November 15, 2012

“I, pencil”

The CEI has put out a short movie version of the famous defense of free market capitalism, “I, Pencil,” written by Leonard Read in 1958.

The CEI site also includes additional video commentary on the piece.

If you’re unfamiliar with the essay, I strongly recommend reading it, as it provides a truly effective, because wonderfully concentrated, crash course in free markets and free enterprise — and as such, it is a repudiation of the kind of managed economies preferred by those whose Ivy League hubris and the totalitarian impulses that come with it often leads them to believe they can be more effective micromanaging an economy than can a spontaneous order brought about by the millions upon millions of branching transactions that occur daily in a free market economy.

Apply the lessons here to something as complex as the health care system our government and their bureaucratic army is poised to take over, and it’s clear that this can’t possibly end well, particularly when those running it for the most part haven’t the slightest idea what all it entails.

Think Michelle Obama acting as the country’s nutritionist-in-chief writ large. Very, very, very large.

Because that’s the kind of thing that’s coming: prideful masterminds leaving behind failure and its stepchild misery, all on our dime.

Pass it along to everyone you know, of every political stripe, through every avenue of dissemination you have available to you. Because who knows? It may just cause a few light bulbs to go on over the erstwhile dim heads of the economically illiterate emotionalists we’ve surrendered our sovereignty to.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:18am
67 comments | Trackback

Comments (67)

  1. - The rodentia that infests the White House these days are most likely not going to find a lot to be joyful about in the coming days.

    – Which as it happens will be just in time for the holidays. Merry fucking christmas Amerikka.

  2. - …But the number one reason Romney lost:

    – He supported 32 oz. soda’s, mom jeans, and wanted to take away Flukes rubber allowance.

  3. I, Pencil is a masterpiece. Its absence from the standard high school curriculum is a further indictment of the public school system.

  4. Many of the “intellectual class” pretend they understand natural selection, evolution, the complex web of life on Earth, and will laugh at any suggestion of divine intervention. That the free market runs on the same principals and they reject it shows that they do not really understand either one.

  5. - Because shutup h8ter!

  6. I am still kind of freaked out when people try to use M-Theory as a rational and simple alternative to an omnipotent creator. I mean I can understand not believing in an omnipotent creator and finding the idea ugly arbitrary and incredible.

    But M Theory is complicated, non-empirical, non demonstrable, and borne of mystical thinking as much as anything it seeks to replace.

    An always extant infinite number of randomly universes that begin from an infinite number of starting conditions and ending in collapse or expansion that are constantly interacting in an 11 dimensional manifold is a neat and simple Occam’s Razor solution to the ugliness of a single omnipotent eternal being? I thought the point of torturing science was to produce a believable alternative that appeals to intuition and does not require weird always was magic. And a giant bubbling soup of arising and falling universes with different physics seems like a bigger crazier more complicated magcuffin that a single God ever was.

    Meh. Of course I don’t understand M-Theory, or any complex topolgy project. I just read layman’s stuff about it.

    but so far string theory and its derivatives and children seems like a bunch of nutty shit where the math people with philosophy minors fooled the scientists into paying them to dream on the university dime.

  7. We can say one thing about a/all/any pencil[s], Obama didn’t build that, someone[s] else built that despite him.

  8. Somebody cleverer than I needs to parody an Obama-esque response: Something about pencils are not the technology of the future and we need to conserve our wood and graphite resources while also creating future jobs, so Obama’s going to spend half a trillion dollars developing stylus and tablet technology through start-up companies that will all file for bankruptcy in 18 months or less.

  9. Apply the lessons here to something as complex as the health care system

    And therein lies the problem – those “economically illiterate emotionalists” can’t extract a lesson in one area, and apply it to another. (A partial – maybe total failure – of their education – they were taught how to answer questions, not how to think.) They would watch this and be amused/amazed for 30 seconds, and then still think of the healthcare system as the simple transactions between them, their Cadillac insurance plan, and their doctors.

  10. OBama would probably tell you the story of all the hidden suffering and shame and misery that went into making that pencil, how it was ripped bloody from the screaming flesh of the third world, and how that energy and material could have been used to help people in need by maybe putting a clean water source in an overcrowded village. Instead precious resources were wasted on a decadent overproduction of pencils that indolent 1st world people will irresponsibly throw away into our land fills He would show you how that pencil is a pencil of death and we must turn away from the madness. We can’t solve all of our problems by making more pencils.

