The following is a collection of thougths that I have had. I am open to and interested in hearing your comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms of them. If you're interested in a thought that is obviously not fully developed, let me know, and I'll give that thought some more thought and develop it further, then post the result for the world to critique and let you know when I have done so. Send such correspondence to: Bill Ensinger at Bill222E@ensingers.com.
Meta Thoughts (Thoughts on thoughts, knowledge, and communication of thoughts)
Notes on these thoughts
Rational thought, Absolute Truth, Seeking the Truth, Defending truth, and "What is moral relativity?"
Politics, Economics, and human communication and issues:
Economy and Productivity
Ideas on Procastination
Cost is a factor in regard to safety
Adding a state to the United States
Who should provide public services: private ventures, government, or both?
Year 2000 problem inherent, but temporary solution provided
What makes you "tick"?
Sorry doesn't bring the dog back
Conservative Christian thoughts, including those of a political nature
Creation vs Evolution
Male and Female relationships, and Abortion
The Death Penalty
Various other thoughts
Oh No! A word problem!!! (An excercise left for the reader)
Undeveloped thoughts, and thoughts available off-line
Back to Bill's home page.
While some of these thoughts are well developed and express my feelings strongly, others are very undeveloped. None of them are guaranteed to be an absolute and final declaration, either of what I believe or of final authority in absolute reality, and it may be that none of them will ever become such. Therefore, these thoughts or parts of them may be updated at any given time, and you use them at your own risk.
I discuss and debate thoughts, ideas, philosophies, actions, and world views. I do not intend to place unnecessary blame, be intentionally stereotypical, or target any particular person or group of people. People often take offense to certain statements, sometimes resulting in their refusal to listen or read further. I want to aviod this, because when a person ceases to seek truth, he stops learning. We have rights: freedom of speech and freedom not to listen. If you are offended by what I say, exercise your right not to listen, or more preferrably to share with me why you disagree.
The position a person holds on a topic may cause certain of their associates to treat the person rudely. If that is your reaction to something I say in my thoughts, please understand that this will get you nowhere. I don't want to make enemies. If being at odds over one issue is enough to make a particular person an enemy, you aren't going to have many friends. Let me make it clear that I am willing to be a friend to anyone even though we may be at odds over many issues. At the very least, rather than making enemies, we should simply not discuss the issue causing the division, and possibly not communicate at all if necessary.
These thoughts are free and must remain free unless anyone can demonstrate why they shouldn't be. Please share them with anyone who you think might benefit from them.
While these thoughts are free, nobody should "steal" them for any purpose and claim that they are theirs and not mine, and nobody should sell them for profit.
I believe that some philosopher(s) has (have) already expressed some of these thoughs, but I am not sure who or how they expressed it. However, some of them may be deliberate or unintentional reinterpretations of the thoughts of others.
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I accept that I exist. If you deny your own existence, then there's no point in going any further. If you deny that an objective world exists beyond your own mind, then I don't exist, these words are a fabrication of your imagination, and again, there's no point in going any further. If you deny that logic and rational thought exists, is valid, or is possible, then there's also no point in going any further.
Because I am continuing on, I obviously accept that I exist, that the objective physical universe exists, and that rational thought and logic exists and is valid because such things make the universe and my existence makes sense.
In short, if you cannot be coherent, then we cannot have a coherent discussion.
Do you believe that objective, absolute truth exists? If you say "no", you are faced with the problem of establishing an absolute (that no absolute truth exists) even though you say no absolute truth exists. This is a contradiction, since absolute truth can't both exist and not exist at the same time. Also, if you say that we cannot know truth, or that no absolute truth exists, why should I accept as true any of your presuppositions, arguements, claims, or anything else for that matter (particularly the one regarding the non-existence of absolute truth)?
The only other alternative is that absolute truth exists. It takes logic to support this position, and thus to say absolute truth exists depends on the validity of logic. You could say the reasoning is circular, and I can't argue with that, but at least there's no contradiction. This is not to say that we can know all truth exhaustively or that nothing is relative. But from this, we can conclude that at least some absolute truth can be known.
The proof for absolute truth may be a circular arguement, but the statement "absolute truth doesn't exist" is a contradiction.
If we establish an absolute truth, then you need not fear anyone who challenges your belief in that truth. You may not be able to defend it yourself, but if it is the truth, then it is defensible. If you are truly seeking the truth, then you need consider any arguement someone brings before you. If it is not true, it won't stand the test of logic.
If we do not strive to find, know, and understand truth, then we leave ourselves open to accept all sorts of falsehoods, some of which can be quite destructive to us.
The question could be asked, "How are we to know when we have found a truth?" I would suggest that as long as we can support the truth of something, we should regard it as truth. At the same time, it isn't wrong to try to disprove it, for in doing so, we will either strengthen our understanding of the truth, or prove that it is actually false, and thus better our knowledge by rejecting it. Secondly, if we say that we can never know any truth, then how are we to sustain ourselves? This would lead us to question whether we really must eat food to survive. As far as we know, we must eat food to survive, so we treat this as truth, at least until we find another way to survive without eating food. And in the meantime, it is useless to not eat food in hopes of either disproving this truth or in finding the alternative, for this leads to unnecessary suffering.
On the question of moral standards, there is sometimes a confusion between what is objective morality and what is relative morality (or moral relativism). Moral relativism is the arbitrary application of rules and standards to separate but otherwise identical cases. However, there are times when a rule and a standard may apply in one case but not in a very similar case. It is not being morally relativistic if a critical difference between the two cases can be shown to demonstrate that the different ruling is fair.
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Why? Because if you're right, then there is a distinction between right and wrong. And if there is a distinction between right and wrong, and you believe otherwise, then your belief is in contradiction with reality, and that, my friend, is the definition of being wrong.
We have wealth because we are productive. Redistribution of wealth does not produce wealth. Forced redistribution of wealth discourages productivity.
What drives economic prosperity and the avoidance of depression? Productivity. As long as there are ample supplies of food, shelter, and clothing, and the means to produce them and get them to where they are needed, then we need not worry about a major depresson. When disasters happen that interrupt the production and distribution of these things, it is up to the enginuity of the people affected to overcome the problem.
