Tipping Points

Our earth is located in what scientists term the “Goldilocks Zone” because it is “just right.”  If we were not located exactly where we are in the solar system and in the galaxy and in the universe, we probably would not exist.  Extremophiles probably live in hostile environments throughout the universe, but mesophiles, like our species, need a stable and moderate habitat or they cannot survive.

There have been mass extinctions throughout the life of our planet with the Permian extinction having the distinction of killing off the most – about 90% of the species on earth at that time.  Some scientists are concerned that we may be on the brink of a sixth major extinction since plants and animals are dying off anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times faster than they did before humans came on the scene. 

Scientists at Duke University completed a study, published May 29, 2014, in the journal Science, that measured the rate at which species are disappearing from earth.  In 1995, the researchers found that the pre-human rate of extinctions was roughly 1. Now, that rate is about 100 to 1,000.

Stuart Pimm, the study’s lead author, said habitat loss is mostly to blame for the increasing death rates.  As humans continue to alter and destroy more land, animals and plants are increasingly being displaced from their natural habitats.  Climate change is also a factor, he added.

So, with the balancing point of nature being “just right” on our planet, it probably does not take much to tip the balancing scales to one side or the other, which will have devastating effects to those species which cannot adapt in time.

There are many potential tipping points on our planet:  (1) climate change, (2) ocean currents, (3) frozen methane, (4) buried black carbon, (5) permafrost and glacier melt, (6) hydrological cycle, (7) reduced sea ice, (8) draught, (9) bacteria resistant to penicillin, (10) proximity of sun, (11) proximity of moon, (12) volcanic activity, (13) pestilence, (14) movement of asteroid belt, and (15) other things that we may not even see coming, such as black energy and black holes.    

Although global warming focuses on greenhouse gas as the culprit, there are other more significant sources of carbon that would be more dangerous tipping points that would contribute to major climate change that might lead to mass extinctions.  These sources of carbon are black carbon buried in soil, methane frozen in water, and volcanic eruptions.  In fact, the Permian extinction may have been caused by all three of these releases of carbon. 

The most devastating of the three releases may be methane, which has an exponential impact.  As the climate warms, more methane is released.  As more methane is released, it causes our temperatures to go up higher than they would with releases of carbon dioxide.  This melts more methane, causing even higher temperatures with a tipping point being reached with runaway releases like in the Permian period.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, have found that there is black carbon only about six and a half meters below the surface in Kansas, Nebraska, and other parts of the Great Plains where ancient soils are filled with black carbon and plants that have not yet fully decomposed.  These carbon stores could be released into the environment via erosion, road construction, mining, or deforestation.

Erika Marín-Spiotta, a professor at UW-Madison and a coauthor of the study, which was published earlier this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, stated, “It was assumed that there was little carbon in deeper soil.”  Since most soil studies do not penetrate deeper than 30 centimeters, scientists had dramatically underestimated underground carbon reserves that could be released into the air.

Erika explained that carbon reservoirs in buried soils can lurk in a range of environments—under dust accumulation, in floodplains, in valleys, at the foot of slopes of hills and mountains and under lava flows.  She said they are likely to occur in many other parts of the world.

Marín-Spiotta said as much as 5.95 trillion pounds of carbon could be lurking in the depths of the Great Plains area her team looked at.  That’s assuming the ancient soil forms a continuous layer across the region; the researchers were only able to collect measurements from specific points and don’t really know what portion of the region contains the carbon-rich soil.

This giant carbon bomb could be released over the next few decades as we clear cut more forests and see more erosion in draught-prone areas.  We have already seen recent exposure to the atmosphere.  But for the subterranean reserves, Marín-Spiotta believes a number of factors are at work, including how much carbon there really is, how much has persisted since it was buried, and what kind of carbon is down there.

Though Marín-Spiotta says the buried reserves carbon don’t pose an immediate risk to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but land managers need to take precautions, since the researchers found that the ancient soils are more reactive than was previously understood.

As with all tipping points, there can be multiple contributors to the final point of no return.  And these contributors can have exponential effects on each other.  We probably will not know when we have reached the tipping point, but our ancestors will not only know when that tipping point had been reached, but will also suffer the consequences.

Existentialism in Book of James

James, the half-brother of Jesus, is considered by some to be the author of the Book of James in the Bible.  This is perhaps the most important book in the Bible since it makes it clear that faith without action is useless.  James 2:20.   

Believers are taught from an early age that God’s grace is free with the only cost being the sacrifice made by Jesus to pay for our sins.  Thus, believers are granted a free ticket to heaven.  We were told that we do not secure our place in heaven through deeds, but only through God’s grace.  In other words if we talk a good story, then we don’t need to take any action.  We only have to talk the talk.

But James said that we have to do more than just believing in God.  In today’s vernacular, we might say, “you must walk the talk.”  In other words, we must take action based on our faith.  James wrote:  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?”  James stated that just wishing others well is not the same as actually taking action to help others.  He concluded, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:14-17.

Ministers spend most of their time working with parishioners on believing in God and rarely discuss the works that are required of a Christian.  The closest many pastors get is when they seek donations for the church. 

The 21st century has all the trappings of being a very selfish millennium. A society that spends so much time in front of a mirror, making adjustments to clothing and patting down fly-away hair, is interested in a liberal religion with entitlements to benefits in heaven without having to work for those benefits.  It sounds a lot like socialistic government programs. 

Perhaps our free will is free, but even our free will can lead to actions which have consequences.  So is anything really free?  It is true that God is very forgiving and does give us His blessing and grace.  However, God can only do so much for us since we have free will. 

