This podcast is a place where I can think out loud on several topics, including religion and spirituality, logic, reason, epistemology, science, critical thinking, politics, culture, music and film, among other topics. The essential aim of this podcast is to seek the truth, to observe reality as it is, that all is truly one, and to the extent possible, describe what I observe without prejudice or preconceptions.
176. Separation of Church and State?
The first clause in the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” However, despite the United States’ history of respecting a much-needed separation of church and state, some religious groups such as the Hasidic Jewish schools of New York have received up to ONE BILLION DOLLARS in government funding over the past four years, per some recent New York Times and Only Sky articles, even though there is a supposed separation between church and state. I found it fascinating but unfortunately not surprising the “Politicology” podcast would cover this story in a coy, soft pedaled way since it involves the radioactive topics of religion and particularly Jewish religion. While antisemitism is horrendous, it is also horrendous Hasidic Jewish schools can receive public funding with no accountability to meet basic educational requirements, putting these children not just behind, but suffering educational deprivation found nowhere else in the state of New York. Both the horrendousness of antisemitism and the neglect of children’s basic education for managing in society can both be true at the same time, and in my view, we as a society need far more ability to handle nuanced discussions such as this, and start calling out this hypocrisy and stop avoiding the topic just because it also touches on groups such as Jews who have been unfairly and disproportionately maligned throughout much of modern history.
In this episode, I discuss my frustrations again with this schizophrenic Chicago White Sox ballclub, who after a triumphant must-win victory in Cleveland against the Guardians on September 15, 2022 by a score of 8-2 with five home runs, they go to Detroit only to lose 3-2 and only muster 6 hits. These two games are in a sense a microcosm of the entire 2022 Chicago White Sox season – win one, lose one, essentially a .500 ballclub. After Miguel Cairo taking over for Tony LaRussa who was sidelined in late August with a heart/pacemaker issue, the White Sox have played much better in September, however the roster construction flaws of porous defense, almost no ability to go first to third, players constantly injured or underperforming, has shown it was not all on Tony for the reason this team is what it is with just 17 games left to play in the regular season. Hahn has to take some blame, as does owner Jerry Reinsdorf for sure. I also read aloud the final two chapters of my book, “Armageddon,” Chapter 7, “True Fandom,” and Chapter 8, “It Happened… AGAIN.” I muse how the combination of a Chicago Cubs World Series victory in 2016 along with a Donald Trump Presidential election win combined to bring what I call “Armageddon,” or the “end of an age” as we have known it. I offer some commentary in between my reading, reflecting on how much has changed over the past six years.
In this episode, I discuss my thoughts on the Chicago White Sox’ 2022 season as it winds down, and how despite their improved play of late, it will probably be too little too late on this season to make the playoffs, given the 3-game deficit to the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central division with only 20 games left to play in the season. I also read from Chapter 6 of the “Armageddon” book entitled, “A New Hope?” At the end of the episode, I briefly reflect on some positives I can see about America in the early 21st Century, inspired by some good ideas expressed by Jonah Goldberg at the end of Sam Harris’ most recent podcast episode on “Making Sense” entitled “#296 – Repairing our Country.” It was refreshing for me to actually find even a glimmer of a kind of “new hope” and thankfulness for the country and time in which I live.
173. “Armageddon?” Chapter 5 – “The Quest for Relevance”
In this episode, I begin with my recent thoughts on the Chicago White Sox’ surprisingly good play of late to get themselves back in contention, now just 2 games behind the American League Central Division leading Cleveland Guardians with just about 30 games left to play in the regular season. I also reflect on my daughter’s 21st birthday today, and how hard it is to believe I am now the father of an officially adult child. I also reflect on the extremely difficult past week or so from my job, and my thankfulness for the much needed Labor Day holiday. I also read from Chapter 5 of my “Armageddon” book entitled “The Quest for Relevance.”
In this episode, I open with my strong feelings on the lawful search and seizure of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and how if we cannot finally prosecute Donald Trump after physical documents which belong to the US government were found locked up in a safe in his home, America may not be worth saving or may be beyond saving. I also discuss the hypocrisy and the recklessness of the Democrats for some of their candidates backing far right extreme Republicans in the hopes they will be more easily defeated. I also discuss the incompetent and pitiful Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball organization whose six-year rebuild appears to be an abject failure. I discuss some of the problems and issues with this now sub-.500 record team, and my belief the only possible start for a genuine reset of this organization is for owner Jerry Reinsdorf to sell the team.
In this episode I reflect on the fest held this previous weekend at the church where I work as music director, the idea of “smorgasbord” Christianity, or the fact virtually all Christians pick and choose parts of the faith they like and therefore keep, and ignore or leave aside parts of the faith they dislike. I also discuss my thoughts on the new health care, climate, and tax bill passed by the House of Representatives and my pleasant surprise over Joe Manchin’s support of the bill which helped allow it to pass. I also discuss my very strong feelings about the United States being in fact a managerial oligarchy instead of a representative democracy as in part discussed on Sam Harris’ recent podcast discussion with Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen, and why I believe the adage to “follow the money” is the fastest way to see who controls what goes on in America. I also talk a bit about the FBI’s recent search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and my hope they have enough of the real goods on this guy to finally prosecute him. I also reflect on my work life and the lessons I am trying to learn about the value of equanimity, or the ability to find a place of acceptance and steadiness no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in.
On this 4th of July, 2022, I reflect in this episode on the latest January 6 committee bombshell testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to the White House chief of staff and how it effectively demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump knew violence was possible from at the January 6 rally Trump held near the White House. I talk about why this is in my opinion a watershed moment in American history, and why if Trump is not at least charged for crimes in connection to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the United States can no longer credibly espouse to value Democracy, freedom, and pluralism.
This episode consists of an audio version of a book I wrote from November 1, 2015 to February 7, 2016 entitled “Detach… How to Resolve Conflict With Others.” It was written after yet another enlightening visit from my friend Dave in which I flesh out some of the ideas we had discussed during that visit on how to resolve conflict with others. I consider the topic especially timely in today’s hyper-partisan world, yet is always timely since human conflict has been around as long as there have been human beings. The chapters are as follows:
In this episode I first reflect on the wonderful surprise visit of my daughter this past Father’s Day and some of my overwhelming emotions in having seen her for the first time extensively and without a mask since before Covid. I also talk about the first celebration of Juneteenth, June 19th, as a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, and some of the pros and cons I can see with this observance, especially at this time in our hyper-partisan divided nation. For the main focus of this episode, I reflect on a recent episode from Sam Harris’ “Making Sense” podcast in his recent conversation with Jay L. Garfield, also on the “Waking Up” app entitled “Do You Really Have a Self?” Jay Garfield is Chair of the Philosophy department at Smith College, visiting professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, professor of philosophy at Melbourne University and adjunct professor of philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. I found this discussion fascinating about the nature of the illusory self, and comment about several points brought up in Jay’s discussion with Sam Harris, such as how an illusion is something which exists in one way, yet appears in another way, the reality of persons but not selves, which I believe are often conflated, and numerous other points.
In this episode I discuss my mixed feelings on this Memorial Day in which it seems there is little regard for the sacrifices past veterans have made for the United States in which assault rifles can be legally purchased as was the case for an 18 year old who killed 19 children, his grandmother, and two teachers this past Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at Uvalde, TX at Robb Elementary School. I discuss my sadness and outrage at how long it took the police to go in during the 78 minute ordeal and finally take out the shooter as frightened kids dialed 911. While the amount of guns in the US is only part of the problem, the fact there are cultural issues underlying the US having more gun violence than any other rich country in the world is no excuse to not enact tougher gun legislation, and definitely a ban on assault weapons sales to civilians.
In this discussion with my friend Dave, we talk about some ideas on how the self, or the persistent feeling of a permanent, unchanging “entity” or “experiencer” or “doer” may emerge as a felt experience. Also discussed is how values are inseparable from our actions and decision making.
In this episode I explore some thoughts from a recent conversation I had with my friend Dave on the phenomena of what could be called “human consciousness,” or the perception of a self, an ego, or a non-changing “entity” which feels to be at the “center” of thoughts, or the “thinker” of thoughts if you will. Contrary to my earlier view of the ego being thought itself, I see the foundation of the self, the idea of an “unchanging” ego as a primal perception of the brain’s workings within the organism, which in itself does not change, while thoughts arise as an ever-changing phenomenon. While ones’ self-concept is ever changing since thoughts are also ever changing, what does not change is the persistent perception of the brain’s operations within a given organism, which is the perception of an apparent “unchanging entity” at the “center” of thoughts and actions of the organism, the self, or the ego.
In this episode I discuss my continued frustration with the US and the West’s half measured approach to the war in Ukraine against the Russians. I also discuss my frustration with the mismatch between President Biden saying Putin cannot remain in power while at the same time trying to clarify his so called “slip of the tongue” to say his words did not reflect American policy, but his own moral outrage at the situation. I am arguing the West needs to match their words with their actions or risk losing even more credibility than the little we already have left. These half measures in my opinion only reveal more West weakness in the eyes of Putin and other authoritarians since they know they have us by the proverbial balls specifically with regards to our dependence on fossil fuel. I also discuss in the macro view of things, the way the yin and the yang, the light and the dark, the good and the bad are inseparable and how each “side” of this single coin can dominate in turn, and inevitably change with the winds of natural change, and how accepting this fact, as hard as that can be, might help our peace of mind.
In this episode I discuss my thoughts on the continuing war in Ukraine of Russian aggression, and my frustration with the US and Western lack of military response since from what I can tell, we are beyond the point of all diplomatic and embargo solutions, as was discussed on Sam Harris’ most recent Making Sense podcast episode with Garry Kasparov. I also extensively quote and provide my own feedback on some excellent points made on the Ukraine/Putin crisis by Molly McKew in some of her recent articles on www.greatpower.us. While I am glad the US has banned oil and gas energy imports from Russia, despite the soaring costs of gas, this along with other sanctions should have been done long ago, such as in response to the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Now, we have brought a knife to a bomb fight, and if we want this war to end without the complete destruction of Ukraine and its people, it is time to play hard ball with Russia, such as forcibly removing Putin with regime change. While it is not a desirable solution to have to get involved militarily, I’m afraid desirable options simply no longer exist in this situation. I also discuss the golden opportunity both Biden and the United States now have to re-define for another generation what we value as a nation, to help save Ukraine, to take advantage of a rare bipartisan opportunity to unite at least on this point in the United States, and secure of more stable, democratic future for the world.
In this episode I discuss my early thoughts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, February 24, 2022, under the influence of a delusional Vladimir Putin. While I am not a fan of war, I do believe a decisive and harsh response by the world and particularly the Democratic West is called for when it is clear that the battle is one between Democracy and Authoritarianism.
