Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Ultimate Answer to Life

In a fictional novel of the last century, pan-dimensional mice created a supercomputer, called Deep Thought. They asked it The Question:
'What is the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?'
The computer said it would think about it.. for 7 1/2 Million years, then finally returned The Answer:


This is the absurdist's view of philosophy. It is funny as a bit of self deprecating humor directed at philosophers who take themselves too seriously. but it implies there is NO answer, really, & that life has no meaning or purpose.

But other philosophers throughout the millennia have approached the subject with more reverence. They have boiled down the Fundamental Questions of Life into 4 basic queries: Origins, Meaning, Morality, Destiny.  These are The Big Ones. How, Why, What, & When. They are questions of matter, purpose, law, & time.

HOW did i (and everybody else) get here?
WHY are we here? Is there a purpose to our existence?
WHAT do we do? Are there rules for our existence?
WHEN we die, what happens? Is there a soul?

..there are four fundamental questions of life.. They boil down to this; origin, meaning, morality and destiny. 'How did I come into being? What brings life meaning? How do I know right from wrong? Where am I headed after I die?' ~Ravi Zacharias

Some philosophers have felt it necessary to prove we exist, first, before the other questions can be tackled. Descartes was one of those with his 'cogito ergo sum' conclusion. 'I think, therefore i am'. But since he settled the matter of our existence, we can now get on to the more basic task of answering the fundamental questions.

Personally, while i think '42' is a fine answer, it does a bit of a disservice to the philosophical community. It is ridiculing the question as irrelevant, which it certainly is not. Every human being that thinks has pondered these questions, or variations of them, at some point in their life, even if they avoid them most of the time.

I see 2 basic options for Origins:
1. All matter & life was created by an unknown being or beings: Supernatural Design.
2. All matter & life happened by accident, via an unknown natural processes: Natural Accident.

We try to use science & logic to decide which of these is the more likely, or what the evidence suggests, but nothing really works. Science cannot answer this. We cannot see or define any natural process that could have done it, so we are left ONLY with belief in either theory. Neither are subject to the scientific method.. they can't be repeated or observed. Oh, i know that there are many people who believe very strongly in a particular theory.  They claim science & truth. They dogmatically assert that a divine Being created everything from nothing, or they dogmatically assert that everything arranged itself by accident, through unknown processes. But neither has any provable evidence. Both theories are logically impossible. LIFE is impossible. The entire universe is impossible, yet here we are.

The naturalists like to ridicule the supernaturalists for believing in a 'sky fairy' or other unseen beings as the source of all things. But the naturalist's theory is equally absurd. Someone once summarized their hypothesis like this:
'The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.' 

Of the fundamental questions listed, Origins is the MOST BASIC of the questions, & the answer to this one affects all the others.

IF we are here by an accident of nature:
1. There is no purpose to our existence. 'Why' is meaningless.
2. There are no rules. Morality & law are inventions of our own minds.
3. There is no destiny. You die & cease to exist. As you were for eternity past, so you will be for eternity future.

IF we are here by Supernatural Design:
1. There might be a purpose. Why would such a Being do this?
2. There might be rules, from the Creator's view. Perhaps there are consequences to our words & deeds.
3. There might be life after death. We may have souls, & live beyond what we see here.

As you can see, there are completely different answers to the other fundamental questions, depending on the answer to the very first one: How.

That is why a person's view of Origins is the foundation upon which their entire world view is built upon. Most people are content to have a disjointed, hodge podge of irrational thought, faulty assumptions, and wrong answers to base their philosophy of life upon. But that is because the MOST BASIC QUESTION, our origins, is unknown by any of our natural senses. We have to start with a belief, & go from there.  There are other factors: mental, emotional, or spiritual that are not part of our natural sensory perceptions that figure in.

There is no empirical answer to our origins. There are no natural laws, or scientific explanations that can even make a decent guess as to HOW we came about. We are here. Descartes settled that for us. But HOW we came about remains a mystery, unanswerable by human reason & senses. If there is an answer to this question, reason & science cannot answer it.

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. ~Albert Einstein

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Ideal Society: Moral Values 2

A strong sense of morality is not necessarily dependent on religious values. There are many atheists among us who hold to strong moral views in society, and many religious theists who are immoral. IMO, that has more to do with upbringing. People who are raised with a strong sense of moral values tend to keep them, even if they lose the basis for it later in life. Some people will remember the proverb:
pr.22: 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Morality seems to be instilled in people from an early age, even if they reject the values later on. Many sociopaths were raised with strong moral values, & just rejected them. But their lives are in conflict, as interviews with them have shown. They may reason themselves into an amoral mindset, but there is something that nags them from within, that does not approve of their actions. Continued violation of this inner compass leads people down a dark path of anti-social behavior.

