Author Archives: El Guapo

Where are the Aliens?

This is the best article dealing with the questions “Where are the Aliens” and “Why haven’t the contacted us,” that I’ve ever read.  I’ve been looking for an explanation like this ever since I began to learn about space let alone a relatively short and concise explanation such as this!  

It is so good, I’m afraid of ever losing it and so have copied the entire article.  Here is the original link:  http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/fermi-paradox.html 

Forget all the click-bait about longer eyelashes, laughing pumpkin babies or pool trick shots. This link will actually blow your mind. (Warning: reading required)

The Fermi Paradox

By Tim Urban

Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this:

 

Stars

 

Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.

Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”

________________

 

A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. On the very best nights, we can see up to about 2,500 stars (roughly one hundred-millionth of the stars in our galaxy), and almost all of them are less than 1,000 light years away from us (or 1% of the diameter of the Milky Way). So what we’re really looking at is this:

 

Milky Way

 

When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” Let’s put some numbers to it (if you don’t like numbers, just read the bold)—

As many stars as there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe—so for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there’s a whole galaxy out there. All together, that comes out to the typically quoted range of between 1022 and 1024 total stars, which means that for every grain of sand on Earth, there are 10,000 stars out there.

The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. Going with the most conservative side of that (5%), and the lower end for the number of total stars (1022), gives us 500 quintillion, or 500 billion billion sun-like stars.

There’s also a debate over what percentage of those sun-like stars might be orbited by an Earth-like planet (one with similar temperature conditions that could have liquid water and potentially support life similar to that on Earth). Some say it’s as high as 50%, but let’s go with the more conservative 22% that came out of a recent PNAS study. That suggests that there’s a potentially-habitable Earth-like planet orbiting at least 1% of the total stars in the universe—a total of 100 billion billion Earth-like planets.

So there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. Think about that next time you’re on the beach.

Moving forward, we have no choice but to get completely speculative. Let’s imagine that after billions of years in existence, 1% of Earth-like planets develop life (if that’s true, every grain of sand would represent one planet with life on it). And imagine that on 1% of those planets, the life advances to an intelligent level like it did here on Earth. That would mean there were 10 quadrillion, or 10 million billion intelligent civilizations in the observable universe.

Moving back to just our galaxy, and doing the same math on the lowest estimate for stars in the Milky Way (100 billion), we’d estimate that there are 1 billion Earth-like planets and 100,000 intelligent civilizations in our galaxy.[1]

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization dedicated to listening for signals from other intelligent life. If we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array pick up all kinds of signals?

But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever.

Where is everybody?

It gets stranger. Our sun is relatively young in the lifespan of the universe. There are far older stars with far older Earth-like planets, which should in theory mean civilizations far more advanced than our own. As an example, let’s compare our 4.54 billion-year-old Earth to a hypothetical 8 billion-year-old Planet X.

 

Planet X

 

If Planet X has a similar story to Earth, let’s look at where their civilization would be today (using the orange timespan as a reference to show how huge the green timespan is):

 

Planet X vs Earth

 

The technology and knowledge of a civilization only 1,000 years ahead of us could be as shocking to us as our world would be to a medieval person. A civilization 1 million years ahead of us might be as incomprehensible to us as human culture is to chimpanzees. And Planet X is 3.4 billion years ahead of us…

There’s something called The Kardashev Scale, which helps us group intelligent civilizations into three broad categories by the amount of energy they use:

A Type I Civilization has the ability to use all of the energy on their planet. We’re not quite a Type I Civilization, but we’re close (Carl Sagan created a formula for this scale which puts us at a Type 0.7 Civilization).

A Type II Civilization can harness all of the energy of their host star. Our feeble Type I brains can hardly imagine how someone would do this, but we’ve tried our best, imagining things like a Dyson Sphere.

Dyson Sphere

A Type III Civilization blows the other two away, accessing power comparable to that of the entire Milky Way galaxy.

