Let There Be Light

In recent years, much to my surprise, I have become a strong advocate of the theory of Creationism over Evolution. God’s words resonate, despite my will to overlook them.
After waking my wife this morning, I hit the light switch and commanded: “Ah, let there be light.” Noticing that two of four light bulbs disobeyed the instruction, and wondering how long they had been burnt out, I remembered God. Like a dead light bulb, He often goes unnoticed; and yet He is everything: the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, and all other characters ever devised by man.


It was this realization that took me to the topic at hand: God and light. I kind of remember God ordering light and then seeing that it was good. What? Why did He check?

Was He worried that when He said: “Let there be light” instead of light, a kangaroo would fall from the sky? The only reason a creator of something thinks to evaluate how good it is, is that He does not know how good it will be before He creates it. What is Moses trying to convey when he informs me that God checked if the light He summoned actually arrived in good condition? This confused me very much. I voiced my concern to my wife: “Shut up,” she explained.
The source of the original light remains unknown. Shortly after God created light, He created stars and the sun and other unnamed heavenly bodies He specifically designated as light sources. The first light was divine, it would seem, as it preceded all of these. The whole light issue seemed a bit murky. I attributed my confusion mostly to ignorance. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I don’t read Genesis. I almost sold my Bible at a garage sale years ago, after Jerry Seinfeld asked a compelling question: “What good is a book after you read it?” I have read it, but I don’t think I paid much attention or this simple matter would not seem so puzzling. To solve the problem, that nagging question of why God thought to “see that it was good,” I think I am going to simply read the text, as inscribed by the finger of God, in its original Elizabethan English. So others can benefit from my research, I will take notes as I proceed down the path from confusion to the inner light of God’s word.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Huh? In the beginning of what? I think I remember that humankind was created near the end of the week and did not begin on this day. God also began earlier. He was apparently homeless, but I am jumping ahead. What did begin on this day: the earth and the heavens? Obviously, they began on the day of their creation, but so do all things one creates. It is like saying: “In the beginning I made toast.” It is a true beginning from the toast’s perspective, but for the rest of us, it is a mere continuation.
It is a well established fact that God lives in heaven, so I can understand why He built His house as the very first thing. Prior to the beginning He was a vagrant.
Next we learn that that earth was formless and void and the darkness was over its surface. Of course, where there is a surface, there is also a form, but whatever He says I must believe. I guess He means that it was liquid, perhaps and had no fixed form. Let me keep reading and maybe it will become clear.
It would seem that God’s Spirit moved across the surface of the waters. Since a spirit definitely has no form, that it could move across something else that also has no form is a bit confusing. I have not yet found where God saw that Genesis was good, though, and I think He forgot to check. Perhaps if I keep reading, God will start making a little more sense.
I quickly reached the point in the story where God created the light and saw that is was good, exactly as I had remembered. This is the first recorded time in history when any being in the universe checked the quality of His work. That makes God, by definition, the Father of Creation. Here is my rationale: Herodotus is considered the Father of History because he was the first historian to document his sources. I read his Histories of Herodotus when I was young. Source accreditation was sprinkled throughout the work with the utmost journalistic integrity. “I know that happened because I heard it from the Delphians,” for example. When history’s father tells us that the Gods are envious of human happiness, we know he fully researched his facts and we believe him. When God tells us the light was good, as He is the Father of Creation, we should believe Him.
The light really is good. The earth, however, has its problems. The temperature fluctuates radically. What is comfortable one day is miserable the next, making it hard for any animal to live out its life in a consistent climate. Some areas have too little food, while food rots uneaten in others. One area has way too much water and another way too little. The tectonic plates are poorly designed. They routinely crash into each other, which breaks them and also busts the ground God built on top of them, sometimes destroying whole cities. Pressure builds up inside the earth and spews out molten ash and rock all over people’s houses. This problem could have been solved with a simple relief value, if God had detected the flaw in the design phase. The oceans are a big huge blunder. He saw the need for salt, and thank Himself that He did, but then He made it all salt. The beings on land cannot drink it. He never saw that coming and never bothered to go back and fix it. The light was the first thing He verified to make sure that it was good. While important, it would have been nice if He had started His quality control with the first creation, the most mission-critical piece: earth. The earth works, but barely. In comparison to the “light,” the earth is a bucket of bolts that hardly runs and now I know why.
At this point, God had finished creating the light. The source of light, the sun and other heavenly bodies, would soon follow, but first, God divided the light from the darkness. I don’t remember reading that before. Darkness is the absence of light. You cannot combine them, or you end up with only light. You cannot divide something that is already separate. I don’t know why someone felt the need to make up this absurd detail.
It would seem that God called the light day and darkness night. I hope He is not annoyed that we usurped these terms for our own use. We already had a term for light: “light,” and for darkness: “darkness,” but we did not have a term for the period of time in which each of these were present in certain parts of the world and we needed one. Since God had created exact duplicates and left two very much needed terms out, humankind borrowed them for another purpose. Every time we say “tonight, …” God probably kicks a cat and clinches His fist.
Anyway, right after God created the light, the heavens and the earth, there was evening and there was morning on the first day. The text does not clearly state it, but I think God turned around and asked where those came from. Genesis reports that God invented the ingredients for all of this and then the evening and morning just happened. The “What the f***” that God probably uttered was conveniently left out of the Holy Text.
As I am sure you know, since the time of creation, mankind flipped the positions: we now have morning first and then evening.  It is funny, though. We are not following the original design, which is OK since the evening and morning aspect may not have been mandated by God in the first place. It follows that the next day there would be evening and morning, and the next, ad infinitum. Humans like morning to come first, probably for the coffee and bacon more than anything else.  However, the consequence is that we are always one half day behind creation. Since the day begins in the evening, but we recognize it in the morning, we are calling the middle of the day, the beginning. In reality, “the evening and the morning were the first day.” It is not a big deal, but it is just something I learned.
Bright and early in the evening of day two, God summoned forth a firmament. I don’t know what that is. I tried looking it up, but that made things worse. Merriam Webster called it the vault of the arch of the sky: heaven. I think He may have created heaven twice. I am not sure if He threw the first one away or just added to it. Since He is in heaven, He probably noticed that something there, in His own house, was inadequate; like maybe in the first heaven the drinking water was polluted with salt. He probably told Moses to report it as a firmament rather than a “heaven do over” in order to trick us into thinking He is perfect.
It would seem that God’s final act on day two was to put some of the waters from the earth on top of heaven. There is no mention why He would do such a thing. It is possible that He replaced the first heaven because it was bone dry and He was thirsty. Another possible explanation is that Moses may have added this text without God’s consent because it sometimes rains, and scientist that he was, Moses realized that rain does not come from nothing, a concept he probably called “rain ex nihilo,” so God must have stacked some water on top of the sky in preparation. Moses concludes day two by reaffirming that evening comes first and the day ends with morning. He is just yapping. We are not going to honor that.