    Then Obama would get on Air Force One to go play golf.

  11. Michelle starts a campaign to alert us the dangers of children chewing on pencils and to get them banned from schools.

    The teacher’s union chimes in to declare pencils deadly weapons that should not only be banned from schools but recommends “zero tolerance” for any picture of other representation of the evil devices.

  12. The teacher’s union chimes in to declare pencils deadly weapons that should not only be banned from schools

    Well, they’d almost be right – my younger brother stabbed me in the leg with a pencil when we were young. My hands still shake when I have to use a #2 to fill in the ovals on a test or census form.

  13. I still have a spot in the palm of my hands from when a classmate stabbed me there with her pencil.

    When I die my carbon footprint will be some small amount larger than normal, and it’s all because of her.

  14. I still have a spot in the palm of my hands from when a classmate stabbed me there with her pencil.

    When I die my carbon footprint will be some small amount larger than normal, and it’s all because of her.

    You and me both.

    Though I stabbed myself through my own foolishness.

  15. I, Pencil is a masterpiece. Its absence from the standard high school curriculum is a further indictment of the public school system.

    Yes. And the Chesterton quote in the intro is especially apt, even to the point of emotion. I am moved by the beauty in truth, the truth wrapped up in liberty, liberty itself the result of simply doing the right thing.

    I remember when this country ran on an inherent, unexpressed, confident wonder — a confident joy in simple existence and the fulfilled hope that teams of people, all operating in a trust system, would indeed simply operate.

    With each passing day I find the progressive myth more and more the product of a severe mental dysfunction of narcissistic arrogance and consequence. We are not embroiled in a flat, abstract, red v. blue political tension with it, but in a deep, consequential, existential matrix of being and soul where it, progressivism, has expressed its undying hostility to nature itself.

    Why is the GOP obsolete? Because it is just a component of that dysfunction. Our institution is defunct.

    We are called on to do something radically different now, and it will take all of our resolve and integrity to bring to pass a most wonderful new liberty we haven’t even imagined.

    I suggest we accept our reality and act accordingly. It’ll be worth it.

  16. “The teacher’s union chimes in to declare pencils deadly weapons that should not only be banned from schools”

    And so Homo touch-screenus shuffles forth on the evolutionary stage much to the delight of hungry hyenas, bobcats, and coyotes.

  17. The day the Ray Bradbury tale of the kid who learns to do simple sums with a pencil and paper in a land where all use calculators can’t be too far in the future.

  18. this is too much like homework

    when I asked the girl at the last place for hot sake she asked small or large

    I said large

  19. It starts off badly. Who the hell says we are perishing? The human race has never been more successful than we are today.

  20. They forgot the paint. That’s another huge layer of complexity.

    That the free market runs on the same principals and they reject it shows that they do not really understand either one.

    They very much DO understand it. They just hate self-organizing economic systems because (a) they’re not in charge (b) the free market doesn’t pay them much to sit around and cogitate (c) they’re not in charge (d) they’re not in charge.

    When it comes to the idle intelligentsia, never ascribe to ignorance what you can explain with the desire to rule.

  21. It starts off badly. Who the hell says we are perishing? The human race has never been more successful than we are today.

    Wow. A product of the gubmint school system, I presume. Check this out:

    1. G.K. Chesterton, the man who says we are perishing, was a Brit who died in 1936, but you haven’t even heard of him, ergo, you don’t even know what era he’s talking about, or even IF he’s talking about an era.

    2. The “perishing” he’s talking about he ascribes to “lack of wonder” (right there in so many words; did you not read it?), which means a lack of awe, which means a lack of spiritual inspiration. It also means that we have it so good we can’t even appreciate it anymore, which tends to weaken the soul the way astronauts lose bone and muscle mass in null gravity.

    3. Before you can mount a valid criticism of the opening quote, you need to define “success” in opposition to Chesterton’s understanding of “perishing.” If by “successful” you mean “wealthy,” then say so, but then you have to recognize that such a definition of success risks being orthogonal to the spiritual dimension referenced by Chesterton.

