Worlds & Time

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Executive Bubble

It seems pretty clear to me that there's an executive compensation bubble that isn't being addressed by corporate America, primarily because it's driven by the same people that run corporate America.

Eventually I think that's going to pop.  I can't predict when, mostly because I really thought it already should have happened.

I have a longer set of thoughts on it, but I just wanted to put this down somewhere.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Lack of Objective Morality in Religious Morality

To lay out the basis of this post, I was debating with a polite conservative Catholic on Twitter a few months ago, and he asked me about where my morality comes from if it doesn't come from God.

So, I tried to explain, briefly (as befits Twitter), that my moral system is based on a couple of basic principles.  At the time I feel like I only really worked through the first, but I've added two additional principles here to try to further explain my thought process.

  1. It is possible to differentiate between moral and immoral acts based on a framework of empathy and relative harm.  Eventually this devolved into "feelings are meaningful" but obviously there's substantially more to it than that.  A large part of why this is a basis for morality can be described as the "Golden Rule."  Treating people the way you would want to be treated is good, treating them as you wouldn't want to be treated is bad.
  2. Morals are situational.  That is, the more that is known about a situation, the more well understood the morality of the situation.  Saying that "hitting someone" is moral or immoral is difficult if not impossible based on the vague nature of the presented situation.  Additional information can easily turn an immoral act into a moral act.  However, the morality of a situation can be judged from the best, if imperfect, understanding of any situation.  
  3. Morality is not relative.  If two situations are precisely the same, then the morality of both those situations is the same.  Any differences between two situations, no matter how slight, might change the morality of those situations.

Additionally, because I was debating a Christian on this, at some point I stipulated two additional things:

  • The world exists.
  • People exist.
I should have additionally stipulated that there are moral, immoral, and amoral acts.  That sometimes choices have no real moral content.  I didn't think about that at the time, but I'll try to recall that for next time.  As it was, I'm glad I stipulated to at least the two things above because they headed off the worst of the "How do you know?" and "What if you're wrong?" questions.

Just a note, Matt Dillahunty's talk on secular morality, "The Superiority of Secular Morality" helped me understand and phrase my own point of view of this subject.  Thanks to him for his excellent discussion there, and on episodes of The Atheist Experience.

So, I was trying to understand the conservative Catholic's framework for understanding morality so I asked a series of questions, which all really boiled down to "where does your morality come from?"  I'm paraphrasing here, obviously, but he stated that moral and immoral acts should be clear to people because of his god's revelation, especially to Catholics.  When I asked how some Catholics could disagree about morality, his reply was that one of the Catholics would be wrong, and that wrongness would derive from the failure to understand or submit to God's will.

That's where I started getting really interested, because to me it seems pretty clear that this is where we split on my principle number 1.  While I think that morality is based on empathy and relative harm, he thinks that it's based on the will of God.  In that sense, I think he would accept my second principle, but only where better understanding of the situation can be clarified by the Bible or his god's will.

I kind of followed that through to my third principle and realized that while there was a difference of opinion in principle number 1, the third principle fell apart completely.  We were both talking about objective morality and we were talking about two completely, completely different things.  I wanted to try to focus on that, but first I wanted to talk more to establish a larger basis of common terms and ideas with which to discuss it.

I don't generally use the term "absolute morality" but when I followed that thread down, my understanding was that "absolute morality" was the morality of his god, and that while it existed to him, it could not be perfectly understood by imperfect beings.  So it was a real existent thing, but it also wasn't something that we humans couldn't completely grasp.

To underline that he said "Morality isn't determined by men but by God."

We spent most of the rest of the conversation talking about why people's feelings matter to morality, and how morality can be based on harm, societal impact, feelings, and all of the other things upon which I base my premises.  He views feelings as evidence of moral law, which I obviously don't.  I pretty much view things from the opposite direction, moral law is evidence of feelings.  Human morality is what we build up on top of the basic observable effects of our actions on other people (which, if you'll recall, I had to stipulate existed). People are hurt by cruelty and abuse, and they suffer and society suffers as a result.  Being nice and moral lead to better outcomes, both for individuals and society.

