Schlaraffenland

30 01 2012

The rivers run with milk, honey and wine.  The fish that swim within them are already breaded and fried.  Anyone who wants to eat one need only open his mouth and a fish jumps right out of the water and into the hungry person’s mouth.  The birds that fly through the air are already cooked, prepared and ready to eat.  A person need only lay down a plate, and a chicken will walk onto it and lie down (they come in several breeds, including barbecue, kung pao, cashew and southern fried).  Houses are made of food.  If a person  wants ham, he need only lean over and bite a wall.  All trees provide all kinds of fruit, all of which are low-hanging, all of which will fall to the ground at a person’s wish, which is a very necessary thing, because the inhabitants of this land are always lying flat on their backs.  They probably could not rise if they wanted to.  In this land, all work is a sin, and not just on the Lord’s day.

This is Schlaraffenland, literally meaning Land of the Lazy Monkeys.  Fortunately, I can say I did not invent this fabulous land.  I should be embarrassed if I did.  The tale originated in Germany around 1494, and time has only made it worse.  Luckily, the tale never made headway into English-speaking cultures.  The point of the story is simply to satirize paradise.  We think of the evils of our world as including hard labor and a struggle to survive.  Hence, the logical extreme would be a place of absolutely no work, and no struggle to survive at all.  We do tend to think of work as a drudgery, and we do tend to think of Heaven as a permanent place of retirement.  Perhaps we ought to reconsider.

In truth, the tale of Schlaraffenland did not go far enough.  If we really need not work to survive, if we need not do anything, and if God provides absolutely everything we need at all times, then Schlaraffenland is simply an arduous place to have to spend eternity.  The real absolute zero-cost land of plenty is a brain connected to life support.  After all, if one must eat, then one must perform the task of chewing and digesting.  Then, it follows that we must do the unthinkable, which is to say that we must poop.

We are here, somewhere in the middle, between life-support, where life is absolutely effortless, and a world like Mars, Venus, the Sun, a comet, or pretty much the entire universe, minus Earth, where life is basically impossible.  One of the things I get a lot from atheists is the observation that life on this ball of dirt is not only a struggle, but an actual battle against other species and even each other for our very survival.  This is true, but the fact that a battle can be fought at all, with any hope of victory, implies that the opportunity has at least been provided, and we must seize that opportunity to yield an outcome, which just happens to be survival.  I’m not sure exactly what they expected from a created universe, but if they expected God to provided us with absolutely everything, with the food already in our bellies and the sun always warm upon our faces, then what, exactly, were we meant to do with all of our free time?  Really, if we think about it, ease of living is just a point along a broad spectrum from a dead rock to a celestial tube of life pumping directly into our brains.  If the atheist would say that the current struggle is evidence of no created design, then, likely, a much easier world could yield the same view, all the way up that spectrum, until we’re all on life-support and there’s nothing more for us to want.

Someone had to work to design and create, ship, distribute, sell and deliver that thing you’re staring at, called a monitor.  If there had been a creator, then you’d think he would have had the foresight to have monitors growing everywhere out of the ground.  Trees have a fairly complex design, but merely having masses of lumber harnessing solar energy, growing from the ground and reproducing copies of themselves hardly seems sufficient.  Trees ought to be able to connect to the internet so that they can play a game of reversi with you (a good and proper use of sophisticated technology, really).  When is it enough?

The truth of it is that the Bible never promised that Heaven would be an iron lung, a mechanical heart and some I.V. bags.  I hope that comes as no surprise to anybody.  All we were promised was much greater prosperity, better opportunity, and easier labor.  That’s all.  The truth of it is that the Bible tells that life on earth is a bit harder, because we’re not exactly little saints down here.  Take a drive down the freeway tomorrow and try to convince yourself that we’re all a bunch of nice little angels.  You didn’t scream profanities for nothing.  Life is harder, but life is not impossible.  Now that we’ve topped seven-billion people on this planet, I think it’s safe to say that life on Earth is not too hard.

So, exactly how well-tailored to our existence must life be for us to conclude that maybe things were engineered that way?  For the skeptic, intelligent design will always seem a little lacking, here or there.  The fact is that the human may be very intelligent, but we’re built like wimpy, hairless, defenseless bipeds.  Well, the Bible says we’re built in the image of God, which essentially means that we were designed more for what we look like than what we are capable of.  It’s a priority of form over function.  Fur, claws venom and fangs are all very good for survival, but they don’t contribute much toward making a man look more like God.  Yes, I know that many think of God as an amorphous blob.  One person’s fancy is as good as any other’s, so I suppose the claim that God has a humanoid form is no less valid than the claim that he’s shaped roughly like an amoeba.  Christians make an exception for the form of a person.  The intelligence of this design is a little more artistic and a little less utilitarian.  Now, if we had really evolved from apes, or whatever simian beast they haven’t yet debunked, then we might expect to be fully loaded with all of the latest weaponry.  Evolution is always strictly utilitarian, with no exception, so I’ll leave it to them to explain how the heck a smart monkey who looked like he just got let out of Auschwitz after being de-fanged, de-clawed and cleanly shaven could survive on his wits alone.  We’ll experiment by taking some fool off the street, or the reader, if he wishes to volunteer, and dropping him naked into the middle of a forest with nothing but his wits, and we’ll see how long he survives.  A well-trained survivalist might make a year, but I’ll give it a couple of weeks at best before the average chump finds himself on his face sucking dirt.  If the early human survived strictly by wits, and if those wits were so far superior that he could cast off every natural advantage in favor of wits, then I must say that he must have been way smarter than Einstein.  I can’t imagine Einstein lasting naked and alone in a forest, though it may be that I have trouble imagining Einstein naked in the first place (man, what a thought.  I should have left that one alone!).  Then, we would have a very intelligent early human who was even more keenly aware of his doom than our poor naked Einstein ever was.

Your smart phone can make phone calls, send text messages, play games, browse the internet and take pictures, but it can’t give you a sponge bath, double as a cereal bowl or brush your teeth in the morning.  Dang, what a lame rip-off!  I could have created as much by smashing two rocks together!  Right?  If I can find something that it can’t do, then it must not be intelligently designed, right?