    4. If what Chesterton says strikes you as way off the mark, perhaps you could stop to wonder what Chesterton meant by “perishing.” Yes, we’re wealthy and numerous (even 100 years ago), so Chesterton probably wasn’t talking about material success. As I referenced in #2, he provides ample clues for where he was going with the quote. Why didn’t you go there before spouting off? To plausibly assert that “It starts off badly,” you need to refute Chesterton’s assertion in the sense that HE meant it, not from your subjective reaction to it.

    5. If you’re going to critique “I, Pencil,” writing off the opening quote with a shallow refutation and leaving it at that marks you as a superficial thinker and one whose opinions will not be valued on this forum until you back up your assertions with cogent argumentation. Which, that has to start with evidence that you understand the ideas presented (and not just the opening quote).

    Well?

  22. [blah blah blah] is a neat and simple Occam’s Razor solution to the ugliness of a single omnipotent eternal being? I thought the point of torturing science was to produce a believable alternative that appeals to intuition and does not require weird always was magic appeal to magic.

    Who says God is magic? That’s what kills me any time I hear scientists say they’ve never run into evidence of God’s existence: WHAT COUNTS AS EVIDENCE, YA KNUCKLEHEADS?. If you’re looking for something without a “natural” explanation, then the only God you’re looking for is the God of the Gaps, a mealy-mouthed God whose domain shrinks as our understanding increases.

    Before you can rule out the existence of God, don’t you have to know what God’s characteristics are? If you want to rule out a particular substance being in your blood stream, don’t you need to know the properties of that substance so that you can devise a test for it?

    There’s the Neoplatonic God whose characteristics have been enumerated in the European Christian tradition (few of which are described in the Bible), and then there’s the God who really exists, and how do we know where the two intersect?

    What if God is a being who has the ability to command the existing elements to organize themselves in a particular way, even if the end result takes eons to complete? Instead of using the pocket watch as an example of an ordered system that could not possibly exist without intelligent intervention, ask yourself how many natural laws were broken during its manufacture.

    Did we need to use magic to build that watch or that Mars rover or that database? Nope. We take raw materials and apply knowledge to order the parts into a form we find useful. Did the creation of the Earth or the universe involve breaking natural law? No it did not. How does tha rule out someone more powerful that us?

    To know whether this universe has been ordered by a divine being, we need access to another universe wherein the existence of a deity is known, and then we compare and contrast.

    Otherwise, black box, me hearties.

    so far string theory and its derivatives and children seems like a bunch of nutty shit where the math people with philosophy minors fooled the scientists into paying them to dream on the university dime.

    Yup. If M theory had public policy implications, they wouldn’t have needed to invent Global Warming.

  23. Yeah, but Chesterton, was white and male and British, (which means imperialist racist sexist) and Christian, (and what’s worse, Catholic, so probably homophobe as well), and he’s long dead.

    So I think we’ve checked off every box on the list of discreditables here.

    This is Rigoberta Menchu’s world now. Perhaps literally.

  24. Haven’t we trotted out some new and shiny Hottentot of some kind since Rigoberta was exposed as a fraud?

    Thankfully, I bailed out on the English Department in about 1980 just as things were starting to get ugly.

  25. Brilliant idea, Ernst. I’m saving that into my files. “The pencil construction is blocked by a bureaucrat hoping to spur the growth of very affordable (and much cooler) ipads. And the teacher’s union works against the pencil, worried that Julia’s self esteem will suffer when she realizes that the rubber represents all the mistakes she could possibly make, and not the endless, easy fun of casual sex.”

    Chesterton was fat too, don’t forget.

  26. dicentra, your stuff in this thread is particularly inspired and insightful; a real pleasure to read. Thanks.

    Me, I always find the best argument against atheism is to just insist it define all spiritual ascendency as mad. I mean, it’s either that or the Darwinian system evolved all this mind crap against natural law.

    I find that wrecks their afternoon, provided they can be brought to consider it, which is a project in itself about as daunting as getting a progg to admit reason exists.

  27. I still have a spot in the palm of my hands from when a classmate stabbed me there with her pencil.

    Heh. Me too. The one where I stabbed myself in 1st grade seems to have finally faded, though.

