Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why Everyone Should be a Christian - Even Atheists - Part 2 - Christianity Makes More Sense of the World than other Worldviews

Purpose

Part one of my Christmas post, "Why Everyone should be an Christian, even Atheists - Part 1", claimed that if everyone followed that set of Christian beliefs, we would have true Peace on Earth.

In the second and last part of this series, I attempt to show that adopting this Christian Worldview explains the world as we know it, and explains ourselves and our cultures better than any other worldview.

For ease of the reader, I re-list my Christian Worldview beliefs.
 
My Christian Worldview

1) We are to love God with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul. 


2) We are to love all others, even our enemies. 

3) We are to treat others as we would wish to be treated. 

4) We are to use our talents to make the world a better place.

5) We are to help the poor. 

6) We are all Children of God, and thus He has given each of us a ‘spark’ of Himself. Thus, we humans are brothers and sisters. 

7) It is up to us to grow toward God by developing this spark of Christ within us - to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. 

8) Because we have free will, we are responsible for each of our thoughts, words, and deeds. 

9) Cause and effect operates in the realm of human interactions as well as in the realm of physical laws. Hence, the consequence of each person’s thoughts, words, or deeds will return to that person in kind. For example, loving thoughts or actions that benefit other people’s lives will come back to us as loving thoughts or actions which others show toward us.  Similarly, negative actions will result in negative repercussions. To summarize, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Most Eastern religions call this Karma. 

10) Each person has the right to life, liberty, and to be secure in their own property. Thus, each person has the right to live life in the manner in which he or she sees fit, as long as this does not interfere with the right of others to do the same. 

11) Children are our greatest resource, and families with loved and well-reared children are the bedrock of a true civilization.  

Christ said, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6-7) 
 
-------------------------------------- 

How this Christian Worldview Explains Us and our World better than other Worldviews 

This is not meant to be a step-by-step logical argument. Rather, it gives indications that the Christian Worldview explains more about our own personal thoughts and feelings, than other worldviews - it is the simplest explanation as to why things are the way they are.

Let's get personal here. Each adult seems to assume we are beings of free will, and knows right from wrong. Every culture has had court systems whose foundation consists of those two assumptions. We don't put animals on trial because we assume they don't have free will. So we have this almost unconscious belief that we were created as independent individuals, with the freedom to make our own choices. Evolution cannot adequately explain this, but being created in God's image explains it quite well.

Every culture that anthropologists have been able to study, has shown that each has a belief in God or gods. I have heard some use the theory of evolution to explain this, saying that this belief helps to keep people from being less violent, and encourages them to cooperate. But we are the only species that believes in God. If the evolutionary explanation were true, it would seem that many species would have evolved the same belief. Occam's razor applies here. The simplest explanation that fits all the facts is the best one: the reason that every culture believes in Higher Beings is because there are Higher Beings.

Many cultures have also adopted the Christian beliefs of The Golden Rule, using one's talents to benefit others, marriage, and passing down knowledge to future generations. Why do parents care if their children are better off than they are? There seems to be a built in drive to make humanity better. Why? The best explanation is that God made us this way. He wants us to grow toward Him: To Create a Kingdom of God on Earth, as Christ told us to pray for.

How about this fact. Studies have shown that over 80% of people on Earth have some belief in Higher Powers. Are we just fooling ourselves? Don't think so.


And where did the greatest religious leaders come from? Were Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Moses, and Zoroaster just random exceptions, or were they sent for a reason? And thousands of years later, many of us still try to follow their teachings.

And what of those from many different times, and many different cultures, who have claimed they have had a 'religious experience'. The individual experiences vary, but most experience a feeling of complete peace; of everything in the Universe being connected; of sensing God; and sensing a love that permeates the Universe. 

Conclusion

No other worldview explains these facts better than the Christian Worldview given above.
_______________________________
Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed here are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
_______________________________

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Everyone Should be a Christian - Even Atheists - Part 1 - There Would be Peace on Earth

Purpose

It's Christmas time again, so why not post a blog about why it's good to be a Christian? The purpose of this post is to show that a Christian Worldview is superior to other worldviews, even if you are an Atheist. (By 'worldview', I mean one's philosophy of life). This will be done in two ways. In Part 1, I will show that there are only advantages to an individual and to the world if all were to adopt a Christian Worldview. In Part 2, I will show that the Christian Worldview gives the best explanation of as to how the world is, and why humans are the way we are.