Modernists’ Angels

5 04 2011

Oh, but the modernist can accept angels, only on his own terms.  Robin Parrish, a current writer of Christian fiction, or, I should say, writer of fiction marketed as Christian (according to him),  wrote a novel called Nightmare, essentially a fictionalized telling of various known ghost stories from around the continental United States.  What, at first, appears to be a very pre-modern plot about angels, demons, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, ends in a climax of an entirely modernistic nature.  In his story, men have learned how to harvest and bottle the human soul.  All of this requires special materials, special machinery, several hundred life-support systems and a full lexicon of spirit-controlling hieroglyphs.  In essence, he took the magic of the supernatural and brought it under the dominion of everyday science, though it be a purely imaginary one.  Somehow, when the world of angels and demons falls into the realm of the test tube and the litmus paper, it ceases to be the very thing that made it special: it ceases to be magic.

The modernist will forever reject the supernatural, until he finds a way to manipulate it and control it, just like so many other things.  Then, not only will he believe it, but he will state that the existence of such things are an absolute fact.  He will not be reverent of them, and he will teach us to be equally irreverent.  Fortunately, the supernatural lies forever outside of his grasp.  Spiritual things are not physical, therefore they cannot be studied as physical things.  A permanent barrier leaves the modernist in ignorant bliss, while protecting us from yet another technology that threatens to wipe us off the face of the earth.

Occasionally, we may meet a student of public broadcasting who will tell us that the Bible could not have been accurately copied for thousands of years.  He tells us that we accept it blindly, on faith, that we call it inerrant simply because we want to believe that it is so.  The quickest way to shut him up is to tell him that there is a field of science called textual criticism, whereby the oldest codices, actual thousand-year-old parchment, are compared with each other to determine what the original text actually said.  Considering that our recent translations are based on that very same science, he doesn’t have much to stand on.  He puts his faith in science.  More to the point, he puts his faith in processes subdued by mortal men.

Magic can be seen simply as technology that is not understood or fully grasped by the human mind.  The assumption is that it actually cannot be contained.  Take a person from a thousand years ago and go on a walk through a field just as the pop-up sprinklers activate.  To him, that’s magic.  Mushrooms mysteriously sprout from the ground and begin watering the plants.  Such a person would either be struck dumb or run in terror.  The monitor in front of your face, the ability to talk with people anywhere in the world, the chance to board a flying airship and travel the world, such things are magic…no, they’re just technology.  Ah, but if I could say the magic word and turn you into a toad, now that would be magic.

The problem with magic, real magic, is that not even the person wielding it has a complete grasp on what it is she’s doing.  The witch uses superhuman powers, she thinks, but she does not reconcile the fact that she is only human, and she does not understand her work well enough to think of it as technology.  If it seems like magic to her, then it’s because it really isn’t her magic.  It’s the magic of a demon.  If it’s yours, then it isn’t magic to you.  If you think you wield magic, then you aren’t really the one wielding it, sucker.

On the other hand, the modernist wishes to turn all things into technology, or else reject them.  Hence, the modernist would take that which is not his and possess it.  That which he could not possess, he would reject as mere myth.  Here we have the original sin repeated in Technicolor.  The domain of God is…well, he has no domain, in the modern mind.  Is the spirit the possession of God?  If so, then it does not exist, and if not, then we can manipulate it, harvest it and do what we want with it.  That is to say that a modernist can deal with angels only if he can find a way to make an angelic handgun and hold them for ransom.  So long as he is helpless in the world of the spirit, he is certain that the spirit does not exist.  Miracles follow the same line of thinking.  Miracles that come from God are fake, to the modernist, but miracles that come from men are real.  The only difference is in the possession.  God gave us the whole earth and everything on it to subdue and claim dominion.  Yet, we would have what God has not given us, or, having failed at that, we would reject the very existence of the thing that we cannot accept, the thing that we cannot have.

If you could put a demon in a bottle and sell it at the dollar store for a buck, then this world might believe in demons.  If the demon could put you in a bottle and sell you at the market for half a farthing, then you only need medication.  It’s all in the wielding of power.

This world does have its own version of the angel, though.  It’s called the outer-space alien.  In it, you have an intelligent creature from without, influencing us with power that we do not have, formed in an image that we have not learned, but the alien creature lives by technology, and that technology can be learned.  The difference between the alien and the angel is in the potential to subdue.  It’s all in the wielding of power.  The modernist can accept the alien, because the modernist can have some hope of assimilating its magic and subduing it.  No such hope exists over angels.

The modernist is obsessed with power.  The modernist does not want a God that he must fear.  He wants the whole Garden of Eden, its forbidden fruit, the angels and God, himself.  What he can’t own, what he can’t hope to own, he would rather pretend does not exist.

Hat tip to Nina Stone.





The Murder of Kairos, and the Illusion of Time

17 01 2011

“The illusion of time” is a concept making its way across the internet, stated mostly by people who don’t really know what is meant by it, much less who started it.  So we’ll get out with the basics of the matter firstly.

Hawking, that great master of intellect, who has yet to think of anything useful, made the assertion that time is an illusion, meaning not that time doesn’t exist, but that our travel through time is just a product of our brain function.  He would say that time exists, but that we do not travel through it, and it is non-linear.  More to the point, he has embraced the first dimension of time and rejected the second.

To be fair, our travel through time, the fact that we pass along the time line seems to suggest that we exist at different places in time at different times.  Now, it is 3:00, but soon I will be at 3:01.  Hawking would argue that we exist both at 3:00 and 3:01 at the same time, if that isn’t a self-contradiction.  To a degree, he’s right, that I exist at both of those times.  Historically speaking, I do.  The fact of the matter, though, is that I can only be at one of those times at any given time.  He calls it an illusion.  I call it a profound truth, missed by a celebrated intellectual.

The idea of two-dimensional time is not a new one.  The ancient Greeks called these two forms of time Kairos and Chronos.  As a way of remembering them, they are personified as mythical beings.  Chronos is what we would know as the traditional time line, like what might be marked on a calendar.  Kairos is the second dimension of time, that instantaneous moment at which we exist right now.  Kairos is represented as a winged man with the back of his head shaved.  He runs by, and we attempt to grab him by his hair.  Once he is past, even slightly, we have nothing to hold on to.  Kairos is the symbol of our journey through time.  We see each infinitely small span of time for an infinitely small span of time.  We can only just barely utilize it, and only but for an instant.