James may have been the only existentialist in the Bible.  James believed that there were consequences for our actions.  He even believed that teachers would be held to a stricter standard.  James 3:1.  But his Christian existential beliefs went even further. 

He said that we should speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.  James 2:12.  In James 1:25, he refers to this law as “the perfect law that gives freedom.”  In effect, he was telling us that there will be consequences for our actions or inactions. 

The “perfect law that gives freedom” is ambiguous, but I believe that James was talking about God’s law that granted us free will.  Man’s law is not perfect, so James must have been referring to God’s perfect law.  The King James Version references this as “the law of liberty.”  The law of freedom or liberty leads to the same conclusion that God gave us all free will. 

What makes man free?  Is it physical freedom?  No, even a servant or prisoner can be free in their minds.  God’s law or truth gives us freedom to choose based on God’s imprint of the right thing to do that follows us from the cradle to the grave.  And we have this freedom to make choices throughout our lives.  It is our only true freedom. 

The morals and ethics of God’s perfect law are not known a posteriori, but are known a priori.  In other words, the Holy Spirit dispenses this law through our conscience.  We inherently know this perfect law.  Jesus in the Beatitudes talked about how we could even commit sins by our thoughts.  So, our thoughts are even actions that we must control through the Holy Spirit.         

If you believe in God, then that is a good start.  But faith is made complete by our actions.  James 2:22.  It is possible that a believer can go to a heaven after death just based on the grace of God.  But the actions of that believer, who made choices in life, will be judged for righteousness.  This Judgment Day is mentioned in the Bible, examining your actions.  If you enter one heaven just based on God’s grace, then a judgment based on examining your deeds must be a separate heaven.  This may be a second heaven of the three heavens that Paul referenced in 2 Corinthians 12:2.

The bottom line is that if you truly believe in God, you will follow a righteous path and you should not worry about being judged since the Holy Spirit will remain your compass for that journey.  Remember: God hears your thoughts, so if you are seeking His kingdom as a reward for your actions, you may be disappointed.  Your actions, including your thoughts, must be peaceful, merciful, moderate, pure, considerate, impartial, and sincere.  James 3:17.  Once you are unified with God’s perfect law, you are one with God.  He will be with you for the trials that are ahead.

James emphasized perseverance during these trials testing your faith.  James 1:2.  If religion were as simple as believing in God, then there would be no need for tests of your actions.  Even Peter who had faith in Jesus denied Him three times. 

The true tests of our faith occur in very stressful, dangerous environments.  And it will be our actions that will be examined during these times.  Paul may have considered this last test the final test for the third heaven.  We do not know anything about the tests, other than they will be extremely difficult, perhaps involving torture and agony.  We also do not know about the third heaven, but we must be ready for it.  We know that we can be prepared with the Holy Spirit and God’s perfect law. 

In the end, will you walk the talk or just talk the talk? 

Three Final Judgments

Many religious followers are heavily invested in one final judgment based on God’s grace.  In other words, they hope to enter God’s kingdom with no effort on their part other than believing in God.  Since God will forgive them for their sins, then there will be no consequences for their unrighteous behavior and thoughts.  This statement is both right and wrong.

How can it be right and wrong at the same time?  That does not make sense.  Well, it does if there are multiple judgments.  Where does it say anything about multiple judgments in the Bible?  Well, the Bible talks about final judgments: (1) decided by your faith in God and not your works, given to you through His grace, (2) decided by your actions and deeds, along with your failures to act and misdeeds, and (3) decided by your thoughts and attitudes.  But these probably are not the same judgment since the Bible mentions the judgment based on grace does not examine your works.  That must mean that there are multiple judgments.

The majority of believers may be right as they could be saved by faith alone in the first judgment or heaven.  This is called “justification” for believers.  But believers may be wrong about there being one final judgment.  There may be additional judgments, which could become increasingly arduous as the tests progress in a degree of difficulty from judging your acts to your thoughts.

James is one of the best books of the Bible to focus on judgments of your actions.  What good is faith, if a man “has no deeds”?   James 2:14.  The Bible indicates that “faith without deeds is useless.”  James 2:20.  Theology students call this “sanctification.”  It is a magnifier of how strong your belief is because if you truly believe in God, then you will want to please Him by acting more like Jesus.    

But the Bible also mentions another judgment – a judgment of “thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12.  Some ministers call this “glorification.”  This would be an extremely difficult test to pass because thoughts occur immediately, while you can think before taking actions.  Our thoughts and attitude are very hard to control because they are part of our imprint of humanness.  It may require a complete remodeling of your persona.  It would be like going from being a good Christian to being a Buddhist monk, denying self-pleasures of life.  It may even require that you suffer like Christ. 

In all, there may be three separate judgments: (1) of your faith, (2) of your actions and inactions, and (3) of your thoughts and attitudes.  This is supported by Paul’s comments about three heavens in 2 Corinthians 12:2.  Three judgments would match the three heavens.

The Bible states that God’s work has been finished since the creation of the world.  Hebrews 4:3. Scientists believe that there was a Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago, which would have been the event in which all matter and energy in the universe were created.  If we exist in a closed universe, matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed inside this system. 

God’s creation had to occur outside the perimeter of our universe about 13.8 billion years ago.  Since the Big Bang, there has been no other creation within our universe.  In effect, we were created about 13.8 billion years ago.  We may have transferred from energy to matter or have changed in form, but we have been around since the Big Bang.

This is important only because the final judgment or third heaven is probably the entry point returning to God’s world, leaving our universe.  The other judgments might still be in our universe where everything is recycled.  

The Bible talks about the first judgment being based on faith.  The believers and nonbelievers are separated in Hades, which is still in our universe.  This may have been the destination of Christ for three days prior to His resurrection. 