If this level of advancement sounds hard to believe, remember Planet X above and their 3.4 billion years of further development. If a civilization on Planet X were similar to ours and were able to survive all the way to Type III level, the natural thought is that they’d probably have mastered inter-stellar travel by now, possibly even colonizing the entire galaxy.

One hypothesis as to how galactic colonization could happen is by creating machinery that can travel to other planets, spend 500 years or so self-replicating using the raw materials on their new planet, and then send two replicas off to do the same thing. Even without traveling anywhere near the speed of light, this process would colonize the whole galaxy in 3.75 million years, a relative blink of an eye when talking in the scale of billions of years:

 

Colonize Galaxy

Source: Scientific American: “Where Are They”

 

 

Continuing to speculate, if 1% of intelligent life survives long enough to become a potentially galaxy-colonizing Type III Civilization, our calculations above suggest that there should be at least 1,000 Type III Civilizations in our galaxy alone—and given the power of such a civilization, their presence would likely be pretty noticeable. And yet, we see nothing, hear nothing, and we’re visited by no one.

So where is everybody?

_____________________

 

Welcome to the Fermi Paradox.

We have no answer to the Fermi Paradox—the best we can do is “possible explanations.” And if you ask ten different scientists what their hunch is about the correct one, you’ll get ten different answers. You know when you hear about humans of the past debating whether the Earth was round or if the sun revolved around the Earth or thinking that lightning happened because of Zeus, and they seem so primitive and in the dark? That’s about where we are with this topic.

In taking a look at some of the most-discussed possible explanations for the Fermi Paradox, let’s divide them into two broad categories—those explanations which assume that there’s no sign of Type II and Type III Civilizations because there are none of them out there, and those which assume they’re out there and we’re not seeing or hearing anything for other reasons:

Explanation Group 1: There are no signs of higher (Type II and III) civilizations because there are no higher civilizations in existence.

Those who subscribe to Group 1 explanations point to something called the non-exclusivity problem, which rebuffs any theory that says, “There are higher civilizations, but none of them have made any kind of contact with us because they all _____.” Group 1 people look at the math, which says there should be so many thousands (or millions) of higher civilizations, that at least one of them would be an exception to the rule. Even if a theory held for 99.99% of higher civilizations, the other .01% would behave differently and we’d become aware of their existence.

Therefore, say Group 1 explanations, it must be that there are no super-advanced civilizations. And since the math suggests that there are thousands of them just in our own galaxy, something else must be going on.

This something else is called The Great Filter.

The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to Type III intelligence, there’s a wall that all or nearly all attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.

 

Great Filter

 

If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the timeline does the Great Filter occur?

It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.

 

1. We’re Rare (The Great Filter is Behind Us)

One hope we have is that The Great Filter is behind us—we managed to surpass it, which would mean it’s extremely rare for life to make it to our level of intelligence. The diagram below shows only two species making it past, and we’re one of them.

Great Filter - Behind Us

This scenario would explain why there are no Type III Civilizations…but it would also mean that we could be one of the few exceptions now that we’ve made it this far. It would mean we have hope. On the surface, this sounds a bit like people 500 years ago suggesting that the Earth is the center of the universe—it implies that we’re special. However, something scientists call “observation selection effect” suggests that anyone who is pondering their own rarity is inherently part of an intelligent life “success story”—and whether they’re actually rare or quite common, the thoughts they ponder and conclusions they draw will be identical. This forces us to admit that being special is at least a possibility.

And if we are special, when exactly did we become special—i.e. which step did we surpass that almost everyone else gets stuck on?

One possibility: The Great Filter could be at the very beginning—it might be incredibly unusual for life to begin at all. This is a candidate because it took about a billion years of Earth’s existence to finally happen, and because we have tried extensively to replicate that event in labs and have never been able to do it. If this is indeed The Great Filter, it would mean that not only is there no intelligent life out there, there may be no other life at all.

