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Category: Philosophy

The philosophy of science, empiricism, a priori reasoning, epistemology, and so on.

May 13, 2018 | No comments

Summary Against Modern Thought: To Understand God Is Our Natural End

Previous post.

Dear reader, you are an intellectual substance.

that to understand God is the end of every intellectual substance

1 Since all creatures, even those devoid of understanding, are ordered to God as to an ultimate end, all achieve this end to the extent that they participate somewhat in His likeness. Intellectual creatures attain it in a more special way, that is, through their proper operation of understanding Him. Hence, this must be the end of the intellectual creature, namely, to understand God.

2 The ultimate end of each thing is God, as we have shown. So, each thing intends, as its ultimate end, to be united with God as closely as is possible for it. Now, a thing is more closely united with God by the fact that it attains to His very substance in some manner, and this is accomplished when one knows something of the divine substance, rather than when one acquires some likeness of Him. Therefore, an intellectual substance tends to divine knowledge as an ultimate end.

Notes In some matter and not completely.

3 Again, the proper operation of a thing is an end for it, for this is its secondary perfection. That is why whatever is fittingly related to its proper operation is said to be virtuous and good. But the act of understanding is the proper operation of an intellectual substance. Therefore, this act is its end. Ana that which is most perfect in this operation is the ultimate end, particularly in the case of operations that are not ordered to any products, such as the acts of understanding and sensing.

Now, since operations of this type are specified by their objects, through which they are known also, any one of these operations must be more perfect when its object is more perfect. And so, to understand the most perfect intelligible object, which is God, is the most perfect thing in the genus of this operation of understanding. Therefore, to know God by an act of understanding is the ultimate end of every intellectual substance.

Notes This is an argument for turning off your television.

4 Of course, someone could say that the ultimate end of an intellectual substance consists, in fact, in understanding the best intelligible object—not that the best object of understanding for this or that particular intellectual substance is absolutely the best intelligible object, but that, the higher an intellectual substance is, the higher will its best object of understanding be.

And so, perhaps the highest created intellectual substance may have what is absolutely best as its best intelligible object, and, consequently, its felicity will consist in understanding God, but the felicity of any lower intellectual substance will lie in the understanding of some lower intelligible object, which is, however, the highest thing understood by it.

Particularly would it seem true of the human intellect that its function is not to understand absolutely the best intelligible object, because of its weakness; indeed, it stands in relation to the knowing of the greatest intelligible object, “as the owl’s eye is to the sunlight.”

Notes All teachers will sympathize with “the highest thing understood by it.’

5 But it seems obvious that the end of any intellectual substance, even the lowest, is to understand God. It has been shown above that the ultimate end of all things, to which they tend, is God. Though it is the lowest in the order of intellectual substances, the human intellect is, nevertheless, superior to all things that lack understanding. And so, since there should not be a less noble end for a more noble substance, the end for the human intellect will be God Himself. And an intelligent being attains his ultimate end by understanding Him, as was indicated. Therefore, the human intellect reaches God as its end, through an act of understanding.

6 Again, just as things devoid of understanding tend toward God as an end, by way of assimilation, so intellectual substances do so by way of cognition, as is evident from the foregoing. Now, although things devoid of understanding tend to the likeness of their proximate agents, their natural tendency does not, however, rest there, for this tendency has as its end assimilation to the highest good, as is apparent from what we have said, even though these things can only attain this likeness in a very imperfect way. Therefore, however small the amount of divine knowledge that the intellect may be able to grasp, that will be for the intellect, in regard to its ultimate end, much more than the perfect knowledge of lower objects of understanding.

7 Besides, a thing has the greatest desire for its ultimate end. Now, the human intellect has a greater desire, and love, and pleasure, in knowing divine matters than it has in the perfect knowledge of the lowest things, even though it can grasp but little concerning divine things. So, the ultimate end of man is to understand God, in some fashion.

Notes This is true even in those people who love trivia. When we grasp something higher, we find joy. That accounts for the paeans to science.

