The philosophical argument for God

southernprose_cover_CAFGThis post represents the other bookend to the effort I made to illustrate why waxing philosophical on the question as to whether or not God exists is an extraordinarily tricky problem to tackle, no matter what your personal opinions (atheist, theist, agnostic) on the subject might be. Especially simplistic arguments fail to reveal the true complexity of the argument as a whole.

To illustrate the gravity and true scope of the problem, I recruited the smartest person I know, an honest-to-God scientist recognized worldwide in his specific field of expertise, for an unbiased and unvarnished evaluation of the science and logic used in my article, focused on my own argument for God in particular to expose any and every perceived weakness in my reasoning.

What follows next is primarily my friend’s analytical feedback and constructive criticisms of my argument through our subsequent correspondence, which I’ve converted into an article to further elaborate on what we started…

No matter what you actually believe, your worldview will be at least partially based on faith, whether you are a scientist, an atheist, or someone like me.

Even if that faith is limited to yourself — you’ve put faith in something, but not in nothing.

The scientist places his or her faith in the scientific method and personal skill set to discern between illusion and reality. The atheist trusts intellect and reason will ultimately lead to evidence that validates their lack of belief in a supernatural God, while the theist has faith that his or her intellect is surpassed by something far greater.

In my opinion, no honest person should try to convince someone else that they know for a fact that God exists, or does not exist. It’s virtually impossible to make a comprehensive, rational, and coherent argument. On a scale of belief where zero represents certainty of no God and 100 percent represents the opposite extreme, the expected values should range between less than 1 percent and greater than 99 percent. A “knowledge” claim of either extreme actually has zero epistemic value.

So I solicited help from one of the smartest people I personally know well enough to ask for some advice. My (scientist) friend’s overall reaction to my request for constructive feedback was this:

Well, I think one problem is that science isn’t well suited to to this argument because, ultimately, the scientific method is a *negative* process. You want to believe something. But at best the scientific method can do is say is that belief in a God with some set of characteristics is not disproved. The Atheist faces the same problem. They want to believe there are no gods. Yet at best science can say “the facts indicate that gods with the following characteristics are not supported.” All you can do is say that belief in a God that created the universe with a fixed set of operating rules, and does not appear to interfere with those rules on a widespread, systematic basis, is consistent with the present state of the art of science. Likewise, the Atheist can only say that we see no evidence of Gods of a God who interferes with or directs nature in the operation outside of natural law (eg no supernatural interventions). That state is very unsatisfying to either party. But that’s where we are. And, interestingly, the former is in fact pretty well consistent with Orthodox Christian Theology as taught by the Church Fathers in the first few hundred years of the faith. It’s only later, when Christianity encountered the enlightenment, and the post-Augustinian worldview invaded Christianity, that it went off the rails. But that’s a different discussion.

My professional scientist friend and I seem to be agreeing more than we disagree on the idea that the scientific method does have its limitations as to what knowledge we might obtain by its application.

For example, once upon a time my friend Matthew Botsford was shot in the head, in a random act of violence. In fact, the bullet is still lodged in Matthew’s brain. He was so close to death and had suffered such serious brain trauma that his family was asked to donate his organs. Yet Matthew survived, only because his wife Nancy wouldn’t let go, and what he would call the grace of God.

Matthew sincerely and literally believes that he went to hell when he died and suffered horrific torment until he was literally rescued by God. And I believe him.

It’s a long story, but Matthew did recount most of the gory details in Nancy’s book titled A Day in Hell.

Matthew and Nancy Botsford

Matthew and Nancy Botsford

My point is simply this: Matthew knows that he was shot in the head, and he believes that God rescued him from hell. And I believe that he believes everything he has told me.

The first half of the statement above is a knowledge claim, well supported by scientific evidence. But what we believe happened after he “died” is not. The fact that I believe Matthew is sincere about his conviction that he really did spend time in hell is for the most part, irrelevant. What can we prove?

We cannot apply the scientific method to Matthew’s claims of his experiences in hell — for him, those experiences actually could be empirical observations formed through application of the scientific method but for anyone else, they can only be classified as anecdotal.

We might label Matthew Botsford a liar, selling a story for profit, but we have no evidence on which to base such an accusation. As a published author you’re going to have to trust my judgement on this, but the potential for future book sales is not a strong incentive for one to allow him or herself to be shot in the head, based on the assumption that it might make a good story for a book one day.

We could also assume Matthew Botsford suffered some hideous injury (well documented) that created a vivid hallucination (not documented) as an ugly delusion in his dying brain, horrific images and imagined experiences of torment and suffering in hell, but we’re also making a choice to reject belief due to our personal bias…anyone already convinced that no hell exists will not accept anything as evidence of hell.

Our third option is to give Matthew Botsford the benefit of the doubt and accept the possibility that he might actually be giving a true and accurate description of his experiences after death, to the very best of his ability to do so. And in doing so, we would be opening our minds to the distinct possibility that other personal accounts of similar stories might be true, too, which would require further investigation upon discovery.

Before judging my friend Matthew as a liar or a lunatic, perhaps you should follow my example. Before reaching any final conclusions you should also meet him face-to-face, and look directly into his eyes for any signs of deception while he tells his story.

As far as my attempt to inject myself into the debate between Dr. Alex Malpass and Matt Slick was concerned, my scientist/expert/truly brilliant friend had this to say:

Some quick thoughts FWIW – I think both Malpass and Slick are in gross violation of the “laws” (rules is probably a better term) of applied logic. As a denizen of the gray (and near expert in quantum mechanics), absolutes really bug me. They are very rarely applicable for anything other than highly theoretical, mathematical problems, yet people just *love* to force discussions in to a binary decision structure and argue “logic” because they want the purity of “right” and “wrong”. For example, I’d argue that the “God exists, or doesn’t” dichotomy is a sophomoric straw-man debate. Sure, it’s “true” on some completely theoretical level but it’s a stupid question from a practical standpoint because, as you correctly note, the definition of God is so open ended and fluid that the question becomes unanswerable. I think you go a bit off the rails when trying to argue that the alternative to “God” is “no God” – again, that argument it depends on the definition of “God”. So the other side, “God doesn’t exist” is also a “staw man” argument because it too depends on the definition of “God”. What if you define the Universe itself *as* God – the mathematical, QM rules, etc. Someone who wants an “intelligent” personal God would say that’s not a “God” – but someone else might argue that the laws of physics are in and of themselves intelligent on some level, rather than *evidence* of separate intelligence (definitions again). So the only real debatable question, certainly from a scientific/logic standpoint, is “Does a God with the following characteristics (a,b,c, …) exist?” because then you can provide observations that prove or disprove a,b,c,… In short, you can’t argue, on the basis of science or logic, that “no God’s exist”, only “Does this God (or class of Gods) exist?” which makes a disjunctive syllogism moot. Just skimmed most of the rest, but your list of “scientific claims” are not really “claims” made by the state of the art of accepted science – especially number 2. As I have tried over and over to get across, the “tuning” argument is coming from the string theory/multiverse hypothesis crowd (multiverse depends on string theory), and string theory is circling the toilet with every increase in energy of the LHC. Standard Model extensions and GUT argues that almost all, perhaps all, of the so-called fields collapse into a single mode. So all of the BS about dependencies goes away, as does your argument that “luck” is required. In other words, this Universe might exist because it’s the only one that is possible. [emphasis added] Now, if you want to argue that points to design, have at it. It’s an unanswerable question from a *science* standpoint because it requires being able to see other Universes (which seems to be theoretically impossible under either GUT or string/multiverse), and is therefore not science because there is no way to test the null hypothesis. Therefore a philosophical question. In short, I don’t think it’s a good idea to argue for God on the basis of bad, increasingly disproven science, just because it’s popular, and the “scientists” (they actually aren’t being scientists in this context) are using it to argue for atheism.

To my friend’s assertion (the particular sentence that I emphasized) above I replied,”That (the universe had to exist) is just as much of an assumption as fine tuning, isn’t it? Besides, I thought with spectrograph or some such equipment they could tell the composition of stars, which does seem to support the fine tuned argument, based on what I’ve read. But as we both know, I’m not a whole lot better than a trained parrot when it comes to understanding this stuff…weak gravitational force. Yeah, I can explain that. NOT.”

My spectroscope reference was a rather sloppy one, but I had this quote by cosmologist Chris Impey in mind, which I culled from his book The Living Cosmos:

Apart from hydrogen, everything else is just a trace element. Just how rare? Suppose a deck of cards represented randomly selected atoms in the universe. In one deck of cards, the aces would be helium atoms and the other forty-eight would be hydrogen atoms. You’d need thirty decks of cards before you’d expect to find one carbon atom. In the thirty decks of cards, there’d be a couple of oxygen atoms, too, but all the other cards would be hydrogen or helium. You’d need to search three hundred decks to find a single iron atom…How do we know what the universe is made of? Astronomers use remote sensing by spectroscopy to measure the composition of star stuff. Each element has a unique set of sharp spectral features that acts like a fingerprint, so by identifying that fingerprint in starlight, astronomers can measure contributions of different elements.

But I am woefully unqualified to argue either side in that science debate, multiverse hypotheses and string theories versus GUT. One possible solution would be to put people like Martin Rees and Roger Penrose in the same room with my friend and let them hash out the “best” answer to the origin of the universe as multiverse, string theory, or GUT. Just tell people like me how it all comes out.

Before I used up all of my friend’s time, I wish it had occurred to me to ask how the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) should not more accurately be called the Grand Unified Hypothesis (GUH) because his argument also seems to begin with a rather significant assumption, that the evidence can only lead to one conclusion without resorting to pantheism, by saying the universe had no choice but to exist in the current form it has taken. On the other hand, a man’s got to know his own limitations.

