September 30, 2010

Time Wasters: Lying Part 1

“I'm not upset that you lied to me,
I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
Buon giorno. Yours truly is a bit wired today, and ready to give you a couple of lessons on lying. Yes, two: First, some explanation on what lying really means (and doesn't mean), and second, why it's counterproductive.

"Why do people lie, Uncle Bob?"

Some are compulsive liars and cannot help themselves. It may be that the truth is unflattering to them, so they have to make themselves look better than they really are. Sometimes it's because they are selfish and greedy, so if lying is a means to an end, that's fine with them. Further, people who are consumed with hate will say anything to hurt the object of their ire.

The intent to deceive is an integral part of lying. Lying has several aspects:
  • The obvious, flat-out lie. "Did you come in a half an hour late to work?"..."No..." Also, there was a "scientist", obviously a fraud, who posted a comment about my article on evolutionary fakes. In one part, he said that he examined the fraudulent Piltdown Man. Either he did it behind the ropes in a museum, or he is about 130 years old!
  • Deliberately skewing information and leaving out pertinent data that would give a more complete, or even different, result.
  • Selective citing of quotes. Be careful with this one, because sometimes quotations are appended to give a more complete picture and you can be accused of "quote mining". (This is common with evolutionists who abhor having their heroes showing doubt about their belief system.) Quoting from the middle of a paragraph or taking only a few sentences from an article out of context is typical of yellow journalism; it's disingenuous at best, and can often be dishonest. (Note that saying something like, "This sentence caught my attention. It seemed at odds with the rest of the story" seems safe enough.) The principle applies to changing quotes as well — if you're deliberately changing a quotation or tampering with it, you're a liar.
  • Implying. Closely related to the above. You can simply not bother to check out information that is readily available. For instance, "The author claims that he wrote about steam engines, but I could find no such article". Well, sure, if you only looked at the current page of the Weblog, or did not bother to do a search under the author's name and the topic. Did you ignore the link that was provided? A more honest remark would be, "...I did not find the article in my brief search." If you are implying that the author or speaker is a liar and you "support" your claim with implication (and incomplete research), you are the liar, Lawrence.
  • Assigning a motive. You don't know what is in someone's heart or mind "on the fly". For instance, I heard a Bible teacher that said he was not going to give the background support for the doctrine of the Trinity. This was because he was going to discuss a different topic, and the Trinity had to be a "given". If you say, "He skipped the proof for the Trinity 'cause he can't prove it at all!" If you pull a stunt like that, you're a liar, not him.
  • Leaving out important information. "Hey, I didn't lie!" When omitting facts to mislead someone, yes you did lie. This often includes "half truths".
  • Withholding the truth. If you know the truth and it makes a difference, you're essentially lying.
  • Playing word games. Messing with the meanings, deliberately misunderstanding what someone is saying, "typo pouncing" &c. It's an attempt to give an errant perception.
  • Putting words into someone's mouth. This can be tricky, too. One one hand, there is the "Ray is a homophobe", a complete and deliberate misrepresentation of the contents of the article. The other way is to quote a line in question and saying, "This seems homophobic to me".
  • Establishing arbitrary rules. This one was brought home to me when I was "informed" that Weblog comments are indeed a place for lengthy dissertations and off-topic discussions. However, it was not the "owner" of the Weblog that made this statement, it was from a troll looking to find an excuse for an argument. Sorry, Princess, making up your own rules, especially when you do not have any authority, is dishonest.
Lying is also disrespectful to the hearer or reader because you are saying, in effect, "I do not trust you to make your own decisions, so I will manipulate you into thinking what I want you to think."

Some things that lying is not:

No, I lied, I'm not going to continue right now. Tune in tomorrow for the rest of this. (OK, it's tomorrow now. Part 2 is here, if it's not on the same page as Part 1.)

