Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Coming out week: The Alpha and the Omega

Before I "met" Larry in this digital forum, I never really referred to myself openly as an atheist. In some senses, I still don’t, in that my identity as an atheist isn’t a big part of who I am as a person. I consider metaphysical musings to be trivial. While I enjoy such musings, much as I enjoy the intellectual wankery of amateur-hour policy wonkery, both hobbies really aren’t much more than a cognitive form of ego masturbation. Et la, I try not to let such an identity define me. It’s not that I think poorly of people who do choose to fight that fight – and I’ll jump in if I feel it’s warranted or amusing – but I simply can’t get worked up about something I don’t particularly care that much about.

Interacting with the people here in the forum Larry provides, however, made me see that this very attitude made it important to be forthright about my atheism. There exists in this world a very wide swath of people for whom adherence to the right kind of faith, or at least some kind of faith, in a God is felt to be crucial to participating in the larger community. George H.W. Bush and Joe Lieberman both stated publicly that atheists cannot be good people and should not be allowed to be citizens of a participatory democracy. Frequently, theists of all stripes ask how one can be good without God. I not so humbly contend that I am living proof that God is not necessary: I work day in and day out to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, making sure they are not denied access to their rights, medical care, education, and work. I do this for a relatively modest salary compared to what my personal ability and education make possible. I have always done thus, for no better reason than I felt that it was important to give to the community by helping people in need. I feel good doing good. How do I know my work is good? Because it has observable positive effects, and the people on the receiving end say so: just like anyone else.

Self-identifying as an atheist is important because there are theists dedicated to tearing down atheism and atheists. Men like Peter Berkowitz and Michael Novak have penned what amount to, even if they are beautifully written and highly intelligent, little more than hit pieces that prey on fear. The charge that one cannot be good if one is an atheist is a terrible accusation of monstrosity, equating atheists with sociopaths (and frequently sociopaths, like Hitler and Stalin, are equated with atheists in order to distance theists from their ilk): Atheists should fear the community, and the community should fear atheists.

I was not raised religious, never attending church despite my parents’ nominally Protestant upbringing. My mother never talks about religion, and seems to have lost faith around the time of her mother’s early death. My father maintains a quiet, personal faith in something resembling Spinoza’s god. I have never found a need for faith, and that lack is far more telling to me than absence of evidence (though I see none of that, either). At age twelve, at the height of my parents’ contentious divorce, in the throes of suicidal ideation, no faith appeared out of my despair. At the loss of my beloved grandfather when I was fourteen, I did not want to believe my grandfather was gone for good, but again simply found no need for a belief in the afterlife to console me; I had his writings, his gifts, my memories, and the parts of me I recognized as his teachings and influence to shelter my grief. Facing a life-threatening open-heart surgery at sixteen, again I felt no need to resort to prayer or faith to comfort my anxiety: things would play out as they would play out, and I had to trust in the skill of my doctors or not at all. I chose to trust my fellow man and here I remain today, twelve years later.

The one thing that keeps me sympathetic to the theist is the one or two nights a month where I remain awake, breaths coming shallow and rapid, a tight constriction in my chest. These are the nights where I contemplate the possibility of oblivion. Nothing terrifies me so much as the thought of my mind ceasing to exist. I can live with that terror or find solace in comforting belief; ultimately, because I have experienced no need in my life and no revelatory experience, and absent a childhood of gentle indoctrination, I do not turn to belief. I spend some nights afraid, and go on with my life.

One thing I don’t think most theists understand is that I would love to be wrong. I constantly search for reasons why I am wrong in my politics, in my lack of faith, in my morals, in everything. If I am wrong, I want to know; and being insecure as I often am, I must always deal with the uncertain feeling that I could be wrong about any given thing. If I trust to anything, it is my openness to this possibility and my constant search for contradictory information. Sometimes that leads to a changing of opinion. In terms of atheism, despite actively seeking out writers like Messrs. Berkowitz and Novak, C.S. Lewis, the Bible, Sikh and Hindu and Buddhist teachers, and so on, I have yet to find anything that convinces me. To say, for example, that Christians (one sect, all sects, whatever) are correct and I will experience Hell is a gamble I can live with because the consequence if I am wrong still means that my mind continues to exist. And so, Hell holds far less terror for me.