The Atheistic Worldview

Let's say that you don’t believe in God or any other higher intelligence. Where does that leave you? Well, it leaves you - body, brain, and all, as the result of random processes, and natural laws. And what does that imply? Bertrand Russell gives an honest, excellent description of the result of such a belief system:

"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins…." 


Beautifully written. But if this belief system sounds good to you, read no further.


My Christian Worldview

 
Now let’s say you believe in Christianity. Because there are thousands of different Christian beliefs, I will enumerate my core Christian tenants:


1) We are to love God with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul. 

2) We are to love all others, even our enemies. 

3) We are to treat others as we would wish to be treated. 

4) We are to use our talents to make the world a better place.

5) We are to help the poor.

6) We are all Children of God, and thus He has given each of us a ‘spark’ of Himself. Thus, we humans are brothers and sisters.

7) It is up to us to grow toward God by developing this spark of Christ within us - to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.

8) Because we have free will, we are responsible for each of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

9) Cause and effect operates in the realm of human interactions as well as in the realm of physical laws. Hence, the consequence of each person’s thoughts, words, or deeds will return to that person in kind. For example, loving thoughts or actions that benefit other people’s lives will come back to us as loving thoughts or actions which others show toward us.  Similarly, negative actions will result in negative repercussions. To summarize, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Most Eastern religions call this Karma.

10) Each person has the right to life, liberty, and to be secure in their own property. Thus, each person has the right to live life in the manner in which he or she sees fit, as long as this does not interfere with the right of others to do the same. 

11) Children are our greatest resource, and families with loved and well-reared children are the bedrock of a true civilization. 

Christ said, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6-7)
 
---------------------------------------
 
I'm sure that many Christians might have a different list, but it can't be denied that all of these are a part of Christ's teachings. It is of interest to note if that I am not assuming any belief about Christ’s identity. This is because I believe Christ was interested in us doing God's will, and was not so concerned about who we think he is. 

Let's see if I can justify the (very modest) claim that everyone should be a Christian, as defined above.

Advantages of the Christian Worldview 

Number one above is accepted by all Christians, and indeed by most religious people. But what about Atheists? Consider the power, my dear Atheist friends, of loving God with all you heart, mind, and soul. If your heart, mind and soul are focused on our Creator, and His love for us, it would be difficult for fearful, hateful, or angry thoughts to enter our hearts. This would benefit us all. As Earl Nightingale famously said, "We become what we think about."

How about this prayer for Atheists: "Dear God, if you exist, please help me to become a better person, to help others, and to use my talents to make the world a better place." It sure couldn't hurt to say this, and it certainly could help.

The second belief above about loving others, even our enemies, is one of the most powerful statements ever made. I interpret this to mean that we are to want and desire the best for every person on Earth. What would it mean, for example, to love a terrorist? It means we want the best for him - we'd want him to turn away from his erroneous ways, to ask forgiveness from those he has harmed, and to do the best he could to make up for the harm he has caused.

The next three beliefs about treating others with kindness, using our talents to help make the world a better place, and to assist the poor, are beliefs that all people of goodwill share.

The sixth belief that we are all children of God, and that each of us was created with a spark of God within us, is certainly not something Atheists believe. But this belief is equivalent to the belief in the brotherhood and sisterhood of man. And that belief can only lead to good.

The belief about being perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect, can easily be thought of as, "Keep growing and getting to be a better and better person." Hard to disagree with that.

Beliefs eight and nine deal the fact that we have free will and are therefore responsible for our thoughts, word, and deeds. Not much to disagree with there.

Then it continues with the idea that we get back what we put out - the idea of Karma. I certainly can't prove this scientifically, but it is the spiritual equivalent to Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So believe in Karma or not. But the world would definitely be a better place if everyone acted like they believed in Karma.