On day three we learn that the earth was originally a water planet. In retrospect, we know this is not good for man. Later we discover that the reason all of this exists is for humans. To correct this error, God committed to his first recorded miracle: He piled earth’s water in a single spot, thus revealing Pangaea, the super continent that was the air enriched environment man needed to survive. Though it had been submerged in water for more than two days, it was “dry land!” I was surprised to learn that God ran out of words and so He called the dry land Earth, a term already used the first day to mean water planet, which is by definition wet. At this point, He could have used either “day” or “night,” which were two leftover words, since man had not yet stolen them. By day three, the term “earth” meant the planet, less the water. He called the water seas. He was not sure if Pangaea would emerge dry, so He checked. He saw that it was good. Quality control complete.
The next two things that happened are strange. Separately, either event makes sense, but sequentially, it is bizarre. Here is the first one: God summoned grass, herbs, trees, to inhabit the earth, “and it was so,” meaning they answered His call and blinked into existence.
Here is the second one: The earth brought forth grass, herbs and trees. God checked if it really happened and saw that it was good. The fact that it happened twice in a row is not discussed as odd. This would be Genesis 1:12 and 1:13. In verse 12, God summoned the vegetation and it arrived. In verse 13, God summoned the vegetation and checked to make sure it was there. If God had been a little more efficient and tested his work in verse 12, the first chapter of Genesis would be 30 verses instead of 31 and I may have found the time to read it sooner.
In verse 14 God made a calendar. He used light, which is not odd because He didn’t understand the Solar system and how it works yet, since He had not yet created Copernicus and Galileo.
In verse 15 God repurposed the lights He used to make His calendar in heaven. He decided that since they were bright, He could use them to illuminate the earth. He verified that this was His original intention and found that it was. God doesn’t make mistakes, but that He changed His mind is clear. This second reason for creating them was an afterthought. Not only did He say they were created for one purpose, then another, but proved it, by placing them in heaven. If His original intention was to light the world, He would have put His lamps where they were needed, on the earth itself, and it is likely that Edison would never have been created.
Verse 16 is really confusing, but I am trying to understand it. God made two great lamps, the greater lamp to “rule the day,” and a lesser lamp to “rule the night.” Some people would argue that in this context “rule” means to illuminate, an idea easily refuted when we consider that He already made those lamps in verse 15. More mysterious is the fact that the greater lamp, which I think is the Sun, was created to “rule” the day, and that lesser lights were created to “rule” the night, and He made the stars also. This suggests that the stars themselves are not the chosen regents to rule in the Sun’s absence, but something else is. The stars appear to be little more than decorations, until we learn a verse later of their dual existence. God decides that they could help with the light also. Had He placed them on earth, probably one star would have been sufficient for the whole planet. However, it took billions to accomplish the same task because of their awkward location, which was in heaven where you would expect to find deities.
Now you may ask, as I did, why the Sun would rule at all; but it’s obvious. At the time God created the universe, the Sun was known to rule the world, and was usually the most powerful God of all of them. Long before God created the earth, the Egyptian Sun God Ra was ruling it. It is a Paradox, a core device needed to make Judeo-Christian theologies work.
Verses 17 and 18 try to smooth over the some of the apparent discrepancies of prior verses. It turns out that the illuminating regents, the sun the stars, and the mysterious material that God only defined as not the sun and not the stars were all placed in the heavens for three reasons: 1. To rule over the day and the night, so God did not have to. 2. To divide the light from the darkness, which as we know is not possible, unless He first found a way to mix them without damaging the darkness. 3. To illuminate the earth, which is naturally devoid of lamps. Verse 18 concludes with the declaration that God saw that it was good. I think God was mixing functions of the heavenly bodies and by this time His whole quality control process was failing. The ruling heavenly bodies needed to be in heaven, because the throne is there. However, the lamps needed to be on earth to really be efficient. Making the lamps also be the rulers was a mistake, in my humble opinion.
In verse 19, God affirms that day four worked exactly like days one through three: there was evening, then morning, not the other way around. Again, He is wasting His time. He may as well remove verse 19 and push verses 20-31 each up a verse.
In verse 20, God foolishly orders the water to bring forth moving creatures that hath life, which I have no problem with, but then also the fowl that will fly above the earth. That was probably not the best approach. As the waters brought forth the birds, a good many of them drowned. He should have ordered the sky to bring them forth. It was an easy mistake. He had never made a bird before.
Verse 21-23, God had the waters bring forth every creature that moveth. Curiously, he makes no mention of the immobile creatures, the ones that moveth not; nor is there any sign of them. We only know of His intention to create them by the declaration that He started with the ones that moveth, not just with “the creatures,” and he never brought the others up again. He also had the water make some whales and birds. God blessed the birds and the whales and the fish and ordered them to have sex: “Be fruitful, and multiply.” Almost none of the species knew Elizabethan English well enough to process the instructions, so the majority of them soon perished. At that point it was late morning, God was exhausted, and day five ended.
Verses 24 – 25 teach us that God made all the creeps on the earth. For reasons He never disclosed, cattle received special recognition, which helps us understand why some cultures worship them in the cow form.
In verse 26, we learn that God made man in their image. God never creates things quietly, like an artist does. Instead, He uses incantations, like witches would do, so if you are in ear shot, you can hear creation happening. God’s spell: “Let us make man in our image,” probably baffles Biblical scholars because they take it out of context. Had they simply read the other 25 verses, they would know about the Sun and the stars and would realize that this newly created heaven was swarming with deities.
So, God created humankind and put “them” in charge of everything on earth. “Male and female, He created them.” There were enough of these humans to have complete dominion over the millions of creatures of the earth. Remember this, as it will become of paramount importance shortly.
At the close of day six, God surveyed all He had made. In a mere six days He had amassed a bunch of things that were slopped together, but amazingly, when He examined His work, He decided that it was all good. His earth didn’t work very well. His people were put in charge of everything even though they had just popped out of the sea, gasping, wet and hungry, and had no idea what was going on or how to run any of it; and He had left the Sun and the Stars in charge of man’s days and nights, even though it was a philosophical violation of His imperialist vision of monotheism. None of this mattered. He was tired and it was all good enough. He did not say it was perfect. He said it was good.
A little while later He came to realize that He developed it all much too fast and it was a mess and His creatures were evil. He thought He had checked to make sure they were good that first week, but this specific design flaw was very subtle; so He killed almost all the people and the other animals with a great flood. Compromiser that He was known to be, He saved off a few of the evil things, so after the flood waters receded, they could replace all the evil things God smote, instead of Him having to rebuild them. His genocide was intended to destroy not only humanity, but all life, a fact he made abundantly clear. If man was guilty, everything must die. From His giant perspective we all look alike. I think I figured out why the plan failed. The majority of life on this planet is in the ocean, and yet, His weapon of choice was water. Most of the intended victims were unaffected, which is probably why His plan of mass slaughter did nothing to solve the problem of evil.
After learning this, which took Him a few thousand years, He decided that maybe if He killed His Son, that would help. Needless to say, that didn’t work either. His Son woke back up and evil continued on. In both cases, the Flood and the Crucifixion, some carnage was done, but the intended victims ultimately survived. Had either plot succeeded, the earth may be devoid of evil today.
To date, He has made no announcement regarding what He intends to kill next, and all because He rushed through the design of a very complex task that He underestimated from the Beginning, which brings me back to my original question: “The beginning of what?”
In chapter two, we learn that God created Man, then all of the plants and the animals, but because man was not satisfied, He created a “help meet,” which was a mate for Adam to have sex with. I know what you are thinking: did you not just describe how God created everything, then man last, on day six?
Well, yes, we discussed that. However, that does not change the fact that God created man first, and then the beasts of the field to keep the man company; nor does it do anything to avert the eternal truth that these beasts were created before man, and as a meets for man, and were inadequate for their purpose. After a discussion with man, God saw they were not good, after all, and admitted His mistake; His second attempt produced a woman.
At first glance the order of animal creation may sound like a contradiction, but there really is a good explanation, which I will share momentarily, and besides, just a word of advice: I wouldn’t let Him hear you say that, if I were you.
Originally, God had imagined a single man, and when it died, that would be it. However, man was unhappy with the beasts because they were exceptionally awful to mate with. Therefore, God created a servant for man whom He called woman, which the man did enjoy doing.
It is curious how God intended to run with a single human, but because that human needed a meet, He created not one meet, but millions of people, even though, omniscient as He was, He surely realized how evil they would be and also how hard it would be to exterminate everything that creepeth to pay for the sins of Adam’s meet.
There are no contradictions in the creation narrative. Nowhere in the Holy text of Genesis One does it say that the “people” God created were homo-sapiens. I think the “males and females” created after the other animals in Genesis One were Neanderthals or something, and perhaps Adam, the single man created before the non human animals in Genesis Two, was a racist Cro-Magnon who did not want to have sex with a disgusting Neanderthal. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to either.
Modern skeptics are quick to nitpickingly argue that Genesis Two is a complete contradiction of Genesis One and use this against God. They are fools. This text was written thousands of years ago. Had God spoken of the Neanderthals in Genesis One or the Cro-Magnon in Genesis Two, the homo-sapiens reading about it would not have understood. They did not even realize they were homo-sapiens, so we could not expect them to understand Adam’s taxonomy. It is better to not try to pit Genesis One against Genesis Two in a made-up holy war. The important thing is to walk away with the wisdom the story intends to impart, which I think is this: no matter how skilled you are, don’t just assume your work is good without periodically rechecking it.
None of us could have done a better job if we had been there, way back in the beginning, whatever that means. Though it reveals flaws in the earth’s design and shows mistakes that are hard for the devout to acknowledge, I hope no one underestimates the importance of this sanctified historical record. Without Genesis to guide us, we would be completely perplexed about how and when the Judeo-Christian Gods created things. Science concurs. Within the scientific community we find conclusive evidence that man, when left to his own devices, will invent far-fetch tales that stretch the fabric of credulity beyond reason. He will say we came from apes, then amoebae, and when none of this makes sense, he asks: “Well, how about a protein?” If life requires organic matter to create it, then organic matter cannot have existed ex nihilo, my scientific friends. If organic material is life, then life did not evolve from organic material. If organic material is not alive, then life could not have evolved from it. Your circular reasoning amuses me and annoys the Creator.
Man’s quest to understand creation is misguided, woman’s too. “Did God create us” should never be uttered. The correct question is not if, but how, did They create us? By God’s own admission They created us in Their image. Their image, not that of a Miocene ape or an Amoeba proteus, was the design. When were we created? In the beginning, as Genesis clearly states. We came before all the other creatures that creepeth, who only exist to serve us and each of them was created prior to our existence. It is written for all to see.
How long will we exist?
The Gods have been plotting our destruction since we were first developed. The original idea was to make only one of us, which would die. That did not work because he complained too much, so the Gods tried to kill off most of us with rain, which failed because the majority of life on earth has gills or other water-bearing apparatuses and He gave an unknown quantity of chosen ones a boat, Noah and Gilgamesh, for example, which preserved us long enough to make new people to replace the ones God destroyed. Next God tried killing His Son, which was supposed to convert us from something broken to something good, but that also failed when His Son woke up. He only sleepeth. What the Gods will try next is unknown, but one thing is certain: as sure as there are Gods in heaven, the story of our creation is not yet complete.
Proponents of evolution are quick to discount the literal word of God. They desperately argue that it is unreliable and they invent false inconsistencies like the ones refuted above; and they offer alternative stories to answer the made up mystery of our existence. Their fables tell us how a protein once evolved a brain and birthed more thinking proteins, which developed opposable thumbs, and society, and reason and culture, and ultimately God. They turn creation inside out. They find their fantastic invention plausible, unlike the documented history of the actual events. With their hand on the Bible, they ask: “How does the Christian know?” They peddle their ridiculous tale about in the name of science; but what they are really doing is antagonizing their Creator. He has repeatedly shown Himself to be intolerant of man. He only wanted one in the first place; and it has whined and complained and tried to change God’s design from the moment it popped out of the sea. It makes up global warming, then complains that it’s too hot. It commits genocide and then denounces the God it claims is a myth for allowing it. The man misuses intercourse, which God generously provided, for utterly ignoble purposes and then tries to force the God he denies to join the perpetrators in Holy Matrimony.
We deny the history of God’s creation in favor of fables. We think we are the creators of light and we marvel when we discover it has burned out. But God tells us of the source of light and it is not a bulb. We keep trying to get our fake lights to work. Over and over, we try new bulbs and all the while, God is still on His first sun, which burns as brightly today as it did in the beginning. His heaven and earth are not perfect. He never claimed they were; yet all we do is whine and complain about the design, while forgetting where it came from entirely, except on rare occasions when we give Him full credit and denounce Him for it.
This protein need not worry about a nuclear holocaust or a cosmic hail storm or chemical warfare ending his existence. He has but to keep doing what it is doing and the Creator will again unleash His mighty destructive force against him. And next time, He may succeed.