In a previous post, which also references an even earlier post, Here and Now…, I go into a more detailed explanation of what is meant by a second dimension to time.  In a nutshell, there is an important distinction between saying that I exist in the future, as in, I will exist in the future, versus saying that I exist in the future as in saying that I am there right now.  There are two different ways to be in the future.  So long as I’m still alive by then, then I exist in that time.  That’s different than saying that I’m there right now.  In terms of Chronos, I am in the future.  In terms of Kairos, I am not in the future.  Hawking has taken upon himself the role of executioner, and he wishes to murder Kairos.  The real question is why.

Modern science, a strategy that attempts to fully understand the physical world as a means of deliberately overlooking the spiritual, by its very nature rejects the most obvious thing of all, which is human experience.  Descartes, who often is seen as a forefather of empiricism, ironically determined that experience was the original premise.  “I think, therefore I am,” is not so much relevant to the nature of my thoughts, as it is the fact that I had one.  It is therefore with a great deal of sarcasm that I observe the self-proclaimed defenders of empiricism abolishing the only thing I really know for certain, the obvious fact that I am experiencing something, even if it is an illusion.

Kairos was targeted for murder for the simple reason that Kairos is spiritual, whereas Chronos is strictly physical.  Chronos is safe, and useful for various physical tasks that can be calculated through standard math.  No one really questions the existence of Chronos.  Kairos, the perception that we are traveling through time, is threatening, because it means we are at different places in time at different times.  Where I am now in time is a constantly changing location, and it makes absolutely no sense from a strictly physical worldview, such as modernism.  It means that not only is there a secondary time, by which we judge our progression through the more conventional physical time, but it means that there is something that exists beyond the physical, riding the physical world like a wave.  If there is Kairos, then there is spirit.  If there is spirit, then there might reasonably be an afterlife.  If so, then there might be no escape, neither from troubles, from judgment nor from God.

Hawking is on a rampage to kill God once and for all.  To do so, he must effectively kill the human spirit and all things beyond his reductionist atheistic worldview.  He intends to murder God, Kairos, and even his own spirit.  In the end, he might escape God, lose Kairos and spiritually die in that afterlife for which he is destined, which is to say that he might largely succeed.

I, for one, am inclined to think that, were it not for greater minds than Hawking, he would not have enough technology to make him anything more than a drooling cripple.  His whole life is propped up by the inventions of “lesser” minds, people who actually conceived of something practical and true.  Hawking is nothing but a story teller.  He overawes people by speaking a language that they don’t understand, to convey ideas that they cannot disprove.  But the fact is that there is a limitless supply of fantastic ideas that cannot be disproved.  We tend, all too often, to put the burden of proof on the negative assertion, rather than the positive.  I can say that the entire universe is contained within a huge eggshell, too massive to be seen.  It goes against intuition, but it would be hard to disprove, because it could always be just out of sight.  To say that time is an illusion is also counter-intuitive, and it also cannot be disproved, because no matter what I say I observe, my observations could be nothing but a product of that illusion.  The burden of proof should always be on the positive assertion.  Until we know for certain that Hawking is right, we assume he is wrong.

And he has a lot to be wrong about.  His whole life is a string of fantasies about things that are far out of reach, but the underlying theme behind it all is his drive to kill God.  When we know what motivates a man, we ought to mistrust any reasoning of his that furthers that motivation.  Just because he implies that Kairos doesn’t exist doesn’t make it true.  It only means that greater minds are dead and unable to defend themselves.





The Endless Hallway

16 08 2010

[fiction]

Solomon Leechman failed to live up to his name that day at the bar, when he’d had too much to drink.  He made a friend and accepted a ride home.  The next thing he knew, he was lying in the dark on a cold stone floor, which probably contributed as much to his headache as the hangover.  Several hours passed in semi-consciousness, where he very much hated lying there, but he very much more hated the idea of standing.  Eventually, the sun finally found its way to him, after illuminating his prison several hours in advance, like a prolonged twilight.

Finally admitting awareness of his environment, he observed two things.  Firstly, he noticed that he was in a hallway without a ceiling, letting in the blare of direct sunlight from high above.  At least, if it was not a hallway, then it was an alley between two walls.  Next, he noticed that he was among two others, one man and one woman.  The other man came to his senses hours later, being, perhaps, more affectedly drugged than Solomon.  The woman awoke not long after that.  Upon inquiry, he found that the man’s name was Charles Bessemer, and the woman’s name was Mary Eddy.  Neither of them knew how they had gotten there.  Mary had only sipped a cup of tea on her front porch before winding up here.  Charles had taken such a cocktail of drugs that any of them could easily have been responsible for his unconsciousness.  In fact, he had taken them for that express purpose.  There was no apparent connection between any of them, other than that they were all lacking anything that might have been in their pockets previously, except for a used tissue and a pack of cigarettes with accompanying lighter.  This was immediately put to use by the man called Charles, who took a long drag and muttered, “Apparently, we’ve been robbed.  Well, at least we’ve still got fire.”

Solomon looked around at the cold stone walls and wondered what good a fire would do them here.  Perhaps if they had something to burn, they might have a comfort at night.  “Well, I suppose we’d better be making our way to the police,” he said, without confidence, as he peered down the seemingly interminable alley.  He looked both ways and then picked one at random, following it steadily for about ten minutes before doubting himself.  The others followed him for lack of any excuse to do otherwise.  He stopped in his tracks and looked back.  The way they had come stretched out indefinitely behind them, but the way before them was unchanged.  They might easily have remained in their original position, by all appearances, except for the fact that they knew that they had moved.  Solomon ran his fingers through his hair and said to himself, “Man, what a long alley.”  They continued for a few minutes more, accelerating a little with every passing minute.  When the end of the alley continued to elude them, they broke into a trot.  The trot became a run, and the run developed into a mad dash.  When Solomon finally could run no further, he stopped dead in his tracks and panted, staring down the hellishly interminable lane.  He looked back and found that he had lost his friends.  The insanity of the imprisonment seemed so much the worse without companionship that he panicked and ran back the way he had come, until he reached Charles and Mary, who had given up the chase before him.

Mary sat against the wall and hugged her knees.  Charles smoked another cigarette and gazed down the alley.  Solomon kept looking up at the sky, with the sun now out of sight, wondering if there might be some way to climb over the wall.