The second judgment and second heaven may be based on an evaluation of our actions or failures to act during our lives.  This heaven would be an advanced heaven in our universe, but not likely a portal to God’s kingdom.  We would still remain in our universe to be recycled.

It would be the third judgment and heaven that might actually lead to God’s world.  This would take us outside our universe into a completely foreign world.  Thoughts and attitude would be most important in this new universe, so the testing would be very difficult for us because of our human weaknesses.

Jesus warned us to not have evil thoughts in the Beatitudes.  He said that if you looked at a woman lustfully, you would be committing adultery.  This is an extremely difficult degree of self-discipline to master.  You cannot even think bad thoughts.  Clearly, Jesus knew it would be difficult for us when he stated, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:14.

Ministers rarely address these issues.  They focus primarily on God’s grace and Jesus paying your sin debt in full with His sacrifice of himself.  If pastors told their congregations that they had about as much of a chance getting into God’s kingdom as winning the lottery, they wouldn’t have any members attending the following Sunday.

But it probably is the reality of God’s kingdom.  If you want to leave our recycling universe, you have to prepare for all the tests, not just one.      

Reasoning with SO-SO Loops

Is it better to reason with subjective (a priori) logic or objective (a posteriori) logic?  Many philosophers have picked either the Descartes subjective side or the Bacon objective position.  Why not use both?

SO-SO is the acronym for Subjective Objective – Subjective Objective.  Please examine the SO-SO Loops included below.  You start with the “Instinct” or Deductive Reasoning on the right-hand side of the circle with the top-right Subjective “I Feel” and work clockwise around the circle.

This cyclical movement ensures that many inputs and sources are considered before making a decision.  And it is important to run through this reasoning process at least twice, thus earning the name SO-SO Loops.  If you just utilize this cycle once, your decision would be just “SO-SO.”  This thought process is designed to lead you to making enlightened and more moderate decisions.

 As I said, the Loops are “SO-SO” if just utilized once, but your decisions will improve exponentially if you repeat the process at least twice.  After you have worked through the loop once, do a “gut” check and run it through the cycle again.  This is the circular path that can assist you in making moderate choices.

Have you ever looked for a book on moderation?  There aren’t many.  Have you ever wondered why?  My guess is because the extremists are the squeaky wheels who are always getting the grease.  Extremists have better sound bites for television interviews.  Extremists make for better headlines and will sell more newspapers.  Extremists excite you, energize you, and win you over to their powerful magnetic force. 

Moderates are boring because all they want to do is stay in the middle of every argument.  They are the weak force.  But have you ever thought about how difficult remaining neutral really is?  When you have two extreme forces tugging at you, it is actually extremely hard not picking a side.  As the magnetic field strengthens, you generally are drawn to either the north or south poles.  No wonder the world is becoming more polarized with moderates becoming an endangered species.

When we make decisions, we are generally influenced by extreme positions.  Our two-party political system is an example of how two opposite sides polarize America.  Moderate parties generally do not win elections.  However, I am suggesting that you utilize moderation in making choices in life.  The “Golden Mean” of Aristotle, the “Middle Way” of Buddha, and the “Balanced Order” of Confucius are the “ABCs” of virtue ethics.

We all make difficult decisions every day.  That is our job at work and at home.  Don’t shy away from it.  Embrace it.  Come to work excited to be challenged by these choices. 

And when you run into a really tough decision when it looks like the scales are balanced equally… when it looks like you can argue the case either way, then go to your gut and ask yourself, “What is the right thing to do?” Not what is the easiest thing to do… not what is best thing for my career, but what is the right thing to do?  The right thing is usually the hardest thing to do and not for the faint of heart.


Subjective                   Objective

Deductive (a priori)              Inductive (a posteriori)

(self-evident propositions)             (observed facts)

Instinct                                     Logic


1. Subjective “I Feel” – My conscience, intuition, or “gut” feeling

2. Objective “They Feel” – Reasonable person’s laws, mores, society

3. Subjective “I Think” – My logical conclusion

4. Objective “They Think” – Reasonable person’s logical conclusion

Then loop back around and go through the process again.


Moderation in All We Do

Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) taught the Middle Way[1] about the same time that Confucius spoke of the “Balanced Order”[2] over 100 years before Aristotle started discussing a “Golden Mean.”[3]  Even though, the philosophers of East Asia and of the western world were separated by time, distance, and cultures, there were interesting similarities that seemed to meet in the middle.

Buddah and eastern religions had a somewhat different perspective, examining the world externally as if everything were connected, more circular.  Buddah said, “Nirvana remains incomprehensible in the vulgar whose minds are beclouded with worldly interests.”[4]  Buddha worked hard to find the middle path between the extremes of sensual indulgence and dangerous denial of his physical needs.[5]  Confucius instructed, “To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.”[6]  But the eastern philosophers saw this moderate path as a connecting force in a circular pattern.

Buddha hoped that man could find a right view or perspective so that he could take the right action.[7]  Again, Buddha was trying to do the right thing.  Moral conduct was a prerequisite for nirvana.[8]  And the moderate approach was the preferred way for both Buddha and Confucius.