There also seems to be a common sense of 'right & wrong' throughout human culture & history. I have said before, that especially in matters of justice & interpersonal relationships, the rights to life & property are the 2 most basic rights of man, & are consistently valued in every culture. Societies & systems of governance that do not value the individual's life & property do not last long. The USSR is a recent example of that. On a global scale, nazi germany & imperial japan are others.

There are some common denominators of values that seem to be in the more successful cultures.
1. right to life (thou shalt not kill)
2. right to property (thou shalt not steal)
3. respect for honesty & trustworthy dealings with others
4. respect for elders & responsibility for family
5. sympathy for those less fortunate
6. fidelity in marriage
7. responsibility & accountability for actions
8. respect for sobriety, disdain for drunkenness

Some of these things are allowed 'indulgences' in some cultural lists. But the basic view is still negative. For example, if someone goes on a drunken binge, it is forgiven by society as long as they keep to the other morals, like responsibility & honesty. but if multiple transgressions are made, that person becomes a pariah, & is looked down upon by society. If the specific moral value is codified into law, the immoral person goes through the justice system.

When a culture is in decline, you see a slow eroding of these moral values. They are redefined as minor slip ups, or even completely changed to virtues. Orwellian language is used to revise morality into blatant immorality. The last ones to go are the first 2: Life & Property. They are the core values of a society, without which no society can function. Cultures centered around murder & thievery never last long, & are generally held in contempt by everyone. We do not see the pol pot regime as a role model for society, or other systems & movements that violate the Big Two.

In America, many of us have seen the slow deterioration of moral values. It became a social movement in the 60s, which sought to redefine & even eliminate any moral compass. God was rejected, & archaic religious views held in contempt. But the result has not been a positive for the culture. Instead of peace, love, & harmony, we have increased crime, bigotry, & hatred. Anti social behavior has increased steadily. The divorce rate has skyrocketed, & what was once considered taboo sexually is embraced as 'normal'. Lying & deception are accepted methods of communication, permeating our highest levels of bureaucracy. Elderly parents, & even children are tossed aside as wards of the state, instead of the personal responsibility of the individual. Sympathy for your fellow man is squelched, & 'the govt' has become the salve for conscience. Drunkenness & substance abuse is rampant, incapacitating many & adding to the state dependency rolls.

Even the Big Two, life & property are fading as esteemed values. Murder & theft are rampant, especially in the most amoral sectors of society: The welfare gulags. There the state & the state's religious values have permeated the culture, & even life & property are not respected.

Morality is the foundation upon which ALL our individual philosophy of life is built. It flavors ALL our actions, words, & interpersonal relationships. It is the basis for humanity. Without a clear sense of morality, no society can function.

We are locked in a downward spiral, & the corruption in govt is just a symptom. Unless there is a major awakening of the basic human values of morality, we will crash as a culture, & our legacy will be our own immorality. We will be just another failed society in human history. Prosperity & production cannot grow in moral anarchy. Those who will not or cannot see the correlation are deceived, & are complicit in the destruction of the culture.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Ideal Society: Work Ethic

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~Calvin Coolidge 

This is closely related to Morality, & cultures that have a strong work ethic view sloth as a 'sin'. Hard work & industry is considered a moral virtue. It also relates to other factors, especially relating to governance. Cultures that esteem industry & hard work also value efficiency, honesty, & community involvement. They tend to care for the weak or disabled, & have a strong sense of the collective.

A strong work ethic seems to be a trait that is brought out by natural selection. Cultures in temperate regions seem to have more industry & a stronger work ethic than those in tropical regions. It has been hypothesized that those in temperate climates have to work harder in the summer months to provide for themselves during the winter, so they develop this industrious work ethic as a method of survival. Or, you could say that any humans that were naturally idle were weeded out as unfit to survive in the rigors of a colder climate. But regardless of the 'how' a society becomes industrious, the end result seems to be that they value hard work as a virtue, & the cause & effect of it are clearly seen.

