Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Value Of Money

Many, typically those of limited means, self-righteously claim that “money isn't everything”. And this certainly is true. But conversely, “money isn't nothing” either. What does this suggest? That “money is something”. To what degree of something(ness) money is is purely subjective. It is more or less something to some than others.

An Acceptable Trade-Off

The price of thinking freely is the absence of a refuge apart from self. There is no support group. Meaning and peace originate strictly from within.

Dilemma Of A Freethinker

Let's suppose only freethinkers without belief in a personal God have difficulty finding meaning in life. This is of course nowhere near actuality, but bear with me for the sake of argument. In this case, it is commonly asserted that the reason a freethinker becomes depressed is because he does not acknowledge and, therefore, have faith in a personal God. Instead, he attempts to explain life through thought and rationality and as such is precluded from believing in any sort of personal deity.

Well then, why might he become depressed apart from belief in a personal God? Of course many will confidently assert that only belief in God can ever fulfill him and provide meaning. In this case, it is obvious why he becomes depressed. Because he does not tap into the “treasure chest” that is God.

But an opposing perspective could just as easily claim the reason this freethinker depressingly concludes life has no meaning is because there ultimately is no personal God and hence, the only way to avoid feeling depressed about life's meaninglessness is to just believe in something warm and fuzzy regardless of whether it is actually true or even remotely likely to be true. But of course once one has acknowledged this thought, it is too late. 

There is just no way a freethinker can now decide to “believe” something warm and fuzzy simply for the sake of believing something warm and fuzzy. I am a freethinker and believe there is meaning in life apart from belief in a personal God. In this way, life can be absolutely meaningful.

As I've alluded to previously, a personal God might exist but I see more meaning without belief in Him because belief in Him would simply render any meaning I have in life relative, contingent upon my believing He's there. And if meaning in life is merely relative, it can not be absolutely meaningful. Can it?

The Contradiction Inherent In Moral Absolutes

Unconscious as it presumably is to many, cherished absolutes frequently conflict with one another making it problematic to emphatically uphold them all. Doublethink, as George Orwell termed this. The notion that one should avoid “picking and choosing” morality in accordance with his personal preferences is ultimately unavoidable because of this.

Do you believe in the absolute ideal of mercy and forgiveness or do you believe in the absolute ideal of perfect judgment? Where must forgiveness end and judgment begin? One can not uphold both absolutely. Most commonly, people uphold varying degrees of each rendering them morally relative.

For instance, should a man reap what he sows? If this view is held absolutely, then crippled retards should be left to reap what they sow. Perhaps we should help them? Well then, at what point should we stop helping another and simply leave him to reap what he has sown? How crippled and retarded must one be to afford our help?

Similarly, how capitalistic or socialistic should our society be? You don't advocate one OR the other, do you? More than likely you advocate a combination or balance of the 2. What does this mean? It means a thousand things to a thousand people! Once again, this is the fundamental conflict of all societies!

Are you starting to see the purpose of attempting to recruit people to ONE ideology or religion, all of which are likely nothing but arbitrary conventions? What purpose am I speaking of? To provide society with a cohesive moral framework in which to make difficult decisions!

The problem is, morality becomes relative even if pondered in the slightest! This is why people within the same religion and/or political ideology so frequently disagree.....because the solutions to our most difficult problems are ultimately relegated to nothing but (oftentimes opposing) personal preferences!

See link below for further corollary on the contradiction inherent in moral absolutes:

Firmly Planted In Mid-Air

A Disclaimer

I diligently (attempt to at least) present my philosophy in such a way as not to offend those which I believe can most benefit from it. One of my ideals in life is to sow harmony, not disharmony. My mission statement is to help people become more aware and conscious especially of themselves.

What Is An Ideal?

If an ideal truly is, it should not matter whether it has even the slightest effect on the state of things as the meaning is in the ideal itself. Only if evaluating an ideal from the perspective of practicality would it really matter whether upholding said ideal has a noticeable effect. However, at this point, the ideal itself would be rendered completely meaningless.

From a practical perspective, if doing “X” won't have any effect, if doing "X" won't change anybody or anything, then it would be meaningless! But if you really believe in the ideal as ideal itself, upholding it has complete meaning in itself regardless of its effects or lack thereof.

For instance, many say voting for a candidate that has no chance of winning is wasting a vote and therefore should not be done. But if your ideal is to vote your conscience, the fact that your vote will be “wasted” is of no consequence and is therefore not meaningless.

