Friday, August 10, 2018

"Humanism and Its Aspirations" just another hijack

It came to my attention recently that there is a third "Humanist Manifesto" under the title "Humanism and Its Aspirations." I found it published here:

https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/manifesto3/

It was created by the American Humanist Association, an organization with the subtext "GOOD WITHOUT A GOD" displayed below its name, and it was drafted in 2003. The reproduction of its text in this essay is for critical debate only, and I make no claims whatsoever to its original composition.

I read the document, and it occurred to me that just as specific words in our lexicon have been re-purposed to champion particular political agendas, the Humanist Manifesto of 2003 demonstrates how the standard humanist values have been hijacked from Christian tenets.

To better demonstrate this observation, the following is a sentence-by-sentence comparison of Humanism to Christianity. The goal here is to make it evident that the American Humanist Association has indeed 'borrowed' concepts and values from holy documents whose origin are in direct conflict with their core belief.

An additional purpose in this comparison format is to demonstrate that many of the concepts being presented as particular to humanism are in fact merely intrinsic to any human being who wishes to contribute to the good of the world, regardless of belief system or lack of it.

What makes the presentation of a document of this nature insidious, is that it implies by its existence that it is in direct opposition to the aspirations of those who believe in God. Ironically, when it speaks of humane concepts as though they are exclusive to Humanists, it is actually referencing Christian principles as set forth two thousand years ago in documents gathered which eventually formed the New Testament.

Humanist Manifesto text is in script, Christian comparison in regular text. Any bold text was my alteration for the purpose of pointing out key disparities.


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Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Christianity is a philosophy of life that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.


The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully.

The lifestance of Christianity—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully.


[Humanism] evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

[Christianity] was given to us by God and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.


This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe.

The sentence is a statement of intent exclusive to Humanism, therefore no comparison will be made.


It is in this sense that [Humanists] affirm the following:

[Christians] affirm the following:


Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.


Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies.

Christians find that science is the best method for determining scientific knowledge as well as for solving science-related problems and developing beneficial technologies.


[Humanists] also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

[Christians] also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.


Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of Intelligent Design.


Humanists recognize nature as self-existing.

Christians recognize nature as self-existing.


[Humanists] accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be.

[Christians] accept our life as all and enough, while recognizing that there is more to the universe we experience than we perceive with the five senses, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be.


[Humanists] welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

[Christians] welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.


Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.

Ethical values are derived from God and are tested by experience.


Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond.

Christians ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond.


[Humanists] are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

[Christians] are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.


Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.


[Humanists] aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death.

[Christians] aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and transformation of death.


Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Christians rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the existence of God to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.


Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.


Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence.

Christians long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence.


The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages [Humanists] to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages [Christians] to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.


Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.


Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community.

God-inspired individuals have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community.


[Humanists] seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

[Christians] seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.


Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views.

Christians are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views.


[Humanists] work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

[Christians] work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open-minded society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.


Thus engaged in the flow of life, [Humanists] aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, [Christians] aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals.


The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

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CONCLUSION:

As you may plainly see, attempting to make either world view appear morally superior is merely unsubstantiated propaganda.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gibson Brands Ceases the Development of Cakewalk Products

Much to the dismay of myself, and especially the two friends I record music with, Gibson has dismantled Cakewalk (as of November 17th of this year - five days ago), which produces the Sonar Producer line of music production software. Cakewalk was originally one of Roland Corporation's subsidiaries.

When founder Greg Hendershott resigned as CEO in 2012 after 25 years with the three-decades old company, Michael Hoover took over as president, stepping up from his former position as EVP of Products for Cakewalk.

Only one year after that, the parent company Roland Corporation decided to sell all their Cakewalk shares to Gibson Brands.

And now, only four years later, Gibson has decided to shut down Cakewalk operations, in order to "better align with the company’s acquisition strategy."

For the tens of thousands of Cakewalk users, this is particularly stressful. Cakewalk had risen to a status that was effectively equal with Pro Tools, the 'industry standard' music production software from Avid Technology. Even though Cakewalk remains a perfectly legitimate software for producing high-quality music, it of course will eventually not be able to compete with the still updated Pro Tools anymore.

In honor of the exceptional DAW that Sonar Producer had become, I will now translate the short memo that Gibson saw fit to publish on Cakewalk's web site here:

http://www.cakewalk.com/Gibson-Announcement

What follows is a sentence-by-sentence translation of Gibson's terse blurb to their loyal Cakewalk customers. Original Gibson text in italics, my translation in regular font. The translations given are the author's opinion only, and should not, for legal reasons, be construed as facts regarding unknown activity at Cakewalk, Roland, Avid Technology  or Gibson Brands.