Given so many scriptures to choose from, it seems to me that the only acceptable answer lies in either a Hindu conception (thousands of gods, or one God with many faces) or a Unitarian one (vague Spinoza-esque God thing out there somewhere). I have never been able to reconcile the idea of a loving God requiring worship and belief. Love is not unconditional among humans, but either God is greater than we are – and so should have unconditioned love for all life (or contempt, or indifference; who are we to say?) – or God is no greater than Man, only more terrible and powerful. Just as I do not bow to those I don't respect, whatever their authority, and would struggle against a human tyrant, I cannot worship at the feet of the contradictory conceptions of the Abrahamic God.

Ultimately, I find that I am comfortable with a Mysterian position: there are some things that are simply too complex or ethereal for us to conceptualize or comprehend in our current form. As a student of history, if I have faith in any one thing, it is in man’s potential for further progression as a thinking, feeling creature, since that progress is amply demonstrated in the few millennia’s worth of information we have available to us. Maybe one day we will possess deeper insights into the nature of metaphysics. But it seems to me, as we grow more enmeshed with technology and our thought ascends past rudimentary tribalism into more complex forms, we have moved past the need for a God. Our growing technological interconnection moves us past the need for tribal cohesion. Teleology can be found in unity in leaving a better world for our children. Moral lessons and thought have progressed, allowing Scripture to pass into Literature (there is a reason why logos translates into both "god" and "word"), serving now the same educational function that mythology and folk lore does. Our incredible ability to learn and adapt leads to an expanding base of knowledge, allowing us to accept that there are things we don’t know but may one day, superseding the need for a supernatural explanation for events whose causes seem beyond our ken.

My atheism is, in the end, about confidence in the forward progression of our species and the positive effects we can choose to have. I am an atheist precisely because I am also a humanist. We are our own Alpha and Omega. I guess, in the end, my atheism informs who I am far more than I first thought when beginning this essay.


  1. "Nothing terrifies me so much as the thought of my mind ceasing to exist."

    If thought is an indication of a thinking mind, there's nothing in your wanker of a blog, or this maudlin memoir, to suggest that yours has yet entered into the state of being you desire.

  2. "Nothing terrifies me so much as the thought of my mind ceasing to exist."

    If thought is an indication of a thinking mind, there's nothing in your wanker of a blog, or this maudlin memoir, to suggest that yours has yet entered into the state of being you desire.

  3. I enjoyed your post, James. I'm feeling inspired to write something like it, beyond the autobiographical bits and pieces with which I've so far littered the comments sections of the blogosphere. What you've written might be subtitled The Hope and Testimony of a Humanist. Feel free to use that as the title of your upcoming Great American (insert literary genre here). =)

    Anonymous, and a few others I've met on the Net, could take a lesson in succinctness from Fred Sanford; it would save valuable electrons.

  4. Um, WTF? Why the internet asshattery, Anonymous? At least when I'm a dick, I sign my name to it. Coward.

    Steelman, thanks for the nice comment.

  5. I think "Perezoso" is Ruritanian for "coward".

  6. Funnily enough, just before reading this I had posted the following comment on Aphra Behn's interesting blog "Brief Candles":

    You ask: “How can morality have merit if it is merely a human artefact?” and “How can justice matter if the victims can neither know nor care?”

    I’ve never understood the ‘difficulty’ posed by these and similar questions. Morality and justice can and should matter to those of us who are alive in the here-and-now. They are indeed innately human concepts [the product of evolution?], but none the less real because there is no Sky Pixie handing out celestial brownie points in a future life.

    Far from finding this daunting, I experience it as a great comfort as my own end [extermination?] approaches. I can think of nothing better after death than a dreamless sleep instead of some celestial airport terminal. Meanwhile, it’s up to me - and you - to do our best while we’re still here to make the world a better place according to our inner lights. That’s what individual responsibility - which the religious duck so neatly - is about.