September 28, 2010

Time Wasters: Philosophy

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
— The Apostle Paul (ESV)

Buon giorno. Don't get the wrong idea, I am not saying that all philosophy is a waste of time, and reject it out of hand. It can be interesting to follow someone's line of reasoning and find out where they're coming from. Personally, I find the Socratic Method quite fascinating.

Nor am I "anti-intellectual" (which I discussed here). What puts me off is the "intellectual" argumentation with philosophy. When discussing the nature of God, or existence, or God's existence, I am not interested in the opinions of the "great philosophers" for very long. Instead, I believe that people are not interested in reaching the truth. I believe that they simply want to have intellectual arguments for their own sake. Some people seem to get personal validation by putting on intellectual airs and throwing around big words. And some people pretend that they are oh-so-smart, engaging in philosophical arguments, but violating simple rules of logic. I laugh, point out their folly and leave.

Me, I prefer to talk like regular people instead of putting my audience off by excessive circumlocution. (How does that example grab ya, Gertie?) Maybe it's just the cowboy in me.

So, if a discussion turns overly philosophical, don't be surprised if I bail out because I feel that it is self-indulgent and unproductive. You may think I'm a cafone for dropping out of philosophical stuff, but I have to draw the line when I think I'm wasting my time, capice? I like to take the simplest approach, and then delve deeper if needed. Especially when it comes to discussion of the Word of God. Occam's Razor states, in essence, that the simplest answer is probably the best one. If you want to add Occam's shaving brush, shaving mug, comb, hair gel and cologne so you can sound profound, well, things are getting a little cluttered (Col. 2.8 KJV).

By the way, there are many philosophers and philosophies through the ages. One reason for this, it seems to me, is because they are all incomplete. Sure, some are clever and raise some good points. But they haven't arrived at the truth which they allegedly seek.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.
— The Apostle Paul (ESV)
Raphael's painting of the Apostle Paul in Athens

September 23, 2010

More about Stephen Hawking's Nonsense

Here is a link to a good article. I particularly like the expression, "Atheistic faith masquerading as science".

Another article on the nonsense by Stephen Hawking is here.

September 21, 2010

Corporate Double-Talk

Listen, don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of businesses making a profit. Also, I don't hate the rich (after all how many poor people can give you a job, huh?).What grinds my gears is when any employer, big or little, will take advantage of the employees.

I was pondering some of the stories that Neil told me about his cheapskate but very large Fortune 100 company. First, they claim to be interested in "diversity". Their propaganda has phrases like this:
  • Diversity is about having a broad mix of talent in our operations
  • A diverse workforce offers unique perspectives, ideas and solutions
  • [With] diverse workforce, we can better meet the needs of the increasing multicultural clients, communities and individuals
  • Build teams that bring together varied points of view to generate unique ideas and business solutions
  • Age, experience, gender, ethnic backgrounds all contribute to a grand and glorious whole (my summary of some of their other propaganda)
 And so on, and so on.

Gives you the idea that they value people, right? People are those things that have their own needs, wants, desires, infirmities, ambitions and so on. Personally, I would have plenty of advantages to offer to The Company. But I have the baggage of a partially neglected but still medicated heart condition, medicated diabetes, back difficulties, a diagnosis of "severe depression" (not so severe anymore, but I have "spells") and other things.

If you, Mr. Employer, claim to value people, you had better be prepared to accept the whole package.

Neil raises a very good question, and I agree: If The Company values the diversity of employees, and expect this diversity, then why on earth do they demand a uniformity of production? Yes, that's a very good question.

Here's something else that came up about their cheapness: Raises. I believe in a two-tier approach to a pay rise. First, a "thanks for coming in and being a good worker" kind of thing. Then, an increase based on merit. If it's all based on merit, and the standards are too high to obtain the pay rise, The Company should not be surprised when productivity drops off and good employees become less good, even finding other jobs. If you want good work, you pay for it, capice?

