Political Fanaticism or Religious Extremism – What’s the Difference?

Recently, an article on the Discussion/Blog/Forum site SodaHead posed the question, Which is Worse, Religious Extremism, or Political Fanaticism?

Well, first, let me address these two ideas.  On the one hand, we have people who are so obsessed with something, whether it be a God, or a philosophical point of view, that they’re willing to do ANYTHING–die for it, kill for it…talk about it until you want to kill THEM, whatever–to make everyone they see believe in what THEY believe.  This is Religious Extremism, and we see this in the news nearly every day, throughout the Islamic world. On the other hand, we have people whose sole agenda is power–power at any cost, including the cost in lives.  We see that in South America, in Central Africa, and even in the former Soviet countries since the fall of the USSR.  But even the great Socialist Experiment itself was a form of Political Extremism, taken to the opposite direction, the Forced Equalization of All “Citizens” through mass enslavement.

But what’s the real difference?  In the end, anyone who doesn’t think like the political or religious Extreme Fanatic will ultimately suffer at his hand.

Listen, I am a scholar of history, and in my experience, the single most dangerous situation occurs when religious people become involved–as the “moral Majority”, the “Conservative Press”, Skullbones, the Masons, the Mob, and even the phreaking Orthodox are right now–in POLITICS! The vast majority of Political Fanaticism in this country is itself Religious Extremism! And the situation becomes much, MUCH WORSE when the Religious Extremist is also Political.  Because these are the kinds of people who take Fanaticism above and beyond mere power and bullying. These become men like Adolph Hitler.  Genghis Khan.  Joseph Stalin.  Even the Popes during the Dark Ages…name one, trust me. What we see happening right now in American Politics HAS HAPPENED once before. It all started when the Emperor of Rome adopted a Religion, and became the first Pope, Emperor Constantine. His Religious Government eventually consumed nearly all of Europe, devastated the Native Tribes of central and south America, and the merger of Religious Extremism with Political Fanaticism lead to FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OF THE DARK AGES and to the Inquisition and Witch Hunts that KILLED MILLIONS!!!  And guess what? It even took a Political Fanatic named Napolean to snap them back into simple Religious Extremists. I mean it was just that bad!

So where do we fit in this? Listen to the politicians speak when they’re asked about religious issues. Every damn one of them! You can’t find a politician with any hope of getting elected who doesn’t also have strong religious feelings of one sort or another. And that condition leads inevitably towards another: that Power Corrupts; and that Absolute Power corrupts…ABSOLUTELY! Wherever we see religious sects influencing, or even controlling political institutions, we see unbelievable examples of corruption and inhumanity. It is happening here. It WILL happen here. One cannot say that one of these conditions is worse than the other. Separately, these two can NEVER compare to an institution that combines both. Because as you can see, they are a marriage made, literally, in HELL.

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A Legend In His Own Time

Three days ago, the world lost a great man. Nelson Mandela, a legend in his own time, probably did more to engender Equal Rights for blacks than nearly any other man in history; INCLUDING Abraham Lincoln!

Now, I need to preface that; you see, the last time I made a statement like that, I drew alot of angry criticism. Our Prsident Lincoln did what he did to ensure the FREEDOM of black people in America. Not equality…oh, sure, he gave them the right to vote and all that; but then it took more than another HUNDRED YEARS before America rid itself of our own version of Aparteid! True, without Lincoln, there may never have been a Nelson Mandela…or if Lincoln hadn’t set the stage by freeing the slaves, South Africa might simply have executed Mandela, as an unruly (and unsellable) slave. But, what Lincoln did, was only part of the process.

What Mandella did, he did in a single generation. He, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., believed in a world in which color was NOT a determiner of quality. Today, if you tell a soccer player in Africa that you don’t like him because he’s black, it is his WHITE teammates who’ll rip your head off, even before the offended player can tell you he forgives you. In Johannesburg, you’ll find poor white people and rich black people, both–side by side with their counterparts. In short, South Africa is a model that the entire world looks up to.

