Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: "On The Existence Of Gods" by Vox Day and Dominic Saltarelli

I have been looking forward to this book ever since I heard about the debate on Vox's Blog, and for anyone who wishes to take a serious, thoughtful look at the question of the existence of gods, this is probably required reading. This is a topic very near and dear to me, and I am nearly always disappointed by the quality and tenor of such debates (such as the dumpster fire that was the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate). 

Not so here. 

Everyone involved was highly intelligent, respectful, and knew why they were there. This is demonstrated, at least to me, in two major ways; the format, and the fact that a good deal of time was spent on definitions.

First, let's address the format. Each participant made an opening argument blind, then rebutted the argument blind, and the panel of judges (one each of Christian, Atheist and  Agnostic) judged the arguments and rebuttals and assigned a winner of the round. At that point, the winner was afforded the opportunity to press their point, the loser rebutted, and the judges decided the winner of that round. There were three rounds in total, and while I would have enjoyed more rounds, I can't see how it would have added much to the discussion.

In addition, the judges were given space to explain their thoughts and reasoning behind their decision, and it often contributed as much to the discussion as Vox and Dominic.

All in all, it worked extremely well, and I would like to see it used elsewhere.

The second thing, and perhaps the most important thing, was the effort that went into defining what a god is, as well as evidence and logic. It's very rare to see it even come up in a debate in a meaningful way, and that has always struck me as foolish. It seems a  bit like arguing for or against string theory but never actually defining the model you are using.

I have long felt that this is the largest issue with the discussion, as the average  Atheist I have talked to has built a mental narrative in which they cannot lose by defining a god as a being who does magic, magic breaks physics and is fake, and anything that falls within any form of natural law is not magic, therefore not a god. As Vox very neatly points out, there is an issue of scale to be considered, regardless of where you draw the line.

Likewise, I know a lot of fellow Christians that feel that examining the topic closely is either a waste of time (citing 'if God wants them, he'll call them, I don't have to do anything but recite the truth' as justification) or even a bit sinister, as though wondering about how it all works is going to somehow change the facts.

It's also worth noting that I found the material compelling enough that my first attempt at this review ended up blossoming into a short book length examination of the arguments made rather than a review proper. There is a lot of meat here for the taking.

One of the biggest surprises for me was Dominic's comparison of the accounts of angels and gods of old to modern abduction stories, including a fascinating comparison of Ezekiel's Wheel to a V-22 Osprey. 

I was quite glad to see this particular direction addressed so early, as I have been in this camp for a number of years (those interested in this line of  reasoning may want to check out Return of the Nephilim by Chuck  Missler of K-House for a dialectic primer on the topic), though I believe it runs in reverse. Rather than ancients mistaking aliens for gods and angels, fallen angels adapt themselves to the culture for the most impact in drawing people away from Christ. These days it's more fashionable to embrace technology and scientism, so they are advanced aliens from Pleiades now.

While I agree that this book is unlikely to  change minds, I believe a much greater victory was scored here. Far from being a matter of evidence (as it is overwhelming in favor of gods of some description), your belief or unbelief in gods or a Creator God has much more to do with your belief about your own station within the universe. Ultimately, the argument against gods seems to boil down to "I don't consider X entity to be sufficiently more advanced than me to consider it a god, regardless of it's power and authority".

That's not a position I would like to find out I was wrong on when standing at the Judgement.

Nor is it an inherently objective position to take, especially considering how often Atheists will, with their next breath, pontificate at length about how humans are just one tiny blip on a small blue rock flying through an unfathomably large universe, go on about how we're probably not being contacted by aliens because we're so Podunk, and so on. One cannot be both insignificant and the contemporary of beings who can make universes.

On the balance, this book is a must-read for any serious seeker, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum. Props go to Saltarelli for one of the most intellectually honest attempts to defend Atheism I have ever seen(It got weird in  a few places, addressed some interesting angles such as deja vu/dreams of the future maybe indicating evidence of nonlinear time, but it is still much better than the normal 'gotcha' game), and the panel of judges did an excellent job overall of remaining ideologically neutral and judging the effectiveness of the arguments rather than their personal opinion of them.

Well worth the price of admission, and if a print version is ever made available, it will be going on my shelf. For now, there is only a Kindle version, which you can get here. As a bonus, the one-star review on Amazon is quite amusing. I am assuming the derogatory use of 'nerd' plus the constant references to being confused means the  one star is butthurt because he couldn't keep up, while the dismissive tone regarding all participants is unreasonably inflated self ego.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Trump Rally Chicago

I've been scrolling through #TrumpRallyChi for a couple hours now, and two things have really stood out to me.

1) The number of people who think throwing rocks/bottles at people attending an assembly and police is an acceptable, grassroots, free-speech method of discourse, and

2) how all wings of the mainstream media are not only on board with 'they had it coming', but are trying to pin the violence against Trump and supporters as if it's their fault.

Truly, saying 'these people need to go home' or 'this guy needs an ass whooping' is morally equivalent to actually harming people.

And if it's true that most people disagree with Trump, then he's harmless and this is literally terrorizing a minority.

