23 September 2009

Call for a New Enlightenment

I am currently taking a history class. In the course of this class we briefly covered the two movements of the Age of Enlightenment and the religious revival or Awakening. I will give a brief summery of the Age of Enlightenment as taught to our class by my teacher.

Said my teacher, "The Enlightenment Movement had three basic principles. The first is to use the powers of reasoning that God has given to Man. Reasoning is the only source of true Knowledge. The Second Principle is that Man is basically Good. This is in opposition to the puritan notion that Man is born in sin and is therefore evil and unless saved by the Grace of Jesus, Man will always remain evil. The third principle is that Man is always capable of progress through unlocking the secrets of nature and abiding by natural law. This is opposed to the old Caste system that dictated that poor people should stay poor because they were born poor." The teacher goes on to explain that because of the enlightenment many people who latched onto this began to also adopt a belief of Deism which he described as believing that, "There is a God who made the universe. That God has set the universe in motion and made it self governing with the use of natural laws. That God does not interfere in the affairs of men. There is no Heaven or Hell. There are no Miracles." The problem I have with Deism is that there is nothing really separating it from outright Atheism. If a God does not do anything now, why have one in the first place.

On the opposite hand, the Religious Revival or Awakening was to get people to believe in God, his miracles, and his servants on earth. Something like that. I didn't take as many notes about this part because the class had exceeded my attention span of 2 1/2 hours.

All this got me thinking. I can see a reasonable middle ground between the Enlightenment and the Religious Revival.

I will start with Deism but pay close attention to the twist. There is a God who made the Universe. That God made a universe and made it as self governable as possible using natural laws that are self existent. That God does get involved in the affairs of men. That God Does perform Miracles. That God does communicate with All men irregardless of position or power. It is not for any man to find out if a Miracle came from God by asking another Man. If a Man wants to know about a Miracle he must consult God for only God can reveal the meaning of miracles to each and every Man.

The reason why miracles and divine intervention were denied was because people were sick of pastors and kings claiming that they had divine authority given them from God. There was no way in their belief system to verify that the pastor or king really held any authority because they could not consult God directly on the subject. With this new belief system, it is possible to have both a person endowed with authority in a church and the other members could know for themselves that said person has authority by asking God directly if this is so. Also each and every person could get guidance and direction directly from God. In effect No one has authority over you or your eternal destiny other than yourself, and it is all made possible because of God.

Now I will give My version of the three Principles of the Enlightenment.

1. Reason is the best source of knowledge when direct divine revelation has not been given. Aka, you have a question, reason it out, Ask God, Get answer, apply reason to the answer, Ask God, Get answer again, continue till satisfied.
2. Man is Basically Good. Man is also constantly tempted and is susceptible to the forces of Pride, Carnality, Anger, and Sloth, etc... And so cannot always be trusted to make the right decisions. Man in general will make good decisions. Man in general want what is best. Man however is not likely to be spontaneously educated, so most of the times Man must be educated by other educated men and further educated by God.
3. Natural laws exist. We have power to make our own choices. We do not have power to choose what the consequences of those choices are. The more educated a man is about the natural laws the more the man will understand what the consequences of their choices are. The more Man understands the natural laws the more he will understand about what choices he has to make to get the desired consequences.

I don't know what the point was I was getting at here. But I figure this Blog post is long enough as it is. Glean from it what you can, pass that knowledge on. Start the New Enlightenment.

19 September 2009

Rules of Debate 101 By: SB

Disclaimer: What you are about to read below is not the official rules of debate that you will learn in taking a debate class. (at least I don't think they are, I have never taken a debate class)

Yesterday I got into another debate (yeah I am a glutton for punishment I know). Luckily this debate wasn't between a screaming mob of people yelling "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" or "Blind religious zealots like you caused the bloody crusades," *shudder*. This debate was caused by a friend of mine from high school, and so naturally, old classmates ended up debating the different points. It started out fairly friendly, but by the end of the day, all the rules I will state here were violated.

Rule #1 Use facts or evidence as Facts and Evidence.
You say Wha??? What the heck does that mean? What are you getting at here?
Ok, so I need to add some context here. During this debate the different parties just threw out some web links and said "Look, Facts, Debate is over, we are right." The point I want to make is that, Facts and Evidence are not a solve all. They do not end the debate. In fact, facts and evidence often time end up contradictory. Someone will say they have found facts that prove their point but the other person in most debates can come up with facts to back up their point of view as well. That is the world we live in, a world saturated with conclusive yet contradictory evidence from people with equivalent backing and education. So we can't rely on facts alone. We have to display the facts to our opponents in pretty boxes I would like to call context and reasoning.

If I have learned one thing in the last two years of getting stuck in situations where people want to hold a religious debate, it is this, Most of the populace doesn't gives a (insert some word here) about Facts because the origin of those facts, the quality of those facts, can be questioned, and probably will. So, you use evidence when you have an actually promising debate going, aka both parties are following the rules here.

