The Human Essence: Storyteller

Although we can measure global warming of about one degree per century we are therefore responsible for future disasters if we do not stop burning fossil fuels. If you ask for clarification of this logic you are a communist, or worse, a climate denier.

The human being is separate and superior to all other known creatures by reason of the story. We are story tellers. No other creature is a story teller. Our existence is defined by our stories. The next evolutionary stage of humanity is the rational thinker, but for now our stories are themselves the reason of being. We believe anything plausible.

The Mpemba effect, racism, the preference for all things “natural”, religion, the supernatural, all of these are examples of irrational yet firmly held beliefs based on stories.

My favorite examples are food related. Some food is touted as a miracle food, like avocado or chia or quinoa. I am not disputing the fact that foods are healthier than others, nor that our health responds to our diet. But eating fish once a week or an avocado a day needs to be seen in the light of the rest of the diet. All else being equal, adding a can of tuna once a week is not going to make a difference. Even less so if that quantity of tuna is directly from the closest fishing vessel to your dining room.

The preference for all things “natural” is an especially interesting claim. Human caused “global warming” is a claim often coupled with this sort of naturalism. Hence the claim that if we were more “natural” there would be no future climate change. However, if we all got rid of Air Conditioners, clothes dryers, and drastically reduced winter heating by living closer together we could return to pre-industrial age CO2 emissions. If we removed city concrete we could stop human-caused global warming. City concrete causes more warming than CO2.

Stupid Beliefs are Fine

Can one Christian reasonably tell another they are not Christian?  Happens all the time.  Can a Muslim with all the authority of a doctorate and his own Mosque and a daily following authoritatively say his religion does not want Sharia Law in New York City?

When a Mormon ran for President in the US pundits and regular folk found themselves in the uncomfortable position of rejecting the beliefs of another religion and having to examine the beliefs of their own religions.

Catholics have some strange beliefs, in my opinion, as do Mormons, heck, every religion has such beliefs. Not even my religion, the Baha;i Faith has uniform beliefs.

One Baha’i said recently “…the only two symbols in existence are the straight line and circle and all things proceed from these.” I am reminded of my older sister who is now a Chiropractor whom I would ridicule for believing all kinds of nonsense. I remember one instance where she insisted that hot water froze faster than cold water. So we tried it in the kitchen freezer. Want to guess who was right? Both of us were Baha’i but our beliefs were so very different it was hardly recognizable as the same Faith.

In the interest of community, Baha’is put up with a lot from their fellow Baha’is. My mother would say a true Baha’i is a Baha’i who remains a Baha’i after meeting the other Baha’is. I don’t think it is a specifically Baha’i problem that people are pushy about their beliefs, but I do know that Baha’is often assume I believe as they believe just because I accept Baha’u’llah and His Covenant. That does not mean I want to attend their therapy sessions or discuss the “calamity” or the afterlife in hushed tones after midnight drinking coffee. There was such a problem in the 1970s of Baha’is selling Amway at Baha’i meetings that it merited a letter from National.

Another Baha’i recently said “…if you are referring to pre-existence, my understanding is that this is exclusive to the Manifestations.”

This seems just the sort of misconception that we can discuss here.

Abdu’l-Baha spoke at length about “contingent reality” and preexistence.

Another Baha’is recently said: “…As a concept you pre-existed your physical self” I think it is obvious we are not concepts unless we are stretching that English definition a bit, but what do I know? I am just a Baha’i.

Another Baha’i said “The heart of the matter is your acceptance or otherwise of the truth of Baha’u’llah’s claims” In a very general way, I guess that is the heart of the matter. But whose conception of Baha’u’llah’s claims? Mormons believe in gold tablets, revelations from God, a Eurocentric planetary focus, but should we question every single Mormon I suggest we will find many who do not believe as we conceive of their beliefs. I know this for Catholics. In private they speculate on the basic, fundamental Physical Resurrection of Christ, quite freely. So we can’t say what Catholics believe.

And we certainly can’t say what Baha’is believe, except for their acceptance of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah.


