that is to be expected in the near, or far, future. Rather, it was a state of being that is present at this time, and only has to be observed and followed in order to achieve a state of Grace.—Allan W. Janssen

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Les you wanted a rant and here is one. (That’s like “I always wanted to be a writer, and now I are one!)
In my Book “God-101” I go to great lengths to explain that the book is not about religion, but rather, what religion is NOT!
Let me put it into a nutshell for all you squirrely people out there. Never mind what God wants you to do. (And there IS a God, we just don’t know who, what, where, why etc. Why? Because it’s GOD stupid!)
Ours is not to question why, ours is just to do or die!
Forget trying to convert everyone else to being a good Christian, or Muslim, or Hindu, or anything. That’s not your job. Forget trying to explain what God wants, or needs or thinks, that’s not your job!
Don’t try and proclaim a message in God’s name, that’s not our job. Don’t try and petition God, (I’ll go out on a limb here and say that’s not God’s job!) Don’t worry about the afterlife, that’s not our job!
I could keep going but you get the idea.
Our job is to do the best we can. Our job is to make life a little easier for everyone by “helping out” and being there when needed. Our job is to live life, (and die) with a bit of class and a state of grace!
In other words it’s time we grew up as a Race and became responsible for ourselves instead of doing everything in “GOD”S NAME”
Allan W Janssen – from the book – The Plain Truth About God-101 what the church doesn’t want you to know!

Summer Reading

Although not your standard escapist novels, these two books are definitely beach worthy. The first is The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris. The second is The Ethical Brain by Michael Gazzaniga. Harris has a degree in Philosophy and is now completing a doctorate in neurosciece. Gazzaniga is a prominent neuroscientist and a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.

The End of Faith evolved from a long essay, written after 9/11, on the need to set aside belief that is unsupported by evidence. Along the way, Harris covers a lot of history, some neuroscience and a bit of philosophy (duality). Much of his commentary on religion will be very familiar to the regulars. His basic argument, though, is that we are wired to believe (what we see), beliefs influence our emotional state and very much influence the actions that we take. However, acting on beliefs that have not been verified by fact(s) can lead to disastrous results. For a recent example, consider the tragedy described in Mayo’s post here.

Harris takes no prisoners. On Islam and the Koran he comes down right next to Pat Robertson, his description of the Bible as codified barbarity is akin to Tom Paine’s but without the Deism, and on religious moderates I will let him speak for himself.

One of the central themes of this book, however, is that religeous moderates are themselves the bearers of of a terrible dogma: they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that very ideal of religeous tolerance—born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God—is one of the principle forces driving us to the abyss.

Another of his themes is that there is some sort of spiritual need in our psyche that will not be fulfilled by a “mere understanding of our world, scientific or otherwise.”

There is clearly a sacred dimension to our existence, and coming to terms with it could well be the highest purpose of human life. But we will find that it requires no faith in untestable propositions.

He is not talking new wave. At the end of the book he discusses the hard question of neuroscience—consciousness. And, suddenly, after a lot of hard core materialism (mind is matter), he is into the wisdom the east.

Gazzaniga is a kinder, gentler author who discusses a number of current moral or ethical issues in light of what he knows about neuroscience. These include: conferring moral status on an embryo, aging, brain enhancement (through genetic engineering, or training or drugs), and a section titled Free Will, Personal Responsibility and the law. The chapters are reasonably short and each concludes with a section in which he gives his take on the issue just discussed.

A digression on free will. Neuroscience shows that our brains actually make decisions shortly before we become conscious that we have done so. This clearly has to be an evolved survival skill. Here Gazzaniga uses the phrase “free won’t.” Mental impairment aside, we have the ability to veto our unconsciously-generated decisions to act; and are, therefore, accountable for our actions.

I found the closing chapters of the book to be the most interesting. Is there a genetic basis for religiosity? Gazzaniga gets at my God-gene question in a couple of ways. The first is through what he calls the left-hemisphere interpreter. This is a construct that derives from his work with split brain patients. The left brain quite literally makes up stories to explain events. (Question to self. Is it more than coincidence that the major speech processing centers are also located in the left hemisphere?). Here is an abbreviated quote.