Rather, the meaning is in voting your conscience. Please see link below for more on the topic of ideals:


Our Insatiable Appetite For Destruction!

How do we get rid of war? Well, naturally those who identify with their righteous cause for war will fight against those who identify with their righteous cause for war. If those who view war as completely insane were to vacate the earth and inhabit a near-by planet for 10 or 20 years, perhaps they could come back to find the earth devoid of human beings as a result of self-destruction.

Voila! No more war! Of course this is highly idealistic as these “survivors” would in all likelihood find something else to kill each other over. At this point, perhaps the survivors would be put out of their misery if the toilet were flushed once again. Below are a couple of my writings on war:

The Paradox Of "Good" Guys Using War For Peace's Sake

The Paradox Of War

A Depressing Truth?

Sadly, it seems one's death is oftentimes necessary for him to be acknowledged and appreciated fully or for that matter at all.

“I would have spent time with him had I known he would die the next day,” it is somberly stated.

Well then, why did you not spend time with him regardless?

Could death be a necessary “tool” for bringing people together to genuinely appreciate another human being?

Why Love?

In order for love to be absolutely meaningful, it seems it must be intrinsic to reality. If one claims a personal God must be believed for love to have meaning, then it does not seem intrinsic to reality. If this is true, love is only arbitrarily meaningful so long as it is believed God exists in a personal way. But if love is only arbitrarily meaningful, it can not be absolutely meaningful.

Do not assume I am claiming God does or does not exist. I am simply pointing out the fact that if love is absolutely meaningful, a personal God need not be believed to give love meaning. This can explain why atheists and non-believers routinely experience genuine love relationships even if a personal God does in fact exist. If a believer expresses puzzlement that an atheist would “love” his wife and children, or anybody else for that matter, what does this imply? That the believer's love is merely arbitrary contingent upon his belief in a personal God. If at some point he abandons belief in God, his love for his wife and children and everybody else would be rendered meaningless because he no longer believes God exists.

Suffice it to say, I don't think this happens upon abandoning belief. Reason being, love is meaningful apart from belief in a personal God. What is strange about this reflection is it seems to support the philosophy that even if a personal God does in fact exist, it would be best for us not to believe in Him because only through our disbelief can we be certain we are experiencing love and other similar ideals in an absolutely and intrinsically meaningful manner.

On the other hand, if one supposes an impersonal God exists, what would the implications of this be with respect to absolute and intrinsic love? Semantically speaking, an impersonal God could be equated to no God at all because if He is impersonal, how is this different than being nonexistent? Therefore, supposing an impersonal God exists would have the same effect as believing no God exists.

So it seems love can only have absolute and intrinsic meaning without belief in a personal God or with belief in, at most, an impersonal One. In this way, love is ostensibly embraced for love's sake, not for God's.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Paradox Of Circles

What is a circle? Essentially an infinitely-sided polygon. But if it has an infinite number of sides, how is it ALL circles are not infinitely long around? These are the kinds of issues Zeno of antiquity brought up. As long as each side of a circle has a length greater than ZERO, should not ALL circles be infinitely long around?

On the other hand, if each side of a circle has a length less than or equal to ZERO, a singularity results thus rendering it something less than a circle. Of course the resolution of this dilemma lies within the realm of recognizing a duality between infinities and limits thereupon! Hence, an infinite entity can be intertwined within something merely finite in scope. Apart from this though, these kind of mind exercises are rather interesting.

This is a perfect example of the "barber paradox". It is not the least bit tempting to believe that a circle, or at least all of them*, are infinite in circumference. But if they are all essentially infinitely-sided polygons with sides > zero length, how could they not all be infinite in circumference? With this then, perhaps it IS tempting to believe all circles are infinitely long around.

But this can't be because I have seen many circles and know them to be finite in circumference! Therefore: if a circle MUST be of infinite circumference, then it CAN'T be! Conversely, if a circle CAN'T be of infinite circumference, then it MUST be!

*A most bizarre implication rears its head. Can there exist a circle infinitely long around outside of an abstract mental construct? What is needed to describe a circle? A definition.....for example, its radius. But does not defining an object or concept systematically render said object or concept to something less than infinite? Perhaps I should now feel compelled to "disbelieve" in circles. They are nothing short of absurd!

My overarching point with this seemingly silly and useless exercise is to demonstrate how much of what we believe or assume about reality is really absurd! Maybe we don't know what we THINK we know? Humility overwhelms me with this realization.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Convenience Fee?