Does increased productivity mean people go without jobs? No, it only means those no longer needed for the production of a particular product are free to pursue other things. There will always be a need for taking care of the social needs of people, raising children, providing friendship, caring for the elderly, entertainment, sports, finding ways to improve prosperity, studying philosophy, studying history, exploring the world and the universe, creating art, and evangelizing.
Our basic physical needs:
Food, clothing, shelter.
How do we get them?
What do we do in our spare time? Create ways to make our hard work easier.
Now we have even more spare time. What do we do?
Relax, have fun, etc.
Doing these things is what makes up our economy.
The problem is that humans have a sin nature that doesn't want to work.
When we rely on doing work that does not directly provide our basic needs, we leave ourselves vonerable to not getting our basic needs met. If the opportunity for this alternative work ends, we won't have the means to provide our basic needs, and if we don't know how to provide our basic needs, then we are really in trouble.
Rely on Christ. He will give us the strength to overcome our lazy sinful nature. We can then learn to supply our basic needs, to make it an efficient process to supply our basic needs, and thus have time to spread this message both in word and in deed.
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My dad e-mailed me the following statement when I was in college: "Mom wants to know what 'all is well or at least farely well.' means??"
It's like a train (I know that's what you thought I was going to compare it to :-) ) that is just barely on time. Every once and a while, it might loose a few minutes to fix a minor maintenance problem, but then it makes up the minutes further down the track. Occasionally it may arrive at a major station several minutes early. This is how the Broadway Limited operated last night. 10 minutes late out of Philadelphia, arrived in Harrisburg on time, departed Harrisburg on the money, arrived in Pittsburg 20 minutes early, (He wasn't speeding either!) and arrived in Garrett on time according to my time table, late according to my ticket, and well early according to an older timetable even though the older timetable had it leaving Pittsburg at the same time as the newer timetable. (That's partly due to a new and faster routing out of Pittsburg that eliminates the backup move.) The important thing is that the grade isn't given till the train gets to Chicago, and is only graded on the time it arrives there, not it's performance en-route. The train has about half an hour padding going into Chicago, and likewise, I may be behind in my own schedule on a homework assignment, but if I make up time and get it in on time, then I'm ok. (I'm not trying to promote procrastination, though.)
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"If you have more than what you need and you are not willing to share it, your excess won't do you much good."
This sounds like a very socialist, liberal, and possibly downright communist statement, but in actuality, it isn't. First, if this were the law of the government, then yes, this would be a rather liberal, perhaps even communist statement.
Second, this statement doesn't state anything about the type of person you are if you don't share your excess wealth. You are not automatically a stooge, a hoarder, or whatever. In a liberal/socialist/communist society, you might be viewed upon as such just for having excess wealth, no matter what you did with it.
Third, the statement doesn't say anything about how or who you should share your excess wealth with. Indeed, this statement doesn't even demand that you need to do anything with your excess. In a communist society, and to a lesser extent a socialist or liberal society, the case is often that a governing body will take your excess wealth from you either forcibly, or gently in the form of taxes, then they will decide how to redistribute it, often taking a large share for themselves or a variety of pet projects.
Fourth, this statement makes no distinction about where to draw the line in terms of where your needs end and your excess begins. A poor person may be able to get along with a small portion of what they earn and might consider a significant portion of what they do have as excess. A very wealthy business owner might, on the other hand, consider that he needs most of what he makes so he can reinvest it in the business to keep the business alive and growing, or to keep it from failing, thus having a very small portion of what he has as excess. Typically, a communist/socialist/liberal society likes to make that decision for you, and since they often know little about your lifestyle, will make an irrational decision where to draw the line.
Instead, this statement is designed to make you realize that you have the power to decide what is excess in your life, and that by carefully picking people who you determine are worthy of you sharing it with them, you can improve the quality of their life, which will only reflect positively towards you by other people. I won't go into any details here discussing suggestions I have that I think might help you decide where to draw your own line, as I think you should decide how to find that out on your own.
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Air travel is statistically safer than driving. The statistics are so in favor of air travel over driving that it is probably true that a baby is safer in his mother's lap on an airliner than in a properly placed baby seat in the back seat of a car. Yet there are some who would like to force even infants to have their own seats on an airplane because they are safer there than in their mother's lap. The problem is that the mother, looking at the cost of that extra seat won't consider these safety factors. The possibility of an accident is simply too small to think about. So she'll drive instead of fly. The question therefore, is not, "What is the most safe thing to do?" but rather "Is requiring the purchase of an extra seat for a small child really saving lives?"
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I think the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to expecting what a person of a certain age is capable of is that we should look more at their current maturity level, how fast the person is progressing, and based on these two things, where the person should be at a given length of time in the future.
I often see people in AOL's chat rooms use age to explain why a particular person behaves immaturely or seems to not know all the facts. However, we are often amazed at how a surprisingly young kid could be more advanced in a particular area than someone much older. For most people, the older you get, the more knowledgeable you get in more areas. It wouldn't be surprising for a kid to be very good in one area and not good in another, but when he gets older, he is more likely to be very good in both areas. The one encouraging thing for me, when I find someone that is acting immaturely or at a very low skill level in a particular area is that they are young, and the younger, the better. This is not because I apply their age as an excuse for being deficient in that area, but rather it means that they will have a longer opportunity and it will be easier to help them grow in that area. Age may still be an excuse for being deficient in any given area for that person, but it doesn't prevent someone else of the same age to be very mature in the same area.
You coud probably push my logic here to an absurdity, by saying that a newborn infant is unskilled in all areas except normal body functions and reflexes. But that doesn't invalidate my thinking here when applied to most kids from about 2 or 3 years old and up.
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If Puerto Rico, or any other US territory, becomes our 51 state, will we have to add another star to all the flags across America? That would unbalance the neat arrangement of stars we have now. I know this isn't a big deal, we've done it many times in the past, but it would still have to be done.
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And a thought on private venture providing a public service. I think sometimes we may be conditioned to think that there are times when private venture may be incapable of providing a public service adequately. Thus we decide that the government has to do it, which gives us the impression that while not done the best, it will at least meet needs. Example: I wonder if the Northeast Corridor could stand alone as a private venture while fulfilling its purpose of keeping the Northeast out of gridlock. I believe it's possible, but I just wonder if the private company operating the system could actually do it. Strife or some kind of upset in the company could wreck havoc on the system and virtually paralize the northeast. Whereas with the government running the system, if things at the top level go bad, the government just throws a big pile of money at the problem, hires more people and gets things going again. Or at least that's what is probably going through a lot of people's minds when they hear that government wants to turn these systems over to the private sector. The recent situation with Union Pacific Railroad, a non government business that had a service breakdown has gotten people interested in the idea of getting the government involved.