In the episode, I discuss my frustration with how it has come to be the lunatics seem to be running the asylum in our world today, whether in government, private businesses, crazy demonstrations about Covid restrictions such as the most recent instance in Ottawa Canada, the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, Russia’s recent threat to invade Ukraine, among other things. It seems the loudest voices in our world today are the craziest ones who appear to be controlling the narrative, and I wonder where the more moderate, “middle” majority got left behind, and wonder whatever happened to “majority rule.” There appear to be no genuine “grownups” in any meaningful positions of power, and as long as the lunatics run the asylum, I don’t have much hope for the human experiment lasting much longer. I also reflect on my feelings concerning the Joe Rogan/Spotify controversy, why I discontinued my Spotify membership, as well as my reaction to Sam Harris’ podcast on this topic. I also discuss what I perceive to be the premature conclusion we are now “done with Covid” after a large decline in Covid cases after the last Omicron wave of the virus, and my frustration with my own workplace’s decision to dispense with testing and vaccine mandates while opening offices at the same time. If two years of uncertainty have not taught us to be a little more humble with this virus, I am not sure what will. I liken our decision to being “done with Covid” akin to “deciding” we are “done with having a broken leg” before it has reasonably healed. While cases are on the decline, it is not the time to completely let our guard down in my opinion. I also reflect on some fascinating insights I have come to see via Sam Harris’ Waking Up app with the “Alan Watts Collection” series of outstanding content, particularly concerning the need for both sides of the proverbial coin of life to understand they are inseparable, and in the context of this world, understanding the fact we not only need each other, but are also inseparable from one another. The true realization and actions in response to this fact seems to me the only hope we have for healing our divided world.
In this episode, I vent my anger with one of my anti-vax teammates I work with, who after I and some teammates covered her clients for eight weeks while she was out of work with Covid, in the ICU for some of the time and still on oxygen, she celebrated in a team chat the blocking of the vaccine and testing mandate for large employers by the Supreme Court in a not so “supreme” decision in my opinion. The utter stupidity of cheering against vaccine mandates after nearly losing ones’ life to Covid demonstrates a level of arrogance of stunning proportions. It seems we keep trying to fight Covid, and it keeps responding with more difficult versions of itself such as the vastly more contagious Omicron variant, even if it seems to be more mild than previous incarnations. It often feels as if we are losing the fight with no backup from our government to do the right thing, be it regarding Covid, voting rights, or any other topic of consequence. It seems it is up to individuals and perhaps corporations to make a difference. Given the composition of the often milktoast, lazy, spoiled, and entitled American public, not to mention corporate greed and money above all values, it is a very lofty hope we will ever deal with any of these challenges in an adult manner.
In this episode, I discuss the cancellation of some of my Christmas day plans due to my brother testing positive for Covid, my pushback against “Covid fatigue” being an excuse to lift restrictions as the Omicron Covid variant runs rampant during the latest winter surge, and some of my thoughts on why what one “wants” or “feels” often has nothing to do with what the fact of a matter actually is.
In this episode I challenge our interim Pastor’s words on the supposed “true meaning of Christmas.” I question the selfishness of the Christian doctrines’ view of salvation being the number one reason for Christ’s supposed birth. Salvation is just a fancy word for the desire for the delusion of ego, of self to continue on for all eternity in a “good place” because we believed in the “right savior.” So Christmas in the Christian context is not about God or others, but self.
In this episode, I talk about my recent talk with a good friend about my difficulty being honest with myself with regards to my eating habits, and more overall attitudes with respect to fighting entropy, the gradual decline or disorder of a given system, and how entropy always ultimately “wins” in the end since everything eventually gives way to decay and death. I discuss the conflict between wanting and not wanting to fight this natural tendency, and the unending struggle with this conflict.
In this episode, I discuss my reactions to the new director’s cut version of “Rocky IV: Rocky Vs. Drago.” I discuss what are to my tastes, the pros and cons of the new version of this film. While I believe Sylvester Stallone made an excellent effort in his recut of the 1985 film, I still do not believe this latest version elevates this movie beyond it’s standing as the worst of the Rocky films in my opinion due to the Apollo Creed and Rocky’s “warrior code” motivations, which is difficult to justify and can be a cover for ego and pride being primary reasons for taking on risks that are irresponsible when you have a wife and children and others who depend on you.
In this episode Dave and I discuss our thoughts on two pieces of audio from Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” app entitled “The Paradox of Identity” and “The Paradox of Death.” Among other discoveries, we come to an understanding of the ego being synonymous with psychological continuity.
154. Chicago White Sox Eliminated from the 2021 MLB Postseason
In this episode I discuss my disappointment with the early Chicago White Sox exit from the 2021 Major League Baseball playoffs, losing in four games of the ALDS to the hated Houston Astros. I also speak on how disappointing it is for me to realize how far away after five years now into their rebuild the White Sox seem to be from truly contending with the elite of the American league for a pennant, let alone the World Series.
152. “Armageddon?” Chapter 3 – “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
In this episode, I begin with some of my strong reactions to Republicans’ refusal to raise the debt ceiling limit to enable the the United States to avoid defaulting on paying its debts for the first time in the country’s history, and the potentially disastrous consequences to the American economy which may ensue as a result. I also discuss the utter hypocrisy how the Republicans were willing to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default while Trump was in office, but are now mysteriously refusing to do so while the Democrats are in power with a Democratic president, playing chicken with the American economy, as well as Americans’ Social Security payments, veterans’ benefits, and other payouts the government will not be able to pay if the US government defaults on its debts. If anything may justify an attack on Congress, this would be it, and not the protest of the certification of a genuinely free and fair election Joe Biden won, regardless of the the false claims of voter fraud for a “stolen election” that never happened, and only believed by those delusional individuals who live in a hermetically sealed worldview whose delusions are endlessly perpetuated by the likes of Fox News, which should be renamed “fake news.” This rest of this episode covers the third chapter of my book “Armageddon” entitled “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”
151. “Armageddon?” Chapter 2 – “The 2005 White Sox”
In this episode, I begin with some reflections on the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11 and how hard it is to believe it has already been twenty years since this terrible event took place. This rest of this episode covers the second chapter of the book “Armageddon” entitled “The 2005 White Sox.”
In this episode, I begin talking about some of the latest goings on in my life and some of my preoccupations in the world, including vaccine mandates, the White Sox’ path to the 2021 MLB postseason, as well as some better outlooks on the Covid Delta variant I had recently come across in The New York Times. The main focus of this episode is to provide an audio document of the first chapter of my short book entitled “Armageddon?” This is a short book written over eight chapters, between November 13, 2016 to June 18, 2017 about Chicago baseball, the 2016 World Series, and Presidential Election. I entitled it “Armageddon?” in a tongue-in-cheek manner to ask the question as to whether we had reached or our close to reaching the “end times” with a Chicago Cubs World Series Championship and a Donald Trump Presidential election in 2016. This episode covers the first chapter entitled “It Happened.”
In this episode, I discuss my thoughts on the alarming new wave of Covid-19 spurned on by the Delta variant and my continued frustration with those who against all the scientific evidence refuse to get vaccinated. I also talk about several non sequiturs, defined as “the logic does not follow,” that many people offer to not get vaccinated and some of the non sequiturs people offer to justify their mistaken beliefs, whether religious, political, scientific, and many other areas of life. One of the non sequiturs I discuss in particular is one shared by our reinstated interim pastor that one cannot have a desire for something that doesn’t exist, which if thought about for just a few minutes, reveals itself for the non sequitur it is.
In this episode, I recall the amazing “Field of Dreams” Major League Baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees in which the Sox won 9-8 on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at the beautiful ballpark constructed in Dyersville, Iowa very close to the original baseball field used for the “Field of Dreams” movie.
In this episode I discuss how and why the self is illusory, the distinction between the organism and the self-concept, the “I” or ego, as well as why given the ever-changing nature of things, the idea of “enlightenment” or attaining the status of “Arhat” as a “fully awakened” person who arrives at some “permanent” and “final” desirable position is also illusory.
In this episode I express my frustration with vaccine hesitancy among a large portion of the US population and some of its consequences to the vaccinated. I also discuss my desire for vaccine mandates and passports, the need to marginalize bad ideas since they are counterproductive, and the need for the majority to win the war of ideas, and not be taken in with the usual political tricks of the trade known in Roman times as “bread and circuses,” the philosophy of keeping the masses distracted with some food and entertainment so they don’t revolt or call the ruling class out on genuine areas of societal concern.
In this episode I discuss last night’s town hall meeting at the church where I used to work in which we shared both sides of the story concerning the events leading up to the unanimous decision by the Deacon Board to recommend a vote of no confidence in the pastor. The pastor put on a most remarkable display of obfuscation, lies, deflection of blame off himself an on to others in his tired old bag of tricks he was called on by myself and others during the meeting all night long. The vote will be in two weeks, on July 20, 2021. I expect we have the votes to vote him out. We will see.
In this episode I contemplate the notion of equanimity, which is the quality of having an even mind, a state of psychological stability and composure undisturbed by experience or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. Learning to accept loss and gain, good-repute and ill-repute, praise and censure, sorrow and happiness, pleasure and pain all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. This episode was inspired by a talk on equanimity by Joseph Goldstein on Sam Harris’ Waking Up app under “The Path of Insight” series of talks. I discuss some of my thoughts on whether or not “permanent equanimity” is even possible, whether equanimity and the experience of emotion can be experienced simultaneously, and whether these qualities of mind can be alternated, back and forth, like looking into the reflection of oneself in a window, and seeing what is behind the window.
After some encouragement from my good friend, I decided to go to the Council meeting last night at the church where I used to work. It was a “barnburner” as some would say. This episode recalls my most fresh recollections of it from 5:30am today, June 9, 2021.
In this episode, I discuss the vast dichotomy between two different podcast episodes I recently listened to, namely “The Wisdom of Impermanence” from “The Path of Insight” series by Joseph Goldstein contained on Sam Harris’ meditation app, “Waking Up,” and an episode entitled “Finishing Well” from the “Gospel in Life” podcast featuring Timothy Keller. I discuss the true wisdom of acknowledging impermanence, contrasted with Christianity’s denial of impermanence, at least for human beings, and the folly of this viewpoint as expressed by Timothy Kelly during his sermon. I also talk a little more about the ongoing church saga and its the sad permutations of its machinations.