September 20, 2010

A Word of Thanks to the Atheists

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
Buona sera. Ready for some brutal honesty? Good. (I've revised this a bit on March 15, 2015, the original was published on September 20, 2010.)

I have had many discussions with atheists, atheists pretending to be agnostics, agnostics, deists acting like atheists, anti-theists, evolutionists and what have you over the years. Also, I have been involved in drive-by postings, both to and from these groups. Many of these exchanges have been online, whether this Weblog, other peoples' Weblogs, forums, other social media and the like. For the rest of this article, I'm going to stick with the term "atheist", since those are the majority of my encounters, and the rest are not exactly "believers".

I realize that atheist encounters from civil and intelligent people have been good for me.

"Have you gone completely nuts, Uncle Bob?"

Nope. I'm still partly looney, but not all the way yet.

I've learned some things. If people pay attention and use the experiences, they can grow from them. 

The encounters with have helped me in several ways.

Sharpening my presentation. There have been times that I did not give enough attention to what I was saying, and they questioned things, such as, "Are you saying such and so?" Wow, it sounded like I said that, and I didn't want to, so I had to clarify.

Making me think. Similar to the above point, I have been asked about some things in the course of exchanges, and had to do some research (as well as make sure for myself what it is that I want to accomplish). And I have been asked some hard questions that were good for me to examine.

Realizing that we agree on some things. That's right! I have posted an article and comments to that effect, too. Neither of us like fake Christians (false converts), Christians that do not know their Bibles very well, and other things.

Civility. There was a time when the trolls would attack and I would send them home bleeding and crying. Yes, I still want to lash out, but I want to act in a manner pleasing to God. I admit that I have work to do. Mind you, some people have ridiculous images in their minds on what a Christian should be. Sorry, Sylvester, I can't match every individual's own concept of what a Christian should be. In addition, we have a right to stand up for ourselves and to point out where you are in the wrong, but we have to do it properly; there's a balance between standing up and being unduly harsh.

Sometimes, I have to rattle your cages to get your attention. You may perceive it as uncivil (sometimes I get excited, and you're right on that score once in a while), but I hope that I can get you to think instead of just react. When it comes to trolls, however, I just let them know that they're not fooling anyone; I've been around the Internet for quite a while.

It's funny when I'm being set up and you get surprised when I'm civil in my responses. Well, if you give a civil comment, that's what you'll receive. In fact, one guy was bragging that he wasn't going to be the first to start mouthing off and he waited for me to start something. The problem is, his first comment was antagonistic. I let it go through, anyway. Then he became recalcitrant and I had to stop discussing things with him.

I've learned how Internet atheists think. Frankly, you have a great deal of work to do. Getting into heavy philosophy strikes me as a way to dodge issues. And you love to play word games! Since my time is valuable and my blood pressure is supposed to be regulated, I'll simply cancel an obnoxious exchange. Also, I have learned that most Internet atheists are far different than the ones I have dealt with in real life. (Except for Scott back in Eighth Grade, who was ranting that "all Christians should be burned at the stake". Never did find out what brought that on.) Of course, when they get unpleasant, it's time to consider moving along.

You helped bring me back to my faith. Gather 'round, gang, it's testimony time. I wandered away from my faith for about fifteen years. There were several reasons. I'm still doing self-examination (a never-ending process), but I see now that I wanted to please myself instead of Jesus Christ. More and more sin entered my life. Although I never renounced the faith that I knew to be true, I put it all on the back burner.

The very second article that I wrote for this Weblog was in response to Internet atheists being obstreperous and illogical. I was defending my faith, even though I was more of a Buddhist than a Christian back then.

These encounters, plus several other factors that are not relevant to this article, helped me to realize where I really belonged, and I recommitted my life to Christ a few months ago. Now, I'm making up for lost time and learning quite a bit.

So, thanks to atheists &c for helping me to come back to Jesus, and the opportunities for growth that you have provided to me. Addendum: Much of the above can be applied to interactions with cultists, liberal Christians, evolutionists of various sorts, and more.