The Pitch

The Pitch:
What you are about to read is an idea as world changing as Newtonian Physics. In fact, this idea explains Newtonian Physics and Linnaean Taxonomy as a valuable conceptualization due to Rational Existence, and they are some of the better conceptualizations. If you are still listening you are one of the very few.
Popularizing an idea is not the place of a novel, University or a blockbuster movie. Rather the presentation of Rational Existence, which no doubt will one day be the basis of several novels, University classes and blockbuster movies, needs to develop over time as in a television series.
I present here the screenplay of the Pilot, title Nobel Prize
The story opens with Kent and Art answering the phone and fixing computers in a shop not unlike the one I have owned for the last 20 years.
The Nobel Prize
Kent Johnson

Copyright 2015 Kent Johnson

Cluttered computer repair shop large front glass window shows an inner city street outside, cars and people walking by.
Sad unkempt older woman customer peers over computer at MILLER SMITH the 50s looking computer shop owner and technician

I have a virus.

Lots of colorful customers (fat, skinny, men, women, foreign accents) of differing ages sizes and styles flash up one by one saying

I have a virus,
I have a virus,
I have a virus.

MILLER is trying to appear patient repeating well worn words
A virus is only one kind of malware or *bad program* that comes on to your computer these days. We can clean your computer of all malware for a flat fee and takes about 24 hours
But it says right on the screen that I have 477 new viruses…
A phone rings and MITCHELL answers from his cluttered desktop holding the phone on his shoulder with both hands inside a computer. MITCHELL is a youngish technician who is talkative and friendly
Compatible Computers. Sure. No, it probably isn’t a virus but it is certainly some kind of malware…. Malware is just another name for a bad program.
On the other side of the room with the customer.
Well I am sorry you feel that way, but we do try to help our customers.
So you charge that much just to look at the computer?
That is the opposite of what I just said. We like to charge a flat fee that includes all the labor to fix your computer.
So if I give you the $60 when can I have my computer back?
(exasperated) I don’t know what is wrong with your computer yet I will have to look at it before I can tell you what I am going to do/ But generally we have computers for 24 hours.
Will you get rid of my virus without charging more than that?
I don’t think you have a virus, as I said. And I can’t tell you what is wrong with your computer until I look at it. But I will clean your computer of malware for our minimum service fee.
I know what is wrong with my computer. It doesn’t work, that is what is wrong. I don’t like your attitude. My brother in law said you have a bad attitude. I just want you to take the viruses out of my computer. I have three antiviruses and still the computer says I have a virus.

Other side of the room on the phone
I cannot even guess how someone could hack a security camera. I am not saying I don’t believe it, I don’t know what to believe. Your camera is isolated, it isn’t connected to the internet. I just don’t think what you are saying is possible.

Phone rings
Compatible Computers. This is Miller Smith. S_M_I_T_H, yes. REALLY? You read my book? Nominated?

30 years earlier a much younger Miller speaking to Bahai Youth at a suburban center:

God is defined as the Creator, so Whatever relationships, aspects or attributes of being created what we all creation, the Existence which created creation, whatever makes up that Existence, Those. things are the attributes of the One True God. Humanity cannot know an existence, we only know aspects of existence. We can know relationships and attributes, but we cannot know the existence of something. Existence is implied from attributes.

Existential Tautology: I think therefore I think

A tautology is a logical certainty with no information.  A tautology says the same thing twice with different words.  Existentialism affirms we gives meaning to our own lives through living those lives. Existentialism is therefore a form of tautology in that the meaning of life is the meaning we give to our lives. The meaning is our meaning, not quite a tautology

The famous assertion “I think therefore I am” contains the clear implication that thinking presupposes existence.  The assertion is that some things that exist think.  At some deeper level, perhaps, the assertion also implies that existence itself is reified by thinking, which then would be a tautology:  that we know we exist by thinking; that the act of thinking is the epitome and essence of existence.  At the very least, those who recite the sentence “I think therefore I am” propose the sentence means thinking is evidence of existence.  Thinking then supports the supposition that  existence is supported by thinking.

