Monday, September 19, 2011

A gem of wisdom from my mom!

Alright, I am guilty as charged. I do not often enough compliment my mom. In fact most of my relationship with my mom is under the pretense of an exasperated "MOTHER!...." Today though, she issued a gem of wisdom I thought worth repeating.

American's can't find jobs, but we are watching a Britton and an Italian judge Russians in how well they dance Spanish and Argentine dances.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jihad and Missionaries

First of all, with a post title like "Jihad and Missionaries" I am probably going to have a lot of guests reading this post. I suspect I will have such eminent visitors as people from the NSA, Muslim fundamentalists, and maybe even a few Mormons. Welcome one and all. I assure you I mean no harm or ill respect to any of you or your organizations.

Today's post is a relation of some of the thoughts I had today. We'll start with Jihad. Webster gives two definitions of the word: "a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty" and "a crusade for a principle or belief." I think all of us should wage Jihad. BUT, I don't think either of these definitions captures what I mean. I don't think Jihad is the U.S. versus Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world. I certainly don't think Jihad means blowing things up. I think Jihad is a holy war, but not one of Christians versus Muslims. Jihad is a war of good versus evil, and not even good people versus evil people. Jihad is our own good nature waging war against our evil nature. I think we all should wage a war of ourselves against ourselves. Our ultimate goal in life is to become perfect and do to everything we can to eliminate the things that are keeping us from perfection. Does this mean killing? Heavens NO! It means loving. Loving one another. Loving ourselves. It means whole-heartedly doing everything we can to avoid, and not seek out the things that drag us down. Jihad is a triumph of the inner self and not of the outer dynamite.

Jihad has two parts. It is a war against self, AND it is a war of spreading what you know to be true. This is where the missionary aspect comes into play. I think one of the major faults of Jehova's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, and other missionaries is that all too often the mindset is one of I will replace what you have believed all your life with what I have believed all of my life. This leads to resentment, to loss, it is unconstructive and can be hurtful. I think what Jihad, what being a missionary should be about is an open and healthy dialogue with BOTH of us growing from inherent good of the other. Both religions should grow and learn from that which is good and true in what each of the others believe. Ultimately being a missionary, being a jihadist, is about bringing others to God. It doesn't necessarily mean I will drag you kicking and screaming unto my God. It means opening the way to allow you to find your own personal relationship with the divine nature of the universe, whatever you believe that nature to be. Its not about coming to my God and to my church. Its about coming to God and being closer to where you believe God is, whether that is in a mosque, a church, or out in nature that is up to you. Its about being welcoming and affirming. If your church is not satisfying your spiritual needs then come to mine. If your beliefs are not enough try mine. It is not about forcing mine onto you, but being open waiting for you to come to Universal Truth. Jihad is about taking what is good and adding unto it. It is about growth, understanding and coming closer to the Divine. It shouldn't be about ANYTHING else.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A quiz

Here are 2 actual problems encountered during my day...

Problem 1. Multiple Choice
I just placed a large creit card order. I therefore do not want to spend money on my credit card. I have $10 in my wallet, but I want to save this for an upcoming book purchase. I also have a B&N gift card and a hungry stomach. How do I get something to eat?

a. Raid the loose change literally floating around inside the car (Yes it is haunted, that's why its floating.).
b. Use the Barnes and Nobel Card on the book and use the money for lunch.
c.Visit Costco and raid the delicious free samples profered.
d. None of the above

Problem 2. Essay
The lady in line behind you is bragging about how well she did on her biology test. What is her major?

Answers and explanations.

Problem 1. D. None of the above. A. is not correct because that would be stealing. I will not steal from own mother just because I am hungry! B. is incorrect because if I buy the book from B&N it will cost me $30 I only have a $5 gift card. If I buy the book at a particular used book store near where I live it costs only $9+tax. Clearly using the book card for a book is not the correct solution. I cannot chose option C because I have left my Costco card at home and have no means of sneaking past the angry Costco gateway centurions (most places call them "greeters", but I know their true insidious nature.) Finally, option D-None of the above. Here's how I got lunch for free... Barnes and Noble has a cafe. I used my Barnes and Noble giftcard to get a free lunch in their cafe. I used my $10 to buy the book and I used my card for a new $200 phone which with a $50 mail in rebate and a previous phone upgrade was also free.

Problem 2. After overhearing the lady in the line behind me discussing the intricacies of biology it is readily apparent that here major is the new mortuarial science degree program offered at SLCC! If you didn't get that last one fear not, the author didn't see it coming either. Mortuary Science one of the few majors that will quite literally kill conversation faster than "Hi I'm a math major."
A cool quote:  "In life you have two choices.  1. To sell your soul to the Devil.  Or 2. To freely give it unto Christ."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Random Thoughts of the while.

In the vein of Descarte lets see what we can build from the ground up. Descartes said "I think therefore I am." He has some flaws in his logic, but in general it is sound, albeit somewhat circular. From this claim to the claim "I am thinking therefore regardless of what form or shape it is in, there is some thinking entity, and I will call that "me". We have now established that we exist. Albeit, we have no idea in what form we exist. There is one of me that is thinking. If I could not think there would be none of me. It is possible there could be others of me. The previous statements are open to debate, but the idea at least establishes the whole numbers and suggests the number line. Given this foundation an interested mathematician could probably develop what we know of mathematics, though the task is made immensely easier if I add a second claim.

