Sunday, May 16, 2010
Who I Am - What I Believe
I don't think I'm too much of a pessimist or too much of an optimist. I prefer to be a realist and see things as they are. I think that being an engineer tends to make you a realist, and "well-grounded". It is our job to put reality to our service, to herd electrons in the desired direction and get them to work for us. That circuit I'm working on doesn't care whether I'm optimistic about it or not, it doesn't care whether I like it or not, and it doesn't care if my computer model is elegant and pretty. It's going to obey the laws of physics and do what they demand it does. The world political system, most certainly, doesn't care what I think. I simply try to see the paths things are following and extrapolate off the end of the trajectory.
I believe in science. I believe that science, as an organized, self-correcting set of investigations into how the world works is among the most important things humanity has accomplished. I believe that as long as that self-correcting process is not hindered (the cardinal sin in those CRU emails), it will right itself. I believe the Voyager satellite program might well be the crowning achievement of mankind.
I believe in Christ. I used to be a deist, believing that God wrote the laws of physics, started the grand machine of the universe in motion, and then took off to watch from a distance. If your science is good, you don't need a God involved in everyday things, but there are places science has incomplete/incorrect knowledge - a concept that I think is known as "God of the gaps". The Greeks, for example, needed Apollo to drive his chariot containing the Sun across the sky every day. We simply need to understand the sun is a long distance from us, and our motion causes the things we see - we don't need a god involved at every sunrise. But if you read the Bible in any of the modern translations, the argument for a personal, involved God is overwhelming. Are there contradictions in my thought processes? Is it an artifact of our translations? Quite possibly. Doesn't bother me a bit. When I'm done on this side and I get to learn the real answers, I'll understand better.
My first iteration of college was in biology and chemistry, so I am therefore a "classically trained evolutionist". I don't accept Darwinism as an explanation for the origin of life anymore; there are simply too many things I can't reconcile. The complexity of the systems around us doesn't appear to allow for the slow, gradual evolution of Darwinism - too many enzyme pathways would be fatal in some intermediate stage so these complex pathways had to spring up complete. There are countless examples being discussed. To say Darwinism has been falsified is not to immediately say special creation has been confirmed, and it does not eliminate a role for Darwinism in natural selection and development of species. But I think creation must be considered, even if evolutionists are uncomfortable with it.
I believe the old saying, "the biggest reason people choose to become Christian is that they know a Christian: the biggest reason people don't choose to become Christian is that they know a Christian". I strive to be the right man in that comparison.
I believe in personal freedom, liberty and responsibility. This is the core Christian biblical value; you are responsible for yourself. I accept the challenge of being responsible for myself and my family, providing for us, defending us, taking care of us as best I can, with the help of God. Because I believe in personal freedom, I believe that welfare and other government handout programs hurt people more than they help. As a short term help in an emergency, sure. I am a dedicated giver to many, many charities. But making people dependent on the state saps their humanity - presumably to buy their votes.
Since there is no greater destroyer of liberty than a large intrusive government, I am adamantly opposed to state-ism of any kind: communism, socialism, fascism, environmentalism, you-name-it-ism. In today's lexicon, I am a small government conservative/libertarian. I find Republicans share my values most often so I tend to back them, but I am not reflexively Republican. I'm just as adamantly anti-Republican if they are big government fans (Charlie Crist here in Florida, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter - to name a few). I don't know that any small government Democrats exist any more.
I am not advocating anarchy. I believe in a minimal government, much closer to our constitutional founding than the leviathan that now chokes off the private sector. I do not believe government, like man, is "perfectable", so it must be minimized. As Washington so eloquently said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." I believe we could throw out the vast majority of the Code of Federal Regulations - perhaps 90% - and improve the lives of American's tremendously.
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill.