    See aphrabehn.wordpress.com

  7. Great post, very thoughtful, and I'm in sympathy with your Mysterian position, but a couple of things: maybe the reason why theists often mention Hitler and Stalin is that atheists often point to bad "religious" people (e.g. in an incoherent attempt to show faith to be incoherent). For an example I read recently, Prof. Grayling, writing about Faith in his first book of essays, read a lot into the existence of Cardinal Richelieu (whence the response of "look who's talking"). Dawkins is right that those who claim to have God's special help ought to behave better, but at best his argument shows only that a lot of religious doctrines do not, by themselves, convey moral blessings upon those who believe in them (assuming that the bad ones were not just lying about being believers, of course).

    Secondly the materialistic view might expect weapon-using social animals (who finessed their own evolution via competition within man-made environments) to place an irrational value upon loyalty to tribal doctrines, and indeed it hardly seems to care a great deal when it does so itself (e.g. favouring string-theorists in fundamental physics, or set-theorists in pure maths). On a point of logic (the ontic/epistemic distinction), you are not necessarily living proof that God is not necessary, since if God exists then it is likely that you are influenced by him (e.g. via your conscience).

  8. [M]aybe the reason why theists often mention Hitler and Stalin is that atheists often point to bad "religious" people (e.g. in an incoherent attempt to show faith to be incoherent).

    The comparison is inapt. Religion actually claims to support morality; that religious people are immoral is a valid evidentiary argument. Atheism by itself, on the other hand, is silent on the issue of morality; that atheists are immoral is therefore not a counterargument, any more than the immorality of atomic weapons is an argument against physics.

    [A]t best [Dawkins'] argument shows only that a lot of religious doctrines do not, by themselves, convey moral blessings upon those who believe in them.

    That's a pretty good best: Adherents of these doctrines specifically emphasize that the doctrines are necessary precisely because they do in fact convey moral blessings.

    Secondly the materialistic view might expect weapon-using social animals (who finessed their own evolution via competition within man-made environments) to place an irrational value upon loyalty to tribal doctrines.

    And that's exactly what we observe.

    On a point of logic (the ontic/epistemic distinction), you are not necessarily living proof that God is not necessary, since if God exists then it is likely that you are influenced by him (e.g. via your conscience).

    You're confusing necessity and possibility.

  9. [M]aybe the reason why theists often mention Hitler and Stalin is that atheists often point to bad "religious" people (e.g. in an incoherent attempt to show faith to be incoherent).

    The point is rather that Hitler and Stalin are selected erroneously: Neither was an avowed, self-identifying atheist. They were, however, monstrous sociopaths.

    As Larry points out, really, the sum lesson appears to be that, theist or atheist, we are all -- as a species -- capable of acts of profound kindness or unspeakable cruelty.

  10. The whole Hitler/Stalin/atheist thing is, like Pascal's Wager, wrong on so many levels, factual and logical, that it is purely a matter of taste on which level to focus criticism.

  11. James: The point may well be that Hitler and Stalin were not necessarily atheists, but then was Richelieu really a theist, or did he just say the right things to get on in life?

    Larry: My comparison was imperfect, but that does not make it inapt because an analogy that is perfect is not an analogy but an identity, whereas all higher thought is based upon analogies. And although religions claim to support morality, whilst atheism per se does not, an atheism that claims to be as good at supporting morality as the least political, the most theistic religions would necessarily be making such claims. And of course, in such debates atheists often point out that they belong to the latter group.

    Regarding your second point I agree, it is a pretty good best, and I communicate with Naturalists rather than Fundamentalists precisely because you are far more rational than they are... except when, for example, you assert that I'm confusing necessity and possibility without giving any reason for that assertion.

  12. Enigman: Your analogy was not only imperfect, but also inapt: The essential characteristic—moral beliefs entailing from a position on theism—does not carry over from one side of the analogy to the other.

    James' argument is not that atheism supports morality, his argument that one can be moral (for whatever reason) despite lack of belief in God.

    James does not argue that his moral behavior plus his lack of belief renders the existence of God impossible, but rather shows that belief in God is unnecessary.