In Europe today, there are black people, white people, Asian people, and others in every sort of industry, and at every level of government. Why is it that, parts of THIS country still struggle with the same? In the American South, bigotry and hatred still drives entire orders of people. Neighborhoods like Harlem in New York, the French Quarter in New Orleans, Chinatown in San Francisco, and even the many Indian Reservations of the Native American peoples show our differences and divide “Us” from “Them”. Yes…we have an African-American president. Finally. But it happened SIXTEEN YEARS after Nelson Mandela became the first black president of a Democratic Nation ON EARTH!

Abram Lincoln did NOT do that. He may have made it possible…but Nelson Mandela made it happen. Even Martin Luther King didn’t do that; instead, King became a Martyr, and the violence between the races continued on, in some areas, even to the present day. And maybe even in South Africa, the work isn’t finished. But I have not heard of a South African KKK, or an Aryan Nations. Not recently anyways. Not since Nelson Mandela united a people. There was a man who changed, not only his own country, but much of the world, as well. Even we, in America owe him a debt.

Don’t tell me this person, or that President, or some king, or whatever did much for Equality. Nelson Mandela did more for equality among the races of humans than anyone I’m aware of, and he did it world wide. Our history in this country shows a people who have fought the idea of equality tooth-and-nail! We owe alot to to this man, and I think we should honor him as much as we honor our own heros and legends, for a legend he was. Farewell, “Tata.” May you walk among the green fields with your brothers and sisters forever and ever. And one day, may we finally take the lessons you taught us to heart.

SASS has Spoken.

Good day.

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But Why Is There A Universe At All?

Physicists and Cosmologists find themselves in a Quandary. Rather a big quandary, actually. Wherever they look, throughout all the Universe, or across the particles in their Accelerators, we keep discovering that the Universe seems to be finely tuned to grant us our existence. Even more, it’s finely tuned to grant Human existence.

For example…I’ve recently learned that, in Solar Fusion, the normal products of the fusion of Helium, Boron-8, and Lithium-5 (from Helium+Helium and Helium+Hydrogen, respectively) are themselves very unstable, and break back down into plain ol’ Helium again very quickly. Unless the core reaches about 10 million degrees Kelvin (as it can only in the final stages of a star’s life.)  At that point, matter is energetic enough fuse Boron-8 with another Helium atom to form Carbon-12 (which is stable), or to fuse a Helium and a Carbon-12 nucleus together (Or, two Boron-8 nuclei) to form…Oxygen-16!

Wait…Carbon?  And Oxygen?  The two most important elements in the Universe…for biological animal life?  Yep!

And that’s not even the half of it!  In fact, throughout the cosmos, scientists are staggering across dozens of cosmological values, from the strong and weak Nuclear forces, to the binding energy of Gravity, to the Cosmological Constant itself that…if they were any different, our universe simply couldn’t support life!

Being Scientists, of course, these people are looking for an explanation as to why everything in the universe seems so Perfect to support our existence (anything that doesn’t rely on the theory that it’s “all because God wants it that way,” of course!) In 1973, Brandon Carter suggested the anthropic principle to explain that…essentially, if the Universe was not perfectly lined up to allow for the existence of life as we know it…we, uh, wouldn’t be here TO KNOW IT.

And…he had a point, of course. But, then, some people have criticized the principle, stating that it’s too ‘Easy,” too pat, or that it doesn’t really explain anything.  In fact, Wikipedia says this:

All versions of the principle have been accused of discouraging the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe. The anthropic principle is often criticized for lacking falsifiability and therefore critics of the anthropic principle may point out that the anthropic principle is a non-scientific concept, even though the weak anthropic principle, “conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist”, is “easy” to support in mathematics and philosophy, i.e. it is a tautology or truism. However, building a substantive argument based on a tautological foundation is problematic.

But really, as observers, we can be reasonably assured that,

  1. All observed values of physical and cosmological quantities will be values that are compatible with the existence and evolution of Carbon-based life forms, and,
  2. the Universe will be observed to be old enough to support the idea that Carbon-based Life could have already been formed.

