Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Victory against the terrorists?

In his speech today in El Paso, President Bush said:

"The whole objective is to achieve a victory against the terrorists. The terrorists have made it very clear that Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. See, they want us to leave before we have achieved our mission. You know why? Because they want a safe haven. They want to be able to plot and plan attacks. This country must never forget the lessons of September 11, 2001. And a victory in Iraq will, uh, deny the terrorists their stated goal."
Despite all intelligence to the contrary, Bush continues his efforts to tie the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Iraq. It's as though he believes that if he has the courage to proclaim it, then it must be true through the authority of his position as president. That might work for the true believers, but a growing majority clearly sees that "the emperor is naked."

Will establishing democracy in Iraq be a victory against the terrorists? I doubt the terrorists think so.

Is Iraq the central front in the war on terror? If it is, it is only because we have made it so by our prolonged occupation.

Would leaving Iraq create a safe haven from which terrorists will be able to plot and plan attacks? The terrorists seem to be capable of plotting and planning attacks, such as the ones since 9/11, in Bali, Spain and England, from whatever location is convenient to them.

The lessons of September 11, 2001 should include paying attention to intelligence in Presidential Daily Briefings indicating that a terrorist attack involving airliners colliding with skyscrapers on US soil is imminent.

Diverting attention away from the possibility of another terrorist attack in the United States, under the guise of fighting terrorism in Iraq, at a cost of over two thousand American lives so far, accomplishes nothing. The problem is not in Iraq, it is here at home.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving thanks

On this Thanksgiving day, few of us stop to think about what exactly it is we are giving thanks for, or in some cases, giving thanks to. I am thankful for my wife Nan and my dog Charlie, my family and friends, my health, and for a life full of opportunity and experience. To whom am I thankful? I am thankful to all the people in my life for sharing their lives with me. I am not thankful to God because, like Penn Jillette of the comedy and magic act Penn and Teller, I don't believe in God.

Here is what Penn had to say about God on Monday's National Public Radio segment, "This I Believe" (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557):
There Is No God
by Penn Gillette

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The Atheism part is easy.

But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Not so intelligent

From an article on IndyStar.com today:

Robertson warns town that he says rejected God

Virginia Beach, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce "intelligent design" -- the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power -- as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."

I was as amazed as anyone back in August when Pat Robertson publicly advocated the assassination of Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, but this new outburst is beyond ridiculous. This is a man who claims to be God's mouthpiece? What a horse's ass!

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Great Scheme of Things

From an article on MSNBC.com today:
TOPEKA, Kan. - Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.
The 6-4 vote was a victory for “intelligent design” advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.
Well, here's a very different take on "intelligent design," an essay I wrote at the end of 1998:

The Great Scheme of Things

Life is not as it seems. Our role as humans is completely different from what we imagine it to be in our daily lives. Read and see. The evidence is compelling.

There is a very real possibility that life on Earth was seeded by an outside intelligence about 4.5 billion years ago. When Watson and Crick discovered the nature of DNA in 1953, they were surprised that every living thing on Earth shared the same genetic code. In a world that contained such a variety of life, why was there no variation? If life itself was a random occurrence, then why was the code that determined it so inflexible?

When a manned mission reaches Mars early in the next millennium, it may discover evidence of primitive lifeforms. What if the genetic code of those lifeforms matches the DNA of life on Earth? The possibility of there being two identical genetic codes on two separate and distinct planets is tiny. Wouldn't that confirm that life on Earth and elsewhere in our solar system was not the result of random events but rather was a deliberate act by an outside intelligence billions of years ago?

Flash forward to the present, and life on Earth has evolved to the point where humans have developed the intelligence and tools to control almost every aspect of their environments. The evolution of intelligent beings on Earth has reached its peak. Many would agree that life as we know it is actually in decline. Our increasing population and consumptive lifestyles are taxing Earth's resources to the breaking point.

Is the UFO and alien abduction phenomenon a psychological outgrowth of modern life and the media? Or does it have a basis in reality? According to David Jacobs, author of The Threat, UFOs and alien abductions are very real. He has interviewed hundreds of people who believe they have had encounters with extraterrestrial intelligence. They report having eggs and sperm taken from their bodies, being shown alien-human hybrid children, and being told that they will have important roles to play in the future.

People who believe what these abductees are saying postulate that the aliens are trying to rejuvenate their dying species with our genetic material or that they are here to help us through this difficult period in human history. Jacobs postulates that the aliens' intentions are not at all benevolent. He says that as they are, the aliens can only live on Earth for short periods of time before they need to return to a controlled environment. Their purpose in hybridizing is to combine their characteristics with ours to create an alien being that can exist comfortably on Earth and also appear to be human. When they succeed, they will be ready to colonize.

The aliens are not interested in us. They want our planet. We are merely the catalyst that will allow them to claim the Earth for themselves. Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if these aliens represented the same civilization that seeded life on Earth in the first place?

When the abductees asked the aliens what the future held for humankind, they were told that there is no future for humankind but that those who assisted them would be allowed to live. When the abductees asked the aliens when this would happen, they were told soon, within the next few years. If this is true, then it paints a pretty bleak picture of the future. Perhaps the aliens are planning their own millennium celebration.

What, if anything, can be done? Not much. First of all, most people will not believe that the Earth is being taken over by aliens until they see it on the evening news. By then, anything that could have been done would be too late. Secondly, we are obviously dealing with an intelligence far beyond our own. What could we possibly do that would stop the process and not be countered by the aliens?

It is humbling to think that our place in the great scheme of things might ultimately prove to be merely as the intermediary for another civilization's development.