So to my friend I replied, “BTW, thanks very much for the feedback. It’s exactly what I needed. My plan is to say I offered the argument to an impartial moderator who happens to be a scientist (without naming names, of course) to demonstrate the dissent argument against what I’ve put together, after I mull it a while and perhaps change some stuff, too. But most of all, thanks. No one will know our little secret, because I might ask for the same sort of feedback again and I certainly don’t want to betray your confidence.”

In my opinion, if what Impey wrote about the delicate balance of elements distributed within the cosmos is correct (and I suspect it is) then my friend’s GUT is basically saying that the incredibly “fine-tuned” balance we observe in nature exists because natural forces would not allow these cosmological factors to vary even slightly.

Furthermore, if the laws of nature or physics were purely deterministic during the creation of the universe, meaning they could not have varied in the slightest, why does the resulting universe clearly show signs that random chance exists?

If chance did not exist, the outcome of any event would only have one possibility. Accidents would never occur, things would never break, and nothing would ever go wrong. To my pseudo-scientific ears, this sounds like my friend trying to say that if we threw six darts at a dart board, the only possible outcome that could occur would be that all six darts would strike the bullseye, with each of the six darts stuck into the fin of the previous one thrown — as if they had no choice .

On the other hand, involving myself in a disagreement between two highly qualified scientists would be most unwise. Brash claims and bold statements asserted to much smarter people have a tendency to blow up on a person. While I mulled over my dilemma on how to pursue more information from my source, my friend indulged me and solved my problem by continuing to hammer home his point:

Actually, “only one possible” is shorthand for “given the structure of matter and the laws of physics, only one combination of values for the underlying constants is stable”, is it’s not technically the same thing. You still get the philosophical question of how that one value came to be, but then there is no probability involved and is, in fact, finally a true binary situation: is, or is not. Other stars have nothing really to do with it, other than we know pretty well that the behavior of matter and energy “out there” is the same as it is here. Has nothing to do with the fine tuning argument. The fine tuning argument boils down to arguing that in order to get the universe we observe, the various “constants” have to be awfully close to what they are. If, for example, the strong nuclear force were 10% stronger than the electroweak force, nothing would work right. HOWEVER, what if the strong nuclear force and electroweak forces are manifestations of the same thing (eg the Grand Unified Theory)? Then they are the same thing and not “tuned”. There is some evidence for this – just like the weak and electromagnetic forces were “unified”, it is possible the other four forces will also be “unified”. That is on stronger ground than string “theory”.

I’m pretty sure that I understand from where my friend is coming — science definitely has its limits. On the other hand, I must respectfully disagree that with the idea that GUT could solve all the same problems as a god without supernatural intelligence.

Yet I also know that my friend’s specific field of expertise is more closely related to physics than chemistry or biology. And, due to time constraints and a very busy schedule, my friend may not be familiar with this two hour lecture by Dr. James Tour, an expert on chemical synthesis, on the subject of the chemical prerequisites for abiogenesis.

According to Dr. Tour, chemists have absolutely no idea how enzymes developed that allowed for the synthesis of molecules. Among many other interesting things Dr. Tour said was this:

 We have no idea [emphasis added] how the molecules that compose living systems could have been devised such that they would work in concert to fulfill biology’s functions. We have no idea how the basic set of molecules, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids and proteins were made and how they could have coupled in proper sequences, and then transformed into the ordered assemblies until there was the construction of a complex biological system, and eventually to that first cell. Nobody has any idea on how this was done when using our commonly understood mechanisms of chemical science. Those that say that they understand are generally wholly uninformed regarding chemical synthesis.

Now if I didn’t know better, I might have assumed “wholly uninformed regarding chemical synthesis” was a direct reference to me. Yet after listening to Dr. Tour, I can’t see how GUT for the universe could possibly make the origin of life within the universe a foregone conclusion.

No matter how we sincerely we reach for knowledge and proof, at some point, assumptions must be made on faith. Even my “ace-in-the-hole” argument that I alternately refer to as corroborated veridical NDE episodes (or a slight variation) or quantum consciousness, meaning the metaphysical, abstract mind learns and remembers new, accurate information while independent of the physical brain, must assume that the apparent reliability of the new memory validates the anecdotal evidence of the account as well. My friend then elaborated further:

Let me try to put it a different way. If the “extended Standard Model”/GUT is correct (and so far the evidence indicates it is), then there is only one possible configuration of relationships between the fundamental forces because the “constants” (forces) are all related in a fixed way. That part is science. Are there *other* universes? The GUT based theories don’t require them AFAIK (the various string “theories” do mathematically) and even if they did, they would behave (from a physical matter/chemistry standpoint) the same way this one does. BUT, as noted above, even if there are “other” universes, no information can be exchanged between them, so you can’t test that hypothesis, therefore it’s not a scientific question. So, given the present state of modern science, despite all the sound and fury of both the gnu atheists and those like you who want to argue there is scientific support for an intelligent creator trying to use the same (flawed!) reasoning they do, we’re actually in the same place we’ve been for a very long time. The physical state of the universe, and how it works, has no obvious direct evidence of any supernatural interventions since the “big bang”. We can’t speak to probabilities of this universe because its the only one we can look at, and from what we can tell about how it behaves, there is no reason to assume or even speculate there are more than one of them. That leaves both sides with plenty to be uncomfortable about. Yes, the atheist can argue there is no evidence for “sky wizards” and other straw-man deities, but is left with the very uncomfortable fact we have no explanation, and no *way* to apply science, to the ultimate question of first cause. The Theist is also stuck. The “first cause” question is unanswered (and unanswerable) scientifically since we can’t see past the singularity at the start of the big bang, and a universe that has fixed, logical laws governing its operation since. That screams for a supernatural explanation. Yet there is nothing since that event that indicates “divine intervention” – all the rest is explained as a result of natural processes.

At great risk to my pride (after my friend gleefully destroys this retort) I must humbly submit that my Big Picture argument for God, as presented in my book Counterargument for God, seems to survive both GUT and TAG due to what I’ve called the contingent probabilities. These are dependencies that strongly indicate that for life to exist this universe must exist, and that it confirms I’m alive and able to write this sentence, and the reader must be alive in order to read it.

My scientist friend’s closing words also resonated with me:

I don’t care about being “right”. The only thing I care about is being correct. Big difference . . . Facts are what they are. They don’t care what I or anybody else wants. I also try to draw a bright line between what the facts show, and the *conclusions* I draw from those facts. I think that last paragraph about both sides being in bad situations is “fact”, based on science. But you’ll notice that in none of that discussion did I say which “side” I’m on, because as long as it’s consistent with the “facts”, what I believe doesn’t matter. I’m happy to denigrate Theist and Atheist equally if they stray from the science . . .

On that final sentiment, we are absolutely on the same page. It’s more important to seek truth than be “right” or win an argument.

I’m not the least bit upset by my scientist friend’s assessment that Matt Slick’s TAG argument, Alex Malpass’s philosophical rebuttal, and my Big Picture argument all fail to meet a burden of proof.

We must all take calculated risks of faith and make assumptions in the course of seeking answers to our existential questions. These assumptions will naturally conform to our pre-existing personal bias toward theism or atheism.

The atheist will never see evidence of supernatural intelligence, and theists will never accept that this world could exist because there was no other choice, according to some abstract “laws of nature.”  The existence of laws certainly seems to imply the existence of a Lawgiver.

But nothing that approaches proof. And that’s an assumption on my part.

Q.E.D.

The secret of evolution

Pokemon[WARNING — People who are humor impaired should not read this article, especially if you have a strong aversion to dripping sarcasm.]

Almost a decade ago, I became a professional writer because Richard Dawkins basically said that the theory of evolution had rendered belief in God into delusional thought.

I spent the next several years of my life reading everything I could find in the library on the subject of evolution, looking for a book that might explain the missing secret ingredient that allowed macro evolution to occur. Most biologists have seemed to agree on the belief that evolution from an existing species into a new type of creature requires three things: sexual reproduction, isolation of the gene pool in a small breeding population, and time. But that isn’t really enough to explain the diversity of life on earth, is it?

Let’s look at a few of these alleged factors that allow evolution to occur:

Isolation of a small breeding population — think about the diversity of life in an ocean. We can cast our lines into the water and possibly catch trout, bass, flounder, mackerel, shark…and the list continues for quite a while. How did all of those different species of fish (and don’t forget mammals, etc.) evolve into different types of creatures from a single common ancestor?

If the theory of evolution really is true, humans aren’t just related to monkeys because of sex, isolation of a gene pool, and time. We’re also related to every other living organism on the planet by those same three mechanisms.

Sexual Reproduction — here it gets a little tricky, because sexual reproduction can only be observed in perpetuating existing species. The emergence of a new species cannot be observed due to time constraints…we can observe reproduction, but not production.

New life can be created one of two ways: either two sexually compatible members of the same species mate and produce fertile offspring, or two individuals that are members of closely related but different species (horse and mule, zebra and donkey, etc.) mate and give birth to living but sterile offspring, a biological dead end.

Time — how much time is needed for one species to metamorphose into a new species with a completely different body plan? Was there a rhyme or reason to the reversal of certain dominant and recessive genes that allowed monkeys to evolve into humans?

For nearly a decade, I’ve been asking the same question to anyone who will listen, over and over…what environmental factor, besides sex, isolation, and time, creates a new creature by random chance?

I’ve penned open letters to Jerry Coyne, Francis Collins, and Ken Miller asking the experts on biology what the missing ingredient might be.

Who could have ever guessed that I’d find the answer to my question in a silly game originally (intelligently) designed for children?

While I sit around all day writing books and thinking about what to write next, my wife earns the majority of the income that pays our bills. Recently on a business trip to New York, she downloaded the game Pokemon Go on her cell phone on orders from her boss, so that she might participate in a team building exercise.

