Thursday, October 18, 2007

Modal Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

Some definitions:

A necessary being is a being which must exist, a being which cannot not-exist. It would exist and be exactly the same as it is in any possible world. It woulld exist and would be exactly as it is, in this world, no matter how history had happened to work out.

An absolute God (the traditional G-d of Christianity, Judaism and Islam) is by definition a perfect being: omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, eternal, immutable, and necessary.

A contingent being is a non-necessary being, a being which can not-exist. It is a being which may happen to exist, and to have certain characeristics, but which might not have existed, or which might have been different that it is, if history had worked out a little differently.

The Argument.

1. An absolute god by definition is a necessary being.

2. By definition, if a necessary being is possible, then it must exist.

3. A necessary being is possible (i.e., the concept of a necessary being involves no contradiction or category mistake).

4. But if a necessary being were merely possible and did not in fact exist, then the necessary being would not be necessary; and this is a contraditction, and therefore impossible.

5. Since the non-existence of a necessary being is logically impossible, a necessary being must exist.

6. Therefore, an absolute G-d must exist.

This idea also holds firm the notion that an objective morality exists.

End. Read more!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dalai Lama Receives Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — Over furious objections from China, Congress bestowed its highest civilian honor today on the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader whom Beijing considers a troublesome voice of separatism.

Dressed in flowing robes of burgundy and orange, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, beamed and bowed as President Bush and members of Congress gave him a standing ovation upon his arrival at the Capitol where he came to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. Lawmakers praised him as a hero of the Tibetan struggle. Mr. Bush called him “a man of sincerity and peace.”

But the Dalai Lama also said that he felt “a sense of regret” over the sharp tensions with China unleashed by his visit and the honors conferred upon him.

In gentle language and conciliatory tones, he congratulated China on its dynamic economic growth, recognized its rising role on the world stage, but he also gently urged it to embrace “transparency, the rule of law and freedom of information.”

The 72-year-old spiritual leader, reading at times with difficulty from the English translation of a speech written in Tibetan, made clear that “I’m not seeking independence” from China, a division that Beijing ardently opposes.

Nor, he said, would he use any future agreement with China “as a steppingstone for Tibet’s independence.”

What he wanted, the Dalai Lama said, was “meaningful autonomy for Tibet.”

After speeches by the president and the top leaders of each party as well as by the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, another Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Congressional Gold Medal winner, the Dalai Lama accepted the medal, drawing a standing ovation from a crowd that included such Tibet sympathizers as the film director Martin Scorsese and the actor Richard Gere.

But earlier in Beijing, Chinese officials had offered sharp new criticism. The top Chinese religious affairs official condemned as a “farce” the American plans to honor the Dalai Lama.

“The protagonist of this farce is the Dalai Lama,” said Ye Xiaowen, director general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, Reuters reported. Other officials have warned that the award ceremony could have a “serious impact” on American-Chinese relations.

But Mr. Bush, when asked about the political fallout from Beijing during a news conference earlier today, appeared unconcerned.

“I don’t think it ever damages relations when an American president talks about, you know — religious tolerance and religious freedom is good for a nation. I do this every time I meet with him,” he said.

The two men have met three times before. But in the face of the Chinese broadsides, their encounter on Tuesday was as low-key as possible in the circumstances, with the meeting in the White House residence, not the Oval Office, and with no cameras present. White House officials insisted that the meeting was that of a president and a spiritual, not a political, leader.

Mr. Bush reminded reporters that he had informed President Hu Jintao of China, when they met recently in Sydney, that he would be meeting with the Dalai Lama. Later, in his remarks under the Capitol Rotunda, the president urged the Chinese to do the same.

“They will find this good man to be a man of peace and reconciliation,” he said.

In apparent protest over the award for the Dalai Lama, China pulled out of a meeting this month at which world powers were to discuss Iran. It also canceled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany, displeased by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting last month with the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Among the several lawmakers who spoke today, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took sharp aim at the Chinese Communist government. She spoke of Tibetans who “continue to suffer under the iron grip of Beijing’s rulers,” and said the Tibetans know “that truth and justice will prevail over evil and repression.”

Representative Tom Lantos, the California Democrat is who chairman of the committee, denied Chinese charges that the Dalai Lama is a separatist. And he issued a challenge to China: “Let this man of peace visit Beijing.”

The president’s 30-minute meeting with the Dalai Lama on Tuesday had been cloaked in secrecy.

“We in no way want to stir the pot and make China feel that we are poking a stick in their eye,” Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “We understand the Chinese have very strong feelings about this.”

White House spokesmen said the two men discussed the situations in Tibet and in Myanmar, formerly Burma, where that nation’s government, which has close economic ties with China, has cracked down recently on pro-democracy protesters. The United States has urged China to press the Burmese military government to ease off.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since the Chinese Army crushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959. Tibetan Buddhists revere him as their spiritual leader.