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The Year 2000 computer bug may be a significant threat, but it may be nothing. People were making the full range of predictions about the comet that hit Jupiter a few years back, and it made a major impact. I think that while there is the potential that things could go haywire, most likely, I think there will be significant challenges, but not everything will collapse. I think the situation is survivable, but only if we are prepared. This means having as many systems ready to handle the new centry as possible, contingency plans to handle necessary tasks handled by systems that won't work, and being prepared for some disruption of any given service, wether it is transportation, electrical power, or whatever.
They say that there is no easy way to fix the problem. However, a simple solution might work for some systems. Simply set the date on the affected computer back a few years, and pretend, say, that it is 1980, or something like that. You would need a leap year that begins on a Saturday. Your year will be wrong, but if that's what it takes to keep the system running, then you can deal with the year being wrong until the system is fixed. Every time I read about a system where the clocks were set ahead to see what would happen on Jan 1, 2000, I realize that this means the same systems can have their clocks set _back_ on that date to a previous date, and thus continue to work.
This hints as the solution to a fundamental problem computers have with storing dates. That is that computers have and will always have a finite capacity, yet time doesn't stop. (Of course, humans who need computers won't be around forever, but lets suppose that this is not the case.) The trouble is, do you go with a larger date field that lasts longer but takes up more space, or a smaller one that will need to be resized? When the Year 2000 problem was being created, disk space dictated a field too small to last long enough. Habit perpetuated its use to create the problem even after space was no longer an issue. But the new 4 digit fields will expire in the year 10000. Surely, nobody will still be using the same software by then... right??? Well, we may not be, but we may still be using the 4 digit year fields. And by then, if current trends continue, the problem will be far greater than it is now. So the solution, I think, is what I mentioned above: reset the clocks. Make a date or time field that is large enough to last a nice length of time, say 10000 years, and at the end of this time frame, simply reset all the clocks back to 0. This will cause significant age calculation problems every 10000 years, but this is a small price to pay if it means we can keep things working.
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I believe that human life is more valuable than anything else in creation.
I believe in global warming. Someday it's all going to burn. 2 Peter 3:7 says, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
I believe that humans were given the responsibility to have dominion over, and take care of the rest of creation.
I believe that the primary responsibility of every human being is to love God, and the secondary responsibility is to love other people.
Therefore, I believe that the environment's purpose is primarily to support human life, and that humans are responsible to maintain the creation (environment) so that it promotes human life.
I think that the vast majority of our environmental problems are local. I think that if humans stopped all polluting processes dead in their tracks right now, most global consequences would disappear within a few days, weeks, or perhaps months, and local problems would slowly lessen. A good example is Global Warming as caused by human generated pollution. Natural events, particularly Volcanos, pour far more global warming gasses into the atmosphere than humans do. However, human pollution produces a blanket that is constantly being created. I am not convinced that there is a serious over-accumulation of human pollution in the atmosphere, but rather a relatively steady level slightly higher than there would be if there was no human pollution. This may be enough to produce effects. If so, then these effects would quickly go away once pollution stopped.
What is the best way to eliminate pollution? This envokes some philosophical questions, particularly when our pollution only hurts non-human life vs. hurting human life. If we believe that humans are more valuable than animal life, we should first work to eliminate pollution that hurts human life the most. Some people suggest that the world would be better off without any humans at all. To these people, I say, you can start with yourself. (I'd rather they not do what I imply here, I'm simply taking their belief to its logical conclusion.) We shouldn't deliberately or frivolously pollute or destroy the environment. But I believe the best way to reduce pollution is to make our lives more efficient. There are many ways that we can reduce the quantity of stuff we consume and still maintain our high standard of living. And there are many industrial processes can be made more efficient, which cuts waste, and has the benefit of also cutting costs.
In my case, one example of efficiency is that I try to keep my paper use to a minimum. I save trees that way, and it keeps the costs of buying new paper down. But I believe the biggest advantage of reducing paper use is that it reduces clutter on my desk. Conversely, I think the biggest cost of paper is the clutter it creates.
I don't mind people who are against cruelty to animals and want to protect the environment, but these efforts must not come at the expense of the way we treat other people!
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In reference to arguements, fights or other similar confrontations: "It's not so much who started it, but who's going to make the effort to stop it."
It has always amused me that some people are so selfless that they will argue with another very selfless person over who is going to get the worse of whatever item they are arguing over. My parents are wonderful people, but they are guilty of this. There is a good chair and a rock for just 2 people to sit on, they will both want the rock. "No, you have the chair!" they will say. "Let me sit on the rock!" The beauty, of course, is that this demonstrates the true love between them. However, I think this can be carried too far. What needs to be avoided is true anger. At some point before then, they simply need to laugh at the sillyness of it all, and get on with life. And in my parents case, in this situation, they'll probably both end up standing!
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A formal debate never seems to accomplish much. Time is much too limited, not allowing the issues to be fully discussed. It is rarely the case that the issue the debate is designed to discuss is ever brought to a conclusion, and only occasionally are subissues settled. Another problem is that as more and more side arguements are brought into the discussion, it gets harder and harder to support any conclusion. A statement in support of one position may sound quite conclusive, and there may not be enough time to provide a thorough rebuttal, or even to think of one, even if one does exist.
I think a useful debate should stick to one narrow topic. Once it is realized that each side can reach their conclusion using logic and reason based on their presuppositions that are outside the realm of the topic of debate, then the debate needs to move on to the other topic.
When I am debating, I try to make the point of "common sense" arguements. All too often, Statistics and the experiences of individuals can be manipulated far too much to really mean anything. One technique I use a lot is the simple application of a person's beliefs to the beliefs themselves, the person, his actions, and to the world in general. It is often in doing this that some aspect of the belief will be in contradiction with what it is applied to, and thus it will crumble in this area when put under this test. I believe it is this test that is one of the most powerful debating techniques available.
Often in every day conversation with people who I know don't share my views on a particular issue, I look for opportunities to make single statements that at the same time show honor or respect for a belief that they strongly believe in while implying disapproval of another belief that they also strongly believe in. In doing so, I show that they are living with a contradiction.