  28. It is time, for you to stop, all of this stabbin’.

  29. - Another perspective. I’ll try not to bore everyone to suicide.

    * Postulate #1: We don’t ‘know’ a damn thing.

    * Postulate #2: We don’t even know what we don’t know.

    * Postulate #3: Because of certain Axioms of reality, we probably can never know the final answers to anything.

    – In #1, setting aside all the human ego driven self delusion we like to believe, what we have is a lot of clever ‘models’. That’s it. We have no real proof they have anything to do with reality, other than we can predict a few outcomes, which proves nothing more than the models are good analogies. The rules may change completely with a change of scale or location. We can’t at present truly ‘test’ for every possibility, so the idea that anything is settled is nonsense. There are a multitude of reasons that we use to try to prove things as ‘fact’ but in the end they’re all self-referential, which leaves them unproven..

    – #2 has many aspects, partly due to #1 of course, but others as well. One such, the law of the limit of ‘outside’, which states that no entity can ever realize anything outside its own framework. An easy way to comprehend this limit is to imagine yourself a 2 dimensional bug, and then think about that bug trying to think about a third dimension. He could certainly imagine the possibilities, devise models, and predict and test in an indirect way, but he could never ‘know’ for a certainty. This also leads to #3.

    – What the hell is the ‘God particle’ anyway? In some sense its a lot like the other particles, except heavier. But, that’s the wrong question, because in fact its not the particle so much that’s important as the Higgs field, or God field if you like. BTW, Higgs was only one of five different scientists that proposed and described the possibility of the +W bosun. So its not clear which of them will eventually get the credit. Only three can receive the Nobel at a time, so someones going to get stiffed.

    – For many decades science has been wrestling with some observed phenomena that just do not make sense. Things that suggest the arrow of time runs both ways, or that time is just a construct that doesn’t actually exist. Cause and effect seem to be interchangeable at certain scales and conditions. And then there’s things like Black holes, Worm holes, gravity, action at a distance, Dark matter, Dark energy etc.

    – Then we have the problem of Quantum mechanics versus particle theory, or Fermi versus Einstein as it were. Both systems work, and both systems fail. The whole thing drives scientists like myself looney at times. In fact, the idea of a Higgs field, first theorized as a complete theorem in the 60’s, was not a new idea at all. It drove Einstein nuts right up to the day he died. He called it the ‘Ether’. He hated the idea so much he would take long breaks after thinking about it, and refuse to do any work whatsoever for weeks at a time, so much did it trouble him.

    – Why the need for the God field. Well, many of those phenomena could be readily explained if we can show that ‘everything’ we see and experience, frpom Quarks inside atoms to the entire universe, is different combinations of the same exact thing, and one way to realize that is if all matter is found to be just twists and bends and cracks in some giant bowl of ‘stuff’ or field that is everywhere. It would also include everything down to the Quantum level, where ever that leads.

    – Anyway, so we’ve come to the point now where the so called God field, and its projected properties, could at long last at least make a start at consolidating the two main competing theorems, and string theory, and dark matter, and dark energy, as sort of first level theory of everything.

    – Notice I said ‘make a start’. Contrary to the popular notion, it will not answer everything, in fact it will usher in a whole library full of new ideas and questions.

    – Anyway, with all that in mind maybe you’ll understand that when I hear anyone making any pronouncements concerning God, I just chuckle, because none of it tells us anything about the spiritual.

  30. Me, I always find the best argument against atheism is to just insist it define all spiritual ascendency as mad. I mean, it’s either that or the Darwinian system evolved all this mind crap against natural law.

    I am of the firm opinion that you cannot infer the existence or non-existence of God merely by observing the universe. That’s why I have no use at all for the debates between Christopher Hitchens and some random believer, because they’re only discussing “God as explanatory paradigm,” AKA that pesky God of the Gaps, who is as unreliable as he is absurd.

    The believer says, “Oh yeah? How do you explain THIS?” and Hitchens asserts that the cause is natural—prove otherwise or rule it out—which the believer cannot do. In fact, it was the God of the Gaps who gave us this moronic Darwin/Genesis dichotomy. Before Darwin, nobody could explain how it all got here (thus making atheism philosophically untenable) until Darwin provided a plausible alternative explanation.