In this episode I rehash some of the final embers in the whole church saga after my last official work day with them, the cowardice of the Council of the church for not calling a special meeting let alone a vote to the congregation about the pastor’s lack of fitness for the position. I also discuss the cowardice of the Federal Government’s non-response to state legislatures’ passing of voting rights restrictions, leaving them unchecked at the Federal level, and the overall “collective cowardice” that seems to have taken hold of humanity in a pandemic like way at this particular moment. I also discuss some optimism on the Covid-19 pandemic and the great decrease in infection rates, yet my reluctance to declare at this time “full restoration” even with increasing vaccinations and decreasing infection rates. I am still playing it more safe than sorry until I see more data showing success at keeping the pandemic under control. I also discuss my frustration with anti-vaxxers and their irrational disbelief in science despite the overwhelming evidence the Covid vaccines are working quite well at least for the moment, as illustrated by the incredible decrease in cases, among the least we have ever had since the pandemic began in early 2020.
In this episode, I discuss some of my latest thoughts on the church situation and my resignation, the return to office for my day job and my failed bid for permanent home-shoring, the CDC’s new guidance on mask wearing, my second vaccine shot, and my issue with the tendency by some to even reluctantly admit of progress, in which we have at least appeared to have turned a positive corner in our battle in the United States with Covid-19.
In this episode I discuss the sad conclusion of the fight at the church where I work to oust the fraudulent sitting pastor. In a classic coward’s way out, the Council of the church opted to have yet “one more month of mediation” after the Deacon board had nine weeks of backbreaking deliberation with our mediating interim pastor and the Deacon board that went nowhere to improving the situation. I talk about how the Council’s decision to reject the recommendation of the unanimous decision of the Deacon board to put a vote of confidence on our pastor to the congregation was for me, the final straw, which led to my decision to terminate my position as Pianist/Music Director for the past 13 years. I also discuss the disturbing trend of cowardice in our society in general towards opposing authoritarianism and bullying, as symbolized in the ousting of Liz Cheney as GOP leader of the House.
In this episode, I discuss several issues including the ongoing saga with our church recommending the pastor be terminated via a congregational vote, the absurd and ridiculous moves by some Republicans to oust Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership, my mom’s car accident, and the revelation from my day job company they are enacting a phased return to work policy starting after the July 4 holiday, and my major issues with this.
In this episode, I continue my series in reviewing and rebutting chapters from the book “God, The Final Frontier” by Philip Delre. In this episode, I respond to several of the claims made in Chapter 2 entitled “The Word of God, Living and Written.” I discuss the contradiction of some Christian apologists saying the Old Testament “no longer applies” since when Christ was crucified the veil in the Temple was torn in two, effectively ending the Old Testament, replacing it with the new, which is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:17 which says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” I also discuss the difficulties with believing in a perfectly loving, just, and Holy God, while at the same time trying to reconcile this with evil passages from God’s Word such as Exodus 21:20-21 which justifies the beating of slaves just short of murder since they are, as the Bible states, the property of another human being.
In this episode, I reflect on my thoughts concerning the latest in the whole church debacle between myself and the much maligned new pastor, including where we are currently in the process to have him permanently removed. I also discuss what it means to live as a compromised human being, the fact we are all compromised in one way or another, and how in sense, all individuals’ behavior can be better understood in light of circumstances, especially the ultimate circumstance that nobody is ultimately responsible for anything they do since free will is an illusion. I use the analogy shared by Dave, “the man with the severed hand” to describe this compromised quality, as the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker had his hand severed in the Star Wars Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back.”
In this episode I relate some of my thoughts about this past Tuesdays meeting with our pastor, two deacons and our past interim pastor on resolving the conflict and creating boundaries between myself and the pastor with whom I have been engaged in a month long conflict. In this meeting the pastor showed his true colors, even going so far as admitting he would do over again things we all called him on were blatantly wrong and unethical. He only doubled down in order to dig his grave further since the deacon board is now seriously considering having him fired.
In this episode, I discuss my thoughts on speaking “Christian language,” or being my “Christian self” while being in church and around my Christian friends even though I cannot intellectually accept the metaphysical claims of the faith, following the adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I discuss some of the ethical issues I have with being disingenuous with my best friends about where I really stand with respect to Christianity almost out of pragmatic necessity given a complicated set of circumstances surrounding my job as music director at the church and my conflict with the new pastor and its still unresolved status. I also reflect on Sam Harris’ latest podcast episode on “Making Sense” with James Fadiman and their talk on psychedelics and the self, especially their talk on the many different “selves” we take on as a normal matter of course in our everyday lives. We are almost literally different people in different circumstances and around different people, making salient in a very real way how and why the notion of one “unified” self is an illusion.
In this episode I describe some of the goings on over the last 48 hours in the life of the church where I work as a pianist and music director, and the ongoing war the pastor is waging with me and the rest of the church I believe he will most likely lose after today’s sermon which was a ridiculous, childish, tear-filled, and embarrassing rant of self-righteous indignation.
In this episode I discuss the latest crisis at the church where I work as music director, and the utter hypocrisy and unethical behavior of the pastor who believes himself to be embroiled in an imaginary power struggle with me.
In this episode, I discuss my thoughts on the first chapter of a short booklet entitled “God, The Final Frontier” by Philip Delre. In this episode, I discuss why all theistic worldviews, including Christianity must be false since dualism – the very philosophical position upon which all theistic worldviews depend in order to be true, is false. We know it is false since in genuine dualism, there would be two separate, opposite, and independent “realities” or “substances,” but if that were the case, then one would cancel out the other, which would only result in nothingness, which is obviously false. It is interesting how Delre purports via his theistic position that dualism is true, yet if it were it would result in the very nothingness he knows is not the case. I propose there is only oneness, but it has two fundamental principles, namely stasis (synonymous with consciousness), and change, and these are NOT two separate, opposite, and independent realities, but are rather two sides to the same one coin of All. This accounts for the fact of oneness, as well as the apparent duality or “separation” within our known reality, while not leading to “nothingness” since these two sides are not separate, but two sides of the same One.
In this episode I again speak with my friend Dave as we discuss our thoughts on a conversation entitled “Wrestling the Paradox” with Jim Newman and Sam Harris on his “Waking Up” meditation app. In this discussion, we speak of the contradiction of Jim’s speaking of “non-happening,” all the while holding an actually happening conversation with Sam Harris. The fundamental issue with Jim’s position is his denial of change while speaking of “non-solidity,” which is only possible if change is really happening. We also discuss the arrogance of those who would claim “enlightenment.” There is also discussion on the non-contradictory position of Reality being All, with two side of the same “one coin” of All, being stasis (synonymous with consciousness) and change.
In this episode, I discuss my frustration with the blatant conflict of interest by allowing our elected officials police themselves, as they will not hold themselves and their colleagues accountable. This will undoubtedly be demonstrated once again with the almost certain acquitting of Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial since not enough members of Congress have the intestinal fortitude or the spine necessary to do the right thing, which should be obvious to anyone who has seen the evidence of the former President of the United States inciting the horrendous riot on the Capital on January 6, 2021. I talk about why only We The People should be holding our elected officials accountable via a simple vote on such things as conviction of an impeached elected official, because We The People are the only ones who can hold them accountable. Voting for representatives is not enough – not when dishonest and bought and paid for leaders do not represent the people, but instead their corporate donors and fellow Q’Anon conspirators, nor can they be trusted to enact accountability on themselves. I also discuss the obvious conflict of interest with allowing our elected officials be bribed by lobbyists and corporate donations, which should be banned forever within the United States government to help mitigate this obvious and corruption-producing conflict of interest.
In this episode I discuss the rise of Authoritarianism in the United States, and the parallel between Authoritarianism in government and religion characterized by blind submission to authority, as opposed to individual freedom of thought and action. I discuss why it is not surprising given the United States’ religious predilections why so many in our country would embrace Authoritarianism as a shortcut over Democracy due to our “want it now” mentality and wanting to simplify an ever-increasingly complicated world. I also reflect on some of my thoughts about the recent controversial conversation between Sam Harris and nondualist Jim Newman on Sam’s “Waking Up” app.
In this episode I discuss some of the new promising news on the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines and their overall general effectiveness – including the great likelihood they prevent both disease and spreading the virus. This is in contrast to what I had previously understood in my episode 123 “A Shot in the Arm” about the vaccines possibly being effective against getting bad cases of Covid but not necessarily stopping the spread of Covid. In other words, it was once said you could potentially be a “silent vaccinated spreader” of Covid, which to my mind is not a genuine vaccination. I am pleased to hear that with enough vaccination and with the cases dropping some 35 percent overall in the past two weeks, we may just have reason to be more optimistic than I had previously thought.
In this episode, I reflect on the horrendous display of mob violence on the Federal Capitol today, as rioters stormed the very building during Congress’ attempt to officially certify the 2020 election results. The result was four dead, three medical emergencies, and an unprecedented dark moment in American history when a sitting president incites mob violence because his injured pride cannot accept a lawful election result and reality itself. I discuss the possibility of Trump being removed from office via the 25th Amendment. I also discuss the incredible victory for Democrats to win back the Senate after winning two Georgia state runoff elections with Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeating David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. With Biden’s victory and the Senate now majority Democratic, I speak of some optimism that America now at least has a chance to move forward with a better Covid-19 vaccine distribution program, dialing down the white hot temperature, violence, and divisions in this country, and restore some national credibility.
124. Beethoven at 250 – The End of the Line for Classicism
In this episode I reflect on some of my thoughts on Beethoven during the 250th anniversary of his birth on December 16, 1770. Some things I reflect upon are his great humanity in overcoming tremendous challenges in his life such as his ever-increasing deafness, his personal failures at finding a wife, his struggle for custody of his nephew Karl with Karl’s mother, and the eventual tragedy which results from Beethoven’s abusive treatment of Karl and his failed attempt at trying to turn him into another Beethoven musical prodigy. Also discussed is his role in my opinion as the first truly “modern” composer who almost single-handedly put an end to Classicism in Western Music, began Romanticism in earnest, as well as some of the parallels I see in the 19th Century Beethoven with another musical revolutionary, the 20th Century Stravinsky, as re-definers of modernism in Western Music. I also ponder the amazing evolution of Beethoven’s extraordinary music over the span of 56 years of life, culminating in the Ninth Symphony and his last five late-period string quartets.
In this episode, I discuss the F.D.A. clearing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine yesterday, Friday, December 11, 2020, and why regardless of its efficacy, this will not be the immediate “shot in the arm” some believe it will be in allowing society to “get back to normal” or “ground zero.” Social distancing, mask wearing, and all of the other preventative protective measures that have been recommended for months by medical health professionals will still be needed for quite some time to get the now out of control pandemic more under control. Another extremely important point I emphasize is that Dr. Fauci, the Johns Hopkins website, and other credible public health sources are advising that while the vaccine may prevent one from getting ill and having symptoms, it does not mean you cannot contract the virus itself and spread it to others, meaning for all intents and purposes that until the infection numbers plummet to minuscule levels, we will still need to wear masks, social distance, work from home, etc., for the indefinite future.
