A Conversation

Here’s a dialogue I’ve written over a few weeks in a journal for a class. (<– Some beginning, huh?) I tried to create a conversation, and I tried to be fair to both speakers. One of them ended up speaking more; perhaps “he” had more to say. This isn’t supposed to be a perfect representation of the ideas, but a conversation between two persons on their viewpoints. I agree much more with one of them; does that stick out like a sore thumb or is the dialogue fair?

 

o “That’s the nature of truth. It grows.”
+ “No it doesn’t. It wouldn’t be truth then.”
o “Sure it would! Look. How big is the universe?”
+ “As far as we know, infinite.”
o “But when man was young, was the universe really infinite?”
+ “Yes. Or, at least, as far we know.”
o “No. It wasn’t. You’re looking at truth in too static a fashion. You said, ‘as far as we know.’ That’s how truth works. What we know expands over time. Truth is to be found in what we are aware of – our conscious experience.”
+ “No, truth is absolute. Otherwise it would be false. If is indeed ‘found’ through what we experience, but that’s the point: you only find what’s there to find – it’s absolute. Otherwise it wasn’t found, it was created.”
o “That’s such a narrow mindset.”
+ “It’s a true mindset.”
o “See – there you go again. Your logic is consistent, but it’s so constrained – so limited – so…shut in.”
+ “But what’s the alternative?”
o “To be free. To explore. To create.”
+ “Free of what? I do explore; I explore truth, and I create too.”
o “Free from everything! Why should I subject myself to the doctrines of rigid truth? Your creation is not true creation; it is merely a re-shaping, an affectation, an undulation locked in by your framework.”
+ “That sounds nice, but you don’t live that way. In some ways, it sounds nice, but deep down I’m not sure any of us can believe it. Tell me: is there anything at all in this world you wish was different, that you’re unhappy about?”
o “Of course.”
+ “Well…”
o “Wait. I know where you’re going with this. You’re going to say my truth is useless if I can’t make things be the way I want them to be, but you’re in the same boat. Your claims of narrow truth are just as rigid – entirely more rigid for that matter.”
+ “Well…Hmm…my ideas and beliefs are more rigid, but are our realities different in their ‘rigidness’?”
o “Of course. In your reality, everything is static and ready-made. A giant fact that must be acknowledged. In mine, truth is a mirror, a reflection of our thoughts and experiences. You see true vs. false; I see exploration and growth vs. stagnation.”
+ “Well sure, our ideas about where reality comes from and what it is disagree, but do our practical experiences disagree?”
o “How should I know? I’m not you and you’re not me.”
+ “Alright. What I mean to ask is, does your reality grow according to your ideas, or does reality plod on regardless of your wishes? Practically speaking, do you control your reality?”
o “It’s more complicated than that.”
+ “But, in your reality, what you experience, is there anything you don’t like that happens?”
o “You’re not…”
+ “Yes or no?”
o “You’re trying to…”
+ “Would you please answer the question? Or, is the question too biased for you – you really don’t like my question do you, because it asks a yes-or-no questions, and you don’t believe in yes-or-no’s?”
o “You’re starting to understand now. It’s not yes or no, it’s progressive and enlightened or long-trodden and antiquated.”
+ “And you hold that as true?”
o “I hold it as growing, living, enlightened.”
+ “So you don’t believe your idea is true; you believe it’s modern and relevant. Why are you telling me I’m wrong then (if you don’t believe in false)?”
o “I’m not. I’m telling you your ideas are out-dated and overly confined.”
+ “There. You said it. You said, ‘I’m not.’ That’s a true-vs.-false statement.”
o “Its a limit of language. You need to look beyond the words to the idea.”
+ “So now you’re saying that what you say isn’t really what you mean because language is too confining?”
o “Yes…”
+ “And that ‘yes’ doesn’t mean ‘yes’ in the way I take it but in your sense?”
o “Precisely.”
+ *laughs* “That’s ridiculous.”
o “Only to you – not to me.”
+ “No – to you too. Look: you remember earlier when I was trying to ask you that question you didn’t want to answer? ‘That it was inherently biased’ is what you seemed to claim. Well, that’s my point – reality is inherently biased. Inherently biased is. That’s why we say it is and we don’t say ‘is’ isn’t.”
o “I do though. That’s what you’re missing.”
+ “I’m not missing anything. I’m accepting. I uphold truth. You uphold experience and individuality. I uphold truth because my individual experience convinces me that there is such a thing as absolute truth. No matter what I may say against reality, reality will laugh me in the face. My experience will go on following reality’s dictates regardless of my wishes. Reality warmly welcomes me to a world of real trees, real grass, real flowers. Blue skies bright and clear, not a vague cloud of unreal perceptions and aimless explorations of nothing. Reality is poetic; reality speaks, calls to be heard. Without reality…”
o “I believe in a reality — unique to each person. Do not try to pit this as something versus nothing. In a way, my something is much larger, grander than yours.”
+ “But in your world ‘large’ and ‘grand’ are a joke. Everything is a joke. Without absolutes, there is no value in anything, and all your claims are laughable. You claim against claims.”
o “I personally claim against your claim.”
+ “And my claim is claiming. You claim against claiming.”
o “Against your claiming.”
+ “My claim is claiming the facts of experience.”
o “Your experience – not mine.”
+ “So you deny the experience of absolutes?”
o “I wish neither to deny nor affirm. I wish to live.”
+ “And I wish for such a thing as life.”