Ethics derived from the Greek word for customs.  Plato wrote in the Republic that ethics is nothing more than manners or conventions.[9]  Plato believed that if you knew the Good, you would do it.[10]  He believed that people would lead a moral life whether or not it made them happy.[11]  Plato also held that “excess” violated proportion and made bad ethics.[12]

Aristotle, a student of Plato, believed in morality and virtue following the “golden mean.”  Temperance and moderation was a moral virtue that could be learned.  Virtue must have the quality of aiming at the golden mean.[13]

Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics stated that “… excess and defect are characteristic of vice, and the mean of virtue.”[14]  This famous Greek philosopher, born in 384 BC near Athens, Greece, branded ethics with moderation and temperance.[15]  Aristotle shared Plato’s conviction that there was an objectively determinable answer to moral questions.[16]

Mean was defined to be a middle point between extremes.  Aristotle explained that virtue, which he claimed should be an end goal for man, is like the mean since virtue also “aims at what is intermediate.”[17]  The western philosophers saw life as a linear path with the golden center lines in the highway as the moderate guideposts for leading a righteous life.

Aristotle spoke of the power of reason in man to reach a virtue or excellence through “clear judgment, self-control, symmetry of desire…”[18]  Aristotle envisioned a road to excellence, saving many detours and delays:  “it is the middle way, the golden mean.”[19]

Aristotle taught that doing the right thing, “making us better men,” was following the man of prudence.[20]  For example, if there are two extreme behaviors like being aggressive and passive, then the median approach should be selected, which would be being assertive.  Thus, doing the right thing involves assertive, not aggressive behavior.[21] 

Christianity also pursued temperance.  “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”[22]  Christ blessed the peacemakers, who followed a moderate path.[23]  St. Augustine studied the Greeks, but substituted “God” for Plato’s “Good.”[24]  Augustine battled the two extremes of good and evil, saying in the City of God that these two traits of man are coexistent.[25]  In order to be righteous and do the right thing, Augustine recommended following the path of God.  St. Thomas Aquinas bridged the worlds of Athens and Jerusalem by saying that God gave us reason to discern from right and wrong.[26]  In other words, we can do the right thing through both intuitive and logical reasoning.  Even though this involves our conscience, we also have objective tests provided by the Bible available to utilize in conjunction with subjective ethics.

Many philosophers believed that man, making subjective decisions, would not be perfect.  However, there also was an objective basis for ethics.[27]  These objective approaches for determining what was right or wrong could be applied universally.[28]  Thus, the reasonable person test could be applied anywhere. 

Rene Descartes, the father of subjective philosophy, declared, “I think, therefore I am.”[29]  Descartes also could have said, “I feel, therefore I am.”  This would have embraced the full force of subjective reasoning, utilizing both logic and instinct.  Some subjective philosophers, such as David Hume, said, “Just because everyone else does it, does not make it right.”[30]  To which, Aristotle might have responded, “Everyone is not following the golden mean.  Unfortunately, it is only a handful of us.”  Christ also said that the middle path to righteousness was narrow and few would find it.[31] 

Sir Francis Bacon, the father of objective philosophy,[32] believed that customs, religion, and laws “reigned in men’s morals.”[33]  Since people have free will, they will be constantly bombarded with choices.  People can make decisions based on subjective desires, objective demands of society, or a combination of both.  “The subjective rights of conscience could still be countered in public by the claimed objective claims for truth.”[34] 

Moral virtue should have a quality of aiming for the middle between two extremes, between the vices of excess and dearth.[35]  For example, even if you enjoy wine, you probably should avoid drinking ten glasses of wine, but there should be no problem with drinking a glass of wine at a party.  If you like wine, you would be missing the mark if you abstained from all wine.  However, if you were an alcoholic, drinking even one glass of wine might be a bad decision. 

The moderate path, which is determined on a case-by-case basis and may vary because of individual differences, leads to pleasure and righteousness.  You should moderate your behavior based on both self-control and outside pressures, including laws and religions, imposed by society.  Aristotle, leader of western philosophy, primarily emphasized the individual and self-control focused on a straight-and-narrow line.  But the eastern world focused more on the social organism in the cycle of life.[36]  It is interesting when we combine the two primary world philosophies, incorporating the linear western philosophy in daily life, but utilizing the eastern philosophies as a lifetime goal. 

Good decisions are made after weighing all the circumstances.  If you are the designated driver, then you probably should not have any glasses of wine as your duty to the group.  If you are driving home after the party, you probably should limit yourself to one glass of wine early in the evening.  If you are already home, then you may consume several glasses of wine.  But you will know your limitations, and you need to impose them on yourself based on both your self-discipline and on what a reasonable person should or should not do under the same circumstances.   Earlier when we were determining whether or not to bomb a statue of Hussein, we found that utilizing both subjective and objective ethics could be beneficial in the decision-making process.   

Sometimes, it is referred to as “doing the right thing.”  We should constantly improve ourselves so that we make better choices.  We should seek moderation and balance in all that we do.  Society offers laws, religions, customs, mores, and peer & family pressure, but we also have our own sense of balance within our conscience.  We must use all the tools (nature and nurture) to find peace and harmony in the righteousness of ethics.  You have arrived when you follow the moderate path.  You do the right thing when nobody is looking because it is the right thing to do. 

Moderation is included in Homo sapiens genetic makeup.  Otherwise, our species would have gone extinct centuries ago.  Extreme approaches to life would have placed mankind in jeopardy, exposing us to larger and stronger predators.  Man had no hard shell or claws or speed or dagger teeth.  All we had was our ability to reason and a propensity to follow a moderate path.  Both of these qualities saved us from extinction.

We learned temperance from bad experiences that established better habits.  Since a lion ate our friend yesterday who jumped down from a tree without looking around, we learned to survey the area around the tree before climbing down.  We also adopted moderate habits from societal pressures, mores, and laws which imposed consequences.  Thus, our moderate innate and instinctive nature works together with all our experiences, leading to logical reasoning that makes us a better person overall.