    Ontological propositions under Metaphysical Naturalism are justified by necessity (in the sense contrasting with sufficiency) under simplicity: We must hypothesize X to create the simplest account for evidence Y. If X is unnecessary—i.e. if one can create a simpler or at least equally simple theory without X—the proposition "X exists" is unjustified.

  13. I agree that Richelieu could be considered inapt. Let us then insert Torquemada, or Bin Laden, or Rasputin. Need I go on? One must needs begin disowning all professed theists as liars when it comes to their faith, which is tenuous at best, or start engaging in a "No true Scotsman" defense, which is stupid.

  14. Larry, you say: "James does not argue that his moral behavior plus his lack of belief renders the existence of God impossible, but rather shows that belief in God is unnecessary." You're right, I confused those two (reading this post also helped me to see that), thanks!

  15. The Season of Generation- Choicemaker Joel 3:14 kjv

    The missing element in every human 'solution' is
    an accurate definition of the creature.

    In an effort to diminish the multiple and persistent
    dangers and abuses which have characterized the
    affairs of man in his every Age, and to assist in the
    requisite search for human identity, it is essential to
    perceive and specify that distinction which naturally
    and most uniquely defines the human being. Because
    definitions rule in the minds, behaviors, and institutions
    of men, we can be confident that delineating and com-
    municating that quality will assist the process of resolu-
    tion and the courageous ascension to which man is
    called. As Americans of the 21st Century, we are oblig-
    ed and privileged to join our forebears and participate
    in this continuing paradigm proclamation.

    "WHAT IS MAN...?" God asks - and answers:
    by James Fletcher Baxter (c) AD 2007

    The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
    others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Many
    problems in human experience are the result of false
    and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
    in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

    Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe.
    The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human
    reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the
    intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it
    perceives and measures values.

    Humanism makes man his own standard of measure.
    However, as with all measuring systems, a standard
    must be greater than the value measured. Based on
    preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal
    nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
    task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appe-
    tites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

    Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament,
    cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist
    lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or trans-
    cendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with
    foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lack-
    ing foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and
    is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, collectivism,
    averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an
    unworthy worship.

    The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
    a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
    foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behav-
    ior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
    validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcend-
    ent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philo-
    sophies and religions are man-made, humanism, and
    thereby lack what only the Bible has:

    1.Transcendent Criteria and
    2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

    The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival
    equipment for today and the future. Only the Creator,
    who made us in His own image, is qualified to define
    us accurately.

    Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
    nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
    Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
    characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
    foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
    spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
    ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

    At the sub-atomic level of the physical universe quantum
    physics indicates a multifarious gap or division in the
    causal chain; particles to which position cannot be
    assigned at all times, systems that pass from one energy
    state to another without manifestation in intermediate
    states, entities without mass, fields whose substance is
    as insubstantial as "a probability."

    Only statistical conglomerates pay tribute to
    deterministic forces. Singularities do not and are
    therefore random, unpredictable, mutant, and in this
    sense, uncaused. The finest contribution inanimate
    reality is capable of making toward choice, without its
    own selective agencies, is this continuing manifestation
    of opportunity as the pre-condition to choice it defers
    to the natural action of living forms.

    Biological science affirms that each level of life,
    single-cell to man himself, possesses attributes of
    sensitivity, discrimination, and selectivity, and in
    the exclusive and unique nature of each diversified
    life form.

    The survival and progression of life forms has all too
    often been dependent upon the ever-present undeterminative
    potential and appearance of one unique individual organism
    within the whole spectrum of a given life-form. Only the
    uniquely equipped individual organism is, like The Golden
    Wedge of Ophir, capable of traversing the causal gap to
    survival and progression. Mere reproductive determinacy
    would have rendered life forms incapable of such potential.

    Only a moving universe of opportunity plus choice enables
    the present reality.

    Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
    developed, and sensitive perception of variety. Thus
    aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
    ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
    Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
    itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

    Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
    his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
    that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
    ence intent on the development of perceptive
    awareness and the following acts of decision and
    choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
    him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
    making process and include the cognition of self,
    the utility of experience, the development of value-
    measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
    ation of civilization.

