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Michelle Obama Hot??? May 23, 2009

Posted by earthking in Uncategorized.
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I know this is completely off any religious or philosophical topic I have been discussing.  But, I just need to let the world know my thoughts about the First Lady. 

Ever since Barack Obama won the primary, a ton of people have been holding up Michelle Obama as hip and attractive and young.  She is in her 40’s, so some may say she is young- I don’t.  She may be hip- I don’t know or care since as long as a woman looks hot, I don’t care what she wears or doesn’t wear.  I honestly don’t think she is even attractive.  I was watching news a few minutes ago and it looks like I will have to look at her face AGAIN while checking out at the grocery store.  Time magazine now has the First Lady’s face on the ENTIRE front cover.  The very young and hot female news anchors I am listening to are raving how attractive Mrs. Obama is, and I am sorry- she is not attractive. 

Attractive women that are in their 40’s or older who would have made hotter First Lady’s:

Katie Couric

Sandra Bullock

Janet Jackson (she’s OK)

Paula Abdul

and the list can go on and on….

Please media people- stop telling us that the First Lady is hot and please stop posting her face all over.

The Boundaries of Science May 21, 2009

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While looking at different blogs, I notice a theme that keeps popping up:  science has replaced religion.  The rational has buried the irrational, and faith is no longer needed.  Some people go as far as claiming that religion is bad, and the world is better off without it.  Science has triumphed, or has it? 

With any intellectual endeavor, the purpose must be defined.  While taking a college algebra class a few years ago, a syllabus with learning outcome statements was issued on the first day.  It defined what the goal of the class was and what students were expected to learn.  It is difficult to put boundaries around science because it is such a broad discipline.  It includes biology, chemistry, physics, astrophysics, micro-biology, etc.  Scientists study a lot of things, which may make it difficult to define.

Richard Dawkins wrote a book, The God Delusion.  In it, he attempts to dispel the myth of God.  I have not read the entire book, but I did read the part on the proofs of God’s existence from Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas is a saint in the Catholic Church, was a prolific writer, philosopher, and theologian.  Aquinas has five proofs that attempt to prove that a deity or God must exist.  These proofs are based heavily on metaphysics and attempt this proof from reason alone.  The idea is that anyone could arrive to the conclusion that God exists from a reasonable search, even if that person had no faith.  Back to Dawkins and his book.  Can a scientist prove without a reasonable doubt that God does or does not exist by using science?

I think we can all agree that science deals with studying stuff- trees, brains, monkeys, oceans, weather, etc.  Scientists attempt to understand better material things.  It may do this either directly or through inference.  For example, scientists did not see or observe dinosaurs roaming the earth, but they can assert their existence in the past because of fossils.  Other times, scientists can observe directly, like when studying stem cells.  However, in all scientific endeavors, scientists study material realities. 

When people try to debunk the idea of a god by appealing to science, it is using the wrong discipline.  I would compare to an  astrophysicist trying to do brain surgery- he is stepping outside his field of expertise.  Science as a whole deals with the material world by using scientific methods.  God/gods are not material beings, and so science should neither try to prove or disprove the existence of God.  This idea goes back to Aristotle, yet is still relevant today. 

Some might object- then keep religion out of science.  I would agree with those up to a point.  Religion should stay out of scientific explanations and let science do its job of trying to explain secondary and tertiary causes of things and explain how material realities operate.  However, religion can and should shape the morality of science.  The nuclear bomb has already been developed, but should it be used?  Does might make right?  Should handicapped people be killed so as to spare society a huge future expense?  These are the kinds of questions religion, and any moral authority, should attempt to answer.  Science does not study morals, nor should it. 

Science has yielded great results in the last few hundred years.  I would probably have died 3 or 4 times already had it not been for scientific advances.  We all need science to continue to advance itself.  But, religion and science need to respect one another lest the boundaries be crossed.