I think a good debate would take the form of a brainstorming session, or perhaps several brainstorming sessions. All issues concerning the subject should be gathered together and discussed at length. All people on all sides should have a clear understanding of all the issues. All rebuttals need to be matched up with what they're rebutting. All pros and cons should be listed and compared. All sides need to be looked at, and so on.
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There are certain issues that I have set positions on. When dealing with a policy decision for an organization for which I have some (however small) influence over, some people might say that wavering from your position should not be tolerated. However, I look at it this way: if I can change the policy in any amount to be more in line with my views, no matter how small a change it might be, I will make every effort to do so. For example, if I was a congressperson voting on a bill that dealt with abortion, and my view is that abortion is wrong except to preserve the life of the mother, but the bill also allowed abortion for rape or incest, if this bill is a stronger restriction on abortion than already exists, I would vote for it. Some would argue that a pro life person shouldn't vote in favor of any bill unless it goes all the way. Yet voting against a bill that increases the restriction but doesn't go all the way sends those that created the bill back to the discussion table to discuss the contents of the bill, rather than being able to pass the bill and move on to the next step, which could be to impose more restrictions or less.
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Have you ever been walking along, minding your own business only to be suddenly (and rudely) blocked by one of those lines that show the graph of a tangent function? Neither have I. But it brings up an interesting point. In a graph of a tangent function, the line curves up toward a certain vertical line, but never touches it. NEVER. The point is this: whenever you travel, you first must go 1/2 the distance. Then you must go 1/2 the remaining distance, then 1/2 the remaining distance. At this rate, you'll always have a small distance left to travel, and you'll never get there. Imagine if you could use this excuse for being late to class!
Here's another problem. Every distance, no matter how large or small, is made up of teeny tiny insignificant distances. I once calculated that there are approximately 3 billion millimeters between New York and Denver. Yet every one of those millimeters is a minutely tiny insignificant distance. I mean you move more than a few millimeters every time you shift position in your chair. And if you're in New York, and you shift west, be happy! You're closer to the skiing of Denver and the Rocky Mountains! We usually think of distances in numbers of miles when the distances are between towns or states, but what I did is I broke it down into insignificant parts. Yes, this: ->||<- is one of the 3 billion millimeters between New York and Denver! Look how tiny it is! If you simply dismiss each one of them, you'll be in Denver without even leaving New York!
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Imagine a train 100 miles from the terminal and going 100 mph. One mile later, it slows down to 99 mph, then a mile farther, it slows down to 98mph, and so on. When it's one mile out, it slows down to 1mph. At that point, it still takes an hour to get there. From when the train passed the 100 mile point, How long has the train been traveling for when it finally reaches the station? In answering this question, tell me also how you figured it out.
A solution to this problem has been provided, however, I am still interested if there are different or better ways to figure it out. If you would like to see the solution I have, please e-mail me.
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Evolution is treated as fact by many scientists despite major problems. Here are some of these problems.
The first and second laws of thermodynamics act strongly against the ever increasing complexity and organization required by the theory of Evolution, both in the origin of the universe and in the development of life.
It has not been demonstrated how matter can come into existence out of nothing, much less explode into an entire universe, and I don't think anyone would want to try. Fortunately, it isn't an every day occurance either (if it happened once, why couldn't it happened again?). Moreover, the universe could not have always been in existence without reaching a state of equilibrium by now. The first and second laws of thermodynamics support this. The only materialistic way around this is to propose that there is an infinite source of energy and/or matter somewhere. But this must be taken on faith because it is impossible to prove. The only other option I am aware of is to propose that a supernatural being exists or existed, and created the universe at some specific point in the past.
Despite tremendous efforts by scientists, it has yet to be shown how life could have ever come from non-life. Life doesn't come from non-life. The food industry depends on this principle when pasturizing and packaging food in sealed containers to preserve the contents for extended periods of time. If Evolution were true, it would be reasonable to expect to see museums full of sealed glass containers containing life forms never before seen anywhere.
It has not been demonstrated how the first living organism could have mutated into any of the presently existing life forms.
It hasn't been demonstrated how the useful information in DNA could have come from non-information in the non-living world. (See "In the Beginning was Information" by Werner Gitt.) This applies to both the information needed for the original cell as well as the increase in information needed for all species we have today.
The fossil record is limited to showing the physical shapes and bone structures, and perhaps at best the impressions of the outer skin layers of the dead creature. All the "soft parts" are not preserved. Yet, the complexity of a creature is in its soft parts. One of Evolution's biggest challenges is it must be a sufficient explanation for the developmet of all those super complex soft parts. Since examples of such soft part development hasn't been preserved, we have no evidence of such development, and therefore we can't assume it even happened.
Darwin stated in his book "Origin of the Species" that his theory would absolutely break down if it could be shown that a biological system in existence couldn't possibly have formed from a series of intermediary changes, each one being increasingly useful. See the book "Evolution's Black Box" by Michael Behe for some examples of some exceedingly complex systems on the molecular biological level which easily break down when even one part is removed. I'll add that our world is not only full of apparent design, but the design seems to have purpose as well, ie.: to support human life.
There are no vestigal organs. Once an argument for Evolution, vestigal organs were supposedly organs that had evolved in our bodies but have since become unneeded. The appendix and the tonsils were perhaps the last to remain on the list of vestigal organs, but now even their purpose has been determined. Moreover, if Evolution were true, then at some point, there had to be an increase in the number of organs, not a decrease. In all of palentology and modern biology, has a new organ coming into existence ever been documented?
Has there ever been even a single undisputable new species in all of recorded human history? There have been plenty of extinctions in that time, and this continues in our day to the dismay of many people. Neither Creation nor Evolution has a problem with extinctions, but Evolution requires an increase in the number of species, not a decrease.
Many of these challenges demonstrates that it takes faith to believe that Evolution is true. This is because the required evidence or event is unprovable or hasn't been observed. Also, nobody was there to observe these things happening. Therefore, the required events and evidence must be taken on faith that they happened at all. This relegates Evolution to the position of any other origins theory for which there is no proof or facts. Evolution is therefore a guess, an interpretation of the evidence, a theory at best, but NOT an established fact.
