Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Inner Meaning of Christmas

No one would be surprised to know that Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. That day was the 2nd most important in history. The most important day in history was the Resurrection, because without it, Christianity would never have spread.

But it's Christmas, not Easter, so I'll stick to a Christmas message.

The inner meaning of the birth of Christ, represents the birth of Christ within each of us. Each of our souls was given a part of God, that we may choose to develop or not.  

Those who develop this spark of God, figuratively gives birth to Christ within us.
This is called by various names in many spiritual traditions. Many call it spiritual enlightenment, or soul consciousness.

If we achieve spiritual enlightenment, we become Lights unto the world. We would spread love, peace, and goodwill among all of God's children.

And when enough people do this, it will indeed be a Merry Christmas.

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


Sunday, October 23, 2016

How can we save the Earth?


The Earth doesn’t need saving. What can hurt the Earth? The Sun can. In a few billion years, the Sun will destroy the Earth. We can start worrying about that in a million years or so. A huge asteroid, say 1000 miles in diameter, could destroy the Earth. Not much we can do about that, so there’s no reason to worry about it.

What about saving life on Earth? Life has existed on Earth for well over 3 billion years. It has survived ice ages, large asteroids, diseases, and everything else that’s been thrown at it – for 3 thousand million years. At present, life exists on land, under the land, in the oceans, and in the air. Life on Earth is not likely to die off until the Sun does it in.

Certainly, some species will go extinct, and some new ones will crop up. This is as it always has been. Over 99% of the species that ever existed are now extinct. This is how nature works. Don’t feel bad: no species cares if they go extinct, except for humans.

So “saving the Earth” mostly means “saving humans”. Well, there’s good news about humans. There are human communities on every continent except for Antarctica. And we’re smart. We find solutions to problems that occur. We can adapt to many environments. Thus, it is difficult to see how a large portion of humanity can be killed off.

Disease? No. Many countries have modern sanitation and clean water and good medical care. Diseases that may have killed a large portion of humanity in the past can no longer do so.

Nuclear war? Only the United States and Russia have thousands of nuclear weapons. What president of the US or Russia would start a large-scale nuclear war? A small-scale nuclear war, say between India and Pakistan, would kill millions, but would not be a threat to humanity.

Global warming? The Earth is warming at the rate of about 2C per century. And by 2100, we’ll mostly have energy generated from sources that do not emit greenhouse gasses, so that will be the end of humanity’s contribution to global warming. Global warming may be disruptive in some areas, but it won’t pose a significant threat to humanity.

Overpopulation? The current population is just over 7 billion. But the rate of growth is slowing, and human population is expected to top out just after mid-century at 9 to 10 billion people. Right now, we could provide enough food for that many people. Technological advances will make food, water, and other resources inexpensively available to all.

So that’s it. Humanity is not under threat. We do not need to save the Earth.

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Yet many people are suffering and dying who don’t have to be. And this breaks the heart of all people of good will. What can be done about this? What is the major cause of this?

At its essence, it is the lack of freedom that results in needless suffering and dying.

In the developed world, there is relatively little needless suffering and dying.

But in the developing world, millions are dying and suffering each year from:

- Pollution (mostly from coal-burning power plants)
- Lack of sanitation and potable water
- Terrorism (in Syria alone, millions are affected by terrorism)
- Lack of modern health care
- Lack of crime control

Why are these things happening? The governments in the developing world do not protect their citizens’ freedom to live and believe as they wish. In fact, they mostly violate it.

In many predominantly Muslim countries, you can be arrested or killed for having the wrong belief system. And if you are a person who was a Muslim and converted to another religion, that person can, by Sharia Law, be killed.

In most African countries, the governments are so corrupt that the ruling class keeps most of the wealth to themselves. And they don’t protect property rights, making it difficult for the majority to accumulate wealth.

When governments don’t protect their citizens’ freedoms, especially their economic freedom, their people will not become prosperous. Without prosperity, getting a good education is difficult. And having a good sanitation system is difficult. And being able to afford pollution controls. And conservation measures are difficult.

Without freedom, there is no prosperity. And without prosperity, many of the things we need to lead happy and productive lives are not affordable.

Prosperity is the key to a better world for all. And the single, best thing we can do to assist humanity in becoming prosperous is to promote individual freedom, especially free markets and free trade.

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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. He writes about mathematics, computer science, physics, the reconciliation between science and spirituality, and the application of Natural Law to our various systems such as education, government and economics. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Was America Founded upon Judeo-Christian Principles?


Yes, although it would be more accurate to say that America was founded by those who believed in Judeo-Christian principals.
All, or nearly all, of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were Christians, and all were very familiar with the Bible.

There were quite a few ministers among the Signers. George Washington and John Adams, the first two presidents, were devote Christians.

The main writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson. He admired Christ very much, but did not believe in any of the miracles. But the most well-known part of the Declaration of Independence states:


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


This has been called one of the best-known sentences in the English language, containing the most potent and consequential words in American history.

So our country was founded on this belief that our liberty was endowed to us by God, and therefore there could be no laws infringing upon our liberties. This is explicitly stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin believed in a Judeo-Christian God. He didn’t seem to belong to a particular religion, and he donated money to various churches, and at least one Jewish group. He asked that a prayer be said before the Continental Congress met to discuss declaring independence from England. Franklin wrote a letter to the President of Yale University a few weeks before his death:


"I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this one.”


Abraham Lincoln, our most beloved president, considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted. He also instituted Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

The Ten Commandments were known by all, and was assumed to be the basis of morality. It is etched in many government buildings, including a number of places in the building that houses the Supreme Court.

The Founders did not want laws requiring particular religious beliefs. Nor did they want laws abridging religious liberty or any other liberty. Therefore, our Constitution prevents Congress from passing laws that infringe upon our liberties.