Any time our left brain is confronted with information that does not jibe with our self image, knowledge or conceptual framework, our left-hemisphere interpreter creates a belief to enable all incoming information to make sense and mesh with our ongoing idea of ourself. Nowhere does this operate more than on the cultural phenomen of religeous belief.

[Omitted material contrasts religions that originated in Egypt and Messopotamia]

One has to think, it seems to me, that religions, while originating from a common moral core we all possess, are interpretations built on surrounding cultural realities.

Hugely fascinating. In some sense, then, there is a genetic basis for religiosity. The evolved brain provides a fertile bed for religious thought. (That was my aha moment not Gazzaniga’s. That said, his chapter on how the interpreter operates to resolve moral dilemmas was worth the price of both books.)

Gazaniga’s other take on religion is what Toby Lester of the Atalantic Monthly calls “supernatural selection.” In addition to providing a place of worship, churches that survive also provide social services that their members find useful: promotion of health, mate selection, and security. As examples he cites the growth of the Mormon Church and the differential success of new starts in Africa. He also speculates about the success of religious concepts that mesh with our sense of self (spirit = person). Here he is describing God-memes rather than God-genes. I have to believe that the two interact powerfully.

After a chapter on temporal lobe epilepsy and religious belief, he closes with a discussion of scientific evidence that might support a universal inate moral sense.

Both authors champion reason in their own way. Harris offers a terse prescription for the problem that he outlined. That being to answer our children’s questions truthfully. Gazzinaga’s insights show just how improbable it is that we will ever do so.

Quiz: What is your world view?

Haven’t done a quiz in awhile now and this one seemed pretty good so I figured I’d give it a shot.

You scored as Existentialist. Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Mankind is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.

Existentialist

100%

Materialist

88%

Modernist

81%

Postmodernist

56%

Cultural Creative

44%

Romanticist

44%

Idealist

31%

Fundamentalist

0%

What is Your World View? (corrected…again)
created with QuizFarm.com

I hadn’t really considered the idea that I was an Existentialist before, but in thinking about it further I suppose that it’s true. I do seem to have a ridiculous amount of optimism in humanity’s capacity to better itself despite all the evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in the daily news.

Found this one via Solonor who’s one of those namby-pamby Cultural Creatives.

The Meanings of Our Lives

Life is a series of events each of us experiences and shares while we curiously and naively, sometimes ill-advisedly, commence from one moment to the next. We do not begin life tainted or damned and if anyone tells you are evil because you are alive, then that one is an enemy of being-ness and ignorant of the potentials and challenges existence presents. That one wants you beholding to another for a life you completely own.

We are all on trips and have been since the moment we were each born. Some trips have led or will lead to times of misery and solitude; a sense of futility in everything one does. Other times the journey will reveal generous expanses of calm and satisfaction or fantastic good fortune. We’ve all had rewarding and fulfilling experiences that we felt we didn’t deserve as we waited for the other shoe to drop. It’s sad that some of us choose to believe that we are innately sinful and evil. We choose a road of guilt and retribution, torturing ourselves with a sense of unworthiness and a consuming need to be cleansed and saved.

When I was eleven years old, I went with my best friends, brothers named Ricky and Eddie, to their family church twice a week and every visit was punctuated with a stentorian appeal by the preacher to be baptized. The preacher’s concern for my afterlife condition caused my friends to be concerned for my souls’ well-being too and nearly every week they encouraged me to finally go up there. “Will you this time” they always wondered aloud, “because you have to be saved or you won’t go to Heaven!”