This is the Anthropic Principle in a nutshell, and the physical reality that we are here, and we can observe the Universe around us both ensure that each of these points must be true! So what else is there? Well, the scientists can’t seem to get past the the idea that all of these perceived variables in cosmology and physics are just so Improbable!

Yeah…that’s where I was going with this. The Universe is Highly Unlikely, therefore, it must not even exist. No, it exists. Well, we gotta Blame somebody! I’m voting for a GOD.

Now, don’t get me wrong. While I personally consider myself a Christian, and while I enjoy a personal relationship with an extra-spacial consciousness that I believe to be God, I want to stick with the Scientific principles that these primarily secular men and women seem to insist on. If there is a problem with the Universe seeming to prefer our existence over non-existence, why shouldn’t the solution be some principle condition or active force that actively promotes our otherwise unlikely existence?

The French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) described a force which he called the “Omega Point.” This Omega Point, he postulated, is the supreme point of complexity and consciousness. It exists, in some form outside the observable universe, unbound by time, space, or distance, and yet–as an active force–propels events in the Universe towards an eventual state of highest complexity, highest consciousness, and highest energy. It both initiated the formation of the Universe, and defined its Parameters. It continues to affect the participants of that Universe, including both living beings and non-animate matter. And, the Omega Point is both Trancendent (i.e., it Predates, and is not dependent upon the Universe) and Personal (i.e., it is an intelligent being, and not an abstract idea.)

Now, here is an idea that scientists may be able to sink their experimental teeth into. Already, they are finding little bits of strange behavior that suggest an intelligent principle may be at work in the world of Quantum Physics. And…scientists cannot seem to explain why life has evolved into more and more complex forms over the observable geologic history of this planet, when the third principle of the Law of Thermodynamics states that all things should tend towards Entropy…and Death.

Now…another philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, suggested in his Principle of Sufficient Reason that…nothing is without a ground or reason. Everything, or at least everything in this universe has a cause…something that made it to be true. For example, when we observe chemical reactions in a lab, there are physical laws that govern when and how those chemicals react. When we observe particles in a nuclear reactor or an accelerator, ditto. And, when we observe the movement and evolution of stars and galaxies, there is a physical reason for all of the things we observe…and a reason for things we don’t seem to be able to observe, too!

This same fact is true for all of the observed “Variables” that govern the physical “laws” of our observable Universe. Some “Thing” made all of those properties take the values we’ve found. Scientists do not seem willing to accept that some form of conscious mind may have had something to do with the values we find in physics and cosmology. But, if random chance had any real part in the multitude of variables physicists are finding, then either the odds against our Universe ever coming into existence is rapidly approaching Infinity-To-One, or….there must be an Infinite Number of Universes in existence in which we simply cannot exist!

Neither of these possibilities seem to let the scientists off the hook. Random Chance for the possibility of our existence gets more and more implausible with every experiment and observation they make. Why can Scientists not seem to accept that something Intelligent might actually be at work? That God is Self-Evident has been my belief all along. The more people do to try to explain a Universe without Intelligent Design, the more they seem to find one that simply Can’t Exist.

Well, WE EXIST, PEOPLE! It’s time to accept that We Exist because He Exists. God is not lurking just beyond the Last Theorem. He’s sitting right there in Plain Sight in every rock, every tree and flower, in every burning sun, and in Every Living Thing! God is In the Universe! And every number and constant state they find Proclaims HIS Existence! It’s time to accept the role of the Creator in the formation of the Universe.

SASS has Spoken.

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Death in the Family

As a Christian, or…at least as someone who follows Jesus Christ, reads the Bible, and tries very hard to Love my fellow Humans, (and damn, it’s hard to love all of my neighbors…) I have some rather unusual views about Death.  Specifically, about the death of young children.  Of course it is a tragedy when a child dies; especially when one is abused and murdered.  But the Bible has good things to say, when a child happens to die.  It tells us that they are innocent, and that they are beloved by God.  He will take them home to Himself, even if their parents are not good.  Even if they’ve been naughty, young children are not held accountable for sin!  Not like we adults are.  So…naturally it causes me some distress to talk to other Christians about a particular subject:

ABORTION.