Should we accept the premise that thinking somehow reifies existence we have accepted the premise of Rational Existence.  Existence is not physical but rather rational.  Our models and concepts and words and explanations and definitions are what make our world.  Existence cannot be known, however we can know relationships that exist, as well as other aspects and attributes of existence.



Opinions, Beliefs and Ignorance

If an opinion is wrong we can show that it is wrong. From the article: NO, IT’S NOT YOUR OPINION. YOU’RE JUST WRONG BY Jef Rouner: “Opinion, or worse “belief”, has become the shield of every poorly-conceived notion that worms its way onto social media. There’s a common conception that an opinion cannot be wrong.”

One may hold an opinion on a subject that has not been sufficiently clarified by facts. Conservatives believe the country will be better is we leave things alone; Liberals often believe we need to change. Informed economists differ on whether active public sector investment is required for economic health. These are valid opinions and they are not wrong.  At least no one so far has shown either side of either discussion to be in error, despite vociferous efforts.

Opinions like the above are akin to beliefs but only with regard to severity.  Belief  requires no reason or information beyond the belief itself; that Christ is coming to rule our government, Sharia Law will make the world a better place… These are not open for discussion because they are not verifiable. Are they *wrong*? Who can say? What is clear is that action in advancement of such a belief should NOT be required by those who do not believe those things.  I can support my opinion about non-involvement with the belief system of others with facts and reason.  I should not be required to help build an Arc or institute Sharia Law.

Ignorance is about shielding oneself behind opinion or belief so as not to investigate further.  It seems that MOST people do not investigate their opinions because we may then  be obliged to modify our positions because of evident facts and reasonable argument.  Another word for this is *ignorance* One who does not care if our opinion is right or wrong is ignorant.

The larger point  IS the discussion.  My opinion, and I can substantiate and support my opinion with countless facts and irrefutable reason, is that the DEBATE about opinions is all important.  We all need to debate our opinions in order to better our own lives, our families, our neighborhoods, communities, cities, states and nations.

Ignorance is not caring if your opinion may be wrong.  And those who pronounce *wrong* the opinions of others may be more ignorant than the *wrong*.

Shine Your Spirit

The guy behind the counter at a coffee store just glowed.  I mentioned it to him.  He acknowledged it, then went to the next customer.  He was competent, smiling slightly, open and “on”.  I said “you positively glow today” and he nodded.

Last night I had a dream.  Parts of it were extremely lucid, especially the parts about people turning away when they don’t hear what I say.  My mother who died a year ago  was the impetus for the dramatic change at the end.

I was asked to help with taking money or tickets or something at some event.  The attractive young woman in charge didn’t want me there, but she needed help.  Then she disappeared at the end and I had to take a lot of money so fast I couldn’t keep up, put it all in a jar or bag or something with cards and papers to sort out later.  People were just leaving the money and walking into the event.

Then I was driving with her and we were asked to speak somewhere, answer questions about this event or the money or something, wasn’t clear, but I did not feel intimidated.  I thought it was this woman’s event and that people wanted to know something and I can help.  We were driving, me and her, and asking people on the street where we were supposed to go.

Ended up at a large Baha’i gathering, sat in the front, and suddenly I was introduced as speaker.  The woman was hurt and quietly left.  I believed we were in the wrong place, that we just showed up for a Baha’i event instead of the one we were looking for, but this Baha’i event was familiar, like the hundreds I have attended in the past.  I found my mother and in front asked what I was supposed to speak about, and how long it was.

She yelled to someone in the crowd my questions, but asked how long i “had to talk” and I yelled to clarify,  how long was my allotted time.  The talk was entitled,  I think the exact words were “Shine It!” I know it was two words and one of them was “shine” and I began to speak to the group.  I said in the writings of the Baha’i Faith God said to shine our spirits (“make me a brilliant star”) and heard everyone humming and nodding assent.  I told them about the coffee clerk and said the we can make ourselves shine, and we need to practice.  I somehow asked how the subject was worded so badly “Shine It” and a group of little kids, mostly black kids poorly dressed, started singing a song “Shine It” and it was not a very good or catchy song.  They meant that I was talking about the song, that the title of my talk was the title of the song.