The truth is, however, that more people than ever have decided to go with Trump. Carson backed him because he's the only candidate not justifying throwing rocks at attendees of a political event and police. The majority of the country is tired of the partisan politics, being terrorized just for being alive, oppressed by government more burdensome than nearly any other point in history, and being denied any real, meaningful voice with which to seek reparation.

But I would wager that a lot of this 'grassroots opposition' is quite calculated and premeditated. I have read Rules for Radicals, and the hallmarks are nearly unmistakable.

And, happily, it looks like more people than ever can see it too. So the question remains, how far are you willing to carry this war on freedom and reason, you of the progressive left? Would you see an outright war in the streets before you'd concede that most people do not want what you're selling? Because there's no going back now. Even if you manage to succeed in one of your ridiculous assassination plans, that won't stop the awakening, that would strengthen it. We're done with you, your failed ideas and policies, and the division you foster.

It's time for America to be America again, and there's more of us than ever willing to see it through to the end.

Cycle of Nations and Progressives

It can't be said often enough, progressives aren't progressive. However, of far more import is the fact that all political institutions of consequence are now fully on board.

So the screaming leftists assault a peaceful Trump rally, injure police, gloat about it afterwards on social media, and the remaining Republican candidates all blame Trump. Glad to know what side you are on. Way to 'stand for your principles'. Might I suggest that progressive terrorism is not what the founders intended for us to conserve?

There can be no question that the Republican party has been converged. It's naked pandering to the left, the globalists, and the racists leaves absolutely no room to argue it's true allegiance. We've known for some time, to be sure. Republicans had the largest sweep of Congressional seats I have ever seen, and they immediately set about rubberstamping Obama's policies and refusing to hold the DOJ or Obama administration accountable in any meaningful way. But this open, blatant support of anti-Right sentiment is new.

Progressivism is cancer. Libertarianism is dead. Conservatism is dead. Just like Europe, America will become Nationalist again, or it will perish. America's enemies are many, and they are clever, but Americans are strong, and longsuffering. We have reached a crux, a critical mass, and the fight will be shortly on. If the globalist corporatist masters of the Republican party attempt to pull a Democrat maneuver to stifle the will of the people by fiat denial through a brokered convention, there will be nothing left for the Right in the peaceful process of election. If we are to be denied by fiat the expression of our will through peaceful means, it will not go unexpressed.

They say those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and if there's one common trait of the elite and powerful, it is that they believe they are unique in all of history and the lesson doesn't apply to them.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Last Days of the Republican Establishment

I have been wondering what my first blog post should be about, and I guess a lot of new bloggers have that problem. I’ve spent the last nine years in a state of constant self-rehabilitation after a workplace accident, and getting on Twitter to shitpost was part of that process (depression over your limits and circumstances sucks, and people with a sense of humor help tremendously).

I got my topic the other day when I attended my first John Birch Society meeting, and met three older people from my local county Republican Party. They were having the same problems in both places, low attendance, and were trying to figure out how to remedy that. Now my wife and I had, not long ago, taken over the website for the county Republican party, and ran it for about 6 months until they decided they wanted no part of a website that had actual content, reverting to their boilerplate page that listed meeting times.

And here I was, in the same position again, having the same conversation about what people today expect of their media and organizational outlets, to deaf ears.

The local county I live in has 30,000 registered Republicans with an average age of 35, whereas the regular attendance of the party meetings is under 50 people, with an average age of 60-something. Their website traffic, during the time we ran it, never exceeded 100 page views per month. By contrast, I have more than 50 followers on twitter (at the time of this writing), and I am averaging 1.3k impressions a day. My twitter account, even adjusted for the value of impressions vs pageviews, has a longer reach than the entire county party. I haven’t even gotten serious yet, either.

The conversation at the JBS meeting, however, was the most enlightening. I asked, plainly, what they were offering to prospective members. What value were they adding to a member’s life, that makes it worth the price of admission?

“Nothing, that’s not what we’re here for. We want people to join because it’s the right thing to do. It’s about sacrificing for your principles.”

And all at once, it made sense. Vox Day connects people to work. Mike Cernovich promotes go-getters to help their audience grow. We share advice, expertise, and good humor. We build networks of friends, we support and protect one another, and we thumb our noses at the do-nothings who would sit in their towers and dictate to the unwashed serfs of their imaginary kingdoms. We are building our own world.

But the relics of the past want nothing to do with such things. They are content to stand on the perceived purity and strength of what came before, the fortunes they have amassed in their youth, and declare themselves blameless in what has transpired, relying on their right-ness to carry them. Everything is someone else’s fault, and someone else, younger and poorer, should sacrifice THEIR wealth and time to fix the problem.

But no, of course the winning strategy is to tell someone you desire to bring to your side that it’s going to cost them dues, they will be given marching orders from above that they have little control over, and the reward at the end is knowing they were right as the country goes down the toilet to the sound of a million tongues clucking in disapproval.

And they wonder why Trump is winning, and the Alt-Right is growing. There is no value left in the Republican party for anyone who doesn’t own a multinational corporation and isn't willing to sell their own country out for a quick buck.

And far too many Republicans see that for the party to be viable any longer.