8 Moreover, a thing inclines toward the divine likeness as to its own end. So, that whereby a thing chiefly becomes like God is its ultimate end. Now, an intellectual creature chiefly becomes like God by the fact that it is intellectual, for it has this sort of likeness over and above what other creatures have, and this likeness includes all others. In the genus of this sort of likeness a being becomes more like God by actually understanding than by habitually or potentially understanding, because God is always actually understanding, as we proved in Book One [56]. And, in this actual understanding, it becomes most like God by understanding God Himself, for God understands all things in the act of understanding Himself, as we proved in Book One [49]. Therefore, to understand God is the ultimate end of every intellectual substance.

9 Furthermore, that which is capable of being loved only for the sake of some other object exists for the sake of that other thing which is lovable simply on its own account. In fact, there is no point in going on without end in the working of natural appetite, since natural desire would then be futile, because it is impossible to get to the end of an endless series.

Now, all practical sciences, arts, and powers are objects of love only because they are means to something else, for their purpose is not knowledge but operation.

But the speculative sciences are lovable for their own sake, since their end is knowledge itself. Nor do we find any action in human affairs, except speculative thought, that is not directed to some other end.

Even sports activities, which appear to be carried on without any purpose, have a proper end, namely, so that after our minds have been somewhat relaxed through them we may be then better able to do serious jobs. Otherwise, if sport were an end in itself, the proper thing to do would be to play all the time, but that is not appropriate.

So, the practical arts are ordered to the speculative ones, and likewise every human operation to intellectual speculation, as an end. Now, among all the sciences and arts which are thus subordinated, the ultimate end seems to belong to the one that is preceptive and architectonic in relation to the others. For instance, the art of navigation, to which the end, that is the use, of a ship pertains, is architectonic and preceptive in relation to the art of shipbuilding. In fact, this is the way that first philosophy is related to the other speculative sciences, for all the others depend on it, in the sense that they take their principles from it, and also the position to be assumed against those who deny the principles. And this first philosophy is wholly ordered to the knowing of God, as its ultimate end; that is why it is also called divine science. So, divine knowledge is the ultimate end of every act of human knowledge and every operation.

10 Again, in all agents and movers that are arranged in an order, the end of the first agent and mover must be the ultimate end of all. Thus, the end of the commander of an army is the end of all who serve as soldiers under him.

Now, of all the parts of man, the intellect is found to be the superior mover, for the intellect moves the appetite, by presenting it with its object; then the intellectual appetite, that is the will, moves the sensory appetites, irascible and concupiscible, and that is why we do not obey concupiscence unless there be a command from the will; and finally, the sense appetite, with the advent of consent from the will, now moves the body. Therefore, the end of the intellect is the end of all human actions. “But the end and good of the intellect are the true;” consequently, the first truth is the ultimate end. So, the ultimate end of the whole man, and of all his operations and desires, is to know the first truth, which is God.

Notes Hence sin.

11 Besides, there is naturally present in all men the desire to know the causes of whatever things are observed. Hence, because of wondering about things that were seen but whose causes were hidden, men first began to think philosophically; when they found the cause, they were satisfied. But the search did not stop until it reached the first cause, for “then do we think that we know perfectly, when we know the first cause.” Therefore, man naturally desires, as his ultimate end, to know the first cause. But the first cause of all things is God. Therefore, the ultimate end of man is to know God.

Notes This applies even to scientists!

12 Moreover, for each effect that he knows, man naturally desires to know the cause. Now, the human intellect knows universal being. So, he naturally desires to know its cause, which is God alone, as we proved in Book Two [15]. Now, a person has not attained his ultimate end until natural desire comes to rest. Therefore, for human happiness which is the ultimate end it is not enough to have merely any kind of intelligible knowledge; there must be divine knowledge, as an ultimate end, to terminate the natural desire. So, the ultimate end of man is the knowledge of God.

13 Furthermore, a body tending toward its proper place by natural appetite is moved more forcibly and swiftly as it approaches its end. Thus, Aristotle proves, in On the Heavens I [8: 27a 18], that natural motion in a straight line cannot go on to infinity, for then it would be no more moved later than earlier. So, a thing that tends more forcibly later than earlier, toward an objective, is not moved toward an indefinite objective, but tends toward some determinate thing. Now, we find this situation in the desire to know.

