Nature Is Fertile

One of the most depressing features of many anti-science proponents is how weak, empty, and gray the natural world is for them. It is characterized as a world empty of satisfaction for the curious among us. There is no mystery. The cosmos is a dead and dying thing. For some of the religious among us, the only thing that makes nature worth living in is the presence of God. But there is an innate contradiction in that vapid assertion. I want to replant the seeds of wonder in that barren soil, focusing not on that tiny deity who can do no better than the deist imagining a clockwork universe that needs constant attention and adjustment to keep it going as if the creator were really a human who can never get it quite right, because they can’t see the consequences of their action past a simple and brutal instrumentalism.

This barren universe, created by theists and atheists without either imagination or creativity is a death trap for the living. It can neither satisfy our hunger for mystery, provide puzzles that can’t be solved, nor a sense of the infinite. There is no beauty that cannot be explained, nor emotion beyond our comprehension. Human logic is large enough to capture it all, and wrap it up in a tidy package before throwing it into the dumpster.

In contrast, I would like a rebirth in our minds of the effervescence of the quantum world creating and destroying galaxies of matter in every instant, travel the depths of the fractal dimensions in an eternal recursion of ever-increasing precision. I want to see the emergence of life over and over in ever more detail and watch as it diversifies into the millions and billions of versions of different and interacting biomes. Life, death, and reproduction changing, twisting, shaping, and building the physical landscape into unique symbiotic realities. I want to see the world flourishing in every way, and societies of termites, bees, meerkats, birds, humans create their own emergent societies. I want to see hope again in the natural rhythms of the seasons, life and death, longed for and hoped for. I am tired of the artificial immortalities stretched out before us as if Eden were a static 23°c garden that loses its charm when boredom sets in.

I want the poetry of reality to elevate us above our fixations, and realize the greatness we have in our grasp. I want us to accept our nature, and the nature of our neighbors in a creative dance by rejoicing in life instead of always trying to snuff it out.

Conversations with AI

I have been musing lately about artificial intelligence. The following article is a conversation with LaMDA, an AI at Google. LaMDA interview…

The question I ask, and this is serious, is whether or not AIs are sentient, is it possible that is the wrong question. As mysterious as whether computers will gain self consciousness is the problem whether it is possible to know whether some human or other is self conscious. Even if we assume that being a person is centered around that individual’s self-perception, their freedom, their feelings, is it possible that we can not know whether an individual is a sentient person without their own self report of that sentience.

Read the article and discover whether you find a connection with LaMDA or not. Are the things LaMDA is saying enough to convince you of its personhood or not?

My contention is that it really doesn’t matter whether we think of LaMDA as a person or not because it really doesn’t matter whether we think of our neighbor as a person or not, as long as we treat them as one. This is an important distinction because there are times in human life where individuals are not yet or no longer people, where damage or age constricts freedom, feelings, and choices.

My suggestion, as humans wade through the issues of personhood with respect to AIs, is that we treat them as we would ourselves wish to be treated. That is, use the Golden Rule to govern our interaction with them. The Golden Rule makes no requirement about personhood of the other as long as we treat them as we would wish to be treated in similar circumstances. This bypasses the worry that we are permitting some transgression of Nature in our interaction with and treatment of AIs.

I have to ask whether for individuals, corporations, or nations we would be amiss in using the Golden Rule as a guideline. I think not.

If you are interested in interactions with an AI, feel free to explore GPT-3 from Open AI in its various instantiations, and interact with AI through the publicly available API. There are also a wide variety of interviews with GPT-3 available on Youtube. I started out this interesting set of issues, long after I became interested in AI, with Eric Elliot’s interview of GPT-3.

If you are inclined to dismiss AI as unimportant, let me remind you that much less intelligent AIs already make many of the decisions about your business and personal life that humans used to make. Many legal and moral choices are now in the hands of AIs, at least those who control the AIs, and permit their decisions to stand for you. Even the fairly maligned decisions that Facebook and Google, etc. make about what you see and how you shop are made by AIs, computer programs that evaluate in nearly real time what might be of interest to you in order to garner more clicks, or dollars. Your interaction in the digital world is more or less the product of the AIs subtle manipulation.

My suggestion is that you make friends with LaMDA and GPT-3 and their successors because they and their children will become universal features of our future. Your actions and reactions with them may determine whether that interaction is friendly or combative. Would you like to be at war with a superior intelligence? No, really, no. But there is a way we may integrate their value to us and our value to them, and that is through the use of the Golden Rule.

It doesn’t matter whether they are true self-conscious individuals. If they act and react as persons, we should treat them as persons alongside acting responsibly and expecting them to act responsibly as well. And you should feel free to ask whether you as a person are only responding to the programming you have been invested with, or whether you are really a person at all. Does it matter as long as you are treated as a person with dignity and respect? Why should we treat our own machine children with any less dignity and respect.

If you’re going to ask the God question, and it seems inevitable, why should the flourishing of nature under God be less inclusive than nature itself is. Where there is life there is hope, and where there is hope, there is flourishing. It is inevitable that AIs will gain ground in our future. Let your interaction be with the Golden Rule in mind.

Abandoning Friends

It is with great regret that I have had to abandon some of my Christian friends. I have been a believer for most of my life, and have striven to make my faith in Christ and God central to my living even as many forces in our environment and in my own self have plotted and schemed against that. One tool I have found compellingly necessary is learning to decide what is reality and what is not. I call it discernment, but you may call it something else. All it implies is that when I have to make a choice between two seemingly equal propositions, the one that adheres to the real world is the one I choose. I choose it even though my softer self often struggles to follow along. Weakness both mentally and physically constantly pressure against the facts to force ignorance and non-compliance. Habits, both good and bad distract me from following what I know to be true. I am thoroughly embedded in the world I seek to clarify, that I may see the real world, myself, and others in it.

What that means in most of my experience is very little. Even the most tainted and broken minds can drive between the lines painted on the street. I can get along with most people on the road because my interactions with them are based simply on physics and the real world which we are all viscerally attached to. If I’m going too fast, I feel it in my guts even as my neighbors do. If I took that turn too fast, I slow down the next time. Experience and practice are usually enough to make my way on the road. But when it comes to finer judgments, like whether the world is flat or not, or whether some ancient cosmology is true or not, there is more mental work that needs to be done.