    The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
    customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
    his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
    creative process, is a choice-making process. His
    articles, constructs, and commodities, however
    marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
    atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
    highest expression of the creative process.

    Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
    significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
    fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
    forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
    ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
    natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
    bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
    singular and plural brow.

    Deterministic systems, ideological symbols of abdication
    by man from his natural role as earth's Choicemaker,
    inevitably degenerate into collectivism; the negation of
    singularity, they become a conglomerate plural-based
    system of measuring human value. Blunting an awareness
    of diversity, blurring alternatives, and limiting the
    selective creative process, they are self-relegated to
    a passive and circular regression.

    Tampering with man's selective nature endangers his
    survival for it would render him impotent and obsolete
    by denying the tools of variety, individuality,
    perception, criteria, selectivity, and progress.
    Coercive attempts produce revulsion, for such acts
    are contrary to an indeterminate nature and nature's
    indeterminate off-spring, man the Choicemaker.

    Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just
    begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator,
    The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever
    learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.
    The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates
    the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and
    delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect
    cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the
    criteria by which it perceives and measures values.

    Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria
    self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to
    decision-making for survival and progression. He is left,
    instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind-
    sight, including human institutions characterized by
    averages, mediocrity, and regression.

    Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric
    predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent
    criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive
    superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting
    winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires,
    appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere
    device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica-

    The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such
    instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The
    appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the
    point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re-
    strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our
    physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover-
    eignty of the mind and of the spirit.

    It remained, therefore, to the initiative of a personal
    and living Creator to traverse the human horizon and
    fill the vast void of human ignorance with an intelli-
    gent and definitive faith. Man is thus afforded the
    prime tool of the intellect - a Transcendent Standard
    by which he may measure values in experience, anticipate
    results, and make enlightened and visionary choices.

    Only the unique and superior God-man Person can deserved-
    ly displace the ego-person from his predicament and free
    the individual to measure values and choose in a more
    excellent way. That sublime Person was indicated in the
    words of the prophet Amos, "...said the Lord, Behold,
    I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel."
    Y'shua Mashiyach Jesus said, "If I be lifted up I will
    draw all men unto myself."

    As long as some choose to abdicate their personal reality
    and submit to the delusions of humanism, determinism, and
    collectivism, just so long will they be subject and re-
    acting only, to be tossed by every impulse emanating from
    others. Those who abdicate such reality may, in perfect
    justice, find themselves weighed in the balances of their
    own choosing.

    That human institution which is structured on the
    principle, "...all men are endowed by their Creator with
    ...Liberty...," is a system with its roots in the natural
    Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are
    necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and
    nature's God. Biblical principles are still today the
    foundation under Western Civilization and the American
    way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the
    present generation and the "multitudes in the valley of

    Let us proclaim it. Behold!
    The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV

    "I should think that if there is one thing that man has
    learned about himself it is that he is a creature of
    choice." Richard M. Weaver

    "Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and
    impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges
    his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts.
    What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he
    adjusts his behavior deliberately." Ludwig von Mises

    "To make any sense of the idea of morality, it must be
    presumed that the human being is responsible for his
    actions and responsibility cannot be understood apart
    from the presumption of freedom of choice."
    John Chamberlain

    "The advocate of liberty believes that it is complementary
    of the orderly laws of cause and effect, of probability
    and of chance, of which man is not completely informed.
    It is complementary of them because it rests in part upon
    the faith that each individual is endowed by his Creator
    with the power of individual choice."
    Wendell J. Brown

    "These examples demonstrate a basic truth -- that human
    dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals."
    Condoleeza Rice

    "Our Founding Fathers believed that we live in an ordered
    universe. They believed themselves to be a part of the
    universal order of things. Stated another way, they
    believed in God. They believed that every man must find
    his own place in a world where a place has been made for
    him. They sought independence for their nation but, more
    importantly, they sought freedom for individuals to think
    and act for themselves. They established a republic
    dedicated to one purpose above all others - the preserva-
    tion of individual liberty..." Ralph W. Husted