"Upon this subject, the habits of our whole species fall into three great classes---useful labour, useless labour and idleness. Of these the first only is meritorious; and to it all the products of labour rightfully belong; but the two latter, while they exist, are heavy pensioners upon the first, robbing it of a large portion of it's just rights. The only remedy for this is to, as far as possible, drive useless labour and idleness out of existence." ~Abraham Lincoln

One of the qualities of an industrious society is the disdain that the culture has for sloth & grifting as an avocation. Even public servants & bureaucrats in societies with strong work ethics tend to be harder working than their counterparts in cultures with weaker work ethics. The citizens who work hard to earn a living are less tolerant of moochers & con men who would exploit them. These people tend to organize govts that reflect their work ethic. If a people are industrious, they tend to get more efficient public servants. If a people are more laid back, the public servants tend to be more corrupt or lazy.

And inasmuch as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government. ~Abraham Lincoln

How can you build a strong work ethic in a society? Some of it seems to be genetic.. some people are born with more drive to work than others. But there are things a culture can do to encourage industry:
1. Reward labor, punish sloth. Do not make life 'easy' for anyone, but let the reality of life drive people.
“I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” ~Benjamin Franklin
2. Require immigrants from tropical regions to adopt the industrious culture they wish to join. Minimize the welfare state so that sloth is not encouraged.
3. Have minimal taxation for collective actions, so the worker can keep more of his labors. People will see the correlation between hard work, success, & prosperity. 'Tax the rich!' is a recipe for a lazy culture.
4. Discourage & punish corruption & grifting as a means of living. A work ethic is discouraged if con men prosper & multiply.

These may seem like small details, or just different points of view for political ideology, but they have MAJOR effects on a culture. Rewarding & encouraging sloth at any level deals a death blow to a culture's work ethic. If it is allowed to continue, it will kill society. Every prosperous & successful culture has had a strong work ethic that drove them.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Ideal Society: Morality

    Society is a collective of people, united by geography, religion, culture, race, ideology, and/or common purpose. Tribes, monarchies, parties, caliphates, democracies, republics; these are all examples of collective organizing that man has tried over the millennia to manage and build the ideal society. Govt, culture, people, & society are sometimes synonymous in this analysis. Human Government is an attempt to organize humanity into a functional, workable system of living & interdependence. The history of man is a record of the collective experiments that we have tried in order to build the ideal society.

There are many factors in outlining an ideal society. They interweave & correlate to each other so much it is difficult to look at one factor without seeing the others modifying & qualifying the whole. To understand the whole, it is good to examine the details. And to grasp the details, it is necessary to see the whole. This is an examination of one detail of an ideal society: Morality.

Morality & an agreed set of values is an essential part of any society. The decline of morals & increase of corruption has historically been one of the major indicators of the fall of a culture. So while it is clear that morality is important, the question of 'what' morality, its basis, & definitions become imperative.

"Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society." ~George Washington

Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." –William Penn

This is not a call for a specific religion, but a general observation that morality in a people is essential to a successful society. Morality, to function, MUST have a logical basis, or it is just opinions. You cannot teach morality without some kind of appeal to a higher power. Without a basis in religious values, morality becomes relative.. subject to the whims of the moment.

In the American experiment, Christianity & the bible were the main drivers of morality in this culture. As those influences have waned, the decline of morality & the increase of corruption have taken place. It is impossible NOT to see the correlation. As morality has declined, crime, corruption, & decadence has increased. Morality & social values used to be taught.. sometimes right from the bible, to the general public. People were taught morals, & the basis for the morals from an early age.

"The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other." ~Alexis de Tocqueville

“We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.” - James Madison

In the last 50-80 yrs, there has been a steady decline in moral values in America. Moral relativism has become the new basis for morality. The 'feeling' of the moment is the foundation of morality, which is no foundation at all. Expediency & convenience are bigger factors in questions of morality, rather than absolutes. This restructuring of morality has brought increases in negative elements for society:
1. Crime
2. Divorce
3. Abortion & unmarried childbirths
4. Public & corporate corruption & graft
5. Lies & deceptions increasing
6. Substance abuse
7. Suicides & increases in mental health disorders
8. Dependency over work ethic

The changes in cultural icons are also indicators of the changes in values. Science, engineering, & industry were highly esteemed by the culture as recently as the 50s & 60s. Kids got microscopes or encyclopedias for gifts. But we have seen a slow transition to other values. Sports & celebrity worship are bigger influences, & show a change of cultural values. Wealth & fame are valued more than honest work or bettering mankind. Scheming & grifting are accepted & even elevated as virtues.