Another possibility: The Great Filter could be the jump from the simple prokaryote cell to the complex eukaryote cell. After prokaryotes came into being, they remained that way for almost two billion years before making the evolutionary jump to being complex and having a nucleus. If this is The Great Filter, it would mean the universe is teeming with simple prokaryote cells and almost nothing beyond that.

There are a number of other possibilities—some even think the most recent leap we’ve made to our current intelligence is a Great Filter candidate. While the leap from semi-intelligent life (chimps) to intelligent life (humans) doesn’t at first seem like a miraculous step, Steven Pinker rejects the idea of an inevitable “climb upward” of evolution: “Since evolution does not strive for a goal but just happens, it uses the adaptation most useful for a given ecological niche, and the fact that, on Earth, this led to technological intelligence only once so far may suggest that this outcome of natural selection is rare and hence by no means a certain development of the evolution of a tree of life.”

Most leaps do not qualify as Great Filter candidates. Any possible Great Filter must be one-in-a-billion type thing where one or more total freak occurrences need to happen to provide a crazy exception—for that reason, something like the jump from single-cell to multi-cellular life is ruled out, because it has occurred as many as 46 times, in isolated incidents, just on this planet alone. For the same reason, if we were to find a fossilized eukaryote cell on Mars, it would rule the above “simple-to-complex cell” leap out as a possible Great Filter (as well as anything before that point on the evolutionary chain)—because if it happened on both Earth and Mars, it’s almost definitely not a one-in-a-billion freak occurrence.

If we are indeed rare, it could be because of a fluky biological event, but it also could be attributed to what is called the Rare Earth Hypothesis, which suggests that though there may be many Earth-like planets, the particular conditions on Earth—whether related to the specifics of this solar system, its relationship with the moon (a moon that large is unusual for such a small planet and contributes to our particular weather and ocean conditions), or something about the planet itself—are exceptionally friendly to life.

 

2. We’re the First

We're the First

For Group 1 Thinkers, if the Great Filter is not behind us, the one hope we have is that conditions in the universe are just recently, for the first time since the Big Bang, reaching a place that would allow intelligent life to develop. In that case, we and many other species may be on our way to super-intelligence, and it simply hasn’t happened yet. We happen to be here at the right time to become one of the first super-intelligent civilizations.

One example of a phenomenon that could make this realistic is the prevalence of gamma-ray bursts, insanely huge explosions that we’ve observed in distant galaxies. In the same way that it took the early Earth a few hundred million years before the asteroids and volcanoes died down and life became possible, it could be that the first chunk of the universe’s existence was full of cataclysmic events like gamma-ray bursts that would incinerate everything nearby from time to time and prevent any life from developing past a certain stage. Now, perhaps, we’re in the midst of an astrobiological phase transition and this is the first time any life has been able to evolve for this long, uninterrupted.

 

3. We’re Fucked (The Great Filter is Ahead of Us)

We're fucked

If we’re neither rare nor early, Group 1 thinkers conclude that The Great Filter must be in our future. This would suggest that life regularly evolves to where we are, but that something prevents life from going much further and reaching high intelligence in almost all cases—and we’re unlikely to be an exception.

One possible future Great Filter is a regularly-occurring cataclysmic natural event, like the above-mentioned gamma-ray bursts, except they’re unfortunately not done yet and it’s just a matter of time before all life on Earth is suddenly wiped out by one. Another candidate is the possible inevitability that nearly all intelligent civilizations end up destroying themselves once a certain level of technology is reached.

This is why Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom says that “no news is good news.” The discovery of even simple life on Mars would be devastating, because it would cut out a number of potential Great Filters behind us. And if we were to find fossilized complex life on Mars, Bostrom says “it would be by far the worst news ever printed on a newspaper cover,” because it would mean The Great Filter is almost definitely ahead of us—ultimately dooming the species. Bostrom believes that when it comes to The Fermi Paradox, “the silence of the night sky is golden.”