Yes, that’s the act of a pregnant woman going to a doctor–or other person–and having her unwanted child…KILLED.  You see, most people I know, who are strongly religious, are rather violently opposed to Abortion.  And for that matter, I Personally HATE Abortion, and those who perform it or seek it!  But I have another point of view.  The same merciful God Who cares for murdered children cares for the unborn in the same manner!  What do I care if some woman who never knew God sends her unwanted baby back to Him?

Actually, I’m going to take this subject even farther.  You see, at one point in history, the Jews of ancient Israel were faced with an even worse situation.  Yes, WORSE than Abortion.  In a neighboring kingdom, the prophets of Ba’al, an ancient Demon, were routinely sacrificing children to their god…by throwing them alive into burning pits!  The Jews wanted to do something about it, but God told them otherwise.  In fact, He told them to stay away from the worshipers of Ba’al altogether.  And once again, He assured them that each and every child has His blessing.

As adults, we have no such assurances.  Today, we can turn on the news to see dozens of reports of murders, rapes, acts of arson, armed robberies, and even wholesale ritual torture, all committed by countless masses of evil people of the sort that once burned babies to honor a Demon god.  Oh, and did I mention that some of those want an abortion?  Really, in the eyes of God, there’s not much difference between aborting an unwanted pregnancy, and throwing a living, breathing child into a bonfire to burn to death.  Including the nature of the people who commit these acts:  unsaved souls who’ve never experienced the love of Jesus.  Nobody who truly loves Jesus Christ would think of doing such a thing.  Either thing.

But those we force to be born to such women can…and often do!  The fact is, the KIND of people who would seek an abortion have never received the Holy Spirit in the first place–even those who profess to be Christian themselves–because the soul of a person with the Spirit in their hearts would never WANT to have an abortion!  And that means, that (should we manage to prevent an abortion from happening) the child born to such a woman is being raised by a parent without God, very often in a broken home, and (in many cases) learning to be the same kind of people who would rob, rape, murder, or have Abortions themselves!  And those kind of people have no place in the Heaven of a God of Love.  They’re going to Hell.  All of them.  And with very few exceptions!  Jesus Christ HIMSELF warned us that the way to salvation is narrow, and few find it.  Even for Christians, there is no guarantee our children will follow us by becoming disciples of Christ.  How much less likely is it that the product of an unwanted pregnancy will find God?  I think you only have to watch the evening news to see the answer to that question.

This actually means that aborted fetuses are better off, most of the time.  Which begs the question, “Why are we Christians really trying to keep the UNSAVED from killing their babies?”  Let them go!  Why force these women to bring more rapists, murderers, drug addicts, gang members, and other enemies of our God into this world?  Hell, let the pagans burn their babies!  The babies will go to Heaven!  The Pagans…are already DAMNED!

Stuff that into your Thinking Pipe and smoke it!

SASS has Spoken.

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I Believe In Father Christmas

I was listening to some festive Holiday music tonight, when a thought struck me to look on the Web for info about Emerson, Lake & Palmer‘s classic Christmas song, I Believe In Father Christmas. I was rather surprised by what I found. It isn’t an “ELP” song after all! This song was actually a solo effort by founding member Greg Lake. And…he made a video of it–several different edits are available on YouTube and other sites. But the gist of what I found out was…Greg Lake, with the help of his Lyricist friend, composed this song as a protest of the commercialization of Christmas, particularly in the United States.

Now, Wikipedia has very good information about the song, including quotes from Greg Lake and others; but I also looked up the song on Songfacts…this is often an excellent site to find obscure facts about a song, it’s history, and maybe what it was intended to be about. It’s also fun to browse through user comments, as people are often touched by certain songs in certain ways, and many of us have unique and interesting interpretations of a song–often quite different from what the author(s) intended or thought they were saying.