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Gibson Brands announced today that it is ceasing active development and production of Cakewalk branded products.

Gibson is dumping its sole software subsidiary, known as Cakewalk.



The decision was made to better align with the company’s acquisition strategy that is heavily focused on growth in the global consumer electronics audio business under the Philips brand.

Gibson lacks the vision to maintain the loyal and growing user base for Sonar, and would rather take the failing "Woox Innovations" subsidiary they purchased from Philips in 2014 (for $135 million), and jump on the gadget bandwagon, because they imagine that they can actually compete with real manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and Apple.



Cakewalk has been an industry leader in music software for over 25 years by fusing cutting-edge technology with creative approaches to tools that create, edit, mix, and publish music for professional and amateur musicians.

Even though, for 25 years, the talented individuals who created Cakewalk managed to turn a minor upstart piece of software into a genuine alternative to the overpriced Pro Tools, their efforts are now being devalued because at least one high-placed person in Gibson Brands was given an undisclosed sum of money by someone in Avid Technology to kill their one worthy competitor.



Gibson Brands acquired Cakewalk in 2013.

Gibson grabbed Cakewalk for a bargain in 2013 because Cakewalk's CEO Michael Hoover somehow managed to bungle enough to destroy Roland's confidence in Cakewalk's ability to compete in the DAW industry.



Gibson Brands, a growing company in the music and sound industries, was founded in 1894 and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gibson Brands, a struggling guitar-making company that was actually founded in 1902 by Orville Gibson, has been purchased by several companies through the decades, because they just don't have enough business sense to stay afloat on their own, what with all these new-fangled musical doodads and all.



Gibson Brands is a global leader in musical instruments, consumer electronics, and professional audio, and is dedicated to bringing the finest experiences to consumers by offering exceptional products with world- recognized brands.

Gibson Brands decided at some point to diversify their manufacturing arm way past merely overpriced guitars, and thinks the way to stay relevant in the early 21st century is to join the "Me Too!" gadget vendors, even though the impressive description of themselves they've published above falls quite far from the ledge of reality.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

The puzzling lack of evidence

New star formation is kind of important, as evolutionary theory (applied to cosmology) dictates that we should eventually be able to observe stars in all stages of formation. According to our astronomical observations, our universe contains older and younger stars, so current theory suggests that stars had to have formed at different times since the Big Bang.

Just like in biological evolution, the magical element in star formation is extremely long time periods. Density waves shrinking dust clouds into new stars isn't the most feasible theory, as most stars are thought to be too far from each other to produce that effect, and since the universe continues to expand, they are growing further apart. Cloud collapse via vast gas clouds in nebulae, a more promising theory, has not been observed to produce a new star anywhere in the universe yet.

We have found candidate interstellar clouds that look promising, such as the Orion Nebula, where we have observed Bok globules which theoretically form new stars.

http://www.space.com/8298-star-formation-details-images.html

What's interesting to me in all this is that just like transitional fossils in biological evolution, according to Darwin's theory, we should see myriad transitional fossils of organisms in various stages of metamorphosis, with partially developed appendages, etc. Instead, such fossils are of extremely rare occurrence. So all sorts of explanations are offered to us for why we don't find those fossils.

In the case of new star formation, there is too much dust debris and gas in the Bok globules for us to see anything that looks like a new star forming. What we actually observe everywhere we look in the universe is star decay instead. We can use long microwave wavelengths to "look through" the dust at "newborn" stars, but the fact remains that the closest we've come to seeing a brand new star are the "final stages of collapse, before they are reborn as full-fledged stars."

Curious indeed, how something that theoretically should be observed much more commonly is actually a rare cosmic event. So rare, in fact, that it still has not been observed.



Monday, March 13, 2017

The unadvertised nature of science

The unadvertised nature of science is that "facts" are only as good as the evidence that supports them. Yet so many people, scientists and non-scientists alike, hold on to their world view paradigms with stubbornness seldom seen elsewhere in life.

As of 2017, many people have been made aware of the controversy surrounding the official dismissal of Pluto as our solar system's ninth planet. The details surrounding the decision by the International Astronomical Union sound reasonable enough, yet for many people there is a sense of indignation that yet another fact of science has been revised.

You can read more about the controversy here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definition_of_planet

This sort of historical revision, due to new information, is nothing new to science. For centuries, the acceptable theory for the universe was referred to as "Steady State," which meant that it had no beginning, and eternally existed. This theory persisted although many great thinkers proposed otherwise.