The more a person knows, the more he is moved by the desire to know.

Hence, man’s natural desire tends, in the process of knowing, toward some definite end. Now, this can be none other than the most noble object of knowledge, which is God. Therefore, divine knowledge is the ultimate end of man.

14 Now, the ultimate end of man, and of every intellectual substance, is called felicity or happiness, because this is what every intellectual substance desires as an ultimate end, and for its own sake alone. Therefore, the ultimate happiness and felicity of every intellectual substance is to, know God.

15 And so, it is said in Matthew (5:8): “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God”; and in John (17:3): “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God.”

16 With this view, the judgment of Aristotle is also in agreement, in the last Book of his Ethics [X, 7: 1177a 18], where he says that the ultimate felicity of man is “speculative, in accord with the contemplation of the best object of speculation.”

May 11, 2018 | 36 Comments

Inference To The Best Explanation: Shapiro’s The Miracle Myth Reviewed — Part II

Read Part I.

A researcher puts you into a room. On the table is a blue ball. Somebody put it there. It could have been Alice, Bob, or Charlie. Given only that information—and no more—who put it there? You have to pick one and only one.

If the choice seems arbitrary, it’s because it is. Whoever you pick has equal justification given only the information provided.

Instead of choosing, we can switch to probability. Given only the information provided, what is the probability Alice placed the ball? Same as for the other two: one-third (the proof of that is found in here).

We have learned three things. One, probability is conditional on only the information given or assumed. Two, decision (or choice) is not probability: decision uses probability, but it is a step beyond it. Three, there must have been a cause for the ball.

The probability is straightforward (but see this page if you want to learn more). The choice, decision, or act is less so. Given the probability, and given what you think will happen if you were to guess right or wrong, you make a choice, a decision, or you act. Two people can have the exact same precise duplicate identical information, and thus must necessarily come to the same probability, but they can easily come to different (even wildly different) decisions because they believe their choices will have different consequences—and their choices may very well have different consequences. And no matter what the (conditional) probability is, and no matter what we decide, there will still be a true cause.

Probability (epistemology), act (or will), and cause (metaphysics). All different steps which must be kept distinct when analyzing any problem.

The philosophical concept of inference to the best explanation can confuse and conflate these three steps or categories. Not systematically, so that we can apply a correction, but willy-nilly, depending on who is wielding the tool.

Inference to the best explanation (IBE) asks us to make a choice on a cause without examining—in any thorough sense—probability or the consequences of decision. This is not to say the technique does not and cannot come to correct probabilities, decisions, and understandings of cause. It can and very often does, especially in those areas in which we have expertise or extensive knowledge.

The reason IBE works, when it works, is that people are good at the individual steps without knowing or explicitly acknowledging they are using those steps. That will be obvious in a moment.

What happens when you see a ball and you really want to know the cause of it being there? You run through possibilities. I specified only three, and then said nothing more except that there were these three. There is no information about Alice’s motives, or her placement (where was she?), her personality, nothing. The information allowed was restricted in the extreme. Given only it, we could make a choice, but we recognized that choice’s arbitrariness. That arbitrariness informs the decision we would make, depending on how we view the consequences of making right or wrong decisions (which may well be different for each reader).

We also implicitly recognized one aspect of the cause: the efficient cause. We know a person placed it there, but we don’t know why. We do not know anything of the final cause, the reason the ball was put there. That we don’t know the motivation does not, obviously, mean we do not know the ball isn’t there. It is there. We also do not know the formal and material causes: we do not know the means the person used. Again, our ignorance of these does not mean the ball is not there.

That the IBE does not work here—there is no single best explanation and no identification of all aspects of the cause—is not the fault of the artificial nature of the problem: it is the fault of IBE. Any epistemological technique that claims to be an algorithm to discover the best guess of truth on given information (IBE does not claim to always find truth) has to work everywhere, or we have to look elsewhere for better algorithms. I claim we can’t find one: we’re stuck with probability, decision, and cause. Life and thinking isn’t so easy.

