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23 August 2011 @ 03:11 am
When a veil of pleasing lies masks impure intentions
When objectification masquerades as respect
When the ruse is uncovered, the next distraction discovered,
Delusions shattered before newly opened eyes


Dedicated to Ick Glokmah, and (for the opposite reason) to Cindy, Badger, John, Akido, Marija, and everyone else for whom the term "friend" is not a misnomer. ^_^

*Sits back and waits* ;)
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: "You Make Me Sick" - Egypt Central (*Snerk* How appropriate...)
Welcome! Add me to see my posts, check out what we talked about on the phone, give me your opinion on it, and then bitch at me for turning you gay - after which we will have a conversation that is purposefully vague (I like to do so to find inventive ways of wording things. It helps my writing).  Thankees. =)
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: "Pushit" - Tool (Salival version)
21 July 2011 @ 07:43 pm

- (p.42) - "...while the long history of religious oppression and hypocrisy is profoundly sobering, the earnest seeker must look beyond the behavior of flawed humans in order to find the truth. Would you condemn an oak tree because its timbers had been used to build battering rams? Would you blame the air for allowing lies to be transmitted through it? Would you judge Mozart's The Magic Flute on the basis of a poorly rehearsed performance by fifth-graders? If you had never seen a real sunset over the Pacific, would you (accept) a tourist brochure as a substitute? Would you evaluate the power of romantic love solely in the light of an abusive marriage next door?
     No. A real evaluation of the truth of faith depends upon looking at the pure water, not the rusty containers (that hold it)."

- (p.71-74) - This passage strays dangerously close to being an "argument from incredulity," but is thought-provoking nonetheless: "... a number of fascinating apparent coincidences about (the origin of the universe) have been discovered that have puzzled scientists, philosophers, and theologians alike. Consider the following three observations:

     1. In the early moments of the universe following the Big Bang, matter and antimatter were created in almost equivalent amounts. (After) one millisecond (had passed) the universe cooled enough for quarks and antiquarks to "condense out." Any quark encountering an antiquark, which would happen quickly at this high density, resulted in the complete annihilation of both and the release of a photon. But the symmetry of matter and antimatter was not quite precise; for about every billion pairs of quarks and antiquarks, there was an extra quark. It is this tiny fraction of the initial potentiality of the universe that makes up the mass of the universe as we know it,
         Why did this asymmetry exist? It would seem more 'natural' for there ti be no asymmetry. But if there had been complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, the universe would quickly have devolved into pure radiation, and people, planets, starts, and galaxies would never have come into existence.

     2. The way in which the universe expanded after the Big Bang depended critically on how much total mass and energy the universe had, and also on the strength of the gravitational constant... If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in 100 thousand million million, the universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present size.
         On the other hand, if the rate of expansion had been greater by even one part in a million, stars and planets could not have been able to form....The existence of a universe as we know it rests upon a knife's edge of improbability.

     3. The same remarkable circumstance applies to the formation of heavy elements. If the strong nuclear force that holds together protons and neutrons had been even slightly weaker, then only hydrogen could have formed in the universe. If, on the other hand, the strong nuclear forced had been slightly stronger, all the hydrogen would have been converted to helium, instead of the 25% (that was converted) early (after) the Big Bang, and thus the fusion furnaces of stars and their ability to generate heavy elements would never have been born.
         Adding to this remarkable observation, the nuclear force appears to be tuned just sufficiently for carbon to form, which is critical for life forms on Earth. Had that force been just slightly more attractive, all the carbon would have been converted to oxygen.

         Altogether, there are fifteen physical constants whose values current theory is unable to predict. They are givens: they simply have the value that they have. This list includes the speed of light, the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces, various parameters associated with electromagnetism, and the force of gravity. The chance that all these constants would take on the values necessary to result in a stable universe capable of sustaining complex life forms is almost infinitesimal. And yet those are exactly the parameters we observe. In sum, our universe is wildly improbable."
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: anticipating
Current Music: "I Won't Tell You" - Lacuna Coil
20 July 2011 @ 04:24 am
There is compelling evidence that evolution has selected for those variants of "altruism" that manage, however indirectly, to benefit the self. There are, however, many instances in which an attempt at altruism endangers one's well being, or even one's life, flying in the face of the self-preservation instinct. How are we to explain this?

Your thoughts?
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: "Right In Two" - Tool
In the aforementioned book, Francis S. Collins (head of the Human Genome Project) sets forth a belief system that he terms "BioLogos," which is a harmonious synthesis of science (particularly the science of evolution) and spiritual belief. He points out a particularly treacherous trap that the more belligerent among us are prone to stumble into: the desire to create conflict where there is none.

Here are some particularly interesting or relevant excerpts from the text (in order), with brief commentary:

  - (p.24) - "...the conclusion that the Moral Law exists is in serious conflict with the current post-modernist philosophy, which argues that there are no absolute rights or wrongs, and that all ethical decisions are relative. This view, which seems widespread among modern philosophers but which mystifies most members of the general public, faces a series of logical Catch-22s. If there is no absolute truth, can postmodernism itself be true? Indeed, if there is no right or wrong, then there is no reason to argue for the discipline of ethics in the first place."

