Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Believe...

Bill Nye (the Science Guy) has ignited a small firestorm by doing a video that has been posted to YouTube. Check it out:

The result of talking about Creationism as bogus has been pretty predictable, at least in this country. On the one hand, atheists have come out in strong support for the thesis of the video. On the other hand, young Earth creationists have decried his lack of faith. And there's a strong contingent of theistic evolutionists who say, "Why should we make a distinction? Why can't we believe that God was and is involved in the ongoing evolution of life on Earth?"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've been following the election campaign - reluctantly - since last year. Now that we have a presumptive Republican nominee, and a running mate for him, things are beginning to get interesting.

The tenor of the campaign rhetoric is heated. The positions are defended vociferously. And the name-calling and character assassination are epic.

The essence of this year's installment of The Struggle for Power is the same as it's always been. Here's my synopsis of what all the candidates, and all their SuperPACs, are saying. See if you don't agree:

"If X (a) gets into office, or (b) stays in office, (s)he will take away Y, which you've had all along. Don't let that happen!"

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Is Best in Life

There are competing versions of what is best in life, what life's objective should be, why we continue to live. We get them from our religious leaders, from movies, from our parents, or we hammer them out on our own.

Here are three statements that answer that question...

"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."

"Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values."

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

The first quote is from Conan the Barbarian, the original movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The second is from Ayn Rand.

The third is from Micah 6:8 (NIV) in the Old Testament.

Here's my question for the day - Which of these competing visions of life's meaning animates your life? More to the point, which is sustainable for not only yourself, but for society as a whole? And finally, which will continue to work for your children, and theirs?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Control Freaks Part 4

Power, control, and freedom. That's a strange sort of trinity.

Power and the drive to control, as we most often view them, are temporary, partial, and circumstantial.

The knowledge that we use to evaluate our options is incomplete.

The freedom we seek by driving for more control is often an illusion.

I am not writing these words to deny that all efforts at control are wrong or evil. I am writing them to say that we often, too often, go overboard in our desire to have ultimate control. There are more hands on the steering wheel of life than our own, and that doesn't even account for the other vehicles on the road.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Control Freaks Part 3

Control for us human beings is not unlimited. Neither is freedom.

These words may sound like a heresy. But I think they're very true.

Control means that we have the power of choice. We can choose to do one thing, or another. Perhaps there are more than two choices, and we can choose any of them. We have freedom of action.

However, I've been saying for the past two days that our sense of control is probably greater than the reality of that control. If that's true - and I haven't seen any reason to believe otherwise - then our freedom of action is also more limited than we realize.

If our freedom of action is limited, then there are some things over which we can't exert any control. Back and around and here again.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Control Freaks Part 2

Control is never complete.

I guess that's a short summary of what I've learned about control over the course of my life. In fact, it's far from complete. In fact, that we have much control at all verges on being a miracle.

So. In the first post in this series, I discussed some scenarios in which people experience different degrees of control over their lives. In just about every one, at some point, the wheels fall off the wagon and the formerly smooth trip becomes a breakdown.

How do we react to this event?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Control Freaks Part 1

Let's explore control.

For some time now, I've been meditating on the desire of us human beings to have control over our lives. I've come to this conclusion:  Control is an illusion, as is safety. This, of course, is not without some nuance.

First, let's talk about control.

If we're in control of our lives, we can direct events and outcomes to be what we desire. We can make sure that the re-fi on our home goes through without a hitch. We can insure that we don't contract some crippling disease. We can certify that we'll live long, happy lives, free from sorrow or regret.