Life does not come from non-life
complexity does not come from non-complexity
information does not come from non-information
high concentrations of energy do not come from low concentrations of energy
There is (or was) a supernatural infinite source of knowledge, power, and life whose nature it is (or was) to simply exist.
personality does not come from non-personality
love does not come from non-love
there is (or was) a supernatural infinite source of presonality and love whose nature it is (or was) to simply exist.
Is it possible to know who (or what) this source is (or was)?
As for teaching creationism and Evolution in the classroom:
Both Evolution AND creationism are THEORIES, and can be treated as such in the classroom. Moreover, much of scientific knowledge could be taught without reference to any origins account, since much of science deals with how things ARE, not necessarily with how things came to be.
I also have some thoughts on transitional forms. E-mail me if you are interested in seeing them.
Some other Evolution related issues:
Radioactive dating methods are suspect. They have a tendency to turn up vastly different ages for the same object. I am aware of a situation where this method has been used to date a lava flow as being more ancient than the rock it sits directly on top of. The fact is, there are many assumptions that must be made for radioactive dating to be reliable, such as: the rate of decay has never changed, the amount of original radioactive material in an object is reliably known, the amount of end product of radioactive decay originally in the object is also reliably known, and no end-product of radioactive decay has seeped into the object since its formation. There are probably other assumptions as well.
Natural Selection, sometimes referred to as Survival of the Fittest This neither proves Evolution or disproves Recent Creation. Natural Selection works only when it prevents reproduction of a weaker form. However, often, the weaker varities not only survive but even reproduce, simply because their weaknesses are minor. In addition, many times, the stronger forms are killed off by forces beyond their control such as natural disaster, predation, or being unable to find a mate.
Natural Selection is excellent at eliminating the very weakest forms, those that are too weak to find a mate or produce viable offspring, but so long as a creature can reproduce and does so, its genes, good or bad, will be passed on to the next generation.
Under Recent Creation and Intelligent Design theory, Natural Selection thus works to preserve the existing strength of a species, but does little if anything to promote the required increase in fitness and complexity, or even fix genetic mistakes, as required by Evolution.
Mutation: the source of raw material for Natural Selection
Evolution is said to be driven by beneficial mutations that provide variation within a species, which in turn allow "natural selection" to choose the most beneficial mutations, perpetuating them to the next generation, where they can be built upon by future beneficial mutations. However, the vast majority of mutations are not beneficial. Some are lethal, or have devistating effects on an individual, which natural selection weeds out by not letting those individuals reproduce. But the problem is that most mutations have little effect.
The problem of mutations is explained quite well and with considerable detail in the book:
"Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome " by Dr. J. C. Sanford; ISBN 1-59919-002-8, published by Ivan Press a Division of Elim Publishing, Lima, NY.
A positive mutation
A positive mutation, in order to be a true Evolutionary advance, must: provide its host organism with an adaptive advantage: There are plenty of mutations that give its host organism an advantage, the best known examples likely being bacteria that become resistant to drugs designed to kill them.
The mutation must be passed on to the organism's offspring, surviving non-genetic causes of death. This isn't too difficult but a positive mutation is no guarantee of survival.
Not be the result of a loss of information in the genetics of the host organism. This is BY FAR the BIGGEST PROBLEM. While there are plenty of mutations that provide some positive benefit, many of them work by decreasing the information content in the genes. There are simply no known mutations that provide a benefit AND increase the information in the genome.
Therefore the question is simply: how did the information in the genome (which would consume many volumes of encyclopedias per species) get there in the first place?
More on Mutations
I have written a program that simulates a population of interbreeding organisms and their corresponding genetics. The results do not confirm what Evolution requires. Instead the problems I've outlined above are confirmed, unless the positive mutation rate is unrealistically high, and the power of Natural Selection to perpetuate a positive gene is unrealistically strong, the genetics of the population inevitably deteoriates until the bare minimum of what is required to reprode remains. This happens even when there is a possibility that a gene can "repair itself" and even when the host organism is favored in reproduction. But to be honest with natural reality, I had to include other factors affecting the population such as death through natural causes before an organism can reproduce.
I'm also well aware of the computerized artificial intelligence programs that use the principles of natural selection and mutation to come up with designs that humans haven't come up with or would take an unrealistically long period of time to come up with. However, these programs fail to represent Evolution in three significant ways.
The first way is in the fact that the computer program doesn't generate new information. It merely takes information provided by the programmer or user and recombines it in as many different ways as possible.
The second way is that the program is designed to specifically look for the most advanced or useful combinations. In nature, any living thing whose genes allow it to survive and reproduce without being killed off in other ways is allowed to continue.
The 3rd way is that the program itself is designed by an intelligent designer!
A Reasonable Example
To see this in action, take an encyclopedia and make random changes to 100 random letters in the encyclopedia, then copy the encyclopedia, then repeat, starting with making 100 additional random changes. The encyclopedia would still be very understandable for many generations, but eventually, the entire encyclopedia will be nothing but gibberish, even if along the way, some words get restored, or even form a new understandable sentence.
This is not unlike how human genetics actually works, but it doesn't quite fit reality, so let's make it a bit more realistic. Natural Selection only affects genetics when a genetically controlled defect prevents the individual with the defect from reproducing. Let's compare this to the section of the encyclopedia that describes reproduction. Once that section gets too scrambled to understand, throw that encyclopedia away. Other factors genetically controlled might also result in infertility, so let's say that when any single article in the encyclopedia gets too corrupted to understand, we throw the encyclopedia away. Now, the question will be, how long will it take to get just one complete article too corrupted to understand? Given 100 letter changes per generation, the answer is, I don't know. It's pretty obvious that all articles will still be readable after 1 generation, as even 100 changes in the same article probably won't destroy its understandability. An encyclopedia may have thousands of articles, so with an even distribution, it would take thousands of generations to get 100 changes in each article. It may take 10,000 generations before an article becomes completely unreadable. With this timeframe, how many positive mutations might we end up with? If we even had 1 positive mutation per generation, (which is generous) it could only at best erase one negative mutation, but it would be subject to negative mutations just as any other part of the text is subject to mutation, so there is a possibility it would be lost. But even if it isn't lost, it would exist in an ocean of slowly degrading articles and a handful of other positive mutations. It wouldn't be enough to preserve even one article from eventually reaching a point of unreadability. We could add to this experiment that for each encyclopedia in each generation, we make any number of copies to represent the next generation. But to keep with biology, each of these copies would have to contain 100 random changes, though we could reasonably assume each copy contains different changes. Regardless, the end result is the same: eventually, all "decendant" encyclopedias will eventually contain at least one unreadable article. Some lines will last longer than others, but this doesn't help. By the time we have to start rejecting encyclopedias, even the ones 3 or 4 generations back will be too corrupted to help the still existing lines by "intermarrying" to help correct their mistakes. The originals, to be honest with biological reality, are long since unavailable, and even allowing 3 or 4 generations back is being generous. We haven't discussed intermarrying from the start yet, but this doesn't help either. Chopping 2 encyclopedias in half and making a new one out of the two halves doesn't eliminate mistakes, it only recombines them. To make the analogy fair, we could even chop each article in half and combine them with the other half of the article from the other encyclopedia. But the chances this would improve the state of any given article would be about equal to the chance that we would combine half of a near perfect article with a highly corrupted half article from the other "parent," rendering the child infertile regardless of how may other of its articles may be near perfect or even contain aquired advantageous changes.
