Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Resolution for 2010: Make a Habit of Giving

I have a lot to be thankful for: I still have a job despite the poor economy, a loving family, living conditions that would seem luxurious to many in the world, and the ability to give something back to others less fortunate than myself.

Although I've contributed to a number of charitable causes over the years, it's been in a somewhat haphazard fashion. Getting organized is a popular New Year's resolution, and Dale McGowan's Foundation Beyond Belief provides a great way to do just that when it comes to charitable giving.

My wife and I will be setting up our monthly donation amount, and choosing how it will be distributed among the various organizations chosen by the foundation every quarter. We're looking forward to helping others in the new year and beyond, and we hope many others will join us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Enculturation ad Absurdum

In an effort to bridge the generation gap before that chasm of parent/child disconnection can yawn, I've conspired with those two repositories of human wisdom, the public library's DVD section and Netflix, to indoctrinate my own children with the videographic influences of my youth.

We'll achieve true familial bonding through a mutual understanding of all my oft uttered witty and profound pop culture references, from Gilligan to Godzilla (and be able to name the respective islands they inhabit, in true geek trivia fashion).

However, it has now come to my attention that that dirty David Malki ! (he even considers his own name an expletive, apparently), has channeled his Malkilevolent super powers through the intertubes to seize upon my most cherished beliefs, and mock them...thoroughly.

[glares up into the ethernets, with Colbertesque fist shaking]
Curse you, David Malki !! Why must you destroy my dreams with such awesome wit?

Strangely, I purchased a signed print of one of his illustrated jocularities as a Christmas gift to my dear wife. It would seem he not only has the ability to read minds, but control them as well...

Friday, June 26, 2009

He Moves in Mysterious Ways

If, as Isaiah 55:8-9 indicates, God's behavior and thoughts are far different from our own, then He presents a great mystery to human beings; all of which, believer and unbeliever alike, hobbled by their mere humanity, are equally unqualified to discuss the true nature of God.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Proposition 8: The Hypocrisy

With the recent decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, the fight for same-sex marriage continues. Some are now litigating the question of conflict between the California Constitution and the US Constitution in regard to equal rights. Others feel that this move is premature, and could worsen the situation for equal marriage rights should the US Supreme Court decide against them. Of course, the US Constitution has been interpreted over the years by the US Supreme Court to support "separate but equal" education for those of African descent, and then later to abolish that same institution as unconstitutional. What is or isn't legally permissible depends on the social and political climate of the time, and the views of the justices.

I'm going to have to restrain myself from shouting, "piss off, bigots!" and slamming the door the next time a pair of Mormon missionaries arrive on my doorstep. My irony meter goes off whenever I think of all the money the LDS church poured into Proposition 8, when they're the ones who refused to give up their own idea of proper (plural) marriage, even after being invaded by the US Army! Although, they later sacrificed their religious convictions in exchange for Utah's statehood (their prophet got a message from God that one of the core tenets of their faith was no longer necessary - a bit financially expedient, their god!).

It is difficult for me to understand the level of hypocrisy required for a minority group that prided itself on standing up to the US government for the sake of their own marriage rights, to actively participate in, and now gloat over, another minority group having theirs taken away by that same authority. And here I thought they'd learned some sort of lesson by finally admitting black men into the priesthood in the late 1970's. I think this had as much to do with the church being behind the times in regard to the US civil rights movement as it did with their desire to spread their religion into countries with dark-skinned inhabitants, to share their own brand of the "good news" and, of course, acquire more converts who tithe!

Having been baptized into the LDS church at a young age, during my parents' brief experiment with the Mormon religion, I am officially still a member. It's a rather involved and annoying process to have oneself removed from their rolls, which is one of the reasons I never bothered. I'm now bothered enough to bother; I cannot allow my name to continue to be associated with an institution that actively works to abrogate the civil rights of others who are perpetrating no genuine harm on that institution's members by exercising those rights.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Soulless it Seems

In regard to human consciousness, I consider myself a philosophical materialist: brains generate minds; minds are what brains do, with no other substance, concept, or mechanism needed to explain human thought processes. I think the evidence from neuroscience favors this view.

But what about dualism, the idea that there is more than the physical, the notion that the real you is your soul, and that your consciousness continues to exist even after your death? I think a computer CPU, with integrated RAM and a firmware operating system, is a good analogy for the human brain.*

* For those who aren't acquainted with the innards of computers: I'm talking about all the parts of a computer (the memory, information storage, and information processing) being completely fused together on one integrated, self-contained computer chip.

In the materialist view, the entire "self" is exclusively contained on that one chip. If a part of that chip fails, say, part of the RAM becomes corrupted, it's like suffering from Alzheimer's. That part of the self can never be restored; it is forever lost.

In the dualist view, the chip is a transceiver and physical projector of the non-material self (soul), which is transmitted over the ether(eal)net to the body. If part of the chip fails, the transmission and reception of information between the hardware body and the self becomes garbled, but the "true self" is still intact on a server somewhere.

Problems: we've never been able to find a method of transmission between the body and the soul, and no one has ever been able to provide good evidence for the existence of the heavenly server farm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moral Absolutes

Moral absolutes exist in a room with a Catholic, an Arminian, and a Calvinist each holding their bibles, all secure in the notion that the absolute truth contained in that book imparts to each of them the absolute certainty of the absolute morality of the fact that the other two are headed straight to hell.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Power(lessness) of Prayer

If God is omniscient and omnipotent, His plans are the only ones that matter, and so the prayers of mere human beings should not, and indeed can not, change the course of His divine and perfect will.

Prayers are for God the way funerals are for the deceased: they have no effect on the object of veneration.