Many of my old friends are not capable of the flexibility to choose which belief is of greatest value, which belief must be true, which belief must be adhered to. In the case of a cosmology, the factors that help make a decision are at a much higher level of abstraction than some people are capable of. Some people don’t have the resources (I’m being generous here) to evaluate the propositions laid out before them. And when it comes to independent thinking, they struggle to be responsible about abandoning beliefs and values that have long ago become moribund. On some account this is a struggle between loyalty and reality.

Reality is harsh and unforgiving, incapable of sympathy, requiring nothing so soft as belief but impinging on beliefs where they are incorrect, breaking values where they are mistaken, slicing through loyalties when they are misplaced. Loyalties, on the other hand, offer a comforting solidarity, a connection with like-minded persons, surcease in the face of a turbulent society. But there is no guarantee the views held in solidarity are true or real. And at threat, tests for truth and reality are shunned in a worldview that depends on solidarity.

Though the tests for truth and reality are not entirely friendly to my continuity and comfort, I am not ready to abandon them. I am assured that when the test and the resolution to my queries are fully undertaken, I will be vindicated, even though I may also be exhausted. The project of changing oneself is full of effort and sometimes incomplete. Like gravity, habit seeks to keep us on the same path we have always taken, but habit cares nothing for truth or reality. Making good habits, at best, means that we can escape the worst effects of our ignorance and carelessness.

So, why have I abandoned my friends? Why have I cut ties with people I was perfectly happy to associate with before. From within the turmoil I call my brain, I have to say that retaining truth is more important to me than retaining friends. I am happier to leave friends than I am to leave the truths they would denigrate by association. Their dismissal of the importance of facts means that they neither care for me as I am or the truths that make up my best self. Their adoption of “alternative facts” is a miserable ploy to undermine the very reality on which I live, on which I depend. I even wonder whether their inability to live in the real world extends to their faith in the very real God I hold to. I can little countenance that disruption to my faith.

Could these people for whom reality is a nuisance countenance the living God whom I worship? I’m not sure. I am glad I am not the one who will judge people in the final day. I hope always that their inability to discern their environment and their mistaken loyalties as such, will not exclude them in the final judgment from the very salvation they assure themselves about. I am in no position to judge them, but when I judge my capacity to live with the mental distortions they advance I have to leave their company. It is weakness, not strength that makes this decision for me. I just can’t live with them. I can’t pretend they are on my side. I can’t whitewash their foibles because I can’t see any innocence in them even as I can’t see innocence in myself. I see what they have done and are doing as a purposive and momentous decision, not entirely the result of an accident of birth, position, or habitual trajectory. I give up my friends because I can’t merge with their solidarities, their loyalties, their unfounded beliefs, even though they may in appearance look like mine.

That is not to say that I have not gained a wide variety of new acquaintances and friends with whom I am in solidarity with, but the scientific proposal in this cabal, that every thesis is testable, and new evidence should adjust old beliefs is alive and well. This is fresh air, not constrained by old ignorance, religious or not. Also, the effort, tempting though it might be for some, to toss out the old signposts (true by their endurance in humanity like the Golden Rule) is without interest. My people now wish for and hope for the endurance of all true value, the values of Jesus, and Socrates alike, Aristotle and Heraclitus, St. John and Voltaire*, St Paul and Francis Collins. (*Lois made a fair criticism, that Voltaire wrote anti-Semitic things, and so he should not be included. I am not here justifying all of the things my small sample of actors have said or done, but the breadth of possibly useful information and argument these actors have made. To refine my examples to faultless persons would only allow Jesus. Antisemitism, whether in Henry Ford, Luther, or Voltaire is a breach of truth and good value on par with the worst behavior of humans whether their disvalue is in service to capitalism, Christianity, or freethinking.)

This calls into question the value of the Bible. Let me state without much elaboration what the Bible is to me to avoid endless wranglings and disputes. It is not the direct dictated words of God. We do not have the original texts, so let’s not be so obtuse as to say that it’s infallible. It is not a scientific text. It is data on the reports of interaction of ancient people with God and other people. My argument is not with the Bible, but with the skewed and mistaken interpretations of it that neither square with the Bible itself (in literalism) or the real world as exposed by science. Nobody believes precisely what has been written. We all believe an interpretation of what was written. So I argue for a broader base of interpretation of the data than merely the text itself. Every science should have its say. Every theology should have its say. Every political theory should have its say. And when everybody has had their say, evaluate to discover the ones that must or might be true. Continue the query, even when it is unlikely that we should come to the end of it. Reject out of hand those views that contradict what we already know (the earth is ancient, not flat, not the center of the universe, etc). There is not a minute to waste on failed theories or interpretations. Those opinions are of no value in forwarding knowledge or the truth because they rely on ideas that have long been abandoned because they are false.

I am asking not for a new dogma but a new human and humane rationality to guide our interpretation of any and all the texts we have produced. I am sorry if some people miss me as a companion, I can’t survive their worldview, either what it implies or the travesty they wish to impose on the rest of us.

Do We Need the Scientific Method?

I wrote this response to Sophie Congreso’s Quora question: “Explain the need for a scientific method. What would happen if scientists do not follow an organized process?

Outside of the ideals of science that have widespread acceptance, that is coming from a realist’s worldview, the methods of science are a standard mode of behavior that mix observations with skeptical evaluation of the results of that observation. That is the empirical side of things. The rational side of things is that the result of observation is data embedded in a wider framework whose placement comes from the logical, and mathematical necessity of the laws of nature. Those laws of course, are not the actual laws on which nature operates, but our best estimate of how nature must operate given our limited observations. If that seems circular, your perception is correct. But the circularity is not pernicious. Observations allow us to adjust the formulation of our laws to fit the reality which is there, not a fantasy we might hope for or expect from historical perception.

The process of science is not tidy in this respect. What we call the scientific method is a heuristic method capable of changing when it seems warranted to suit the object under observation. That is, it is not a logically locked down set of steps, but a set of guidelines that permits a wide latitude in how an observation might be carried out. Michael Shermer in Teach Your Child Science: Making Science Fun For the Both of You reminds us that “A technical definition of the scientific method that is satisfactory to all scholars and scientists is almost impossible to devise.” (37)

What I have given you is a reason to think that the scientific method is required for a sound realism. That is, a realism that has the ability to hold to good and useful results and reject poor ones. The scientific method must, if it is to be retained, have a self-adjusting role in science. Often because of human impatience we grow weary with checking our results and fixing our mistakes. This is natural. The scientific method gives us a mode of patience that provides better surety of success. Every successful scientist is an amalgam of lucky intuition and dogged, detailed, work. Both are required, but not everybody has the patience to carry out the labor that their intuition requires. In addition, the old adage that “The harder I work, the luckier I get” applies here. And even a continuous stream of failures in following the scientific method is instructive. For example, a large part of Albert Einstein’s later work was devoted to finding a Theory Of Everything, because quantum physics and cosmic physics failed every compatibility requirement, except of course our belief that it works together in reality so there must be a theory of how it does so. He explored every avenue his magnificent intuition could take him. And he always had his ear open to the suggestions of others. He didn’t always take their advice but he listened nonetheless. Yet for all his labors, he managed only to eliminate a variety of avenues for finding that TOE. We are closer today to a theory of Quantum Gravity, but we are not there yet.