  - (p.29) - C.S. Lewis is quoted here as explaining why he believes that the existence (or lack thereof) of a God cannot be determined by science: "If there was a controlling power outside the universe, it could not show itself to us as (a) fact inside the universe--no more than the architect of a house could actually be a wall or staircase or fireplace in that house. The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or as a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way."

  - (p.36-37) - "So what are we to make of... this sensation of longing for something greater than ourselves? Is this only, and no more than, some combination of neurotransmitters landing on precisely the right receptors, setting off an electrical discharge somewhere deep in the brain?" (Near death experiences and the the perception of a "presence of God" are often attributed to this) "Or is this, like the Moral Law described in the preceding chapter, an inkling of what lies beyond, a signpost placed deep within the human spirit, pointing toward something much greater than ourselves?"

  - (p.38) - (In response to the argument that the belief in the existence of a God is merely a form of wish fulfillment): "...in simple logical terms, if one allows for the possibility that God is something humans might wish for, does that rule out the possibility that God is real? Absolutely not. The fact that I have wished for a loving wife does not now make her imaginary. The fact that the farmer wished for rain does not make him question the reality of the subsequent downpour.
     In fact, one can turn this wishful thinking argument on its head. Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger exist, if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfillment? Again, Lewis says it well: 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.'
Could it be that this longing for the sacred, a universal and puzzling aspect of human existence, may not be wish fulfillment, but rather a pointer to something beyond us? Why do we have a 'God-shaped vacuum' in our hearts if it is not meant to be filled?"

  - (p.45-46) - In response to the argument that a benevolent God wouldn't allow suffering to exist: "For many thoughtful seekers, these rational explanations fall short of providing a justification for the pain of human existence. Why is life more a vale of tears than a garden of delight? Much has been written about this apparent paradox, and the conclusion is not an easy one: if God is loving and wishes the best for us, then perhaps His plan is not the same as our plan. This is a hard concept (to accept), especially if we have been too regularly spoon-fed a version of God's benevolence that implies nothing more on His part than a desire for us to be perpetually happy. Again from Lewis: "We want, in fact, not so much a father in Heaven as a grandfather in Heaven--a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'likes to see young people enjoying themselves,' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might truly be said, at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.'"
     ....God... apparently desires more of us than (our happiness). Is that not, in fact, your own experience? Have you learned more about yourself when things were going well, or when you were faced with challenges, frustration, and suffering? 'God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' As much as we would like to avoid those experiences, without them would we not be shallow, self-centered creatures who would ultimately lose all sense of nobility or striving for the betterment of others?"

More excerpts are yet to come-- they're just too long, and my poor, arthritic hands are tired. =P
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: "Knights of Cydonia" - Muse
19 July 2011 @ 10:33 am
(Though panookah 's puts mine to shame =P)

My spiritual philosophy falls somewhere between deism and full-fledged theism - I believe that a God of some sort created a universe (at least one universe) with the potential to harbor life (probably with the knowledge that life would arise), and more or less left things to develop on their own. While I do think that humans evolved from less complex life forms, I am of the opinion that this doesn't make our connection to the divine (unique among living creatures) any less sacrosanct. I believe that God is a laissez-faire sort of deity, who gives probability and free will control over our lives, perhaps intervening in occasional moments of mercy or righteous anger (for some reason, I find the thoroughly Old Testament image of God smiting someone with a thunderbolt very amusing xP). I know in my heart that this God wants us to display kindness and love, and will reward us for doing so, either in the form of an idyllic afterlife or good karma.

As for religion: I think that it is illogical to judge a religion on claims that it shares with other faiths (i.e. OUR sacred text is the word of God; OUR ruling deity is the one true God, etc), and somewhat idiotic to put stock in those claims when made by a given religion's doctrine, but not another's. The only basis upon which a particular religion should be evaluated is the worldview or code of conduct that it espouses.

I believe that there is an afterlife in which we are reunited with the loved ones we have lost - an afterlife in which we are closer to God. While I'm not sure whether I buy the concept of a "hell," per se, I'm sure that those who have committed grievous wrongs are made to atone, somehow. Or perhaps it pleases my desire for justice to think so. =P I'm convinced, though, that God judges us on the overall character of our hearts, as opposed to keeping a ledger of "sins".
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: "Bottom of the Death Valley" - Dir En Grey
28 May 2011 @ 11:12 pm
Have you and/or your friends ever picked nicknames for people without their knowledge? What was the funniest, and why did you choose it?

So many times--both for objects of affection and objects of disdain. A brief sampling: The Nazi Spider, Nuka Roku, Bubba, Humbert Humbert, Zombie Poppins, etc. They were normally based on obscure literary references or some part of our own mythos that would be incomprehensible to the uninitiated. xP Ahh, inside jokes.
17 May 2011 @ 01:30 pm
If you were granted unlimited magic powers for just five minutes, what would you do?

I would eliminate world hunger, poverty, murder, rape, sickness, war, and global warming. Ahh, if only.
07 May 2011 @ 11:26 am
What's your favorite music video of all time?

"Obscure" by Dir En Grey! xD