Perhaps the numbers are wrong. Perhaps I'm allowing too many negative mutations to positive ones. Let's consider something more "realistic." The reality is:
At best, bad mutations outnumber good mutations by a considerable margin.
Good mutations are subject to further mutation with no guarantee how good the result will be, but probably follows the same ratio of other good to bad mutations, thus good mutations can potentially be lost through further mutation.
A bad mutation is just about as unlikely to be fixed or improved upon if it is mutated again as it was to be mutated in the first place. A good mutatin is no guarantee of future reproductive success.
Regardless of how many good mutations a particular individual has, it will still have even more bad mutations.
Individual bad mutations are often not serious enough to prevent reproduction, thus they accumulate from generation to generation.
Each succeeding generation will have a larger gap between the number of bad mutations and the number of good mutations, even though both numbers may increase.
Both good and bad mutations must propagate through the species to affect other members, but the end result will be that every member will eventually be a mixture of good and bad mutations.
Even if one member is lucky enough to aquire only good mutations, its decendents will statistically begin accumulating bad mutations beginning with the next generation. The problem worsens if they interbreed with other lines that contain corruption.
Once the bad mutations accumulate enough to stop reproduction of an organism, no number of good mutations can save it.
It should now be clear that no matter how advanced a species may get due to its positive mutations, or no matter how favorable the good to bad mutation ratio is, the negative ones will continue to accumulate until the accumulated damage causes infertility. And if the accumulated damage doesn't cause reproductive problems, then since mutations are relatively random, and some do indeed cause infertility or premature death, a line of decendents will continue only until one of these types of mutations occurrs.
Premature death does indeed remove the bad mutations, but only from that line of decent. Unfortunately, it takes with it all positive mutations in that line of decent as well.
For Evolution to work, it not only must provide a mechanism for good mutations to arise and be sustained, but must also provide a mechanism for the bad mutations to be eliminated before they can kill off every species on the planet. The only ways to eliminate a bad mutation are:
Fix the mutation: put the proper letter back into the book. Natural Selection doesn't work on this level as by definition it only affects reproduction, so a future mutation must do the job. Unfortunately, this may or may not bring the affected gene back to its original position. And given the small number of mutations relative to the number of genes, the likelihood that the same gene will mutate twice before considerable other damage has been done is rather small. Using the encyclopedia example, it could be said that the likelihood that you would change even one letter more than once even in dozens of generations is small, and the likelihood of changing any previously changed letter back to its original letter is obviously far smaller!
Eliminate the mutation: since natural selection doesn't work on the molecular level but only the reproductive level, eliminating a mutation means preventing the reproduction of the whole organism that has it. This only happens when the mutation is serious enough to cause such problems. You could argue that natural selection works on lower levels, but is still, by definition limited to affecting reproduction. If even a simple molecule can reproduce itself without mutation, then it could in theory reproduce itself indefinitely. Natural Selection could prevent a mutated cell from reproducing, but it can't correct the mistakes in the cell. Ironically, a major human problem, namely Cancer, is the result of uncontrolled reproduction of badly mutated cells!
I'm not aware of any other practical ways of eliminating bad mutations, much less ways that nature could do it without intelligent help.
What if good mutations outnumber bad? This is so obviously not true that I don't even have to entertain this possibility. But just for kicks, here we go. The bad mutations would still accumulate until they caused reproductive problems because there's no other natural way to fix them. Not all mutations cause reproductive problems, so some lines would die off first, but since bad mutations accumulate, eventually every line of decent would reach a point of being unable to reproduce. This would happen regardless of how many positive mutations had accumulated.
The only conceivable way out of this is if positive mutations could correct or compensate for the effects of the bad mutations, but this too is not observed in nature.
There is another way out, but it requires incredible intelligence, to say nothing of expense. It would involve mapping and understanding the details of every single molecule, gene, DNA sequence, protien, etc. that is involved in this process, collect many samples from many different members of a species, and determine which pieces were mutated with negative effects and which were the original unaffected ones, then reconstruct to the greatest extent possible, a single individual with only the good parts. But hurry, it may already be too late. It is theoretically possible that at least one segment of the genome has been affected in every living individual.
If mutations provide variation, and natural selection preserves the best varieties, then the only thing left to say about variation is in regard to the flexibility of the genome of a species to provide adaptation of that species to different environments. Such variation may have been part of the original genome of that species, or it may have been introduced later through mutation. Either way, this is a matter of outside forces working on existing information. Therefore, this is not true Evolution, since there is no increase in information.
March 27, 2006... Let me question the logic of those who refer to sections of human DNA for which there is no discernible purpose as of yet, as "Junk DNA." Just as in the case of vestigal organs, a day may come when all sections of our DNA are determined to have a purpose. If it is someday determined how to splice DNA without immediately killing the person whose DNA is spliced, woe to anyone who promotes this, and beware to anyone who undergoes such a procedure. Given the track record of past scientific dogma which resulted in more than just a few deaths before it was admitted what the problem was, I have my suspicions about the theory that any of our DNA is really useless.
And if it is determined that all DNA has a purpose, then this would be one more evidence for Recent Creation and certainly Intelligent Design, and just one more difficulty for Evolutionary theory.
Could the orbit of comets provide a date for Noah's Flood?