74 comments:

  1. To avoid sitting here any longer, I have converted your essay into a small e-book and sent it to my Kindle. Later!

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  2. I'm not sure what your purpose is in publishing this, John, if not to drive a wedge, as if more wedges were needed, between those who will be amused by it and those who will be upset. I'm rather surprised to find myself in the latter category.

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  3. You are unpredictable. I had no intention of driving wedges. I never do, and I assure you, sir, the post is pointless. I posted it because I wrote it and I wrote because two light bulbs were burnt out. That is no more to it than that.

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  4. Ah John, when you know someone better it is easier to predict his behaviour. I have just reread your email to me dated 18th Feb. That we should have exchanged private emails constitutes in this blogging world a kind of intimacy, and I wondered whether to respond to you there. But the spirit moves me to respond here.

    I think what upsets me, being as you know a conservative, of a kind known more often on this soil than that of the New World, is the satirising of our ancestors, yours and mine, who’ve lived their lives as devoutly as they knew how and in some scarcely comprehending way have worshipped what they felt must be holy, because they needed something holy in their lives.

    I say our ancestors but some are still living and may be our loved ones. We cannot hold them responsible for cherishing their Holy Bible, or blame them for its content. They (and I include myself amongst them) are simple folk, with an inbuilt need to worship and wonder, and root ourselves in antiquity, and unchanging truths.

    Where is the harm in that, even if the truths turn out not to be unchanging, and possibly have never been true, in that new-fangled logical scientific evidence-based sense that was only invented yesterday? I would sooner worship the old fallible gods: better the devil you know.

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  5. Vincent,

    I am glad you posted here, as it is very well said and fits well as a rebuttal of the satirical spirit of the essay. While I have debated against atheists many times that Christianity and Judaism are not necessarily bad for the culture, I do think literalism (or the literal interpretation of the Bible), is used to support many wrongs, such as the oppression of women, homosexuals and the separation of Church and State, to name a few. None of this was the inspiration of the article, however.

    As I stated before (and perhaps you assumed I made the statement in jest), I wrote the article because two bulbs of four did not light. “Why did He check?” I asked, honestly. If someone mentions a historical figure with whom I am not familiar, I will usually look him to find out who he was. In this case, I decided that I remembered small pieces of the Beginning, but I really did not know what was purported to have happened. Once I read the story, I realized that I never really read it with understanding and it is rather ridiculous. I expressed that, not as a form of attack, but as a form of revealing a discovery. To share knowledge is not wrong, even if, for spiritual reasons, others think the data you are using is inaccurate.

    I did not write the essay to drive a wedge anywhere. I wrote it because I was inspired, some might say by God, to do so. If God had not said “Let there be light,” but had instead simply made the light, the story of creation would have still been absurd, but I would not have been inspired by it. Similarly, if I had switched on the light, and all four bulbs sprang to life, I would not have been inspired. However, the fact that I turned on the light with the exact same utterance God once made and my lights did not cooperate, and God’s lights always come on as designed, and yet I rarely check if my lights come on, but God did check his more reliable lights, seemed ironic. It made me want to read God’s narrative. The silliness that followed made me want to respond, not out malice or a love for division among peoples, but out of inspiration.

    If you disagree with anything ever written, you stand to possibly offend those who embrace it. It is unfortunate, but necessary. If you are fully mindful of everyone when you write, you write a box that is bound so tight as to make the whole exercise pointless.

    In this instance, offending anyone was the last thing I expected. Therefore, I would like to apologize to the simple folk for implying that their religious devotion is anything other than upstanding. To attempt to cling to something good is always better than to deny good as a concept and descend into the world that follows.

    Now, as for embracing the old fallible gods over new-fangled science, I find it to be a false dichotomy. Though you would probably never get this from the article, as expressing it was not my intention, I do not believe the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. I know things evolve and natural selection makes sense. I know the earth is very old and there were many species at various stages of development that have come and gone over time.

    I do not believe in the Creation narrative for obvious reasons. The only records we have are riddled with improbably stories immersed in contradiction. The only credibility any of them have is the one thing they all deny, namely that they are mostly the retelling of progressively older stories with minor cultural differences.

    I think some form of evolution as an explanation is possible, but as assuming it as the ultimate answer, though I don’t reject it entirely, I doubt it. The Christian asks me, “then how do you think we got here?” It is an absurd question that assumes in order to reject his hypothesis I must have one of my own. The scientist makes the exact same mistake.

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  6. Interesting article. A little wordy but you are one hundred percent correct in stating that the light bulbs were out. On the other hand, were they ever really working? Or could this be the parallel universe where they are actually working but you can't really see the light?

    No matter how you look at the light, the only solution to the question is when will you actually put new bulbs in. Will you choose a cheap excuse for a bulb or go with one of those high tech fluorescent ice cream cone bulbs that last for a decade? Either way, you will need the light. So goes the battle between the light and the dark.

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  7. The only things that I know for sure are a) there was a universe before me and b) there'll be a universe after I'm gone. Other than that, it's all a big long Beckett play to me.

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  8. "We deny the history of God’s creation in favor of fables. We think we are the creators of light and we marvel when we discover it has burned out. But God tells us of the source of light and it is not a bulb."

    That passage might be an example of someone writing past his ability to keep processing or advancing his thesis logically.

    Please permit me to offer two writing tips: 1, The lion's share of good writing is editing what you've written, which includes paring it down mercilessly if it's overly long and wordy; and 2, "Shut up" is a declarative statement, a command, not an explanation.

    Back to that passage. First, who is "we" and what do you mean by fables? There is a wealth of objective evidence to support evolution and very little to support creationism. That doesn't prove evolution is the whole story and creationism is just faith talk. It does mean a preponderance of evidence exists for the one, whereas the other requires belief in things besides objective evidence. Faith, for example.

    I don't know anyone who thinks we mortals created light in the sense you're talking about. We're simply end users who've come up with ingenious ways of manipulating sunlight and other energy sources so we have light when and where needed.

    You do realize God didn't write the Christian Bible. For all we know, He might not even like the Christian Bible very much. There's certainly plenty in it, especially the Old Testament, that logically wouldn't set well with a fatherly god of love.

    So, God doesn't tell us about the real source of light. Some ancient storyteller does. And subsequently, his story got retold umpteen times down through generations until people started writing such stories down. It was then rewritten and reinterpreted in different languages down through centuries by a whole lot of very different people in different cultures and countries — some of them with various agendas and spin to add or subtract along the way.