I do need to clarify that all of this is based on the idea that people are physical beings, and that feelings and harm are physical states.  Society is also a construct made up of many people, all of whom are physical beings.  Since I'm observing physical people though, I can make objective statements because the statements I'm making literally relate to objective reality.  

I continued to consider this after the conversation had finished, and I came to a few additional realizations.

First, given two situations that are morally equivalent but not exactly the same situation.  A simple moral situation to use could be two men, acquaintances but not friends or relations, one of whom is jealous and kills the other to rob him.  So we have four people, two murderers and two victims.

To me, given similar moral circumstances (neither of the murderers was acting in self defense or for the defense of another, the motivation was robbery in both cases, and the murderer wasn't coerced or forced in any way) I can say that both of these situations are bad because the actions of the murderers are both immoral.  The murderer is clearly wrong to do what he did.

I can say, given the situations, these killings are objectively bad.  Does it result in good outcome for both parties?  No, half of them end up dead.  The killers' financial windfall doesn't mitigate the loss of life by the victims.  Murder 1 is objectively bad, and Murder 2 is objectively bad.

There is a major missing factor for some other conservative Catholic to judge the situations though, which is the will of their god.  Let's assume that Murder 1 occurs without countenance from God.  Then my hypothetical Catholic friend clearly says that the murder is objectively wrong and bad.  Assume though that Murder 2 occurs but is condoned by God (for any reason, known or unknown).  Well, then my hypothetical friend would have to say that the murder is objectively good.

Aside from the opinion of God, what has changed in the situation?  Well, nothing.  Two people have still murdered two other people.  The direct circumstances of the situation haven't changed, and to me the opinion of God doesn't change anything, both are still bad.  To me, the actual situation matters, not what the opinion of a third party is.

To my hypothetical philosophical sparring partner, the situation doesn't actually matter at all.  What matter is the opinion of that third party.  So "robbing and killing" someone isn't actually an objectively immoral act, because the determination rests on the subjective opinion of a third party.

I think it's obvious that the immediate response to this would be "God wouldn't condone killing."  Except, clearly he has.  He condoned and even ordered significant amounts of killing in the Bible.  Some Christians argue that this was a moral thing because killing is not against the command of God, but murder is.  To some extent I agree about the difference between "killing" and "murder," but my agreement is all situational: was it in self defense or in the defense of another?  For the hypothetical Catholic though, again, the actual situation doesn't matter, what matters is the approval of God.

And, of course, I'm assuming the manifestation of God to the Catholic to make his will known, which I know is unreasonable.  As my real Twitter acquaintance made clear, it's impossible to perfectly understand the mind of God.   That just makes me more confused about why they think that their morality is "objective" though, because the opinions of God are unknowable.  Who can say that God wouldn't prefer stoning of atheists, idolators, and blasphemers today or that our society has violated the will of God to forbid Biblical slavery?

There might be an assumption, especially for non-prophets, that certain acts are acceptable or forbidden by God according to the dictates of the Bible, but those are just assumptions.  It would be impossible to discern the exact feelings of their deity on each specific case. 

Thus, it strikes me as completely ridiculous that Christians claim that their morality is objective.  It certainly has nothing to do with the objective reality of the situation, or even really of their own laws or opinions.  It's clearly a subjective morality where the "subject" is their god.

Certainly, the more accurate assessment would have to describe secular morality as more "objective" than the muddy and subjective morality that requires a constant stream of opinion from God.  After all, it's much easier to say "robbery and killing" or "kill their men and capture their women" are immoral in the secular system than in the religious one.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

A Letter to Colton

Hi Colton Haynes,

First, I have to say that I'm a huge fan.  I have been for years (I wrote a piece on you back in 2013) and I still am and will probably always be.  I saw San Andreas specifically because you were in it, which does not embarrass me at all.  I have a crush on you, which I hope you can forgive me for.

