Wednesday, November 19, 2014

…And Yet

“Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”
—Gandalf

     In the months since I decided in favor of optimism about the future, the course of events seems to have conspired to serve me a dish of well-seasoned crow. This blog began as a small voice in protest against the judicial redefinition of marriage and the degradation of our ancient liberties. Now, we seem to have arrived at another, greater transition in the landscape on the road to tyranny. Since its inception, the federal Executive has been growing in power. Over the past century, in particular, the expansion of the federal bureaucracy has provided the executive with the tools to interfere in every part of our lives. The federal authority now regulates everything we do. Federal departments issue regulations that tell us what light bulbs we can buy and whether we must accept unisex restrooms. This has been an ever tightening soft tyranny, which itself is the child of Hedonism and Fear. Too many of us now want just to continue our self-indulgent lives, secure from responsibility and challenge. But, as we have noted before, the government that does everything for us can, at whim, do anything to us. It is now a bloated, imperial leviathan, far in excess of anything the Founders intended—though not beyond what they reasonably feared.

     And this week—tomorrow, in fact—the Executive will use the accumulated authority of federal agencies to grant de facto amnesty to over five million illegal aliens. It will do so without the support of the Congress or the American people. This is a naked grab of power. Whether we are individually in favor of immigration reform or of immigration enforcement, a free people ought to oppose this unconstitutional usurpation. We have entered a time of great challenge to liberty.

     Given that we have sped so swiftly along the road to tyranny, it is now clear that what I have referred to as frame-breaking technological progress is perhaps more likely to empower dictatorship than freedom. Yes, compact fusion, when it arrives, will eliminate virtually all material constraints on humanity. Yes, the Internet is an unprecedented Library of Alexandria, now available to everyone in the West and beyond. However, information technology also empowers our rulers to monitor our every move. We could be tracked, effortlessly, in everything we say or write. Every person with a GPS-enabled smart phone could be carrying his own personal surveillance device, which can already track every movement. Every conversation, every trip, every dollar spent is now potentially subject to government scrutiny. And all this represents a level of potential control beyond the most feverish hopes of monarchs and dictators of history.

     Imagine if Cæsar, Diocletian, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao had had at their disposal the kind of information gathering and surveillance technology that the American government can now deploy against us, the citizens of this nominal Republic. Perhaps it is unfair to compare Cæsar or even Diocletian with Stalin, and it would be ridiculous to compare the current administration with any on that list. However, the point about guarding liberty is to forestall tyranny before it is fully entrenched. If Obama is no Stalin, he is at least the precursor to a future dictator with historically unique power.

     How did a free people come to this place? Through the desire to do good. Every new spindle and cog of the federal machine has been bolted on from a desire to right a wrong, to curtail misfortune. Some old people are in poverty? Let there be Social Security. Some unmarried women with children are in distress? Let there be WIC. Some people lack health care? Let there be an Affordable Care Act. All these are attempts to use the power of Tolkien’s Ring for good. For the federal power is, ultimately, the power that could destroy all freedom. And though there may be small hope of arresting this slide into Mordor, it is imperative to try. Some of us will not go gentle into that dark night.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hiatus

     To a great extent, life as we get older becomes more about how to spend the time available. Other commitments have kept your author away this year, and there is no foreseeable change to those priorities. Additionally, some reading last year (chiefly, books by Matt Ridley and Peter Diamandis) has caused a major shift of perspective. The value of historical models in assessing our current predicaments may be lower than ever before, given the frame-breaking technology developing around us. It is quite likely no one outside the tech fields understands the profound implications that recent developments create for society and politics. It is equally likely the same thing is true of most people working in the tech fields. The human species has a realistic chance of effectively overcoming all material resource constraints in under a century. How could such a development not invalidate our historical wisdom? How long will the past remain useful as a lens for bringing the present into focus? To the extent one has leisure, is it not better spent looking forward than back?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Atheism Confirmed, Part II

     Graver still for the theistic cause, every year brings us explanations for what we observe in nature that are better than the explanations found in the Bible. We know now that epilepsy is not caused by demons; we know how to treat leprosy; we know the Earth orbits the Sun. Science has provided well-tested theories of nature that answer far more than the counterpart answers found in the Bible. Science gives us historical linguistics; mythology, the Tower of Babel. Mythology speaks of a divine column of fire and smoke at the top of a mountain; science speaks of a volcanic plume. The more one reads the Bible, the more it appears to be stuck in the Bronze Age. To credit the Bible as anything more than mythological literature produced by human beings at pre-scientific points in history would require abandoning robust explanations of natural phenomena in favor of superstition. The gaps in scientific understanding, those murky niches in which some of the faithful insist God may be hidden, are in fact already too narrow to conceal the Lord of Hosts. Like Victor Stenger, we must conclude the Biblical God is a failed hypothesis.

     Many Christians do acknowledge that the Bible should not be read as history. They prefer it as divine poetry, or sacred metaphor, the moral excellence of which establishes its supernatural truth. Until I actually began reading the Bible myself, I was prepared to accept that whatever its truth content, it might have social or political utility as a moral guide. Indeed, there seemed to me no reason to doubt that the book might even contain useful insights about human nature, which presumably hasn’t changed much in the past few thousand years. I was therefore astonished to find God allowing, endorsing, even commanding the worst behavior of which humans are capable: genocide, slavery, ritual murder, capital punishment for innocuous offenses, etc. How can believers defend Jephthah’s sacrifice of his own daughter? Or the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Joshua at God’s command? Or the casual endorsements of slavery? Or God’s breathtaking insistence on the death penalty for a man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath? Moreover, I began to see the full moral implications of concepts like Hell or the flood of Noah. A God that could preside over such enormities is morally unworthy of worship. In my view, there are no sufficient answers to these objections. Clearly, the God of the Bible does not exist except as a creature of fiction. For that fact, having now assimilated the horror of Biblical immorality, I am grateful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Technical Difficulties

     Not sure what Blogger has done with the pictures.  Will attempt to reload them if necessary.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Atheism Confirmed, Part I

     About two years ago, I began a review of Christianity to see whether my late-teen rejection of the faith remained justified. Having concluded the inquiry, it is time to report what I found. Briefly, I have found God. I know Him now, who He is and where He came from. It is undeniable that He is nothing more than a human creation. Ingersoll was right. Russell was right. Mencken was right. Hitchens was right. Dawkins and Harris and Stenger and Dennett—all are right. The God of the Bible is a contradiction, a monstrosity, an impossibility, and He is so to a far greater degree than I perceived at 19 years of age.

     Four main lines of objection militate against the existance of the Biblical God. They apply with similar force to all the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and the like. They are objections from logic, from history, from science, and from morals.

     At the outset, even brief reflection discloses that the God concept is self-contradictory. More fully: Logic, such as the arguments apologists use to prove a First Cause, reveals that an omnipotent being is a contradiction in terms. For example, consider whether God could create an object so massive even He could not change its velocity. Any possible answer contradicts the definition of omnipotence. Adding omniscience to omnipotence only heightens the contradictions (e.g., could God keep a secret from himself?). Innumerable such contradictions arise from any logical analysis of the qualities theists claim are essential to the God of the Bible, and so the very system of logic they wish to use to establish a First Cause defeats their own notions of the Being they posit as that First Cause. Whatever the First Cause may be, logic tells us it cannot be the Biblical God.