The tenth belief about having the right to be secure in our life, liberty, and property is also accepted by most people of good will. One point to emphasize with respect to Christianity, is that Christ never taught us to harm those who did not believe what He taught. So Christianity is in harmony with the First Amendment to our Constitution - that our rights to our beliefs, our words, our writings, etc., should not be infringed.

And finally, the belief that loved and well-raised children are the bedrock of a true civilization is also accepted by most. 

Sadly, and all too often, many children around the world are not loved or well-raised. Christ's quote above that leading children to sin is one of the worst sins one can commit will come back to haunt these so-called parents. 

Conclusion 

I trust that this post was convincing enough that my readers would consider adopting my Christian Worldview. Think about this: It couldn't hurt!

In the second and last part of this series, I attempt to show that adopting my Christian Worldview explains the world as we know it, and explains ourselves and our cultures better than any other worldview.
___________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed here are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com. ___________________________________


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Statement of my Core Philosophical Beliefs

In brief, I am a Christian reincarnationist. So the beliefs below reflect this, and I believe they all are in harmony with Christ's teachings.

1) Every person is a child of God, and is here on Earth to grow toward God.

2) Each of us should love God and love others, even our enemies.

3) Each of us ought to treat others as we would like to be treated.

4) Each of us is to use our talents to help make the world a better place, including helping the poor.

5) Cause and effect operates in the realm of human interactions as well as in the realm of physical laws. Hence, the consequence of each person’s thoughts, words, or deeds will return to that person in kind. For example, loving thoughts or actions that benefit other people’s lives will come back to us as loving thoughts or actions which others show toward us.  Similarly, negative actions will result in a negative repercussion. To summarize, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

6) Adults are personally responsible for their own lives – for each thought, word, and deed that they have.

7) Each person has the right to life, liberty, and to be secure in their own property. Thus, each person has the right to live life in the manner in which he or she sees fit, as long as this does not interfere with the right of others to do the same.

(I use the term “property” to refer to anything tangible or intangible that can belong to a person or group of persons. A car, an engagement ring, money, a legal contract, a business, and a patent are examples of property that a person may own. This is to be distinguished from the term “natural resources” in that the natural resources are tangible or intangible entities that are a product of nature. Thus the air, trees, oil, minerals, water, land, radio spectrum, etc., are natural resources).

8) No person, group, or government entity should force their beliefs on another, nor is it the role of government to legislate as to how individuals should lead their lives, as long as they do so peacefully. Rather, the main role of government is to protect our right to have whatever beliefs we have, and to protect our right to live as we see fit, as long as this is done in peace.

9) Each person has the right to defend himself, his family, his country, other people who are innocent from harm initiated by another person or group of persons.

10) Since the Earth’s natural resources were not created by individuals, they do not a priory belong to any one individual or group of individuals; therefore, they should be considered the property of the people as a whole. Hence, they ought to be under the control of the government, which may then sell, lease, or rent such resources to individuals, groups of individuals, or corporations who may then use or develop these resources so that they can be of value to themselves and others.  These entities would then be required to pay a fee to the government or each individual, for the right to extract a natural resource.

11) Children are our greatest resource, and families with loved and well-reared children are the bedrock of a true civilization. Parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children, and each child has the right to love, food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education. It is the responsibility of the child’s parents to provide these. (However, it may be currently necessary or expedient for the government to assist parents with some of these responsibilities with subsidies. In such cases, the parents should be given as much freedom as possible to fulfill their responsibilities to their children). 

The ideal situation is that children are raised by their married, biological parents in a loving environment.  It is also best if the mother need not be concerned with earning money, so that she may focus on this most important of tasks.
____________________________________
Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed here are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
_____________________________________


Brief Biography of Tim Farage

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio to my excellent parents, Peter and Mary Farage.  I have two younger brothers, Mark and Chris, also excellent, except of course for Chris. My brothers, with a bit of help from their wives, gave me 5 (yes, excellent) nieces and nephews, except, of course, for my nephew, Eric.

As of December 28, 2007, I have completely lost my sense of humor.  This is because my once beloved nephew, Eric, had the temerity to beat me in one of those idiotic video games.  (Wii Tennis, if you must know).  This is the first and only time I have ever lost at anything to anybody.

My parents were born in the US, but all four of my grandparents were born in Syria or Lebanon. They came to America in the early 1900's and helped to start the first Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Cleveland.
 