He has been pressing, without success, to go to China to advocate for greater cultural and religious freedoms for his followers. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Read more!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Free Palestine

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

[Please watch all 73 minutes. It is very much worth your time. These are things you need to know. Be forewarned that some, many, scenes in this movie may shred your insides.]

Also, I will be going to a screening of Occupation 101 on this topic tomorrow, Tuesday the 16th in Irvine. I do hope to see a good turnout and that some of you can make it. For details on the screening click HERE, for details on the movie itself click HERE. Read more!

Big Brother is R E A L

Orwell in 2007
By Robert Weiner and John Larmett
The Oregonian
Sunday 07 October 2007

In "1984," the novel that most baby boomers read in high school, George Orwell creates a theoretical modern-day government with absolute power - a state in which government, called the Party, monitors and controls every aspect of human life to the extent that even having a disloyal thought is against the law.

On Sept. 26, a federal judge in Eugene ruled that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow federal surveillance and searches of American citizens without demonstrating probable cause. U.S. District Judge Ann L. Aiken said the federal government would "amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning."

Ruling in favor of an Oregon lawyer who challenged the act after he was mistakenly linked to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain, Aiken stated: "A shift to a nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised."

Earlier in September, another federal judge, this one in New York, ordered the FBI to stop obtaining e-mail and telephone data without first securing a warrant. The secrecy provisions are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values," U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero wrote.

In "1984," the Party barrages citizens with psychological stimuli designed to overwhelm the mind. The giant telescreen in every room monitors behavior. People are continuously reminded of government's surveillance, especially by omnipresent signs reading, "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU." Individuals are encouraged to spy on each other, even children on their parents, and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party - i.e., government.

"1984" is happening in 2007.

Signs along interstate highways urge citizens, "Report Suspicious Behavior." Cameras mounted at strategic locations monitor our everyday movement (just as in the novel). Red, orange and yellow are no longer just bright, pretty colors: They now represent levels of national security alerts. Intelligence agencies now define "chatter" as "terrorist speak."

The Party in "1984" uses psychological manipulation to make citizens "doublethink" - hold two contradictory ideas contrary to common sense.

Back to 2007: The Patriot Act by its very name defies individuals to disagree with it, for to do so would be "unpatriotic."

The Patriot Act was passed hastily in October 2001, under a cloak of fear in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some of the fundamental changes to American's traditional legal rights include:

Establishing a huge surveillance system on millions with no court approval, without probable cause.

Holding citizens indefinitely without access to the courts or counsel.

Monitoring library withdrawals and Internet communications.

Taping attorney-client communications.

Creating a national system for citizens to monitor and report on each other, regardless of reason, including paranoia or ethnic bias.

Developing a massive computer system to monitor every purchase.

Creating a national identification card.

The new federal court rulings are a step forward against threats to our freedom - as were other recent court rulings against the Bush administration's contention that the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture were "obsolete" and "trite" and against our secret holding of prisoners abroad without due process.

9-11 was real, as the recent videos by Osama bin Laden confirm now more than six years after he attacked us. However, that fact does not allow playing on our fears and increasing our paranoia about our personal safety. Sen. Joseph McCarthy tried that with Communism in the 1950s. The administration has tried to condition the American people, just as Pavlov did with his dogs.

Congress is now revisiting the legality of the Patriot Act, warrantless surveillance programs, torture of prisoners in secret prisons and barring detainees from counsel and knowing the charges against them. By law, in the next few months, Congress must renew, change or end the Patriot Act and surveillance programs.

This week, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced legislation, passed by his committee and sent to the full House, guaranteeing that the courts oversee wiretaps and that the phone companies cannot just do what some federal investigator tells them and are held accountable for violations of civil liberties. The bill also requires independent audits by the DOJ Inspector General. These provisions continue effective monitoring of potential terrorists. As Conyers, a lifetime champion of individual rights, stated in introducing the bill, "It is possible to protect civil liberties and fight terrorism at the same time."

Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has similar concerns, but both Conyers and Leahy must confront the different priorities of both bodies' Intelligence Committees. In addition, the Senate legislation does not penalize the phone companies for past abuses. The issues will be decided on the floor of both the House and Senate and in conference.

Congress must act quickly or the courts should permanently strike down presidential fear-based abuses. Americans' trust of the federal government is now lower than during Watergate, according to a Gallup poll released Sept. 26.

Al-Qaeda hates Americans of all creeds and races and will do whatever it can to destroy us and our way of life. James Madison warned, "If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." With the mightiest military and strongest technology on Earth, democracy can stand up to terrorism without becoming the mirror of our enemies.
Read more!

Sunday, October 14, 2007