The Pope and AIDS in Africa May 15, 2009

Posted by earthking in Conservatives, Liberals, Life, Philosophy.
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Every now and then the Pope comes out with seemingly naive statements about issues and the comments create an uproar around the world.  The most recent comments that were covered extensively were in regards the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the use of condoms.  I really think the reaction is due in large part to a fundamental misunderstanding of the Catholic philosophy on human sexuality.  In fact, it is not only a misunderstanding, but sometimes a willfulness to attack a viewpoint without fully understanding it.  Therefore, I am going to give a quick explanation of the Catholic view on human sexuality.

The first concept involves signs.  When I drive down the road and see smoke coming out of a neighborhood, I suspect there is a fire.  The smoke points to another reality- fire.  In human relationships, signs also play an important role.  My girlfriend is extremely happy anytime I buy her flowers.  Flowers are a sign to another reality- my love for her.  When I give her a kiss, it is a sign of my affection for her.  Many physical gestures of the human person are a sign of something deeper, something spiritual and emotional.  This is the background for the philosophy of sexuality in the official teaching of the Catholic Church. 

When it comes to sexuality, it is logical to think that it must be a sign for something, too.  When two people who love each other deeply engage in the sexual act, it is a deep level of communication that surpasses words.  In Catholic tradition, it is a sign of something that goes deeper than just the physical dimension.  It is a sign of the total giving of two people to each other where the gift of pleasure is also exchanged.  There is a physical dimension as well as a much deeper, spiritual dimension of the gift of self.

However, just like other signs that human persons display, the sexual act can become a distorted sign.  For example, a kiss is supposed to be a sign of love and affection.  But Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.  He distorted the significance of the sign.  Also, on Valentine’s Day, many men send their special someone flowers.  But, many guys have been married for years and only send roses so they won’t get in trouble or because it is what everyone else does.  So, signs can often get distorted.

The sexual act can get distorted in a myriad of ways.  Prostitution is one of the most obvious of ways since the sign is reduced to just a pleasure and is bought and sold like merchandise.  Sexual promiscuity is a distortion because it is impossible to totally give yourself to more than one person.  The total gift of self represented by the sign of sex includes the gift physically, spiritually, and through time. 

This is the background of the Pope’s recent comments.  I will touch directly on his comments in my next post, since it will take much more space.  I want to be able to go into depth about what the Pope said without having to paraphrase.  I am not writing this to necessarily convince anyone of the Catholic view on sexuality.  I am writing this so that those who wish to attach the view can do so intelligently.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Why Not? May 9, 2009

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This is a continuation of a post from April 30th.  I saw enough interest in this subject that I will now write why some oppose embryonic stem cell research.

First and foremost, stem cells are cells that have the ability to generate into many types of cells, hence the name, stem cells.  Some are able to only produce one type of cell (Ex. blood cells), others can develop into many types of cells (Ex. blood cells, heart tissue cells, liver cells), and the ones that interest scientists the most are those that are able to develop into any kind of cell. 

Stem cells can be derived from two main sources:  human embryos and cells taken from other sources in the human body, like bone marrow and umbilical cords- adult stem cells.  Adult stem cells have been used for years in bone marrow transplants.  However, adult stem cells have been thought to have been limited because it was believed they could not develop into any type of cell, whereas those taken from human embryos are able to develop into any cell type.  There is evidence that this is not the case, but that is one reason why embryonic stem cells were pursued. 

The moral quandry with doing work with human embryonic stem cells is that during the process of the work, the embryo is destroyed, i.e., killed.  If the embryo is simply a bunch of cells, then there wouldn’t be any objection at all.  However, if it is already an organism, a human organism, then it should be protected just like anyone else.  Human embryonic stem cells are derived at a later stage, the blastocyst stage.  But at the one-celled stage, the zygote stage, it already is an organism.  Embryologists have already determined that an organism begins to exist at the zygote stage.  I heard an objection to this viewpoint stating that the embryo is not a human being until it is implanted in the uterus of the mother.  But, if it were not already an organism, which acts as a whole with the parts subordinated to the whole, then it would not implant.  The mere fact that it implants as a whole describes the work that an organism does.  For those who want a more scientific background on this, please go to:  westchesterinstitute.net.  It is a great website.