I was a pretty outgoing kid, unafraid to be the center of attention in other situations, but the burden of standing before a crowd and admitting that I needed to be rescued, that I was a sinner and doomed left me feeling chastised and degraded. I wanted to believe that I had worth apart from a decision from an invisible entity to grant me significance and value. Still, the pressure was too much for my young, still-forming identity. Adults knew better than me concerning most things and when they too implored me to seek baptism, I felt that I had no greater decision to make. Finally, one Wednesday night I rose from my seat and nervously journeyed, repentant and shaking, to the front where a few others stood, apart and grieving from the congregation, each of us seeking forgiveness and acceptance. A date was set for the baptism and immediately after its execution, by virtue of being accepted and now deserving of entry into heaven, I was good to go. How easy was that?

If you give someone something they don’t understand and don’t really believe in, if you tell them that everything has changed now and they have won acceptance and inclusion some, though not all of them, will question why they deserve this special treatment. I know I did. What had changed for me? How was I any different, a better person now, simply because a self-styled agent of a religion said so? It all seemed so phony, so desperate to me. Mostly I was angry with myself for being dishonest. I certainly felt forced into the act of metamorphosis. I knew that nothing had changed in me but others believed they had assisted me in becoming successful at something. I simply couldn’t understand how I had done this thing worthy of their respect. I now know that it all was about making their selves feel good, wise and justified in their beliefs. I gave them a win they could brag to each other about. I validated their efforts, their passions.

If a man tells you that you are born guilty, if he tells you to consult him and not look to yourself for the answers, if he tells you to ignore your intellect and trust only your feelings, your faith, he is a false prophet. If he tells you to fear for your life because when you die a portion of you will live on in endless agony unless you believe in his god, and that this god owns you, he is a dispenser of horrific tales and proud of his ability to debase and terrorize you. He has a mean streak a mile wide and if you don’t tell him he’s crazy, you very well may be crazy yourself. You must not reward him for his hate-filled and perverse predilection.

Religions often are irresponsible, often degrading, thought processes humans set their minds to. Once you create gods, there is very little hope left for you because then any extreme event and entity is possible. You become slaves to your greatest fears and fearful potentials can be immensely magnified. It can be entertaining to scare ourselves but with most fantastically fearful situations we imagine, we leave the theatre, book or television program knowing it was just a fantasy event and we then return to our practical, pragmatic understandings. We do not let our imaginations convince us the monster is real and living somewhere within or outside of our normal existences. The God monster is not real for if he could be we are all in deep trouble, no matter how favored anyone may be, for he has the power to destroy the universe.

Has anyone really considered, and I mean really considered, how annoying Heaven could become after time? Hell is living a stagnant, unchanging existence. Try putting your brain in a box where new experiences and mobility would be impossible. Try imagining life in absolute confinement while being aware of every fact, every possibility life could provide but you couldn’t experience it in time or adapt, learning and feeling as you go through it. Knowing it ALL and having nothing to grow into could be one huge painfully boring way to exist.

We create our moments as we go and make unique choices each and every time we proceed. This is what it means to be alive; to be able to make our own choices in real time for every event we participate in.

I don’t discuss private events of my life too often here because I often doubt anyone would find my life interesting (even though it might be for many of you) or deserving of special attention. Or is it that I don’t want others to think my life is deserving of special attention? It’s a heavy thing having others concerned for your well-being and privy to special information. I seem to be more comfortable being “of a type” with you guys; not too well known or understood.

Is this because I don’t want the choices I make and the events I participate in to be considered too carefully? Do we all fear being intimately known? Or do we crave it?

I detest judgment, this much I see, and yet sometimes I dare it.

The Time Traveler Convention or: Never Mind?

I found out about this interesting endeavor today and couldn’t put thoughts of it aside. “What is it?” What it is is a convention for time travelers to meet up, as many times as they like, for a one time only event.

Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention. Time travelers from all eras could meet at a specific place at a specific time, and they could make as many repeat visits as they wanted. We are hosting the first and only Time Traveler Convention at MIT in one week, and WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Now, it can be argued that they have already met at MIT for this convention, depending on your perspective,  but unless the event is advertised heavily, in a few years no one will remember it even happened and no one from the future will have attended for lack of an invitation.