So, why do we make bad decisions?  Well, we have free will.  We can do anything that we want, and most people want to satisfy themselves.  Sometimes, we hear people admit, “It’s not about you; it’s about me.”  Extremes occur more often in today’s world because we do not have the leveling effect of large predators outside our doors waiting for us.  In fact, the predators of today’s society are our own species who will take whatever you have if they want it.  And these predators come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are Chief Executive Officers of corporations, some are politicians, some are religious leaders, and some are criminals locked up in jails.  It is difficult maintaining a moderate existence around these people.    

But there is hope.  As long as you are making an effort to follow the moderate path and live a righteous life every minute of every day, then you are making progress and should continue that course.  We hope to do our best. 

Philosophers typically emphasized either subjective or objective ethics.  There were some subjective philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, who believed that individuals should not regret prior acts in their will to power.[37]  But Nietzsche’s philosophy was adopted by Adolph Hitler, and we know where that went.  There were other philosophers who employed subjective and objective simultaneously.  Immanuel Kant argued that objective experiences should be processed by subjective reason. He also argued that using reason without applying it to experience only leads to theoretical illusions.  Kant believed not only in an innate moral sense, but also in a logical morality developed as a code of conduct for group survival.[38]

The most interesting philosopher to me was Soren Kierkegaard, the Father of Existentialism.  Kierkegaard emphasized subjective ethics,[39] but also believed in a God, who was capable of all things, while we were capable of none.[40]  So, according to Kierkegaard, even though he emphasized the individual, needing God and objective ethics would be the highest perfection for man.[41]

Kierkegaard did not accept the objective reasoning found in traditional church doctrine.[42]  Instead, he relied on his “highly personal, subjective, passionate and freely chosen commitment to believe.”[43]  In other words, he didn’t allow the church bureaucracy to dictate his beliefs.  He came to God on his own terms, as an individual face-to-face with eternity and God.[44]  By isolating man from the crowd, this forced self-examination.  Only when man was alone could he face eternity and God.[45]  I consider the individuality of Kierkegaard as being similar to lightening, which when combined with objective ethics, creates the thunder.  Even though they are entirely different, one being light and the other sound, they actually do go together. 

In a trial, the burden of persuasion belongs to the party attempting to convince the trier of fact.[46]  One might argue that our individuality remains intact since we are both the party with the burden of persuasion and the trier of fact.  We, in effect, are trying to convince ourselves that the action being reviewed is a good thing.  There is no reason for us to be distracted by outside forces in this process unless we allow this to happen.  Thus, we subjectively apply the objective burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Many philosophers and religious teachers have pointed us in the direction of organizing society in a harmonious way with philosophy, religion, laws, and mores that follow objective ethics.  Whether you call it the Middle Way, the Balanced Order, the Golden Mean, Christianity, or the reasonable person test, they are all focused on providing guidelines for mankind to know the right things to do throughout life.

[1] Deepak Chopra, Buddha – A Story of Enlightenment (New York: Harper One, 2008), 269.

[2] Lou Marinoff, The Middle Way (New York: Sterling, 2007), xii.

[3] Gordon Marino, ed., Ethics – The Essential Writings (New York: Modern Library, 2010), 73.

[4] William Corlett and John Moore, The Buddah Way (Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury Press, 1979), 66.

[5] The Everything Buddhism Book, Arnie Kozak (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2003), 23.

[6] Marinoff, 105.

[7] Chopra, 268.

[8] Michael D. Coogan, World Religions (New York: Metro Books, 2012), 185.

[9] Marino, xi.

[10] Marino, 5.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, ed., The Collected Dialogues of Plato (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973), xxii.

[13] Marino, 73.

[14] Marino, 74.

[15] Renford Bambrough, ed., The Philosophy of Aristotle (New York: Signet Classics, 2011), 312.

[16] Bambrough, xxxii.

[17] Marino, 73.

[18] Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., 1927), 86.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Bambrough, 306, 312.

[21] Lt. Col. Hinds, The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 2011, Guest Column in Opinions.

[22] King James Version The Holy Bible (Nashville, TN: Kedeka Publishers, 1976), Philippians 4:5.

[23] Bible, Matthew 5:9.

[24] Marino, 109.

[25] Marino, 118.

[26] Marino, 121.

[27] Mel Thompson, Understand Ethics (London, UK: Hodder Education, 2010), 47.

[28] Thompson, 49.

[29] Durant, 166.

[30] Thompson, 51.

[31] Bible, Matthew 7:14.

[32] Durant, 166.

[33] Durant, 135.

[34] John A. Coleman, ed., Christian Political Ethics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008), 30.

[35] Marinoff, 117

[36] Marinoff, 119.

[37] Gary Cox, The Existentialist’s Guide to Death, the Universe, and Nothingness (New York: Continuum, 2012), 75-76.

[38] Durant, 313-314.

[39] Cox, 153.

[40] Howard V. Hong, ed., The Essential Kierkegaard (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980), 87.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Cox, 152-153.

[43] Cox, 153.

[44] Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing (New York: Harper One, 2008), 15.

[45] Kierkegaard, 16.

[46] Roger C. Park, David P. Leonard, and Steven H. Goldberg, Evidence Law, A Student’s Guide to the Law of Evidence as Applied in American Trials, 2nd Ed. (St. Paul, MN: Thomson West, 2004), 92.

Origin of Morality

There are two main theories on the origin of morality:  (1) manmade legalistic morality – moral codes created by man, defined by laws of society and religions and (2) holistic morality – moral values known instinctively through reason, a priori, since our consciences were created about 13.8 billion years ago, imprinted as a living part of the entire universe.

These two moral origins may coexist, but only one stands the test of time.  The moral codes created by man are temporal.  Since they are not controlled by a common denominator, they are unpredictable and chaotic.  The holistic approach embraces true moral values found in the subjective test dating back to the creation of our universe. 