Now in real life you are not as restricted as in this artificial situation. You are free to guess or assume or measure other probative evidence that will modify the probability, change the decision, or lead to fuller understanding of the causes.

Didn’t I see Alice here earlier? I thought Bob said he was driving somewhere. That looks a lot like a ball Charlie plays with. Fastidious Alice might have been here, but I can’t see why she’d leave a ball lying about. Et cetera. You must play detective.

Means, motive, opportunity. That’s what detectives look for, because why? Because these items identify all aspects of the cause of the event. Detectives know they might not always guess right, that the wrong man is sometimes pegged, that some motives are opaque, and on and on. Detectives also know that the defense attorneys are free to form their own list of probative evidence, and so will come to different probabilities, decisions, and understandings of cause.

The possibility of differences in assumptions is the key to understanding the IBE’s general weakness—and it’s sometime usefullness.

It is the freedom to choose the evidence, and that there is no algorithm that leads us to the right set of perfect evidence that results in uncertainty. Uncertainty is often our lot.

Of course, there will always be a right set of perfect evidence that puts the probability at 0 or 1, as the case may be, evidence that results in a flawless decision, and that nails all parts of the cause. Our goal is to get as close as we can to this perfect set. But there is no guarantee we will even come close to it much of the time. (And there is even proof that in some cases, such as in quantum mechanics, it is impossible to come to it.)

A strange blip on the bubble chamber screen. Something caused it. What? The physicist must piece together the evidence. Means, motive, opportunity. In the end, and especially if the blip never repeats, he may just shrug his shoulders and say “Chance”—which is only and ever a euphemism for “I don’t know.”

The nature of evidence is the same at home, in science, in math, and in religion. Why something is is different from that or how it is. (I won’t prove here it works in math, but I do prove it here.)

None of this is controversial, except to die-hard followers of IBE who somehow believe that if only they exerted themselves sufficiently, they can always come to the best explanation of all aspects of a case—which is not synonymous with true. When IBE works, it’s really common sense, carefully explicated.

Next week we’ll see how Shapiro’s use of IBE to dismiss miracles relies on premises he didn’t know he was assuming, on how he did not account for the freedom to assume what evidence is probative, and how he didn’t grasp all aspects of cause.

Update Since it has arisen, there are other interpretations of quantum mechanics which differ from the classical ones. For instance: Quantum Potency & Probability, which restores Heisenberg’s original surmise. About cause. Now everything potential that becomes actual only can do do by something actual—a fancy way of saying QM events are not “uncaused”, as some would have it. On the nature of cause in QM see inter alia Wolfgang Smith’s The Quantum Enigma: Finding the Hidden Key (3rd Edition) Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. There is another recent monograph by (I think) a Dominican scientist on the same subject which is escaping my memory. When I recall, I’ll post.

May 6, 2018 | 2 Comments

Summary Against Modern Thought: All Beings Seek The Good

Previous post.

Be sure and review and understand what our saint meant by “the good”.

Even beings devoid of knowledge seek the good

1 Now, if a celestial body is moved by intellectual substance, as we have shown, and if the motion of a celestial body is ordered to generation in the realm of things here below, it must be that the processes of generation and the motions of these lower things start from the intention of an intelligent substance. For the intention of the principal agent and that of the instrument are directed toward the same thing.

Now, the heavens is the cause of the movements of inferior bodies, by virtue of its own motion in which it is moved by an intellectual substance. It follows, then, that the heavenly body is like an instrument for intellectual substance. Therefore, the forms and movements of lower bodies are caused by intellectual substance which intends them as a principal agent, while the celestial body is like an instrument.

2 It must be, then, that the species of things caused and intended by the intellectual agent exist beforehand in his intellect, as the forms of artifacts pre-exist in the intellect of the artist and are projected from there into their products. So, all the forms that are in these lower substances, and all their motions, are derived from the intellectual forms which are in the intellect of some substance, or substances. Consequently, Boethius says in his book, The Trinity, that “forms which are in matter have come from forms which are without matter.” And on this point, Plato’s statement is verified, that forms separated from matter are the principles of forms that are in it. Although Plato claimed that they subsist in themselves and immediately cause the forms of sensible things, we assert that they exist in an intellect and cause lower forms through the motion of the heavens.