My paternal grandmother tutored Algebra while she was in Syria, and could keep scores in her head, so I credit her for my math genes.

My parents were and still are devout Orthodox Christians.  My father also was a student of the Rosicrucian Fraternity as am I.  It was from him that I got a 'save the world' passion that has never left me.

After graduating from Parma Senior High (in the Cleveland area), I went on to get my undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude.  I majored in Math and Psychology, and minored in Physical Science and Philosophy and also received state certification to teach Math. 

I later received an MS degree in Computer Science (Magna Cum Laude) in 1985 from The University of Texas at Dallas.

Have you ever looked around and said, "We can do so much better than this"?  Well, I've had that feeling since I was about 12, and my main passion is to figure out the best ways to do this - the best ways to raise and educate our children, the best economic and governmental systems, the best ways to grow spiritually, etc.  This passion has shaped almost every part of my life - at least the parts that I’m proud of.
 
With this in mind, in 1975 I moved to Stelle, Illinois, an intentional Christian community whose purpose was to do exactly that - to build a community that attempted to live by God's Laws in every way possible.  I eventually became the director of the school there (The Stelle Learning Center), and that was a wonderful experience - one of the best in my life.

Some of the core principles of the school were:

1) Mastery learning (a student did not move onto new material in a particular area until he or she mastered the current material).

2) Love of learning (we believed that it is natural for students to love to learn, and it was our responsibility as teachers to foster this).

3) Self-paced and self-directed learning (to the extent we could, we would allow students to learn at their own rate, and to pursue topics that were of interest to them).

I still agree with these principles, and now, with the Internet, it is easier than ever to realistically apply these principles. 

In 1982, I was asked to start a branch of the Stelle Learning Center in Dallas, so I moved there that summer, and started the school in the fall.  Because of disagreements with one of the administrators, I left this position, with great sadness.

Around this time, I met my future wife, Jimmye, a true ‘Mother of the World’, who surprisingly said, ‘yes’ when I asked her to marry me.  She says that she still doesn’t regret it, although people that know me find this hard to believe.  We have one beloved daughter, Amanda, born in 1990, whom I could brag about for pages, but I’ll be kind enough not to. But if you insist, she…. 

After spending some time doing real estate renovation, I got a job as a software engineer at the Raytheon Company writing digital signal processing software for the Department of Defense. I then went over to do some more software engineering at Inet Technologies, a company that monitors and manages signaling systems used by telecommunications carriers. At Inet Technologies, I was the team leader in the GeoProbe software division. This software monitored the SS7 system, collected call data, and presented statistical analyses of this data to the telecommunication carriers in order to improve their systems. 

In 2000, I became a full-time Senior Lecturer at UT Dallas’ Computer Science department, where I remain to this day.  I most frequently teach the various Discrete Mathematics courses, and Automata Theory, which I love teaching. 

I have been honored to receive the President's Outstanding Teacher Award and the Computer Science Excellence in Teaching Award.  I was also nominated for the University of Texas Regents Outstanding Teacher Award.

Aside from my teaching duties, I received a grant to help create online educational materials for UTD.  I love doing this because a great online lesson can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world, and at any time over the Internet.  Online education also allows for students to learn by mastery, and can foster love of learning if done properly.

Beside my passion for education, I have a blog devoted to building a better world – that is, building a world that lives according to God’s Laws (also called Natural Laws).  Topics range from the importance of strong families, to good government, free-market economic systems, and rational environmentalism.  My blog related to this can be found at www.timfarage.com.

I am also responsible for the Rosicrucian Fraternity's blog at www.veracity.org.

I am both a scientist and a Christian and believe that there can be no contradiction between the two, because there is only one truth about the world.  Because of this I have spoken about the scientific evidence for God.

I truly wish to assist in the United States becoming 'One Nation under God'.


The Farage Family crest

The Farage Family Crest is the family crest of the Farage family starting from Peter Farage (b. 1923) and his wife, Mary Tamuty Farage (b. 1926).  It can be used by them or any of their descendants as well as the spouses of their descendants.  This is true even if the descendant does not have the last name of Farage.  For example if a female descendant marries, her children will presumably not have the last name of Farage, but they and their spouses still have the right to use the crest.