My wife has an obsessive-compulsive personality and returned home addicted to walking around trying to catch silly cartoon characters with her cell phone. Initially I went along  the exercise, because we walked more in one month than we had in the previous year — logging an astonishing total distance of 100 kilometers in under 30 days.

The only problem for our walks would occur when a virtual Pokemon character would appear on her cell phone, and she wanted to stop long enough to catch it. More interested in the exercise, I tended to continue walking and found myself frequently leaving her behind.

The solution, naturally, was for me to load the silly game on my phone in order to play along with her. However, while playing I’ve discovered that the game models the real world perhaps better than one might think at first glance.

For example, to make yourself more attractive to Pokemon, you can put out lures or burn incense to draw them near.

All of the elements of evolution theory are there…survival of the fittest? Got it covered. Pokemon gyms are places where these mythical creatures engage in mortal combat. IMG_6738.0

Entropy? Yep, you bet. Pokemon typically “spawn” in the wild, but they only hang around for a limited time before disappearing. Creatures that sort of look like rats or rabbits tend to spawn in the wild like, well, rats or rabbits. Other Pokemon characters are considerably more rare — not easy to find, catch, or hatch.

Pokemon can also be collected in eggs that must be incubated and hatched. Creatures that have already evolved cannot be hatched from eggs, however. Just like evolution in the real world, rules do seem to apply, but no one fully understands them or can even say what those rules are.

Most importantly, the game teaches us how evolution really works — you simply press a button that says “Evolve” and your Pokemon changes into a completely new creature, right before your very eyes.

It’s like a miracle! Of course, in order to successfully evolve a Pokemon requires just a tad more than the simple push of a single button.

First you must collect stardust — the complex chemical compounds that comprise all matter formed from stardust created by the death of a star. Just like the song Woodstock (written by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) says:

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon.

Who could have guess that Pokemon are too, apparently. These cartoon creations require virtual stardust to evolve in their intelligently designed world.

And what was the other special “secret” ingredient that causes evolution of one Pokemon species into a completely different one?

Special Pokemon candy.

Apparently that’s the real secret of evolution.

SarcasmSociety

 

Waxing philosophical

Dr. Alex Malpass (photo YouTube)

Dr. Alex Malpass
(photo YouTube)

[To shorten this to a somewhat more palatable length, the original post was split in half. Because my intention was to present a solid philosophical argument to a philosopher, I decided to recruit an honest-to-God scientist to “moderate” the discussion and keep all of us honest. It turns out that my scientist friend didn’t really like anybody’s effort to make a coherent argument for God. Our correspondence will be included in the followup post, to be titled “The Philosophical Argument for God.”]

Some questions have easy, straightforward answers:

What is the sum of three plus four? How old are you? What did you have for dinner? Do you like chocolate?

How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man? 

Okay, so maybe that last question wasn’t that easy or straightforward, but it turns out the answer is 42.*

Other questions, for example such as our existential questions, may not have one clear and correct answer to existential questions such as:

Does God exist? What happens when we die? How did this universe originate from nothing? What existed prior to the Big Bang? How was life created from inanimate matter?

However, just because these other questions are extraordinarily more difficult to answer doesn’t mean we shouldn’t even bother to put out any effort looking for the answers. These are some of the most consequential questions we could ever seek to answer, because the truth could change the way we live our lives from day to day.

Philosophy professor Dr. Alex Malpass recently caused a minor sensation on the internet when he tackled the presuppositional Transcendental Argument for God (TAG) championed by Matt Slick, the founder of an organization known as the Christian Apologetics (&) Research Ministry, or CARM. Dr. Malpass is an expert applying logic to thought and writes a blog called UseOfReason.

Om that website Dr. Malpass revealed what he identified as a logical fallacy (a false dichotomy) in Slick’s TAG argument.  Dr. Malpass was then invited to appear on a podcast with Matt Slick and several others, something  called The Bible Thumping Wingnut Show (seriously, that really is the name of the show, which shall be abbreviated hereafter to the acronym BTWNS).

Matt Slick introduced the “laws of logic” into what is known as a disjunctive syllogism in an attempt to put forth an unbeatable argument for the existence of God, paraphrased in the following steps:

  1. God exists, or does not exist.
  2. If God does not exist, we have no explanation for the laws of logic.
  3. Logic exists. Therefore, God exists.

According to Dr. Malpass, Matt Slick has attempted to directly connect the laws of logic to the existence of God, using only logic and reason.

In my (never humble enough) opinion, logic and reason alone could never produce an argument that inspires any degree of confidence in any conclusions drawn — the scientific evidence currently available to us to use for evaluation purposes is much too important to be totally ignored.

Dr. Malpass said that it is perfectly copacetic to state a true (valid) dichotomy such as “God exists, or doesn’t exist.”

This is wonderful information. Boolean (binary) logic truly exists in the real world!

That’s very reassuring to know, because it often proved to be quite useful in the sterile, artificial world of computer programming, where software developers endeavor to simulate the real world as much as possible. A valid dichotomy gives us an opportunity to look for some common ground for a starting point.

Jumping into this debate will probably be a rather sticky proposition…unlike both of these gentlemen, I don’t hold any sort of advanced degree. My formal education ended with a BBA specializing in Management Information Systems from the University of Georgia.

Not to mention nobody asked for my opinion, but that’s never stopped me before.

Mr. Slick’s goal was far too optimistic, and Dr. Malpass’s rebuttal not very ambitious. Dr. Malpass only seeking to refute the argument of Slick on a technical argument, not a superior argument exposing the logic of atheism. Matt Slick sought to prove his own answer to an existential question was indisputably true, which is a most difficult proposition for that type of question.

I can’t conceive of a way to prove that so-called laws of logic could not exist independently of God — what would be the test? Likewise, pointing to a perceived weakness in the argument of Matt Slick does not really articulate a positive case for atheism, the logical alternative to any argument (or Counterargument) for God.southernprose_cover_CAFG

I never studied philosophy at any point during my formal education. The closest I’ve ever come was I read my son’s college textbook from his philosophy class to read on my own, which unfortunately lacking the instructor’s insights, opinions, and analyses.

The odds are very, very high that Dr. Malpass will find a minor technical flaw in the considerably more complicated philosophical argument I’d like make in the the place of TAG, but it is an argument which does not reach a definite conclusion about whether or not God exists. This alternate disjunctive syllogism to TAG merely asserts that the probability of God is extremely high, given logic, reason, common sense, and scientific evidence, of course.

This was the original dichotomy from TAG that Dr. Malpass suggested was true — God exists, or no God exists.

We immediately find ourselves with a problem to solve: what is the definition for “no God”? We cannot say the alternative to God is nothing, because that’s simply not accurate. God is literally indescribable, as far as physical attributes are concerned. We are given metaphysical descriptors such as omniscient and omnipotent, but all that really means is intelligence and power beyond human comprehension.

God is neither man nor beast nor object — God is no thing.

So what is a good definition of God? The best short answer I’ve come up with for the lack of a better one is “supernatural intelligence.” But what does that mean? What does supernatural intelligence represent? Nothing is God, except (possibly) God.

Instead of saying “God or nothing exists”, it seems that we must say something else. Using the helpful example given by Dr. Malpass, we can substitute another proper noun for God and clearly see the problem with our tautology as constructed: “Either Fred or nothing created the universe.”

Nothing makes for a lousy causative agent, however. The most logical alternative to supernatural intelligence that immediately comes to mind is random chance, or extraordinarily good luck.

A brief aside before continuing– many amateur evangelists for atheism like to describe as an “invisible man in the sky”, which is ludicrous for this reason — God is not a man nor in the sky. God would not merely be an extra terrestrial, either. If a supernatural God created this universe, by definition God would be extra universal, meaning not an occupant of this universe.

(Proposed) New Dichotomy — God exists, or extraordinary good luck exists.

Another way of saying this might be to say that God represents order, and good luck represents chaos. We can recognize the existence of complex systems and observe order that occurs within our universe.

The question is this: can order emerge from chaos?

The introduction of scientific evidence into our revised existential question should prove most helpful in building a logical justification for our attempt to eventually contrive a new, more accurate disjointed syllogism.

First, we need to establish few simple statements of fact which are not open for debate.

Axiomatic statements

  1. The universe exists.
  2. Life exists within the universe.
  3. Intelligence exists.
  4. Good luck exists.

Axiom #1 — the universe exists.

This is an easy scientific observation, pretty much a no-brainer. However it’s quite important to note that if this particular universe did not exist, then life as we know it would almost certainly not exist.

Axiom #2 — Life exists.

Rather obvious.

Axiom #3 — Intelligence exists.

We know that intelligence exists because we are able to use language to communicate. Humans think intelligence is so important, we’re trying to create an artificial form.

Axiom #4 — Good luck exists.

And we can observe enough examples of normal good luck to know it also “exists”. Several rather prominent atheists have even claimed that miracles have occurred, which in lieu of a belief in a supernatural God requires some unusually good luck.

But is that the kind of luck we’re talking about? Nope. The type of good luck we’re talking about to compete with a supernatural God as an explanation for existence virtually inconceivable good luck.

Now we need a set of generally accepted scientific claims to justify the previous paragraph.

Scientific claims

  1. The universe had an origin.
  2. The universe was fine tuned as it was created.
  3. Life had an origin.
  4. The origin of life was contingent on the origin of this universe.

Scientific Claim #1 — the universe had an origin.

The Big Bang became a widely accepted scientific theory for the origin of the universe after Edwin Hubble discovered red shift that showed the universe was expanding, confirmed in 1965 by the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) by Penzias and Wilson.

The logical argument for intelligence would typically cite the First Cause argument to improve the odds of success for this universe, .