    Here's something to think about this. Might it be that the whole business about God creating light had to do not with the kind of light we get from the sun or a lightbulb, but rather the kind indicated in the word "enlightenment"?

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  9. Well I for one laughed while reading one third of this incredibly LONG post! You have a terrific sense of humor John, I never knew that about you. BTW, who made God?

    Those new fangled ice cream shaped bulbs DO NOT last for years, it's a scam and a lie! Mine last only 8 to 10 months, And that's the truth!

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  10. I made it through chapter one and had to stop. I have to agree with SW; you could use a good editor.

    I appreciate you detailing the many flaws and imperfections of our little planet. I'm tired of the intelligent design crowd using the "flawless" workings of the universe to "prove" God's existence.

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  11. Will and Mr. Anderson,

    The intention of the article, which I think escaped a good many, is this, and only this: Literalists use the Genesis One and Genesis Two to explain their position on Creation. These two tales completely contradict each other. I tried to reconcile the stories on their behalf, but you cannot do it. Also, the author in Genesis Chapter One was babbling. Nothing he said made any sense. God made light, saw that it was good, then made the sources of light and saw that they were good. Don’t forget that He separated light from darkness.

    Furthermore, it shows that at the time of Creation, the polytheistic roots of Judaism had not yet been eradicated. Let us make man in OUR image. The Sun will rule over the day and the [Moon] will rule over the night.

    The literalist uses this, of all things, to tell him that evolution does not explain our existence here. He has the word of his monotheistic God and a documented source to explain how it really happened. The proof his is using says:

    1. Not one Judeo-Christian God, but a team of them, ruled the world after creation.

    2. Humankind was made, then all the animals on earth AND all the animals on earth were created and the humankind. He does not admit or consider that perhaps Genesis Chapter One was written by one author and Genesis Chapter Two was written by another. The only other explanation is schizophrenia.

    Mr. Anderson,

    I tried to address all your points here, but, ironically, you were too wordy and I will have to post my response to you separately.

    Sue and Papa,

    I have spoken with an electrician about the spiral bulbs and their false promises. He said the promise is only good if the bulb is left on. The life of the bulb gets fined heavily each time you turn it on. It is tested by turning it on and leaving it on.

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  12. Mr. Anderson,

    "We deny the history of God’s creation in favor of fables. We think we are the creators of light and we marvel when we discover it has burned out. But God tells us of the source of light and it is not a bulb."

    While your theory is certainly one possible explanation, it happens to be the wrong one. The intention was to parody the position of someone who thinks that Genesis is the literal word of God and who then tries to prove it. It is a literary device, and one with which you seem to be unfamiliar.

    As for you writing tips, as always, they are much appreciated. My dry-cleaner sometimes offers my mechanic advice also, bless her.

    Point 1: “The lion's share of good writing is editing what you've written, which includes paring it down mercilessly if it's overly long and wordy.” Believe me, that problem did not go unnoticed. It almost stopped me from publishing the article at all.

    Point 2: “"Shut up" is a declarative statement, a command, not an explanation.” That is the most obvious of observations. I did not think anyone would mistake that for a grammatical accident.

    Point 3: “There is a wealth of objective evidence to support evolution and very little to support creationism.” You still think I am a creationist! I cannot believe it. I don’t think you actual read the article. I think you thought it was too long. I am an atheist / agonistic, sir. As for the wealth of data to support evolution, it is not needed for me. I take it as true on faith. As for the evidence the homo-sapiens exist on planet earth as the product of evolution, I consider it highly likely. As for the wealth of evidence that life exists on planet earth as the result of evolution, I consider it a complete guess. We have no reason to think that and only choose it for lack of a better choice.


    Point 4: "I don't know anyone who thinks we mortals created light in the sense you're talking about." Again, neither do I. It is funny, the first response to this article was in defense of “believers,” whom it was perceived I had ridiculed (and I suppose I am guilty of that). Then came your response, a defense of those who do not believe. I stood with them, but unlike the first commenter, you did not accurately recognize my position.

    Point 5: “You do realize God didn't write the Christian Bible. For all we know, He might not even like the Christian Bible very much.” The God purported to have written it does not exist. Therefore, I have no choice but to concede to your wisdom. If that God does exist, then He is evil and I want no part of him, as I expressed in Gateway to Heaven a few posts back.

    Point 6: “So, God doesn't tell us about the real source of light. Some ancient storyteller does.” The first two chapters of Genesis were clearly written by two different storytellers, which is one of the main points of this article. The story itself was borrowed from other cultures. I did not address this directly, but I did throw Gilgamesh into the mix, as a very subtle implication.

    Point 7: “Here's something to think about this. Might it be that the whole business about God creating light had to do not with the kind of light we get from the sun or a light bulb, but rather the kind indicated in the word ‘enlightenment?’” I thought about it, per your request. It is not possible. I tricked you, sir. The Bible was not really written in Elizabethan English. That is translation made, I think, primarily for political purposes. I just said that for effect. The text I analyzed was a translation of text that was probably written in Hebrew and it is unlikely the “light” used there has anything to do with enlightenment, as the etymologies of the words in Hebrew are not similar to those in English. In Hebrew, the word probably has more do with illumination.

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  13. "You still think I am a creationist!"

    No, FWIW I did not think that at all, nor did I mean for my comment to indicate that I did. Forgive me for mistaking parody for straight exposition, though. I'm not a theologian, so I can easily be thrown off by subtleties.

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  14. Aww, Mr. Anderson, you had me at FWIW (once I looked it up).

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  15. John,
    I really enjoyed this essay.The fact that others may not have enjoyed it as much is I did is testament to your ability to reach a wide range of readers. Or an ability to annoy a wide range of readers.

    Nevertheless, as one both unanointed and unannoyed I saw Twain in this.

    Fun read.

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  16. Oso,

    Thank God you arrived! I can always count on your positive outlook. The comments to this post were unexpectedly aggressive. I am not sure why, as it I don’t know what all is included in the post. It was too long for me to re-read. I am not doing that, no way! Anyhow, at the same time I was mired in slight negatively here, several responses on other sites today were positively brutal. It is really good to see a friendly face.

    On one site, all I did is point out the obvious. I cannot imagine it inciting anyone to anger:

    "What you have just described is the gay man's claim to ownership of God and he cannot make this claim: clearly the heterosexuals had Him first!" -- and all hell broke loose. It seemed like a pretty obvious truth. Not only can I not understand how anyone could disagree, I certainly don’t see the source of their anger if I happen to be mistaken. They were calling me stupid and talking about word salad, something I don’t even eat or know what is. They were so harsh. I tried to smooth things over, but sometimes I not so good at that.

    Then on another site this guy informed me how he will pray for me, but then, he did not answer when I ask him if he can have God pick me up some cashews and diet coke while he is at it. And besides, I don't even think he is really going to do it. I know nothing has arrived yet. He accused me of being “so ignorant it is no wonder I am lost in this world mess.” I don’t know what that means, but I think it was an insult.

    Not one person complimented me on my charm or my intelligence or my grace, not one, Oso!

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  17. John,

    If the gentleman followed "so ignorant.....world mess" with "and you suck!" then it indeed was an insult. Otherwise he may have just been providing you with a frame of reference.

    I would suggest Adam and Eve prove heterosexuals did indeed have Him first, but no one really knows if gay bars east of Eden existed, possibly Cain was "that way".

    In these times, God may feel fatty and chemical laden food products are not what He intended for his flock. Perhaps if you contact the site again and request a vegetable medley and green tea you will get a more positive reply!

    I think your grace is amazing, John!

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  18. I have a whole mixture of thoughts on your essay which turned out to be only slightly shorter than the last Tolstoy novel I read.

    My first inclination is to cheer Vincent and agree with his sentiments whole-heartedly.

    My second thought was that you obviously used a King James Bible, which while it is a marvelous artistic revision, it is indeed a revision and not faithful to the original scriptures.

    Third, this is why Catholicism does not teach and indeed states to the contrary that particularly the Old Testament is not to be taken literally.

    Fourth, I am fairly certain that Anderson was an English major.

    Next, there is plenty of scientific evidence supporting micro-evolution; however, I am still looking for those transitional fossils of developing new species from the old that would validate macro-evolution's false premise.

    Lastly, I feel the need to go to confession because I actually laughed in a few places while reading your posting, John.

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  19. Mr. Paine,

    I have acknowledged Vincent and other critics in my labels and I have apologized to the simple folk for any unintended disrespect contained within this article. It was, for me, a discovery, not an attack. If I found a unicorn, I would share that knowledge with no intent to offend those who have long held beliefs that they do not exist. Labels and an apology: that is the best I can do.