That said, I'm old.  Like, in my mid thirties old.  Ancient.  Those dozens and dozens of months more life experience that I have more than you have given me some wisdom which I wanted to pretend to share, in the hope that it helps you recognize how amazing you are.

One of those things that I was wrong about in that piece I wrote years ago was speculation on how easy your life has been.  Not only was I wrong, I was completely torn up to hear about your hospitalization.  When I was about your age I was hospitalized for depression, which is something I almost never talk about, and that's a luxury that I have that you don't.

My experience was pretty terrible.  It turns out that hospitals are generally the most depressing places on the planet, and so going to the hospital for depression is a really stupid thing to do.  Therapy and medication have helped, I am still alive, but I'm still depressed.  I'll probably be depressed for the rest of my life and there isn't anything that anyone can do about that.

Except for you.  You have made my life better, which I bet you think is ridiculous, but it's completely true.  Following your career, seeing fragments of your life in the news, and generally idolizing you have given me something to look forward to.  As small as that is, and as shallow as that makes me, it's something that can get me up in the morning.  For someone as ridiculously and profoundly depressed as I am, that's something that I need to hold on to.

So please be aware that your life has meant something to me, even though we've never met and likely will never meet.  You have helped me through tough times without even being aware of it, although I know that doing so has meant giving up so much of your privacy and putting yourself in public view.

I can't imagine what that's like.  I just don't have the context to understand what it's like to be a public figure like you are.  I can only imagine what it's like to know that cameras and weird fans (like me) are watching you, and the pressure that puts on you.

If I were you, and I had the chances to do what you've done, I probably would have made the same decisions.  I would have felt twisted up knowing that being gay could damage my career but hiding it would be terrible. You had to live with that for years which, again, I can't even comprehend.  I'm so sorry that you had to go through that because of people like me.

But know that you'll have at least one fan out there that isn't going to abandon you.  I wouldn't have abandoned you if you were straight, transgender or even a Republican.

I need to add something to that though: you don't have to be perfect.  You don't have to be Roy or Jackson either.  I idolize you but I also know that you're a real person, and people aren't perfect.  I'm sure as hell not perfect.  My ex isn't perfect (he's a great guy, don't get me wrong, but not perfect).  My brother the genius & businessman isn't perfect.  My best friends the lawyer and the banker aren't perfect.

People are going to tell you that you're a role model, and you will be, but don't believe anyone that tries to tell you that you shouldn't be who you are to be a role model.  Does that make sense?  People will tell you that a role model means this or that, and that you have to be that because you're famous.  Screw that.  You don't need to be anyone other than who you are to be a role model.  You're Colton Haynes, the fantastic actor, the guy with the best Halloween costumes, the guy who can pull off a salmon Marc Jacobs suit and who goes to NY Fashion Week looking boss.  You're an amazing guy just for being you.

The most important part of not being perfect means that you have to take care of yourself, physically and mentally.  If the stress means that you can't ever act again, then don't.  I would rather that you be happy and healthy even if that means that I never get to see you again.  Granted, that would suck for me, but I don't expect you to be perfect.  If you want to do something for me as a fan, then go be happy, be a good brother and uncle, be yourself.

Thank you though, for what you have given me.  If you can continue, then I thank you even more.

You're amazing, Colton.  If you ever need that said again, all of us, your fans and your friends and your family, we are all there to say it to you.



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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Using the internet to redo politics, again

You know one thing that the internet is really good at?  Accessing large databases from anywhere.  That's Google, Facebook, Twitter, and just about any message board in the world.  Those are massively huge databases, and those websites are pulling content out of them on the fly.  Often people are adding content, and it's filing that into the database and feeding it to your friends when they scroll down the Facebook wall in nearly real time.

There's a database that's really important to elections: voter data.  Especially the public voter data of registered voters that they can get from election districts which has a name, an age, a political party, an address, and maybe a phone number.  When you volunteer for a campaign you generally end up doing one of two things, both of them connected to that data.  The first is make phone calls to people to ask them for money, ask them to volunteer, or ask for their vote in the election.  The second is to go out on the street and actually knock on people's doors and ask them to come out to vote, called canvassing.