But the Founding Fathers also believed that America could not be a great country unless it was a moral country.

John Adams said, 


“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”


Thus, the Constitution, which defines the powers of government, does not deal with morality or religion, because these do not come under the purview of government. This, I believe, is what causes some people to mistakenly believe that our country was not founded upon Judeo-Christian principals.

But reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which contains the Bill of Rights, along with all the other writings of our Founding Fathers, show that the creation of our country was guided by Judeo-Christian principles.



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. One of his main interests is the reconciliation between science and spirituality. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com. Twitter account: Tim Farage (@TimFarage) | Twitter

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Are companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google morally bankrupt because of their attempts to minimize their income tax?


Absolutely not. 
 
There is a deep underlying problem here. And that problem is called ‘The Income Tax’. Taxing income is the worst sort of tax that there is. First, it is impossible to define ‘income’ consistently because it is typically considered to be 'gross income minus expenses'. But what is an expense? In the United States a Realtor can subtract the cost of car travel from his income. But someone who drives to work and back home cannot. What’s fair

It’s so difficult to determine what’s fair that the income tax code in the US is more than 2,000,000 words long. There’s not a single person in the world who understands it. 

The worst thing about it is that it gives almost everyone the idea that just because a person or company earns lots of money, they owe you, me, the country, or the world, money. And why is that? There is no moral reason that they should be taxed just because they earned money. 

One could more easily argue the opposite: those individuals and companies that earn money do so because they are providing a product or service that people want. 

Rather than tax them on their profits, we should be thankful for such companies, because of the jobs and services that they provide. But an income tax punishes them.

Rather than be envious (a sin) that an honest person or company is prosperous, we should be happy that they were rewarded for their efforts to provide us with their service. And then we might be motivated to work harder, earn more money, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

I'm glad Apple has a presence in Ireland to try to minimize their income tax. When the income tax rate is 0% for all, I’ll be happy.

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You might ask, “But we need taxes, so what’s a good alternative?” We do need taxes, but they need to be moral taxes. 

And what taxes are moral? Taxes are moral if they are essentially ‘user fees’ for the use of some government provided service. 

For example, a road tax, that charges per mile traveled per weight of a vehicle, is a fair tax. It is a tax that pays for the amount of road used up by a vehicle.

A land tax charged for the private use of land is also a fair tax. Because the owner of land did not create the land, it is appropriate to charge a monthly or yearly land tax, so that the land owner compensates the rest of us for the fact that the owner is given control over that land. 

One last example is a natural resource tax on those companies that extract scarce natural resources from the ground. For example, a company might gain the right to extract bauxite, an ore of aluminum, so that they can refine it and sell the aluminum. This is good because aluminum is a metal we need. And it is appropriate to charge a tax per ton of aluminum extracted, because the company did not create the aluminum. So again, the tax compensates the rest of us for the right to extract a natural resource.

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Let's get rid of the immoral and unworkable income tax, and replace it with taxes that are moral, and that do not discourage the creation of a product or service.




Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas, and a former Professor of Mathematics. The views expressed herein are those of the author. Some of his main interests are in online education, and the reconciliation between science and spirituality. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Shall We Colonize Mars or Planets in other Star Systems?


Colonizing Mars may sound like a good idea, but it would be a nightmare. Very little atmosphere, no protection from radiation, no natural food, no infrastructure, too little gravity, too cold, no grass, no plants, no lakes, no animal, no skinny-dipping, and almost no way to deal with big problems that will absolutely happen. And you’d have to live underground.

Our bodies are adapted to the Earth’s environment in thousands of ways. Colonizing Mars or anywhere else in our solar system would be disastrous.

What about the concern that some disaster could happen to the Earth that would destroy humanity?

I think that within 100 years or so, we’ll have the technology to avoid large asteroid collisions, devastating diseases, super-volcanoes, etc. So after a century or so, I think it’s highly unlikely that any disaster would destroy humanity. (Astrophysicists think the Sun will serve us well for at least a billion years).

World population is expected to top out at less than 10 billion people, and with proper recycling, there are plenty of resources for all. After all, our natural resources do not get used up. (The exceptions are the fossil fuels, but we won’t need them after this century). There is the same amount of iron, aluminum, chromium, and all the other elements, that there were millennia ago.

As far as extra-solar planets, keep dreaming. The planet, Proxima Centauri, is in the nearest star system to our own solar system. And it’s over 4 light years away. At the current speeds of our spacecraft, it would take tens of thousands of years to get there. It would be a miracle if, next century, we could get there in a thousand years.

It would be more of a miracle if we could get there with anyone alive.


What about small, robotic spacecraft? By next century, it's possible but not likely, that we’ll probably be able to send out a bunch of these to various star systems. Once one gets to a planet that it can land on, it could send a transmission back to Earth about what it has found. It can then duplicate itself, and send out more small spaceships. I’ve seen some estimates that we could have these essentially visit every part of our galaxy in 100,000 to 1,000,000 years. A million years seems like a long time, but hominids were around a million years ago. And the dinosaurs died off over 60 million years ago. So it really isn’t as long as it sounds. And we’d know for sure which planets, if any, have intelligent life.

But human colonization of extra-solar planets? We’d need a spaceship to house hundreds of mostly young couples, that can support them for many generations. If you think that’s going to work, you’ve been watching way too many Star Trek and Star Wars’ movies. I know I have.

 
Our only hope is that Elon Musk develops a huge Tesla spacecraft that can travel at ‘ludicrous speed’. Hopefully, we wouldn’t run into a bunch of Klingons.
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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas, and a former Professor of Mathematics. The views expressed herein are those of the author. Some of his main interests are in online education, and the reconciliation between science and spirituality. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.