Based on Walter Brown's Hydroplate Theory that comets were formed at the onset of Noah's Flood, it would stand to reason that all comets passed through the inner solar system at that time... indeed they would all have passed through the earth's atmosphere within hours of each other! Therefore, if it were possible to trace the orbit of any given comet back to the year of the flood, accounting for deviations in its path caused by the gravity of passing objects, this theory would predict that all comets could be shown to have passed through the inner solar system during the year of the flood. Unfortunately, such accuracy is nearly impossible, especially for shorter period comets.
However, Brown's book lists 12 "strange pairs" comets, plus other long period comets for which I have gathered as much data as I can, produce some interesting results. Starting with the strange pairs, Brown notes that there are a number pairs of comet sightings where each pair is presumed to be a separate comet because the calculated orbital period is far longer than the period of time between the sightings, yet other data about the sighting suggests the two (or more) sightings are actually the same comet, such as its path around the sun and its angle relative to the plane of the solar system.
My theory that the year of Noah's flood can be roughly calculated from comet orbits starts by making the assumption that all 12 of Brown's "strange pairs" are actually the same comet. I then add to the data information about other comets with known orbital periods. Using the years the comets were known to be seen, and the given orbital period, I can start with the most ancient sighting and calculate backwards to find what years the comet would have appeared in the past.
In theory, the comets with the longest orbital periods would be the best to use to test my theory, mainly because they would have the fewest passes through the inner solar system, thus both making miscalculations in their orbital periods have less impact on errors in calculating the years they appeared in the past, and making it less likely (by chance) that they would actually pass through the inner solar system in a year close to the flood.
Starting therefore with the comets with the longest orbital periods, we have:
Comet Name, Orbital Period, Most ancient year seen, Years seen around the time of the flood (based on calculating backwards): Ikeya-Seki, 880, 1965, -2435 -3315 -4195 -5075 -5955 Comet 12, 849.7, 1097.7 -2301.1 -3150.8 -4000.5 -4850.2 -5699.9 comet 6, 631.1, 1304.1 -1851.4 -2482.5 -3113.6 -3744.7 -4375.8 -5006.9 -5638 comet 9, 631.1, 1337.5 -1818 -2449.1 -3080.2 -3711.3 -4342.4 -4973.5 -5604.6 comet 11, 440.3, 1097.7 -2424.7 -2865 -3305.3 -3745.6 -4185.9 -4626.2 -5066.5 -5506.8 -5947.1 comet 3, 400.9, 1439.4 -2168.7 -2569.6 -2970.5 -3371.4 -3772.3 -4173.2 -4574.1 -4975 -5375.9 -5776.8 Ikeya-Zhang 1, 364.46, 2002.3 -2348.06 -2712.52 -3076.98 -3441.44 -3805.9 -4170.36 -4534.82 -4899.28 -5263.74 -5628.2 -5992.66 comet 8, 309.6, 1580.9 -2134.3 -2443.9 -2753.5 -3063.1 -3372.7 -3682.3 -3991.9 -4301.5 -4611.1 -4920.7 -5230.3 -5539.9 -5849.5 comet 7, 209.1, 1770.9 -2202 -2411.1 -2620.2 -2829.3 -3038.4 -3247.5 -3456.6 -3665.7 -3874.8 -4083.9 -4293 -4502.1 -4711.2 -4920.3 -5129.4 -5338.5 -5547.6 -5756.7 -5965.8Comets with numbers are from Brown's strange pairs list.
Comets with orbital periods over 200 years have been listed. When I put this data into a spread sheet and count how many occurrences happened within 100 years of every centry mark (2000, 2100, 2200) between 2000 and 6000bc, 2400bc comes up with 8 appearances and 2500 comes up with 7 appearances. There are a couple other 7 and 6 pairs, but none with 8. The results of this work is here:
comets within 100 years to this year w/orbital periods greater than 200 years 2000 3 2100 2 2200 3 2300 3 2400 8 2500 7 2600 2 2700 3 2800 4 2900 3 3000 5 3100 6 3200 3 3300 5 3400 6 3500 2 3600 2 3700 6 3800 6 3900 3 4000 3 4100 6 4200 5 4300 4 4400 3 4500 3 4600 5 4700 3 4800 3 4900 6 5000 7 5100 4 5200 3 5300 4 5400 2 5500 3 5600 7 5700 6 5800 3 5900 5 6000 4Obviously, more study is needed, even with the data I already have. Better comet data from astronomists would greatly assist in this research.
Falsifying creation and Intelligent Design
Intelligent Design could be proven false by showing that all living things developed from some combination of non-living matter. Showing that this is even possible would be strong evidence against Intelligent Design. Biblical Creation also makes a distinction between humans and all other life forms, thus showing that humans can evolve into non-human forms, or that non-human forms can evolve into humans would disprove Biblical Creation.
Biblical Recent Creation and Intelligent Design is not falsified by mutations, variation within a species, variation from generation to generation, or even speciation (formation of a new species).
Should we try to rehabilitate convicted murderers? If our society was functioning with the biblical moral principles that were used to establish this country, then someone who commits murder despite being raised properly, primarily by their family, with biblical morals and lifestyle, then such a person would have already proven to be unrehabitilitatable, and thus the only other options left would be either lifetime in prison or the death penalty, with the primary purpose of removing them from society.
Punishment for a crime needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis and by the people most directly affected. While this may not always produce the correct answer, those outside the situation certainly won't have any clearer a picture of what happened, and thus won't be any better suited to cast judgement. That does mean that if the directly affected people decide on capital punishment, then we can only demonstrate how that might not be the best choice, but we can't stop them from doing it. That leaves our job to one of making sure that we are keeping ourselves out of trouble, while also helping the people around us to see that by keeping themselves out of trouble, we can avoid becoming criminals, thus avoiding the problem all together.
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Taking God's name in vein is forbidden by one of the 10 commandments because it is highly disrespectful. But what about all the 4 letter words that don't refer to God? I have heard it argued that they are just words and sounds that in and of themselves are not in any way immoral. And in this sense, this is correct. But when used in vein, in a derogatory sense or to express disrespect, any word used would be just as bad, not just the commonplace swear words in use today. Words used in vain are by definition not necessary and get you nowhere. Thus there is no point in using them. See the section on immoral acceptance if someone tries to convince you otherwise.