Those work. They show your neighbors that the candidates have dedicated people working for them, and it really sticks the name of the candidate in a percentage of people's heads, and going house-to-house gets a certain percentage of people out to vote.

But the way that that data is handled is a disaster.  For both previous presidential campaigns I made phone calls at least once.  Both times I was handed a sheaf of paper printouts with the names of the people that I needed to call, and I called down the list and marked a box with the responses.  The given responses were usually "no answer," "refused," "willing to volunteer," and "willing to donate."

Nearly immediately I ran into a ton of problems.  The first was "That's not me, I just got this phone number."  That's not a no answer, and it's not technically a "refused to answer" either.  It might mean that the number was listed wrong, it was changed to another person, or that the person is lying and doesn't want to talk to me.  But that doesn't mean that the person couldn't be contacted through another number or by email, or that the lying person wouldn't mind getting emails.

The second was "I was just called by the campaign five minutes ago" or "I've been called five times by the campaign today" and one caller actually said "If I get another phone call tonight from you I'm not going to vote for Obama."  You know why that was happening?   Because in the database that the Obama administration was keeping listed these people as "need to be contacted" and multiple call locations would just print out the top of the list.  At the end of the day, all that data needed to be put back in the system so that people could be marked as "contacted." That meant tons of confusion about who needed to be contacted, who had been contacted, and who didn't need to be contacted again, and another round of volunteers who had to input the data.

The third was, "I'd love to volunteer or donate . . ." As the person on the phone with them though, there was no way for me to take a donation over the phone.  You're not going to be having volunteers taking credit card information, and without access to their email address, there was no way to actually follow up with that specific individual to remind them to donate when they aren't on the phone.  Once you say "go to the website" then you have to hope that they will follow through on their own.  The same is true for volunteering, where I would often check the "willing to volunteer" box on the sheet of paper, but couldn't give them any up-to-date information on ways to volunteer in their area without asking them to go to the website on their own.

A secure xml database with a every person's basic information input (no credit card information) that volunteers could access directly could have solved all of those problems.  First, it would have been much easier to change between phone contact and email contact, and incorrect numbers could be marked without necessarily deleting the person entirely off the lists (you could even email them to check if they'd moved or changed phones).  Second, marking responses could be done directly to the database to make sure that people weren't called five times in a row.  Third, a system that allowed flags for different kinds of follow up would have made the lives of the campaign directors much easier by tracking those requests.

Let's say you have that information in a database already.  Perhaps you create an iPhone app that can access one or two records at a time.  The app could allow a volunteer to contact the next person on the list with one touch, and lock out the entry for 15 minutes so that it wouldn't pop up for anyone else.  At the end of the call, the app could present questions for the volunteer with buttons as simple as "Yes" and "No" that would allow the campaign to control the information gained, such as "already contacted," "needs follow-up," or create flags and messages that later volunteers could follow up on.  That information can flow directly into the database, or it can be sent to a trusted supervisor anywhere in the country to be reviewed before being input. 

The flags could be used to create lists of people that need assistance getting to the polls, or who want to volunteer.  If the person contacted speaks Spanish, it could be tagged for follow-up by a Spanish speaking volunteer.  The system could keep track of issues that voters care about and call scripts could add specific information based on what the system knows about the political views of a particular candidate.  All of this could basically function in real time. 

With the prevalence of smart phones, a similar system could be used by canvassers going door to door, getting information to the campaign as people are contacted.  You could even have multiple rounds of canvassers hit the same neighborhoods at the same time without fear that you would knock on the same door multiple times.

And having that better data would improve the analytics of the campaign by a thousand fold. How many people need follow up?  What kinds of questions are they asking the volunteers who are calling?  How many people in a given location need rides the day of the election?  Are certain canvassers getting better responses, and if so what are they doing to be more effective?  Are certain people better at talking to people on the phones?  And you can have records of which person contacted which other person and perhaps even have the same people following up. Imagine the experience of knowing that "Jackie from the Obama campaign" is the only person who will call you, and you can ask her questions and she'll get back to you if she doesn't know the answers.  She speaks your language, and can arrange a local ride to your specific polling place for you.