    Presto-chango, the God of the Gaps evaporates as he inevitably must, and now we have that eminently useful litmus test to separate the ignoramuses from the cognoscenti: Do you believe in Darwin or do you think Adam rode dinosaurs?

    The hapless believers are stuck between accepting scientific data OR accepting God, and so out of loyalty (not out of stupidity, ya arrogant posers), they reject the science.

    But the initial assumptions are wrong all around: God is not found in the gaps (or the quarks or the sunsets) but is found only by those to whom he reveals himself, whether as a burning bush or as the still, small voice after the tempest.

    How hard is it to recognize that science (the art of taking measurements) is going to produce scientific knowledge, whereas spiritual truths must be learned through spiritual means? Why would God use Genesis to provide us with scientific data when all the rest of his revelation concerns spiritual matters? Why would the Human Genome Project or theoretical physics or geological strata provide spiritual truths?

    Anyone who thinks that the Meaning of Life will be found in a microscope or complex equations is a moron. You might as well attempt to measure the distance between stars with an anemometer. Likewise, those of us who have inherited the GREEK intellectual tradition might recognize that in their spiritual writings, the HEBREWS did NOT necessarily use [number] [unit of measurement] to express a scientific fact, e.g., 40 [unit of time] denotes a timespan whose beginning and end was determined by God, for his purposes. The actual number of days/years is irrelevant (h/t Dennis Prager).

    Likewise, 6 [units of time] of activity plus 1 of rest denotes the sacred rhythm by which the Covenant People will live their lives. After all, God set the example by laboring 6 [units of time, rendered in English as "days"] and resting on the 7th. Look in Leviticus: the amount of six-on, one-off activities will blow your mind.

    There is no spiritual benefit in God’s telling us the nuts and bolts of the Creation: THAT we can figure out our own selves. The Why and By Whom, however, need to be revealed because they’re not self-evident.

  31. How hard is it to recognize that science (the art of taking measurements)

    you take the data and think it through using math otherwise meter readers

  32. I stick by Aristotle and the Unmoved Mover.

    Darwin doesn’t posit a Creator/creator in his theories. Evolutionary Theory is not mutually exclusive to the idea of an Almighty.

    The Catholic Church is fine with it.

  33. telsa used the physics of the time to develop the 3 phase motor in his head. reading meters are what uncreative peeps do ax frank luntz and karl rove.

  34. tesla sorry bird guy

  35. I stick by Aristotle and the Unmoved Mover.

    Which is not in the Bible, nor is it revealed truth.

    That concept comes from the melding of Greek philosophy with Christian stuff (Neoplatonism). The melding was brought about by academics and scholars. (IMAO, many Christian apologists were hoping to prove to the Greeks that Christianity was every bit as sophisticated and urbane as Plato or Aristotle, that it wasn’t JUST the faith of grubby fishermen and carpenters. I think we’re all familiar with that dynamic. And the inevitable results.)

    Having been raised in a decidedly NON-Neoplatonic religion, I don’t see Neoplatonism as an inevitable or necessary element in Christianity in particular or faith in general. (This is, of course, where the “Mormons aren’t Christians” thing comes from. We’re most definitely not Protestants, nor does our theology have so much as a rootlet in Neoplatonism.)

    That said, I have no desire to insist that Neoplatonic Christians are not Christians nor that they’re the heirs of hipster wannabes ingratiating themselves to a bunch of hedonistic pagans.

  36. - You know di, here’s something I find fascinating in retrospect.

    Recall an early exchange between Fermi and Einstein, essentially the argument the two had forever between Quantum mechanics and Newtonian physics.

    – Fermi had explained his atom ideas, and Albert said “God doesn’t throw dice with the Universe.”

    – Fermi replied, “He not only throws them, some times he does it so you can’t even see them.”

    – To which Einstein retorted, “Don’t tell God what to do.”

    – Whats fascinating is when you accept that God is the all and everything, you could refine Einsteins statement to “Don’t even begin to imagine you can think the way God thinks”, which in some sense is the same as Fermi’s idea’s and therefore the two great antagonists were actually agreeing with each other.