    As for Mr. Anderson, I think this is your under-handed method of questioning his dry cleaning abilities. Why are you always picking on him? He says nothing but kind things about you. I often hear: “Oh yeah, just ask T. Paine. He will tell you,” come out of his mouth.

    I used the King James Version of the bible, because that is the version I understood God to have written. I did not do it as affront to Catholicism. Had I wanted to affront Catholicism, I would stop praying to dead people and nowhere did I claim to have done that.

    I admire you for being able to digest Tolstoy. I cannot read Tolstoy. His works are just too damn long. He needs a good editor.

    I kind of agreed with your position of micro and macro evolution, as I indicated in my comments, but that was before I knew it was your position. If you believe one iota (or any other Greek letter’s worth) of the Creation story, then I did not agree with you on that, as it is quite silly.

    You are the second person to have laughed, Mr. Paine. I was the first.

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  20. Religion tends to evoke irrationality, and the Abrahamic religions tend to be worse than others. No one can write a tome on the contradictions of religion that won't incense some, and amuse others.

    Put more succinctly, I think you done good.

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  21. John, contrary to some others here I think you can make the essay longer and then publish it as a book. Wonderful humour.

    My favorite creation theory is something called panspermia or my own version pansmeria ( there is a whole blog on it at alienaccount.blogspot.com) and in a symbolic way it is in agreement with crationism and evolution theory.

    I think the genesis has clues to the way creation occured if it is viewed symbolically. e.g. God is not a guy who needs a home he is probably the formless infinity. A day is not our day but His that could be billions of years long etc.

    Seperating darkness from light is another point that had missed my attention earlier. That is a part of some scientific creation theories in which the universe begins by a seperation of photons from antiphotons.

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  22. Yeah, what ashok said! (Well done, sir!)

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  23. Ashok,

    I was deeply disturbed to learn of the existence of anti-photons. After much research, which I think may have well exceeded a minute, which is a long time for a photon, I understood enough to calm myself down. The world makes sense again. It would seem that an anti-photon is a photon and inseparable from its photonic nature. “Anti-photon” is little more than a brand name. I know, because I heard it from some chatty web folk who had an opinion in the matter. I proclaim myself the Father of photonic knowledge. On my own authority, I declare the mystery of anti-photons and Creation to be solved.

    I agree with you that Panspermia is a good possibility and definitely as likely as the theory of protein evolution. Again, I know evolution happens. I am convinced there was Neanderthal, homo habilis, homo erectus, Lucy, Ardi and the rest of the gang. I believe I am an advanced Cro-Magnon that would make most of the ancient ones jealous. My guess is that Panspermia makes more sense than the Entire Theory of Evolution, though. The real answer may well be something beyond our imagination. If the world survives, our descendents will remember the pre-human species known as homo sapiens and will sense the ancient presence of a benighted being every time our name is invoked. As with the Creationists, we are not required to have the answer in the absence of enough data.

    Mr. Roger,

    That is one of the jolliest opinions you have shared in a while!

    T. Paine,

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  24. John,
    I wouldn't worry so much about the length of your post as much as I would the possibility of contracting what sounds like a venereal disease. Panspermia, homo habilis, and what is this Lucy thingy? Is it painful?

    My main reason for commenting is to ask if you replaced the light bulbs or did your lovely wife just take care of the problem? Just wondering because I have several friends asking the same question. Tell!

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  25. Papa,

    Well, sir, they are still out. I like to see the light has half there, not half absent.

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  26. Hey! Who turned out the lights?

    Last Friday Google took down my blog without notice.

    Talk about a Kafkaesque experience. No warning, no explanation, no accusation even. I guess a lot of blogger world goes down because of misidentification as spammers. They also have a very Kafkaesque system of hoops and loops to jump through for a review.

    I get a sick sense of foreshadowing from this that all politically incorrect blogs and information sources may meet the same fate when net neutrality is lost and corporatist government clamps down.

    I'll take my davedubya.com elsewhere; Wordpress looks pretty good in comparison. I'm glad I saved all my posts and links.

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  27. Dave,

    You mean it is down permanently and cannot be retrieved?! I did attempt to access it and failed. I fail often, so I did not think much of it.

    How do you have a back up of your blog? You mean a manual entry by entry backup? This is more disconcerting than you think, because something like this could even happen to me, and my words are like gold, only more enduring and highly coveted.

    Dave, send me an email. I have some officious information I am just aching to pass along.

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  28. Save your scribbles in Word or somewhere more under your control.

    I'm so technophobic I have a printed copy of my posts.

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  29. Now I have an irresistible urge to check Dave Dubya’s blog to see why they took it down. Then I remember I can’t. But the urge keeps coming back despite logic, like Homer Simpson trying to retrieve cans of beer dangling from a high-voltage power cable. It would be more practical to back up my own blog and patiently await republishing of Dave’s. But patience is not a word in my dictionary.

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  30. Dave Dubya's Freedom Rants is back! I had a feeling it went down, along with a group of other blogs, by mistake or malfunction on the 19th.

    I would still suggest the faint-hearted types avoid going there.

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  31. 'twixt Twain and fun? Gave up after the first two paragraphs.

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  32. Dave,

    Oh, yeah, I have been meaning to post this:

    Dave's Blog is back up. Dave, though I posted after you, I sill demand full credit. Both the intention and the action arrived, even if late.

    Davo,

    If you had claimed to had read the entire thing, my eye balls would have bugged out in astonishment. I would have posted this:

    Davo, my eyeballs bugged out in astonishment when I read your comment.

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  33. Okay, I finally finished your commentary on Chapter Two. In it, you say, "no matter how skilled you are, don't just assume your work is good without periodically rechecking it."

    When we arrive at the comments, you say "I don't know what all is included in the post. It was too long for me to re-read."

    I think this obvious contradiction clearly disproves the existence of John Myste.

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  34. "I don't know what all is included in the post. It was too long for me to re-read."

    The point was to be a contradiction. It was funny as it amused one person, me. However, that you took it seriously, amused me again, which actually doubled the total humor. Thanks to you, it is now exactly twice as funny as it was originally.

    Either way, my conservative friend, it would not disprove my existence, something I already question for other reasons. I said the story intended to impart that wisdom. Nowhere did I claim to have learned from God’s mistakes.

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  35. John,
    I for one believe you exist. I also believe the Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico to an Indian named Juan Diego.

    In my personal pantheon, these two events are inter related - which means that if JMyste exists, Catholicism exists and vice versa.

    I hope all is well man.

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  36. John, I enjoyed your post, though I did find it a little long.

    Like some others, I see your piece in the tradition of Twain, or Swift's Modest Proposal where part of the technique used can be described by the classical allusion of piling Pelion on Ossa.

    There is one thing I wonder about nonetheless. Do you really see any point in trying to engage in any meaningful way with religious fundamentalists? My experience is that their one-dimensional, literal faith makes them immune to any kind of questioning rationalism, however gentle.

    As a former "professional" believer (I spent nine years of my life as a Dominican) who now describes himself as a "weak" atheist, I still find myself having a lot of sympathy with the more intellectually sophisticated versions of various theologies, while finding them all, personally, more or less unsatisfactory. There is still something in me searching for some kind of - for want of a better description - "secular spirituality."

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  37. I used to enjoy Twain too, before I got annoyed with his anti-conservative views, like supporting spelling reform & mocking the English aristocracy.

    I think arguing with religious fundamentalists is a sin, really, because it does no good and is merely practised as a blood-sport. It would be a lot less cruel and better for the world if we give our blessing to hunting foxes with hounds but declare religious fundamentalists a protected genus (they consist of several species).

    In their native habitat, fundamentalists are not aggressive and go about their traditional ways with no harm to anyone but themselves. Tradition is the whole point of their practice actually, and left to their own devices they would pay no more than lip-service to the actual beliefs. It is only because their territory is attacked that they feel obliged to defend it. Just as I might have, theoretically overwhelming relationship difficulties with my spouse; but if some stranger insults her in a bar, I might feel compelled to challenge him to a duel, brandish a broken bottle in his face, or initiate whatever violence or vendetta is the norm in my culture.

    As it happens, here in Great Britain (which conveniently excludes Northern Ireland) the principles of letting sleeping dogs lie are well understood and enshrined in rather recent legislation. We have enough Islam-followers in our country to be very scared indeed of anyone upsetting them, for some of their young are hotheads. So for this reason Christianity in its various forms has to be protected as well. And even a Christian street-preacher, goaded by his audience's taunts, may not say in public that homosexuality is a sin; for someone will report him to the police, who will take him away for several hours' questioning, on suspicion of inciting racial, religious or some other kind of hatred. (To be honest, you and I would call that police stupidity---wouldn't you? One never knows these days).