Notes One wishes our good saint had known of things like string theory, and could make these arguments from below, arguments which must be of the same character—and same result.

3 Since everything that is moved directly and not merely accidentally by another being is directed by that being to the end of its motion, and since the celestial body is moved by an intellectual substance, and, moreover, the celestial body causes, through its own motion, all the motions in these lower things, the celestial body must be directed to the end of its motion by an intellectual substance, and so must all lower bodies be directed to their own ends.

4 So, then, it is not difficult to see how natural bodies, devoid of knowledge, are moved and perform actions for an end. They tend to the end as things directed to that end by an intellectual substance, in the way that an arrow tends toward the target when it has been aimed by the archer. Just as the arrow attains its inclination to a definite end from the archer’s act of shooting it, so do natural bodies attain their inclination to natural ends, from natural movers; from which movers they also receive their forms, powers, and motions.

5 Consequently, it is also evident that every working of nature is the work of an intelligent substance, because an effect is more fundamentally attributed to the prime mover, which aims at the end, than to the instruments which have been directed by it. And because of this we find that the workings of nature proceed toward their end in an orderly way, as do the actions of a wise man.

6 Hence, it becomes obvious that even things which lack knowledge can be made to work for an end, and to seek the good by a natural appetite, and to seek the divine likeness and their own perfection. And there is no difference between saying one of these things or the other. For, by the fact that they tend to their own perfection they tend to the good, since a thing is good to the extent that it is perfect.

Moreover, by virtue of tending to be good it tends to the divine likeness, for a thing is made like unto God in so far as it is good. And this or that particular good thing becomes an object of desire according as it is a likeness of prime goodness. So, too, for this reason it tends to its own good, because it tends to the divine likeness, and not conversely. Hence, it is clear that all things desire the divine likeness as an ultimate end.

7 Now, the good that is proper to a thing may be received in many ways. One way depends on what is appropriate to the essential character of the individual. It is thus that an animal seeks his good, when he desires the food whereby he may be kept in existence. A second way depends on what is appropriate to the species. It is in this way that an animal desires his proper good, inasmuch as he desires the procreation of offspring and the nourishment of the same, or the performance of any other work that is for the preservation or protection of individuals belonging to his species.

A third way depends on the essential character of his genus. It is in this way that an equivocal agent seeks its proper good by an act of causation, as in the case of the heavens. And a fourth way depends on the analogical likeness of things produced, in relation to their source. And it is in this way that God, Who is beyond genus, gives existing being to all, because of His own goodness.

Notes That second way is appropriate for us, too. Hence the natural law.

8 It is evident, next, that the more perfect something is in its power, and the higher it is in the scale of goodness, the more does it have an appetite for a broader common good, and the more does it seek and become involved in the doing of good for beings far removed from itself.

Indeed, imperfect beings tend only to the good proper to the individual, while perfect beings tend to the good of their species.

But more perfect beings tend to the good of the genus, while God, Who is most perfect in goodness, tends toward the good of being as a whole. Hence it is said by some people, and not inappropriately, that “the good, as such, is diffusive,” because the better a thing is, the more does it diffuse its goodness to remote beings. And since, “in every genus, that which is most perfect is the archetype and measure of all things belonging in the genus,” God, Who is most perfect in goodness and Who diffuses His goodness in the broadest way, must be in His diffusion the archetype for all diffusers of goodness. Now, inasmuch as a thing diffuses goodness to other beings, it comes to be their cause. As a result, it is also clear that a thing which tends to become the cause of others tends toward the divine likeness, and nonetheless it tends toward its own good.

Notes It cannot be too often repeated that “imperfect beings tend only to the good proper to the individual, while perfect beings tend to the good of their species.”

9 Therefore, it is not unfitting to say that the motions of the heavenly bodies and the actions of their movers are in some sense for the sake of these generable and corruptible bodies which are less worthy than they. They are not for the sake of these bodies, in the sense of an ultimate end; rather, by intending the generation of these bodies they intend their own good and the divine likeness as an ultimate end.