The objective test of what society or leaders want is not a fair evaluation of pure morality.  This legalistic morality is contaminated with prejudices of the creators and leads to rules designed to make members of society conform to “cookie cutter” moral standards.  However, the holistic morality goes beyond the parts of a moral code fabricated to address only a section of anthropocentric life.  The entire universe is unified and connected so that we can infer moral understandings that are incorporated into the whole, and thus are more than the sum of all legal moral codes created over the short history of mankind.

The first law of thermodynamics and the law of conservation of matter and energy can be united to show that in a closed system, the total amount of matter and energy in our universe has remained constant since the Big Bang.  Matter and energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe.  In effect, our conscience and everything else in our universe was created during the Big Bang and have been in existence in some form or another for about 13.8 billion years.

The imprinting event occurred during the Big Bang, so that the control that exists in our universe was created simultaneously and thus incorporated into the matter and energy.  The alternative is that the universe would remain in chaos forever.  We know that control exists in our universe; otherwise we would not be alive.  The approximately 4% of observable matter in the universe looks like filaments and the remaining 96% of the universe, which is invisible, appears to be connected like glue forming one holistic organism.  The original creation may have changed over the years, but it still has the Big Bang imprint of control.

So the imprint is the mark of control provided by the creator of our universe.  This control can be as powerful as dark energy and dark matter or it can be as simple as self-control from the conscience of man.  Our moral restraints can be learned through experience, a posteriori, so that you know that if you commit murder, then you can be punished under society’s laws.  But the holistic moral code is something you were born with, but actually goes back further than that.  It goes back to the origin of our universe because if it exists now, it existed in the very beginning.

I don’t even need to argue whether there was a creator or not because that is proven by the definition of creation, itself.  If our universe, including all matter and energy, were created in the Big Bang, then something had to create this outside our universe.  In effect, there had to be a creator or there would have never been a creation.

And the creator stamped a conscience in our brains that we can either use or avoid, depending on how independent we feel at the moment.  If we are confident that there will be no consequences for violating manmade laws, then we might become a lawless society.  So, society’s laws can be good by providing control.  However, they do not always match the holistic moral code.  If we are confident that there will be no consequences from the creator, then we might ignore our conscience and do whatever we wanted.

But there is another consequence, rarely considered for hardening your heart to your conscience.  In a closed universe, when you die, your thoughts and conscience may not be destroyed.  Your thoughts may be stuck in a perpetual motion machine for infinity.  If you are stuck within yourself, thinking about what you have done over your short term of life, you might be your own worst enemy.  Your conscience would not be distracted by all the sensory satisfaction that you enjoyed during life.  Your conscience would now have to examine all the sordid details of what you accomplished or failed to accomplish during your life.  You might be harder on yourself than a loving creator ever would be.  That would be hell!

 Thus, holistic morality may offer the best opportunity for control during your brief life, but more importantly, during the period after life.  For it is likely that your conscience and thoughts will not be destroyed at your death.  Holistic morality stands the test of time and can accompany us through the unknown world that awaits us.  These imprinted controls may follow us wherever we travel.      

Persecution of Believers

Paul wrote “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  2 Timothy 3:12.  Paul knew this from first-hand experience since he was stoned, beaten, and imprisoned.  Finally, he was killed by the Romans.[1]

It took a man of conviction and powerful faith in God like Paul to endure the persecution.  Jesus discussed how difficult it would be for us to find God’s kingdom.  He stated, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14.

In Revelation 14:1, only 144,000 reached the dwelling place of God.  Paul, who probably heard this directly from the resurrected Jesus, tells us that there are three heavens.  2 Corinthians 12:2.  We go to paradise or the third heaven either in the body or out of the body.  2 Corinthians 12:3-4.  Paul admitted that only God knew whether we entered God’s kingdom in a physical state or as an out-of-body experience.

This leaves two other heavens to wonder about.  Paul, unfortunately, did not identify the other two heavens.  But we can probably deduce these heavens as:  (1) the first heaven is achieved by justification of God’s grace; if you believe that Jesus died so that your sin debt would be forgiven in full, then you will enter this heaven as a believer, and (2) the second heaven is achieved through our actions and is termed sanctification; all our actions and thoughts will be judged to determine if we have earned the right to enter this heaven.

The third heaven requires glorification to the extent that you can become like Jesus.  You will be persecuted and tortured just like Jesus.  You must be humble just like Jesus as you endure the pain.  You must not think evil thoughts of your persecutors just like Jesus.  You must be close to perfect, approaching the perfection of Jesus, not even thinking about revenge against your persecutors in order to enter the third heaven.  You must turn your other cheek to them and let them strike that cheek as well.  These will be extremely difficult tests.  As Jesus said, “only a few” will enter.


[1] Paul, the author of many letters which were verified as his own and were written contemporaneously with the events he described, should be given significant credibility over other authors in the Bible.  The events Paul described were first-hand accounts rather than stories that were handed down over generations and then were reduced to writing many years later.

Be Like Jesus

I have struggled with my humanness, which just like everybody’s human nature is usually out of control.  I try to manage it myself, but I fail in so many ways.  If I am successful with self-control, then I congratulate myself and fill my ego with prideful thoughts.  Of course, this is also a failure, although not as easily recognized as others.  Generally, I am content with feelings of temperance and moderation, but when I start comparing my restraint to those of others, I fall into the trap of pride, perhaps the most dangerous sin of all.  When I think I am doing a better job in avoiding sin than others, then I may be committing the worst sin of all.

