Sunday, February 26, 2012

God's Reasons

Why would God create man and then give him free will and say Worship me or Die! If you tell me that he has reasons, then that implies that we could deduce his reasons through logic. But the conclusions are not attractive.

"Ignorance is not bliss. It is unconsciousness and slavery; only intelligence can make us sharers in the shaping of our fates." - Will Durant

Monday, February 20, 2012

Green Programming and Fundies

A few years back I started writing a blog entry about Green Programming, in which I attempted to define a philosophical position that views inefficient code as a moral failure. As a programmer, you are responsible for ensuring that your software runs efficiently, just as you are responsible for recycling your recyclables and conserving water.

It makes me remember that morals are sourced from a given worldview, and what may be considered moral by one person, like recycling, may be considered frivolous by another. For instance I know that some people view the world as a place of temporary existence on the way to an afterlife where everything on the planet is created and declared by their god to be at their disposal with no need to worry about exhaustion. Of course this is despicable to someone who doesn't believe in their god and sees them leaving their trash all over the place and making the world a progressively dirtier and sicker place to live, where ultimately they will effect the end of the human race by making our world too toxic to survive in.

On the other hand, that would be gravy for them, because they look forward to the end of the world. With that in mind, what is it that prevents them from simply destroying the world ASAP? I guess a person would not want to sacrifice their own salvation in order to bring about the apocalypse by destroying the world, since it is already promised to them anyway, and they should in fact endure the trials levied against them in preparation for the End of Days.

Also, and this is really my main point here. . . They should want to enjoy a long life in this place that was given to them by their god, and likewise they should show their god their worthiness by leaving this place as beautiful as they found it. If I build a house with the intention of letting my children live in it, and I promise to take them into my much more glorious house after judging how they live in the house I built for them, I would be more likely to take them into my house if they treated the house they lived in with due care and respect for both the place and each other.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

America's Decline

To say that America is not declining is absurd. We're declining in both form and substance. Our government is in a perpetual deadlock of petulant brinkmanship and our level of social and cultural dialogue is embarrassing. This was punctuated for me on Friday in the comments of astronaut Scott Carpenter, who spoke at an event celebrating 50 years since John Glenn's historic flight, saying "There are lots of reasons behind our current predicament, but what it boils down to is the simple fact that when John and I went to work for this country, the United States was recognized around the world as a can-do nation. We have become viewed around the planet as a can't-do nation and I deplore that."

Why have we become this way? I think one of the primary factors is that the increasing complexity of modern society has rendered a large segment of our population feeling out of control and incapable of comprehending the technologies that operate this world. When a person feels out of control, he or she tends to clamp down, back up, reassess the situation, simplify, attempt to regain some semblence of control. In many cases, I believe, this is resulting in hebetude and withdrawal from meaningful social discourse.

This feeling of helplessness in the face of drastic global issues such global warming, economic collapse, serial killers, school shootings, genocide, human trafficking, environmental disasters, war and its atrocities, mass media, the 24-hour news cycle and its instant dissemination of every little hiccup, no matter how petty or grotesque, in excruciating raw detail, is causing people to react on a primal level. We are dealing with social issues that are beyond our understanding. Our primal minds cannot cope with the scale of these issues. We're treating issues that affect the whole of human civilization with a social intelligence that is overwhelmed by the nuances involved. Our primal instincts want to take over.