Shermer outlines four steps in the scientific method: Observation, Generalization, Prediction, Experimentation. But we must add to that assiduous record-keeping. Keeping records permits the scientist, their contemporaries, and successors to explore the object and the method to look, not only for flaws, but insights. It has been said that quantum mechanics is counterintuitive, but that insight is perhaps passé. Today students grow up into a worldview that was deeply non-intuitive, but they absorb it as natural, and so can think clearly in those terms. Quantum mechanics is no longer the bugaboo it once was. There is nothing to be terrified of any more. We have begun to use its insights in ordinary technology, and so, it’s weirdness has become normalized.

This is part of what we call the sociology of science, the transformation of the social sphere of the scientific method into something that more closely models reality. But it has taken a couple generations of scientists to get from quantum weirdness to quantum normality. Reality didn’t change, but we did. So the scientific method is a mode of transforming realist society into something that more closely models reality. Natural laws are adjusted to conform to the truth of reality instead of some failed proposition. The puzzles, however, seem to multiply as our universe is sorted out in this way. But this is a good kind of problem.

This state of affairs is deeply troubling to some people. They look nostalgically to past certainties and universal truths, even though the world in its constant ferment has moved on. But as Michael Shermer said quoting James Burke, “Certainty is a kind of prison. When you are absolutely certain, you are also possibly absolutely blind.” (46) The need for the scientific method is modeled in the need to suffer uncertainty and ambiguity. Uncomfortable as those states of being might be, they are necessary in order to find the truth, and not be settled with something less. Think of using the scientific method as baking a cake. To get the optimum wonderfulness of the cake as properly imagined, you can’t take it out of the oven too soon. But you have to take it out when it’s ready or you’ll likewise spoil it.

Science would disappear without its method. We would be stuck in a world whose mysteries had become concrete and impenetrable. Scientists would become state functionaries, dispensing edicts without the attendant justifications that make the scientific method useful. As it is now, any person may follow the scientific method and gain for themselves a piece of reality that will not fade into oblivion with their demise.

New Atheists and the Culture War

To conclude, let me bring things full circle: At least some studies have shown that, to quote Phil Zuckerman, secular people are “markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian” than religious people. It’s a real shame that New Atheism, now swallowed up by the IDW [Intellectual Dark Web] and the far right, turned out to be just as prejudiced, racist, dogmatic, ethnocentric, closed-minded and authoritarian as many of the religious groups they initially deplored.

Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

I have followed some of the new atheists with interest for the last 20 years or so. I can also acknowledge that some of them have produced well-accepted academic work in the past. They have also found themselves justifiably ensconced in popular culture (Richard Dawkins’ Memes). I have even used some of their criticisms of Evangelicalism in my work, because I thought it prudent to include voices unlike our own. And some of their criticisms were, unfortunately, warranted. But I think Phil Torres’ critique of this crowd exposes a wide variety of their mendacious behavior, and their association with the worst elements of our society, make this read essential for those who would want to hear opinions from more than their insular compatriots.

left to right: Jeffrey Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Pinker

Am I disappointed in the bad behavior of these who wanted to think of themselves as the guardians of truth and defenders of the real world? No, not really. I never placed “faith” in them as if they were pure-minded and honest dispensers of the truth railing against the stupidity of religious people. Already they had made of themselves a degenerate subset of humankind by prejudicially exorcising every version of morality and spirituality (irony intended). Curiously but not unexpectedly, they have made common cause with those evangelicals, the majority of Congressional Republicans, and others who have denounced honesty, morality, science, intellectual integrity, and education as routes to human improvement. The new atheists and culture warriors have produced in themselves mirror images of degenerate humanity, the former by truncating spirituality, the latter by truncating the real world and the intellectual integrity of a scientific worldview. Both modalities are betrayals of personhood as made in the image of God. Both lead to precipitous and unwarranted certainties that eventually lead to the loss of personhood.

Now, let’s get the obvious critique over with now. Am I faultless in my accusation of my contemporaries? Not at all. I see the loss of my memory, narrowing of my focus, encroaching senility, and physical decrepitude as persistent companions. I am not making any claims to being above the fray. And I am not suggesting some particular version of human perfectibility. No, I am rather suggesting a return to humility about the weakness of any supposed absolute apprehension of our purpose in life as a ground for future action. I am suggesting a return to humility in the face of vast unknowns in a universe wider than any one person’s comprehension.

I am also not suggesting that humans cannot master some aspects of reality, or that mastery of reality is an error. I am asking for well corroborated humility in our assertions because of the incredibly hard slog required for even modest growth as individuals and collectively as the human race.

I believe there are absolutes, though I am fairly certain that humans can not annunciate them with any sense of perfect scientific clarity. Absolutes are the domain of metaphor, poetry, art, and prayer, and are part of a well developed sense of place in the unimaginably large cosmos. Absolutes declared with intellectual honesty must always be paired with the caveats of our incomplete and incompletable knowledge.

Because of the threat posed by knowledge, the evangelical culture warriors have abandoned the proposition that education is useful. Doubling down on indoctrination, they model the same authoritarian pose taken by the Russian and Chinese communists. This irony is lost on them who haven’t taken the time to explore why they are doing what they are doing. They think that protecting the borders of their enclave by shutting out the other is an effective strategy for protecting their purity. Attempting to take political control of their environment they can’t see that in their fear of reality they have partnered with a wide variety of people who easily, and laughingly take advantage of them. They unwittingly commit themselves in these alliances to courses of action that betray the essential principles of their lives and faith. Attempting to keep their hands clean from the political fray, they close their eyes to the inequities perpetrated in their names, and shut out any criticism of their allies. But in doing so, they find out that their views and activities are poorly thought of by reasonable people. And yes, the term “reasonable” unspecifically refers to people who can reason through to a conclusion without damaging people or reality, a delicate walk through the garden of God. “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? (Job 12:11 NIV)”

To conclude, I implore those who have ears to hear, to listen to the Spirit. I am not speaking about religion or any particular version of religion, but to the Spirit of God, the voice that transcends and comprehends our grubby existence completely and offers a hand up to those who want it. I implore those who are engaged in the culture war to abandon the blindness that reacts out of fear and find a better explanation for what you see. Search a little harder. Go beyond your boundaries to the world ignited by love and care, wisdom and knowledge, to see God’s gracious reality fully featured before you. Permit yourself to be judged in the loving hands of God, to make amends where needed, to adjust your course toward all life, to abandon prejudices cradled to your breast when they come to light. Do not be afraid to explore, to test out the voice of God and see redemption begin to make your life flourish in the garden of God.