In this episode I discuss my thoughts on a booklet I received last Sunday entitled “Two Ways to Live” outlining the binary options of either 1. Live our way resulting in death and judgement, or 2. Live God’s new way to be forgiven by God and given eternal life. I discuss why this simplistic, binary option is false, and what I perceive to be “a third way” to live – namely the way of critical thinking, sound reasoning, compassion, rational thought, respect for others as well as for the truth above all else, even when the truth hurts or displeases us, which has nothing to do with belief in God as defined by Christianity.
In this episode, I discuss some of my thoughts after seeing the documentary “The Social Dilemma,” in which tech experts discuss some of the problems and consequences with social networking, including some discussion on some of these sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I also talk about the fatal problem with money and profit being the sole incentive for what kinds of information we are fed by these platforms since disinformation and lies spread more easily than fact or truth. This combination is like never-ending gasoline poured on a raging fire. In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election and the incredible disinformation campaign launched to destroy our democracy by the very people who swore an oath to protect it, it is clear that social media is at least one of the most dangerous and easiest tools in existence to use by some who are committed to launching information warfare on populaces all over the world. In a society where there is no truth, there are no facts, and there is only power and the endless pursuit of it, Democracy cannot thrive nor long survive. Given these incredibly high stakes in play, and given the fact we cannot “put the genie back in the bottle” in terms of this technology which can spread disinformation like wildfire, we are clearly at a precipice unlike any other in human history. Where we go from here is the priceless question for the survival of Democracy and perhaps our ultimate existence.
In this episode I discuss my great elation and relief with the victory of President Elect Joe Biden and in my view the larger and more important victory of Democracy itself with the vote determining the outcome instead of fraudulent litigation and legal disputes by disgruntled Trump Republicans. I also express the beautiful poetic symbolism that Democracy in 2020 would be won in the state of the City of Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed since Biden’s winning of Pennsylvania earned him the Presidency in 2020 as the incoming 46th President of the United States.
In this brief episode, I share the most recent revelation I had about why it is Donald Trump is even competitive in a genuine, credible election. It is at least in part because he leads not a party, but a religious cult. It is “the Gospel According to Trump” if you will because the super-irrational following and almost literal worship of him despite his incessant lies and incredible flaws that are even known and accepted by his followers is eerily reminiscent of the way gullible and vulnerable people can get trapped into following a super-charismatic cult leader for purely emotional reasons that have nothing to do with logic, reason, evidence, etc. I have come to realize that the reason for the double-standards and the fact the rules are different for Trump than for other politicians is because he isn’t a politician, but a cult leader competing against politicians. It’s apples and unicorns. They don’t play by the same rules because they aren’t the same animal. This is a cult against a party, which is a frightening place for America to be when religious radical cult following infiltrates our democratic institutions. It is clear to me this problem is far greater than just the figurehead of Donald Trump, who managed to somehow wave his magic wand over the Republican Party and hijacked them into becoming the Cult of Donald Trump and with his loyal followers. I can only hope with a possible Biden election, some normal Republicans will come to their senses. One can only hope.
With the Presidential result for the 2020 election in the United States still hanging in the balance, and Donald Trump pushing litigation in some closely contested states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, demanding counts be stopped, and further demanding the Supreme Court intervene to decide the election in his favor, I have come to a recent revelation about the misnomer of the “United States of America.” We are not the United States, and maybe never have been, and that perhaps secession between “red states” and “blue states” is the best option at this point of seeming no return in our ever-polarized environment. The fact this election is even close when you have on the watch of Donald Trump kids in cages separated from their parents, the worst pandemic in 102 years crippling the world and America, with over 100,000 Covid-19 cases in the United States yesterday – a record, the administration already has said plainly they have no intentions of controlling, and a sitting President who in the simplest terms is attacking American democracy in an effort to remain in office is beyond all hopes for description. The fact 2016 was not a fluke, the fact that half of America votes in favor of despotism, narcissism, denial of science, evidence, and reason, even if it means the destruction of the health and life of themselves and their children and grandchildren is beyond depressing, and makes me believe we just need to call the 150 year experiment since the Civil War for what it is – a failure and move on. We have lived as two separate nations with incompatible ideologies for at least a century and a half if not since America’s inception. It’s time to amicably separate as two nations, and end the “United States” hypocrisy.
Recorded on Election Day in the United States, Tuesday, November 3, 2020, I talk about some of my thoughts on the very early trends of the Presidential Race according to the Associated Press, as well as my thoughts on Sam Harris’ most recent podcast episode entitled “The Key to Trump’s Appeal” in which Sam describes what he believes so many find appealing in Trump.
In this episode I discuss some of the disturbing parallels between the fictional character of Don Giovanni from Mozart’s famous opera with Donald Trump, including the bullying, the narcissism, the art of seducing gullible commoners, the double-standards which allow him to get away with seemingly anything while everyone around him runs in circles, unable to cope with the chaos he creates. I also refer to and reflect on the most recent podcast episode on Sam Harris’ “Making Sense” entitled “A Conversation with Andrew Sullivan” in which they speak of the horrors and collateral societal and political damage brought on by Trump’s narcissistic presidency.
In this episode I speak urgently on the necessity to vote Trump out of office in the upcoming election just to give ourselves a chance at successfully battling Covid-19. After reading the White House Chief of Staff’s comments in the New York Times that “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” they have blatantly advertised their commitment to not protecting Americans opting instead to focus on hypothetical future treatments and vaccines instead of the only tool we have at the moment – prevention. This advice to not even try to combat the virus flies in the face of all credible scientific and medical advice and is to me if ever there was one, the sole reason to not vote the Republicans back into office. They have said and demonstrated since the start of the pandemic in no uncertain terms they have zero interest in prevention and protecting Americans and by extension the world at large. To give ourselves even a “puncher’s chance” against the pandemic, we must vote Trump out of office.
In this episode I discuss some of the ethical implications of embracing the idea of “herd immunity” and my disgust at its endorsement by Trump officials. This to me just signals the mass concession that the virus has won, and since the prospect of an effective, safe, and mass distributed vaccine is still almost certainly months away at best, some have decided to “throw in the towel” and quit on trying to limit Covid 19’s spread because of a commitment to money, economics, and selfishness over human lives. The problem is, according to health experts, we are nowhere even close to achieving “herd immunity” if it even exists at all, and the other problem is, it is unknown whether there is even such a thing as “long term immunity” with COVID-19 in the first place. The idea of herd immunity with respect to Covid-19 is based on many such flawed and not necessarily correct assumptions as I discuss in this episode.
In this episode I speak with my friend Dave on several topics especially salient to these turbulent times; the issue of not being able to agree as a society on common values, which I believe may be the cornerstone issue of our society; the bad faith and disingenuous arguments by those who don’t respect science, evidence, and sound reasoning. Also discussed is the role of culture and class in our societal fragmentation and how we might best repair and heal our fractured world.
In this episode, I do yet another movie review on the all-time most influential film of my life – “Amadeus,” the winner of 8 Academy Awards in 1984, including best picture. In this review, I talk about my own life and how it would not be what it is today had I not first seen this film in my music class in Jr. High. I discuss some of the historical inaccuracies of this film, which are several, however I also discuss how the filmmakers never intended this to be an historically accurate screen biography of Mozart’s life. I also discuss some differences between the historical Mozart and Salieri with their screen and play counterparts, some of the differences between the theatrical cut and the director’s cut for Amadeus, and why I believe the original theatrical cut is superior to the director’s cut. I also discuss some of the differences between the play and screen versions of this story.
In this episode I discuss the core issue of identity, from which it seems to me virtually all of our psychological suffering emerges. While I do not believe it is possible to not identify as it appears to be a fundamental trait for certain organisms with sufficient awareness of the limits of their form and the limits of other forms around it, such as human beings, I do feel our awareness of the fact we identify and the pain it often causes us can help us step back from this identification, as can also be done with mindfulness meditation. In truth, the self, identity, agency, and free will are all illusions, however it is from this illusory basis that virtually our entire lives are structured. I discuss the insidiousness of identity politics and religion, which contrary to mindfulness, only exacerbate and encourage us to more strongly identify, not to see identity and all of its trappings for the illusion it is.
In this episode, I express some of my thoughts on the slippery slope we can go down when we strive for a kind of illusory “moral purity” in our decision-making such as banning or boycotting certain things because of “moral objections.” Sometimes this can be legitimate, such as boycotting businesses which use sweatshops, child labor, or other unethical practices, however at the same time if we look closely enough, it will be very difficult to find any human endeavor which is not in some way tainted by human imperfection and even questionable ethical implications. I also discuss the idea of “taboo trade-offs,” and other such compromises we all make which are difficult to discuss out loud, but are practiced by all of us in some way, shape, or form for our convenience and myriad other reasons nevertheless.
In another “movie review” episode, I discuss my thoughts on the films “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) and its sequel, “Staying Alive.” (1983) I talk about my belief that “Staying Alive” is unfairly maligned and has received far more criticism than it deserves, as it is a logical continuation of “Saturday Night Fever” in which Tony Manero brilliantly played by John Travolta decides to persue a dancing career in Manhattan on Broadway per his brother’s urging in “Saturday Night Fever.” There is excellent character development in which Tony sees the errors of his selfish, womanizing ways and realizes his commitment and love for his girlfriend Jackie. He also finds more self respect as a dancer who proves to himself he can do it, or “go the distance” in the spirit of “Rocky,” in which Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone co-wrote and also directed “Staying Alive.” I discuss what I believe to be the upsides of both films, while recognizing “Staying Alive” while not as bad as it was panned by critics is not as good as the gritty, realistic and hard-hitting “Saturday Night Fever.”
In this episode I share some of my thoughts on the Democratic National Convention or the DNC. I reflect on my disappointment with the hypocrisy of the pick of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential running mate, a woman who as a prosecutor helped shield police from accountability while letting people of color pay the price while at the same time presenting herself in her acceptance speech as a champion of people of color in the era of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom lost their lives due to police violence. After the inspiring, honest, no nonsense, serious, often cutting, and heartfelt speeches of Barack and Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, Kamala Harris looked out of place with her not not so serious, insincere and forced presentation in my opinion, looking more aimed to impress for a possible future position instead of showing herself as a team player of integrity as the Vice Presidential candidate. I believe the Demoractic party sold out to selecting a less deserving candidate for whatever reasons, while passing on other candidates, more honestly in line with their stated policies such as Susan Rice. However, I also discuss the net positive of a non-Trump White House regardless of who sits in the Democratic Vice-President’s chair, and the therefore almost default need to vote for Joe Biden in 2020.