    – At any rate, taken in that light, the whole evolution versus God conundrum is childish in the extreme.

  37. At any rate, taken in that light, the whole evolution versus God conundrum is childish in the extreme.

    Exactly, BBH. We don’t know nothin’ and to presume otherwise is hubris.

  38. Exactly, BBH. We don’t know nothin’ and to presume otherwise is hubris.

    – I’m probably one of the few Physicists Leigh that will admit to that in polite company. :)

  39. “Don’t even begin to imagine you can think the way God thinks”

    the “big bang” makes one ponder the universe

  40. Point of Information: Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, wasn’t a Christian. So, strictly speaking, Neoplatonism is a Greek philosophy, not the melding of Greek philosophy with Christianity.

  41. Aristotle is your friend. So is Thomas Aquinas. But let’s let each of them tell their own story.

  42. The astronomer who first proposed the “Big-Bang” theory worked for the Pope.

  43. BBH, my youngest is looking forward to a career in astro-physics so we talk about this stuff a lot.

    I remember when I was a little girl, looking up at the night sky and trying to find all of the constellations when the whole concept of Infinity suddenly made me feel awed and small. It was such a huge idea and I was so scared and excited about it all at once.

    It’s too bad my math skills are rather pedestrian.

  44. It’s too bad my math skills are rather pedestrian.

    – You express yourself quite eloquently. it’s a shame that one of your teachers didn’t mention that math is just another language.

    – Einstein struggled with math early on until one of his instructors said that to him, and then he was off to the races.

  45. infinity makes me think of choom. more smoke please

  46. Thanks, BBH. I did finally get a good teacher in college, but by then that flame had flickered and died. I tried computer science for a while and it was a real He-man Woman Hater’s Club over there, too. That was about ’79 or so.

    So, I ended up in Psych and Business which I plowed through to the end. I figure I’m what they used to call well-rounded in the Liberal Arts with some math stirred in and a lot of alphabet soup after my name.

  47. Nite all.

  48. Point of Information: Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, wasn’t a Christian.

    IIRC, Augustine did a lot of reconciliation betwixt Greek and Christian, as did Pseudodionysius. I last studied this stuff in 1996 and I’m quite rusty. Suffice it to say, lots of intellectuals worked on it.

    Aristotle is your friend. So is Thomas Aquinas.

    I read Aristotle in theater class and Aquinas for my dissertation. Aquinas must have been pure Asperger’s, so fastidious is he with his classification of EVERYTHING into threes. It was odd, reading what was the product of an evidently brilliant mind and yet I didn’t accept the initial premises of the whole exercise, i.e., that God engages in such classifications or that they actually touch on the Gospel, triune organization notwithstanding, on account of it not helping anyone limp toward salvation. (Gagdad Bob is a contemporary neoplatonist, whose philosophizing, IMO, is edifying without necessarily leading one to Christ.)

  49. i.e., that God engages in such classifications

    f=m x a

  50. Whats fascinating is when you accept that God is the all and everything, you could refine Einsteins statement to “Don’t even begin to imagine you can think the way God thinks”

    Actually, you don’t have to include God as All and Everything to get there: you can simply accept that God is several orders of magnitude more intelligent and powerful than mere mortals.

    Are Fermi and Einstein using the term “God” as shorthand for “natural law” or “the way things work,” or is this “God” able to determine natural law according to his fancy?

    Because that opens up a whole can o’worms. The properties of the hydrogen atom derive entirely from its structure. Can God change the properties of a hydrogen atom without changing its structure? Does he have the ability to change the gravitational constant, as ST:TNG’s “Q” did?

    Or is God to man as butterfly to caterpillar, and he’s just doing what the adults of our species do: organize matter and energy into vast universes, part of the purpose of which is to create innumerable planets that he populates with his offspring?

  51. 2+2=4

  52. Pseudo-Dionysius more than Augustine.

    At least according to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry.

  53. The properties of the hydrogen atom derive entirely from its structure. Can God change the properties of a hydrogen atom without changing its structure?

    ms. cornell citation please otherwise slipperyslope to proggtard bs land

  54. 2 +2=5

    if you know what’s good for you.