What struck me as notable–and the reason I am posting this entry–is that several people commented (or implied) that either Lake himself or this song is Anti-Christian. On the contrary, in interviews he has asserted that this song is NOT anti-Religious at all. Instead, Lake stated that this song was a protest against the Commercialization of Christmas.

In the United States, especially, we are bombarded with deceptive advertisements, television shows, and motion pictures that “inform” us that “Santa Claus” and big Uncle Macy at the Department Store are the ones we should REALLY be worshiping…and serving with our Almighty Dollars (Which, themselves, have become a False God in my country, by the way.) Jesus Himself said that a man cannot serve two masters, and yet I personally do not know of a single Christian who is not also a slave to the power of the Almighty American Greenback Dollar! This is wrong! Very, very wrong!

I’ll even throw in my own bit, that December 25th was NOT the true date of Christ’s birth to begin with; the early Christians celebrated it somewhere around January 6th–and that was on the old Julian calender besides; today’s Gregorian calender would put it around Jan 16th. And that’s only if older Greek historical sources are not correct; as some of those put the actual time of Jesus birth somewhere during the months of May-July. The actual celebration of Christmas we observe on Dec 25 originated with the old Germanic ritual of Yuletide–which, by the way, was a Pagan Fertility Rite.  Yes, you knew sex had to come into Christmas somewhere, didn’t you?

The church, in the 4th-10th Centuries AD polluted itself even further by re-inventing and absorbing Pagan celebrations into “holy” rituals…this practice culminated in nothing less than the Inquisition and the Bloody Dark Ages! Have you ever wondered why Jesus, in the Book of Revelations, refers to the Church of Rome as “The Great Whore of Babylon“? Trust me…the description is very clear. It’s talking about ROME!

Now…all of this certainly contributes to the “Great Lie”/”Fairy Tale” that is Christmas in Europe and America. But, oddly enough, “Santa” is not a lie! At least, not entirely. Reindeer were an invention…as was the North Pole, Elves, and his apparent Omniscience about children being good. The man whom our “beloved Church” perverted into this Comic Book-grade joke was actually a real person. His name was Nikolas, and he was a priest in the Greco-Roman province of Lycia, which is now a part of Turkey. He was known to be a very generous man–having come from a rich family–and he performed so many miracles during his lifetime, he earned the title “The Wonder-worker”. His service during the 4th Century actually pre-dated the church’s bogus adoption of December 25th as “Christ’s Mass”. He is known as a patron of Sailors, Merchants, Archers, Thieves oddly enough, Children, and Students. He’s considered the Patron Saint of Greece, too.

Now, like many other saints, angels, ghosts, and sundry other “things that go bump”–night, OR day, in this case–Nicholas has never been content to just be “Dead“. Nearly every “Saint” in the Catholic Church’s repertoire of Venerable Beings has made appearances. I can cite the repeated, and widely reported sightings of Saint Mary, for example, in Lourdes, Guadalupe, Fatima, and most astonishingly, in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia–an event that was televised by CNN and other news organizations, and is apparently still going on. Well, “Jolly Old St. Nick” was up to his old miraculous tricks very quickly after his bodily “Death”, and I have actually, PERSONALLY met him! The Nikolas of history and supernatural reality bears VERY LITTLE resemblance to the red-suited icon of the American “Christmas Scene”. The reality is, he is down-to-earth, he encourages others to love one another (the very message Jesus taught us, BTW), and…where no other hero or miracle is available, he arranges to have unlikely benefactors do things that ultimately help those who are poor and downtrodden. Yes, this sometimes includes charitable gifts from the rich, like R. H. Macy and Andrew Carnegie…but I’ve also seen incidental events, such as when the construction of a bridge in my hometown hit a snag; and as a result of the necessary redesign, several thousand square feet of land suddenly became available to become the new home for the Union Gospel Mission, a shelter for the homeless. Nor can I discount the haunting similarity of voices on emergency 911 calls played back on Reality shows like “Cops” and “Homicide: Life n the Street” to that of the gentle old man I met those many years go. In each case, a life was saved because of that anonymous 911 call. Yes, ghosts CAN AND DO use modern technology–there are numerous case studies on TV, the Internet, and in print. Of course, I can’t be sure those stories are Nikolas’s handiwork…but that is the spirit of Saint Nicholas, the “real” man behind the “Santa Claus” myth.