    "We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching
    that we can choose either to accept or reject the God
    who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the
    Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be
    equally free in our relationships with other men.
    Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer
    and social freedom for its completion." Edmund A. Opitz

    "Above all I see an ability to choose the better from the
    worse that has made possible life's progress."
    Charles Lindbergh

    "Freedom is the Right to Choose, the Right to create for
    oneself the alternatives of Choice. Without the possibil-
    ity of Choice, and the exercise of Choice, a man is not
    a man but a member, an instrument, a thing."
    Thomas Jefferson

    Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son
    of man that You visit him?" Psalm 8:4
    A: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against
    you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing
    and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and
    your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

    Q: "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
    Or the son of man, that you are mindful of him?" Psalm
    A: "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose
    for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the
    gods which your fathers served that were on the other
    side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose
    land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will
    serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

    Q: "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is
    born of a woman, that he could be righteous?" Job 15:14
    A: "Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He
    teach in the way he chooses." Psalm 25:12

    Q: "What is man, that You should magnify him, that You
    should set Your heart on him?" Job 7:17
    A: "Do not envy the oppressor and choose none of his
    ways." Proverbs 3:31

    Q: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son
    of man that You take care of him?" Hebrews 2:6
    A: "I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have
    laid before me." Psalm 119:30 "Let Your hand become my
    help, for I have chosen Your precepts."Psalm 119:173

    Genesis 3:3,6 Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19 Job 5:23
    Isaiah 7:14-15; 13:12; 61:1 Amos 7:8 Joel 3:14
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


    Sir Isaac Newton
    The greatest scientist in human history
    a Bible-Believing Christian
    an authority on the Bible's Book of Daniel
    committed to individual value
    and individual liberty

    Daniel 9:25-26 Habakkuk 2:2-3 selah

    "What is man...?" Earth's Choicemaker Psalm 25:12

    An old/new paradigma - Mr. Jefferson would agree!
    (Alternative? There is no alternative.)

    + + +

    "Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He
    can only discover them and he ought to look through the
    discovery to the Author." -- Thomas Paine 1797

    "Got Criteria?" See Psalm 119:1-176

    semper fidelis
    Jim Baxter
    Sgt. USMC
    WWII & Korean War

    Teacher, 5th Grade - 30 Wonderful years !
    vincit veritas

    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"
    - Yogi Berra

  16. Jim Baxter: That's very... um... interesting. It's even a tiny bit apropos to the topic.

    Still and all, the length of this kind of essay is not at all suitable for comments, and the content is not all the sort of thing I usually publish. It would be more suitable for your own blog.

    I'll let this comment stand, but anything else of this nature will probably be deleted on general principles. If you want to write a long essay, it would be better to post it on your own blog; if you think an essay is relevant to a topic, you're free to link to it in comments.

  17. There's a certain sort of commenter who has subjects they feel strongly about and generally retain a few comments or essays they cut and paste into blogs and message boards on those topics. I get the feeling this is the case. Either that, or he's been thinking of this reply for a long, long time.


Please pick a handle or moniker for your comment. It's much easier to address someone by a name or pseudonym than simply "hey you". I have the option of requiring a "hard" identity, but I don't want to turn that on... yet.

With few exceptions, I will not respond or reply to anonymous comments, and I may delete them. I keep a copy of all comments; if you want the text of your comment to repost with something vaguely resembling an identity, email me.

No spam, pr0n, commercial advertising, insanity, lies, repetition or off-topic comments. Creationists, Global Warming deniers, anti-vaxers, Randians, and Libertarians are automatically presumed to be idiots; Christians and Muslims might get the benefit of the doubt, if I'm in a good mood.

See the Debate Flowchart for some basic rules.

Sourced factual corrections are always published and acknowledged.

I will respond or not respond to comments as the mood takes me. See my latest comment policy for details. I am not a pseudonomous-American: my real name is Larry.

Comments may be moderated from time to time. When I do moderate comments, anonymous comments are far more likely to be rejected.

I've already answered some typical comments.

I have jqMath enabled for the blog. If you have a dollar sign (\$) in your comment, put a \\ in front of it: \\\$, unless you want to include a formula in your comment.