The logical argument for extraordinary good luck probably uses a multiverse hypothesis to improve chances for a successful Big Bang, but the multiverse hypothesis actually tries to remove luck from the equation, not to improve odds of success.

Scientific Claim #2 — The universe was fine tuned.

Sir Martin Rees has published work describing the origin of the universe as “fine-tuned”, meaning six different cosmological values have been calibrated with extraordinary precision, so that the universe could exist and support complex living organisms, at least on our planet. Sir Roger Penrose has performed calculations that have lead scientists to conclude this universe was a highly unlikely product of random chance. To allow for an alternative to supernatural creation, multiverse hypotheses have been proposed to address the statistically unlikely nature of the fine-tuning problem.

However, the origin of the universe was not the only fine tuned process…immediately after the Big Bang, an event cosmologists refer to as inflation occurred, also with incredible precision, which Stephen Hawking speculated that had the timing and duration of inflation varied as little as 1 in a million million, the universe would have collapsed.

The logical argument for intelligence would be that an intelligent entity acting as tuner “fine-tuned” the universe and managed inflation for the purpose of creating a universe just right for complex living organisms to inhabit earth.

The logical argument for extraordinary luck again relies on a multiverse hypothesis to explain away the improbability of the Big Bang and then the improbability of inflation, without explaining how the hypothetical multiverse might manipulate the laws of physics inside our universe once the Big Bang occurred and it began to exist.

Scientific Claim #3 — Life had an origin.

Because the universe has not always existed and life only exists within this universe (as far as we know) it is safe to assume that at some point, inanimate matter transformed into a living organism.

Chemists call this hypothesis abiogenesis. Dr. James Tour, an expert on the subject, has said this:

We have no idea how the molecules that compose living systems have been devised in concert so they wold work in concert to fulfill biology’s functions. We have no idea how the basic set of molecules, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins were made and how they could have coupled in proper sequences and then transformed into the ordered assemblies until there was a construction of a complex biological system and eventually to that first cell. Nobody has any idea about how this was done when using our commonly understood mechanisms of chemical science.

The logical argument for supernatural intelligence submits that a Creator created life. DNA is much too complex to exist as a result of random chemicals assembling to form information.

The logical argument for unbelievable good luck says “Hey, we are here. Our proof that life could form by random chance is self evident, merely because we exist.”

In other words, with enough time, anything is possible.

Scientific Claim #4 — Life required this universe to exist.

In order for the universe to exist, first the Big Bang and then inflation had to occur, both in proper sequence and with perfect timing. According to experts on the subjects, the probability of either of these events was infinitesimally  low.

The probability of the origin of life could not possibly be greater than the probability of the origin of the universe, because life exists within this universe.

Illustrating with an example, let’s pretend the probability of the Big Bang and inflation randomly creating the fine-tuned universe is as high as 1 percent (we know it isn’t anywhere close to that because of Penrose and Hawking, but we’re pretending, so it’s okay.)

The probability of the origin of life could never be any greater than 1 percent, because life requires the universe to exist.

The logical argument for supernatural intelligence says that the probability for each future contingency becomes worse than the preceding events on which the new event depended.

In other words, evolution depends on successful abiogenesis, which depends on a successful Big Bang immediately followed by successful inflation. The reason animals appear to be designed to fulfill a specific role in the environment is because they are designed. DNA is biological software code more complex than computer code.

The logical argument for ridiculous good luck is that no matter how unreasonable the odds of good luck might be, the alternative — a supernatural God, is simply unthinkable. It doesn’t matter how improbable the Big Bang would be fine-tuned, inflation perfectly timed, and all the other factors involved might be.

However, I suspect that Dr. Malpass would agree that this last argument for extraordinary good luck commits the same fallacy allegedly made by Matt Slick with his TAG argument.

Finally, our attempt at a disjunctive syllogism to attempt an answer to an existential question using our new dichotomy.

Either supernatural intelligence created life and the universe on purpose, or incredible good luck created life and the universe by accident, due to random chance.

Fine tuning cannot be random if the universe and life are both contingent upon its necessary success.

Therefore, supernatural intelligence exists.

* With apologies to the late Douglas Adams

Arguments about God

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer

One of the most frequent criticisms I receive is that I’m accused of being arrogant, a charge I will not deny. When one becomes extremely confident in the logic of his or her argument, it often comes across as arrogance. And to be brutally honest, I’ve gotten bored with responding to the average atheist’s arguments against God, because they usually aren’t very good and don’t require a great deal of effort to refute. To those aspiring to become evangelists of atheism (after all, Dr. Richard Carrier offers online courses in “counter apologetics” for atheists) my best advice would be to learn how to think critically — merely parroting Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier or Sam Harris won’t win the competition for ideas against the likes of John Lennox or William Lane Craig. Or my own arrogant self, for that matter.

Quite frankly, the gladiator-style duels with amateur atheists that pass for debate on the internet have become old hat and really don’t present much of a challenge for me anymore. They are extremely tedious and very predictable. And after making the same basic argument for the existence of God about a decade now, I’ve yet to encounter a better argument coming from an atheist trolling the internet.

On the other hand, a debate against a serious, well known and well respected nontheist like Michael Shermer could prove to be very interesting and worth the effort for me.  Of course, the first challenge will be to engage Mr. Shermer in dialogue, unless I look for an argument to destroy that he’s made in the past. He’s got plenty of material available on the internet.

When former president of American Atheists Ed Buckner and I met to debate,  he also came prepared with a methodical argument for atheism that he’d polished over the years. The problem for Ed was that I had anticipated every argument he might possibly make in our debate beforehand, because he apparently follows the same script every time. Slated to begin the debate (because Ed wanted the final word), I enumerated the same seven bullet points that Ed would cover in his spiel in my opening remarks, and proceeded to eviscerate them before he ever got a chance to speak. That debate was fun to preparation and a great experience, but the most disappointing aspect of it was that we barely scratched the surface of my argument for God. We were both so focused on our battle of wits over Ed’s argument for atheism that we ran out of time to even mention my best scientific arguments for theism, my Big Picture argument.

Back to Michael Shermer, in one of the atheist-versus-theist “discussion” groups on Facebook (debate is obviously the wrong word to describe the immature trading of insults, standard fare for this sort of social media platform) someone posted an article by Derek Beres from Big Think titled “Understanding (and Refuting) the Arguments for God,” which claims to present ten arguments for God and the rebuttal arguments by Michael Shermer, from his book How We Believe: The Search for God in the age of Science.southernprose_cover_CAFG To avoid rather than exploit the same disadvantage I had over Ed Buckner, where I knew his argument but he didn’t know mine, I would be more than happy to provide Mr. Shermer (and Mr. Beres) with a free digital copy of my book Counterargument for God, so that they might fully understand the actual arguments that would need to be refuted, and not those straw man arguments suggested by Beres’s article.

At this point, I have less interest in “winning” another debate as much as seeing if any argument for atheism can actually demonstrate superior logic and reason that is supported by scientific evidence.

Assuming that Mr. Beres has accurately conveyed the work of Mr. Shermer, the title of his article immediately becomes problematic as it becomes painfully obvious from the very first bullet item that Mr. Shermer actually does not understand the arguments for God, so it would be virtually impossible for him to successfully rebut them.

For example, the first two arguments that Mr. Shermer proposes to refute are the Prime Mover and First Cause arguments, which Mr. Beres curiously asserts “rephrased, (means) God either must be in the universe or is the universe.”

With all due respect, that isn’t what the First Cause argument says at all. The First Cause argument simply says that everything that comes into existence must have had a cause.

Furthermore, theists more commonly will offer the Kalam cosmological argument, which uses the principle of First Cause as follows:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist (The Big Bang event.)
  3. The universe has a cause.

By this point Mr. Shermer’s rebuttal argument to the First Cause argument has already failed miserably and completely, because he never correctly understood the argument he proposed to defeat.

The supernatural Creator of this universe would neither exist within this universe, nor be the sum of everything in the universe (which is pantheism.)

This seems to correspond with the old atheist’s canard that God is nothing but “an invisible man in the sky” when in fact God is not human nor even part of this universe.

God is not merely an extra terrestrial; by definition created through an understanding of physics, God would be extra universal.

There are also problems with the very first sentence of the next argument, which Beres/Shermer refer to as the Possibility and Necessity Argument, which was asserted to be: “Not everything is possible, because that admits the possibility there could be nothing. If nothing had once existed, the universe could not have come into existence.”

The problem with that bit of pretzel logic is physicists have made exactly the opposite claim — this universe is believed to have had an origin, commonly called the Big Bang. And prior to the Big Bang, nothing existed — not even a single atom.

There simply is no evidence that a multiverse or quantum foam exists.

One of the atheist’s favorite arguments against God, that lack of evidence is also evidence of absence, can be applied here equally well to the atheist’s arguments that something always had to exist — it is an assumption.

While it might seem logically impossible for an entire universe to be created from absolutely nothing, nevertheless that certainly appears to be the opinion shared by most experts in physics and cosmology on the origin of the universe. We know this universe exists. We also know it hasn’t always existed.

But that’s about all we know for sure.

Looking over the rest of the ten so-called arguments for God listed by Michael Shermer, some were arguments I would never offer in a formal debate, such as Pascal’s Wager or fideism.  Faith is certainly important, but it isn’t an important part of my argument for God.

Shermer defines the moral argument as this question: “How can there be morals without God?” and then says that it would be ludicrous to assume everyone would turn into murderers, rapists, and robbers if God did not exist.

But again, that isn’t really the moral argument for God, at least not the one I would make: “Is morality objective, or relative?” is the better question, in my opinion. If morality is objective, it can only come from God. If morality is relative, it will differ from person to person.

13912628_10154376767664253_5250380521307257561_nBesides, not all atheists even agree about the existence of morality.