So how do we shine?  What makes it happen?  Who is responsible?  Well we are.  I noticed that people started to talk among themselves and I picked out a group of three in the middle of the room and asked them to converse elsewhere, so that I could “begin my fucking talk”.  The room got silent, people started to leave, and I started to explain that it was not God, it was us that was in charge of how we shine.  That even in the Baha’i Writings God tells us to do it, but not how.  We have to figure that out for ourselves and there are many ways to do it.  It is different for different people, but we have to start with intent.

That some people shine when they take certain drugs, you can see in their eyes and ask them about their experience and they are definitely shining as well or better than any of us in the room.  That we can all shine right now more than we are, wake up, listen, become in touch with ourselves and our abilities and show others.  Show others is the point, the shining part.  I looked around and hardly anyone was left in the room, four or five people, and all the little kids were in an adjoining room on the floor laying down to sleep with mattresses and bed clothes, but eyes still open.

I intended to continue, to talk about how internal switches and rational models make our worlds the intersect, inter-react, affect each other in ways we intend, and that the pattern and underlying structure is the work of the One True God, but not our shining.  That is up to us.  But no one was listening.

Truthiness and Headline Journalism

We don’t take the time or effort to understand beyond the headlines.  Headlines suggest and we fill in the gaps without any input.  It just SHOULD be easy to understand, so we make it easy.  It isn’t true, but it is truthy and easy to put in a headline.

Truthiness and its relation to Climate Change, the bee die-off, GHOs, organic gardening, police violence, bi-sexuality, our own understanding of logic, and lots more.  Can you stomach the truth?  Can you follow to the third paragraph of a news story?

If we can understand correlation is not cause we can begin.  If today’s weather is due at whole or in part to the proven fact of global warming that has not been proven.  Perhaps it SHOULD be true, perhaps one day we will find the cause of today’s weather (at whole or in part) but we have not.  Bees are dying in record numbers.  It is truthy that the die-off SHOULD be due to pesticides, but no one has yet found it to be so.  Organic gardens have one third the pesticides in the produce as the supermarket variety product.  Maybe that should NOT be true, but it is remarkably consistent tested result.  Police are less likely to die on the job than farmers, electricians, loggers and construction workers.  Police kill about 300 people for every police officer that dies as a national average.  In order for a bisexual to validate her/his sexual nature as we are wont to do with gay and straight marriage, the bisexual needs to marry a person of each sex, at least two people.

Logic and reason give us the tools to test our beliefs in physical reality.  We make a reasoned guess about things and then try out what we think should happen to see if your guess can be true.  Secular reasoning puts faith in such an equation.  Religious faith reasons that some non-proven but noble influence will change things at some future date.

If you are religious you are thinking of your future, of what might happen if you don’t follow your religion.  There are countless examples, but the best known is going to heaven or hell.  The prime modern apologist for the Christian Faith, C.S. Lewis, argues that we should act as though we are afraid of going to hell because that will show us how being religious will make us feel, presumable so much better that we will continue our Christian faith in a more sincere manner.

I am not denying the motivation such thoughts give us, or the vast quantities of good that are spread throughout the world by way of that thought process.  I am merely comparing such motivation and philosophy with many new and motivational philosophies that have appeared in the world more recently than most religion.

One question is whether our laws and justice system should be based upon the freedom God gave us (so long as it does not infringe upon the freedom God gave others). If not, upon what do we base the law?

Laws against actions that do no hurt others are laws against personal freedom.  There are laws against certain kinds of sex, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, gambling, drugs and other risky behavior, I am sure the list goes on.  These laws have been instituted to attempt to keep bad things from happening, to attempt to stop or change people’s behavior not because of what they have done or are doing, but because of what might happen if they continue to do it.

Of course I am not talking about human trafficking or pushing drugs.  These crimes are aimed at making money for the perpetrator and taking away the free choice of the victim. If we have a free country we are allowed to do whatever we want so long as it does not affect

Religion is fear of the future, and so is pop philosophy.