    So my point is.... erm, what is my point? Oh yes, I don't know how anyone can search for spirituality, whether "secular" as Francis says above, or any other kind, whilst being bombarded with intolerance by those who are not of their persuasion.

    Freedom of speech is wonderful, but not when it is used to goad someone into some kind of counter-attack.

    And the search for God, it seems to me, ought to be private, or behind the closed doors of a church of the like-minded.

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  38. Vincent,

    "I used to enjoy Twain too, before I got annoyed with his anti-conservative views, like supporting spelling reform & mocking the English aristocracy."

    Those are two goods ones. Thanks for reminding me. Mr. Twain cracks me up.

    “And the search for God, it seems to me, ought to be private, or behind the closed doors of a church of the like-minded.”

    Despite what you and Mr. Hunt believe, I have no problem with those who seek God. I will explain this more thoroughly in my response to Mr. Hunt, which is also a response to you, sir.

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  39. Mr. Hunt and Mr. Vincent:

    I usually only engage the devout in the interest of humor or in interest of the irony or when I have personally made a discovery I am inspired to share. There are exceptions, definitely. I do not seek out religious sites to debate them. When people knock on my door with intent to proselytize, though I perceive them as easy targets, I politely dismiss them and they leave never knowing of my heathenism.

    I never debate a religious issue for the sake of arriving at a conclusion. I have posted commentary a number of times pointing out the futility and unjustness of trying to remove someone's faith from them. You cannot debate faith with logic or logic with faith. I wrote a whole essay about this very concept, which I posted at Fair and Unbalanced:

    Speaking in Tongues

    However, there are absurdities, such as literal interpretations of the Bible, that humor me to no end, and there are other times that I read the Bible and I am shocked to relearn what it says. In those instances, times of satire and discovery, I do post counter arguments, not as a means of attacking the devout, but as a means of exploring and sharing the discovery with attempted humor. I am truly remorseful for any collateral damage sustained by any of God's children.

    What you have seen is my poor attempt at humor. However, I also make more philosophical arguments, not with the intent to criticize, but to discover. You both seem to feel that I should withhold my discoveries for fear of offending the devout. That is like asking a Christian to hide the fact that he believes you must accept Jesus in your heart to be saved. By stating this, he is not indicting me, even though Jesus has no place in my heart. He is proudly expressing his belief, a right I fully respect. His love of Jesus is not an affront to me any more than my expression of skepticism is intended to remove his faith. In fact, if I thought that hearing my words would take his religion from him, I would withhold them entirely. He does not believe what he believes out of scholarly analysis and I have done nothing to challenge the faith that guides him. You give him too little credit. All is well.

    An example of discovery (instead of satire) would be the observation that modern Christians scholars are now trying in earnest to prove their faith with science. They challenge my science and I should be empowered to respond. They adopt a more secularly acceptable position. They start arguing that it is unreasonable not to think what they think, and that scientific thought and historical study can prove their position -- and that the Bible can be shown to be the infallible word of God if we just understand it well enough.

    It is a departure from their roots, and one that will undo them. The Apostle Paul and others of his time developed a very clear political approach to maintain authority: eternal reward over unimaginable punishment; faith over reason; proselytizing over compulsion; peace and love. If he were here today, I am confident he would warn Christians of the dangers of science and history and the secular approach to knowledge. Atheists have miserably failed in their attempts to derail Christianity and would not succeed for the thousands of years to come. It is the Christians who have found Christianity’s Achilles Heel and it is only the Christians and who can pierce it. It is an irony worth sharing that they are suddenly running around in droves, donning quivers and going to war.

    [To Be Continued … Blogger cuts comments off at 4096 characters, with whitespace interpreted as characters]

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  40. […Conclusion]

    One last thing: I withdrew from a discussion yesterday with a religious fellow for the sole fear that I would offend him if I continued. I am insensitive as I need to be to maintain freedom of self-expression, but I am not a predator. Therefore, I apologize for any umbrage anyone took for this article, and also for the discourteous statements I intend to make in the future. Clearly, I am unrepentant, but I am remorseful; just not enough to give up in the freedom to express humor (or false humor) and discovery in literature.

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  41. It's not that I don't want to offend Christians (or indeed Muslims). I don't want to encourage them to defend themselves and thus grow stronger in their sense of persecution, martyrdom, brotherhood and righteousness.

    I do however like to argue with you. Please accept it as a signal and fraternal mark of respect.

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  42. Why Vincent, I have found you to be remarkably un-argumentative. You snipe, and then you're gone. Americans keep pounding until one person cannot get up and the others arms are too weak to continue. I thought it was just a British/Australian thing.

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  43. I liked your “Speaking in Tongues” essay, especially because it left room for further points of view, one of which I might one day try and express. I could maybe attempt the abstract here and now maybe.

    In “Speaking in Tongues” you highlight faith and reason as alternative viewpoints which may or may not be able to cohabit in harmony.

    But I propose that a third thing comes into play here. If I were to use a traditional word from religion I would call it revelation: an inner prompting which bypasses both faith and reason.

    Reason is the process which determines whether I should sail on the Mauretania or the Titanic for my jaunt to New York. Faith is the lifeboat to which I cling, to defend my rational decision to sail on the Titanic.

    Revelation is that inner voice which suggested to me, “Vincent, why not just stay at home, and see New York another time?”

    Or let me take another example. Moses goes up to Mount Sinai. He needs a respite from the Children of Israel. They are so unruly; he has to resolve all their squabbles and lead them through the desert, whilst having no better sense of justice, or direction, than anyone else.

    Up in the thin mountain air, he receives a revelation, scratches some notes on a rock as an aide-memoire. If those Children only had a simple set of rules, they wouldn't need him as arbiter all the time. Brilliant!

    When he descends from the mountain and stands before the expectant faces of the Children, his intuition needs bolstering with the apparatus of Public Relations: reason and faith.

    His reason questions whether the people will respect an idea which flitted into his brain from nowhere. His faith persuades him that he must be a messenger, a stenographer taking direct dictation from the Lord God of Israel. If not for Reason and Faith, those ten commandments might have been forgotten in a day. Moses might have been too shy to tell anyone about them.

    Personally, I try to have faith in as little as possible, and let reason be the laboratory technician, not the chief executive. I worship at the altar of revelation.

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  44. Applying the principles enunciated above to the social status of homosexuality in any given society, one can apply an analysis.

    Revelation (that mysterious inner voice, probably the same as conscience) speaks rather clearly against homosexuality to many people, not all of whom are fundamentalist practitioners of religion.

    But the new Moses of Equal Rights has dictated its commandments with all the weight of faith and reason, and decided to persecute those whose conscience speaks out against the current.

    It's a time to remember that the colonies of North America were founded by those who fled persecution by a dictatorial church, for the freedom to follow their own consciences.

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  45. Vincent,

    You said: "Personally, I try to have faith in as little as possible, and let reason be the laboratory technician, not the chief executive. I worship at the altar of revelation."

    That is very profound. How can you be a conservative?

    You said: "But the new Moses of Equal Rights has dictated its commandments with all the weight of faith and reason, and decided to persecute those whose conscience speaks out against the current."

    Brilliant.

    And you said: “Revelation (that mysterious inner voice, probably the same as conscience) speaks rather clearly against homosexuality to many people, not all of whom are fundamentalist practitioners of religion.”

    I like where you are going. It’s an interesting twist to justify a bad philosophical stance. You are a brilliant man, sir.

    And you said: “It's a time to remember that the colonies of North America were founded by those who fled persecution by a dictatorial church, for the freedom to follow their own consciences.”

    What the founders envisioned is irrelevant other than from a legal perspective, since they wrote it down and we are stuck with it.

    Any long-term workable system where everyone can be happy must involve an attempt at fairness, which is nothing more than an unachievable theory, as no two people are equal to begin with or can become equal, so we cannot even understand a person, much less determine what it means to treat him as an equal or fairly.

    Your handling of homosexuality certainly is not fair. Oppression by consensus is not a worthy goal.

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  46. What oppression are you talking about?

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  47. I read (don’t remember where or how authentic it was) that there are over 1300 legal ramifications of marriage verses not civil union in America. Some are obvious: inheritance, power of attorney when sick, social security passes to spouse in some cases, shared health insurance plans, tax laws, adoption, home sales (married couples can bypass declaring a gain on primary home sales up to twice the value of single individuals, even though in both cases it is a couple is selling their home).

    Oppression is “the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.”

    Granting some of your citizens “marriage rights” and denying them to the others because you don’t like the way they love is oppressive, in that it is requiring a greater tax contribution from one group of people while suppressing liberties granted to other groups. I guess it is semantics. One could say unequal treatment is denial of something, and is not exactly an act of taking it away.