If God exists, adultery is morally wrong. Always. Period. No exceptions. If God exists, abortions would be immoral because having sex outside of marriage is immoral. Rape, robbery, and murder are criminal offenses, both illegal and immoral. Behavior as such is objectively understood to be morally wrong, which is why it was codified into law as punishable criminal activity.

To successfully refute an argument, one must first understand it. Either Shermer or Beres or both of them have misrepresented the moral argument. In fact, they don’t seem to have gotten any of the arguments for God right.

Not to mention, there are much better arguments for the existence of God than the moral argument.

What Shermer calls the “mystical experience” argument, which is about mystical or spiritual experiences that Beres dismisses because they can artificially be caused by ingesting LSD or some other hallucinogen. It should come as no surprise that hallucinogenic drugs can cause hallucinations, though. And there are several problems with the Shermer/Beres description of the argument as well as their rebuttal.

The first problem with atheists claiming that miracles don’t occur is that several other prominent atheists have described personally witnessing, investigating or experiencing miracles themselves. It would be presumptuous and unkind of me to assume Dan Barker or Jerry DeWitt were lying about their past experiences. The other significant problem with the atheist’s rebuttal to the miracle argument is a type of scientific evidence called corroborated veridical NDE information. This evidence describes accurate new information learned by the human mind independently of a functioning brain tissue, communicated after physical recovery, and then investigated and verified by independent researchers to be true.

Mr. Beres also wrote that he saw no reason to attribute chemistry to a creator, but that only tells me that he’s never listened to a lecture by Dr. James Tour speaking on the subject of abiogenesis. Life cannot evolve until it exists.

Shermer’s most pitiful effort was his “anti” teleological argument, the argument for intelligent design. Quite predictably, he cited perceived design flaws in living organisms and referred to purported “vestigial organs” such as the alleged hind legs in pythons.

The biggest problem with this particular argument against intelligent design is the simple fact the critics themselves can’t produce the superior design.

Atheists posing as neuroscientists will quickly tell anyone who will listen that the human eye is poorly designed. However, where is the artificial eye produced by humans with superior function and capabilities? If the organic eye created by nature really is so terrible, why don’t we manufacture our superior artificial eyes that are intelligently designed by humans?

Because we can’t…which reminds me of an old cliche I learned in my very first year as a professional software developer: those who can, do. Others criticize.

All that said, the real argument for intelligent design is a very logical and all encompassing one that I like to call “The Big Picture.”

The Big Picture argument for intelligent design primarily focuses on all the statistical probabilities related to analyzing and attempting to answer existential questions. It begins with improbability associated with a fine-tuned Big Bang anomaly, and what we know about inflation of the early universe based on the work of physicists such as Martin Rees, Roger Penrose, and Stephen Hawking. The Big Picture also includes what we’ve learned from chemists such as Ilya Prigogine and James Tour about the improbability of an accidental, unplanned origin of life event known as abiogenesis.

In short, Mr. Shermer barely scratched the surface of my argument for design, which for the record does not lack scientific evidence. Complimentary systems and food chains are but a very small part of that argument. The very same scientific evidence alleged to show proof for the theory of evolution — meaning DNA analysis, comparative anatomy and the fossil record are used in the design hypothesis I’ve dubbed “iterative creation.”

Once statistics are introduced into the design argument and applied to every facet of science involved to answer the existential questions, it becomes painfully obvious that by all logic and reason, we should not exist.

This fine-tuned universe should not exist. This universe is so highly improbable that the only way it can be deemed possible is if an infinite number of alternate universes that were not fine-tuned were also created at the same time by random chance, but failed to develop. This is known as the multiverse hypothesis. The only reason we’re having this discussion, though, is because this universe does indeed exist. Before the Big Bang advanced from hypothesis to become theory, it was common for people to assume the universe had always existed, because a universe with an origin creates some very serious logical problems. A universe with an origin can only have two options: it came into existence as the result of an extraordinarily serendipitous, perfectly timed sequence of events, or the universe was created by an astounding form of intelligence, for a specific reason (although we may not recognize or understand the logic behind that reason within the confines of our own mortality.)

There is no third alternative. We’re either here by accident, or we exist on purpose.

Freedom of speech

11085699_GFreedom of speech is one of the most precious and important rights granted to an individual citizen by the Bill of Rights under the U.S. Constitution.

The right to speak freely was considered so fundamental that it was incorporated into the First Amendment.

Even while framing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers realized that a totalitarian regime begins to assert complete control over the people when individual citizens are no longer allowed to criticize their government. So they took immediate steps to ensure that individual right was preserved.

Although one of the most important symbols representing the United States is the American flag, for which brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to serve and protect, in the case commonly known as Texas v. Johnson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag is a protected form of free speech allowed to government protestors.

However, in today’s madness of political correctness, merely flying a Confederate flag at her personal residence might become the reason a twenty-year veteran police officer can be terminated from her job with no warning.

Of course, not all speech is protected by the First Amendment. Exceptions do exist. You can’t libel or slander another citizen with impunity. You can’t incite panic or mob violence. And unless your last name is Clinton, you can’t commit perjury or disseminate classified information into public domain without facing serious criminal charges. And as everyone probably knows by now, you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and cause a general panic, unless there really is a fire.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that I do not own a Confederate flag. I have never met and do not know Sergeant Silvia Cotriss, or the Roswell police chief. However, I do have great admiration for the Roswell police department and certainly can appreciate the difficulty that police officers face in the current attitudes shown by the general public, especially where instigators within the Black Lives Matter movement have practically inspired open season on law enforcement officers in Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

Police officers have been ambushed and shot with alarming frequency of late, and a disturbing percentage of contemporary society doesn’t seem very upset about the murder of policemen, only the deaths of young black men (as long as they aren’t wearing a police uniform, of course.) Naturally, some of the public’s outrage is justified — the death of Laquan McDonald is only one example of a black man being gunned down by a police officer in what appeared on camera to be a cold-blooded execution.

While it is true that McDonald was carrying a knife, he was walking away from the police and not threatening anyone with his knife when an officer shot him multiple times. There isn’t much doubt in my mind that this is a classic case of excessive use of force by the police. But I’m not on the jury.

On the other hand, McDonald’s death seems more appropriately prosecuted as 2nd degree murder, not premeditated 1st degree murder. The problem is that prosecutors in their zeal often overcharge the defendant in a criminal trial, frequently leaving juries unable to convict the accused of anything at all. When the public has been convinced that the police have committed a crime but somehow escaped punishment, unrest soon blossoms into full blown outrage, which usually leads to senseless and unjustified violence.

Most people who saw the videotape of Rodney King being viciously beaten with nightsticks by multiple police officers were very upset by what they saw, this writer among them. When the police officers involved were acquitted of all criminal charges, the 1992 riots that broke out in L. A. and caused an estimated $1 billion dollars worth of damage.

However, mob “justice” is vigilantism, and no different than a lynching — punishment without trial and conviction. More often than not, innocent victims are the ones who suffer the consequences, not the genuinely guilty.

Police officers in Texas were murdered because of an incident that took place in Louisiana.

All lives matter.

My biggest problem with the Black Lives Matter movement is their inconsistency and the selective nature of their outrage. When a young child becomes a casualty of street gang shootout, BLM is strangely silent — unless, of course, the perpetrator of the senseless violence can be described as a white Hispanic, or classified as Caucasian in some form or fashion.

Tyshawn Lee’s life mattered. It mattered more than the life of some thug who resists arrest and perhaps causes the police to overreact.

As a result of heightened public tensions, cops on the street must walk on eggshells these days. My best advice to anyone who runs into trouble with the law is to cooperate with police if they attempt to arrest you, and then hire a good lawyer.

Because one civilian drove by Sergeant Cotriss’s house and saw a Confederate flag flying underneath the U.S. flag, he complained. Consequently, this distinguished public servant was unceremoniously fired from her job after twenty years of dedicated service to the community.

Sergeant Cotriss became a widow not long ago. Now without warning, she has lost her primary source of income, due to a single complaint from one person.

Now I am outraged. People who have been willing to die to protect my rights, personal safety, and private property are having their own rights trampled upon. Sergeant Cotriss should be immediately reinstated to her job and simply asked to remove the flag from her flagpole.

She has every right to display a flag on her own private property…and yes, I would feel exactly the same way if she’d been flying a Palestinian flag. But I can understand why the police chief would prefer his officers did publicly display a symbol that offended a hyper-sensitive liberal.

It isn’t mandatory to maintain our society that I should agree with your opinions. But it is necessary that I respect your right to have an opinion that I don’t like. Nor do I have a right to tell you what you can and cannot do in the privacy of your own home. The reverse is also true, of course.

Unfortunately, the type of person who would complain about a flag and get a person fired almost surely won’t see things that way. Their life matters, and their feelings matter. Yours, probably not so much.

Political correctness cannot be weaponized, or allowed to usurp the rule of law.

The real minimum wage

statue-of-libertyThe “real” minimum wage is zero.

Meaning zip. Nada. Nothing.

Don’t believe me? Then let me give you a brief lesson in basic economics.

Several years ago I was an active real estate investor, until the bottom dropped out of the housing market.

Looking for a way to earn supplemental income, I took a special class to learn the business of real estate appraisal, finishing with the second highest score of about fifty people. However, in order to actually earn an income as a real estate appraiser, a minimum number of hours would have to be “earned” by me working on the job as an unpaid apprentice to a licensed appraiser before I would be granted my license.

But guess what? Because so few houses were being bought and sold at the time, I couldn’t even find a single real estate appraisal business in the Atlanta area that would let me work for them for free. I couldn’t even give my work away. Nobody wanted new competition for what little work the market offered at that time. As a result, the $750 fee that I paid for the real estate appraisal course turned out to be a complete waste of money, unless we count the chunks of the plot of my first novel, Coastal Empire. Speaking of which, there is something much better than minimum wage: residCoastalEmpire.ual income.

