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Free Will: Asking the right questionThe common view of free will among both religious believers and nonbelievers is that materialism and determinism contradict free will. To summarize Sam Harris' position, your choices are merely your genetic predispositions reacting to your environment. You can't choose your genetics, and you can't choose your upbringing and other outside influences, so ultimately you can't choose your destiny.
(See Steven Pinker's video lecture Chalking it up to the blank slate for more information and case studies illustrating the importance of genetics. I'll talk about other types of influences later in this article.)
A result of this philosophy is there's no legitimate reason to be proud of anything,
An Essay on Republican Capitalist Philosophy
I wrote this essay because Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan is the most ill-conceived and potentially counterproductive economical plan I have heard in recent history. Not only that, it seems to embody everything that is wrong with the republican way of thinking. I'm going to explain my objections to this plan, and also touch on the broader issues of republican capitalist ideals.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Cain's 9-9-9 plan is to limit income tax 9%, but introducing a 9% business transactions tax and a 9% federal sales tax. There's one crucial problem I immediately noticed, and to make it easier to see, I'll illustrate it with extreme examples from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Consider a poor person who barely makes enough to get by. He has to spend nearly 100% of his income because of his living expenses alone. Now consider a very wealthy person making $10,000,000 per year. He could be very frivolous and still
Made of Nothing
Fast Foreword: A Brief Introduction
Why are people so eager to tell me when they find God, but they never mention where he was hiding? Sorry, that's just been bugging me. Now about my essay I made it educational and concise, but I also tried to include some humor so it wouldn't read like an obituary column for any beliefs you may have had. To put it bluntly, this article's as likely to erase your faith in God as the Tanya Harding sex tape.
Okay, maybe that's a bit ambitious. Some people couldn't be convinced that God doesn't exist if God himself descended from the heavens just to announce that he doesn't exist. Even among otherwise critical thinkers, religion seems to be more or an emotional appendage than anything else. Trying to use reason to talk someone out of their religion seems as futile and incendiary as trying to logically convince someone they've married the wrong person. But I
Wish You Were HereThe rocky cliff ascends skyward, and the radiant moonlight pours over its face, creating a stellar interplay of lucent amber stone and forbidding shadow. Along the base of the cliff extend countless miles of glistening white sand, gently sloping into the nearby shoreline. As I gaze in pensive surrender at the tranquil, aquatic expanse before me, I just wish you could experience it in first hand.
The moon glows an angelic halo, and the shimmers of platinum moonlight skip a whimsical fandango over the rippling ocean. The stars sparkle in brilliant contrast to the rich, amethyst eve, like the enchanting way snowflakes used to glisten in your hair.
The seagulls sing a melancholy tune to the somber rhythm of the crashing waves. The brisk night air cools my skin, but is sullied by the wistful rustling of the verdant palms. The stars seem to coalesce into constellations that spell your name, and I can't help but wonder if you're out there, admiring this same aventurine sky.
The heavenly bodie
ViolinI remember the day
you told me violins
were strung with cat gut
and that is why
you hated music
(who says that to a child?)
I followed you
all that summer.
I watched you
grow away from mother -
your whiskey held better conversations
and all she did was cry.
We'd sit cross-legged on the porch
and count the horseflies
settling on our lunch.
You would drown tadpoles
in a bucket
surprised they could not swim
and I would dream
of cherry popsicles.
And when night would gather
on the sidewalk
I'd hold my breath
until a star appeared.
Don't bother making wishes
you'd tell me -
stars are dead weight in heaven
and God has cloth ears.
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