In this episode, I discuss the frequent mismatch between what we profess to believe and our actions. This often comes up when believers claim to believe in the Bible, which clearly states that the power of prayer and faith is all you need to receive what you ask for such as healing, while going to doctors and taking medical treatments at the same time. I also explore the conflict within myself of claiming there is no self nor free will, while acting as if these things actually exist. I discuss the utility of believing in things such as the self and free will for our own survival even if such ideas are not true or factual. While I do not believe that belief in God is necessary for survival, it seems the belief in the self and free will are pragmatically necessary for our survival, as Dave and I have discussed previously, particularly in the past podcast episode #61 entitled “The Game.”
In this episode I reflect on the out of control Covid-19 situation in the United States, and my skepticism this will ever get resolved barring a vaccine or other “miracle” treatment since too many citizens of the United States are unwilling to do what it takes with wearing masks and social distancing to control the spread. Italy is one national example of a country that has the virus possibly as under control as a county can without a vaccine. It is a shame the United States can not manage to do what Italy has done. I also describe why it is ultimately up to each one of us to do the things necessary to get the Covid-19 transmission under control.
105. The Rocky Saga Reflections, Ranking, and Analysis Part 2
In this episode, in a welcome diversion from the Covid-19 pandemic news, I reflect on my thoughts, feelings, and rankings of the “Rocky” saga movie series, in which I include the two “Creed” films. At the start of Part 2, I begin my reflections and analysis on the fourth ranked Rocky film in my rankings, “Rocky Balboa.” I found it personally helpful to reflect on what is my opinion an excellent, uplifting, and often great movie series about overcoming adversity as an underdog, and moving forward no matter how hard life hits you. My personal rankings in terms of best to least best are: 1. Rocky 2. Creed 3. Rocky II 4. Rocky Balboa 5. Creed II 6. Rocky III 7. Rocky V 8. Rocky IV
104. The Rocky Saga Reflections, Ranking, and Analysis Part 1
In this episode, in a welcome diversion from the Covid-19 pandemic news, I reflect on my thoughts, feelings, and rankings of the “Rocky” saga movie series, in which I include the two “Creed” films. I found it personally helpful to reflect on what is my opinion an excellent, uplifting, and often great movie series about overcoming adversity as an underdog, and moving forward no matter how hard life hits you. My personal rankings in terms of best to least best are: 1. Rocky 2. Creed 3. Rocky II 4. Rocky Balboa 5. Creed II 6. Rocky III 7. Rocky V 8. Rocky IV
In this episode I vent my frustrations on the communication breakdowns at the church where I work where one worship leader is trying to use the pulpit as a platform to push his personal agendas and uninformed opinions on Covid-19 – a move completely unethical and which has, among other things caused me to rethink my ability to continue working as a musician for this church where we have decided for a time to stop all live singing amidst Covid-19 transmission concerns in the congregation. I also discuss more of my frustration with Major League Baseball and the almost innumerable ways this Commissioner-mandated 60-game season could go sideways and not be able to be completed, my disappointment with America’s inability and unwillingness to seriously combat this virus, opting instead for more “entertainment,” the almighty dollar above the health and well-being of people, and other superficial bullshit instead of putting all of our resources and energy into slowing and ultimately stopping the spread of Covid-19.
In this episode I talk about some of my misgivings with what I perceive to be this “anything goes” attitude about what we should and should not do to combat the spread of Covid-19. Whether we are aware of them or not, there are facts of a given matter, and there are more reliable and less reliable sources of information about Covid-19. It is therefore my feeling we must go with the advice of the most credible medical sources and up to date information from places like the World Health Organization and public health officials. I speak of my disappointment with members of my own family who seem okay with taking this laissez faire approach to Covid and best practices to keep ourselves and others safe. I also touch on my issue with phrases like “black lives matter” which only serves to divide us further based on our differences rather than being united in our common humanity, and why I therefore believe a much better, productive, and truthful saying is ALL Lives Matter.
In this episode I discuss some recent issues in the world concerning Covid-19 and the demonstrations and riots which have ensued from the murder of a black gentleman George Floyd by a white Minneapolis, MN police officer. I discuss the non-democratic move by Trump to stop peaceful protests for social justice by wanting to use the military to do so, and what this could mean for the democratic American experiment and its viability. I also discuss the hypocrisy and double-standard of sports leagues possibly going back to playing games which must by their nature defy social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines of the CDC and other health professionals and experts, while the public is being expected to still maintain social distancing measures. I discuss the bad example this sets, and why sports leagues playing games is no different than Donald Trump or Mike Pence not wearing masks in pubic spaces. It seems it is politics and business as usual in the United States, with humanity and justice once again taking a back seat. As long as America’s priorities remain this convoluted, there is no telling when or if America will ever emerge from this pandemic of Covid-19 and the hatred and racism still sadly rampant in the laughing stock that is now the United States of America.
In this episode I reflect on a recent podcast episode from Sam Harris’ Making Sense in which he speaks with Jonathan Haidt on a number of issues, including the upcoming election in 2020 and the baffling support of Trump in spite of overwhelming evidence of his incompetence, narcissism, and bad faith decision making. I also contemplate the difference between being stupid and being mistaken, what it is I believe we most need, especially now – courage, and the strength to want to know what is actually true instead of being “right” which is a value that attempts to justify “motivated reasoning.” I also discuss why motivated reasoning is just a bad faith effort to simply rationalize a preconceived belief and/or presupposition, and has nothing to do with sound reasoning – a good faith effort of genuinely trying to know what is actually true.
In this episode, I talk about some of the latest on the Covid-19 crisis, including the hasty re-opening of American society without a plan for rigorous testing, quaranteening those who are ill and allowing the healthy to return to society, the stupidity and utter lack of leadership from the current administration of the United States, the infighting, the divisions, the wastefulness, and the fear this will go on indefinitely because we cannot get our act together. I also talk about what I consider to be perhaps the biggest problem for humanity and it’s incredible cost to us, especially in today’s environment – the problem of pride and not wanting to respect evidence-based critical thinking, sound reasoning, scientific method, opting instead for superstition, wishful thinking, misinformation and other nonsense, as well as the unwillingness to admit when we are wrong. To which I say, to borrow a quote from the film Pulp Fiction, “F- pride!”
In this episode I contemplate the utter stupidity of those who would follow Donald Trump’s advice to ingest or inject household cleaners like Lysol and Clorox to help treat Coronavirus Covid-19. This alone should render him both insane and un-electable. Should he win in 2020, I may officially give up hope in the American people. If people insist on being stupid about things and pushing conspiracy theories to undermine credible authorities like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Surgeon General, the World Health Organization and numerous others, then that electorate will get 4 more years of exactly what they want – a reality television show host who is a serial liar and narcissist. If the dangerous, irresponsible, blame-game playing, non critical thinking and unconscionable way things have been handled by this administration during this crisis is not proof enough of Donald Trump’s utter incompetence I don’t know what would be. Also discussed is the promise of a drug Remdesivir for treating Covid-19, and my belief we need to put our entertainments, sports, and other non-essential activities aside and just settle in to give all of our human energy and ingenuity to overcoming or at least getting this crisis to a reasonably manageable level as soon as possible so the human community can move forward.
In this episide, I discuss some of my issues with Donald Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 situation by not responding soon enough to the crisis, and then scapegoating the World Health Organization (WHO) by charging them with the exact same criticisms leveled at him of mismanaging the crisis, and his subsequent decision to stop funding the World Health Organization. I talk about the hypocrisy of Trump wanting to “hold others accountable” while at the same time deflecting blame from himself and avoiding accountability by dismissing Glen Fine as the top watchdog for the Covid-19 2 trillion dollar stimulus package. With this, I also cover House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s brilliant and concise public letter to her Democratic collegues in which she charged President Trump with missteps in handling the coronavirus pandemic that “caused unnecessary death and economic disaster” in the United States. Also discussed is the fact that Covid-19 is not just an “elderly” disease, but actually hits obese individuals, including younger people in their 20s, and that some 42 percent of American adults, nearly 80 million people are obese – a prevalence rate far exceeding those of other countries hit hard by the virus such as China and Italy. Also discussed is Trump’s distrubing tacit or no-so-tacit endorsement of public state protests against the lockdown orders by governors, the selfishness, impatience, and entitlement of the American people, and some of the problems with tradeoffs and balancing quality of life and human flourishing with slowing the rapid spread of Covid-19.
In this episode, I discuss some of the church service we had today at the church where I work as a musician. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the social distancing guidelines, we put on an outdoor Easter Sunday service in which church members arrived and sat in their vehicles to see and hear the service. I talk about what I consider to be the true meaning of Easter Sunday in the Christian sense – that it comes down to the ego – to the self and the preservation of the self in an imaginary “otherworldly realm” after we die in exchange for believing in the “necessary sacrifice” of God’s son to “pay the price” for human beings being “bad people” or at least sinful people, which makes no sense in light of the reality of both ego and free will being illusory.
In this podcast episode I explosively react to the unconscionable removal by Donald Trump of acting Pentagon Inspector General Glen Fine as the top watchdog for the Covid-19 2 trillion dollar stimulus package. It seems clear to me Mr. Trump has something to hide as he refuses once again to be held accountable and considers any oversight “an insult” after demonstrating himself to be time and again a lying narcissist who believes the rules don’t apply to him. Unfortunately they don’t seem to apply to him when the bought-and-paid for Republican Senate didn’t finish the job of removing Trump from office after his impeachment. The fact those who CAN hold Trump accountable refuses to do brings me to the conclusion they are having their palms greased in the most unconscionable display of human greed, narcissism, and out of control egotism in American history as far as I can tell.
In this episode I discuss the latest but certainly not the greatest of the Covid-19 outbreak, Trumps’ predictable change of mind and refusing to wear a face mask in public per the most recent advice of the CDC. I also speak of Trumps’ poor leadership by leaving quarantine and shelter in place orders to the local and state governments, and some funny Covid-19 jokes for much-needed levity in this time of world crisis. I also reflect about the passing of long time radio color commentator Ed Farmer of the Chicago White Sox on April 1, 2020.
In this episode I look again at the Coronavirus Covid-19 situation and some of the ways how it has completely changed the game if you will of how we are now living our lives in essential quarantine within our homes. I also discuss the latest harrowing statistics and why it is I believe this will go on for months – not weeks, and with that, why even the “pushed back” date of April 30 to relax social distancing will almost certainly not be nearly enough time.
In this episode I express some of my thoughts on the increasingly relevant ethical question on how to best balance our economic concerns with public/world health concerns, my opinion that human life is not expendable, and ask the question who are we to judge who is “expendable” and who is not. I also talk about the new economic stimulus package of 2 TRILLION dollars which is to be injected into the US economy if it passes in the House of Representatives, and how if we do not take advantage of this opportunity and stay home until we can get a handle on this Covid-19 crisis, there is no telling where we will be a year from now.