Let's go back to the watch party I mentioned in the previous post.  People might be uncomfortable inviting other people over for a watch party in their homes, but what if they know that campaign has all the information on those people, and it will usually be the same people coming to events every time?  It's the same concept as Uber, you have a trusted group of people whose information is on file getting electronically matched together to create a better experience for the host and for the participants. By building a community of people with the same views, you get them more involved in the process.

From the perspective of the volunteer, this system also makes so much more sense.  You can make calls from anywhere, at any time, for just a few minutes or a few hours.  You can canvass in your own neighborhood for 30 minutes after work instead of needing to take four hour shifts.  You can even reward the volunteers who canvass and do the most calls with campaign swag that they can show off in person.  Perhaps the best caller and the best canvasser in an area can get VIP passes to a candidate event when Obama is in the area, and get to shake hands and get a picture?

Supervisors could also review new input from anywhere, even while out canvassing themselves, or even across the country.  The system would allow people in Maine to help out people in Hawaii if Hawaii volunteers got overwhelmed.  Programmers could even create different user interfaces, as long as the architecture of the database was properly structured, analogous to the way that Facebook on a desktop computer is different than on a phone, or the way that Tweetdeck allows different access to twitter than the native app does.

Finally, this kind of system could be useful even more for down ticket races.  What if Jackie called you back for the midterms to ask you to vote?  Maybe even for your mayor or city council person?  By building relationships between volunteers and voters you could drastically impact local races.  You could print up direct mailers specific to individuals to keep them informed about their specific local elections, and the issues that they care most about.

This is the system that the Democratic Party needs to build to mobilize the next generation of political supporters.  The paper and pen canvassing and random calls make the party look disorganized and out of touch with modern technology.  The party will also be moving into step with the current culture of personalized information technology and using technology to connect local volunteers together toward common local, state, and national goals.

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The Terrible Debate Event

Quick vignette, which is partially responsible for the idea in the next post.

When Barack Obama got elected the first time he used his website to gather millions of small donations and develop email lists full of donors and volunteers.  His fundraising was relatively spectacular, and Bernie Sanders is doing much the same thing this election cycle.

I was living in New York City during most of the 2008 election cycle and I didn't have a television and wanted to watch the debates.  Barack Obama's campaign had a system to find debate watching parties.  I had this image in my head of going into someone's house with two or three other people and watching the debates and eating Doritos, and maybe talking with some like minded people about politics.

Instead I ended up watching at a club just off 23rd St. & 5th Avenue.  I showed up and there was a line . . . and then the guy at the door told me there was a $40 cover to get in.  That was ridiculously expensive to me.  I was still looking for a job and burning through my savings living in Manhattan.  And then the woman behind him said something about how if I'd paid in the last few hours it might not have shown up on the printed list.

So I was like: Yeah, I did that.  They let me in.

I hate bars and nightclubs usually, but this was a bit more of a lounge.  Most bars are so loud that they give me headaches in moments, and usually so loud you can't actually hear the subtleties of the music anyway.  And this was after the cigarette ban in NYC, so it wasn't the stink of cigarettes but of perfume and aftershave that hit me like a brick wall.  It still felt like a terrible place to me and I hated it.

They had a TV.  A big one, but it seemed like the seats around it were all full, so I sat closer to the bar.  I can't remember exactly the exchange, but I think a server came by and when I said I didn't want to have a drink she said there was a one drink minimum, maybe a two drink minimum?  So I ordered a drink.  It was $25.

I'm pretty sure that no matter what the minimum was, I only had one drink, mostly because I don't think I could have had enough cash on me for two.  It was a terrible experience because even though it was a "watch party" it was still a lounge and so there was loud music in the background and I basically caught one word out of five off of the TV. 