You're charging me this fee because it's convenient for ME? But is it not just as convenient for YOU? Therefore, how 'bout ME charging the same fee right back at YOU and calling it even? This purported "convenience fee" is the ultimate swindle! I propose we start rioting over this!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pondering The Variability Of Morality

I have always been much more reserved than most. Also, I have always been what most people, especially religious, would classify as the more obedient type. Why? Did mom and dad instill this tendency in me? If so, why does this instillation so often fail in others?

On the other hand, why do many with every known setback somehow shake themselves from adversity's grip? Something far beyond anything imaginable is going on behind the scenes. Might God explain this? Possibly, but not very well in my opinion. Why is there such variation in peoples' ways if only one way or a few is considered morally acceptable?

With this then, a person with an “acceptable” nature seems to be the lucky recipient of a transcendent, unconscious compulsion granted by God. Conversely, a person with an “unacceptable” nature seems to be nothing but a slave to a transcendent, unconscious compulsion apart from Him. How does this reflect on God? Seemingly not very well. If He is the ultimate explanation for this disparity, then it seems we can not avoid implicating God for “unacceptable” natures.

I think one of the many reasons I initially “found” God was that it was convenient to who I already was. Not to say I think or thought myself to be perfect by any means, just that I was naturally more the “obedient” type. So in effect, this “obedience” gave me an easy segue into the moral framework that is inherent in most religions. Hence the likely reason I chose Christianity.

Now many will adopt Christianity (or something similar) only because they are so disobedient! In this sense, it encourages and prods them to become better people only upon their having chosen to become better people! What about those that have no compulsion to become better people? Are they likely to turn to a religion or ideology predicated on a high moral standard? Probably not. For if they do, they will likely be ostracized if they do not get their acts together sooner as opposed to later.

So in Christianity (or something similar) there is ultimately a moral standard to embrace at some point. Upon accepting Christianity (or something similar), most will either 1)be moral already, 2)be actively working toward this higher moral standard or 3)be immoral and make no attempt to address their moral bankruptcy. 

These people 3)that are immoral and make no attempt to address their immorality will either stay or leave. If they stay and are “accepted”, they will likely be “accepted” by the congregation just enough so as to make them appear non-judgmental. But will many in the congregation make much of an effort to “fraternize” with these “non-conformists”? No. Many of them will justifiably feel concerned they might be implicated in the behaviors of this immoral bunch. Furthermore, birds of the same feather tend to flock together. So it seems bad people forever destined to be bad are excluded from anything built on a high moral standard. As it should be, in my opinion.

However, I don't see God in this. I see 1)“already” good people, 2)bad people earnestly seeking goodness and last, 3)those that have no compulsion and feel no obligation to better their character. Where might God be in this? Why are the “wretches” seemingly left in the deep end without any “guidance” from God? Free-will? Why do the “other” bad people seek goodness? In the same way, why were the “already” good people “already” good? Free-will might sound pretty tempting if you are one of the bad earnestly seeking goodness or one of the “already” good, but what if you are left in the deep end without any “guidance” from God?

An interesting corollary to point out is how arbitrary explanations become when assessing an individual's behavior. As a very obedient and respectful person, I believe my character stems from myself. I say this with neither pride nor shame, rather just to say that it is what it is. Now it's interesting where many believers in God go with this. "Kurt, you're being arrogant and taking credit for something GOD gave you!" Hmmm..... So apparently God failed to "give" this gift to others? If this is so, what gives anybody the audacity to judge "bad" people ONLY BECAUSE GOD FAILED TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE GIFT OF "GOOD" CHARACTER?

Furthermore, if God is in any way responsible for one's character, WHAT BECOMES OF HIS FREE-WILL?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Absurdity Of The Ego!

Why would a girl or guy think others might be impressed because she or he can drink a lot? In the case of a woman bragging about her ability to drink guys “under the table”, this does not impress me. It leads me to believe, among other things, she would be a relatively expensive date (and likely cheap in other ways)! I don't mean to come across stingy, just practical. No, I prefer a woman with low tolerance. And likewise, what would a guy's reason be for boasting about his ability to imbibe with reckless abandon? That he will be the first of his peers to contract cirrhosis?

Who Might Be The Author Of An Individual's Character? God Or Self?

Me not acknowledging God for my pleasant nature is not arrogance, rather it is humility. Of course it could be construed as arrogance because it is I that am taking “credit”, as it were, for my pleasant nature. The problem with this assessment is that it makes the “forever unpleasant” appear as if God has “forever” neglected them. Why did God bless me with a pleasant demeanor but not others?