In this episode I reflect again on some of my feelings on the Coronavirus pandemic and Donald Trump’s alarming change of mind to wind down the social distancing campaign for the sake of the economy while downplaying the gravity and seriousness of this global pandemic. Donald Trump seems to believe we can both get the economy back to business while battling Coronavirus at the same time and that is not quite true. Short term sacrifices can lead to longer term benefits but premature termination of the social distancing campaign could be disastrous to our health care system and to the health of our country and world according to expert medical advice even up to the Surgeon General of the United States who emphatically urges social distancing. Also discussed is how the state governors such as Illinois Governor Pitzker have had to take the lead on handling this crisis in the absence of direction from Trump and the Federal Government. I also discuss some of the religious “explanations” for this health crisis, the contradiction of believing prayer and God are enough to heal illness while relying on doctors and medicine at the same time, etc.
In this episode I reflect on several different topics including the new Coronavirus pandemic and it’s already far-reaching consequences, why just believing something without backup and/or evidence does not make it true or factual, remembrances of my dad on what would have been his 71st birthday today, the illusion of the self and therefore the illusion of life after death, etc.
In this episode I reflect on the latest podcast episode on Sean Carrol’s “Mindscape” podcast in which he speaks with Laurie Paul, professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Yale University. In this episode in which they speak about transformative experiences, they talk among other things about why such decisions which may lead to transformative experiences such as getting married or having children are so difficult to make because we cannot predict the outcome of these decisions and how they will change who we are. In this episode I speak again about the illusion of the concept of a single, stable sense of self, and also talk about how it is we can at times perhaps be TOO open minded. From my vantage point, NOT all things are on the table, and I believe there are some things that are not going to change, such as the fundamental principles of stasis (consciousness) and change, as well as the non-dual nature of reality.
In this episode I explore the fascinating neurological reasons why human beings see and experience a mind-body split, or dualism in which mind and body are perceived as separate things, and how this relates to our vulnerability to accepting belief in gods and the supernatural. I reference the excellent work of J. Anderson Thompson Jr. , MD and Clare Aukofer in their book, “Why We Believe in gods” in my exploration of this fascinating phenomenon. I also discuss some of my reactions to Dave’s thoughts on his struggle with the illusory self, and some implications on meaning with this awareness.
In this episode, I relate some of my thoughts on a recent conversation between Sam Harris, Willoughby Britton, and Jared Lindahl on the “Waking Up” app. Both Willoughby and Jared specialize in helping meditators who are experiencing meditation-related difficulties such as distress, anxiety, etc. I also discuss the contradiction between accepting the much accepted definition of consciousness from Thomas Nagel being “what it’s like to be something,” which is a definition of ego, or self, while at the same time accepting the idea that consciousness is timeless, spaceless, centerless, etc. These two positions cannot be simultaneously held without contradicting oneself. Either consciousness is the experience of ego, or “what it’s like to be something,” with all its limits and particulars of experience, or it is without center, without definition, without limitation, etc. However, it cannot be both. I also discuss some reasons why I suspect we tend to hold on to concepts which preserve the idea of “unchanging things” like the soul, the self, God, Heaven, and Hell, and how hard it is for so many of us to accept the ultimate reality of the impermanance of all things.
In this episode I begin by reflecting a bit on the “placebo effect,” and why it cannot be entirely responsible for why individuals get better when taking genuine medications. Active ingredients actually do matter otherwise we could save ourselves millions of dollars in health insurance and medication costs by taking only placebos. I then explore the topic of the difference between selfhood and personhood, the illusion of the self and ultimately the illusion of all notions of separation.
In this episode I speak again with my friend Dave, this time on the “placebo effect.” We discuss how the “placebo effect” can manifest itself in things such as self-confidence, religious belief, and how easy it can be to conflate a belief in something due to a possible positive benefit from that belief with an actual matter of fact. Topics also discussed are consciousness, free will, the “nocebo effect,” the illusion of self, “knockouts” as I discussed in the last episode, or facts which “knock out,” or make certain beliefs in light of these facts impossible.
In this episode, I explore a number of different things, including the ideas of free will, agency, ego, and why these must be illusions based on other “knockouts” we know to be facts which invalidate these things such as determinism, stasis and change, the probabilistic and mathematical nature of the universe, etc. I also discuss why you don’t even need to get into theology or other more complex arguments to disprove the existence of God once the basic presuppositions of theistic faith – namely ego and free will are seen for the illusions they are.
In this episode I reflect on my last visit to my dad and step-mom’s house soon to be sold this coming week, as well some thoughts on my last conversation with Dave concerning “experience” and its relationship to consciousness.
In this episode, I speak again with my friend Dave, this time discussing the question of what is experience and how it does or does not relate to the definition of consciousness. We look at the definition of consciousness as related to experience from Annaka Harris in her book, “Conscious,” and discuss why we disagree with her and Thomas Nagel’s definition of consciousness being “something that it is like to be that organism,” which Dave and I would argue is nothing more than brain behavior and the awareness of “self” or ego, different from consciousness. We also discuss the other fundamental of the Universe – change, and why change must be a second fundamental principle along with consciousness, synonymous with stasis, in order to create distinction, the appearance of separation, discreet forms, or “existence” if you will. Consciousness or stasis, and change are two sides of the same one coin – the one whole of All. Also discussed is mathematics as a language of consciousness.
In this episode I reflect a bit on Sam Harris’ latest episode on the Making Sense podcast entitled “The Reality Illusion” with his wife Annaka Harris and Donald Hoffman and their discussion on consciousness, particularly Hoffman’s theory of consciousness as fundamental. I explore the contradiction of this groups’ apparent insistence on saying realty is non-dual, that consciousness is the one thing that can’t be an illusion, while at the same time believing consciousness is still distinct from matter – thus making them dualists despite their claims to the contrary.
In this episode, I speak again with my good friend Dave on the topic of consciousness, including the limitations of science to explain consciousness and why I believe science will never be able to explain consciousness, why consciousness like all is non-dual and singular, a “theory of everything,” the problems with assuming “objective reality,” and why the idea of there being a dualistic separation between matter and consciousness is incorrect.
In this episode, I share my thoughts and some comments shared by Dave concerning consciousness, the true nature or reality, quantum mechanics, the observer effect, and more. I also describe my perceived difference between “woo” metaphysical religious claims and simply stating the simplest explanation of consciousness being a fundamental principle of all that is.
In this episode I reflect on a conversation Sam Harris had with Rupert Spira entitled “The Nature of Awareness” on Sam’s “Waking Up” app. I reflect on my strong agreement with Rupert Spira that consciousness is the true nature of reality, and that reality is single, non-dual, and whole. I also reflect on some of Sam Harris’ disagreement with Rupert on this point, and ponder why it is scientists so stubbornly cling to their materialist-only philosophy, and express why such a staunch commitment to the assumption of materialism will never allow scientists to ever uncover the mystery of conscsiousness. I praise Rupert Spira’s crisicism of those who would ridicule people who would call consciousness fundamental. I also express why I agree with Rupert Spira that a materialist view of consciousness being derived from matter is no different than conventional religious belief that a God created the universe magically out of nowhere. When one examines both the claims of religion and the claim of materialist scientists with intellectual honesty, one sees they are the same claims to the belief in “magic.”
In this episode I delve into the idea of whether we believe in something because the claim scales to the evidence, or just because it seems “fun” or “feels good,” regardless of whether or not it is true.
In today’s episode, I relate some thoughts on today’s sermon in which the interim pastor at the church where I work talked about the transformative power of religious faith, citing the story about the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac in which the demon or demons are exorcised out of the man and into a herd of pigs, causing the swine to run down a hill into a lake and drown themselves. In this episide I touch on some of the ethical issues with this story, as well as the problem of conflating the utility or “usefulness” of something with its supposed “truth.” Just because something is useful, comforting, or otherwise “helpful” does not necessarily mean it is true or factual. I also talk again about the problem with conflating ones’ religious faith with fact.
In this episode, I reflect on some of the profound messages within the movie “Field of Dreams.” This is a film I saw in its entirety for the first time with my lady friend at Sox Park in Chicago, and I reflect on its profound impact on me, the way this film brilliantly reflects on what we value and why, as well as reflections on my dad and my childhood memories with him and baseball.
During this episode, I reflect on the latest “Making Sense” podcast episode of Sam Harris, who in this episode entitled “Journey Into Wokeness,” interviews the writer Caitlin Flanagan, who has many fascinating things to say about the whole “woke” phenomenon, political correctness, the contradictions within feminism, the #MeToo movement, etc. I reflect mostly on the “have it both ways” phenomenon in which people seem to want several matters of sexuality on their terms, the problems with “hook up” culture and the many entanglements this can bring, and my own logical conclusion that when it comes to simple, casual sex, paid relationships seem much safer than hooking up with strangers since the very nature of the paid relationship can be seen as a kind of “liability insurance,” allowing men and women to avoid the issues and hassles with hidden ego and emotional agendas which when not met, can turn the sexes against one another in a negative way.
In this episode I begin with a reflection on Dave’s excellent commentary on Episode 71 of the podcast, “Absolute Certainty?” In his commentary, Dave describes the difference between the scientific, logical, rational path towards knowledge and religious assertions which can be defiantly persistent even in the face of overwhelming and innumerable confirmations that the religious model of the cosmos is mistaken. In this episode I reflect again on probability, and as Dave suggests that while we can never have “absolute certainty,” in order to further our understanding of the cosmos, we must nevertheless go down the paths of highest probability. I also describe some of why science and religion will always be in conflict since both attempt to explain reality, but do so in entirely different ways, with science relying on evidence and sound reasoning, while religion relies on non-falisifiable, and therefore meaningless assertions and claims to “revelation,” “special transcendent knowledge,” “divine books,” and other such nonsense. I also describe why the “it’s just a theory” argument against scientific thinking is weak, incorrect, and disingenuous, and why the mistaken conflation that the “faith” of the scientist is the same as the faith of the religious-minded is flat out false.
In this episode, I reflect on a conversation I had this past Saturday with one of my uncles at a surprise birthday party for another one of my uncles about God, faith, and some reasons why some people believe in God. In this episide, I reflect on the issue of “believing” just because we are afraid of death, and reflect on my dad’s death and his expressed emotions before he died, as well my hopes for myself to face death courageously and without illusion or wishful thinking when my time comes.