Not only am I thinking, and therefore there must be some object that thinks, I also recieve information. Whether this information is true or not and what is its source I cannot say, but I can say there is information to be gathered. Therefore information exists. All available scrutiny has not yet yielded a contradiction to the claim that the information (my sensory perception of the world around us) is subject to the laws of science hereby dubbed "physics" and its associated subsets known as chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

The system of mathematics developed ex nihil (from nothing i.e. the sensory receptor that can think that I established exists in claim I.) holds consistant with informational observations. It therefore seems that whatever the source of information it too must be subject to the laws of mathematics. Having information available also extends the mathematics I am able to create. I can now venture into the realms of story problems. I also have objects to measure, cogitate, and calculate. Thought plus observation has made the development of shapes and geometries more meaningful. And the concept of an irrational number now has a connection to a measurement and not just an abstraction. Moreover, the laws of physics are cogent with the arguments of mathematics. If the information I am recieving about the world is a deception, it is an artful one that is for the most part self consistent, which at least merits further study. Self consistancy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for reality to be believed. We will come back to this assertion at an earlier date.

Now here's the unusual supposition: God. Within the confines of the information my brain recieves it is easy for me to state that there is a God. The fundamental tennents of science are repeatability and falsifiability. I can do the same experiment over and over and over and I get the same results. Not only that, but ANYONE else can do the same experiments and also get the same results. That is repeatability. Falsifiability is that if the experiment does not come true reinterpret your original claim. In scientific parlance my claim is that my null hypothesis, the hypothesis that plays the "Devil's Advocate", or the hypothesis that states that nothing is happening and that everything we are seeing is purely due to the events of random chance, is exactly that: a horrific mass pile-up of chance events. The alternative hypothesis, the hypothesis that says "Devil--you are crazy! what we are seeing is actually something important, and is actually happening", is that there really is a God and He/She/It actually does answer prayers.

Ah and now to follow the mnemonic learned in my statistics class: "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Which of course stands for the steps for making a statistical claim. Step 1. State the Claim. Step 2. Define your terms. Step 3. State your Hypothesis. Step 4. Conduct your statistical Test. Step 5. Interpret the Probabilities. Step 6. Make your Conclusion. "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Thank you Mrs. Wilkinson...

Claim: Based on the information given, a Deity of some sort exists and answers prayers with a frequency greater than to be expected based on sheer chance alone.

Defining Terms: Information-The stuff I get telling me about the world around me i.e. my senses--all of them. We will assume for this experiment that at least for now I can trust my senses. They are usually consistant within the world they recieve information from, whatever that world might be. Deity--Whatever aspect of the observed universe is responsible for answering prayers. Prayer--A well stated formalized request from the universe for a specific action or event.

Hypotheses: Stated above in text

Statistical Test: We will be using one of my favorite statistical tests--The binomial distribution. A prayer is either answered, or not answered. We will defined answered as a success with probability p. Not answered will be defined as a failure with probability 1-p. If there is a God He/She/It should be answering your prayers regardless of which number of prayer it is. If there is no God then He/She/It won't be answering your prayers. In both cases the outcome of individual prayers are independant. We will assume this to be the case. It will also be assumed that each prayer is asked correctly as is appropriate for your religion. I could give you hours and hours of annecdotal evidence of why I think there is a God and what prayers of mine have been answered. However, a sample size of 1 is insufficient. So my measure of the veracity of a religion will be the number of practicioners. If someone is turning to God repeatedly and not getting an answer to their prayers it seems that they would very quickly turn away from that religion. If on the other hand their prayers are being answered then it seems that person would stay with said religion. Therefore let us use the number of people who believe in a religion as a measurable proxy for the number of prayers answered.

Data: According to the World Almanac 2009, 5.4 billion people profess to be of one religion or another. Whereas, 930 million are atheist/agnostic/nonaffiliated. If prayers are answered purely by chance then the worst case/best case scenario would be a 50-50 probability. That is 50% likely that a prayer was answered and 50% that it wasn't. Using this model and the formulae that go with it, we would expect to have a mean of np or 50% of 6.33 billion=3.17 billion being either religious or not. We would also expect our distribution to have a standard deviation of +/-40k.

Test: Z=(mean-expected mean)/standard deviation = 56,000. Probability of happening 0%

Conclusion: Given a sample size of 6.33 billion and 85% of those sampled believe in some form of God or other, suggests there is something about the human condition that requires a belief in some form of God. It also seems to imply that a lot of people's prayers are being answered which means: Either there is a God answering prayers which is the safest bet, or we as a species are too afraid to believe there isn't one.

So what have we established...

Things that exist:
I exist. Math exists. Information exists. The information that is being transmitted to me is self consistent and seems to obey the laws of physics. Within this information layden system a God also seems to exist.

Things I am not certain of:
I am not certain what exactly "I" am. I do know that "I" has the ability to think though. I am not certain if the world is real or merely a set of information being relayed to me in what seems like real time--whatever that means. Though because of the inherent self consistencies there is a good probability that the world really does exist as we know it. Surprizingly, I am more certain that I exist than the claim "You" exist. For all I know "You" could just be one of the elements of my program designed to interact with me. Though it does seem like a lot of wasted computer space if all the people I will never meet nor interact with are merely computer programs and do not exist themselves. Besides if "I" exist, why shouldn't "You" exist. Surely "I" am not the only computer program out there. Within the information rich world in which I think I exist there is an axiom posed by Copernicus stating that, "nothing is unique." Therefore why should I think that I am the only existence. I think it is quite possible that "You" think too, therefore "You" too must be existing as well--that's at least what your Facebook page said.