“Listen, man,” said Charles, irritably, “This blasted hall can’t go on forever.  Everything has an end.”  He paused to think about it, glanced up and then reconsidered.  “No way, man, we didn’t just get taken into some parallel universe.  This thing has an end, and we’re going to find it.”

“Are you sure we’re not just dreaming the whole thing?” asked Mary.

“You want me to kick some sense into you?” barked Charles, coldly, “I’m not dreaming, and neither are you.”

They continued on down the way between the walls for the rest of the day, until the light faded into dusk, and then the real fear began to set in.  Charles burned through the rest of his cigarettes for the sole joy of having a flame.  Solomon sat staring at the stars, comforting himself with the one opening to their prison.  Mary sat with her back to the wall and cried herself to sleep.

“You know,” mused Charles, “We’ve been marching down this alley all stinking day.  We must have come several miles, yet.  We’ve encountered neither corner nor door, so we can rule out the possibility that either wall surrounds some other area, which means that this probably isn’t the space between two properties, and those aren’t just walls at the edge of someone’s estate.  We’ve been doing the only thing we know, which is to follow this thing in one direction, in some hope of reaching the end.  I figure this is probably a canal of some kind, which means that the top of the wall is actually at ground level.  Otherwise, I can’t see any reason to build two such long walls.  I mean, sooner or later someone’s going to want to cross from one side to the other.  There’s got to be a bridge, or a tunnel or something, eventually.”

Solomon kept looking at the stars.  Cool air drifted down to him from above, which was about the only comfort to be found in that otherwise comfortless place.  At least he had fresh air.  At least he could see an opening above him, if nothing else.  He stood to his feet and called out to the opening above.  Nothing answered him.

Charles rebuked him, saying, “Save it, man.  No one hears you, alright?  Now, I have an idea.  Just wait here.  Don’t move until I get back.”  Then, he walked off into the darkness.

Solomon sat down next to Mary, attempting to comfort her as best he could, which wasn’t very much.  They passed a long sleepless night together, with no event except the movement of the stars and Solomon’s occasional calling out to them.  If they had been in a pit, then their circumstances might not have seemed as dire, but this interminable hall gave it just a devilish enough intrigue to make the place unbearable.  At least a pit was normal.  This was something out of Hell.

In the morning, Solomon and Mary started walking down the alley again, wondering constantly whether they were moving forward, or whether hey were merely retracing their steps.  He resolved not to make the mistake again.  Charles had not returned.  The passageway had swallowed him up with sheer distance.  Somehow or other, he would reach an end, and so would they, if they just continued on.  When darkness fell that night, Solomon removed his shoe and placed in on the ground, pointing in their direction of travel.  At least, if they needed several day’s journey, they would be traveling in the same direction each day and not undoing the previous day’s work.  They spent the night without conversation.  Whatever her thoughts on the matter, she wasn’t sharing.  By the third day, he knew that they would perish without food and water.  Somewhere in this waterless canal, there must be at least a puddle, or they were sure to die.  Mary was an inconsolable wreck.  He had to urge her every step of the way.  When at last they reached a stand of water in their way, probably a slightly low spot in the dry channel, he fell to his face and sucked at what little was there.  To continue this journey might be death of dehydration, but if they remained where they were, they were also doomed.  Forward was the most hopeful thing in the universe.  They stayed at the puddle for an hour longer, and then they continued.

In the distance, barely seen in the darkening dusk, they perceived the figure of a man walking.  Solomon ran toward him, and when the man heard him, he also began to run.  The other man was the first to stop running.  It wasn’t until the other man fell to his knees and roared with agony at the top of his voice that Solomon realized whom he was running at.  It was Charles, finally returning to them after so much time.  He trotted the remaining distance and called to him, “Charles!  You came back!  What’s wrong, man, did you reach the end?”

Charles wept like a baby and said through his tears, “Shut up, you fool!  I didn’t come back!  I didn’t come back, you ass!”

Solomon ignored the slight and inquired, “What do you mean, you didn’t come back?”

“Don’t you get it?” Charles cried, “I went full circle!  I’ve been walking nonstop since I left you people!  This thing is just one great big circle!  There’s no end!  There’s no way out!”  He gasped for breath, “It took me two days to get around it.  If I went two miles per hour, then it must have been ninety-six miles around.  But, wait!  You were travelling in the other direction!  That means it could be even twice that!  What hole have we fallen into?  This isn’t a channel!  This is like a moat around some gargantuan castle!”

After much hugging and weeping, they decided that their best option was to retreat back to the puddle, where at least they had water.  That night, Charles slept like a log, while Solomon lay awake, staring at the sky, hallucinating frequently of people looking down at them.  Once, he thought for sure that a man poked his head out from above them, and he leapt to his feet and yelled at the face until Charles knocked his legs out from under him and told him to shut up.

The next morning, they sat around the puddle and stared at their respective sources of comfort.  Charles stared at the flame of his lighter.  Solomon stared at the open sky, and Mary stared at the back of her eyelids.  Charles was the first to speak, “Well, at least there’s some comfort in knowing that this isn’t a passageway that goes on forever in both directions.  If it’s a circle, then it might as well be a pit.  We’ve been in a very large pit, wandering its outer edge.  There’s nothing too diabolical about that.”

Solomon found no comfort in the thought.  Knowing the limits of his enclosure only heightened his fear, because that meant that there was no way out.  Charles might have been comforted by the taming of its magic, but Solomon was terrified at the setting of its outer limit.  He would have preferred a magical hall with no end, because at least in magic there was some hope of something totally unexpected happening and providing a way out.  For a while, he even argued that it really was a magic hall, and that it really was straight.  He imagined that the magic had caused Charles to reverse directions, or to come back from the other end without actually travelling in a circle.  In the end, though, Charles’ rationality won out.  Yet, there still stood the matter of getting out.  Charles, forever the thinker, worked on various means of escape, such as climbing on each other’s shoulders, climbing the stones, or using a belt buckle to carve a hole.  In the end, though, they were not tall enough to scale it, the masonry was too smooth to climb, and the belt buckle idea, though theoretically possible, would take more days than they could survive.  Even at that, if they were in a circle with no bridge over them, then they might accidentally find themselves inside of the circle with not one but two walls between them and freedom.