As long as I live and copies of my books sell, I will earn residual income in the form of book royalties, which is a beautiful thing. Do the work once, and get paid forever. The only tricky part is, books need to be sold to produce income, so we need to know marketing.

By taking that class, excelling but then failing, I had learned one of life’s lessons the hard way: nobody owes you a job. Nobody.

Should the established real estate appraisers have helped me earn my license? From a very selfish, personal perspective it might be tempting to think that way, but it isn’t very realistic or productive way of thinking. The real estate market had gone from “torrential flood” level of transactions to a trickle of business virtually overnight. There were no signs of imminent recovery. The real estate bubble had burst. Too many bad investment loans were made to unqualified buyers, and the correction naturally went to the other extreme. Almost nobody could buy or sell a house. The established real estate investors went from having more business than they could handle to a struggle to survive in that economy. Blaming someone else for your problem won’t solve your problem. For the record, the entrepreneur typically pays themselves last, because in order to keep employees, the employer must pay them.

Never forget that nobody owes you a job. Employers have to eat, too, and they have families to feed. Jobs don’t get created because the entrepreneur wants to give their money to strangers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Jobs get created for one of two basic reasons — the entrepreneur wants a job done that they choose or cannot do themselves, or the work requires the labor of more than one person.

Every employer must perform the following cost/benefit analysis prior to creating a new job and ask these questions:

  • What is the work “worth” in terms of revenue generation?
  • How much skill is required for the job?
  • Can I afford to pay the necessary wages to outsource the labor to an employee?

Still don’t believe my assertion that the real minimum wage is zero?

Then consider this story, about students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) who tried to unionize the crew of a straight-to-DVD movie production of a film with the deliciously ironic In Search of Liberty.

These were a bunch of college students and recent graduates, hired to work on a legitimate film production (meaning, not pornography). They were given the opportunity to earn their first paycheck “in the real world” of business — meaning that unlike the apprenticeship of a real estate appraiser, they were actually being paid to perform the work they had agreed to do.

But the students and recent graduates weren’t satisfied with their pay or their “working conditions” which were perfectly acceptable when they accepted the job three weeks earlier, and so they demanded union representation from the International Alliance for Theatre Stage Employees (IATSE.)

In his interview with Deadline, union thug (I meant to say “internal representative”) Scott Harbinson said, “This is a million-dollar film by a Tea Party activist whose crew was probably 90% kids from the Savannah College of Art and Design. They were very excited to work on a real movie. But when they took the job, they got an ugly taste of what the real world can look like.”

In three weeks? Actually, I suppose Mr. Harbinson is absolutely right, but for the wrong reason.

The students did get an ugly taste of what the real world can be like. Let’s review: Mr. Harbinson may have just earned a bonus from his union for shutting down the film — he seemed to be very concerned about the fact the producer was, in his words, a Tea Party activist. So it’s not surprising that unions would be opposed to movies about liberty and freedom, because like politicians, union bosses really only care about power. And it’s not just the IATSE.

So this students just out of college (or still in school) had a real job for three weeks, and a paycheck. Now they have a union card.  How much do they get paid for that?

The real minimum wage is nothing because nobody owes anybody a job. Not even the government.

Bernie Sanders might be a decent man and an “honest” politician (if we assume that politicians can be honest) but the senator from Vermont is a complete fool when it comes to his understanding of basic economics. He’s never had a job in the real world or had to make a payroll because if he had, he wouldn’t be demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour, because a higher minimum wage will kill jobs. In a country with almost 95 million unemployed people, fewer available jobs would be the absolute last thing America needs.

Think about it — minimum wage of $15 per hour translates to approximately $30,000 per year. Thirty grand per year to flip burgers at McDonalds?

Who in their right mind is going to pay $25 for a Big Mac?

Many advocates of a higher minimum wage actually don’t earn the minimum wage — but their rate per hour is based off the minimum wage. When the minimum wage was only $2.35 or so per hour and while I was making the minimum wage as a high school kid, the unionized menial labor jobs at the paper mill were paying about $15 per hour, huge money for a kid in high school or even just out of college. In fact, my first professional job as a software developer in the mid 1980s only paid $24,000 per year, which was actually decent money for a single male with no dependents. And I had a college degree, plus plenty of competition for my job.

The minimum wage is the lowest amount that someone can legally be paid to perform a job — it isn’t intended to produce a middle class income. It’s an “entry level” wage intended for unskilled labor. It is a wage for teenagers and people with no experience, not adults with a family of four. If you’ve got a wife and two kids and can only earn the minimum wage, you’ve made some serious fundamental mistakes in your career planning and execution.

Anyone with half a brain and aptitude for the job should work their way off the bottom rung of the ladder in short order, unless that person has an entitlement mentality and poor work ethic.

In that case, you will probably get what you deserve.

Union “negotiators” don’t care about whether or not a job actually exists. They don’t create the jobs for their members. They only want the power to control a job after it exists.

These kids got union cards. But what else did they get, besides themselves screwed?

Are they counted as having paid union dues? With what salary? Is the union going to get these kids just out of school (and now terminated with prejudice from their very first “professional” jobs) work that might otherwise go to a dues-paying member in good standing? What good is a union card, without a union job? Nothing, in my opinion.

When a job no longer exists, the real minimum wage is nothing.

 

The effort to save Simpsonwood

BridgeImagine what it would feel like to reach into your pocket and find a lottery ticket you didn’t remember buying. You check the numbers and discover that you’ve won the jackpot. That’s sort of what it felt like to buy a house in Peachtree Corners a few months ago, only to discover that our back yard borders with Simpsonwood Park.

Of course the real estate agent mentioned something about the woods behind our new house had been purchased from the Methodist Church by Gwinnett County, but we had no idea what Simpsonwood really is — a chance to experience what heaven must be like, a pristine natural experience hidden in the suburbs north of Atlanta.

Simpsonwood Park is “223 acres of unspoiled natural beauty on the Chattahoochee River” according to a postcard sent by the people associated with the website www.savesimpsonwood.com. Though I have no official affiliation with that organization, I have decided that I firmly support their cause and plan to attend the meeting to be held this Thursday, June 30th, at the Simpsonwood United Methodist Church located at 4500 Jones Bridge Circle in Peachtree Corners.Arbor Trail

According to the organized opposition to the plans to develop Simpsonwood Park, hundreds of trees will be cut down to allow for paving roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. These changes will be in spite of the fact that Jones Bridge Park, located only about a mile from Simpsonwood and has much easier, more direct access to the general public. Conversely, the main entrance to Simpsonwood can only be accessed by making several turns and using roads that navigate through residential areas.

Obviously, Simpsonwood Park must get fairly continuous use for the ubiquitous bare dirt paths to be so well established and easy to follow. Not only are joggers, bike riders, hikers, and dog walkers on these trails every day, plenty of wildlife also enjoy the serenity of Simpsonwood’s natural beauty. Even when the temperature is above 90 degrees in the direct sun, the trails in the park are well shaded and comfortable, even in the heat of the day.

The last thing Simpsonwood Park needs is for large numbers of trees to be cut down and tons of concrete to be poured. The people that extensive development will impact most (and the wildlife, of course) hope for minimal changes to the existing infrastructure.

Please don’t simply take my word for it — I’m relatively late to the protest movement. Please learn more about this issue by visiting the website at savesimpsonwood.com. The more organized opposition will educate you far better than I can in the limited amount of time left before the public meeting.

Once the damage to the park has been done, it cannot be undone. This travesty must be stopped before it ever starts. The problem (as I understand it) seems to be that county officials have our tax dollars burning holes in their pockets. A government bureaucrat will screw up a steel ball unless we the people don’t allow them.

If you support preserving the natural beauty of Simpsonwood Park, please consider attending the meeting this Thursday to make your voice heard:

Public Meeting @ Simpsonwood United Methodist Church
4500 Jones Bridge Road
Peachtree Corners, 30092

Road River

In memory of Frank Boccia

author Frank Boccia

author Frank Bocci

I never had the pleasure of meeting Frank Boccia in person, but I grew to have a deep and profound respect for the man.

We became “virtual” friends on the internet, via Facebook, once Frank and I realized how many interests we seemed to have in common.

We both loved and pampered our dogs. Frank spoiled Mr. Smith rotten, but I’m no one to talk. When I eat steak, so do my furry babies, sliced on top of their kibble.

We’re both patriotic Americans and published authors of nonfiction books — Frank’s story was an exceptionally interesting and powerful one. He survived a literal hell on earth, and somehow managed to walk away from Dong Ap Bia, the infamous “Hamburger Hill” battle in Vietnam. Frank was a true American hero.Crouching_Beast

Frank saw the senseless, savage brutality of war, up close and personal. However, his most serious wounds from the war were invisible — Frank’s psyche had been damaged by the carnage he witnessed.

After the war Frank struggled to understand how he had cheated death, when so many friends and other good men had not been so lucky. America didn’t treat our fighting men as heroes returning from the field of battle after Vietnam. For the most part, we treated those who fought and died for us like dirt.

About his book Frank said,

“I want to convey the real face of war, both its mindless carnage and its nobility of spirit. Above all, I want to convey what happened to both the casual reader and the military historian and make them aware of the extraordinary spirit of the men of First Platoon, Bravo Company. They were ordinary men doing extraordinary things.”

He would know. Frank led those extraordinary men into battle.

Later in life Frank spent a lot of time thinking about luck and probability, which is perhaps why certain sections of my book Counterargument for God seemed to interest him. We had some great “offline” philosophical discussions about how luck and statistical probability might factor in a world created by divine intervention. I was very honored when Frank submitted something that he’d written with permission to publish it on my website.