Obviously, I can’t write extensively on this topic because of the nature of the blog.  There have been other advances in the area of stem cell research that I will try to keep writing about, since I understand the topic and can hopefully put it into laymen’s terms.  It is crucial that people understand what is going on in this area of promising scientific research.

Global Peace- Pax Terrae May 2, 2009

Posted by earthking in Conservatives, Liberals, Life, Politics.
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I was watching Meet the Press about a month ago when a three politicians, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, were on talking about the need to update our country’s infrastructure.  Arnold spoke about a very big idea- there is no reason why we have traffic jams in this day and age.  It is an ambitious problem to tackle, and he wants to address it.  However, I was driving home from work today and thought of another big idea- Pax Terrae- for a period of 30, 40, maybe evern 100 years. 

Imagine if world leaders agreed to stop ALL conflicts for a period of time, and dedicate resources that are now destroying people or plan on destroying, and spend that money on fixing problems like AIDS, hunger, drought, etc.  I remember hearing about the Pax Romana while in high school, how the Romans had a period of relative peace for about 200 years.  I learned that the resources were spent on the interior of the Roman empire and helped to foster a period of prosperity.  We should do this today, but on a global basis. 

Some might argue that it is too ideological to wish for such a thing.  It may be difficult, but why can’t people around the world push their leaders to do something like this.  After all, many individuals feel as if war is simply caused by a few big egos unwilling to sit down and talk through their problems.  Their egos end up shedding blood and innocent lives are permanently affected by death, loss of limbs, or homelessness. 

Another issue would be dealing with aggressors, such as those who took down the World Trade Centers in 9/11.  Yes, some individuals and world leaders would not want to comply, but if enough countries are on board, then pressure would be mounted against those who did not want to comply.  War would have to be avoided at all costs. 

To ensure some kind of compliance with the Pax Terrae, world leaders would have to sign some kind of  a pact or treaty with the world.  This could flow through the UN or some other kind of coalition, but it would have to start at the grass roots level.  Individual people would have to put pressure on politicians to fight for this.  After all, who wants war? 

Let me know your thoughts.

Stem Cell Debate April 30, 2009

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For the last two weeks I have been researching the stem cell debate via various sources.  Fortunately, back in 2002 I had a class on the moral status of the human embryo, which was an elective I took while studying philosophy in a Catholic seminary.  So, the more recent research was a brush up to get ready for a debate on this topic in a class I am now taking.  The verbal debate in class was to help both sides prepare their argumentative papers.  It took place two nights ago, and we ended up tying.  The tie was not a disappointment, as the other side, which was pro-embryonic stem cell research, was very prepared.  I try to give credit where it is due.  Overall, I had a lot of fun debating this topic and learned quite a bit in the process.

However, yesterday I was listening to a liberal talk show host who sounded quite intelligent.  I can’t remember her name, but it sounded as if she knew her stuff about politics and was very passionate, too.  As she was rambling on and on about how different ethical issues get in the way of getting things done, she quite casually mentioned how conservatives are against stem cell research.  I almost called her up to yell at her, because that is not the case. 

I hear this over and over again that conservatives and the religious right are against stem cell research.  This is the worst misrepresentation I have ever seen in recent memory.  I don’t care what you believe about stem cell research, to misrepresent an opposing view is wrong.  So, I am going to clarify briefly what the conservative position is on this issue.

Conservative DO NOT oppose stem cell research.  However, they do oppose HUMAN EMBRYONIC stem cell research.  It is a huge difference.  Stem cells can come from two sources- adult cells, like from a person’s bone marrow or an umbilical cord; or from embryos.  However, when taking stem cells from an embryo, the embryo dies in the process.  The killing of the embryo is why conservatives oppose this type of research.  It is also why many scientists are extremely relieved to find adult stem cells that may be as flexible as embryonic stem cells.  After all, it may provide a way to avoid this touchy moral debate. 

Once again, I am not writing this to try to convince you of one side or the other.  The point is to clarify- conservatives are NOT against stem cell research in general.  They are supportive of all types of research that helps cure diseases, including stem cell research.  But, they will not endorse the killing of human embryos to further any kind of medical research because it kills the human embryo. 