Solomon continued to shout at the stars, and Charles continued to yell at him to stop.  “No one hears you, okay?”

“Someone might eventually hear me,” Solomon argued.

“What’s going to make that happen?  No one has heard you yet, and you have no reason to expect that to change.  The stars can’t hear you.  Walk a few feet down the way and scream, and if that doesn’t work, then walk a few feet more and do it again.  Eventually, I’ll be rid of you, and maybe I’ll be able to spend my last days in peace!”

The irony of the situation was that while Charles had brought the hall down from the mysterious to the understandable, he had brought the outer world from the understandable to something rather mysterious.  There was no explanation as to how a trench, or hall, could follow such a huge circle without impacting the lives of other people.  There was no reason it should even exist, and there was no reason why anyone should make it.  Nevertheless, there really was no sign of interference from without, and there was almost no reason to believe that the pit was made by humans, except that it did not likely make itself.  Solomon, however, who had originally clung to the idea of a mysterious hallway, was the last to give up on hope for outside help.  Someone had obviously made the pit, or hall, which meant that human civilization was not only near, but the passage was actually a part of that civilization, somehow.  The walls were built by people, therefore there was a chance of meeting more people.

Solomon and Charles argued about the matter until Mary burst out with her first words in more than two days, “Shut up!  Just shut up!  Keep your beliefs to yourselves.  You want to climb the wall and save yourself, then do it.  You want someone to climb down from the wall and save you, then let them.  Just stop talking about it!”  Then she closed her eyes, plugged her ears and imagined herself in a happier place.

So Solomon continued down the hall, shouting every so often for help from above, to people that he could not see.  It was the only chance for hope.  He wasn’t content to make the best of his short life in the pit.  He wasn’t content with imagining it all away.  If someone outside didn’t hear his cries, then there was no hope, but if he did not cry out, then there never could be hope.  Several times, he hallucinated that people were looking down on him.  With time, he began to imagine even wilder things than people looking down on him.  Then, startlingly, a voice called down to him, saying, “Hello, now how did you get down there?”  He looked up at the smiling ruddy round face at a man, and for a moment, the real thing seemed stranger than the hallucinations ever were.  He stared transfixed at the stranger before he could mumble something only halfway intelligible in return.  When he finally came to grips with the reality of the situation, he wanted to run back and get the others, but then the stranger might go away, and Solomon might not find the spot again.  When the face did disappear, he sat down, afraid to leave the spot, which was rewarded nearly an hour later by the lowering of a very tall ladder.

“Sorry it took so long,” said the jolly man, “but the shed is some distance from here and I had a dandy of a time finding a ladder.”

Solomon scaled the ladder quickly, afraid that the dream might fade.  At the top, he discovered that the passage was a deep trench.  Some distance away was a small building, and the surrounding terrain was quite flat.

“You’re lucky I came by when I did.  They’re closing down the place, and I was the last to leave.  They dug this monstrosity to be an atom smasher, only the funding got cut before it was finished.  They gutted the workings and sold it as scrap, but there’s no money in filling holes, so they left it.  I can’t imagine what you were doing in there,” said the rescuer.

“An atom smasher?” Solomon wondered.  Suddenly, it was all making a little more sense.  The pit contained a massive circle of piping for shooting subatomic particles in a circle, faster and faster, in an attempt at breaking them apart and discovering the origins of the universe.  People had quit trying to reach beyond the universe to the one who made it, preferring instead to live and die within it.  The flat earth with mysterious limits had become a circular prison devoid of mystery, and the ones who shattered the mystery devoted themselves to abolishing any mystery that they could not shatter.  It did not continue in all directions, but it went in a circle.  There was no point in calling for help from the outside, because no one had heard, and no one would ever hear.

While some people, like Charles, tried to defeat the mystery understood by Solomon, others, like Mary, tried to defeat the prison created by people like Charles, preferring instead to take refuge in the ever subjective philosophy of their own imaginations.  If Solomon was pre-modern, Charles was modern and Mary was postmodern.  Charles, at least, had a great deal of understanding the nature of the confinement.  Solomon understood the nature of his salvation.  Mary feared all understanding, and therefore she had none.  In the end, only the wisdom of Solomon could save them.

Perhaps, then, Solomon outlived his first mistake by living up to his name in the end.

[/fiction]





Sodomy Versus Intelligent Design

26 07 2010

There’s a proper tool for everything, and there’s a proper use for every tool.

In the field of microbiology we use a special membrane filter made from nitrocellulose, a highly flammable paper made from ordinary paper, sulfuric acid, nitric acid and heat.  This produces a few minutes of expensive entertainment, as it bursts into an impressive fireball over a Bunsen burner.  Unfortunately, this piece of flash paper is not produced for the thrill of pyromaniacs, but for the dull purpose of capturing and growing bacteria.  Once it gets wet, it isn’t nearly as fun to burn.

The slim smooth paper filter is very carefully made at the factory to ensure that its pores are just small enough to capture the bacteria, while letting liquids and growth media through.  Now, one might imagine it to be something like sifting marbles out of sand with wire mesh, but this is entirely inaccurate.  On a microscopic level, it more closely resembles a sponge.  The bacteria get trapped inside of it, among the labyrinth of fibers.  The filter can then be placed upon agar, and the growth medium can seep up into this sponge-like matrix and surround the microorganisms, keeping them wet and well-fed.  Had they been trapped on the upper surface, like fish in a net, the medium would never reach them, and they would die of dessication.  Life on top of the filter would be like life on the moon.

Getting the nitrocellulose filter to the right porosity requires a method that borders on insane ingenuity.  One liquid is first dissolved in another, and then the paper fibers are added.  Next, the liquid solution is very carefully dried in a tightly controlled environment.  One liquid evaporates faster than the other, which means that their relative concentrations gradually change.  Eventually, one liquid will become too concentrated to remain dissolved within the other, and it will fall out of solution, forming microscopic droplets suspended homogeneously.  The paper fibers, which are also floating in the mix, are pushed out of the way of these suspended droplets, as the droplets continue to grow.  When the droplets reach the desired size, both liquids are removed, and the paper fibers settle and stick together.  Between the fibers are empty spaces left by the droplets.  Hence, on a microscopic level, the paper is like a sponge, full of air bubbles.  The bacteria wander into it, where they become trapped.

