Monday, September 26, 2016

Serpents and symbols

This article about serpents (messengers of the gods, some false, some true) may interest you. I thought I originally read about it in the Ensign but right now I can only find a BYU publication by Andrew Skinner on the topic.

If serpents can represent either a true Messiah or a false Messiah, that also lends an additional pleasing symbolic message to the way Moses' stick-cum-serpent ate the magicians' sticks-cum-serpents.

-Max

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Evolution

I'm very interested in evolution and abiogenesis. I believe that it happened. I don't see a lot of evidence that humans understand HOW.

Anyway, Fred is often interesting and sometimes cogent. Here's Fred with an interesting observation on standards of evidence:

'Early on, I noticed three things about evolution that differentiated it from other sciences (or, I could almost say, from science). First, plausibility was accepted as being equivalent to evidence. And of course the less you know, the greater the number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way. Again and again evolutionists assumed that suggesting how something might have happened was equivalent to establishing how it had happened. Asking them for evidence usually aroused annoyance and sometimes, if persisted in, hostility.

'As an example, consider the view that life arose by chemical misadventure. By this they mean, I think, that they cannot imagine how else it might have come about. (Neither can I. Does one accept a poor explanation because unable to think of a good one?) This accidental-life theory, being somewhat plausible, is therefore accepted without the usual standards of science, such as reproducibility or rigorous demonstration of mathematical feasibility. Putting it otherwise, evolutionists are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.'

http://www.unz.com/freed/darwin-unhinged-the-bugs-in-evolution/

They say you can't get a PhD unless you have a burning question that you want to answer. Well, here's mine: WHAT MAKES IT WORK?!? How do you pose a machine-learning (parallel hill-climbing) question such that "complex multicellular ecologies" is the answer, as opposed to say "networks of self-replicating simple crystals"? Someday when I retire, I'll make that my PhD question and pursue a doctorate.

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Partnership

Dear Y.A.,

This is a good husband. Remind me of this story some day.

Just this winter, I woke up one morning after a week-long battle with a particularly harsh bout of depression. I didn't want to get up. I looked out the window and noted that it had snowed: this was even worse. We were supposed to get up and go to church that day. The thought of even trying, of making what seemed like the Herculean effort to get out of bed, get everyone ready, be there, be pleasant, be social, just be at all, nearly crushed me. I told my husband, "I can't do it. I just can't today. Not today." My husband, who is kind and gentle and wise, and who I know just wanted to scoop me up and tell me that it was okay and to stay home, instead sagely said, "I know you don't want to go, and I know it is hard. But you can choose to go. And choosing to go is the right choice. Because if you choose not to go this one time, it will make it so much easier to choose not to go next time." And he was right. I was mad at him: I wanted him to give me an excuse to stay home, to wallow, to curl into myself in my bed and just not have to do this whole life thing for one day. But, he loves me enough to keep encouraging me to choose the light, even when it looks so dark.

And you, J.--thanks for being a good friend.

~B.C.

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Francis Scott Key (biographical details)

There's been some talk lately of the Star Spangled Banner and its author. This article, for instance, says that 'Key himself owned slaves, was an anti-abolitionist and once called his African brethren "a distinct and inferior race of people"' before going on to repeat claims that when Key wrote the third verse of the Star Spangled Banner ("No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave"), Francis Scott Key "was in fact taking pleasure in the deaths of freed black slaves who had decided to fight with the British against the United States."

I clicked on one of the links in the article, the one for "a distinct and inferior" race of people, and learned some interesting things. He wasn't all good, but he wasn't all bad either. Unsurprisingly, he was a man of the times he lived in, and it sounds like he was a pretty good one in many ways. Not in all ways, certainly, but a better man than you'd think if all you knew about him was that he was an "anti-abolitionist" who had owned slaves. Anyway, here's an excerpt from the link, Snow-Storm in August by Jefferson Morley:

Key prided himself as a humanitarian and as a young lawyer relished defending individual colored people in court. Some even called him "the Blacks' lawyer." At the same time, Key shared a general view of the free people of color as shiftless and untrustworthy: a nuisance, if not a menace, to white people. He spoke publicly of Africans in America as "a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community." He nurtured a vision, expressed in deed (though not song), in which African colonization would solve the problem of the free blacks by helping them emigrate to Liberia. Key had worked ceaselessly and ineffectively on behalf of this dream for more than twenty years. He was, as one biographer admitted, a distressingly serious man.

Humanitarian ambition drove him. In his younger days, Key often left Polly and their growing brood to travel throughout the mid-Atlantic promoting the establishment of what were known as Lancaster schools, institutions of learning open to all white children, which evolved into the region's first public schools. He attended the annual General Convention of the Episcopal Church, where he denounced popular amusements like gambling. While some of his coreligionists chafed at his harsh pronouncements, none doubted his piety. Said his friend John Randolph, the brilliant and eccentric Virginia Senator, "His whole life is spent in endeavors that do good for his unhappy fellow-men." Randolph, an iconoclastic bachelor fond of opium and poetry, admired Key's benevolence but did not entirely trust it.

In his relations with enslaved people, Key was decent by the standards of the day. He had grown up on his family's plantation in the hills of northern Maryland surrounded by slaves and an ethic of service. His mother read the Bible to the blacks in residence. Family lore held that his grandmother had been blinded by smoke while rescuing a black family from a fire. Key abhorred the mistreatment of bondsmen and the sundering of families by slave dealers. A prim man, he was incapable of brutality. Condescension came more easily. During his lifetime, Key freed seven of his slaves. He said that all but one of them--whom he did not identify--had thrived in freedom. But in general, Key expressed disappointment at the results of his efforts on behalf of colored people. "I have been thus instrumental in liberating several large families and many individuals," he told a contemporary. "I cannot remember more than two instances, out of this large number, in which it did not appear that the freedom so earnestly sought for them was their ruin." Key concluded Negroes could not handle the responsibilities of liberty in America. When they moved back to Africa, the United States would then be free of slaves (and former slaves) and could thus fulfill its destiny as a "land of the free" for white people. 

~Maximilian

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Freedom of Agency

"For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." D&C 58:28

"And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet." D&C 29:39

"And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment." Moses 6:56

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves." D&C 104:17

The scriptures say that we are agents unto ourselves, with the freedom to choose good or evil. The most grammatically and doctrinally accurate term to describe the privilege that we have is not "free agency" (ungrammatical and misleading to some people) nor "moral agency" (doctrinally incomplete, omits to mention what kind of moral agency we have) but rather "freedom of agency."

We are *free* agents. We have the privilege of choosing with whom to align ourselves, whether God, man, or the devil. And if we choose God, our Father, and follow in the footsteps of His Son and strive to keep all of his commandments out of love for Him, we shall inherit His kingdom and one day become like Him, through the Atonement of Christ. And anyone who does not admire God or love His law can choose to do something else, and He will regretfully allow it.

That is what freedom of agency is about.

~B.C.

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."