It becomes a vicious cycle.  I commit sins, and then I repent of those activities and try to avoid committing them again.  I employ self restraint, but thinking that I am in control, I am proud of my accomplishments.  I survey that battle ground and heap accolades on myself as the commander who won the battle.  But worse than that, I look down on others who did not have the strength to avoid committing sins.  I think that I am better than they are, so I cycle back to committing the sin of pride, and it starts all over again as I repent of that sin.

How do we as miserable wretches ever unite with Jesus and God?  Well, we probably are closest to Jesus when we are most like Jesus.  So, the key may be to be like Jesus.  How do you do that?  Well, we have to study the New Testament and learn as much as we can about Jesus and then try to follow His teachings. 

Since Paul was the most prolific of the authors in the New Testament and, more importantly, since he wrote directly from his experiences, we look to his letters for the most accurate accounts.  The other accounts about Jesus in the Bible were handed down from generation to generation and were not first-hand accounts.  Paul, who encountered Jesus after His resurrection, received his instructions directly from Jesus and his letters should be examined carefully to recover as much of the message from Christ that we can.

Unification with Christ is important during life, so that you already will be unified with Him for the afterlife, which is the critical juncture.  Paul discusses the believer’s spiritual union with Christ in the letter to Colossians.   In fact, Paul talks about our spiritual union with Christ twelve times in Colossians.  This emphasis by Paul is important for us to consider.  In effect, the mystery of God that was disclosed by Christ is that He is inside you, Colossians 1:27.  You can connect with Christ easily since He is inside you.    

It is interesting that Paul mentions that God’s creation includes both the visible and the invisible.  How did Paul know that without these mysteries being explained to him by Jesus?  We now know that there is dark matter and dark energy in our universe that are both invisible, but scientists did not know that back in Paul’s time.      

If you turn over the controls to Jesus, you will start to become more like Him.  It would be like giving up control of your steering wheel on your automobile.  It’s not something that you would choose, but yet, it is the best way to unite with Christ. 

Give up your pitiful efforts to control your life.  Give it to God.  Let Jesus take the controls.  By turning everything over to Him, you will have reached a level of humility that is required to be like Jesus.  You will have accepted the fact that you cannot control your miserable life, and you give your life to God, just like Jesus did when He died on the cross.  Jesus humbled himself even to death.  Paul also wrote:  “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:8.

Paul stated that Jesus, although being in the very nature of God, did not consider Himself equal to God, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant to God.  Philippians 2:6-7.  If you come to the realization that you will never be equal to Jesus and God and you accept your role as a servant to Jesus and God, then you will be on the road to uniting with them.  By accepting this role, you will be at peace with yourself.  Your sins of the past will evaporate and disappear.  Only the future with Jesus and God matters.  Once you turn the controls over to them, then you will no longer be critical of others.  The only thing that matters is your relationship with Jesus and God.  What other people do to you, themselves, and others will have no impact on your relationship with Jesus and God.

Of course, you will do your best to be like Jesus to teach others about the afterlife and the Beatitudes, but it is not your burden to change others.  It is only required that you inform them and give others the opportunity to save themselves.  But that is the key:  they must save themselves.  You cannot actually save them.  Only they can do that.

In order to be like Jesus, you must change your manner of thinking.  Your belief must become first nature without even thinking about it.  You must not think that you believe.  You must simply believe.  You will talk to Jesus and God because they are actually inside you.  And it is not you thinking that they are in you.  They will actually be within you.  It is not:  I think, therefore God exists.  It is: God exists whether you are thinking or not.  And Christ is within you whether you believe this or not. 

Your new way of thinking must not be distracted by the question:  if the tree falls in the forest and nobody is there, will it make a sound?  If your answer is anthropocentric and you say “No,” then your manner of thinking needs improvement.  Your new thought process will understand that God hears the sound even if you are not present.  God exists throughout the universe at all times, whether we are thinking or hearing.  We are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, so it is not difficult to be humble in God’s world.

In order to be more like Jesus, we must focus on the future.  The past is forgiven, so it is a waste of your energy even thinking about it.  Even if there are consequences for your past, that will be in the future, so the emphasis is still on the future.  If you are suffering in the present, then direct all your energy to the future when the pain will be over.  The afterlife will offer solace no matter how much pain you must endure during life.

Being like Jesus requires a transformation, giving up all your worldly gains and legalistic approaches to life to be like Christ.  Again, Paul says it best.  “But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:7-11.

We know that Christ told us that the gate to His kingdom is small and the road to His kingdom is narrow, so that only a few will find it.  Matthew 7:14.   But by uniting with Christ and giving control to God, we have a better chance.  And we should never consider ourselves superior to others who have less of a chance because of their decisions in life.  Focus instead on the future, joining with God and Jesus in the afterlife.  Be like Jesus to the extent of sacrificing your body to pain and harm even to death, knowing that the future is where eternity lies.

Be like Jesus by uniting with Him and letting Him control your life, filling you with peace and joy.  If Jesus is allowed into your heart and soul, you will become more like Jesus since He will be within you.       


Discrimination Is “All About You”

I have heard younger generations say, “It’s all about you.”  This is their way of saying that the person being honored with the comment only thinks of themselves and not other people.  Unfortunately, I hear this phrase more frequently in today’s environment.  It seems that politicians do not stand alone in a modern society that has evolved into narcissists.  Currently, a majority of Americans takes care of itself first and foremost.

What has that got to do with discrimination and racism, which is like a resistant blood stain on a white sheet?  Well, discrimination is also “all about you.”  If you belong to any group that feels superior to others, then you are guilty of discrimination.  As an example, if you belong to a soccer team that is winning most of its games and you taunt the other teams as being inferior to your team, you are guilty of discrimination.  As we will see later in the article, there are degrees of discrimination, some being much worse than others.