April 30, 2018 | 5 Comments

What Is It You Truly Desire — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel this? Does anyone else perceive that there has been an upsurge in the discussion on the probability of Heaven/Hell No, not just an uptick. Rather, its several steps up in magnitude. And not just here, at Probability-Central. It seems to be happening everywhere. All across the Ouija-board. Or am I just so closeted that I can’t objectively judge?

This thought came to me the other night as I was reading an extended exchange of fire between partisans. All combatants were obviously intelligent people. All were admirably adamant. All were very consistent in their positions. And if you accepted each writer’s first premise, each was correct. Which, of course, is impossible.

And that, I think, is where we find ourselves. Each side has accepted diametrically opposed first premises, and all the rest, on each side, logically (illogically?) follows. Neither side of the debate is willing to admit the slightest probability, let alone the acceptability, of the other’s premises. And so, the trenches are dug deeper and wider. The howitzers grow in size, the volleys extend in reach. Yet there are no casualties of any note. Not visibly, that is. There’s that bugaboo word. Visible. Everybody has to contend with it. Everyone counts it, or its antithesis, as an ally. And no one falls before it. Visibly, that is. But is visibility the same as tangibility?

Now this is to be expected, given the nature of things. Which is to say, no one can ‘prove’ the nature of things, or beings.

Either way you believe, it seems to me that this world has been marvelously constructed (however you perceive that word) in such a manner as to scientifically defy the detection and absolute definition of its actual origin.

Forget time. Forget matter. What precedes them is what really counts. Who or what invented this place is the sole question. Regardless of your first premise, no one can marshal any definitive and irrefutable physical evidence of the First Cause that has set this puzzle before us. No one can point to the glowing neon sign in the sky that spells it out in capital letters, with footnotes available. Which means each side is operating on faith, of some kind. Which makes for a Holy War, for all concerned.

Yet this has stopped no one in their quest of using their considerable powers of debate in pursuit of the correct assessment of the probability of their premise. Nor will it ever work. Why? Because it is the wrong question to ask. Why? Because probability doesn’t really exist. It’s not the probability of your first premise that matters to anyone rational. Rather, it is the desirability of it.

In other words, is it something that would make anyone desire it to be true? In which case, we’re no longer talking about probability at all. We’re talking about what attracts you. So that removes everyone else from the equation. It’s only about you now. At least for the moment.

What is it I truly desire? The answer to that leads directly to my first premise in how I interpret this incredible world in which we find ourselves. That answer also determines what I will affirm and thus, what I will deny.

Now I think it is fairly obvious to anyone who has read my musings where I stand on this issue of the ‘probability’ of our origins, and thus, our place in it. So, I’ll not beat the dead pony. I’ll simply point out the end result of each side’s desires.

If I try to prove the ‘zero probability’ of the universe being the result of the work of a pre-existent living being, I would seem to be desiring death. Why? Because that pre-existent being seems to be the only route to more life. Rejecting that possibility equals desiring that there be nothing more in store once I pass away. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing at all. Life was good, and now it’s gone. Finis. And no, living in a Matrix or in some AI sci-fi scenario is not life at all.

But if I’m set on proving the ‘full probability’ of this same universe’s living origins, then I would seem to be desiring life, and more of it. That is, I want to be personally alive, beyond the personal physical death we all recognize is coming. As I’ve said already, no one is able to produce the irrefutable physical proof that something/someone lies before the origins of this earthly place. It follows, I think, that there is equally no physical proof that any intelligent animation lies beyond the end of this earthly life. No proofs, only desires. Only our hopes. What is it we hope for?

Before we continue, can I just take a moment to laugh at the first person who is bound to pop up and claim to be a believer in a theistic version of this supposed evolutionary event that transpired in some convoluted way over billions of years? Thank you! I knew you’d pipe up. Could you tell me then, what would be the efficient point of that little exercise of poor clock-management? Was it all for the purpose of reaching the point we are now occupy, physically speaking? Is that all your Random-god can muster? How underwhelming.