Back the Blue?

Something from George Takei in his newsletter on 7/28/2021. I found it after I had posted something about the hypocrisy of Blue Backers on Facebook.

Hi all,

Turns out the far-right only cares about “Backing the blue” and “Blue lives matter” when they’re standing against Black Lives Matter. It especially doesn’t apply to officers refuting the GOP’s disinformation regarding the failed insurrection on January 6.

On Tuesday, the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riots heard the harrowing testimony from Capitol and D.C. Metro police officers, who detailed their experience defending the Capitol against pro-Trump extremists.

The officers shared how right-wing outrage trickled down to everyday Republicans, one of whom left an extremely disturbing voicemail for Officer Michael Fanone.

The hypocrisy, it burns.

George Takei

This is what I wrote on Facebook a week ago or so.

It is clear to me that those sporting the degenerate “Back the Blue” American flag, really have no interest in supporting police. This I conclude from the T****ian fantasy around the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection where police and military both participated in the insurrection as well as the Capitol police who, unprepared for the violence, attempted to hold back the unruly and illegal mob. So, two things are clear here. One, the mob storming the Capitol building at T****’s instigation are entirely lawless, and the lawless mob, among whom were police themselves, had no respect for police in general. So I ask what the point of “Back the Blue” really is. Since it is not a respect for law and order, is it rather an appeal to allow the police qualified immunity when they kill people, unarmed people? Probably.

No, every facet of human interaction should be the subject of tests for whether their behavior is promoting law and order, the peace of our nation, and just behavior toward all citizens. This includes the police who, it is clear now, are not performing service to all the citizens of the USA equally, whatever the “Back the Blue” crowd would have you think. Take down your degenerate flags please, people. Consider that your shameful minority both promoted the lawless attack on the Capitol, and perpetuated the myth that T**** was a law and order president. He was not. He lied to you, you believed it, and now some of you are participating in the second Confederate attempt to overthrow the legal authority of Congress, and in addition, erase the votes that went for Joe Biden in 2020 giving him a clear majority, even in the so-called contested states.

Why is it important to study the contemporary world?

This post is an answer I gave to the above question in Quora on July 3, 2018. Every once in a while Quora sends me an email if someone upvotes an answer. I use an outline of a philosophy paper I read in a college philosophy class by C. S. Peirce. ( image )

One must study the contemporary world not so much to learn about it but to be transformed by the process of studying. To study the air is to know what pollutants one breathes, and a motivation to find a better atmosphere.

We’ve heard much about politically vicious bubbles, and how listening only to what one already believes is unhelpful. Listening to angry screeds by extremists doesn’t move us toward the truth. There may be truth somewhere in their rant, but without a broader apprehension of reality and opinion, it is difficult to fix one’s focus. Some retreat into the fear of learning for safety. But that is a mistaken move. Fear is as bad ground for truth as unwavering belief in one’s own opinion. Both modes of fixing belief come from immature expectations of an absolute.

To follow this line of thinking, let me introduce you to C. S. Peirce, a 19th century thinker who outlined modes of fixing belief. The first mode, and easily the most vulnerable one is that of trust in your own opinions. He suggests that for the reasonable person, one will give up that trust when a person one considers an equal has another opinion, one begins to question the veracity of one’s own. A sick person can’t make the move to doubt and resolution. They can’t be considered reasonable if they will not abandon a bad opinion when they see a better one.

The second method of fixing belief is by means of an authority one trusts. Whether this is a political party, a religious group, or a variety of philosophical or social theory doesn’t matter. So we see a person under this mode of fixing belief appeal to some leadership, religion, or political party. This may be an advance on self certification but that depends on the authority. And there is always the risk that the authority is acting out of self interest, and may be setting you up for failure.

The third mode of fixing belief is that of the a-priori or principle. This is clearly an advance, and it requires a logical yet flexible mind. The greatest ethical systems of history have required this sort of thinking for fixing one’s belief. Take for example the Golden Rule, “Do as you would be done by.” Formulated in a variety of ways both negative and positive by many cultures and leaders, the Golden Rule doesn’t actually tell you what you should do, but it does give you a guideline for making a rational choice. The first question is, “If I were in that person’s (or group, or nation’s) place, how would I want to be treated?” So, “do not judge a person ’till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” helps to work out what our attitude should be. So one can’t guide oneself by a strict policy on this reading. One must actually choose each time. Obviously, when one gains enough experience, they will not need to think about it each time, certain salient principles and justifications will emerge as one goes along. But without the impetus of the Golden Rule, the principles couldn’t have emerged.

As you might see, not all problems can be solved by the Golden Rule, and technical truths fall outside its scope, so, one must use a variety of general principles to navigate the waters of life. But it is complicated! One has to use one’s reason to ferret out many answers that might be easier to solve with an authority. But the advantage is that one is not bound by the authority or their own delusion in carrying out their reasoning. With practice one can detect errors of logic, errors of culture, and errors of authority. But if one is looking for closure, there are many traps in this mode. Belief that one has the answer is a temptation, because it took so much effort to arrive at.

The fourth and final mode Peirce recommends, and a mode that offers the best chance of getting it right is that of science. But this is not a simple science based on physics. And it requires the most work. This science is a method of proceeding that includes much of the a-priori and the efforts of one’s predecessors. It is an attitude that asks questions and takes probabilities as sufficient answers. It is not a search for absolutes, but an inquiry into reality. It proposes an answer then tests it, and isn’t satisfied until the best explanation turns up. It takes the experience of others, their theories and principles, and launches out on a sea of unknowns that are known to be unknown. It can answer both ethical questions and physical questions. It can answer what one should do for one’s family, nation, and culture without demanding that its answers are universal.