Frank considered himself a very rational person, which he was — and his mind was as sharp as a tack. With time, Frank managed to heal himself and slay the demons that had followed him home from Vietnam. He found happiness in the love of his family and a good woman who filled his heart with happiness. He even got married. In time, Frank found peace.

First Lieutenant Frank Boccia had the heart of a lion. But even lions don’t live forever. I just learned the news that Frank had passed away earlier this morning. His time on this earth has finally run out. Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for your sacrifice, and your service to our country.

I look forward to meeting you one day, when my time here is over.

David Cohen’s appeal to authority

DavidCohenDavid Cohen is (allegedly) a Constitutional law professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the very city where the Declaration of Independence was penned in the days leading to July 4th, 1776,

Why someone would pay this man to teach law students about the Constitution is beyond me, because the drastic solution he proposes won’t solve the problem he thinks is epidemic — gun violence.

In a recent op-ed published in Rolling Stone magazine, Mr. Cohen argued for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment on the grounds that the Founding Fathers “got it wrong” when they granted ordinary citizens the right to bear arms (radical liberals: ‘bear arms’ means the right to own a gun.)

Mr. Cohen began his embarrassing article with the somewhat pompous declaration, “I teach the Constitution for a living.”

This statement is intended to imply to Mr. Cohen’s audience that he possesses superior knowledge about the Constitution, even to the Founding Fathers (implied by his “correcting” them and identifying things he claims were mistakes in the original document, and only in his own mind, of course) — an appeal to establish his opinion as authority – which by doing with his very first words, commits a logical fallacy. Mr. Cohen continues:

“I revere the document when it is used to further social justice and make our country a more inclusive one. I admire the Founders for establishing a representative democracy that has survived for over two centuries. But sometimes we just have to acknowledge that the Founders and the Constitution are wrong.

What is this nonsense about social justice? Where can those words be found in the Constitution, pray tell? Personally, I revere the Constitution. Period. End of Sentence. New Paragraph, even.

It is the very foundation for our government, defining the rule of law for what has been until now the greatest nation in the history of man on Earth. The United States has been the greatest nation in the history of civilization for one reason: freedom. But now we have college professors purporting to teach Constitutional law who openly brag about lacking respect for their area of expertise.

Were I the president of Drexel University, I would recommend that Mr. Cohen seek a new line of work.

Mr. Cohen wasn’t completely wrong about everything he wrote. He accurately pointed out that the Founding Fathers were forced to compromise between slavery for some, or slavery for all. Otherwise, colonies that depended on the barbaric practice of slavery to rapidly expand economic growth would not join the revolution against England, and the United States of America probably would still not exist. But then again, slavery didn’t officially end in England until the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed by Parliament, a full 60 years after our declaration of independence from Great Britain. Sure, practically everyone knows that Thomas Jefferson, the man who literally wrote the Declaration of Independence (with considerable help, of course), third U.S. President and founder of the Democrat Party, owned slaves.

And less than a century later even when Abraham Lincoln, the first President elected from the anti-slavery Republican Party, issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, he only freed slaves being held in Confederate states. The barbaric practice of human slavery did not officially end everywhere in the United States until Congress passed the 13th Amendment in 1865, which the states ratified.

Presumably, a Constitutional law professor would know all of this already.

Therefore, finding fault with the Founding Fathers because the Constitution required an amendment to permanently resolve the problem of slavery seems awfully petty and judgmental, especially for someone with extremely questionable judgment, as we shall soon discover. It turns out Mr. Cohen has a rather sinister agenda.

The most troubling words written by Mr. Cohen (I’m reticent to give his appeal to authority any credibility by referring to him as ‘Professor’) were these: social justice.

What does that even mean?

Well, according to one internet source, social justice is a fancy way of saying “government redistribution of wealth”, which of course, is a form of socialism.

However, if we click on the words ‘social justice’ in the Rolling Stone article, strangely enough, the reader is taken to a page about abortion and Roe vs. Wade. What on earth does abortion have to do with social justice and Constitutional law? To unravel that mystery, the first question I asked myself was this: on what grounds did the U.S. Supreme Court find that abortion was legal, according to the Constitution? After all, the U.S. Constitution is the sole determining factor the Supreme Court is supposed to use when they rule on a case.

In the case of Roe vs. Wade, it turns out the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was cited as the reason abortion became legal. Roe’s attorney argued that Roe was being denied due process and her right to privacy was being violated denied the choice of aborting her pregnancy in the first trimester. Prior to the ruling in Roe v. Wade, abortion had been considered a form of infanticide and treated as a criminal act.

If I’m following the logic of all this correctly, in effect the court’s decision determined that the unborn child (now called fetus) was technically not human, and therefore not entitled to due process.

13 weeks into pregnancy

13 weeks into pregnancy

Therefore, it has now been ruled legal to kill this “thing” or blob of tissue that would become a baby if nothing happened, even if it happens to look exactly like a developing unborn child.

Again, what does abortion have to do with gun control, anyway? Was it a mistake by Rolling Stone? Of course not.

It turns out that Mr. Cohen is co-author of a book titled Living in the Crosshairs: the Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism.

How many untold stories of murdered abortion doctors have there been? Did the murder of Dr. George Tiller go underreported? If so, I must have missed something.

According to Wikipedia (admittedly not the greatest resource of information, but this is a Saturday and I’m feeling a bit lazy about getting into more serious research) between 1993 and 2015, there have been a grand total of 11 murders of abortion doctors.

Between the years of 1973 and 2013, a whopping 56, 405, 766 legal abortions have been performed. Murder can never be condoned or justified, no matter how appropriate it might seem to end the life of another. If the person is guilty of a crime, then they should be punished according to the law. Even the horrific, murderous butcher Kermit Gosnell deserved a fair trial. He probably should have been executed for his heinous crimes, but rotting in prison will have to suffice, because that’s what the court ruled. Vigilantism is not justice.

Shooting abortion doctors can never be justified, no matter how many innocent children are “terminated” in the womb. If the law permits abortion, it is legal, even if not moral. Murder of the abortion doctor is both illegal and immoral. Any such murderer who claims to have committed his crime because of his Christian faith must have been asleep when Matthew 7:3 was read in church.

In my opinion it should not have been legal for doctors to have ended the lives of more than 56 million children in the womb, either. Obviously, there must be some agreeable compromise between zero and 56 million abortions.

Before we completely forget what started this conversation in the first place, let’s get back to the 2nd Amendment, which Mr. Cohen says we must repeal because the Founding Fathers didn’t know what they were doing, didn’t know about AR-15 rifles, which is technically true.

The Founding Fathers were much more familiar with muskets and cannons that were manned by occupying British armies fighting on behalf of a tyrannical foreign government that believed in taxation without representation than they were prescient about modern weaponry.

Automatic weapons (which are currently illegal for civilians to own) had not been invented yet. You know what else never occurred to the Founding Fathers?  Fifty-six million abortions of unborn Americans. Mr. Cohen might know parts of the Constitution better than I do, but he apparently doesn’t know much if any of the history of our Founding Fathers. The colonists most certainly understood the value of human life — remember how many people were killed in the Boston Massacre?

Five. And yet they still called it a massacre. The Founding Fathers realized that freedom could be taken away from the people if the people could no longer defend themselves.  A “well-regulated militia” wasn’t referring to the police department or a branch of the military.The most frequent scenario to the police responding to the scene of a crime is that by the time they arrive. the criminal has already left.

there-are-90-million-legal-gun-owners-in-the-us-trust-me-if-theyDespite Mr. Cohn’s mistaken opinion, the Founding Fathers did actually know exactly what they were doing, which is why another amendment to the Constitution would be necessary to repeal the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights, to prevent people with tyrannical ideas…people like Mr. Cohen, for example.

Such an amendment is highly unlikely to pass because of the popularity of gun ownership. The overwhelming majority of gun owners are honest, law abiding citizens. Too many people like to hunt for the 2nd Amendment to be successfully repealed. Too many people like to watch Duck Dynasty.

Gun control isn’t really about guns. It’s about control.

Currently, there are 27 amendments to the Constitution. To pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution would require veto-proof 2/3 majorities of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, then ratification by 3/4 of the individual states, which means 38 out of 50, by my calculations.

Attempting to disarm 90 million law-abiding citizens by force would be a very bad idea and cause a great deal of social injustice, because only criminals (and police) would be left with guns, and the criminals  will not surrender their guns willingly.walter-williams

Walter Williams is not a Constitutional law professor; he’s an economics professor at George Mason University. He’s got some strong opinions about social justice with which I strongly agree.

When it comes to the Constitution, I also prefer Professor Williams’s ideas about how the Bill of Rights might be amended.

Professor Williams says that the Bill of Rights only needed to include those first five words: “Congress shall make no law…”

Radical liberals and the rights of others

FacepalmBefore I say the first word about politics, I need to be clear that I’m neither a registered Democrat or Republican; I am a independent voter who holds both political parties in pretty much equal disdain. They don’t even bother trying to represent me in Washington.

I’d love to be able to think of myself as a liberal — it sounds wonderful, at least in principle. Some of the synonyms for the word ‘liberal’ are generous, abundant, copious, and plentiful.

And of course, the antonyms for liberal include intolerant, stingy, narrow-minded, mean, and greedy.

Really…who wants to be thought of as mean, or intolerant? I certainly don’t.

But the problem with self-identifying as a liberal is that the political ideology and the dictionary definition of the word appear to have very little in common with each other.

Now people who know me personally know that I’m not really a confrontational sort of person, but neither am I the “go along to get along” sort of person, either. I’m about ten times more likely to initiate a conversation about the upcoming football season for the Georgia Bulldogs than politics or religion, but I’m also not shy about expressing my opinions or correcting the record whenever it seems necessary. I have this very annoying tendency of stubbornly refusing to concede that I could be wrong about something in lieu of better evidence. I’m also very unlikely to simply take your word for anything if the argument from authority has been invoked.

