Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tarik LaCour's Age of Reason

One of the greatest of all men was the revolutionary, political theorist, and philosopher known to the world as Thomas Paine. Most of the world knows of him because of the pamphlet known as "Common Sense", a work which inspired the American Revolution and something all Americans should read regularly as it was very influential on the framers of our nation, particularly one of the other men who was one of the greatest to walk the Earth, Thomas Jefferson.

However, one of the reasons that Thomas Paine deserves our time and consideration was not his most talked about work "Common Sense" or his other widely read work "The Rights of Man" which I also recommend that all men everywhere read. Rather it was his least talked about work, and the one that offended and upset so many people that only 6 people attended this magnificent mans funeral. It was his pamphlet known as "The Age of Reason"

In it, Paine promotes the idea that their is a God, but that he is not involved necessarily in our everyday lives. He criticizes and ridicules (beautifully I might add) Christianity and the text known as the Bible, claiming that they are immoral and superstitious. He ends by advocating that we replace revelation with reason and advocates free thought in our private and political discourse.  Here are some quotes from his work:

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."

“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.”

“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”

“It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.”

I am a great admirer and disciple of Thomas Paine, and repeat that I consider him one of the greatest of all men. His appeal to reason in an age where many where throwing it out in favor of mysticism and superstition is refreshing and exquisite. Further, his bravery to attack a system that so many people believed in shows that there was no cowardice in this man, and showed why he was in every sense of the word a leader.

As his disciple and student, I also plan to take on a superstitious and radical belief that goes against reason. It is an enemy to common sense and sadly prevents many good things and relationships from happening. This belief is known to the world of dating as "Chemistry"

One of the most sinister things about this dogmatic belief is that many of its firmest and staunchest advocates have no definition of what it is . One of my friends who introduced me to the idea was shocked when I pressed her for a definition and said "Haha, it's an abstract concept, I can't really explain it." I pressed others who believe in this dark magic to explain, and was shocked and appalled that many of my most reasonable colleagues could not come up with a definition, and yet still wanted me to believe in this toxic doctrine.

The sad reality is that most women and many men believe that if there is no "chemistry", that they can no longer pursue a romantic relationship with the person because the sadistic imaginary dating fairies have not sprinkled them with their toxic fairy dust which will allow the relationship to progress further.

I want to make this perfectly clear: If you are a believer in the dogma of chemistry, you are an insult to your fellow primates, and need to cease believing in such a dangerous system.

Why is chemistry dangerous? Because it nullifys reason. Here is an example of what I mean. Because you have some sort of a feeling which you can't explain (which should be reason enough to seriously question it), you feel that is a good enough reason to suspend reason and pursue a relationship. But at the same time, when it makes sense reasonably and rationally to pursue a relationship, if this magic is absent, you feel you should suspend the relationship.

Since most people base their relationships on chemistry, they should understand why many of these relationships don't last. Jesus of Nazareth said that if a man builds his house on a foundation of sand (or something that is not solid) it will collapse. Since chemistry is essentially nothing and at best a fancy, if we build our romantic relationships upon it they will collapse also.

There is a solution to all this nonsense and babble however. It is to base our romantic relationships on the solid foundation of reason. How do we do that? Allow me to explain.

When approaching the touchy subject of romance, let us always ask the following questions: 1) Do you find this person attractive? If so proceed to the next question. If not, then let it be known to the person interested that a relationship can not be pursued because you do not find the person attractive. This will hurt a little, but much less than being led on.

Second, "Do you find this person attractive enough that you are willing to see them (after marriage) without their clothing on?" If the answer to that question is yes, then proceed to the next question. If not, let it be known as in the first instance, although maybe not as crassly as saying "I don't want to see you naked."

Third, "Are you looking for something casual or are you looking for a commitment?" This is in some ways more critical than the first two questions because it deals with the issue of expectations. If one person wants a serious relationship, and one does not then there is no reason to go on a date because the matter has already been decided in reality. Be up front with the person. Some will say that is putting too much pressure on the first date. Just the opposite in fact. When two people know what they both want, all they have to then find out is if this person is what will fill that void.

In just three simple solid questions, I have shown why chemistry is unnecessary: because reason riddles the idea useless. Under my plan their would no longer be pity dates, leading on, or heartache to a certain extent. With chemistry, all those things would continue to happen at an unnecessary rate.

I am not saying that the above questions are all the thinking that needs to go into a relationship, far from it. One must learn about their partners personality, their interests, goals, way of thinking, etc. But with reason as a guide, our relationships will be built on a sure foundation that magic can not build.

Let me close this article with a quote by the man who inspired it, Thomas Paine "The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall." He is absolutely right. Let's follow his counsel in our romantic relationships.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

To the Unknown Lover

Over the course of writing this blog, I have touched on many topics. The topics have included heroes and role models, evolution and religion, modern problems in the world of my discipline of philosophy, as well as various areas of Mormonism and it's theology. While those are things that I will continue to address in the future (among many other things), this blog will be far different than the others.

This blog is entitled "To the Unknown Lover". This person is known to me, but her identity will not be revealed to you. She is not the fantasy of my imagination, but rather she is a person who is as real and tangible as you and I. She is a friend, so my identity is also known to her, although the depth of  my feelings for her remain hidden.