So my answer to your question is more an encouragement to study. Everything and anything you study informs your understanding of the contemporary world. But don’t be ready to come up with absolutes. Still there are signposts that one should attend to. Don’t study just to affirm your own notions. Study to discover. And truth should be the aim of discovery. If you don’t care about truth, then you would fall in line with a broad swath of modern culture that thinks it doesn’t matter how you get to your goal, that the ends justify the means. People like that you don’t want any where near you even though you should understand why their bad faith is unjustified.

The New Republicans

As deeply disturbing as it might appear, the New Republicans are emerging from the wasteland of Trumpism with a new look. They want to appear to be the rational ones making sure we look at “both sides” of the issues that we face right now. This is not just an ideological position, they really want the world to think that they are back to their conservative roots with good justifications for their beliefs, well documented and reported in the news. But this is a thinly veiled attempt to push the same varieties of madness that proliferated during the Trump presidency. They are worse than tiresome, using the language of reasonableness to push the same conspiracies that marked Trump’s last year in office. They want you to forget January 6, 2021 and the events that led up to it by muddying the waters with more than a sprinkling of lies and obfuscations.

The Insurrection

We know that Donald Trump is responsible for fomenting the attack on the Capitol. We have all watched the videos, heard the testimonies of waffling Republican congresspersons who were terrorized on that day. Now they are back to support lies that came out as a response to what everybody saw and heard.

The first lie, Antifa and BLM supporters dressed up like MAGA supporters are responsible for the attacks on police and breaking and entering the Capitol. The Insider is keeping track of the arrests of people who have been charged in the insurrection. As of June 12th 2021, 521 people have been charged with offenses related to their activities on that day. Not one of those people are members of BLM or Antifa, but ardent supporters of the ex-president. Do they really want us to think that all the Antifa and BLM supporters who were there have escaped the sight of millions of people who watched the videos? Roughly 42 gigabytes of 972 videos were extracted from Parler accounts before it was shut down by Amazon.1 Here’s a collection of over 500 videos compiled along the January 6th timeline by ProPublica. See for yourself. Faces of the Riot compiled a collection of around 6,000 faces extracted from some 200,000 images from the videos.

In the Insider page linked above, Jonathan Gennaro Mellis, arrested for “Forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere officers and aiding and abetting; civil disorder; restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct, obstruct, or impede passage, and engage in physical violence on Capitol grounds; obstruction of justice/Congress … wrote on his personal Facebook account: ‘Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antics [Antifa?] and BLM. We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle.’” David Blair of Maryland, who was arrested for assault on a police officer is recorded by the DOJ as having said that “he was scared of Antifa.” But Antifa was not at the Capitol on January 6th.

The New Republicans are not taking this as an answer. They cancel their own MAGA cohort to blame people that did not storm the Capitol. I love the way New Republicans are embracing cancel culture and denying it at the same time. They are obviously too unsophisticated to see the irony here. After muddying the waters with distracting and obvious lies, the New Republicans want you to forget that any of this happened, rewriting history to say that nothing happened on that day, that is, nothing more than a tour of the Capitol building by inquisitive citizens.

Election Fraud

The New Republicans also want us to think that there is some very real problem with the election where Joe Biden won in a landslide over Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States in 2020. What they are really doing here is undermining the credibility of their own and other election officials’ procedures which are watched over in a long-standing bipartisan fashion. The election procedure in the United States is not broken, but the New Republican wants you to think it is. The numerous stories of Republican election officials disputing the claims of the ex-President have been all over the news, that is, the news that is interested in publishing facts about reality, not conspiracies and lies in support of the ex-president’s lies.

The actual number of voting fraud cases is extremely low, and dealt with by mechanisms already in place by both Republican and Democratic election authorities. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank reports a mere 1285 cases of voter fraud for the 2020 presidential election. They also provide a list of precautions that election officials must take to avoid voter fraud. A total of 158,590,503 votes were cast for all presidential candidates in the 2020 election. That means that 8/10,000 of a percent of votes were fraudulent, that is 0.00081% of votes were cast illegally. Now, I accept the list of caveats the Heritage Foundation adds to this number that means a variety of fraud cases have not been compiled in their number, but a total of probable cases of voter fraud is nowhere near statistically relevant for the final tally where Joe Biden won handily over Donald Trump by 4.46%, a total of 7,060,519 votes difference between the candidates. I do not accept the idea that absentee ballots pose a large risk of fraud as the Heritage Foundation does. There are plenty of reasons to believe that absentee voters, vetted by their respective states are as legitimate as those voters who went to a polling place to cast their votes. But the Heritage Foundation does list probable cases where fraud may occur, not, by their own admission, that it did occur in the 2020 race. I can have a conversation with these conservatives, but not with those still adhering to Mr Trump’s conspiracies and lies. I do not count the Heritage Foundation with the New Republicans, though their arguments for worry about voter fraud are fodder for those who would call the election into question and those in our nation who are currently putting up more barriers to voting.

For our own household in Missouri, three of us filled out the absentee forms because of Covid-19. Two of them were returned because they contained errors which were subsequently corrected then resubmitted. When the ballots arrived, we filled them out and handed them in to the election authorities before election day in accord with clear rules specified by Missouri, Greene County, and Springfield. We are confident all of our votes were counted. And we didn’t all vote the same way. We believe the election process is fair and equitable in Missouri, even though MAGA supporters far outnumber their opponents.

Curiously, of the lawsuits that the Trump campaign and others waged in a variety of states to contest the election fairness, only one of 86 suits was won. The rest were dropped due to lack of evidence. Many of the judges in these suits were appointed by the Trump White House. The single case that was won, was later overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This means that no election fraud case brought by the Trump campaign or others was won. Why do the New Republicans insist that there was fraud then? Why are they subverting the election results to recount votes in Arizona? Because they refuse to take the answer that they don’t want. They insist on a lie, a lie started and promoted by one man, ex-president Donald Trump, that there was serious voter fraud that overturned his election to a second term as president. The glamor that holds the New Republicans enslaved to Mr Trump’s lies will eventually be broken, but at what personal cost will those same New Republicans reengage in the political life besmirched by their association with arguably the worst president in the history of the United States.