The crest represents the values of the Farage family.  The dominant feature is the Cross in the center representing the fact that we are Christians.  The rose blossom in the center of the Cross represents the blossoming of the Christ within us.  The yellow above the Cross represents dawn and the Sun, which represent the Resurrection - both the physical Resurrection of Christ and the Resurrection of the Chris within each of us - the Kingdom of Heaven within.

The Great Pyramid, from an image on the back of the US dollar bill, has the “all seeing eye” of God, representing the divine influence behind the formation of the United States.  The US flag represents our patriotism to the United States, the first country founded on the principle that the purpose of the government is to protect the right of individuals to be free.  The eagle represents strength, since any country that is not strong cannot last.

The words “Love”, “Strength” and “Wisdom” have their obvious meanings, but they also represent the three aspects of God: Strength, being the dominant feature of God the Father; Love, being the dominant feature of Christ and which also represents the Feminine aspect of God; and Wisdom, being the dominant feature of the Holy Spirit.  Biblically, Peter represented Strength, John represented Love and James represented Wisdom.  A person that manifests these three characteristics has the ability to use their talents to make the world a better place.

The “Freedom and Prosperity” at the bottom are there because a country that does not value those cannot last.  They are at the bottom because they are secondary to our being under God’s laws.

Finally the Farage Family Motto, “All of Creation Yearns for God”, is a paraphrase of Romans 8: 18-23.

Letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News about the Benefits of Nuclear Energy

The following is a letter to the editor I wrote in response to an editorial about why we should not be using nuclear energy.

The Benefits of Generating Nuclear Power

Arjun Makhijani's column has it exactly backward: the facts are that nuclear energy is the safest, and cleanest source of energy that we currently have available.

He fails to mention that not even one single American has died as a result of a commercial American nuclear reactor incident. He fails to mention the fact that France generates about 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors and not one single Frenchman has died because of it. He fails to mention that Great Britain delivers electricity from nuclear power at a cost of around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour – even less than what it costs using coal or natural gas.
He fails to mention that the waste heat from a nuclear power plant can be used to liquefy our own coal and turn it into oil, so that we would not be dependent on foreign sources of oil. And he fails to mention that spent nuclear fuel can be recycled into new nuclear fuel.

The United States and the rest of the world are suffering due to the high cost of oil and electricity. These high costs affect us directly in gasoline prices and in our electricity bill, but they also affect us indirectly, since virtually everything we buy uses energy in its production.

Nuclear power provides safe, pollution-free, and greenhouse-gas-free energy and can be used to make our own oil. Let's build them right now so that all Americans can benefit. 

Tim Farage, Richardson, TX
March 3, 2008

My Interests

Education

Online education

Government

Economics

Spiritual growth

Rational and cost-effective environmentalism

Intelligent design

Physics

Chemistry

Cosmology

Family, Culture and its Influence on Society

City Planning and Design


Awards Received

I was honored to receive the President's Outstanding Teacher Award for the 2007-2008 school year.

I also received the Computer Science Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2003-2004 school year.

I was chosen as a finalist for the President's Outstanding Teacher Award for the 2008-2009 school year.
______________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are his. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
______________________________________

Pupose of thie Blog

The purpose of my blog is to present what I consider to be practical ways to make the world a better place – a place in which the various systems: educational, political, economic, environmental, scientific, family, cultural, city planning etc., are in harmony with Natural or Divine Law.  Natural Law is here defined as those laws determined by our Creator, that when followed in universally consistent ways, facilitate the physical, material, spiritual, and moral evolution of humanity – to help create a ‘New Renaissance’ in our world.
_____________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
______________________________________

Friday, December 19, 2014

Intelligent Design - (Part I) - What does Intelligent Design Mean?


Introduction
 
This is first part of a series of posts about intelligent design (ID).  Intelligent design has been vilified by some scientists who feel that it is religion encroaching upon science, which it does not. And it has also been conflated with creationism, even though creationism starts with assumptions that the Bible is to be taken literally, and ID is a scientific technique that has nothing to do with any religion.
 