We need you to help PUBLICIZE the event so that future time travelers will know about the convention and attend. This web page is insufficient; in less than a year it will be taken down when I graduate, and furthermore, the World Wide Web is unlikely to remain in its present form permanently. We need volunteers to publish the details of the convention in enduring forms, so that the time travelers of future millennia will be aware of the convention. This convention can never be forgotten! We need publicity in MAJOR outlets, not just Internet news. Think New York Times, Washington Post, books, that sort of thing. If you have any strings, please pull them.


Sounds easy enough right? Just talk this event up all you can and leave references to it everywhere, especially in newly-poured cement. (One of the reasons I’ve posted of this event in SEB is because I know this website will never go away. When Les retires (and we hope that’s decades from now, don’t we?), his daughter Courtney will be of age and intellect to carry on. No need to travel back in time to read Stupid Evil Bastard, as it will be fresh and newly blogged, no matter the age you live in.)

I’m from the future, and I’d like to attend!
We’re not sure how you’re emailing us from the future, but we’d love to have you! Come as you are! No dress code whatsoever.

Go ahead and check out the page and its links. It is an endeavor both laughable and grand, and all it will/did take is/was a time traveled attendee to elevate it to genius rank.

After reading of the plan for this event, I began to consider ramifications of time travel and I became curious as to what you guys might come up with as far as benefits, conundrums, or just silly situations time travel might present. Give your opinions. For example you might point out that divorce would become pointless in the future, since you could travel back and decide not to marry that bitch or bastard in the first place. You might say to me: “Brock, there’s nothing new to add when discussing time travel. It’s all been explored; every theory, every potential result.” Then, I would say to you “I will travel back in time and destroy all the works of fiction and scientific theory, so that nothing has been said on the subject except for that which is presented here.” You not only owe SEB’s readers your thoughts and opinions on this subject, you owe the world the only source for discussion on time travel.

Or not. It’s up to you.

 

Footprints in the Sand and a Sudden Realization

                                  One night a religious man had a dream.
                      He dreamed he was walking along the beach with his god.

              He chanced to look up and across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
              In each scene he saw an expanse of sand with two sets of footprints
              tracked across it, one set belonging to him, and the other to this god.

                Then scenes flashed of solitary tracks across the sand and he
                    realized that these were scenes of him walking alone,
                                without his companion god.

                He also noticed that these solitary travels always involved
                          the lowest and saddest events of his life.

                This really bothered him and he questioned his god about it:

            “God of mine, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk
            with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most trouble-filled
                      times in my life, there is only one set of footprints.
        I don’t understand why you would leave me during the times I needed you most.”

                              In this dream, his god replied:

          “My son, my precious child, you ever want someone all-powerful to love
        and serve you, to never leave you,  but during extreme trials and suffering,
            you depended on yourself because those were times when you most
                                    needed to succeed.”

              “You saw only one set of footprints then because you could
                        afford no failure from an invisible friend:
                                  You carried yourself.”

              The man awoke suddenly, began to feel guilt then laughed it off
                          and eased back into a comfortable sleep.

 
                  (Apologies, insincerely meant, to Mary Stevenson)

THE TRUTH, THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH

                                      THE TRUTH, THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH
                                                By Peter Fredson
Roaming through some blogs the other day I ran across the phrase “Absolute Morality.” Although I have read a fair amount of philosophy and science I still was not sure about anything entitled “Absolute.”  The term “Absolute Zero” in regard to Temperature depends on oscillation of atoms and molecules in a media. If it be water, then as the water cools, oscillation of molecules slows and allows water to freeze. When all oscillations halt, the temperature is called absolute zero. The problem is that oscillations never come to a complete stop.  If the media is changed, then the oscillation conditions change.  Absolute becomes Relative to the medium.