Now, the nitrocellulose filter is perfect for capturing microorganisms meant to be grown on agar, but if one wants to wash them back off of the filter in order to burst them open and study their DNA, then one has a problem.  They do not easily wash off, because they are embedded snugly within it.  Therefore the polycarbonate filter was invented.  This type of filter is essentially a very thin piece of plastic with precise holes bored into it.  To do this, the manufacturers expose the plastic film to nuclear radiation for a precise length of time.  The radiation particles punch tiny holes into the surface, which are then etched to a larger size by soaking the membrane in a strong acid for an exact length of time.  On a microscopic level, it looks like a sheet of plastic that someone attacked with a hole puncher.  The bacteria are filtered out, and they stay on the surface of the filter, because they are too enormous to fit into the holes.  This makes for an easy task of washing them off of the filter to be studied by other methods.

Now, the proper use of each filter is well-established.  Each was very carefully designed for a very precise purpose.  Yet, for the sake of convenience, there are those in the field of microbiology who are, at this moment, attempting to show that the nitrocellulose filter can be used in the same way as the polycarbonate filter.  The wrong filter is easier to handle and easier to come by.  They believe that they can wash the bacteria off of the filter and out of the filter, to the extent that they could count the organisms accurately.  Somehow, I suppose they might just manage to make the data support this idea, if only by dogged determination.  By their reasoning, the key to making a nitrocellulose filter work just as well as a polycarbonate filter for this purpose is to, literally, beat it harder.

One might imagine someone attempting to prove that a wrench could be used to pound nails into wood just as effectively as one might use a hammer.  With enough care, practice and force, they might even produce data to show that it is possible.  Yet, no matter how possible this may be, nothing can overcome the fact that they use the wrong tool for their purposes.  A man using a hammer to hit a nail has his own purpose for the hammer, but the man who made the hammer also had a purpose for the hammer.  When these two purposes are not the same purpose, then the tool is being misused.  No matter how well a wrench serves the purpose of a hammer, it simply was not made to be one.  No science can overthrow the intention of the one who made it.  Likewise, the scientist who attempts to use the sponge-like nitrocellulose filter in place the sieve-like polycarbonate filter may be able to prove that his tool works, and it may work well enough if he beats it hard enough, but it will always be a misuse of the tool, no matter what his data means to him.

If the matter had been about using one rock over another, then there would be no such misuse.  The rock was not made by anyone for any purpose.  Its purpose is given to it by the one who picks it up and strikes a nail with it.  One rock might happen to be better than another for this purpose, but this is nothing like the difference between the hammer and the wrench, because, unlike the rocks, the tools have an intelligent design.

Now, the Darwinists, who, like the microbiologists mentioned, believe themselves to be wholly rational beings, free of bias, would say that the human body is without an intelligent design.  This means that its misuse is entirely impossible, like the misuse of a rock is impossible.  The circumstance of misuse only arises from the difference in the user’s purpose from the creator’s purpose.  If there is no creator, then there is no created purpose.  To this, we apply the subject of the human orifice.  Logically, the body should be full of various holes and invaginations, so that the lucky few that do happen to promote the furtherance of the species may continue, while the others, at least, do no harm.  In that case, the rectum might be equally suited for sex, if so wished, as it is for defecation.  If it has no created purpose, then it cannot possibly be misused.

However, of all of the various pores and openings within the human body, every single one of them serves a purpose.  Not one has been found without a purpose.  While the Darwinist would say that a hundred arrows were shot blindly through the air, and a few managed to hit the target, what we see is the aim of a marksman, with every arrow hitting the mark.  There are no unclaimed orifices waiting to be designated a role by the perverse human whim.  The saber-tooth tiger didn’t target cavemen who happened to have an extra navel.  The pioneers didn’t have more trouble escaping the appetites of grizzly bears if they, the people, happened to have an extra deep dimple in the middle of the abdomen.  Natural selection couldn’t care if you look like Swiss cheese, so long as you can still run, fight and reproduce.

One opening in particular, the anus and its associated rectum, serve a very delicate, if dirty, purpose.  When the rectum is stretched by the presence of fecal matter, it signals the need to eliminate waste.  The descending colon prepares for discharge, and the action may even take place involuntarily if the offending irritant is not reversed by sheer will.  Now, some would have us believe that the use of this organ is as flexible and open to interpretation as the use of a rock, having no deliberate design.  Consequently, the rectum can become injured and permanently stretched, resulting in a lifetime of incontinence.  The signal to defecate is permanently activated by the ruined device.

Had we not believed in the intelligent design of living organisms, we could not say that any organ was necessarily meant for any particular purpose, much to the delight of those who would invent their own uses.  The rectum would eventually evolve into a womb, and we would be obligated to discharge our feces from our mouths.  This, for many, would be an improvement over current circumstances.  But while the Darwinist is mentoring future generations to spout crap from their mouths, I’d prefer to make the observation that organs are tools, just as a hammer and a wrench are tools.  They serve a purpose, which is part of their design.  One was made for one purpose, and another was made for a different purpose.  In making this rather obvious assertion, we simultaneously draw two conclusions: there was an intelligent designer (otherwise there could be no cross-purposes), and misuse of an organ is not of equal value to its proper use.

What this means is that neither homosexuality nor any other sodomy are even remotely comparable to real sex.  They deserve no comparable treatment, and they merit no legitimacy.  One way is right, and the other uses, while creative, are merely misuses.  One way fulfills the body’s intended use, while all others, while useful to the purpose of the owner, are just a misuse.

What this also means is that there is a God who intended for the body to be used in a certain way.  How he feels about the misuse is a matter of theology.  Whether or not we care about how God feels is a matter of religion.  But, whether or not there was an intended use for the thing remains a matter of physical, empirical, truth.  Some would flaunt the intentions of God, forgetting that this is the same one who designed the food chain, not the person who designed your teddy bear.

As with the matter of the filters, no convenience is too small to bias a scientist to find a way to “prove” whatever he wants to prove.  As with the hammer, you could use a hamster in its place if you simply pound it harder, but it will never be the proper use of the proper tool.