The first part of this series will deal with exactly what ID means. Later parts will bring forth some of the scientific evidence that support the involvement of an intelligence in the creation of the Universe and in biology. The last part will deal with the implications of intelligent design upon both science and religion. 

In April 2007, at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, I had the good fortune of attending a two-day conference on intelligent design , sponsored by the Discovery Institute based in Seattle.  Four very smart and well-spoken scientists made presentations all related to the thesis that there is compelling scientific evidence that various aspects nature and the Universe exhibit design by an intelligent agency or agencies.

Does this idea shock anybody?  One would think it wouldn't shock too many people since most people in the world, quite sensibly, believe this to be true, usually assuming the intelligent designer is God (although ID says nothing about the identity of the designer). One would be hard pressed to find a single thoughtful person in the world, scientist or not, who has not asked, how did the world get here?… how did life begin?… how did humans come about?… why are we here?…  without considering that an intelligent agency might have been somehow involved.  And since this is certainly a logical possibility, one would assume that it is therefore open to scientific inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, especially on college campuses.

But one would be quite wrong in that assumption!  This is hard to believe but many professors at SMU were trying to get the conference banned.  According to an article by Jeffrey Weiss, a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News, “Science professors upset about a presentation on intelligent design fired blistering letters to the administration asking that the event be shut down.”  After the intelligent design group heard about this they asked the chairmen of the some of the science departments at SMU to send representatives to the conference to present their objections, but they all declined.  In a formal statement by many of the science professors as SMU, one paragraph stated:

“We are, however, vehemently opposed to the deliberate deception of presenting politically motivated religious viewpoints as science. It is destructive and antithetical to the usefulness of science, and history has shown that similar politicizations of science have been incredibly destructive to our moral, ethical and material progress.”

Would you be surprised to find that this was written before the conference took place?  At least they could have actually attended the conference before criticizing it.  And if they did, they would have found that no religious viewpoints were discussed, but rather all four scientists gave scientific evidence that an intelligent agency or agencies likely influenced  nature in a variety of ways – from the creation of life on Earth, to the evolution of life, and to the creation of the Universe itself.

The quote above from the SMU scientists is fairly typical of those who do not understand what intelligent design is, and those who, intentionally or not, misrepresent it.  Hence, my intention in the first part of this series is to briefly explain what intelligent design is and what it is not.

----------------------------------------------------

So what exactly is intelligent design?  It is an inference, based upon scientific evidence, that some object or event was designed or influenced by an intelligent agent or agencies.

Note that this says nothing about the intelligence involved.  Indeed, the intelligent agent could be human, an animal, an alien life form, or a non-physical intelligence.

Let’s start with a relaxing example.  Go to your window and look outside at the nearest mountain that you see.  Perhaps it looks like this:




If someone asked you if this mountain had been designed, you’d have to be honest and say that it didn’t appear to have been designed, and that you assumed that its shape was the result of numerous factors such as wind, rain, erosion, plate tectonics, etc.

But suppose instead you saw this mountain:



If someone asked you if the visages on this mountain had been designed, you say, “Of course it was designed.  It’s Mount Rushmore.  Those are carvings of the faces of four of the most famous presidents in our country’s history.”

Even if an alien civilization came to Earth sometime in the future and saw Mount Rushmore, they would immediately conclude that it had been designed.

How can we reliably distinguish between whether an object or event was designed by an intelligent agency based upon sound scientific evidence?

The best explanation as to how one can make an intelligent design inference comes from the mathematician, Dr. William A. Dembski in his book, The Design Revolution.  I use and simplify some of the ideas from his book. 

The Intelligent Design Inference 

In order to conclude that an object or event is the result of design, it must pass through a 2-stage process.

The first stage is that the object or event being studied must have an exceeding low probability of occurring though purely naturalistic processes.

How low must the probability of an event be for it to pass the first stage?  There can be no definitive value, but the safest one to choose would be 1 in 10150.  This is a very small probability.  It’s about equivalent to the same person winning the Texas Lottery twenty-four times in a row. It is so low that such an event is very unlikely to occur anywhere in the Universe since time began about 13.8 billion years ago.