I left immediately after the debate and that was the most expensive club experience I had while I lived in NYC.  It was also the only time I tried to use the Obama website to attend any kind of political function in New York or Boston.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Serious Politics

A liberal approaches an evangelical voter and asks: "If you had to choose between (a) outlawing abortion and seeing the number of abortions, especially unsafe abortions, go up, or (b) keeping abortion legal but seeing the number of abortions reduced overall, which would you choose?"

If you've ever actually tried to ask an evangelical Christian voter the answer to this, you know what the answer is.  It's (c): They want to outlaw abortions and see the number of abortions reduced overall.

This isn't the only question to which the answer is (c).  Fiscal conservative voters want taxes lowered and the national debt to go down.  Many voters want to pay less for schools and hire better teachers.  Law and order types want to reduce drug use and continue to spend money on enforcement only when treatment would work better.  The majority of Americans want to see healthcare costs go down but don't want to try any of the numerous systems that European countries have used to reduce their costs far below ours.  Certain parts of the right want to see Islam banned and religious freedom upheld at any cost.

I've seen so many people give these kinds of answers so many times, and I want to address it for what it is.  The answer (c) is the answer of wishful thinking.

The question itself is a serious one.  When someone offers a choice, (a) or (b), generally these choices are informed by evidence and research.  We know that unsafe abortions go up when the procedure is banned (we're even seeing that resurgence in parts of Texas right now).  We know that reducing taxes from current levels inflates the national debt.  We can see that all other countries pay less than Americans do right now for healthcare.  The question understands these connections and is asking for the priorities of the person being questioned.  Yes, we understand that you oppose abortion on moral grounds, but given the reality of the situation, would you prefer standing by your principles or accepting the lesser evil?

Whenever you get the answer (c) you know that you're dealing with someone who doesn't take politics seriously.  They're not willing to make real choices with consequences, so they deny that there is a choice at all.  To them, there are no correlations or causations between related things, there are only good things and bad things.  Abortion bad.  Lower taxes good.  National debt bad.  War good.  None of those decisions is allowed to have a consequence that isn't intended or even mildly detrimental.

These people have been around for years, but this year I think we're seeing a massive increase in them.  They're the current supporters of Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump isn't politically correct, but most of the time he isn't correct either.  He gives answer (c) constantly.  He wants a multi-billion dollar border wall and he will get Mexico to pay for it.  He'll be a complete jerk to other leaders and they will all respect him and capitulate to his demands.  Trump will cut taxes and balance the budget within a year and create the best economy the world has ever seen.  Trump will be sexist and racist and a bigot and he'll be the best possible president for everyone in the country.

None of those are serious positions.  I get why his positions are attractive: he wants his cake and to eat it too.  In a fantasy land, they sound lovely and magical.  But anyone who only gives (c) answers isn't a serious politician.  He may be in the lead and thus a "serious contender" for the nomination, but he's not a serious person.

The people that follow him are also not serious.  They may shout and (may) vote, but they're not seriously interested in making this country better.  They're not even willing to listen to the truth, much less hard truths.

You can tell just by listening to them talk.  They don't weigh positions.  They don't make hard choices.  They simply find something that sounds good and rally around it mindlessly without doing a basic check to tell if the proposal makes sense.

Conservatives, true ones anyway, aren't rallying around Trump.  They don't even understand him, even though they are partly to blame for him.  They're the ones that have been preaching the political prosperity gospel: believe in True Conservatism and God shall deliver, but that's because conservatives have the most serious of motives: winning.  They looked at the numbers and recognized that they were in trouble, and so pushed a narrative and a situation that would allow them to win despite demographics that were working against them.  Now they're overwhelmed by the voting population that they created, one that isn't happy to work with any conservative serious positions just like they won't work with any liberal serious positions.

I'm not saying that Trump supporters aren't dangerous.  They are.  They're seemingly willing to ignore any criticism and their chosen focus is definitely unhinged.  If he's elected, I think he would be a terrible President of the United States.