    The term marriage is used twice, once to mean a religion union and another time to mean a legal agreement that contains both rights and obligations on the part of those who choose to sign a contract. I have no problem with leaving the religious marriages in their various temples. However, the secular marriages should be granted equally and without prejudice when it is practical. In the case of same sex marriage, it is clearly practical and so it should be done. Also, it is manifest destiny. It will be done.

    You could argue, I suppose, than any secular marriage laws at all should be abolished in favor of defining a “family with children” as the relevant question and I could easily get on board with that. However, then the issue of whether we should permit those sick homos to foster children becomes even more important. Why subject children to these unnatural x-rated lifestyles, right?

    I would think even legal benefits based on having a child would seem like an unearned entitlement to most conservatives, as children contribute nothing to the wealth of a society, and their potential is often measured by the wealth of the parents. They are a drain, as I understand things, and any government support we give them is a bit socialist, as I understand the conservative view of socialism. I hear socialism is a corrupt and unworkable philosophy. Not sure exactly why socialism in moderation is so horrible, but that is what the wise men tell me.

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  48. "Granting some of your citizens 'marriage rights' and denying them to the others because you don’t like the way they love is oppressive"

    John, why do you repeat this falsehood? Homosexuals have the exact same marriage rights that heterosexuals have: they can marry someone of the opposite sex and heterosexuals can't marry someone of the same sex. Same rights; same limitations.

    Part of the problem discussing these issues is that they are consistently misstated.

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  49. Heterosexuals can marry the gender with whom they psychologically need to be bound. We grant the same rights to homosexuals. They can marry the same gender with whom heterosexuals of the same sex need to be bound.

    You see equality. If our laws support your right to marry someone of your choosing and also support my right to marry someone of your choosing, then it must be a good law that allows equality.

    Unfortunately, my wife is African American and I am white. Heathen, do you grant that union? I am perfectly willing to correct the mistake if it is not deemed allowed. I freely admit that the decision should not be left to me.

    We are also granting many other tax incentives, inheritance incentives, etc. to those who marry the sanctioned sex. That is OK, because we have clearly stated that if you don’t marry the sex of our choosing, there are penalties and incentives will be withdrawn.

    It took a while for me to understand your view, but I am coming around. I am slower than most, probably partially because the union with my wife is also definitely questioned by some purists, but understandably so. Those who question it, mostly marry within their own race, just as God intended for Americans to do, which is probably better, but is a law the founding fathers forgot to include.

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  50. I've made my best arguments on same-sex marriage here, so I won't hijack your comments by repeating them.

    Needless to say, gender and race are not equivalent; the right to marry someone of your choosing has consequences that society isn't willing to accept; and civil unions address all legal/equality factors without redefining the traditional definition of marriage.

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  51. I'm obliged to you John, and Heathen Republican too, for your excellent and informative answers (& the link). No further questions.

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  52. Heathen,

    Either you mistake a civil union for the same thing as a marriage or you do not. They are not federally recognized as the equivalent of a marriage. They are, in fact, a state thing, and thus are not only dissimilar legally in the states that allow them, but are non-existent by the federal government that denies them at a federal level. Where on your tax return is the single filling civilly united option?

    I will consider the possibility that you think a civil union is just like a secular marriage and then the possibility that you realize they are not.

    1. If you think civil unions are in fact the same as a secular marriage, then we really need not argue about it. I suggest that you learn more about civil unions on your own as the solution to the problem and this will solve the dispute. Note that other than the federal recognition, any of the hundreds of state level differences that deal with finances are taxable at the federal level, as the federal government treats civil unions as a sham.


    2. Or maybe you recognize that civil unions are nothing like secular marriage. If you think they are not the same, but you think they should be, then it is the term you are fighting for. You may have it. Homosexuals are fighting for equal rights, not for a vocabulary word. Consider it yours.

    Unless you can come up with a logical reason federal civil unions should not be created and treated just as a marriage, while allowing those who feel they own the term marriage to keep it, I will assume that we are in agreement.

    Heathen, thanks for the link, but there was too much aggression there. That liberal was out of his mind. If nothing else, seeing his behavior has taught me to play nice. So, I if you disagree with any of the excellent argument I just put before you, then I must resign in favor of more laudable discussion; perhaps cute little babies.

    Vincent has put away his rifle and gone on to more noble territory.

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  53. John, I know we've had this conversation before... either that or I'm debating you in my nightmares now.

    You offered the equality argument to explain why same-sex marriage should be allowed (alternatively, why the word "marriage" should be redefined). I countered that civil unions are one remedy that would ensure any lost rights (tax incentives, inheritance incentives, etc.) are restored.

    I do not think civil unions are the same thing as marriage. That's the whole point. They are different, so we can retain the traditional definition of marriage, while making sure we have not violated anyone's rights.

    Do you find this to be a reasonable compromise, or for you is it all about the the word "marriage?"

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  54. Civil unions today are nothing like the legal definition of marriage. As I indicated one comment above, I have no interest in the term marriage. If civil unions are made equal to a legal marriage, then I propose we leave those who fight over the term alone. I don't think anyone on the side seeking civil unions cares about the vocabulary words. They are seeking equal rights and they should have them. It sounds like you and I agree, which is just wonderful. Both Heathen and John agree that homosexuals should be afforded the exact same federal rights currently afforded to married couples, meaning all 1100-1300 laws regarding marriage. They should call these identical sets of rules "civil union laws" when it is between the same sex couples and "marriage laws" when it is between opposite sexes. Then "marriage" will happen to really mean "civil union" from a secular perspective and it will mean "marriage" from a religious perspective.

    I have spat in my hand and it is extended.

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  55. [sensing a trap, extends hand]

    I believe we agree. Huzzah!

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  56. “Any long-term workable system where everyone can be happy must involve an attempt at fairness, which is nothing more than an unachievable theory, as no two people are equal to begin with or can become equal, so we cannot even understand a person, much less determine what it means to treat him as an equal or fairly.”

    John, I have been thinking about the thought behind this comment of yours while writing my most recent post that mentions the wealth of Warren Buffet (Hope you visit). At fifty billion it is fifty thousand times the wealth of a millionaire. By any stretch of imagination he cannot be fifty thousand times cleverer etc. than the average millionaire. So even though persons are not equal as you said any system that permits such a disproportionate accumulation may be inherently unfair. Perhaps it is designed and controlled by the wealthy in some similar way as royalty controlled systems in the past. Perhaps the Heathen Republican might also like to comment on this.

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  57. Just one more thing John, you have word verification enabled for commenting. It appears that there are so many blogs now that they rarely get spammed by robots and therefore it might not be necessary.

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  58. I’m glad you have highlighted once more this problem of unfairness, Ashok. Like any true-born Englishman, I love the idea of “fair play” and have a mystical belief that the English invented it, and that its perfect demonstration is in the game of cricket.

    The difficulty is to design a system, as you say, to enforce fairness upon an unfair world. In cricket you have an umpire--two in fact, to ensure they have lines of sight to see what is going on. You have also a reverence for the game and the qualities of nobility which in theory it fosters. But even there, it falls down, because sometimes the players have a greater reverence for money and can earn some by match-fixing, which is invisible to the umpires on the field. Thus cricket is a microcosm of the world.

    In a non-democracy like China, big systems can be designed. China is not currently a land of fair play, because it puts feeding before fairness.

    In true democracies, overarching systems cannot be imposed. Strength, prosperity and fairness all compete with one another in one big unstable muddle. Design and control can only flourish at a lower level, competing for survival in a marketplace.

    So I agree that “Any long-term workable system where everyone can be happy” is “an unachievable theory”. Especially if happiness is dependent upon fairness.

    The game of cricket works on the principle of fair play; but also on the principle of winners and losers.

    “At last the Dodo said, ‘everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’

    ‘But who is to give the prizes?’ quite a chorus of voices asked.

    ‘Why, she, of course,’ said the Dodo, pointing to Alice with one finger; and the whole party at once crowded round her, calling out in a confused way, ‘Prizes! Prizes!’”

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  59. Vincent,

    Humans systems have been evolving and the human mind is ever inventive. It is possible even likely that they shall design fairer systems in future. Perfect fairness may not be achieved however since that is a theoretical limit but improving from what we have will be good. In the past things were worse. A King could order a human into slavery or order to have his head chopped.

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  60. Ashok, thanks for inviting me into the conversation. My thoughts on equality and fairness are pretty straightforward: let's make things fair at the beginning, not at the end.

    What I mean, of course, is to highlight the differences between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. If I remember Buffet's roots, he didn't come from a particularly wealthy upbringing, he simply had a good idea, skill at investing money, and the ability to convince some family and friends to invest with him. In theory, I have the exact same opportunity and ability to match his feat, but sadly, I haven't.