If I get enough reads from this post, then I will write on why the conservatives view the human embryo as a human being endowed with rights just like every other human person that we interact with on a daily basis.

The Death of Marriage April 21, 2009

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Over the last few years the debate about gay marriage has been heating up.  I don’t have a ton of time, but wanted to write down a few thoughts.  Many conservatives claim that gay marriage would undermine the natural institution and would help to further destroy the family.  While I agree with what they say, I disagree that this is the only thing or the major issue when dealing with the destruction of the institution of marriage. 

Both of my parents were baby boomers.  They were married for about 10 years before getting divorced.  Both of my uncles got divorced after a few years of marriage.  My older brother got married after finding that his girlfriend was pregant.  That marriage ended in divorce.  The most interesting comment I have ever heard was from my little brother, who is in his mid-20’s.  He said he never will get married because in the end, most people who marry get divorced, so why go through the hassle.  My point is this:  over the last 40-50 years, divorce has become so prevalent in our society that the institution of marriage has become a joke.  The vows no longer matter to people.  In fact, there is over a 50% chance your marriage will end up in divorce. 

The second thing that undermines marriages is when two people live together before getting married.  Studies have shown that those who co-habitate before marriage end up having a higher divorce rate.  However, I can’t blame those who choose to have this type of trial marriage.  How can anyone blame them when so many baby boomers who got divorced waited to live with their spouse until marriage.  People nowadays are wondering how they can have a successful marriage, and waiting to live together before marriage has already been exhausted and appears to have failed. 

So, gay marriage is not the first issue that has helped destroy the insitution of marriage.  In fact, there is such a small minority of people who are gay, around 5-6% of the population, that it is not the biggest issue of our day.  I just had to write down these thoughts.  I oppose gay marriage, but the elephant in the room is divorce.

The Secret to Good Arguments April 19, 2009

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I recently started going back to college after being in the workforce for a few years.  I have an unaccredited degree in Philosophyfrom a Catholic seminary, so I have to start over from scratch.  Philosophy taught me about arguments and more specifically, logical and illogical argumentation.  Whenever I hear a topic being debated, I analyze it from a logical perspective.  I am currently enrolled in a rhetoric class in college, which has taught me a lot about which arguments persuade people. 

In classical Greek philosophy, there is a branch called rhetoric.  The Greeks divided the types of arguments into three main categories:  logical, ethical, and emotional arguments.  Logical arguments are those that appeal to your reason.  For example, when trying to convince one of your friends to quit smoking, you may appeal to a statistic about the high percentage of people who smoke end up dying from cancer.  Ethical arguments are those that appeal to what you or a group of people consider right or wrong ethics.  So, when trying to convince your friend to quit smoking, you may say that it is unpatriotic.  This is a bad example, but patriotism is an American ideal that needs no further proof- at least for most Americans.  Finally, the appeal to emotion is by far one of the most important types of arguments.  Many times when children are in school, teachers may show them pictures of people in a hospital bed with tubes all over the place and other grotesque pictures of older people who never quit smoking.  This is supposed to inspire fear into the children so they will never smoke. 

There are two topics that are being debated today that play off of peoples emotions.  The first modern debate is concerning global warming.  In Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth, Gore dismisses the notion that there is any debate about global warming.  He immediately proceeds to some facts and figures about what will happen if nothing is done.  But, his primary tool of argument was fear.  His goal was to scare the audience into changing their lives to combat global warming. 

The next topic of debate is concerning embryonic stem cell research.  Those who are proponent of this tend to avoid talking about what the moral status of the human embryo and jump into arguments of hope and fear.  Christopher Reeves was a supporter of this type of research, and when rolled out in front of Congress to gain support, he was primarily playing off of the emotion of pity to rally support. 

Those who are against embryonic stem cell research tend to be a little more logical in their arguments.  I have seen several articles arguing the personhood of the human embryo, but have seen very little in the way of emotional arguments.  I believe that this is why they are losing this debate.  In fact, I saw a Gallop poll on the ineternet stating that 60% of those polled favor embryonic stem cell research. 