Rule #2 Do Not under any circumstance insult the other person or try to label them or discredit their point of view by saying that their view is based on something or another. Bad feelings sour a debate and render it useless. You won't win anyone (that is worth winning) to your side with a sour debate. Breaking this rule seems to be a favorite of those nasty, cocky, internet warrior, debaters. They spout out things like, Well you are just a backwards conservative minded somethin or other, Well my view is grounded in fact obtained by some scholarly person who is an expert in this subject and your view is grounded in your racist and bigoted beliefs. Like wise, don't flash around any of your supposed achievements like that should give you some more credibility. There are at least a few morons in every field of study and labor, and those morons slipped through the cracks in the educational system somehow and have degrees and honors just like all their peers. The average person doesn't care that others consider you an expert. Many times you have to prove to each person you are an expert.

Rule #3 Keep in mind that the average person may not have a high level of education, and may not think "logically." In other words, don't use big, fancy, words, and be careful of the emotions of others. Those emotions can make the debate go one way or the other real quick. Learn to be emotionally neutral. It is perhaps best to not assume an extreme position for a while in a debate. For example, I had another small debate one on one with someone a few days ago. I chose not to take any previously established side on things yet I was explaining the views of the side that my friend was opposing. I had to quickly remind her that I was not supporting the views of either side but I was merely articulating why each side was doing what. My friend kept saying "you're" doing this and "you're" doing that and they were trying to indicate the opposing group when she was using "you're". However it felt like they were trying to direct that "you're" to indicate me and some group, she admitted that she thought I was part of the opposing group. This is why I had to remind her that I was not.

Rule #4 The world is not going to collapse if both sides are right. If both sides are right, all it means is that there is a bigger picture going on in the background. Look for the bigger picture first, before you try to determine wither or not one side is wrong and the other right. Too often a debate gets caught up in trying to disprove this little point or the other. It seems like a race to see who can discredit all the opponent's points first. The problem with that method is that often times both sides have indisputably valid points.

Rule #5 Find common ground, don't bomb battle ground. In my last two years teaching people the Gospel, I realized that while most people don't care about facts, there are still plenty of things they do care about. There are plenty of people who don't care about how their church has "flaws" but do care that they are having family troubles and do care that a church, wither it be their church or your church, can teach them to overcome those family troubles, or financial troubles, or social troubles, or emotional troubles etc... Find these common interests first, then work from there, don't start out on a position that they don't care about.

The Golden Rule of Debate. Be courteous, kind, and considerate, and don't get angry.

Well, I think that is all my Ideas for today, If I come up with more, I will post them as Rules of Debate 102 By: SB

12 September 2009

The Trouble with Blogging

When I first got home I thought, Wow, I'll make myself a Blog, and I will update it often. It all sounded so easy at first, but as time has gone on I have realised that I lead a really boring life. I go to work, I come back home, I go to school, I come back home, I go to church, I come back home. That is the sum of my life. I don't go out to meet people at the park or at a museum. I don't even get out to go to the Library very often. Perhaps I should just embellish my life. No, embellish is far to soft a term. I should out right lie about my life. I should make up all sorts of fanciful tales about things I don't really do and try to slip random morals into these adventures. I wonder if that will be easier or harder than trying to write the truth of my life.

For now however I will start with a little bit of truth. A friend of mine and I went out to Old Settlers last night in an effort to have a good repeat of the episode with the scientoligists that I mentioned in my last post. We searched and searched for their signature Yellow tent but to no avail. I guess they just couldn't find enough people with thick pocket books who could afford their classes. I really hoped that they would be there. I have been practicing often with some simple physiological tricks that can help one de-stress quickly. I wanted to see the utter surprise on their faces as once again the needle dropped off the scales. Then I wanted so badly to turn the tables and have them hold the cans while I ask questions. I wanted to see how they would react to me asking them questions about the Scientoligists organization itself. I can say I am sorely disappointed that this opportunity has been stolen from me.

However, my spirits are undampened. I have recently gone through the efforts of acquiring several items which have been in my sights, namely, printer, Wii, a TV to accompany the Wii, a web cam, and other odd trinkets. I can say I am quite pleased with these purchases (and my Mom likes to play on the Wii as well.) They will provide a new variety of entertainment for now and when I go on to Utah. I have noticed however that ever since I went on the super purchasing binge, It has been like a flood gate has been opened and it is hard to close it. It is now difficult for me to turn down the opportunity to purchase and spend. I have to be careful. If I go too quickly then I will have all the earthy possessions I currently want, I won't have anything to work towards.

Speaking of money and purchasing... Well... Autumn is coming upon us and winter is not far behind. Currently I bike to work. It isn't bad, I now have amazing thighs, but at the same time, when it starts to rain and subsequently snow, it won't be very pleasant or safe to be biking to and from work. I am going to need to buy a car. This can be a good opportunity. You see, I am going to need money for school when I go out to Utah, a Government grant would be nice, yet for some reason, when you apply for such a grant, if you have any liquid assets (cash) you become less likely to obtain one. However, I still need to apply for school. That is something I need to do soon, then I need to buy the car and apply for the grant at the same time. It is a crazy orchestration of my life.

By the way. I am trying to write a short novel, check it out at www.systempurge.blogspot.com

I am going to go work on that now.