So, here, in “I Believe In Father Christmas”, we have Greg Lake’s reaction to the deceitful commercialization of the Christmas Holiday. I mean…there is so little that is actually “Honest” about Christmas presents, lights on the tree and our houses, and even the Nativity itself. Not even the day we celebrate Christmas is true to its origins! What we have is a magical Fairy-Tale, that one day can and must come crashing down around us in a hail of debt, anxiety, and a shortage of parking, that we faithfully endure for the sake of our children. What can I say? Growing up in the Cult of Christmas SUCKS! In the end, no wonder so many of us become depressed, disenfranchised, and detached from the true spirit of Christmas. What we need, is to step back, and take a look at what really started it all:

Somewhere, at some unconfirmed date, in a stable in Israel, a child was born to a young girl who had never had sex with a man. That child grew up to be a great teacher, miracle-worker, and leader. He was murdered by his own people for his unconventional beliefs; and three days later, he THREW OFF THE CHAINS OF DEATH to prove Himself to be not only the Son of Almighty GOD, but to have been the perfect, and final sacrifice, for all of the Evil that we humans have learned to commit.

Oh, and a few centuries later, a wise and humble priest espoused the ideals of this Christ, and was remembered for it.

That’s it! The Truth of Christmas…this is all there is left! No wonder Greg Lake calls it all a Fairy Tale. Buried in literally centuries of fables and falsified ritual and doctrine, the Christmas “Holiday” bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to what is true and holy in honoring the birth and life of Jesus Christ. And so it may have been, that with no small measure of Disgust, Greg Lake bids us “Hallelujah Noel, be it Heaven or Hell“. And, as I have seen so many times myself, we really do get the kind of Christmas that we have earned for ourselves. Perhaps we deserve even worse. As the years progress since Lake wrote this song, I certainly believe our country is getting worse.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you all, on this…by most accounts, the “TRUE” birthday of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

SASS has Spoken. Goodnight.

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About my religion

I was watching an episode of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” recently; it was an episode where Herk gets lost at sea, and lands in the fabled land of Atlantis.  A girl there asked Herk if he still believes in the gods.  Herk replies, “I don’t have much choice.  My father is one.”

Actually, I find myself in a very similar condition.  I have memories pre-dating my current lifespan, where I served God directly as an angel.  This is part of the reason that I know that our souls exist apart from our bodies physical chemistry, because I existed before I was “Born”.  I believe, like most Christians, that Jesus Christ was born, lived a perfect life, and then was murdered, but rose again on the third day.  But more than that–I REMEMBER these things!  I watched it happen, or alot of it.

And I watched what happened in heaven, when–instead of punishing those responsible for the torture and murder of God’s own son–he poured his wrath down…ON HIS SON!!!

There was horror in heaven, when that happened.  So few of the angels really understood what God meant when he sent HIM as a “Savior”.  We didn’t even have a WORD for the name of God, or His aspects then…nothing translatable into Human speech, anyway.  Amongst ourselves, we spoke in whole concepts, paragraphs and entire essays in a single glimmer of thought.  That was God down there, poured into one of those chemical sacks, not unlike one would seal a hunk of meat into a can.  But then, you can’t put the whole cow into a can, any more than you could put all of God into a mortal body.  The rest remained; but it was silent, inert.  Jesus was there, bound by time and mortality; and the entity we knew–which I can’t even put a name to, He was that great–was missing.  I mean, He was just missing from Heaven…His power was gone!  Bound, down there, in a Mortal form that had only a small fraction of His former energy.

And then the Jews murdered him…and in His righteous wrath, God poured out his vengeance on the VICTIM of their crime–and finally, I understood the concept of a “Sacrifice”.  You see, what Jesus identified as Sin is far more than the human concept of “A little white lie”, or a “Big black lie”, or a Murder, or sexual infidelity, or any other of the actions we humans are capable of taking that are equated with wrongness or evil.