Here is a propitious segue into my denying God as the "author" of my pleasant nature: if God fails to sow in others a pleasant demeanor as He has sown in me, how could I reasonably condemn or criticize their poor behavior? More importantly, how could God reasonably condemn them only because He Himself did not sow in them pleasant natures?

Be clear that I am not implying God does not exist. I am only making it abundantly clear that I do not "see" Him as the author of anybody's character.

In summary, regardless of whether He is the author of anybody's character (including my own), my pleasant nature leads me to be non-judgmental and understanding. And this, in my opinion, is the essence of humility! Am I arrogant for thinking this way?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

That Foul Smell?

Why does shit stink? I seriously pondered this thought as a believer in a wonderful, magnificent God. How could something so fetid, putrid and vile be reconciled to a perfect and pure God?

Perhaps God reveals abstractions to us through analogy? Possibly, shits' offensive nature is revealed in metaphor. In with the good, out with the bad. As we become more like Jesus, we take on good nature and purge bad nature. This is akin to putting pure things into our bodies and expelling impure things as excrement. 

Conversely, when looked at from an evolutionary point of view, one might ask whether shit is even stinky? How can it not be? It stinks! Well, apparently shit is paradise for dung beetles, flies, bacteria and animals large and small, including our canine companions. It appears shit is only stinky to us. Or maybe it is stinky to all of us but certain bugs, insects, bacteria and animals happen to like stinky things.

Ultimately, the fundamental nature of shit is relative in the following sense: either shit is 1) perceived as being shit to us and a gardenia to “them” or 2) shit is intrinsically stinky but “they” like stinky things.

Pondering The Unknowable

Get a piece of paper and draw a 1 on one side and 0 on the other.

If God = 1 and no God = 0, explain how two people can arrive at diametric conclusions based on where each is standing in relation to this piece of paper. If one is standing directly in front of the side with the 1 on it, clearly God seems to exist. But if another is standing directly in front of the side with the 0 on it, clearly God seems not to exist. Project what happens at different viewing angles.

Many will support either view until the piece of paper is sufficiently outside the direct line of sight of either, much like how a projection screen's image becomes lost beyond recognition when a critical viewing angle is achieved. What happens when this piece of paper is viewed edge on? Neither view is supported nor rejected though believers of either will likely claim it supports only their view.

But the real question is, which, if any, should be the “correct” viewing angle? If one is above all interested in finding truth, it seems any view is just as “correct” as any other. On the other hand, I can not help but think many, perhaps without realizing it, are above all interested in finding what will afford them the warmest and fuzziest feelings about life. I would beg for caution though. It would be a mistake to assume truth equates to only that which feels good. For if I could wholeheartedly convince myself that children were never abused, all things being equal, I would feel better about life. However, I know this to be patently false and further I know that my believing this warm and fuzzy fallacy would do nothing to make child abuse disappear.

My point is this: if truth is sought, one must let truth be what it is, not what one wants it to be! Of course one can point out the obvious flaw with this argument: we know children are abused but we do not know whether God exists. So in response to this, it will likely be reasoned that we should err on the notion that God does in fact exist. But why would one choose to believe He does exist as opposed to believing He does not? Most likely, because it sounds warm and fuzzy.

One might claim I do not want to believe in God. I would concur with this statement, more or less. However, I feel it important to add that neither do I not want to believe in God! My personal account of all available evidence does not convince me of either. If God exists, would He/She/It approve of my conclusion? Many will say no for obvious reasons I shan't get into, but I have a different viewpoint.

What is one thing God might or perhaps should value and honor above all else? Critical thinking, perhaps? He gave us a brain so why would or should we not use it? Who might God honor more? Somebody who is impartially devoted to finding truth wherever it may lurk or only those lucky enough to have been blessed by The Divine One with a mind-set hardwired to conclude only the absolutely “correct” view(s) on reality. 

Perhaps God preset our viewing angles? If this is the case, I pity the poor bloke whose viewing angle God preset directly on the 0. Of course it needs to be pointed out that this thinking assumes He might care what somebody believes!

On a final but very important note, in my opinion one of the most integral parts of finding truth is introspection.....really getting to know oneself by asking hard, honest questions. Truth is not found by looking for it, rather truth is simply the remnants found in the aftermath of incinerating all falsehoods.

How do we know when all falsehoods have been eliminated? We don't! That is the principle reason truth is so elusive.