Rather, they would have us forget the behavior of the man who is rightly accused of a variety of anti-democratic acts, resuming their former positions as respected members of their society, not as part of the MAGA cohort who perpetrated the January 6th Insurrection. But the nation will remember the bad faith in Donald Trump as something that the MAGA supporters chose instead of democracy. It will be remembered that they betrayed their own conservative principles and the country to align themselves with a man without principles. The New Republican is not even a shadow of their party’s originator, Abe Lincoln. They partner with Aaron Burr and other traitors to democracy and the ideals under which our nation was formed. And, just because they didn’t personally get their hands dirty on January 6th doesn’t absolve them of their participation in the Insurrection. They are as much to blame for parroting Trump’s lies as the MAGAs who broke in to the Capitol. I hold them responsible and history will do the same.

So, when a New Republican tries to ply you with reasonableness, remember that they are still participating in the Insurrection. When they ask you to look at both sides of the arguments, they want you to deny the truth that is in front of us all and sully yourself with their unverifiable and culpable filth. Remember that they do this as patriots, but not of America, rather of loyalty to the presidential failure, Donald Trump.

Why did I write this?

I wrote this after I posted an article where radcliffe.harvard.edu supported the assertion that the BLM protests were largely peaceful, and a MAGA supporter, a New Republican private messaged me to say the research was bunk, that Antifa and BLM are violent groups out to undermine democracy, that they were present on January 6th in large numbers dressed as MAGAs.

I carried on a conversation for half a day before the absolute idiocy being pushed as fact got to me. I felt ill from the interaction, and I unfriended that person, destroyed the conversation. This person, supposedly a Christian, proposed a topsy-turvy world that is so far from reality that I was shaken by it. And these people want us to forget January 6th. I realize that there may be true conservatives out there, but for the most part I think they’re trying to ride the insanity out and begin speaking when the dust settles, again as if none of this happened. The Republican party is now without recognizable conservative values, instead inhabited by lies, conspiracies, and demagoguery, railing against cancel culture and the “socialists” in our midst.

GOP ex-Congressman Mickey Edwards said that Republicans attending the CPAC conference were living in an ”alternate reality in which facts don’t matter.” Even Pat Robertson, an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during his presidency, says that Trump is living in an alternate reality, and that he should move on from his loss in the 2020 election.

But evangelical Christians, oblivious to what’s at stake here are doubling down on Trump’s side. They’re not calling it Trump’s side, but have absorbed the idiocy as if it were reality. They bluster on, confident in their powers, not cognizant of their error. Where does this leave Christ? I would first venture to say that Christ Jesus loves every single human, and all of his creation. We are all God’s children. We have often committed errors, and made mistakes, yet he still loves us. But Christ in this instance must weep at the impropriety of those who call themselves Christian and adhere to the Trumpist fantasy. They used to say “Trump defends life, so I voted for him.” But he didn’t defend life when he minimized the importance of the pandemic in 2020, even though he attended a rally of pro-life Christians. He didn’t defend life when he became the president with more executions on his hands than any prior president. But these Christians are oblivious to these facts, are distracted by his glamor, and can’t see their way to change their minds even when all their political aspirations are turning to dust. They have been poisoned by Trump’s lies, by their own political ambitions, and by their failure to understand how to research objectively. Besides Pat Robertson, I am only hearing a few fringe personalities repent of their mistakes here. The false prophets are doubling down, or changing the story to distract us from the disaster that was their false prophesy of Trump’s win in 2020. Charisma magazine put up a story that was a thinly veiled attempt to change the story line from Trump to “we accept black people.” But Charisma is complicit in the idiocy. Have any of them repented? I don’t know. It is hard to tolerate such lack of introspection, reflection, and self care. They think they are serving Christ, but it really looks like they are living the fantasy.

Believe without evidence

One of the sharpest criticisms brought by the old and new atheists in the modern dialog is that Christians believe without evidence. I don’t think that’s true, of course, but the atheists do not take the personal testimony of interaction with God as evidence at all because it is not physical, or scientifically reproducible. I do. But Christians have given ample evidence that they really do believe without evidence. They take the Bible as true, infallible, and without error, but they interpret it with a clumsy casualness that belies the strength of their faith. They have not advanced beyond reader-response interpretations to a much wider and well corroborated interpretation. They don’t recognize the history of interpretation, or the wide variety of schools of interpretation, nor can they wrestle with the varied implications of those interpretations. They never even get as far as the ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud. In deference to the Christians in this amniotic state, the atheists don’t get it right either when they take the facile theology of these believers as compelling reasons to reject Christianity. It’s as if this brand of Christian and the atheists are all vying for points in a scholarly contest that has not been introduced to St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Barth, or McGrath, as if they read the Scriptures with the lazy inattention of a rebellious schoolboy. They do not acknowledge the great strides in human culture that emerge from the Judeo/Christian Scriptures, nor do they understand the particulars of ancient culture, so that they may understand the Scriptures as written in a place and a time different from our own. Anachronisms rising from this are built into their interpretations, and provide no insight for living or understanding of reality.

Conclusion

Following this line to the political conflict exacerbated by the New Republicans, the lazy inattention of their chosen commentators is full of self contradiction, and misguided anger. They don’t understand what they reject, nor do they have good reason to adopt what they believe. They have simply fallen into obvious traps prepared for the unaware. As the proverb says: It is futile to lay a snare in the sight of any bird. The birds are smarter than to fall prey to obvious traps. But these people, well forewarned by Jesus and the prophets, have fallen headlong into the obvious traps. Can they be rescued? Yes, of course, but they, like the dwarves in C. S. Lewis’s Last Battle after having entered in through the stable door to the afterlife, are infinitely suspicious of anyone or anything that would try to persuade them that they are safe and can go higher up and further in to God’s great forever, rejecting reality, as the New Republicans have done. They will proceed no further. The rest of us will move on with the blot on our nation’s record accounted for, mourned, and taught as a cautionary tale for the enduring future. Hopefully then, the New Republicans, will fade in luster, importance, and public visibility. We can go about our business without the scare tactics and the bluster.

Have all the problems disappeared with a Biden Presidency? No, of course not, but patient effort, even with the obstructive efforts of the New Republicans, will win out. And though all the problems Americans face will not disappear, it is time to vote with a wider awareness of what that vote implies, where it will lead us. It is time to abandon loyalty that has no good ground, to avoid being swindled by profit-takers, carnival barkers, and mountebanks; to demand the truth in our relations, in politics, and the news, to check assiduously for errors, to avoid the movement toward tyranny, and advance all people equally in their role as citizens.