    To me, it doesn't matter if his wealth is 50,000 times greater than mine (probably more like 500,000 times in my case). I don't require that his cleverness or skill be that much more. I want everyone to set their sights as high as Buffet did, and know that they can reap the full rewards of their efforts.

    When John says "no two people can be equal to begin with," I both agree and disagree. On the fundamentals, I think we can all be equal: same basic rights, same basic opportunities for education and jobs. Where there are inequalities, like in the days of segregation and systematic discrimination, we can undertake efforts to correct them.

    Under capitalism, we must acknowledge that there will be inequalities as part of the nature of markets. I think it was Hortensio who once commented that the difference between progressives and conservatives is how much tolerance we have for those inequalities.

    Conservatives work to minimize the inequalities in opportunity, while progressives work to maximize equality in outcomes.

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  61. Heathen,

    Seizing an opportunity requires talent. Many people do not have the talent required to take advantage of the opportunities America offers. If you have no ability to take advantage of an opportunity, then the opportunity does not exist for you. I do not wish to deny anyone the right to seize the opportunities America offers. I also do not wish to curtail the offers themselves. I only wish to acknowledge and deal with the fact that there are people in America who do not have the opportunities in practice, as they do not have the skill to seize them. In that case, I want America to provide other means of survival for them. We can have capitalism and at once provide opportunities for those who are not good at capitalism. To say otherwise is to present a false choice.

    I want to provide equal opportunities to all, and to also assist those in need. I do not think this idea is at odds with capitalism. As you implied, Heathen, it is a think of degrees. Liberals want to help those in need to a greater degree than conservatives do. Conservatives and liberals both want capitalism and the American dream. Conservatives consider this an unfair redistribution of wealth. Liberals either do not define it that way, or define it partially that way and believe it should be that way. Any form of federal taxation always involves a decision about who will contribute how much and where those funds will go. What liberals want and what conservatives want (and think is fair), is ultimately nothing more than opinion and is not provable for that reason. You cannot prove an opinion because it has no basis in reality. It is based on subjective truth.

    – but we digress.

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  62. Thanks for your thoughts Heathen. If you care to visit my blog and add to what I or John have commented to the recent post that will be great.

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  63. Ashok,

    I hope you know what you are doing. You have just invited a lion into a rabbit cage.

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  64. A shame I missed this two weeks ago. I would likely have paid more attention. Anyway, John, thanks for stopping by my site! I (mostly) read through the original post here, and at least (mostly) half of the comments... because I do have other stuff to do, though this is certainly (mostly) interesting.

    I (mostly) enjoy your writing style. I can totally dig the humor of the irreverent and modern language reaction to the literalist interpretations of the Bible in this post. I think some of the flippant parts were just flagrantly flippant for flagrantly flippant's sake, but, as long as you're having a good time, good on ya!

    Of course, you are obviously a bright (ba-dum-ching) individual, and you must surely understand that the actual text of Genesis was written by people (or, to your account, Moses) whose not-so-distant ancestors communicated with pictographs and generalized grunting... so, really, this was an amazing feat. In that light (ba-dum-ching), you must also realize that this story is metaphorical in nearly every sense. As such, I think it might be better time spent in investigating the nuances and subtleties (not subtitles, as you already so kindly pointed out re: Herodotus) of what the story actually implies from a social, moral, and philosophical viewpoint. Again, however, perhaps your particular talent for prolific reading and writing are aptly suited for doing exactly what you do here. What I mean is (mostly), your talents are great and may be more importantly applied with commitment and focus... possibly, maybe. Who knows? My opinions are just worth... as the great philosopher Livgren described... dust in the wind.

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  65. "you must also realize that this story is metaphorical in nearly every sense"

    Tim, I certainly agree that the biblical account is both allegorical and metaphorical, but if you think everyone believes that to be true, you're misguided. There is a broad swath of American Christians who believe the entire book can only be understood literally.

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  66. I have no illusions about the extent to which some people take account of the Bible. However, many of those people are likely more at peace with their own understanding of it than I am with mine. My questioning of and search for deeper meaning in it undoubtedly leads to a much for complicated and thus stressful experience. C'est la vie.

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  67. John,
    What is interesting about the book called the Holy Bible is the power of words, and how they are used to program the masses, for whatever reason, by those who seek power of others. Nothing more or nothing less.

    --- I found these useless thoughts to be amusing, just as amusing as I find humanity's hypocrisy, as it relates to this book. The writers of these metaphoric tales were not alive when these events supposedly took place, so at the risk of pissing someone off, and I really don't care --- I find more comfort in the Mother Goose rhymes, after all --- they are just as metaphoric as the book called the Bible.

    Thank you for visiting me, the style of poetry that you found interesting is called "Acrostic", which by the way, is as old as the Book called the Bible. As a matter of fact, there are Acrostics in this book, as I am told by my research of this style of writing, however I can not point you to a particular one. Like the Bible, Acrostics, a good one, is written in code and they can be as innocent as a baby or deadly as a war monger. It's all in your chosen subject. I enjoy them as they allow me to be creative in my thought process, and how I communicate with those who find me ignorance for whatever reason.

    I enjoyed your essay by the way, and the comments were indeed very predictable. But what do I know, I am nobody, and I believe in everything and nothing! What baffles me is the fact that in this Bible Jesus is the same color as me, and had wholly hair -- yet I am hated for the color of my skin and my wholly hair. Did the God of the Bible create me, or am I the daughter of a "monkey"? Oh well, this too are just useless thoughts, but it does amuse me.

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  68. John, while I have more pertinent comments which I won't bother to make right now, I find it amusing that when you started your blog you were pondering whether anyone would read it. ;)

    ljm, those that profess to be Christians that would judge anyone based on the color of their skin or any other physical characteristic is indeed not living his faith as Christ proclaimed he should.

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  69. Mr. Heathen and Tim,

    The story is metaphorical?! The Moseses should have put that fact right at the top, the first line. I feel like such an idiot now.

    Ljm,

    That acrostic stuff is the most bizarre thing ever. I have read about odd kinds of poetry like that. Usually they are done in languages other than English and if you don't know to look for it, you don't know it is happening. If you did not bold every first line, it would be interesting, as it would be a subtlety that most people would not get and they would have an epiphany if they did. I may try that some time. Is it metered verse or is the acrostic aspect primarily the thing?

    I often put subtleties in my writing that are so obscure I assume no one will notice them. So far, no one has commented on any of them, so I suspect they go unnoticed. What I have found is that I sometimes forget, then rediscover them. It is very entertaining, even if I am the sole entertained audience.

    Mr. Paine,

    1. I don't think anybody else is going to read it. Just you guys.

    2. I don't think Christ should get to choose how I live if I choose to be a Christian. It is in the interest of fairness. He did not get much say in how Christianity formed so far. He is an Icon, for sure, but Christianity developed its character long after He passed away.

    3. You took my position to Mr. Dubya and bent it all out of shape. You made it sound like conservatives are logical in their position on global warming, and as I had sided with you in advance, now I look like a kook. I will require a retraction. I am not suggesting that you look like a kook, sir. You look like a republican.

    Respectfully,
    J

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  70. Head spinning still from the excellent post and comments.

    As for relgion I tend to cover all my bases but I have become a Dudeist priest.

    While Dudeism in its official form has been organized as a religion only recently, it has existed down through the ages in one form or another. Probably the earliest form of Dudeism was the original form of Chinese Taoism, before it went all weird with magic tricks and body fluids. The originator of Taoism, Lao Tzu, basically said "smoke ‘em if you got ‘em" and "mellow out, man" although he said this in ancient Chinese so something may have been lost in the translation.

    http://dudeism.com/

    Works for me.

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  71. Forgive me for digressing from the subject ...

    John, Acrostics are fun ... I bold the letters based on the company I keep. There are acrostics that I do in my writing that no one sees, or if they do, no one mentions it --- and like you they are really for my personal amusement.

    As it stand, you can do wonders with this style, make it your own. I would love to see what a creative soul like you would come up with .. you are so diverse in your thinking. You can create an acrostic any way you desire, with meters or rhymes, etc. Research it and discover for yourself how you can play with it. I love writing acrostic short stories.

    I have truly enjoyed my visit here and will come back when time allow to read and see what I see. thank you for the communication, it's been refreshing.

    T. Paine --- I do get your meaning, but in my world its a way of life that I have come to accept -- due to human nature. I dare say, being old and full of years, I have learned to accept the things I can not change ... you know what I mean, as I can only change myself. But I so appreciate your thoughts on the matter, as they are redeeming.

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  72. Aren't we all in danger of taking "light" too literally? Doesn't a fable spread light of its own? As Creator of my own fables and heroes I cast light and create worlds. That said, the bulbs have needed changing on my blog for a little while.

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