In this episode I reflect a bit on the book by Carolo Rovelli, “Reality is Not What It Seems,” and particularly the last chapter of this book, entitled “Mystery.” While I acknowledge mystery and the fact we cannot have “absolute certainty” about everything, I do believe there are some things that are not going to change no matter how much we discover about reality, because there are at bottom, brute facts about oneness and the cosmos we must therefore accept if we are going to have any basis from which to speak of anything reasonably certain, and will not necessarily be able to give a “why” answer for. In this episode, I also explore physicist Sean Carrol’s bold, yet I believe correct claim we need not be agnostic about the question of “life after death” since as Carrol says, “there is no reason to be agnostic about ideas that are dramatically incompatible with everything we know about modern science.”
This episode consists of two recordings – the first made July 18, 2019, and the second July 31, 2019. Both are reflections on my sometimes negative attitudes with respect to my work situation, my difficulty with accepting the reality of work, and the painful realization of how badly my failure to often accept reality contradicts one of my most passionately held goals of this podcast – to observe and accept reality as it is without prejudice. In this episode I also ponder the selfishness and childishness of the attitude things “should be” as I wish them to be, and how my continual complaints about how many things are, particularly with respect to my work is a testament to my disturbingly narcissistic attitude. I also talk about how mindfulness can help with negative attifudes and emotions, as well as my struggle to remain mindful and accepting even in the midst of great difficulty and unpleasantness.
In this episode I reflect a bit on my conversation with Dave in the previous podcast episode, and respond to some of his insightful comments he sent me after the podcast recording via text. I primarily reflect in this episode on the question of existence, and how and why existence is not true since existence is the very concept of separation, which contradicts the fact and the truth that all is ultimately, one.
During my fifth conversation with Dave, we begin with the question of “do we exist?” During this conversation we also discuss other topics, including the difference between possibility and probability, the notion the universe is probabilistic rather than strictly deterministic, and what this might mean with respsect to determinism and free will. We also take a look together at the issue of presuppositions through the lens of probability.
In this episode, I begin with the question of what is volition, or the feeling of actions being intentional or voluntary, rather than unintentional or involuntary, and attempt to unravel the question of what makes actions feel this way despite the fact free will is an illusion, rendering all action ultimately “involuntary.” Also explored is the the fact that we, like all apparent things in the universe are actually impermanent processes and not “beings” or “things,” contrary to popular opinion, and how this fact takes all notions of souls, spirits, and gods off the table on any discussion about reality.
In this episode, I reflect on some of my thoughts from the past week or so, including my conversations with Dave, and some discussions at the church where I work. The title of this episode “So that…” was inspired by a church discussion in which our interim pastor used this phrase to help members of this declining church where I work better define why it is they do the things they do and what they want for the future. Some topics explored are some of my views on the arrogance of “evangalism” and missionaries, and how the “buy in” to the illusion of ego is itself a “prior cause” which gives rise to other causes.
In my third talk with Dave, we discuss consciousness and some varying definitions of consciousness, including that of philosopher Thomas Nagel which essentially describes consciousness as “something that is is like to be an organism.” Dave and I discuss some of the problems with this definition, and also discuss our thoughts on some of Annaka Harris’ new book “Conscious.”
This episode is a conversation between myself and my best friend from college Dave, with whom I spoke on the last episode. This is actually our first recorded conversation, which I had not intended to release due to some of the poor sound quality, but later thought better to release the parts of our conversation I felt were of acceptable sound quality and most importantly quite valuable. Topics discussed include consciousness, conscious “AI,” survival bias, “spiritual” fraud, the fundamentals of stasis and change, evolution and entropy, some of the problems with “total honesty” and the futility in defining “moral absolutes.”
On this episode, I speak with my best friend Dave whom I’ve known since 1993 during our college years, and with whom I have had and continue to have the most profound conversations of my life. During our discussion we talk among other things about life being a kind of “game” if you will, since our illusory sense of self is the foundation of this entire play of responsibility, accountability, and ownership in the human experience of life as we know it, and how knowing one is a “player” in the game can profoundly affect our experience of life. Also discussed is why we need to “buy in” to the illusion of self for the evolutionary sake of survival, “natural ethics,” morality, and free will among other topics.
In this episode, I explore the profound asymmetry between men and women when it comes to the “cost” of sexual involvement, and how this asymmetry naturally tends to lean women towards preferring a single, stable, quality partner of which she will usually be quite selective, while men tend to be less selective and more open to multiple partners since the sexual cost to men is far less than it is for women.
In this episode I reflect on our final Bible study of the season and explore the fallacies inherent in believing only from without can we be saved from the mess of the world we inhabit. I explore why WE have to take up the responsibility to make the world a better place if we care to instead of waiting on God or Jesus Christ to “save” us.
In this episide I reflect on last night’s Bible study discussion and some of the issues with playing the “faith” card as an excuse to not think critically, especially in matters of religion and spirituality.
In this episode I explore why being honest in what we teach kids with respect to religion Is important, and why it is dishonest to pass off as fact that which even ardent believers admit is a matter of faith.
During this episode I reflect on a run-in I had this Easter Sunday morning with a gentleman from the men’s Bible study at the church where I work who claimed to be offended with placemats at our pancake breakfast which read “Happy Easter” instead of “Resurrection Sunday.” On this episode I call him on his nonsense and reflect once again on the absurdity of the concept of the afterlife.
This episode is a reflection on some of my thoughts from last night’s Bible study at the church where I work as a musician. Among some topics covered are life after death, the idea of “faith,” and how the religious often feel they can call their faith claims “fact” without any genuine evidence for these claims, while others such as scientists are not allowed the same leeway. Also discussed is some of the pitfalls to the epistemological double standards theists hold between how they claim to “verify” reality as compared to how others do who value science, genuine evidence, and sound reasoning.
In this podcast episode, I reflect on a sermon I heard today entitled, “A Slap in God’s Face,” based on the Bible passage from Acts 4:8-12 which while referring to Jesus states that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” In this episode, I examine, among other things, why this entire premise is misguided since the self is an illusion to begin with, as there is truly to “thing” to be saved in the first place.
During this episode I discuss some thoughts on my dad’s death on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Included are more reflections on the afterlife and why belief or faith alone doesn’t change realty and/or the fact of a matter.
49. A Critique of “A Brief Introduction To The Christian Religion”
Episode 49 is a kind of “stream of consciousness” podcast in which I reflect on my thoughts in response to reading a pamphlet entiled, “A Brief Introduction To The Christian Religion,” given to me by a visiting pastor at the church where I work. In this episode, I take each of the nine points made in this pamphlet and address why none of them hold up to good evidence or sound reasoning, rendering the entire Christian religion untenable as a viable explanation of reality.
Audio version of the Afterword of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This afterword ends the audio version of this book, and deals with some final thoughts on the relationship between religion and spirituality, the core reason why all ego-based theologies such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are untrue, the need for spirituality without religion in an increasingly scientific and rational-minded freethinking society, the difference between religious dogmatism and belief, and mindfulness meditation. In the episode, I also give credit to Sam Harris for his great work on his soon-to-be renamed “Making Sense” podcast, and particularly his work on his “Waking Up” meditation app and his book by the same name.
Audio version of Chapter 45 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore the “Caesar’s Messiah” theory from Joseph Atwill’s book by the same name. In this chapter I explore some of the reasons why I find this theory so compelling due to its explanatory power, and why Christian theology is ultimately untrue, regardless the facts of its true origins.
Audio version of Chapter 44 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore why there is in essence no difference between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ in their mythical nature, and how Christianity poetically created tales symbolically representing natural phenomena such as the winter solstice and vernal equinox, and not supernatural phenomena as these stories are almost always today interpreted to represent.
Audio version of Chapter 43 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter begins the final part of this book, Part VII which deals with mythical and historical problems of Christianity. In this chapter I explore why there is good reason to doubt the idea there was ever an historical Jesus who is known today as the person Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament Gospels. Explored are other conspicuously smilar myths to the story of Jesus Christ from different cultures which predated the time of Jesus, the fact there is no historical evidence whatsoever contemporary to the time of Jesus’ purported existence, and the fact that the Jesus story is not the first in history to have been believed for centuries by cultures who thought their central spiritual figure was an actual, living person.
Audio version of Chapter 42 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter I explore the phenomenon of humanity’s tendency to make slaves of others as well as ourselves. Also explored is the fact that our enslavement to ourselves, our egos, is the foundation for our enslavement to everything else we are enslaved to from the government, the media, and religion.
Audio version of Chapter 41 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore how and why we tend to buy in to religious belief even in the face of invalidating evidence to those beliefs, and how religion is indeed “the opium of the people,” since it is used as “pain relief” for our sorrow and pain, which merely covers over the symptom of our suffering rather than directly addressing the cause of our suffering by facing reality and dealing with life and its often unpredictable turns of events honestly.
Audio version of Chapter 40 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter I explore some of the problems with calling scripture “inerrant,” while blatantly ignoring and/or explaining away several parts of the Bible which make us uncomfortable, are obviously not true, or inhumane, such as the command by God to kill those who work on the Sabbath, and Jesus’ instruction to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. Also explored is the contradictory claims of some scripture that “works” and not “faith” are necessary to attain salvation, while other scripture claims it is “faith” and not “works” that are necessary to attain salvation. Also further explored is how Jesus cannot be what Christian theology claims he was as both “sinless” and “divine.”
Audio version of Chapter 39 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore some of the contradictions and double standards of Christian theology and scripture, as well as why the argument that God is “omnipotent,” yet cannot betray his nature is invalid since it is itself a contradiction. Also explored is how scripture gives God different kinds of “abilities” and “powers” he needs for the storyteller to make their desired points, even if these “abilities” and “powers” cannot be reconciled due to their mutually exclusive nature.
Audio version of Chapter 38 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter begins Part VI of this book which investigates scriptural problems of Christianity. In this chapter, I explore why making scapegoats of religious institutions such as the Catholic Church for the injustices and problems of Christianity is a copout from facing the fact that contrary to the idea New Testament scripture was somehow “corrupted” by ignorant others, it is actually the foundation for the anti-Semitism, persecution and marginalization of homosexuals, as well as the concepts of judgment and damnation for those who “don’t believe” in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior which exists in Church doctrine today.
Audio version of Chapter 37 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I describe my observations of how much religious belief, and particularly the entire “salvation” story of Christian theology is a blame-game, also known as the “Drama Triangle Game” which is a seductive, high-energy blame-game which attempts to redirect the focus of attention, energy, and conversation from personal accountablity and responsiblity to blame, defense, and rescue. Also examined is how the Christian God plays all three roles of the blame-game within Christian scripture – the roles of Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor.
Audio version of Chapter 36 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore some ideas on the basis for morality, and why morality is subjective although not arbitrary, and why notions of “objective morality” therefore does not truly exist. In this chapter, I also discuss some of my agreements and disagreements with Sam Harris’ ideas on the scientific basis for morality, as well as some of my observations on his debate with William Lane Craig in April of 2011 at the University of Notre Dame.