It is actually easy to come up with hundreds of low probability events. Look at the cars parked in a large mall on Saturday afternoon. Then look again the next Saturday. Barring a zombie apocalypse, the probability that the same cars were parked in the same parking spaces is virtually zero.

Here’s another example of an extremely low probability event.  You might find this hard to believe.  Suppose you randomly shuffled a standard deck of 52 cards. The probability of getting that arrangement of cards is about 1 in 10 thousand billion billion billion billion billion billion billion. This is such a low probability that if all 7 billion people on Earth were somehow able to shuffle a deck randomly a trillion times a second since the beginning of the Universe about 14 billion years ago, there's almost no chance that anyone would come up with the same arrangement of cards that you got.

But, as the examples above show, knowing that an event had an extremely low probability is not enough to show that it had an intelligent cause. One more ingredient is needed.

That additional ingredient is usually called specificity. It means that the object or event has meaning or information.

Referring to the Mount Rushmore example, the probability is essentially zero that the faces would been created through naturalistic means, such as wind, rain or erosion. But the faces have meaning - they are images of great Americans. These two facts lead anyone to believe that the faces were intentionally created.

If an object or event meets both of these criteria, we say that it exhibits specified complexity, and we can reasonably conclude that it had an intelligent cause.

To summarize, if

1) an object or event has an exceedingly low probability of occurring, and if

2) the object or event is specified – it contains meaning or information – we then say that it exhibits specified complexity, and thus conclude that it had an intelligent cause.

In every case where we know the cause of an event that exhibits specified complexity, we attribute the object or event to intelligent causation.  I mentioned the faces on Mount Rushmore, but how about a cell phone, or a cardinal’s nest, or a house, or even a mousetrap.  All of these exhibit specified complexity, and indeed, we know in every case who or what the intelligent designer was.

But we need not know the identity of the intelligence in order to conclude that an event did indeed have an intelligent cause.  For example, there’s a program called SETI, which stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.  The Center for SETI Research has developed signal-processing technology that it uses to search for signals from advanced technological civilizations in our galaxy.  It takes these signals and tries to match them with signal patterns that we have specified as those that might be sent by an extraterrestrial intelligence.  For example, one pattern might be a sequence of the first 1000 prime numbers.  Since the probability of receiving such a sequence is exceedingly low and since this sequence has meaning, it exhibits specified complexity, and we would rightfully conclude that it was sent by an intelligence(s).  But we would have no idea as to the identity of the intelligence (although my guess would be that it’s the Klingons). 

The idea that one can infer an intelligent cause from an event exhibiting specified complexity, doesn’t seem so controversial, does it?  To rephrase what was said above, in every instance where specified complexity is present, and the cause is known (e.g. we know that humans carved the faces on Mt. Rushmore), we have found that the event was designed.

So what is so controversial about the intelligent design inference?  The controversy comes about because a number of scientists are now finding evidence of specified complexity in such things as the constants of the Universe, the evolution of life, and even in the creation of life itself.  And if they are correct, that would mean an extremely capable intelligence was involved, and that it is certainly not human.  This makes some (but certainly not all) scientists very nervous because it reminds them of the ‘G’ word, and we can’t have that now, can we? 

But what is the evidence for an intelligence involved in such things?  Check out future posts about Intelligent Design to find out.
_______________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com. 
______________________________________


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Government Based Upon Natural Law - (Part 16) - Women in the Military

Introduction

Recently, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, established by Congress a few years ago, has said that women should be allowed to serve fully in combat.  "It is time to create a level playing field for all qualified service members," the commission said.  They went on to say, "Minorities and women still lag behind white men in terms of the number of military leadership positions.

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he expected women to be let into special operation forces eventually.  A Pentagon spokeswoman said that the department would review the recommendations when the report is delivered. 
Opponents have said that most women lack the necessary strength and stamina needed for battle.  They have also said that it could harm unit cohesion, and that Americans won't tolerate large numbers of women coming home in body bags.

Some facts about women in combat

1) It is certainly true that most women don't have the strength and stamina that men have.  And in almost all military physical-fitness tests, the requirements for women are lower than those of men. So if women were allowed into combat units, the men would know they weren't as physically capable as their fellow males.