Sin is evil energy.  It ebbs and flows a lot like electricity, and the medium of travel is the human soul, NOT the body chemistry.  If you picture the oil rupture in the Gulf of Mexico, and the insidious way it poisoned fish and seabirds wholly unseen by the human eye, that’s kind of like the way sin works.  When humans commit an act that is wrong, the poison creeps into them like that poison back oil.

But also, when we THINK a thing that is evil, the poison spreads within us.  Thoughts…willing, willful thoughts and deeds that are dark–like hate, greed, lust, and so on–open holes within the energy that is “us” and the poison fills them.

When Jesus died, and was punished by God in our place, he created the means to remove this toxic energy from our souls.  I can’t begin to describe how it actually works…I don’t even think Quantum scientists have yet put words to the concepts necessary to describe the effect that Jesus’ sacrifice had on the dark energy called “Sin”, but suffice it to say that Jesus was able to “Funnel away” the stuff, literally take it away from across all time and space, and then LEAVE IT IN THE ABYSS when He was resurrected on the third day.

Somehow, only by punishing the one who was actually INNOCENT of sin, God was able to cleans all of those who were contaminated by sin.

Would that it were possible to clean up oil-soaked seabirds that way….

SASS has Spoken

— the SASS Man

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Computers and the Nature of Consiousness.

Someone asked, on a forum I frequest, “How far does artificial intelligence have to come, before it could be classified as “alive”? Alive meaning concious.”

The forum itself, “Great House Fliggerty“, revolves mostly around the game from Bathesda Softworks called “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind“, and around the people who play it and program modifications for it.

The answers others gave ranged from “When it can distinguish between a nice round apple and a red ball by only looking at it” to “When the computer can get into romance.” Alot of the answers said something about feelings, or at least willfull (or “apparently random”) acts that aren’t already programmed in the first place.

I had to think about this subject for a while. In the long run, the real question is, “How do we define life? even sentience?” I think our universe provides its own definition of what is alive, what is consious, and what…basically…isn’t.

So…here is what I wrote on that forum:

I think my favorite definition of sentience, or “Human-ness” comes from the 1980’s film “D.A.R.Y.L.”:

“A machine becomes human when you can’t tell the difference anymore.”

Though realistically, sentience combines our ability to communicate in meaningful and mutable language with our ability to self-analyze.

Now…consider carefully that last term. We aren’t just aware of our particular sensory inputs, or our prepared responses to expected circumstances. We are aware of ourselves, and of our relationship to others in our environment.

So far, computers have been made able to respond to many kinds of stimuli, and to react…pretty convincingly human. BUT…no computer yet developed can analyze it’s OWN programming, upgrade it, and improve upon it, without some form of outside human assistance. In short, computers have yet to be made self-aware.

I believe part of that is because of our ability to “step outside” of ourselves, and perceive ourselves as others perceive us…and i believe THAT ability exists because of the nature of biological life forms. We have a dual nature of material chemistry and nonmaterial “Spirit”–our “souls” or whatever–that make it possible for us to willfully override the autonomous electro-chemical “events” that would otherwise drive us–like mindless automatons–to simply EXIST, but not ACHIEVE.

And…I believe that machines can exist as spiritual entities as well, given time, and the proper combination of sensory-reactive chemicals in their processing systems. Already, physicists are beginning to see unexpected variations in the processing logic of the higher-end computer processors: electrons not where they should be, random number generators that are not so randum, unexplained “noise” in the data stream. Why would that occur? Because it’s life. Because every particle in the Universe, every electron, photon, and graviton ever emitted by a material object is ALIVE, damn it!

Machines will achieve sentience the same way WE did! By simply being made so complex that the free living energies in the universe actually register on the system as freedom of choice, feelings, and the ability to look back at itself and say, “Hey! I think I am….therefore, I AM! I think….”

And then…as I said before…we really WON’T be able to tell the difference…..

…anymore……..

SASS has Spoken.

— the SASS Man

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