Audio version of Chapter 35 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore why in actual practice, we are all atheists. One of the reasons we are all atheists is because if we actually DID believe in several of the things we profess to believe with regards to religious faith, our behavior would not contradict these beliefs in such actions as buying health insurance, seeing doctors, and getting treatment for illnesses when scripture clearly states that prayer and faith is “good enough” to heal all ills. Also explored is the fact that everyone of all faiths is an atheist with respect to other faiths since everyone rejects at least one god, while claiming their god to be the “right one,” with no genuine, credible, good evidence for these claims.
Audio version of Chapter 34 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore the difference between what I call “true” faith” and “religious” faith, and why conflating the two is misleading and incorrect. Also explored are some of the problems and contradictions with trying to rationalize how and why “the supernatural” and its supposed affects on the natural world is not subject to demonstrable, scientific proof and observation, when in fact it must be if it is a factual realtity such as gravity and electromagnetic radiation.
Audio version of Chapter 33 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores why it is hypocritical to try to demonstrate “moral points” while quoting the Bible since the Bible itself contains many contradictory and immoral commands by God. Also explored are some of the many excuses we make for God’s contradictory and immoral actions within scripture, such as allowing the pillaging, murder, and rape of others while asking us to neither kill, nor steal, nor commit adultery within the Ten Commandments at the same time.
Audio version of Chapter 32 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore some of the reasons why Jesus was not “without sin” when looking at some of Jesus’ actions and words from scripture and comparing them to God’s standard of the Ten Commandments. This chapter further explores the absurdity of the Genesis creation story which tries to place all of the blame on humanity for all the problems of the world, and none on the “perfect” Creator who created us “imperfect” humans to begin with.
Audio version of Chapter 31 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction,” which begins Part V exploring moral problems of Christianity. This chapter explores the problems and contradictions with the notion of a “divine plan,” and the utter self-centeredness of such an idea that the very Creator of the universe would personally suspend the laws of physics in one’s favor. This chapter also explores a “third way” of thinking about why things happen in our world which are neither the result of a “divine plan” nor pure randomness, and how the fact of determinism takes all notions of a “divine plan,” of will, and indeed “free-will” off the table.
Audio version of Chapter 30 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore why I challenge the negative connotations often associated with the expression “doubting Thomas,” since these negative connotations bear witness to the societical pressure we so often feel to “just believe” without evidence or sound reasoning, and all too easily give in to our emotions and credulity.
Audio version of Chapter 29 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I examine whether or not religion actually makes us any “better” as a race, and why we tend to exchange our dollars for dogma in the hopes of purchasing our security so we do not have to think critically for ourselves about our place in the universe and the circumstance we find ourselves in. Also explored is the absurdity of the Genesis creation story in the Bible, and how only a cruel and sadistic God could have set humanity up for failure and misery by making us such imperfect, flawed creatures to begin with, not to mention the logical contradiction of how a “perfect” being can create “imperfect” people. Also explored is how the excuse, “We cannot understand the mysteries of the Lord” to rationalize the inconsistencies and contradictions of religious faith gets us nowhere.
Audio version of Chapter 28 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I examine the problem with the concept of authority in matters of religion, spirituality, and truth. I also explore some of the reasons why authority has nothing to do with what is actually true, and why authority also has nothing to do with knowledge since knowledge and that which is true can be discovered by those who value, accept, and understand the implications of genuine evidence and critical thinking. Therefore, knowledge of truth does not require special “spiritual gifts,” “special powers of perception,” or so-called “revelation” to perceive truth.
Audio version of Chapter 27 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter I explore one of the biggest problems I have with Judeo-Christian theology – the concept of sin as the idea of displeasing a standard-setting deity in the sky called “God.”
Audio version of Chapter 26 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores the issue of trying to live without the idea of God in our lives, and how to deal with its profound implications, including facing the fact we must accept responsibility for the state of our lives and the world in which we live since we cannot blame nor thank any “spiritual beings” for our life circumstances. Living without the idea of God or any illusions of supernatural agency, forces us to look at our lives with a kind of sobering humility in the realization of our mortality, life’s transience, and therefore preciousness.
Audio version of Chapter 25 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores an alternate definition of “salvation” not as ego survival or getting an eternal reward for believing in the “right things,” but rather recognizing the ultimate Reality of The Oneness of All.
Audio version of Chapter 24 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this episode I challenge traditional Christianity’s view of “Jesus Christ” being limited to an individual person, Jesus of Nazareth. This episode explores how “Jesus Christ,” like “Gautama Buddha,” can instead be the expression of the dualistic experience of being “human” and “divine” at the same time – “human” in feeling like a self, an ego, an individual subject, and also “divine” in the awarenss of being the Oneness of All, not limited to an individual ego.
Audio version of Chapter 23 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this episode, I discuss what I feel is the true definition of “God,” which is not a being, nor a thing, a force, or an ego, but rather the Oneness of All.
Audio version of Chapter 22 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter begins Part IV of the book on theological problems of Christianity. The main focus of this chapter explores the “genesis” of the problem with ALL theistic thought – the fundamental belief in the self, the “me,” the ego, which is an illusion, which therefore renders all theistic thought invalid. Also explored is the selfishness of Christian/Islamic notions of “salvation,” the mistaken notion of “original sin,” and the essential difference between the Christian and Buddhist view of humanity’s ultimate issue.
Audio version of Chapter 21 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter, I explore some of the philosophical and scientific problems with the belief in “free will” and why it is therefore an illusion. Also explored are some of the profound religious, ethical, spiritual, and practical implications for humanity in the realization of the illusion of “free will.”
Audio version of Chapter 20 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” The chapter examines the logical contradiction and therefore falsehood of the idea of “something from nothing,” and why even potential and actions such as quantum fluctuations are “something,” thus invalidating physicist Laurence M. Krauss’ assertion that the universe came “from nothing.” Also explored is physicist Sean Carroll’s brilliant summation why life after death is impossible since the laws of physics underlying everyday life is completely understood, and there is no way within those laws in which the information stored in our brains can persist after we die.
Audio version of Chapter 19 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter further explores the reality of death and its implications, why “life after death” in terms of ego survival is impossible, and why creationism is so fiercely defended despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against it, which instead supports evolution. Also explored is why the common arrogant notion of humanity somehow being a “special exception” to all other life forms is mistaken as demonstrated by the facts of science.
Audio version of Chapter 18 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores the reality of death, why True “eternal life” has nothing to do with time and the survival of our egos, and how the Truth of Oneness invalidates the idea of permanent “individual survival” of death.
Audio version of Chaper 17 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” In this chapter I discuss why there can be no such thing as “the supernatural,” and how brilliant illusionists like Darren Brown, Matt Dillahunty, and James Randi expose so-called “psychics” and “spiritualists” for the frauds they are.
Audio version of Chapter 16 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter details a “theory of everything” as developed by my best college friend and I, predicated on the idea that stasis and change are the two fundamental principles underlying All that Is, or the cosmos, and that stasis and consciousness are one and the same.
Audio version of Chapter 15 of by book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter begins part III of this book on scientific problems of Christianity. Some topics covered are the lack of distinction between the “creator” and the “created,” why all is one, and why the ideas of “intelligent design” are mistaken.
Audio version of Chapter 14 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores some reasons why we adhere to religious belief even while applying logic, reason, and critical thinking to the non-religious areas of our lives, and how the power of compartmentalization can allow very intelligent and critical thinking individuals to still adhere to their religious beliefs even when those beliefs do not hold up to critical thinking and sound reasoning.
Audio version of Chapter 13 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores why religious certainties can often lead to violence, and why all those who adhere to their religious convictions are in the same boat since none have genuine, good evidence for their claims which could be demonstrated to an objective, impartial third party. Also explored is why if religious claims WERE backed by genuine, credible evidence, then religion and spirituality would be absorbed within the domains of science and philosophy and would therefore not need to be kept in a “special” and separate category whose purpose is to keep these ideas shielded from criticism and falsifiability.
Audio version of Chapter 12 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” Topics include our genuine longing for “the sacred,” why the “miraculous” does not exist, why traditional religious and spiritual concepts of the sacred are false, and how our natural human tendency to anthropomorphize things by attributing human qualities and causality to non-human beings, things, or forces leads to idolatry and our invention of gods.
Audio version of Chapter 11 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter delves into the difference between belief or “faith” with knowledge, why faith has nothing to do with knowledge, and why faith is not and cannot be a valid path to truth.
Audio version of Chapter 10 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” Topics include the fundamental reason why atheists and theists are essentially the same, more on the illusion of the ego, why there is absolute truth, and why the idea there are “no absolutes” is impossible since it is contradictory.
Audio version of Chapter 9 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter covers several reasons – incuding physiological and neurological reasons why the “self” or the notion of “I” and “me” as separate and independent of “other” is an illusion, and why Oneness is therefore the only True Reality.
Audio version of Chapter 8 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” Some topics include why the concepts of God and religion are one and the same, and why humankind made both concepts. This chapter begins Part II of this book on philosophical problems of Christianity.
Audio version of chapter 7 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter explores the problems with religious apologists trying to have things “both ways” to rationalize their faith in the “spiritual world” with the contradictory facts of the phenomenal, material world, and why those who would posit these two separate “realities” cannot have it both ways.
Audio version of Chapter 6 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” Topics include the problems with conflating faith with fact, why even religious claims must be backed by evidence and/or sound reasoning to demonstrate their truth and/or factual correctness, and how Judeo-Christian, Islamic faith is entirely selfish since all are centered on the belief in the illusory “self,” the “me,” or the ego at the heart of their faith claims. Also covered is the problem with the Bible’s endorsement at worst, and non-condemnation at best of the institution of slavery.
Audio version of Chapter 5 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” Topics covered include the distinction between reasoning and sound reasoning, the problems with religious apologists’ arguments and why they tend to be unsound, and the problem of the argument from both theists and atheists of “something from nothing.”
Audio version of Chapter 2 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter expands on why contradictions and double standards are always false, thereby invalidating virtually the whole of theistic thought which relies on contradictions, double standards and special pleading in their assertions of “truth.”
Audio version of Chapter 1 of my book, “The Christian Contradiction.” This chapter begins Part I of this book on logical and cosmological problems of Christianity. Topics include the logical impossibility of God and the supernatural, and the reason why all theistic thought is ultimately untrue.
The audio version of the introduction of my book “The Christian Contradiction.” Topics covered include methods of epistemology, fact and truth, the problems with Christianity, the occult, the supernatural, and other versions of “woo.”