Then in 1927 Georges LemaƮtre, a priest/astronomer/physicist logically suggested, based on astronomical observation, that the expanding universe had a starting point it had expanded from. This proposal was met with ridicule by the scientific community, despite Edwin Hubble's further astronomical observations in 1929 regarding galactic redshifts, which strongly supported the idea of an expanding universe. Even Albert Einstein initially rejected the idea.

The ridicule and public derision of the idea are what actually gave the theory its originally pejorative name "Big Bang." The overriding consensus of the detractors was that an expanding universe implied a starting point, which to their analytical sensibilities was much too suggestive of an Abrahamic explanation for the universe. In other words, they found the idea repulsive because it opened the door to the explanation of creation in Genesis to be possible. A Steady State universe that eternally existed would not have a starting point, thus making the biblical account clearly false.

Finally, in 1964, cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, and the scientific community could no longer wave their hands in dismissal. The physical evidence that had gathered literally forced them to let go of their paradigm. But this process took nearly forty years, much too long for the respected scientific community to admit they were wrong.

Regardless of your ideology, and whether you like it or not, the same process is currently underway in the field of evolution. Just as the more powerful astronomical equipment and improved methods of cosmic measurement and observation provided physical evidence for the Big Bang, several fields in science are producing evidence that seems to refute Darwin's original hypothesis. The current official title for this theory is "Intelligent Design."

Again, these new observations and data are due to improved technologies in the last forty years. New data in microbiology, molecular biology, genetics and even cosmology are challenging the assertions made for the last 158 years since the appearance of "On the Origin of Species" in 1859. The ability to gather this data simply did not exist in Darwin's time.

Books have been published that represent decades of research and data, and the authors are observing that the physical facts as we now know them no longer fit the model that life originated by fortunate accident and random mutation. I have read many of these books, and their arguments are reasonable and science-based, not religious nor irrational. The questions they raise are highly relevant to the issue, and quite frankly, are not being sufficiently addressed by the proponents of evolution.

Are these authors correct or not? Certainly every individual will have an opinion regarding whether or not evolution by natural selection is true or false. Most people accept Darwin's theory as true, and even go so far as to insist it is fact, because this is what they've been taught as far back as they can remember. Much the same as those who refuse to let go of the idea that Pluto is a planet.

The amount of public ridicule and derision that has been thrown at these authors and their fellow researchers is in some ways even worse than the humiliation that Big Bang supporters endured. There is an ever more virulent constituency of "thinkers" who absolutely hate and reject anything that could possibly even hint that God exists. These angry critics don't tend to wax reasonable when they're on their soapboxes. For them, anything religion touches is poisoned.

In real life, that particular anti-God assertion is easily demonstrable as false, but that fact apparently doesn't figure into the militant atheist's reasoning process.

It's been 158 years since Darwin published his book. It will likely take a lot longer than that to finally get the official scientific community to stop forcing an antiquated theory on the layman, a theory which is slowly turning out to be more ideology than true science.



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Apparently, women who are 'pro-life' are not welcome on the 2017 Million Woman March (wisely renamed "Women's March on Washington").

Why is that? Are they not equal to 'pro-choice' supporters in terms of their right to a public opinion?

Just like all the polarizing issues that plague this country, and I do mean plague in terms of pestilence against unification, the Women's March on Washington is an exercise in hypocrisy, disguised as 'the right thing to do.' I work with someone who attended, and although the reason she gave for the event was some nebulous manifestation of "solidarity," I seriously doubt it would have occurred if Trump had never mentioned his intention to overturn Roe v. Wade, nor his intention to return the gay marriage decision back to the individual states.

How dare I make such an inflammatory statement? Here are two questions to ponder:

Just what is it about the pro-choice movement that has women's best interests in mind?

Conversely, what is it about Trump's 'safety and protection' political platform that leads one to believe that women will be mistreated and stripped of their rights as human beings?

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Let's do a politically un-corrected analysis:

1) How are we, as a society, protecting women's rights by encouraging the promiscuous behavior in men and women that leads to 'unwanted' pregnancies?

2) How are we, as a society, protecting women's rights by so easily facilitating an action that almost always leads to emotional scarring and unerasable regret?

3) How do we, as individuals, justify our collective conscience regarding the deliberate ending of life of other human beings who have clearly done nothing wrong? Human beings, by the way, who can't be referred to as anything but innocent, as they had no say in their conception, nor were they consulted for their opinion regarding their premeditated death sentence by the hands of others?