And as with the rectum, you may invent whatever uses you will for it, the thing has only one legitimate use.  Don’t expect me to applaud you and give you wedding gifts when you use it for another, even if you think it effective.





Overt Belief with Covert Unbelief

2 05 2010

“I really, truly believe,” is ironically a statement of unbelief.  Sometimes a statement of faith such as this includes a few more really-trulies just to make it sound all the more emphatic.  The more emphasis it receives, the more certain one can be that the person does not really believe it.  Let alone, the statement, “I believe,” is, itself, a statement of unbelief, contrary to what its intended meaning may be.  The fact is simply that people who say this are usually trying very hard to believe, an act that we generally call make-believe.  This, in itself, implies that the person does not actually believe, otherwise the poor soul would not have to try so hard.

The phrase, “I think,” sounds less emphatic, but it actually suggests that the person saying it is not trying so hard to make himself believe it.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the person who says he thinks God will answer his prayer is not only more confident, but also more honest about his faith in God and prayer.  In a sense, this is counter-intuitive, being that we regard the phrase, “I think,” as a statement of uncertainty.  What we might overlook is that while the person suggests that he is somewhat uncertain about a thing, what it also means is that he is somewhat certain about that thing.  The person who says, “I truly believe,” leaves no room for honest doubt, and in so doing he leaves no room for honest belief.

The phrase, “I know,” is stronger, but people who are confident in their knowledge don’t really say it, as counter-intuitive as this sounds.  When someone really knows something to be true, they don’t preface the statement with anything at all. For example, consider the following statement:

God exists, and he created the world and all that is in it.

This is a statement of faith in its strongest form.  It assumes the matter to be settled.  “I know,” implies that you don’t know, or that someone else might disagree.  Being that I feel no need to heed the ignorance of others, and I do not feel inclined to defer to your own unbelief, I simply state that “this is such,” and leave it at that.  I say it this way, because no matter what you or anyone else may think, the matter is settled, and though I care enough to set you straight, I do not apologize for being right.

What it comes down to is that there exists, for every person, an overt belief, the thing that the person wants to believe that he believes, and the covert belief, the thing that a person really believes but may not want to admit.

21Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered.22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

24Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  (Mark 9:21-24)

If you do believe, then why do you need to overcome your unbelief?  It is because the man who says, “I believe,” does not believe.

Faith is something that we all wrestle with.  No one is exempt.  Even the Evolutionist struggles to believe.  I encountered an argument by one individual who said that Intelligent Design could not be peer-reviewed, and therefore should not be treated as scientific.  The implication is that a well-derived lie is better than truth, because we came by the lie systematically.  He could not argue directly against the truth of Intelligent Design, so he took the circuitous route of explaining why it was, “unscientific,” avoiding whether or not it was true.  When an Evolutionist loses the argument on rational grounds, he takes to mocking and assaulting the one who opposes him, by way of an ad hominem attack.  He belittles the opponent and makes the poor victim look silly, because he does not have the mental strength to defeat the argument, itself.  Much as such a verbal melee has the feel of strength, it belies an inner weakness.  The overt belief of the individual is that the human eyeball has all the design of a lump of clay, but the covert belief, the one that he is not willing to admit, is that the eyeball has an undeniable design.  The fact is that all life is loaded with marvelous design, and one would have to struggle hard to find an area of the organism which demonstrates a lack of design.  Even disorders are suggestive of a missing order, which implies that the thing was originally intended for better.

In the event that they cannot overcome this obstacle, they take a circuitous route, arguing something else, anything other than whether or not life demonstrates a design and, hence, a designer.  They call it religious dogma.  They claim that it cannot be tested with science.  They say that it cannot be peer reviewed.  They accuse the believers of wanting to believe in a God, in the hope that he might grant life after death.  They marginalize us, by assigning us a minority status, appealing to the fallacy of ad populem (if everyone else seems to believe it, then it must be true).  They appeal to authority, another damnable fallacy, saying that all scientists believe in Evolution; any scientist who doesn’t is not a real scientist, or doesn’t have enough education or experience.  All of this is a runaround to avoid the real issue.  The issue is not who supports the idea, or what system accommodates it.  The only issue at stake is whether or not the idea is really true. Any tangential argument, no matter how strong, evades the issue and demonstrates a covert weakness.  Anyone who cannot face the matter head-on does not really believe what they say they believe.  Deep down at the place where the conscious mind makes transition to the unconscious, in that darkest part, there lies the hidden fact that a person knows what they deem to be an unacceptable truth.

In truth, Intelligent Design has been studied by science for years.  It has been peer-reviewed and well-published.  When a scientist studies the function of any organ, or the functionality of any organism, or, for that matter, dysfunction, that scientist is studying the design of the thing and how it works.  It would be a very different matter to study the erosion of a rock.  No one asks how the crack in a rock works, because it doesn’t work.  It’s just a crack.  Anything that is designed a certain way to fulfill a certain function demonstrates its intelligent design.  Anyone who seeks to understand that design or function is a scientist who studies Intelligent Design, even if unwittingly.

In any biology journal article, one might read speculation as to why a thing “evolved” a certain way.  In truth, one might just as easily replace these statements with speculation as to why a thing was “designed” a certain way.  In doing so, no real scientific understanding would be lost, and the writing would be more coherent.

In the sense of statements of belief that really indicate unbelief, one classic example is the debater who puts his hands behind his head and leans back in his chair.  You get double points if he puts his feet up on the desk.  As much as it looks like a show of confidence, it’s really the body language of defeat.  I was arguing the matter of Creationism with a fellow, when he assumed this posture, along with an increasing loudness in his voice (another sign of weakness), and I knew that the argument was over.  I had won.  He would never admit that I had won, but I knew that while he overtly believed in Evolution, his covert unbelief had gotten the better of him.

What it all comes down to is that while you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink.  You can defeat a lazy Darwinist, but you can’t make him accept Creationism.  You can’t even make him admit defeat.  The more you prod at what he really knows to be true, the more adamant he will become in his efforts to silence you, discredit you, keep you out of the schools and keep you out of the textbooks.  This is why I think that prolonged debate with such people is worse than futile.  When I write, I do not write to those who refuse to accept the obvious truth that all life has intelligent design.  Instead, I write to commit to solidarity with those who willingly stand against today’s popular myth.