September 17, 2010

Make Your Own Gods

After I recommitted my life to Jesus, I still had some "souvenirs" left over from my other pursuits. Specifically, Tibetan Buddhism. 
A guy told me, "You'd better get those Buddhas out of your home now. I'm serious. If you don't, I'm going to come in there and break each and every one of them!"

I took it to be an idol threat...

OK, Gang, jokes are over. No refunds.

I had been pondering some things for a while and trying to decide how to assemble them into something useful to present to you, the viewing audience. Finally, a discussion that I heard on a podcast brought it all together for me. I love it when a thought comes together.

Let's face it, instead of getting to know the real God, he gets rebuilt:
  • "New Age" philosophies blending science fiction, fantasy, sentiment, wishful thinking and a bit of the Bible to make them sound good
  • Various Reverend Doctor Feelgood-types telling us that the Bible does not mean what it says, your best life is here and now with riches and comfort, never mind the hereafter, and never mind that true believers have been persecuted and died for their faith; nonsense things like The Shack make an image of God who is not deserving of awesome reverence
  • Eastern philosophies, with or without "New Age" add-ons
  • Anti-God philosophies where there is no God, or we cannot know him, so we can do whatever we want, making ourselves into our own little godlings, accountable to no-one but ourselves
  • Poorly-constructed, on-the-fly opinions: "Well, I think God is just a touchie-feelie love dude and wouldn't punish anyone for 'sin', and Jesus is just one way to Heaven. Deepak and Oprah said so!"
One obvious problem with the last one: If God accepts many paths to Heaven, why did Jesus die a horrible death on the cross?

As I see it, all of those are a form of idolatry. That's right, I said it! No, we're not sacrificing our children to Molech. Not directly, anyway. Instead of seriously examining the Bible and finding out what God has revealed about himself, and instead of honestly considering the apologetics that support the validity of the Bible in the first place, people are willing to march into Hell because of their own pride. Of course, part of the problem is that there is a bad Devil who deceives, blinds (2 Cor. 4.4) and distracts people from the truth. But then, he's only following his nature and they are his own children (John 8.44).

Now, the temples of Baal were then occupied by priestesses who were known as sacred prostitutes. The Hebrew in Hosea 4:14 even calls them by the root word of "holy women." They actually were considered to be holy women because Baal was believed to be active in the sexual act itself and so worship then became a sexual act with a temple prostitute. To have intercourse, then, with a temple prostitute was to be united in Dower with Baal, a very consummate act of worship.
Now, that is the way man invents his gods, to accommodate his own vile sinfulness. Inevitably, people, now get this, when men invent gods, those gods will lead men into immorality because they will be gods that reflect the sinfulness of the men who invented them. That is exactly why in Romans chapter 1 you have the fact that when they knew not God, or when they knew God they glorified Him not as God, they changed the glory of God into an image, they made their own idols and immediately in verse 24 you read this: "Wherefore God also let them go into uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts to dishonor their own bodies between themselves."
In other words, you have the rejection of the true God in verse 21, you have the establishment of the false gods in verse 22 and 23, and you have the consequent immorality in verse 24. And it goes all the way down to verse 32. It talks about God giving them up to vile affections. It talks about homosexuality. It talks about a burning in lust one toward another. It talks about, unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maligning, whispers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, proud boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful and so forth. And all of those are simply representations of the kind of worship that man himself builds. And when man does that it says that he not only does them but has pleasure in them that do them.
Idolatry is always an abandonment to an immoral standard.

September 12, 2010

Richard "Daffy" Dawkins Fun

For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
— from the Tenth Psalm

Buon giorno. Ernie the Gambler showed me this video, and I just had to share it. It demonstrates the "logic" of Richard "Daffy" Dawkins and his disciples (Dawkinsites). The audio was provided by Wretched Radio. It takes about five minutes, but it's time well spent.

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