I consulted GOOGLE for answers, and learned that there were about 4,550,000 entries for Absolute Truth [definition]. (0.07 seconds) I’m sure someone can calculate how long it would take me to access each article, and how long I would be dead if I could ever finish the never-ending stream of opinion about Absolute Truth.  I spent most of the day reading entries, trying to make sense of them.  I was agreeably surprised to find that many entries fit into only a few categories. I was also surprised and delighted to find that many people have no problem in either defining Truth, or in attaining Absolute Truth, or in proclaiming that everybody can find THE TRUTH.  In fact they have hundreds of quotations to show what the Truth is and how to attain it.

Philosophers can’t quite seem to agree on what Absolute Truth might be.  They give long, complex, abstruse arguments, which undoubtedly give contemporaries much amusement concerning beliefs.

There seem to be two diametrically-opposed beliefs related to absolute truth:

Some believe everything is relative, that there is no reality, only perceptions and opinions, and no authority can possibly determine if something be ultimately true or false. Others believe in Absolute Truth, and that there are ultimate standards of Truth and morals and they have no hesitation in proclaiming that fact.

Religionists are the most opinionated of all.  They all eventually adopt a stance relative to Truth in which their beliefs are Absolutely True, their Gods Absolutely Perfect, and their Morals Absolutely Correct.  Muslims quote the Koran as their ultimate authority, Buddhists go to the sayings of Gautama, the Children of Israel unroll their sacred scroll, and Christians thump their bible.  Each is convinced that they alone are Absolutely Correct in having possession of THE TRUTH, and that all the others are, relatively speaking, wrong in the measure to which they deviate from whoever is doing the opinionating.

If I take the time to look up the stance of other religions with sacred books, I would probably find that each devotee would coyly admit that their religion was best and that they alone had a monopoly on TRUTH. They are all convinced that Absolute Truth is singular, indivisible and they all have a recipe for finding it.

Stridency and aggressivity in voicing opinions seem to play a large part in getting points across. Several major religions originating in the Middle East assert that absolute truth is determined by a supernatural being, who is the ultimate authority, or maker, of everything, including reality. True Believers believe that a personal, all-powerful Intelligent Being exists and that absolute truth is derived by True Believers by properly understanding who or what God is and what His “will” might be.

The argument goes: There must be a “reality” somewhere. It defines what is and what is not, what is right and what is wrong.  For absolute truth, there must be some authority that establishes Truth. “You cannot have a law without a lawgiver. You cannot have a design without a designer.”

The creationists and Far Right Evangelical Charismatics have come out in full force under the present administration with stridency and aggressivity to impose their opinions on the entire world, by hook or crook or cruise missile, or by sheer weight of web sites.

One web assertion sums up the modern Far Right Christian View reflected in many sites:
“Absolute truth is totally dependent upon the fact that “God” does exist and that the Universe was created purposefully. If there is no God, and everything was created on accident by something like evolution, then there can be no basis for absolute truth. Truth is beyond human control; “no mortal being can influence the absolute”

After perusing several dozen of these sites I find an essential sameness, remarkable conformity in wording, and a general consensus among True Believers. They appear to have a general direction imposed by modern legalistic dominionist reconstructivist Christians who manipulate semantics and logic, philosophy and religion, imagination and nonsense, into a fairly homogeneous story which satisfies the televangelists, priests, parsons, bishops, deacons, reverends, politicians and other people defending their livelihood which depends largely on linguistic dexterity in presenting biblical passages.  This version has become dogma and is to be defended to the death.  (To the Death of unbelievers?)

Thus TRUTH seems to be relative to whichever religion a True Believer believes.  Each claims the FULL ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and each despises the others weak stumbling ignorant mistaken error-filled partial distortion of THE TRUTH.

Perhaps we can accept the Truth from a President who declared and continues to declare that the reason he invaded a sovereign country was that it formed an Imminent Threat to our Democracy, had innumerable terrifying weapons of mass destruction, and had Evil Intentions.  After all, he says he speaks to God, who is, for him, the ultimate authority on Absolute Truth and morality. Would either of them misrepresent reality?  Surely the belief of about 50% of people who voted should be sufficient to show where Absolute Truth, Honesty and Morality lies?