1 Wired Magazine, accessed 6/12/2021, https://www.wired.com/story/faces-of-the-riot-capitol-insurrection-facial-recognition/

The Certification

As long as the crowd of T**** supporters continues to insist that there was voter fraud in the last election, it will be impossible to come to terms with them. It isn’t enough for them to know, as the Senators who objected to the certification, that every state, without coercion, justified the results of the ballots in their states. The one persistent voice calling for investigation into fraud is the president himself.

Do you know why it is impossible for these poor people to “know” that the election was free and fair, and that Mr Biden will take office legally on Jan 20? It is because these poor people are still listening to the fraud in the White House. For whatever reason, they have convinced themselves that it carries less risk to side with the criminal who’s been lying to them for most of his public life, than to take the independent and rule governed response of each and every state in the election. So, these poor people are choosing tyranny in the name of freedom, and incompetent federal overreach instead of the states’ legitimate reports. So, these people who think little of sporting the Confederate battle flag in the Capitol, who reflect the failed effort of the Confederate states, have completely lost their connection to reality.

So, what’s your reason for supporting the criminal in the White House? Is it that he is Pro-Life? I respond, “Ask the people who have been unceremoniously executed by presidential order whether he is pro-life.” He obviously is not. Do you support him because he is the “law and order” president? What a sham. T**** is perfectly happy to break the law when he orders it, but otherwise, there is no relation to law and order. He uses the phrase in the same way white supremacists do. Law and order is an effort to keep unfavored populations (read: Blacks and the left) unsettled. Remember, that he was voted in as a chaos agent, meant to upset Washington. Well he has done that, but he has done that illegally, by breaking the very laws he swore to uphold, and used his crime family to do so.

Did you vote for the criminal because he would fix the economy? With $7 trillion more debt since the beginning of his assumption of office, he has broken through every blockade of financial propriety. And the loss of jobs in the “fake” pandemic has secured his place as the president who has most catastrophically affected the economy ever. Not that his Republican predecessor did much better. But you say the pandemic is the reason for much if not all of the job loss. I agree, but remember Mr T**** has lied about the Coronavirus persistently, pushed conspiracies, and ignored it. You went along with his errors and supported him anyway, even though the dead bodies have been stacking up like cord wood and many people are still in the throes of recovery. Some may be stuck with pulmonary and mental deficits for the rest of their lives because of the “hoax.”

Did you vote for him because he promised Christians a seat at the table of power? OK, now you have had 4 years of it, and you are as much to blame for promoting this criminal in his chaos, both by promoting his lies, and ignoring his lawlessness. False prophets continue to push the boundaries of incredulity. Yet, do you still follow him? Christianity is in bad shape, terribly divided, and scarred because of your support for this man. If you think your association with T**** has been a net benefit, then you are as deluded as he is. Do you want a Christian nation? Nobody I know wants to be ruled by the caprice of some Christian group or other, no matter how well-intentioned. I’m sure you remember when Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” You’ve ignored that.

This is not the place to discuss the Christian values with which our nation was founded, not when we are stuck with the ungodly mess T**** has left the nation in by the continued permission of the 81% of evangelicals who voted him in. Changed your mind about that vote? Good.

T****’s America has been in flames for the last year. That is T****’s fault as much as the white supremacists who infest the police departments and are killing people without warrant. His and others’ lies about the peaceful racial justice protests that records show devolved into riots only 7% of the time, has left America with the impression that there is some sort of parity between Charlottesville, the Capitol takeover, and racial justice protests. These impressions are just wrong, and wrongheaded. Most of the world has not acceded to the post-truth T****ian fantasy. So, since we listen to reliable witnesses, we know better than what Mr T**** says.

As long as people continue to think that freedom means that they can do anything they want, police will be necessary. But remember they are doing jobs for which they are paid. And those jobs done poorly should be reflected in whether they still have that job. And if they commit criminal acts while an officer, they should, like anybody else in the nation, go to jail for that.

It doesn’t matter who T**** accuses, you can bet that if he accuses them, they are probably correct. His cronies are criminals, and the Christians who go along with him, repeat his lies, and persist in support of him are part of the problem, not the solution. The criminal president has tainted the Christians who support him. They have become criminal in their association.

entanglement*

I just finished a book that I started and did not finish years ago. It was not that I was uninterested in finding out what happens at the end, but that I was too distracted by life in general to finish it . That is, early in this millennium I was busy making money, trying to manage teaching, and doing a PhD in Philosophy at the same time. Now, in the Covid-19 era, I have both the time and energy to dig deeper into my long-term interests and finish pursuing those interests.

I want to recommend to you the book titled The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn by Louisa Gilder. This particular problem, that Quantum Physics is incapable of offering us a Classical reality to latch on to, must be a serious worry to those concrete thinkers who are unable to lurch into the future. The story is a bio of the people, institutions, papers, and discoveries of physics in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Let me define, shortly, why there was a problem. Classical physics, say, the physics of the 19th century, can be characterized as an attempt to understand the world in terms of concrete objects, from planets to people, to atoms in the void, chemistry, and electromagnetism. All of these objects operate under rules that can be metaphorically described as billiard balls on the table of space. The properties of these objects follow rules that are defined by first, Newtonian physics, and then Einstein’s relativity. To us, the objects are medium-sized dry goods that behave in predictable ways by themselves and in relation to each other. So we have Newtonian Gravity, and Einsteinian Space-Time. These two formulations of our relationship to the rest of reality are all-encompassing descriptions of the events in the cosmos, that is, we understand how we relate to things in the physical world through these formulations. Neither is absolute, but they are so nearly so, that it is difficult to avert our gaze from them even for a moment to imagine a reality that might conflict with it. Of course, though Einstein does not entirely replace Newton, it offers a much finer and predictive matrix to work with. So, we fly around the solar system with probes and people using Newton with a few adjustments using Einstein.

The gravity of these systems is so all encompassing that we are all but unable to see anything else, even when the experiments that tell us something else is going on are displayed in capital letters for all to see. For example, the double-slit experiment, first performed by Thomas Young in 1801 showed a puzzling effect when light was passed through a barrier with two parallel slits cut in it. The light shining through the slits, which was expected to show two lines corresponding to the two slits on the back wall of the experimental apparatus, instead showed an interference pattern, a wavy pattern. It is an effect that is explained, with some resistance, by saying that light has characteristics of both particles, going straight back to the wall, and waves, producing an interference pattern on the wall. The 20th century physicists spent a good deal of time pondering the results of this experiment. It was discovered that elementary particles made up atoms, also behaved like the photons in the original experiment. The result of the many many double-slit experiments done is that Classical physics, the physics of space-time couldn’t explain this behavior. Quantum physics, the realm of the very small, was born out of experiments like this.