Every age has had its popular myth, and there have always been those who stood against it.  Evolution is just the myth or our time, and we are that opposition.





How to Carbonize a Textbook

27 02 2010

So much rests on the position of the coal layer in geologic time.  They call it the “Carboniferous” period from several million years ago.  They should be calling it the Prevaricaceous period.  What they taught us when we were kids, and what they’re still teaching your kids, is that a layer of coal formed under the earth as a result of trees and bushes getting buried, whence they decomposed for millions of years in the absence of organisms that could break them down properly.  This is the fiction told in your reliable textbooks, as well as on the more serious references found on the Internet.  What they don’t tell you is that there is no known chemical process for this to happen as described.  More importantly, though, I need to address the fact that this theory was completely debunked almost two decades ago when an honest scientist, one of the few remaining on Earth, discovered that a substantial layer of coal was created not over the course of millions of years, but in the course of a day.

It was a famous volcano known as Mount Saint Helens.  In 1980 this prominent peak blew its top and covered a large section of forest with mud and lava.  A few years was required before someone paid close enough attention to the geological stratification to discover a layer of coal that had been formed from the trees that once stood there.  The find was phenomenal.  Even such prominent periodicals as the National Geographic published news on the matter.  The problem with the discovery, though, was that it threatened to turn geological and paleontological dating on its head.  Normally, fossils could be dated by their proximity to a coal layer under the earth, where there was one.  Those found in and around that layer were presumed to be about as old as the layer, which, in principle, is not such a poor assumption.  Because coal was presumed to have formed from three hundred million years ago, the conclusion was that these fossils were about this age, also.  The implication that coal could be formed in a day by a single eruption destroyed the foundation upon which that age was determined.  The coal didn’t take that long to form, therefore it was not necessarily that old.

The process is called carbonization, and, unlike the theory fed to us in the hay trough of public education, this chemical process has been well known for centuries.  During combustion your log, or textbook, burns in two stages.  In the first stage, steam is released.  This process actually consumes energy, rather than release it.  When you first toss a piece of wood on a campfire, you might notice that it just sits there, at first, emitting a light-gray smoke.  That’s steam.  Eventually, when enough of that steam has been released, the second stage of combustion kicks in, producing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other smoke byproducts.  This is the step that actually releases heat, and it further drives the first step to completion.  Now, the steam that gets released is not simply the moisture residing in the wood.  The log could be perfectly rid of water yet release steam in the first step.  The water doesn’t even exist until it is formed in the first step.

So, to summarize the process of combustion, when enough heat is applied to a flammable substance it absorbs that heat and releases water.  It can do this in the absence of oxygen.  In the next step, it reacts with the air and produces a flame, heat, smoke, and all of the attributes that we normally associate with the process of burning.  The second step cannot happen in the absence of oxygen.  Therefore, what happens during a volcanic event is that the lava covers the forest, either directly or over a layer of mud, and the intense heat causes the first stage of combustion.  The second stage is thwarted, because the layer of molten rock prevents oxygen from getting to the wood.  What you’re left with is a material that burns hotter than wood, because it no longer has the first stage to absorb much of its heat.  In essence, while wood stores the energy of sunlight, coal stores the energy of that sunlight plus the energy of a volcano.

One notable point to consider is that carbonized wood, known as coal, is an activated carbon.  This means that it has a tendency to bind to toxic metals that would normally poison us.  Now, if coal could have been formed by simple decomposition over millions of years, then this would not be an issue.  However, the toxic metal known as mercury is normally derived by heating certain rocks until they produce mercury vapor, which must then be condensed into its liquid phase to be properly contained.  Lava, then, is nature’s way of extracting mercury from rock.  In this case, the active carbon layer is sandwiched under a heated rock that often contains mercury.  The result is that the coal absorbs this mercury, as well as some other toxic substances, which then give rise to environmentalist concerns about the burning of coal.  But that’s a different matter.

The process of incomplete combustion has been well known for years.  It was often used to make a highly flammable cloth, known as char, from cotton fabric.  People used this char as an easy way to cause a spark to generate a flame, which could then be used to start a fire for various useful purposes.  The only catch was that they had to use a fire to make the char if they needed the char to make a fire.  It’s easy to do, really.  If you wish to carbonize a paleontology textbook, all you really need is a steel container big enough to hold it.  The container should be able to close snugly enough to snuff a flame.  Make a hole in the top about the size of a pinprick, to allow the steam to escape.  Then toss the whole thing into a campfire and sing worship songs while you roast marshmallows.  Keep an eye on the container to make sure no flame forms over the pinhole.  Once the first combustion stage nears completion, the material emits flammable vapors that ignite just outside of the hole, causing a flame to appear.  Snuff the flame, if you can.  If the flame reappears immediately, then your textbook is nearly fully carbonized.  Be careful not to burn yourself when you remove it from the fire.  After it cools completely, you can open the container and remove its charred contents.  Upon first sight, it will look like a burned book.  Intuitively, a thing already burned is not flammable, but this is not the case.  The carbonized textbook is even more flammable than it was originally.

Now, the discovery at Mt. St. Helens was rightly perceived as a threat to paleontology.  This fact was published and publicly recognized, but somehow, between then and now, this notion was quietly swept under the rug.  It would be the same as if Edison had invented the light bulb, held a convention to celebrate it and then tossed it into storage to be forgotten.  Textbooks and notable web sites still tout the old theory as though it were undisputed.  This is not a mistake.  This is a blatant lie.  All of evolutionary history hinges on the age of the rocks in which the fossils are found, and not only is the age of coal no longer in the millions of years, but even the layers of rocks upon it are also called into question.  This means that all of the fossils found in and around these layers are also to be dated at an earlier, later or else unknown, date.

When I say that masters of knowledge, in this case scientists, are not to be trusted, I mean exactly that.  No evidence is damning enough to overturn a popular myth on its own.  No scientist can blow this apart.  He can nail his ninety-nine theses on the door of the scientific establishment, but if he is heard by none other than the establishment that he seeks to overthrow, then no reformation will take place.  In our age, our best hope is the pitting of one thought master against another, such as when a news agency investigates the turpitude of a scientific agency.  Then…maybe…the people will listen.  Unfortunately, the thought masters often work in concert.

For now, our texts will continue to tell fables, but at least we’ll have more kindling for our campfires.