So, reader, what do you think?

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So.

So.
The other day I was riding in the car with Dad, and we passed one of those “Gentlemen’s club” signs. I commented to Dad that I thought it was sad they called it a “gentlemen’s” club as if it were in any way respectable.

Then I tried to imagine a person and a mindset that would view it as gentlemanly. I tried to put myself in someone else. I was surprised. I came up with this [This is not really what I think or believe, so please don’t think these words are my real opinions or thoughts; I was simply trying to understand people’s rationalization.]: A middle-aged man – think fairly well of myself – feel somewhat listless or drained, when not there and when there – feel some pleasure in it – I have some reasons I think it may be ok – yeah really, I’ve thought about it, nothing’s 100%, but – it pulls me, not in an Edmund-and-Turkish-delight sense – I don’t feel it’s wrong like Edmund-and-Turkish-delight – also, this is quality – those thoughts are minimal – I see the pleasure – it’s here – I’m somewhat tired – I choose “not to let the rest of my life feel bogged down” – I think it works – I have some times of joy in life – I do – I’m worn out – life’s a lot of work – I think it works – yeah really, I do.

Were you able to step into that at all? I’m not sure I really expressed my thoughts correctly. It was more like a single thought for me and wasn’t nearly as word-based.

So.
Then I saw I was really kind of similar in some ways. The thought surprised me. I’ll share one example of a way I’ve been similar. There are several, and I’m not happy with any of them. I have a lot of work, and I get tired of it. When this thought hit me, I realized I’d been irresponsible in regards to the college application process. I’ve kind of let Mom be the driving motivation, and I’ve just executed what had to be done. The process wore at Mom. I did what I needed to but didn’t show hardly any initiative. I was too [I’m not sure what] to notice in any meaningful way, in any accepting way. And, of course, it wasn’t like in the stories where you know the character is blinded, because I was the character. The oblivious don’t see their oblivion – self-imposed or not. I’m trying to change.

Hopefully this post is helpful to someone. Maybe some things will be broken. I believe we need to pray and believe God will reveal these shortcomings to us. He does. There is hope for today. His smile is powerful – like, really powerful.

Perhaps the most effective, strengthening way to avoid these issues is to be around God, especially repeatedly/prolongedly.

So.

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Government Is.

I have been considering the nature of government lately* and been wondering to what extent government can be un-biased, fair to all, and objective. Also, to what degree can the government really be separate from religion? Below are some of my thoughts, along with some ideas I’ve picked up from others.