  55. you do know the hydrogen atom is a minority in the universe? -dihydrogen monoxide lobby

  56. - The first time a person raises their eyes to a star lite desert night, some place like the top of mount Palomar, with no moon, it instantly puts you in a totally different plane of existence.

    – Anyone who can do that, and not be moved in a deeply spiritual way is missing some gears.

  57. - Both of them believed ‘God’ worked at a super-natural level, which would go to the second of your choices.

    – As soon as you limit God you’re right back in the same old quandary, namely you’re left with the question “Then what made him”. That’s not to say it isn’t true, but simply adds yet another complexity without benefit.

  58. Hydrogen is the overwhelming majority of the universe. Something like 90+% IIRC with helium next and all the rest simply slight impurities born of supernovas.

  59. - After the proliferation of atomic weapons, Albert decided that stupidity was more plentiful than Hydrogen.

    – For a long time I used to think it was just the rantings of a cranky old man. Looking around today, I’m not so sure.

  60. - But seriously, Dark matter, if we can prove it exists, will possibly end up the winner. We just don’t know yet.

  61. The hapless believers are stuck between accepting scientific data OR accepting God, and so out of loyalty (not out of stupidity, ya arrogant posers), they reject the science.

    But the initial assumptions are wrong all around: God is not found in the gaps (or the quarks or the sunsets) but is found only by those to whom he reveals himself, whether as a burning bush or as the still, small voice after the tempest.

    Exactly. The domains are overlapped wrongly. They overlap from the infinite perspective, but as BBH points out, not at all from ours:

    * Postulate #1: We don’t ‘know’ a damn thing.

    * Postulate #2: We don’t even know what we don’t know.

    * Postulate #3: Because of certain Axioms of reality, we probably can never know the final answers to anything.

    I find the paradox most acute (and wonderful) in the accepted notion that everything is because it is, meaning that all subatomics do what they do because of their dance, not the classical mechanics. (To call the field ‘quantum mechanics’ seems to me to be useful but not without a certain inelegance…)

    I’m sure we’ve noticed that when the Newtonian gives way to the quantum nothing “touches”. It simply performs. And presumably it performs because other states and properties underlie it and so on and so on until…what?

    Aquanias devised a linear proof for God by just observing that everything has a predecessor. Every thing and action owes to those before it. Likewise the problem of scale, once we go quantum, shows the virtually infinitely improbable odds of existence on a number of planes in as many ways. And still the whole thing spins because it spins.

    And this is what science chases, not because science is by design inherently faithful, but because science is interested in any door it can open (or should be, anyway) and this one has opened unto a vista that scientists frequently conclude doesn’t end in anything but turtles all the way down. It is a pursuit not without a goodly helping of faith.

    Because such is the mind’s existence. It is faithful. It must be. Faith is what it does, seemingly for some purpose.

    Just as there are humanistic paradoxes — the sheer loneliness of the individual existence because it has no choice but to seek out its own salvation…while being locked in a vast interconnected dance with all the souls, or the paradox of the easy, natural junction between the absolute, linear, Western mindset and the more “quantum”, circular, open-ended Eastern mysticism, or in our case between faith and science who have no war with one another as they stand so much as we do with where we stand — there is the paradox between hard science having no choice but to observe, rightly, that it cannot but be faithful after a certain point. I’d love to find a thorough exploration of this delicious Unfathomable. Perhaps Baghdad Bob has gone into it in One Cosmos, which is here on the shelf somewhere.

    dicentra:

    How hard is it to recognize that science (the art of taking measurements) is going to produce scientific knowledge, whereas spiritual truths must be learned through spiritual means?

    Not unlike the false construct in which external, observable, material fact becomes part of accepted reality when it’s approvably known, when while all the while prior its adherents ridiculed best guesses and intuition and certainly spiritual insight to null and void experience.

    Yet the dictionary has thousands of words relating to experience; to mind. Either we’re mad to possess these attributes — that somehow withstanding that at their finest vertical tip they become gorgeous and full of awe — or they are useful and indicative of who and what we are, and of why we’re here.

    I propose that your audacity is key, dicentra. This is the audacity of a hope, but this one is built on a vision lent by the merest of qualities: That we simply accept.

    It is faith that reveals the truth that sets you free.

    Faith, hope, and love. They are not abstracts. They are particles.