If someone tries to convince you that swearing or any other immoral act does get you somewhere, particularly in obtaining benefits from the person making the claim, ask yourself, "Why is this person trying to get me to do this?" He is probably trying to see if you are acceptable to him. If you accept this challenge, then you have given that person control over you. Since he knows that asking you to do something and rewarding you for performing the requested task will get you to do that act, he can then challenge you to do any number and manner of tasks.
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As a kid, when I did something against someone, my mom or dad would often make me apoloigze for it. This is good. But what always frustrated me was how often whoever was apologizing would say, "I'm sorry," only to be told by an adult "That's not good enough." And that would be all the adult would say, as if they were expecting the kid to know what more needed to be done. When this happened to me, I would sometimes feel that there was nothing I could ever do that would be sufficient. At this point, I (or other kids I've watched) would simply repeat, often with a bit more anger or frustration in their voice, "I'm sorry." I don't feel I've ever been told what we could do that would be sufficient, and in reality, (as the Bible tells us) there is nobody who could sufficiently make up for their wrongs. The Bible is also good to tell us what is sufficient to make up for our wrongs. This leads to two conclusions. First, when we ask a child to apologize for a mistakes, we need to make very clear what is a sufficient apology. To not do so is to suggest that either we don't know what is sufficient, or we are being unfair to them in our withholding of information. We also need to let them know Who can truly forgive.
Is this good enough?
I once heard it said that if we have to ask, "Is this good enough?" then we are really just trying to get away with as little as possible. I think that such a a response to someone who asks if his work is good enough sets up more frustration than it is worth. The statement may still have some validity to it, but I think a better way to respond to such a question is to review carefully what they are asking is good enough to see if it fulfills the requrements. You can then make objective criticisms or praises based on the work done, rather than blaming them for trying to get away with as little as possible as soon as they ask if their work is good enough.
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I believe a very powerful way to teach a student to do something is to walk them through the task. Some might argue that they won't learn if they don't do it themselves, but if they don't know how to do it, they may be reluctant to do it, or flatly refuse to do it. I have helped kids with many tasks, and I believe this helps give them modivation to do the chores themselves, since it demonstrates that the task is doable. In doing so, I make sure they are watching me, and I give them as much of the chore as I think they can handle. And if they don't get it this time, there is always tomorrow to try again.
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I believe the single biggest factor in maintaining a positive working relationship with someone is the extent to which a person makes an effort to maintain the positive relationship. This may sound redundant until you consider that there are whole volumes written as to what is the most effective way to, say, get someone to donate toward a particular cause. I've heard it said that the most effective length solicitation form letter is one that is 4 pages long. And then there is a tremendous effort companies make to try to catalog your various interests so they can target you with what most people call junk mail in an effort to sell you products based on your interests. But let's say you need to get your car fixed, and you have a good longtime friend who happens to be a car mechanic. Now, you know he's not the best mechanic on the block, and you're probably thankful he didn't just send you a 4 page form letter advertising his business. But I bet you'll be more likely to go to him than any other mechanic. And this is what I'm talking about. Not only was your good solid relationship with your mechanic friend probably the biggest reason you went to him rather than anyone else, it may have been the only reason you went to him as opposed to anyone else!
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I started keeping a journal with my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Anderson, encouraged by 6th grade teacher Miss. Peck. I kept a thorough journal for years, but the last few years I've only typed up major events and travels. The details were handy to refer back to for all kinds of information: medical info, car trouble, ordering of important events, identifying pictures, people I've met, etc. Now that I am married, it's difficult or impossible to make the time for as much detail since there are so many other pressing needs, however events and travels are not only typed up for my own use, but the most important events are included on my adventures page, and not just text but pictures as well!
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We have made things too easy for ourselves. Yet in doing so, we have made things much too complicated.
The red shift (Is the universes really expanding?)
The universe and the so called limits of what we can see.
The speed of light and looking back to "close to the beginning of the creation of the universe"
The turing test and making a learning computer will probably take a lifetime.
Environmental impact of Golf Courses
Theory about how everyone thinks that there is something that we all have in common.
Some parents who have relatively good kids are sometimes overly proud of their children.
Pets, Real vs plastic, and how they apply to relationships
Statements that lie: "I'm not talking", "I didn't say it."
Do this for 10 minutes a day, that for 30 min a day, you'll run out of time
"The only reason why you can't do it is because you think you can't." I disagree with this statement.
Telling the boasting (or unbelievable) truth
Slashing the price of everything by a certain amount just to keep bookkeeping simpler
Potential research paper topic: Effects of Electromagnetic Fields
Time is the 4th dimension and how we would see something that could travel along this dimension.
My theories on sleep, irony: study on sleep to determine why RR locomotive engineers are falling asleep, even though it is well known that they have to work crazy, inconsistent hours, and often don't have enough time to get a full night's sleep.
We need warning labels on everything to prevent lawsuits, someday there will be so many warning labels that there won't be room for anything else
The true feelings that someone has about you may not come out in the first response they give you to something you tell them. Give them a chance!
God says he will destroy the world by fire in the end. He doesn't need to use this method to get rid of disease, he could use another method, but fire would certainly be effective!
Is it more efficient to do this process or that process, or is it even worth while spending the time to figure out if a new process is more efficient?
Theory on Gravity: Is it caused by expansion? Probably not. Styrofoam and iron ball of the same size seems to disprove this.
Raising boys as boys and girls as girls: expecting boys and girls to act according to our expectation based on social norms
Political Correctness, war against stereotyping is probably the primary cause, is legit... but we've obviously taken it too far.
If the US government is a coporation, it has a monopoly on many standards enforced by law. I propose using the antitrust laws to break up the government into a governing body as defined by the constitution and non profit organizations that endorse organizations that adopt the various standards but do not enforce those standards.
Love your neighbour to the point of arguement: "No, you have the better chair!"
Here are other thoughts that I have typed up but are not posted on line either because of lack of space or because I haven't gotten around to it yet. They include:
Sidewalks that don't go anywhere
Term limits and getting re-elected
The benefits of keeping a journal
The Paradox of Free Will and the philosophy of Objectivism
Voting for a Third Party in US elections
Wrong acts: those that are punishable because they injure others, and those that are not punishable because they only affect the individual doing the acts. Problems with this philosophy and a solution included.
Perhaps the United States Constitution should have restricted the ability to create new laws more than it does.
If you would like me to expand on any of these thoughts or have me send you the file containing them, please send e-mail to: Bill222E@ensingers.com.