I believe that free market capitalism and its reliance on the enlightened self-interest of individuals is the most potent force for the advancement of humanity ever developed. More people have been lifted out of crushing poverty in the last couple of decades, by the adoption of market principles in China and India, than have lived so far in history. I can not imagine how an educated person can embrace socialism or communism or any variant. Further, I believe the market is so powerful that it continued to advance the US, despite the fact that we haven't had a free market in nearly a hundred years.
I believe the "war on poverty" is motivated by the search for a statistical distribution that doesn't have a bottom 20%. There is only one way possible: where everyone has exactly the same portion: nothing. The same motivation insists on giving every kid a trophy. It's great to do your best; it's better to win, and there's usually only one winner. Get used to not winning. Happens to everyone, even the very best. We are not guaranteed the results of life, liberty and happiness; we are guaranteed the right to pursue them equally.
I believe Thomas Jefferson was right when he said "If Americans ever allow banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless". I believe that almost all of the economic disruptions in the last 100 years, including the current mess, were caused by the central banks charged with preventing such disruptions.
I believe the anti-gun groups like the Brady Bunch and Mayor Bloomberg's MAIG (I will not give them a link) are at best useful idiot lapdogs to tyrants; at worst, they are willing accomplices. (This puts NYC Mayor Bloomberg, budding tyrant that he is, in the unique position of being a dog on his own lap!) In the 20th century alone, governments killed almost 200 million of their own citizens, after thoroughly disarming them. Yet a determined group of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, armed with a handful of rifles and a few rounds of ammunition per person held off the Nazi army until their ammo ran out. The gun is civilization. The statistics are so overwhelming that I am amazed any educated person can act like gun control is a good idea. Gun control laws only affect honest people who follow laws.
I believe environmentalism is a religion, complete with myths comparable to many organized religions. As I said; I majored in Biology at one time so I have taken college Ecology. Ecology is a dynamic science. Basing all of your actions on keeping things the way they were in some prior, "sinless state", which is what modern environmentalism is about, is not science. Environmentalists are simply angry bigots who think the world was perfect in some previous state and want it to stay that way forever.
I believe endemic racism is gone in America, although some small percent of people will undoubtedly be racist, just as some small percentage believes we never went to the moon and there are alien bodies in Area 51. I believe the vast majority of claims of racism are just the product of a racism industry that lives off these claims. I grew up in a time when there were separate water fountains for the "colored" people (and drank out of them anyway). Today, a mixed race couple doesn't even merit a raised eyebrow or second glance in this small, southern town I call home. You can't convince me things aren't orders of magnitude better.
I believe that if you think abortion is just fine, that's between you and God, and anyone who would shoot an abortion provider is no less a killer than they perceive the doctor to be. But I think you owe it to yourself to understand the roots of abortion lie in racism and eugenics. You need to read about Margaret Sanger and the other death advocates behind the cause - they were actually the inspiration for Hitler's death camps. That is, you need to read about her if you believe in being honest with yourself.
I believe one of the most profound things in human experience is mathematics. Math is based on two assumptions: that the number 1 exists, and that addition exists so that 1+1 = 2. Given that, everything else is derived and proven. So why is it that this entirely human-derived set of laws and equations describes the world so perfectly? Why is that we can create so many intricate mathematical models of so many things in the real world, and have the models work so well? God must be a mathematician.
Because of my fondness for math, I am puzzled that a society can claim to put high values on literacy, and conduct public education systems to ensure adults can read, but the same society does little to encourage facility with mathematics. I can't understand a culture that can accept adults who read at high school level but can't work fractions. Perhaps it's because lawyers run the show, and they are afraid the ability to do the math undermines so many of their lies. Can't have the proletariat thinking for themselves, can we?
I believe our society has an unhealthy infatuation with youth. To borrow a quote from Al Gore to students, "you know things your parents don't" - but those things are useless. They know things like who's on which TV show, or what the latest trends are. The things they know that their parents don't know are meaningless bits of fluff. Kids, wear the goofy hair now - get it out of your system. Soon enough, it will be time to go to work.