  62. Pingback: Video: I, Pencil | therightplanet.com

  63. - The first time a person raises their eyes to a star lite desert night, some place like the top of mount Palomar, with no moon, it instantly puts you in a totally different plane of existence.

    – Anyone who can do that, and not be moved in a deeply spiritual way is missing some gears.

    That happened to me when I was camping in Canyonlands some years back. I took my camp chair out into the open and noticed that the Milky Way didn’t look dimmer at the horizons. The sense that I was perched atop an orb floating in space was INTENSE. I grabbed the chair to keep from falling off.

    Yes, contemplating the enormity of the universe is both awe-inspiring and humbling. What happens when you contemplate the tininess of the subatomic realm? We humans go back to being huge. Maybe compared to all else, we’re about average-sized. Still, we’re morons if we don’t tremble before the sheer magnitude and complexity of it all.

    However, I’ve come to reject the notion that being awe-inspired is a religious experience. It’s a POWERFUL experience to be sure, and also a useful one, because it puts a much-needed check on hubris. It is also not the same type of thing as being spoken to by the Holy Spirit. Wicked people can find the universe to be awe-inspiring, but they cannot perceive the Still Small Voice, nor do they want to.

    As soon as you limit God …

    I can “limit God” only to the extent that he’s a philosophical construct. The idea that God is the Ultimate Other is not expressed in the Bible but rather comes later: the mystics concluded that God must necessarily exist outside our human categories and constructs and therefore could not be “touched” by mere human language. They devised the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa, two linguisic approaches to talking about something that is by their definition ineffable. In the Via Positiva, you take concepts such as “powerful” and “knowing” and raise them to the highest degree: omnipotence and omniscience therefore become apt (or nearly apt) adjectives to describe God. In the Via Negativa, you took the characteristics of our mortal plane and negated them: incorporeal, supernatural.

    Me, I reject out of hand the notion that God is the Ultimate Other. Why is that necessarily so?

    …you’re right back in the same old quandary, namely you’re left with the question “Then what made him”.

    Not if you’re LDS. In our cosmology, existence has no beginning and no end, those terms being hitched to the realm of Time, wherein our poor brains apprehend the universe one slice at a time, creating the illusion of a sequence of events. I suspect that Einstein was right about time being a spatial dimension, in which case, there’s no reason it can’t be infinite in all directions.

    Ergo, no need for a “prime mover” or initial causes.

    So who made God? His God did. He engendered him, just as our God engendered us, and if we obtain full maturity, we’ll engender children of our own. Big long chain of being stretching into the eternities with no beginning and no end.

    People often object to this forumlation because it makes God too tangible, too specific, too particular. And that’s a problem exactly why? The God Who Exists only needs to have the power to do what he says he has done and will do. He doesn’t need to be Absolutely Powerful or Uncreated or any of that Platonic nonsense.

    After the proliferation of atomic weapons, Albert decided that stupidity was more plentiful than Hydrogen.

    Atomic weapons aren’t stupid. How you use them might be, but having a means to utterly destroy a large swath of the enemy in an instant is a good way to discourage them from taking you on.

    In a big way, that is. The smaller wars smoulder on. But there’s no reason why destroying Hiroshima with one atomic bomb is more immoral that burning Tokyo with multiple firebombs.

    Stupidity doesn’t cause war; the desire to dominate does.

  64. Stupidity doesn’t cause war; the desire to dominate does.

    To me there’s not much difference. I just want to be left alone, and while being able to dominate may help in that regard, actually committing to doing it, keeping people under your thumb all the time…?

    Ugh.

  65. In our cosmology, existence has no beginning and no end, those terms being hitched to the realm of Time, wherein our poor brains apprehend the universe one slice at a time, creating the illusion of a sequence of events. I suspect that Einstein was right about time being a spatial dimension, in which case, there’s no reason it can’t be infinite in all directions.
    Ergo, no need for a “prime mover” or initial causes.
    So who made God? His God did. He engendered him, just as our God engendered us, and if we obtain full maturity, we’ll engender children of our own. Big long chain of being stretching into the eternities with no beginning and no end.

    And you said you were raised in a decidedly NON-neoplatonic religion.”

    He teased

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