I’ve noticed too that those who believe this same bit of evo-voodoo never seem to link their supposed physical evolution with what should be a matching spiritual evolution. After all, it’s hard for them to maintain that materialistic mien if they have to talk about spirituality, in any fashion. The closest they can stand of that is to talk about the supposed sanctity of the universe itself. And that somehow, all those succeeding generations who are still alive after we individually die, somehow makes everything worthwhile. But don’t talk to them about their other belief. You know, the one that says the universe will supposedly collapse on some distant day, taking all remaining life with it into the Black Hole (which has been relocated from Calcutta). Why? Because that makes their previous alibi look a bit ridiculous. The ‘life’ of the Cosmos is supposed to be the highest good. But in the end, it has no cosmic significance. What brilliant logic. I bow in wonder.

Another telling thing about those who cannot see is that they are perfectly willing to admit they are alive, yet they cannot see life itself. They can’t wrap their electron microscope (or their minds) around that invisible spark. They can only see the actions and results, good or bad, of any life that exists. They confuse the concept of life with the place where life actually occurs. But they are not the same. Yet we are exhorted daily, by The Big Nannies, to preserve a galactic life that does not truly exist. Yet Alfie Evans means nothing to them. Anglish bastards. They eventually go to the point of saying that some (if not most) human life must be curtailed in order to preserve this ‘sanctuary’.

It’s the only planet we have, these Lemmings cry. But have you noticed, only the upper-class Lemmings make this argument? And that their impassioned pleas are never followed by their own sanctimonious suicides? Check out this link to the best rock album ever made to see the inconsistency of this faux logic. (The best parts are the announcements by John Belushi between each act, but the song lyrics are hysterically true as well. God, I miss that guy!)

It’s one or the other. Either you want more life or you don’t. And if you want more, you should want it for everyone, correct? You got yours free. Why shouldn’t everybody else get theirs free? And even second helpings too. Yes, even for those who’ve denied it to others. They need more time too. Time to repent, or time to continue the resistance. And there’s a place for each of these types. Ask Dante if you’re not sure. He’s seen the future, and it works!

It also seems to me that there are only two types of people. Those who love and those who don’t. And every single person I have ever met fits into the first category. Amongst those who love, there seems to be an additional division of type. Those who love themselves, and those who love others. And again, every single person I’ve ever known fits, again, into the first category. As well as the second. The only real difference between people seems to be this; those who love others as they love themselves, and those who don’t. But at the very least, I think everyone loves themselves, in some small way. So that, if given a choice, most people would want to continue their existence.

I’m fully aware that there are objections raised to this thought. They seem to come mostly from those who see nothing beyond what they can physically see. Tangibility is everything to them. They often assert (because, again, this is something that can’t be proven) that there is a point where life is not worth living. But I’ve noticed that only the plump make this argument. And that they generally make it about someone else. Someone like Alfie.

But consider this, please: why were there were no mass suicides amongst the prisoners of the Gulag? Or Buchenwald? Or Andersonville? Even in those (supposedly) God-forsaken places, which seem to be at the very edge of actual living existence, men held out hope. Hope for what? Hope for more life. Even if it meant more of the very same cruel life they already had. Which, admittedly, is not a life I would want. But would I be ready to cash it all in if the Gulag was my only option? And what, pray tell, would I get if I cashed it in? And where could I spend those chips?

What does any of this matter? It matters because it’s more than a matter of life and death. It’s actually a matter of life and more life. And whether or not we want it. There’s the rub. Those who say there is only what we can see and touch don’t seem to desire more life. Yes, I know I can’t prove more life is available. But forget about that. I’m not asking if it’s available. That’s not the question. The question I’m asking is this: do you want it to be available? Do you want more? If you do, you might want to know that there are offers available. Check online. There’s a whole slew of them. All different flavors too. Even if you can’t prove any of them are true, are you willing to bet none of them are true? Are you willing to bet your possible future life?

Most of these extended-warranty offers carry qualifying conditions. That is to say, you might have to modify your current ‘lifestyle’ to become eligible for this proposed extended-lifetime coverage. It would seem to me that, given the example of the Gulag mentioned above, most rational beings (even if beaten, half-starved and frozen) will opt to extend the present, if that’s all there is available. So, let’s assume that someone might find the change in lifestyle demanded by offer or another to be oppressive to their self-dignity. Is that an automatic deal-killer for you? Is your present life so unassailably right (however you define that term) that you could not possibly imagine living without every bit of it remaining intact? Every single thing? Are you that adamant? Are you that righteous, Komrade?