So, who is this "Unknown Lover"? How did I meet her? What does she mean to me? How have I changed by knowing her and being in her presence. These will be elaborated on herein.

First, who is she and how did I meet her. As I noted earlier, her identity will remain secret. However, there is no harm in revealing how we met. I remember it as if it were only yesterday. It was on Sunday, April 28th, 2013. I was sitting in the back end of the chapel waiting for sacrament meeting to begin. By chance, I glanced behind to the last pew on saw a young girl thumbing through the hymnal. To say that this was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen (and remains in that role) would be an understatement.

After the service ended I introduced myself, learned about her a little, exchanged numbers, and then she went on about her way as she had an appointment of some sort to get to. I must admit that as she was talking I was looking at her hands looking for a ring (this was before I deduced that an engagement ring lies on the left hand on the so-called "ring finger"). Noticing this she asked me "Are you looking for an engagement ring?" Feeling a little sheepish in my wolves clothing I replied with a smile (yes I do that once in awhile) "Yes". Laughing a little and blushing she replied " I am not engaged, no worries." I still have not heard more beautiful words come out of a woman's mouth.

I continued to see her weekly at church, always making sure to talk to her and find out how things were going with her family and life, always listening intently. I continue to do that to this day when I see her. Suffice it to say that we have a fairly strong friendship.

It has been over 1 year since I have known the unknown lover, and not one day has passed since that day that I have not thought about her and longed to be with her as more than just a friend. Sadly, I have not yet shared my feelings for her in person or in any other form. And it has been eternal torment and anguish ever since. I echo the words of my progenitor, the infamous Cain when he said "My punishment is greater than I can bear."

What am I to do, my blonde-haired, hazel-eyed beast? Am I to follow in the paths of my philosophical fathers? To wallow in skepticism and doubt as David Hume? To be chained with the yoke of reason as Immanuel Kant, knowing that what I desire can never be solved by reason alone? To drown in the dreadful and dark waters of nihilism and despair as Friedrich Nietzche, declaring a new verdict that "Love is dead"?  I know not. But I hope that such shall not be the case.

To the unknown lover, know this.  Like our fathers Isaac and Jacob, I do, and have since I first saw you, loved you dearly and deeply. Perhaps the divine providence, fate, or cruel twist of nature that brought us to meet will bring us to much more than that. I hope and desire that this shall be the case. Until that I time I bid thee adieu. My heart will always belong to you. I love thee now and always. Farewell, unknown lover.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

America: Christian or Secular?

      “In God We Trust”. A simple statement really, one that appears on all of our currency, whether in bill form or coin. One cannot go down the street without seeing many churches in most cities, and if you are a person running for office you generally claim that you are a person of faith, in particular faith in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. National days of prayer are called annually and regularly in this country. All of this seems to imply that Americans are driven by faith and that this country is fundamentally Christian.
            But is America a Christian nation? What does the statement mean? What exactly is Christian and how would one go about defining whether a nation is a Christian nation? If America is a Christian nation, what does that say to people of different faiths in the country, as well as those who have no faith of any kind, which is the highest growing group in the United States according to a recent Gallup and Pew Poll?
            When speaking of whether or not someone or something is Christian, it must subscribe to the divinity and worship of Jesus of Nazareth. Many people admire Jesus’ teachings and life, but do not believe in his divinity and are thus not Christian. So to be a “Christian Nation”, the nation must have as part of its origin the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and this must be an official part of it founding and governing documents.
            However, this is not the case. The Declaration of Independence, our nations founding document, says nothing about the divinity of Jesus or Christianity. Neither does the Constitution of the United States. It is true that the word “creator” appears in the Declaration of Independence, but it does not say that this creator is Jesus or the God of the Old Testament. From the founding documents there is only one conclusion: America is a secular nation.
            It may surprise some, but most of the Founding Fathers were not Christian; they were deists. For those unfamiliar with the term let me explain. A deist is a person who believes in God, but does not believe that he intervenes with humans. Christians are theists; meaning they believe that not only did God create life but intervenes and interacts with it regularly.
            Not only were most of the founders not Christian, but also most of them were outspokenly critical of the system. Perhaps these quotes will help: “Lighthouses are more useful than churches” – Benjamin Franklin; “This would be the best of all worlds if their were no religion in it” – John Adams; “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man”- Thomas Jefferson. Let me remind you that these three men were the committee who wrote the document now known to the world as the Declaration of Independence. If this was their view of Christianity, how could they have possibly intended to create a Christian nation?
            It is true that most people who believe in God in this country are Christian, but that does not make the nation Christian. If these people who are currently about 80 percent of the population were truly Christian, then we would see fruits of it. Their master said himself “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). These people who claim to be Christian are in disputes over abortion, gay marriage, torture, prayer, and a host of other issues. If America is a Christian nation, it is a very poor one.
            The Founders and founding documents of this country wanted to keep religion and state separate. Lets keep to their vision and keep it that way. In no way does this mean that religion is bad or harmful; but it is to be kept private and out of the public square.