4) How are we, as a society, protecting the women and children we allegedly so highly respect and regard, when we deliberately change the verbiage from pro-abortion to pro-choice, as though the deliberate murder of unborn children is somehow a noble pursuit?

5) How are we, as individuals, truly respecting individual human freedoms of thought and expression, by berating and coercing an entire gender to silently acquiesce to a course of action that ultimately does not celebrate life nor freedom, but instead death and bondage to self-destructive behavior?

6) How long are we, as thoughtful, kind, and wise people created in the image of God, going to pretend that being selfish is somehow the same as doing the right thing?

There are many people who are inclined to heatedly argue that a fetus is not a fully formed human being, therefore is nothing more than bodily tissue without any rights or identity.

However, one need only talk to someone who was pregnant with a child they wanted to have, to discover how tragic it truly was when he or she miscarried. The lies we tell ourselves are for self preservation only, and are easily exposed when placed under honest scrutiny.




Saturday, August 27, 2016

The statistical difficulty of atheism

You're in a room. There are 100 people in it, including you. A math problem is presented to everyone in the room. Everyone is given whatever materials they need to work out the answer (no cheating allowed).

When everyone is done working on the problem, you find that 87 people were able to establish the correct answer, and 13 were not, no matter how hard they tried.

You are one of the 13, so you are disappointed and a bit irritated that you can't arrive at the answer.

So, what do you do? Do you:

1) Try harder to find the answer?

2) Befriend the 87 people and see if they can help you get the answer?

3) Give up and say the problem was useless and stupid to begin with?

4) Proclaim that the 87 people are simply lying, and did not arrive at the answer?

5) Start attacking the 87 people because that makes you feel better than admitting you just don't understand the problem?

I think you know which group you're in. If any of you are pretending that 87% of the entire world is merely deluded... well, any reasonable person would know better.


 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Genesis 15:6

I have spent a lifetime being angry. Not every waking moment, of course, that's just silly.

But the truth remains that whether it be nature, nurture, or a combination of both, I have been saddled my entire life with a temper that can occasionally generate behavior that I am always embarrassed about after the fact.

I'm burdened with regret for all the wrongs I have done to others by reason of my sin. I have regrets for bad decisions that reach all the way back to ninth grade.

Did I just use the word "sin"? I did. As Andy Stanley has pointed out, referring to my past sins merely as "mistakes" doesn't sufficiently characterize the nature of the behavior nor the damage it incurs.

What I have learned recently is that in an attempt to take responsibility for the wrongs I have done, I have given plenty of gravity to the judgement of God, but not enough to the aspect of God that matters the most: love.

I used to think that people who preached about God's love all the time were not being realistic. Wasn't God the person who ended people's lives in the Bible for all kinds of disobedience? Wasn't God the person who eventually makes a final decision that separates the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the chaff? Wasn't God the person who grants entry to Heaven for the few there be that find it, and casts out into outer darkness those who refuse to obey His rules?

All these years I knew the words, but apparently didn't fully understand what they were saying. I was viewing God through a concept of reward and punishment, much the same way I was raised as a child, and as most people are raised.

My wife and I have been reading through the Bible from front to back. What we've found by reading all the text instead of just cherry-picked passages, is that the history of human beings is steeped in rape and violence, hatred and deceit, anger and retribution, selfishness and tragedy. It's quite similar to Game of Thrones in its shocking details.

What I get now by reading the text from the source, instead of reading other commentators on the text, is that the whole time, from the beginning to the end, God has had nothing but love for human beings, and has demonstrated it by forgiving us over and over again, despite our own propensity to spit in His eye.

What can a father do about a son or daughter who refuses to live a good life and be kind to others? What can a father do about a child who becomes an adult, and can't seem to stop his or her destructive and sometimes hateful behavior?

While a father may at times have to commit himself to things like 'tough' love, the truth of it is that no matter what the child does, the father (and mother) will always forgive the child if the child sincerely seeks reconciliation.

No matter how many times the child errs, the parent will always take the child back.

Because the parent loves the child, plain and simple.

So no matter what you've been told, or what kind of fear and anger you've held onto, the truth so many of us can't seem to wrap our minds around is that God loves us all, and can't stand even one of us having to experience the pain that goes along with bad decisions.

But what can God possibly do for those who refuse to admit they are wrong?

This universe, Earth, life... these are all too convenient to be a statistically impossible accident. The God in the Bible is not a dictator nor sadist. Those are lies that seem probable if a person would rather be angry than thankful. God has never, nor will ever, force our hands. That level of freedom is just one of the many, many gifts we were all given from birth.

A person either trusts God or they don't.