"As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: You liberate a city by destroying it. Words are used to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests." ~Gore Vidal

What is the solution? You cannot 'legislate' morality. Something this crucial to human culture must have a basis from within. Spiritual, religious values must come from within, they cannot be mandated. It is a cultural dilemma that only the people can fix. Law can be mandated. Crime can be punished. Regulations can be made that are fair & promote industry, but truth & morality of a people can only come from the people. So unless there is a spiritual, moral awakening, a nation in decline only declines further. Without a moral anchor, society is tossed about in a sea of relativity until it shipwrecks on the rocks of crime & corruption.

“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well-administred; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administred for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Theory of Evolution: A False Equivalency

The Theory of Evolution is basically a logical problem. It is a False Equivalence. They argue that since living things change within their genetic parameters, that they also change outside of their genetic parameters. Since moths can be different colors, perhaps they can also become a different creature entirely. This concept is repeated over & over ad nauseum, until the concept seem not only plausible, but accepted as proven fact. But, as a scientific theory, it has NO evidentiary backup. It is a fantasy.. a sci fi movie that people have turned into a cult following. You cannot talk about evolution scientifically, without the discussion devolving into a heated religious discussion. Cries of 'Blasphemy!' are there with the dedicated followers of this sect. It is not science. Evolution is a religion.
My challenge remains. Show me ONE piece of evidence that proves that living things cannot just vary, but make a genetic leap into a different gene pool. For over 100 yrs, this has been asserted, claiming it happens so slowly, we just cannot see it, but in the fossil record it happened too quickly, & we missed it. This was a fine belief system for the 19th century, but science has 'evolved' a bit since then. Living organisms do not flit about, genetically, changing with every weather pattern, or developing new genes to adapt to conditions.
I am making NO religious arguments. Stick with science. Show me ONE bit of hard evidence... heck, i'm so desperate, i'll take FLACCID evidence! Give me ANYTHING that shows how living things can change in their basic DNA. Show me HOW the chimp ancestor went from 20 pair genomes (or whatever), to 24.. or to the human 23 chromosomes. There is absolutely NO evidence that this CAN happen, much less that is somehow DID happen, millions of years ago or yesterday. Scientifically, it is impossible. Yet the pseudo science babblers declare it as science, masking everything in a flurry of meaningless verbiage designed to obscure, not enlighten. It may fool gullible people who are impressed with words they don't understand, & give the appearance of scientific credibility because of that, but it is merely a jumble of obfuscation.. put together to say nothing. This is not scientific research, it is pseudo science gobbledy gook.
Do we observe increases in complexity in living things? No. We observe lateral, or horizontal movement in the genetic code.. millions of fruit flies beget more fruit flies. Mutations either are negative, or neutral. That is all we observe. But philosophers have EXTRAPOLATED this to mean that you can have vertical changes. They ASSUME that since there is variability, then that must mean there can be increases in complexity. But in thousands of years of breeding, scientific research, & applied genetics, we CANNOT make the leaps that macro evolution suggests. Evolutionists USED to believe that neanderthal was a separate species. Genetics has proved that ~ 2 Billion people today have neanderthal dna in them. They were merely types of humans, like pygmies or Eskimos. Reproductive isolation in a species results in LESS genetic variability. If macro evolution were true, you could not have reproductive isolation, because living things would constantly be 'upgrading' their genes.. evolving new material to adapt. But that is not what we observe or test. Living things do not adapt completely.. most of the time, they go extinct. They cannot adapt to major changes in their environment, so they die. The history of species & the fossil record shows us that we have less variability now that in the past. Variability is diminishing, not increasing. That is what we observe. This is contrary to the theory that life is constantly ADDING variability & increasing complexity.
Crocodiles & sharks are relatively unchanged from prehistoric times. They have not adapted, but merely survived. Many other species have not done this. They have gone extinct.

How much are YOU worth?

The value of my life is not made by me. I did not create myself. I did not will myself into existence, or ask to be born. I have worked my whole life, & have seen an increase as a result, but that does not define me. I have successfully (and enjoyably!) reproduced myself, & added to the glut of humanity on the planet. wink emoticon
But i cannot put a value on my life. That is for others to do, & that is my only legacy. IMO, that is the only measure of success of a human being. I will die unknown, unmourned, & forgotten by mankind, & even my own descendants will not know me in a few generations. As i was unknown for eternity past, so i will be unknown for eternity future. I hope for a joyful reunion with my Creator, in some state beyond the physical, but i have no knowledge of what, if anything, is before me. My life is not my own, but is a gift from the Creator. What He does with it is His business, but i am at peace leaving it with Him.
If i am mistaken.. if my senses & mind have deceived me & there is no purpose & no Creator, then nothing matters anyway, & everyone dies unknown, with no purpose, & forgotten. Eternity will drift on endlessly in the future darkness, & the blip of time that we were alive here was meaningless.
If there is a Creator, we have hope of purpose, meaning, & value as created souls. If there is not, we are all worthless, and nothing matters. Any value we have is completely in the eyes of the Creator. We have none, otherwise.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Global Warming

 It is clearly in the people's best interest to have concern about the quality of air & water. Polluters should be stopped, & those who poison the air & water for the rest of us should be punished for any law breaking.