To win any debate, you MUST have arguments that inspire fear, hope, pity, or hatred within the audience.  Relying too heavily upon data and facts will not convince your audience because people make most of their decisions based on emotions.  Most people get married because they love the other person and not because it is a logical thing to do.  So it is with other topics- people choose based on emotions.  Choose your arguments wisely.

Your Rights…Explained April 4, 2009

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The recent news about the Obama administration wanting to change the laws to deny doctors their conscience rights is extremely alarming.  In essence, it would force doctors to perform procedures, such as abortion or sterilization, even if their conscience would be violated.  The law would be changed in order to protect freedom of choice on the part of the patient.  Unless we stop this administration from doing this, our own rights will be at stake.

People tend to bring to the debate the topic of rights.  However, there is no discussion about rights and where they come from and why some people have rights and others don’t.  Take a look at most laws, and they favor protecting one group of people and taking away liberties from another group.  For example, most states have laws outlawing prostitution.  This law helps communities stay clear of crime that may be brought in with this type of business.  But, this law also infringes on liberties of those who wish to practice prostitution as a means of income.  There are women who have lost a job, are down on their luck financially, or have other reasons they may need to sell their bodies to pay the bills and survive.  The law that makes prostitution illegal in most cities and states takes away liberties from one group and grants other rights to another group.  This is in the very nature of rights.

Doctors may be like any other business professional when offering their services for money.  They are like a car mechanic- I bring my car in for a brake job and my mechanic gets paid for that job.  However, like any other business, my car mechanic may refuse to do certain types of work.  He may not like to work on transmissions so he may refer me to a specialist who specializes in that kind of work.  My mechanic may not want to deal with a long-term project.  Other car repair shops, like Jiffy Lube, only do minor mechanical work, like oil changes.  It is not uncommon for service industries to only offer certain kinds of services.  Not all lawyers defend those charged with crimes.  Businesses select which services they want to offer and customers choose which businesses they want to patronize.  There is no reason why doctors should be forced to offer services as if they reside outside of a free market economy. 

Issues that the law on conscience rights affect are not menial.  In fact, certain procedures that may be required by this law, like abortion, are morally objectionable to certain healthcare providers because it is tantamount to murder and infanticide.  Even if someone is pro-choice and does not believe abortion is murdering an innocent victim, it is still not right to force someone to commit what he thinks is murder and violate his own conscience.  That is equivalent to holding a gun to a doctor’s head while telling him he must push the trigger that blows up a school full of school children.  He is not truly free in that situation. 

In a society that stands up for choice and liberty, it is appalling to think a law that forces healthcare professionals to violate their own conscience would even be considered.  If someone wants a procedure done, they should have to shop around for a doctor to do it.  To force someone to violate their conscience it tyrannical and is a throwback to Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R.  Those who fail to learn history are bound to repeat it.

Chicago leases parking meters- wastefullness of government January 5, 2009

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I’m not sure if anyone has recently heard the news that the city of Chicago is leasing the parking meters to Morgan Stanley for just over $1 Billion for a 75-year lease.  However, Chicago, i.e., the police, are still going to enforce the parking regulations.  Why the F&*% are we paying our cops to monitor and enforce a private enterprise’s rules???  During the summer of 2008, the city of Chicago claimed more lives because of murders than that of American troops in Iraq.  Yet, the cops are enforcing stupid parking regulations and now they are doing it for a private company!!!  Furthermore, the city government of Chicago is so corrupt that I guarantee you they didn’t even need the money from the lease anyway.  The residents of the city pay so much money in property taxes, parking fees, cigarette and alcohol taxes, etc. that there is absolutely no reason they need more money.  What the city government needs is a little audit from an accounting firm.  Somebody is stealing money from the city coffers.  The lease was a short-term fix for a long-term problem–> corrupt government that wastes my money.  What is the next thing they will lease to Morgan Stanley- the police department?  This is insanity.

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