But there are two things that I think need to be recognized.  First, it's not Trump that created this group.  If anyone is ultimately responsible it's probably Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, but even they can't claim total credit.  Instead, it's this group that is creating the Trump candidacy and the popularity of Fox News.  The power is flowing upward from the choice (c) voters and is creating a space for a crazy person to stand on.

Second, everyone else, all of the reasonable people, need to recognize when they're dealing with choice (c) voters.  I don't think that talking to most of them will do much good (as per the adage "You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into") but instead of wasting time and energy, you have to accept that these people are real-life trolls and that attention only feeds them.  You can't rely on them to let you know that they're being crazy and irrational, you need to take that responsibility on yourself.  

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Argument from Entropy

1. Entropy affects everything
2. If God exists, he must be perfect
3. If God was perfect at any time, then entropy means that he is not perfect after that point.

Therefore God is not perfect and thus cannot exist.

I think that the obvious point of argument on this one is the first premise, that entropy affects everything.  However, there is really no evidence that there is anything that is not affected by entropy.  You'd have to basically prove that there are things that are not subject to entropy.

Also, just an observation, there's no evidence that entropy is limited to just the universe.  It may be an absolute inviolable law.  So even if God was "outside of time and space" there isn't any evidence that he isn't subject to entropy.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Argument from Morality

1. If God exists, then there is objective morality.
2. If objective morality exists, then it must be apparent to all people, or at least all followers of God.
3. If there is any change in morality over time in the societies that base their morality on God and the Bible, then there is no objective morality.
4. Morality has changed over the last two thousand years, even among the followers of God.

Therefore, there is no objective morality, and there cannot be any being that has objective morality.

Some may suggest that societal morality is a bad baseline to judge the existence of objective morality, in which case society can actually be swapped out for any specific person that claims to have objective morality and someone else they agree to have objective morality (such as Jesus Christ).  As long as the morality of that person is slightly different than the morality of Jesus Christ, there is no objective morality.

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Quick Disproofs of God: Ontological Argument

1. If God exists, he must be perfect.
2. If he is perfect, he must be objectively perfect.
3. Objectively perfect things do not exist.

Therefore, God does not exist.

Obviously the premise that most theists will have an issue with is the third one, but it appears to be quite true: There are no things that everyone could agree would be perfect.  Zero.  The more "perfect" something is judged to be, actually, the less chance it has of actually existing.  Therefore, it would be logically impossible for an objectively perfect being to exist.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

A thought that is entirely internal to the framework of Christian logic

I don't think that Andrew Wilson really understand what "sin" is, at least in the context of this clip. He badgers Ron to admit that homosexual sex is a sin, which Ron doesn't want to say because Ron knows that admission is damaging to his relationships with gay people (absolutely true, because gay people have been so long singled out as special sinners). However, Andrew doesn't acknowledge that heterosexual sex is very often a sin to God too and that men can commit the same sin just by looking with lust at other women (Matthew 5:21-30). All men, heterosexual or homosexual are sinners in the view of God, and I suspect that it would not be too great a leap to say that all men are sexual sinners in the view of God.

So he's asking Ron if homosexuality is a special sin, one that must stop when accepting Jesus Christ to the extent that many preachers lie and say that God will remove the temptation. Obviously that's wrong, because salvation doesn't work that way. Accepting Jesus doesn't stop men from lusting or coveting or anger, and those states of mind are, in the words of Paul, just as bad as the sins themselves. Christians have to accept that in accepting Christ, they will find salvation after they die, and in their efforts to live better lives on Earth, He will help them live better but not perfect lives.

My question is then, what life better exemplifies that of a Christian with homosexual attraction? Drugs, casual sex, and suffering the persecution of the church, or the embrace of the church and blessing of a stable sexual partnership in a homosexual marriage?

My final thought on this conversation is that Jesus said: "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." The context was divorce, a sin, but it seems to me that those who actually know gay people know that they may habe been joined to their loving same sex partners by God. Let no one demand the separation of two gay men or two gay women as a prerequisite to joining the fellowship, as they have also been joined together by God.

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