Aquinas, Gödel and Occam, Oh My!

It’s amazing to me the lengths that Christians (well, Catholics, insofar as they are still Christians) go in order to tell you that science doesn’t matter and that it doesn’t come close to capturing the essence of human (and divine) existence.

I agree! But the point at which they make a statement like this is the point that they also start trotting out so-called science to back up their belief constructs. Unfortunate. This is what happens when the Little Church in the Dell comes to the Big City and tries an extreme makeover on society by attempting to harness political machinery.

What ever happened to the Substance of things Hoped For and the Evidence of Things Not Seen? I, for one, think that there’s always room for a little (or a lot) of faith. It’s dogma that wears me down. Think they’re the same thing? Think again. Faith only becomes dogma when someone else tries to tell you the color and timbre and texture your faith is supposed to be. And where it’s supposed to be aimed.

And how you’re supposed to get out in the world and make more of the Faithful, either through procreation or through propagation of that Faith. Either way, they want missionary positions filled (groan, sorry, I know).

I have faith in my family. Faith that they are there for me when I need them. Faith that I will set aside whatever occupies the fore if my family needs me. Faith that my love for my partner is for life. Faith that he loves me in kind. Faith that I am capable of trust. Trust in things like love and life and Good Will.

I also have a certitude that there really is no such thing as Altruism, but that broad-enough and indirect-enough and long-term-enough self-interest is indistinguishable from altruism.

Frank Herbert once wrote: “‘What do you despise?’ By this are you truly known.”

So what do I despise? I despise closed minds. I despise liars and those who take pleasure in the misfortune of others. I despise the self-imposed ignorance of those who short their own brainpower in favor of their religion. I despise xenophobia, especially the kind that masquerades as love.

Most of all, I despise hypocrisy and duplicity, and the ignorance that seems to generate both.

Well, that was fun, but I never fully agreed with Frank Herbert on that. It never allowed for creative acts, for things beyond just neutral.

I might suggest that for the lion’s share of Christians (no pun intended), grasping at Jesus Christ is a desperate attempt to equalize all the individuals in a given society so that all the bonafide special and talented individuals are lost in that old “we’re all special in God’s eyes” bromide. We continue to increasingly celebrate the mediocre while becoming increasingly paranoid about those with wild talents.

I abide the ideal of freedom of religion, so long as the set of religions also includes the empty set (i.e., freedom to practice no religion or faith). It’s a natural tendency for the dogmatic to frame and label the world according to their own carefully constructed belief systems. Their identities, individual and collective, are tied up in requiring boundaries around things, including their own god.

Well, my identity is tied up in other things. You won’t find a satisfactory theism-relative label for me.

Forgive the crass dipping into boolean logic, but here’s where I stand:

  • If there is a god, she’s outside of our closed system and cannot be knowable by any measure.
  • If there is not a god, I still cannot escape our closed system and, like any closed system according to Gödel, there are unreachable truths AND unreachable falsehoods.

Kinda boring, I know. But this is where good old Occam comes in with his Famous Razor: the world around us—if you avoid the overweening assumption that the universe is just God’s Terrarium—becomes a magical place.

With Theism, you get “god did it”. Without assuming Theism, you get a wonderment that’s good for the soul.

Recipe for Disaster Success in Blog Traffic Presidential Elections

Here it is, y’all.

  1. Make shit up.
  2. Get your toadies to repeat it without question.
  3. Declare it a ‘story’.
  4. If dissenters get in on the game, alter their statements without notice.
  5. Get your toadies’ toadies to chime in with “it’s everywhere, so it must be true!”
  6. Force enemy to expend energy fending off mindless toadies and toadies’ toadies.
  7. Sit back and enjoy the mayhem, taking all credit and no blame.
  8. Before mayhem is over, lather-rinse-repeat before people have time to notice what you’ve done. Again.

Republicans, FoxNews or Blogging Nematodes? You decide.

Two Months and Three Days

There was only one time when Allen had to go to the hospital. It was a day in May. It was in 1995. I remember such mundane details now only because it was in the middle of the Apple World Wide Developer Conference that year.

Allen had become increasingly annoyed with my increasing mother-henning, as he’d put it. Which of course was, not insignificantly, an outlet for my increasing worry over his health.

It was two mornings after the first night that there was ever a problem with his overnight IV of TPN, no coincidence. A night of no nutrition and more importantly, of no hydration, had taken its toll. Only I didn’t know that before I left that morning to drive 50 miles to San Jose to the conference. I just knew that he was annoyed with me still, and that I, in turn, was pissed at him and then appalled at my ‘selfishness’ at being pissed off at such a sick man.

I snapped at him and he stood there, silent, glaring.

Continue reading Two Months and Three Days

The Fine Art of Outing

Like a lot of things that the stolid, staid, “moral values” sheep voters find “icky”, the concept of outing (as gay) has been taken from its original concept and perverted into something that serves both their xenophobia and their “compassionate” conservatism.

Michelangelo Signorile is largely—and rightly—credited with bringing the concept of outing into the mainstream. Since then, of course, the perception of what it is, what it was meant to be, has become something else. Something that has caused divisions even among gay people.

I think it’s time again to remind people what outing is all about. In a world where we know too much about Britney’s corroborative efforts towards straight marriage and see far too much of Tara Reid’s plastic surgery scars and hear far too much of John Ashcroft’s chanteusing, people still screed “respect their privacy!” when it comes to homosex.

And by ‘people’, I don’t mean “also journalists”, I mean especially journalists! This is exactly the beef that Mike Signorile had with the supposed objectivity of journalism and other news reporting: the double-standard when it came to homosexuality.

Anyone remember Malcolm Forbes? Anyone remember his place in the History of Outing? I’m not going to launch into an entire history here, because you can check that out in the bio at Mike’s site. And while I have every confidence that Mike’s take is accurate, go google it and read more. Here’s a relevant quote:

Signorile contended throughout that time that the homosexuality of public figures — and only public figures - should be reported on when relevant to a larger story (and only when relevant).

That’s it, folks. That’s what outing is all about. It’s a call for journalistic integrity. It’s about ethics. Many might consider integrity and ethics dead concepts, especially in the media and even moreso in the proliferation of Bread and Circuses blogs, but I don’t. Even though ethics rarely wins over making a buck and even though integrity never makes the headlines, what do we have if we don’t have those?

So in any case where a public person’s sexuality is relevant to a story, that person’s sexuality, priorly openly stated or not, should be reported. And if I have anything to say about it (and I do, from this modest-sized podium, at least), it will.

So when you hear of Congress members talking about abridging my rights, implying that I am less and that people like me are less because we’re gay, well, how much more relevant can you get?

I welcome the return of outing. Thank you, Mike, for drawing that line in the sand 14 years ago.