Bullying of school children by other students is in the news today because sometimes the child being discriminated against brings a weapon to school and starts killing other students.  Bullying through social media is getting out of control.  All these are signs of increasing discrimination by younger generations who are full of themselves.  They only think about themselves.  By hazing other students, it makes them feel superior to their targets.      

I can remember racist comments made in Kentucky when I was growing up and when I was a young adult.  I didn’t have any friends in these hate groups, but I always wondered what was behind the bitterness.

It seemed like the members of these group gatherings felt better since they found somebody else to put down and criticize.  They, in effect, were able to elevate their status above another group simply by discriminating against them.  They wanted to be members of an elite group.

Throughout history, we have seen discrimination against religious groups, races, cultures, nationalities, sexual preferences, poor people, and sometimes, just those who look and act differently than others.  And discrimination is not always the majority against a minority.  History is replete with occasions when totalitarian leaders, who were motivated by a quest for personal power, murdered or imprisoned thousands who represented the majority interests who opposed their leadership.

But there is one thing that can always be said about discrimination:  it is based on selfish needs and desires.  Those who discriminate are satisfying a personal interest.  For example, high school students may form cliques who make fun of “nerds.”  They may bully them on a daily basis, perhaps calling them “geeks” in the hallways and in classes, making fun of them.  These cliques are formed to make them feel important and better than others.  These students feel that life is all about them, and their egos are puffed up as they continue their taunting sessions.

I was in Air Force ROTC back in the late 1960’s and remember how I felt walking across campus being called a “baby killer.”  I wondered why the other students discriminated against me when I had not done anything except take military classes and have a short haircut.  The students who did not like the military were perfectly within their rights to express their opinions about the Vietnam War, but when they burned down my ROTC building and punctured the tires of military students’ cars, they were satisfying their personal needs to place themselves at a higher level than us.  In effect, they believed they were smarter and ethically superior to the military, including ROTC students.

I joined a fraternity in order to get dates because girls would not date somebody with short hair.  But things did not get better because I joined a fraternity.  The members of the fraternity abused the pledges, both physically and mentally.  I watched the members carefully and they seemed to inflate their egos by being able to treat the pledges like second-rate members.  It was all about them.  They had no interest in making the world a better place by encouraging pledges to be better students.  They only cared about making themselves feel superior. 

After completing pledging and becoming an active member of the fraternity, I refused to participate in the abuse and slave rituals, instead requiring the pledges to study for an hour before I would sign their pledge books.  Other members of the fraternity had the pledges do their wash, polish their shoes, get their dinner, or wait on them in some manner.  I did not participate in the physical abuse heaped on the hapless pledges.  It seemed rather barbaric to me and accomplished nothing more than to make the pledges want to do the same thing once they were active members.  It was all about them. 

The active members of the fraternity tried to “black ball” or eliminate me from their group because I did not conform to their standards.  I found out that groups who discriminate try to cull out those who do not join in that discrimination.  It seems that the glue for the groups is discrimination of some kind.  That, sadly, is what keeps them together.  And that discrimination seems to be focused on building up one group and tearing down another.

One definition of discrimination is a difference in treatment or favor on the basis other than individual merit.  This is an interesting definition since it points out that discrimination may also occur when institutions and businesses select individuals for school or jobs based on their belonging to a race, nationality, or religion, rather than based on the merit of selectees.  This is sometimes referred to as reverse discrimination.  All forms of discrimination are based on satisfying selfish interests. 

Does this mean that all forms of discrimination are harmful?  There are degrees of discrimination.  If you are interviewing six people for one job, you will have to discriminate between these six in order to select the person you deem best for the job.  This type of discrimination may be based on comparing education and experience.  This type of discrimination is reasonable.  But you also may discriminate based on the appearance of the individuals.  If a gentleman wears a nice suit and another wears tattered jeans, you may pick the man wearing the suit even though he did not have a strong background in education and experience.  This type of discrimination may be unreasonable.   

Let’s examine laws that discriminate against those who commit crimes.  Are these discriminations acceptable?  I believe so because they are moderate in their approach.  In order for society to avoid, anarchy, chaos, and disorder, there must be consequences administered to those who harm society. 

The problem is where to draw the line.  For example, should society be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals?  Since this is discrimination against a sexual preference, rather than a crime against society, these laws should not be permitted.  Some might argue that homosexual activity harms a society which is based on male-female marriages and families, but this makes little sense.  Homosexual activity, although clearly a sin under the Bible, does not appear to have any more negative impact on society than adultery, also a sin according to the Bible. 

However, sexual predators who attempt to rape others or have sex with children would be harmful to society, thus laws against these activities make sense and should be permitted discriminations.  We may not like to admit that we discriminate on a daily basis, but we all do.  We prefer to have friends who are like us, not necessarily based on race, but on creed.  We like to surround ourselves with people who think like us. 

Is this type of discrimination, based on creed, problematic?  It could be.  A healthy society needs to be creative and should not stifle new thinking.  If everybody thought the same way in a society, it would not be long before those who thought differently would be singled out as being bad for society.  An example is when Darwin came up with the theory of evolution.  This type of thinking is accepted today, but it initially had a difficult road as hard-line religious thinkers discriminated against those who championed this new thought.  However, the opposite may be true today.  Many who believe in evolution are making fun of Creationists.  Those who discriminate improperly may become those who are discriminated against in the future.  Neither form of discrimination is appropriate for a vibrant society.

The bottom line is that discrimination is all about you.  That means that you can change things for the better.  It is not practical to attempt to eliminate all discrimination, but it is possible to focus on improving society and our world through moderation.