2) Men and women think and react differently, because their brains are wired differently.  In The Male Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine, she says that men's brains are wired so that they become protective of their mates, and this generalizes to other women, as well.  Thus, in a combat situation a man might unconsciously or consciously be more concerned with protecting the women in his unit than with the mission.  Related to this is that because a young woman could be pregnant, a man may again be more protective of a woman in their unit, and thus be distracted from the overall well-being of the unit.

3) Because of the factors mentioned above, unit cohesion would almost certainly be affected.  We don't want men to be worried about protecting the women in their unit at the expense of accomplishing their mission.

4) Men are distracted by attractive women at via the most primitive parts of the male brain.  This distraction could prove to be a disaster in some situations.

5) Both women and men get pay more attention to an angry man than they do to an angry woman.  Thus, in a command and control situation, an angry male commander is more likely to be obeyed than an angry female commander.  This could negatively affect the unity of the group, which could weaken the accomplishment of it.

6) Women who are pregnant can harm their fetuses when firing in a gun range or in combat or even in an aircraft carrier with loud noises. Children have been born with burst ear drums because their mothers shot guns while pregnant. It could be mandated that pregnant women be removed from combat or combat training if pregnant, but, of course, women are usually pregnant for a certain amount of time before they know that they are.  If women were allowed into combat, almost certainly, some of the children they bear will suffer developmental deficits of one sort or another because of it.

Furthermore, a young woman who is injured in combat may well injure their child-bearing organs — or experience post-combat distress syndrome, either of which could negatively affect their  capacity to be a good mother.

7) It used to be that women who became pregnant were discharged from the military.  Now, they are not only not discharged, but they receive medical benefits, receive full pay, and even are given uniforms to conform to their pregnancy.  And they get child care once their child is born.  This is a waste of tax payers' dollars, since at some point in their pregnancy, they are not longer able to be productive members of the military.  And if women are allowed into combat, a pregnant woman would have to be removed from their unit immediately.

Women stationed on ships and even those who are in small, close-nit units have a very high pregnancy rate.  A Time Magazine article stated that about 13% of the women in the military are pregnant.  Nearly 40% of females in certain Army units are pregnant, according to a report from the Air Command and Staff CollegeAside from the dangers to their fetuses mentioned above, if a woman gives birth and stays in the military, mother-child bonding and certainly father-child bonding can be adversely affected.  This would certainly lower the chances that the child be breast fed for the optimal amount of time. Is this good for our country?

8) If women were allowed into combat, it would not be long before they would be required to register for the draft, and therefore get involuntarily drafted into the military during a war-time situation. They could be assigned to a combat unit.  You might think that the law could allow women to opt out of the draft or being in a combat unit, but the individuals who want women in combat would make sure that such "discrimination" does not occur.  How many fathers out there would encourage their daughters to join the military if they could be put into combat?  I wouldn't.

9) If women were required to register for the draft, a woman who qualified for combat would be required to do so. How many women would intentionally get pregnant just to get out of joining the military?

10) For those who think that being in the military is a right, this is just not so. There are many requirements to be able to get into the military, including age, health, intelligence, etc.  There is no right for anyone to be in the military. 

The most important consideration

My most important concern is this - that idea that women should be treated as men - is culturally degrading.  It is the duty, responsibility and honor of men to protect women (and children).  It is built into our brains, and cannot be removed.  To place a woman - who may at any time be pregnant, into a combat situation - goes against the very being of most men.  My suspicion is that any civilization that does this cannot last long.

Only a woman can bring a new soul into the world -- the most important single thing that anyone can do.

For those who think that such thinking is sexist, their definition of "sexist" must be much different than mine. To me a sexist is a person who believes that their sex is inherently superior to the opposite sex.  My view is that God made all of us as His children and that both sexes are equally important.  Of course, men and women are different in many ways, otherwise there wouldn't be men and women.

If I said, "Men are very, very bad at having children," would this be considered a sexist statement?  Clearly not, since the truth cannot be sexist.

The differences between men and women are expressed in many ways, such as with the yin/yang concept, positive and negative, male and female.  And such concepts express not only that there are differences, but that both are equally needed.  God has created the male/female duality for a purpose, and we would be wise to not attempt to ignore or eliminate it.
_____________________


Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.