The nature of government is one of enforcement. Nobody would rightly call an organization that merely makes suggestions, recommendations, or “rules” it never enforces a government. All true governments have some means of regulating their laws (or whims and fancies), whether it be police, the military, posse’s** or some similar thing.

Furthermore, the nature of government is to enforce something specific; enforcements originate from many things (e.g. “laws,” “decrees”), but they all bear one similarity: they have a definite nature. They may enforce on drug use, theft, the number of pets you own, or perhaps the color of a person’s hair (anything, really), but they don’t enforce sltjlshtlehshsbeltljet. Governments don’t say “eating beef is both legal and illegal” (unless perhaps they are insane).

Consequently, there is NO issue on which governments don’t take a stance. That may sound funny, but at a basic level it’s true. The stance may be, “This is perfectly legal,” “This is illegal and is punishable by a fine of $100,” “This is illegal and punishable by death,” and, in some cases, “You once offended me (the king) and therefore you are sentenced to a life in jail.”

To sum this up: the nature of government is to enforce views on others. Where those views come from varies country by country and issue by issue, but that statement is true of all governments.

So, when people say in regards to something like the hotly contested issue of abortion, “Well, I believe this is wrong but I don’t think I should impose my views on others,” are they saying something nonsensical? Somewhat. I believe that cheating is wrong, but do I think I should support a law to make all cheating in card games illegal? No. However, I believe that stealing is wrong, and I support the fact that we have laws against theft.

If someone’s sole reason for not supporting or opposing a law is that they don’t think they should impose their views on others, then the logical flow of their statement is against government entirely. After all, if you don’t think people should enforce their views, then you don’t think government should enforce the view that theft is wrong.

Really, it comes down to which issue you’re discussing. The question should not be, “Should I support enforcing my beliefs or not?” but rather, “Which beliefs of mine should be enforced and why?” Then comes the tricky part — answering that last question.

I’m thinking to write more about this, but we’ll see…

*When I drafted this weeks ago it was “lately.” I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now.

**Technically, this should be spelled “posses,” but that would probably fail get the idea across.

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This Song

It’s beautiful. It’s true. God’s true.

Holy Is The Lord

Just two things on this song:

It’s giving a picture of when God told Abraham to offer up his son as a sacrifice. Before Abraham killed his son, however, God stopped him and explained that it was a test. A. W. Tozer writes of this event to say that in doing this, God was wrenching away a sense of possession from Abraham; after he had to wrestle with himself and God and surrender his dearest “possession,” he would no longer be held back by considering things his own. “Mine” would not have the same meaning after he had to acknowledge everything is God’s.

Secondly, Jesus (and the Father) did this Himself. Only this time it went to the point of torture, separation, and death. And this time, He did it, not to treat any need in His own soul, but to give us life. Yet, as Abraham rightly guessed, God could cause life to come after death, and Jesus defeated death. First though, was an incredibly painful sacrifice.

Thanks, God.

See Genesis 22:1-18, Hebrews 11:17-19.

Thanks, God.

[Listen to the song if you haven’t yet.  🙂   (Or listen to it twice.)]

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Division by 0

People debate what something divided by 0 equals. Some people argue that 1 / 0 equals infinity; others say it has no meaning. In Java programming, dividing a number by 0 gives the result nan (which stands for Not-A-Number).

In support of the idea that division by 0 is infinity, people cite the fact that the smaller the number you divide something by, the bigger the answer gets:

10 / 100 = 0.1
10 / 10 = 1
10 / 1 = 10
10 / 0.1 = 100
10 / 0.01 = 1000
(and so on…)

The closer the divisor gets to 0, the larger the answer gets. Thus, by extension, division by an infinitely small number would give the result of an infinitely large number.

I however, disagree with this view. I think that the answer lies with the definition of division, and that division by 0 has no real value. Growing up, division was explained to me thus: if you have a number and you break in to x number of pieces, how big will those pieces be? While this definition helped me understand the concept, it doesn’t seem to work for decimal divisors: after all, how do you break 10 into 0.1 pieces?