A new dreamcatcher

This dreamcatcher is several months old, but it has served well.  Only recently I have started having dreams again.  I have always enjoyed my dreams.  This one had my brother in Costa Rica, having bought a camp ground, was running it and a little deli restaurant by himself.  I noticed how much happier he is than I remembered him.  His comments were about things that only I would try to figure out.  We have a different way of thinking, him and me, and I knew what he was talking about, but I know all the other people in line did not.

Critical thinking is the basis for science and religion and language and communication.  The basis of critical thinking is not clearly stated.  Several philosophies have been suggested but mostly, like creationism and Darwinism, are built to exclude others who do not think in the same way as the philosopher.  Socrates was an exception because he examined the thinkers own thoughts and derived the basis of those thought from the thinker.

Aristotle then took the ideas the Socrates played with and derived a system that built two worlds, physics and meta physics.  The point is there is only one world as we all know.

So how does one deal with that which has no physical existence in a physical world?  This is the issue of Rational Existence.  Admit the existence of order, thought, models, aspects, attributes and relationships and our world is complete, whole and single.

We got the dream catcher when Nancy started having nightmares.  The nightmares stopped and I noticed that I too stopped dreaming.  I am not going to examine the reasons, design a study, devise and explanation for the workings of dreamcatchers.  Neither am I going to deny that the nightmares stopped nor that I am stopped dreaming.  Last week, however, Nancy had a nightmare and last night and tonight I had very interesting dreams.  Since nightmares trump dreaming I am thinking about dreamcatchers critically.  Did ours wear out?  Do I need a extra strong model dreamcatcher?

The point is it does no good to deny that the dreamcatcher worked and now it works less.  We could experiment, take it down for a day or three, buy a new one, ask the internet experts…  But denying that dreamcatchers do anything is not reasonable.  Just like denying that creationism has any point at all is not reasonable.  Just like denying religion, or global warming or any assertion from any reasonable person does not help.

Accept the facts that dreamcatchers work, at least for some people at some times.  Why do they exist if they don’t work?  And Global Warming?  Now they call it “climate change”, so someone has a problem with Global Warming.  Why is there so much emotion involved in such arguments?

This all started because a creationist asserted there is no good fossil record of the evolution of humans.  That is patently false.  There is a very good fossil record.  But is that really the point?  Are humans those who are defined so by anthropologists according to bone structure?

Anyone with specific bone structure would therefore be human.  Is that the argument that defeats creationism? I think there is more to it than that, but apparently I am in the minority.

Think Deeply; Help Others

Conceptualizing our worlds is Rational Existence.  And of all the concepts we make value is paramount.  Love, encouragement, the comfort of our loved ones, even fame and fortune have value.

Depending how deeply we delve into Rational Existence it quickly becomes apparent that encouraging others is one of the easiest, most effective and direct ways to help others and thereby be of value to our worlds.

Our value exists in a more real way than a tree exists. Our encouragement can be more important than a forest.  Our shared concepts have saved many forests and praise God will save many more.

No one understands your world better than you do, if you could only realize that yourself.  Your existence depends upon you and only a few others.  Encourage others for your own sake as well as theirs.  Build better worlds.  Think deeply, share and help others.

Refurbish the plumes on our bird

The prize is spirit, however you define spirit.  We all have different memories, understandings, agendas and influences, but we recognize spirit as referring to the highest, best, and brightest of our aspirations.  We all need more of the spirit in our lives.

Keep your eyes on the prize, keep motivated, get encouraged, encourage others,.  Listen when there is good advice at hand, listen to the spirit, listen to the aim and the purpose.  Rational Existence is the basis and value is the point.  Nothing we know is real, everything is a relationship, aspect or attribute of what is real.  Acceptance on that count will lead rationally to tolerance, understanding, and an aspiration to spirit.

Whatever has value to others give lives purpose existentially.  All of these ideas should be developed and circulated, they will be, but for now we have to make a living, be of value to ourselves and our families, and make a good life as many people as possible.  The more the better.  That is our value in this world.