Finally, and you can breathe a sigh of relief, I found a site under this category that gives some Absolute Apothegms.
If you’re too open-minded, your brains will fall out.
Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
.A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
By the time you’ve figured out how to make ends meet, they move the ends.
Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
.Doctors can be frustrating. You wait a month-and-a-half for an appointment, and he says, “I wish you’d come in sooner.

I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to present the opinions of the other 4,500,900 entries. But feel free to have fun searching for Truth, even Absolute Truth.  Good luck!

Intelligent Design from a software engineering perspective.

I have been hearing from the grand old US of A a lot of trouble about Intelligent Design being used as a sneaky tactic (for people who make a habit of not using the little grey cells, this is sneaky) to get creationism into schools. I personally would not discount external interference in our development, I’m not an atheist, I don’t have a defined historical system of belief, but I do object to facts and reasoning (i.e. science) being replaced by a book that was told as a verbal myth by a group who have strange ideas about not eating shell fish (personally I’m a vegetarian, but if I wasn’t shellfish would be high up on my list of favorite sources of protein).

But ID as a theory it can explain the situation, but there was something nagging me, and I couldn’t work out what, then it hit me….

Human, Homo Sapiens, sapiens, the end product of 5 billion years of effort, um, excuse me I think there’s been a error in the future vision department. Are you telling me that someone INTELLIGENT spent 5 billion years on us? I can sing human praises, but generally only of singular individuals, as a species… There are a slight too many design flaws for this to be either the work of an engineer, or the end game of any project development.

I’m in part a software engineer by training, (it was my least favorite/favorite course in my first year and I by and large understood it by the second year of uni), I thought what was probably missing, was a list of requirements for the original design, so that when someone wants to finally work on the Human 2.1 (hopefully already bug tested), these ideas might prove useful, either as a starting point or as something to print out and use as lining for their cat basket smile

Functional Requirements
1. Walks
2. Talks
3. Loves (Optional)
4. Eats
5. Sleeps
6. Processes foodstuffs
7. Produces children (if wanted)
8. Listens to people and trys to understand their viewpoint.
9. Debates Intelligently
10. Does not use blind faith as a fact in an argument
11. Does not kill for power
12. Does not quest for power
13. Does not kill without a very good reason
14. Will feel wracked with guilt if killing has occured
15. Cannot hold gun (Think Vampire+Crosses)
16. 16 fingers and 16 toes (makes binary math easier raspberry)
17. Has stenciled on the inside of eyelids and in birthmarks on the back of hands
“Humans believe that they are more intelligent than dolphins because they have achieved so much, the wheel, new york, wars and the like, while all dolphins have done is kick around in the water and have a good time, dolphins believe that they are more intelligent than humans for exactly the same reason….
18. Mozart piped continually into the womb
19. Only one gender, let people define themselves without having pre-defined models enforced on them
20. NTSCOP – each person born should have their own unique skin colours and patterns, (Never the same skin color or pattern)
21. Universal language with many layers and shades of meaning, full of imagary and ideas.
22. Lives a 1000 years so they don’t think short term
23. Built in wifi connection so they can talk to anyone in the world instantly and comunicate to many people ideas, thoughts, hopes, dreams or even what they had for breakfast.
24. Bootproof head
25. Stomach/Chest kick proof
26. Bad eyesight, everybody needs glasses.

Non-Functional Requirements
a. Lower aggression levels
b. Cannot visulise guns
c. Patience
d. Compassion
e. Hope
f. lack of irrational hatred
g. intollerance of intollerance
h. reverance for terry pratchett
i. reverence for douglass adams
j. love of adventure
k. passion for the unknown
l. incapable of doublethink
n. respect for fellow sentients
o. respect for nature
p. respect for life in general
q. doesn’t trust politicians who wear suits.

I admit that separating out the functional and non-functional requirements may not be strictly accurate according to the definintions, but its late, I’m slightly tired and humans for all their flaws, are hard to put into little boxes like requirements.

Any more ideas for requirements functional or non-functional?