Naturally, being radically liberal is a political orientation, not a religious one. It has been my experience that the behavior of a typical liberal will literally become the antithesis of the dictionary definition, more often than not. Granted, my interactions have most often been with a particular subset of liberals, specifically atheists. Not every atheist is a liberal, nor every liberal an atheist. On the other hand, I could probably count the number of conservative atheists I’ve encountered on one hand, without having to use most of those fingers. Conservatives who are atheists seem to be few and far between, or they must have better things to do than attack religious beliefs, and people who identify as theists.

Many of my friends (and family members) may refer to themselves as liberals, but their behavior is more like that of a moderate, “normal” person. In fact, several members of my personal church are loyal Democrat Party voters, at least according to their bumper stickers. The difference between these friends and family members and a truly radical liberal are obvious — the latter are vicious, and love to hate their perceived enemies.

For the most part, liberals don’t want to be stigmatized by their ideological stereotype — many prefer using the term progressive to calling themselves liberal, in an effort to create the illusion that they are forward-thinking, and not reactionary, which is what the majority of liberals actually are.

In reality, radical liberals tend to be very intolerant reactionaries frankly incapable of critical thinking. Obviously they fear the caricature image of liberals as hysterical, wild-eyed ranting lunatics — which many of them happen to be.

For example, a radical liberal will demand that Christians not only tolerate gay marriage, but they must also prepare the cake for the ceremony. If the Christian business owner refuses to make the cake, they will be forced out of business. Then in order to justify their draconian punishment of Christian businesses, liberal judges and politicians usually make a false comparison between exercising the freedom of religion and Jim Crow laws. However, politely refusing to make a cake is not discriminating against the color of a person’s skin, but rather a personal and business decision that reflects the content of a person’s character.

The Christian business owner isn’t actively protesting against gay marriage, or preventing the gay couple from getting married. They are simply asking the customer to find another bakery that would be more comfortable baking a wedding cake for a gay couple. But the people demanding tolerance won’t put up with that — nothing less than total submission is acceptable.

Fortunately, my friends who are gay tend to be conservative and they know my heart. I don’t feel the need to preemptively apologize or qualify my remarks so they know these comments don’t apply to them. My friends also know the radical Islamic terrorist wants to commit mass murder in gay bars, while the typical Christian wants to pray for the victims, and to donate blood and money to help.

Yes, there are a few jerks in every crowd, but some crowds are full of jerks. With the gay marriage battle apparently won, radical liberals have turned their attention to transgender bathrooms. They quickly label anyone who express concerns as homophobic, transphobic, etc. , as backward and hateful people.  Granting equal treatment and “freedom of choice” to identify as something other than one’s natural biological sex trumps any concerns other citizens may have about sexual predators exploiting this new opportunity to physically abuse innocent women and children. An overdeveloped desire for compassion leads to the death of common sense.

It may seem like I’m just generalizing all liberals as radicals and classifying certain types of behavior as such, but I have both family and friends who think of themselves as liberals. However, they tend to act more like moderates, at least around me. No one whom I know personally has dared attempt the “in-your-face” tactics of radical liberalism on me.

This morning a friend of mine posted an open letter on the internet that among other astute observations, included these words:

Negative campaigns, the demonizing of people with different opinions, discounting the legitimacy of their views, all works. Because *you* let it. While you are calling the “other” stupid, ignorant, etc., keep in mind that is exactly the same rhetoric the “other” is using on you. If you discount the legitimacy of their views, you don’t have to listen. But people generally have reasons for holding the views they do. If you don’t take time to understand them, and alienate them with nasty rhetoric, you’ll never even try. Which is what your “leaders” want – because if you apply the same standards of reason to them as you do to the “other”, you’ll find neither holds up too well.

I wish I could take credit for writing those words. I don’t claim to know all the answers to difficult questions, and I’m not suggesting that I’m even smart enough to have asked all of the right questions.

Now I know that I am not stupid. More importantly, I don’t appreciate being treated as if I’m stupid. It tends to bring out the worst in me, especially if the attack was unprovoked. I’m not claiming to be the smartest person on the planet — I’m not even claiming to be as smart as my wife, or as smart as my friend whose thoughts I pilfered without permission (which is why I haven’t given him credit by name.)

But neither are most, if not all of my critics.  Personally speaking, I’ve found that it’s inherently risky to assume that the other person involved in a discussion is stupid before listening to what they have to say. It’s also very rude to pre judge. But that won’t stop some people.

It’s certainly not fair to say that the lawyers with the ACLU who blamed Christians after a Muslim man claiming allegiance to multiple terrorist organizations murdered 50 people in a gay nightclub during the month of Ramadan are stupid, but political correctness and personal prejudices compelled them to make a very stupid claim. When atheist Sam Harris went on the Bill Maher show and said, “Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy. They’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us,” Ben Affleck blew a gasket and incorrectly labeled Harris a racist, when he’s not being a bigot, either. He’s simply stating a fact — radical Islamic terrorists have been responsible for the majority of the recent mass shootings in the U.S. No one is saying that all Muslims are future mass murderers, but almost all of the recent mass murderers around the world have been inspired by radical Islamic ideology.

Once upon a time, as I was preparing to debate a rather prominent atheist, he recommended that I read something like Religion for Dummies (I can’t remember the actual title.) 

I didn’t get mad at my debate opponent, but I did believe that I was supposed to be offended or insulted, albeit in a joking, sort of a light-hearted way.

Similarly, when my debate opponent promised a friend of his that I’d agreed to pay a $10,000 fee for a professional videotaped record of the event, I didn’t get upset because I took it for the joke it surely was — I even replied that I would honor my opponent’s commitment of my funds, as long as payee wouldn’t be upset that Milton Bradley issued the currency.

I appreciated the fact my opponent wanted to inspire me to prepare, and flattered that I was considered a worthy opponent.

But rather than reading Religion for Dummies or whatever it was that my opponent for the big debate suggested, I had a much better idea…I watched videos of his previous debates, and took copious notes of his past arguments in favor of atheism.

Preparation gave me plenty of confidence. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t embarrass myself and things worked out okay…but standing up in front of an audience to argue with someone isn’t my idea of a great time. I prefer to express important ideas in writing — I don’t know how to edit or proofread the words before they come from my mouth. It’s much more difficult to express hateful sentiments in writing, unless you don’t think about what you write before publishing. It’s sort of my job to think about content and the messages I want to convey through my writing, even if it’s something I’m giving to readers for free, through my blog. Why should you be tempted to buy one of my books if I can’t even communicate concise ideas somewhat effectively in two or three thousand words?

Rather than trying to explain what I consider to be the differences between a radical liberal and a normal person, let me give you a couple of examples as an illustration:

southernprose_cover_CAFG

Recently I offered a radical liberal (an atheist, in this case) a free electronic copy of my book, Counterargument for God, so that he could faster come up to speed on the evidence I would offer to support the points I planned to make.

Now ordinarily when I personally receive a gift from someone, I’m not normally prone to irrational outbursts of uncontrolled anger directed at the giver, even if the gift is something I didn’t really want or need. A polite, even if insincere “thank you” is usually in order.

Rather than reading my book and then expressing his opinion, within a matter of minutes this person launched into attack mode, beginning with this:

I’m trying to say that rational belief is a degree of belief that maps to the degree of the relevant evidence. No exceptions. Do you agree? If you don’t, your epistemology is rotten at its core. And that will pollute everything you say or write. You must disagree since the Bible disagrees. Read the book of John. Read it in Greek. The Bible itself is rotten at its core.

Interestingly enough, I had not even mentioned the Bible, nor made any claims of having superior knowledge of the Bible. Because I wouldn’t. The Bible isn’t even mentioned in the first 200 pages of my book, which are entirely focused on the available scientific evidence to support what I have coined my Big Picture argument. The Bible is only referenced in the latter section of the book that presents a brief defense of my Christian faith, when I took and then graded Dan Barker’s open Bible test.

This individual had immediately tried to characterize my beliefs based on his own interpretation of a theistic worldview, without bothering to learn what my beliefs are — so desperate to pass judgment on my epistemic approach to acquiring knowledge as “rotten at its core” that he neglected to learn what my approach is. He simply assumed that he knew.

At some point, I managed to explain that I don’t read Greek, and received this barrage:

I read the Greek New Testament 11 times in Greek. I also have a degree in philosophy. Your epistemology is clearly flawed. Yeah, you’re just another Christian asshole. You’re ignorant, and you’re arrogant. John you’re an idiot. Face it. Your (SIC) pretender who does not know the Bible as well as I do, and you know epistemology far less. John is best (SIC) if you just care less and stop talking about things you know nothing about. What a shameful show for Jesus. If you know little about the Bible, stop defending it. For a while there, I had hoped you had something of substance. How disappointing.

Wow! Just imagine what might have been accomplished if I had actually put a little effort into annoying this person. Though I won’t mention his name, I will add that this person claims to be an academic and a college professor with this caveat — people can claim to be anything they want on the internet, though I usually try to give them the benefit of my doubt.

On the other hand, one of my other critics has claimed to be an astronaut for NASA, a lawyer, professor at Oxford and a published author, so the benefit of my doubt must have some limits.

I find myself amazed to witness the venom, and the degree of vitriol that I can inspire from someone I’ve never even met, with no real effort on my part. It’s a real shame that I get no sense of satisfaction from my success at driving people into apoplectic rage. And I loathe arguing with people about politics.

The reason I don’t like radical liberals is because they believe the opinions and rights of others aren’t important. Radical liberals are some of the most intolerant people on Earth.