Obviously, I am not addressing the Mother Theresa’s of this world when I ask about the righteousness of your life. Or maybe I am. Because even she saw the need to modify her life in order to qualify for that extended-warranty offer. But then again, she seems to have been one of those few who found it desirable to love others as they love themselves. She found it in the real Black Hole of Calcutta. Do you know any lepers? So you like them? Do you see them as real people? Do their lives have any real value? Maybe now we’re getting closer to the actual reason for the resistance to the idea of the ‘probability’ of some form of life after death.

Maybe there’s actually a shadow of a doubt in the minds of those who deny the invisible yet truly tangible nature of life. They may secretly doubt that life doesn’t need to be tethered to the physical order in order to continue. That thought scares them to death. Permanent death. They seem to actually want it. They don’t seem to want a life connected to anything beyond the physical bodies we possess here and now. Why? Because if there is something after this life (and we’re all going to find out at some point), then we may end up bumping into the Landlord of this place. And we may just have to pay for any damages we’ve caused here. And in that case, what if there’s no deposit on file to pay for it? Got any letters of credit?

There’s the real question: Is there anything other than me? Because if there’s not, why not put myself first (and last)? Isn’t that the root question of all these probability scenarios? Is there anything besides me? After all, if I can’t detect anything beyond the here and now, then why would I desire anything about the concept of forever? Can I even imagine such a thing as forever? This seeming ‘inability’ to discern a spiritual answer of how we got here allows each of these cosmic ‘climate deniers’ to dodge the question of how we are supposed to live while we are here. Which, conveniently, allows them to pursue their only true love. Which is, of course, themselves. The ice caps of their hearts will never melt. In spite of the predicted Galactic Warming ahead.

What is it one can desire for themselves in this lifetime of here and now? I see only two biggies. Power or pardon. It’s one or the other. They are antithetical. The possessors of the first don’t need the second. Those believers in ‘science’ have chosen power. Intellectual power, supposedly. But because they know, in the back of their minds, that their power will run out (as all actuaries agree), they have a desperate need to avoid asking for pardon. And so, they demand an absolute end to everything. A total finality to being. An end to all life. Which is to say, no afterlife. Which is when the need for pardon would be of the greatest possible moment. And when you will have no power to resist the need.

You can’t take it with you. Why? Because in their version of ‘reality’, there’s no place to take it to. But what if there is somewhere besides here? What if there is somewhere where we can’t take our power, but we can’t avoid finding ourselves there?

That’s an ugly question. What if there is another life, and we are powerless there? What the Hell do we do if that’s true? The obvious alibi is this: “It couldn’t be physically proven, Your Honor, so I couldn’t possibly believe in its probability. So, I wasn’t prepared for it. So, your Honor, I should be exempt from the eventual consequences. Right?”

Wrong. That’s the whole point. Sure, it can’t be proven either way, from a physical standpoint. But remember, probability never existed. Quit talking about that. There’s only reality. That reality includes what you desired. Which dictated what you did (unto others) in the pursuit of that desire. That’s all that counts.

It’s so simple, even an idiot like me can comprehend it. That’s your whole problem, buddy. You’re too damned clever, by half. Sure, if there isn’t something, someone, who is greater than me, greater than all, and who cares about me (and everyone else) personally, then what does it matter what I do now? But if there is such a One, then I’d better listen up. The final question for me then is this: do I want there to be this Someone who knows more than me? Someone more powerful than me? Someone who knows what is best for me, and for all? Someone who will pity my idiotic life here on earth? Someone who can and will mercifully grant me this extension of life? If only I will beg His pardon? Is that really so tough? Is your pride that incredibly sensitive? Wow.

I know what I desire. But is that what you desire? No? Well then, if you still insist all that I have written here is wrong, just what is it about this possibility of having more life that you find so repugnant, Komrade?