Perhaps a more accurate way to look at division is this way: if you break 10 into pieces that are 0.1 in size, how many of those pieces will you get? What about division by a larger number though? 10 / 100 — if you break 10 into pieces a 100 big…how many do you get? You only get 0.1, 1 tenth, of a piece 100 big.

With this definition, you get this: 10 / 0 — if you break 10 into pieces that are 0 big, how many will you get? You might be tempted to answer “infinity.” After all, you can add 0 together an infinite amount of times and still have plenty of room to spare. But here’s the thing: even if you have an infinite number of 0s, you won’t get back up to 10. Infinity 0s does not equal 10; infinity 0’s just equals 0. After breaking 10 into an infinite number of 0s, you still have 10 left over. Division by 0 simply makes no sense. That’s why I think it’s undefined, rather than infinity.

Two quick notes:

1:
Division is supposed to be the opposite of multiplication: 8 / 2 = 4 —- 2 * 4 = 8 However, 8 / 0 = [for the sake of argument: infinity] —- 0 * infinity = 0, not 8.

2:
As I heard someone point out once, infinity really isn’t a number; it’s a concept.

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Hardcore Determinism

I was cleaning out a drawer last week, and I came across an old poem I had written titled, “Hardcore Determinism” (See the bottom of this post). The poem is more or less nonsense; it’s on determinists, people who will believe what they believe no matter what you argue.

As a good friend once said to me, a determinist is someone who’s logic is not flawed, but it’s like a ring. No inherent flaws exist in their logic, but the logic is circular and it’s rather narrow-minded.

For example, take people who believe that reality is just an illusion or a dream. If you try to argue with them, perhaps even stomp on their toes to try to show them that pain is real, they will merely pass it off as another illusion. Within the framework and lens they have set up for themselves, what they say makes sense, even though to most people it seems like pish-posh. After all, how do you argue with someone who tells you that you are a figment of their imagination, by telling them you are conscious and you know you’re real? They’ll just pass that off as part of the illusion. There comes a point at which, when someone becomes unwilling to believe otherwise, arguing becomes practically fruitless.

The dwarves from C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle come to mind — the ones who believe they are in the stable when in reality they are in the entrance to Aslan’s country. Alsan gives them a feast, tells them where they really are, and yet they willingly see it as more stable-stuff, upon which Aslan states he can do no more for them (now, whether there was NOTHING he could do for them is a whole other discussion — perhaps a more important discussion).

I don’t know that I can say I’ve actually come across someone who’s a strict determinist, though I have come across people who seem dead set on a certain stance.

 

Here’s the poem. It’s essentially speaking of the nonsense that determinism can lead to:

Hardcore Determinism

Topsy Turvy twinkle Doom…
I stare at the wall of the other room.
Trip Toss sprinkle Zoom…
I’ve swept the stairs with the other broom.

Crash, kerplunk – a yell – whoosh
The chained-tight dog is running loose
Crack, clang – whisper – noose
The dog ran over the flying moose

Lurch-n-lumber zip not Night
I lost all but all my fights
Ling’ring lemon tip some Light
I, through sound, won’t fly a kite

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Prayer

I was thinking the other day about the phrase “the power of prayer.”  It started when I was hit by the thought, “there is no such thing as ‘the power of prayer.’ ” — meaning that the act of praying is not where the power is; the power really is from God.  There is no inherent power in words or thoughts, spoken or unspoken.  However, something in these statements didn’t sound entirely right.  (I remember thinking, without clearly knowing why, “Dad wouldn’t fully accept this train of thought.”)  Then I realized I was forgetting something.  Prayer does have a “power,” but it’s a different kind of power.  The power of prayer is the power, not to move mountains, but to move God.  That is in essence what prayer is; to pray is to make a request of God, to ask Him to do something He otherwise might not do.

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