But the AGW (global warming) proponents go beyond this, & claim co2 as a 'poison'. All kinds of apocalyptic scenarios are given why, if we don't stop immediately, the world will end. Cows with methane, must be stopped. ALL tractors & transportation should be immediately stopped, or the coastal cities will flood, as the ice caps melt. We will be plunged into a nuclear winter or a sauna canopy if we don't empower the environazis to stop all coal, oil, & wood burning.

I will present a few premises.. 
1. co2 is not a poison, but is necessary for plant growth. Even if you acknowledge some increases in global co2 levels (and the science on that is very suspect) you cannot correlate automatic global warming.
2. Mega volcanoes have a lot more, PROVABLE impact on climate than any man made postulates. Their impact is measurable, observable, & actual. Man made influences are computer models, with NO actual causal effects.
3. Earth temps are not actually 'known'. There is a lot of question as to the validity of some of the measurement stations, many of which are nearby massive urban areas. Of course they will measure more co2 & higher temps there, for the reason of proximity.  But extrapolating that to global impact is NOT proven science. Measurements in non urban areas are more random & unchanged.
4. Satellites have been able to measure the earth's temps for the last 33 yrs. That is only a blip in time, & hardly enough to predict any trends. But the little trend they do predict, is that for the last 18 of those years, there has been NO warming of the atmosphere.
5. Correlation does not imply causation. You have to specifically prove causation, with data & verifiable testing. Unfortunately, most of the data is extrapolated from assumptions about uniformity & projected back over millions of years.  This is speculation, not hard science.
6. When ALL the models of prediction over the last 20 yrs from the AGW preachers have been clearly false, one has reason to be skeptical of even more wild ass claims.
7. The solutions given are always political. More taxes. More govt growth. More power to govt. Mandates. Bans. Totalitarian control.
8. The dangers of population growth make AGW look like a hangnail. We can project REAL famine, war, & food shortages by very clear, real data of human population growth. So why do most agw proponents encourage massive breeding in 3rd world nations, or punishing responsible cultures by making them import hordes of overpopulating immigrants?
9. the measured increases in cities with concrete sinks have had minimal impact on global temps, even with the massive world increases in fossil fuel emissions. The data disputes the claims & the projections. AGW is not valid science, anymore, it is refuted. It has failed in the first prediction stage of the scientific method.
10. Cherry picked, agenda driven science & 'data collection' is not the scientific method. That is SAD.. science as decree. We can return to this kind of dark ages science, but humanity will be poorer (and more oppressed) for it.

 Can you 'predict' future data measurements based on this? Can you see any trends? Evidently, the AGW believers can! They can see beyond the next 1000 years, based on some data over a 30 yr period.  The data is limited.. there is certainly not enough to make wild predictions about global trends over millions of years.

Yet somehow, AGW prophets see visions of apocalyptic doom. Coastal cities flooding! Sauna like weather, massive inland floods from torrential downpours, thrusting the earth into a major climatic change... not in the timeline of billions of years, but next year! Maybe tomorrow! But if you give them silver, they can make it stop!      

“The bullying of citizens by means of dreads and fights has been going on since paleolithic times. Greenpeace fund-raisers on the subject of global warming are not much different than the tribal Wizards on the subject of lunar eclipses. 'Oh no, Night Wolf is eating the Moon Virgin. Give me silver and I will make him spit her out.”~P.J. O'Rourke

That is the 'scientific' method.  How do the AGW hysteriists do it?

1. Assert the premise: 'AGW is proven fact!'
B. cherry pick, manipulate, & falsify data to support the agenda.
4a. Conclusion: We're all going to die!!
D. Solution. Kill all the evil capitalists!
7. Wear a white coat & use scientific sounding language, & hopefully you can get a grant to continue this farce.

We are in a time of anti-science, where agenda trumps facts.