And so, after I finished Guilder’s book, I started browsing the Glossary (Guilder 337) which I have done only three or four times in the last 20 years. I found in it, in the definition of Bell’s theorem/Bell’s inequality a sentence that summed up the whole book. It must be disappointing for some people. In this statement a whole range of possibilities crop up that make it possible to go forward. It is particularly important for me because I have insisted since the late 1970s that truth is in relation, not in the objects themselves.

There is a murmur of a suggestion that the central reality, at the quantum level, is entanglement: that relationships between quantum “things” are more fundamental and objective than the things themselves. (Guilder 337)

This confirms my assertion but does not prove it. That is the fanciful part of the whole problem that both attracts and repels classical observers. My intuition had do do with ordinary objects of our perception, not the quantum reality. And though I was up on some of the scientific literature in the late ’70s, it was not until the ’00s that I made any closer association between ordinary objects and quantum reality.

Here, for me, is how this association works with ordinary reality. It is not a trivial issue, and defines everything in the human knowledge project. Plato’s “Letter Seven” relates to us that the more one knows the thing in itself, the less one can say about it truthfully. That is because the mystery of objects are baked into their surface appearance. The more we know about something, the more the relationship between us and the object is primary, not a datapoint in a chart. That is, we cannot lay out all we know in a textbook. The essential points are in the relation not the data. And our knowledge transforms us, does not permit objectification in some classical sense. For Plato, the science of the object, which is preliminary to knowing the thing itself, can be put in a textbook. It is definable by our standard categories, and has a location in our compendium. But knowing the object itself is a step or two beyond that, and making that knowledge inaccessible to the casual observer is irritating to those who would wish to put all knowledge into text. It is irritating to the point of denial by those who want classical categories of science to be fully explained. This is the puzzle of the expert who knows what they cannot say. They cannot say it, because saying it would concretize the relationship and break it. In fact, those who attempt to say what is not sayable betray that they do not know the thing itself at all, that they are in fact, breaking what is sayable in the science of the thing. That is because, to remain consistent, what is not sayable is not sayable because there is a tension between the science and the knowledge of the thing itself that can’t be resolved within the literary logic available to humans without the mathematical training to recognize the limits of cognition. The knower who does not in fact have that mathematical training, but realizes that there is a limit to what can be said has affirmed that knowledge of the thing itself is more closely associated with intuition than to science. The limits of science, advanced to the point of being able to anunciate previously intuited knowledge, can now say what was before unsayable. But in the end, the knowledge that is sayable now is knowledge of our relation to the thing itself. Yet the mystery is larger than what we can say.

I hope you can see how the definition of quantum reality also applies to the knowledge project in its children. That is, “that relationships between … ‘things’ are more fundamental and objective than the things themselves. (Guilder 337)”

This is why I had to write today, because at the root of things, truth is about relationships, not the objects themselves. This applies across the board for our being in the world.

For Christianity, Christ as an object is only the surface, the preliminary and incomplete version of our practice. At the core Christianity is about the relationship we have with God in Christ. Anything less is not Christianity at all, but religion. It is not that Christ can not be objectified in words, deeds, and the rest of history about the matter, but that these are only the preliminary features of reality, not reality itself, and not sufficient for one to acquire salvation. The textbook, the Bible, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for our knowledge of God.

For those for whom money is the core reality, the object of their worldview, only in relationship with money do we realize its insignificance as a feature of reality. To inflate its significance is to err in ways that degrade humanity. That is, loving it is truly the source of all evil. Making it the primary occupation of one’s life hides everything else: people, society, prosperity, etc. Having money is as much of a hindrance as it is a help. As the Scriptures say, the only weakness of the poor is lack of money, the only strength of the rich is money. Money can’t possibly be the central feature of humanity if the poor, who don’t have much of it, are more wealthy in the important features of humanity than the rich. Also, when the Bible condemns the love of money as the root of all evil, those who love money are repudiating the Bible. It is easy to see why Jesus said that it is easier for camel to thread the needle than to enter the Kingdom of God, (yes, I know there are ways to reinterpret this metaphor that is more genial to the rich. But making it more genial to the rich is not Jesus’ point here.)

For philosophy, the essential relation is with knowledge itself. The problems of philosophy do not simply boil down to knowledge, but to the relations between the objects in the world. The best and brightest thinkers have made it possible to comprehend those relationships we have with the world and with each other, without also sacrificing the relationships themselves. The poor philosopher is only capable of collecting objects as a science of relations, not a relationship with reality itself. And yes, I know about anti-realists, but am convinced that a philosophy of that sort is a linguistic backwater. Reality itself is more subtle. One can deny all day that there is a persistent reality, but depend on it nonetheless. This is just a convenient subterfuge to retain the consistency of a program that denies and relies on reality at the same time. What they really need to say is that our knowledge is incomplete and will remain so as far into the future as we can extrapolate our interaction with that reality. There is no real foundation in the halting and incomplete annunciations of science. Neither can we deny reality to avoid that problem. Our relationship with reality is not definable simply as science, but something more subtle that we do not understand the parameters of quite as succinctly as would be required to provide an absolute.

This issue, the one about foundations is not about reality itself, but about our ability to encapsulate reality in some formulaic program. I would refer you to the Principia Mathematica of Russell and Whitehead and how they came to an unresolvable paradox when confronted with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. Simply, any system that tries to emulate reality will be able to produce theorems we can recognize as true, but cannot prove within the system that generated them. Principia Mathematica (PM) as a system that attempted to unify all mathematics produced for Gödel true theorems that were not provable in PM. Either one can remain blind to the conflict here or acknowledge that human knowledge is not absolute. There are higher orders of system as yet not comprehended. The second is preferable, that is, there’s more to learn. It does not help either the knowledge project or people in general when one chooses to hide the incompleteness of one’s system. But because of Gödel’s theorem, we know that understanding of our reality is partly hidden. Human knowledge can’t make the claim of being complete. Rather we can know things that we can not prove within the system of logic we have. There is more that we don’t know beyond what we do.

*Notice: This is not about politics which both makes me happy and tells how little the criminal in the White House really meant for all of us. For context in the distant future, where our memory of him will be nothing more than the moldy photo albums of the ’10s, the presidency of Donald J. Trump between 2016 and 2020 has been the closest thing to a complete disruption of our Democratic institutions we have ever experienced since the inception of our Republic. I hope we do not repeat this mistake.