 

Explanation Group 2: Type II and III intelligent civilizations are out there—and there are logical reasons why we might not have heard from them.

Group 2 explanations get rid of any notion that we’re rare or special or the first at anything—on the contrary, they believe in the Mediocrity Principle, whose starting point is that there is nothing unusual or rare about our galaxy, solar system, planet, or level of intelligence, until evidence proves otherwise. They’re also much less quick to assume that the lack of evidence of higher intelligence beings is evidence of their nonexistence—emphasizing the fact that our search for signals stretches only about 100 light years away from us (0.1% across the galaxy) and suggesting a number of possible explanations. Here are 10:

Possibility 1) Super-intelligent life could very well have already visited Earth, but before we were here. In the scheme of things, sentient humans have only been around for about 50,000 years, a little blip of time. If contact happened before then, it might have made some ducks flip out and run into the water and that’s it. Further, recorded history only goes back 5,500 years—a group of ancient hunter-gatherer tribes may have experienced some crazy alien shit, but they had no good way to tell anyone in the future about it.

Possibility 2) The galaxy has been colonized, but we just live in some desolate rural area of the galaxy. The Americas may have been colonized by Europeans long before anyone in a small Inuit tribe in far northern Canada realized it had happened. There could be an urbanization component to the interstellar dwellings of higher species, in which all the neighboring solar systems in a certain area are colonized and in communication, and it would be impractical and purposeless for anyone to deal with coming all the way out to the random part of the spiral where we live.

Possibility 3) The entire concept of physical colonization is a hilariously backward concept to a more advanced species. Remember the picture of the Type II Civilization above with the sphere around their star? With all that energy, they might have created a perfect environment for themselves that satisfies their every need. They might have crazy-advanced ways of reducing their need for resources and zero interest in leaving their happy utopia to explore the cold, empty, undeveloped universe.

An even more advanced civilization might view the entire physical world as a horribly primitive place, having long ago conquered their own biology and uploaded their brains to a virtual reality, eternal-life paradise. Living in the physical world of biology, mortality, wants, and needs might seem to them the way we view primitive ocean species living in the frigid, dark sea. FYI, thinking about another life form having bested mortality makes me incredibly jealous and upset.

Possibility 4) There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location. This is an unpleasant concept and would help explain the lack of any signals being received by the SETI satellites. It also means that we might be the super naive newbies who are being unbelievably stupid and risky by ever broadcasting outward signals. There’s a debate going on currently about whether we should engage in METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence—the reverse of SETI) or not, and most people say we should not. Stephen Hawking warns, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.” Even Carl Sagan (a general believer that any civilization advanced enough for interstellar travel would be altruistic, not hostile) called the practice of METI “deeply unwise and immature,” and recommended that “the newest children in a strange and uncertain cosmos should listen quietly for a long time, patiently learning about the universe and comparing notes, before shouting into an unknown jungle that we do not understand.” Scary.[2]

Possibility 5) There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—who is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level. This would suck. The way it might work is that it’s an inefficient use of resources to exterminate all emerging intelligences, maybe because most die out on their own. But past a certain point, the super beings make their move—because to them, an emerging intelligent species becomes like a virus as it starts to grow and spread. This theory suggests that whoever was the first in the galaxy to reach intelligence won, and now no one else has a chance. This would explain the lack of activity out there because it would keep the number of super-intelligent civilizations to just one.

Possibility 6) There’s plenty of activity and noise out there, but our technology is too primitive and we’re listening for the wrong things. Like walking into a modern-day office building, turning on a walkie-talkie, and when you hear no activity (which of course you wouldn’t hear because everyone’s texting, not using walkie-talkies), determining that the building must be empty. Or maybe, as Carl Sagan has pointed out, it could be that our minds work exponentially faster or slower than another form of intelligence out there—e.g. it takes them 12 years to say “Hello,” and when we hear that communication, it just sounds like white noise to us.

Possibility 7) We are receiving contact from other intelligent life, but the government is hiding it. This is an idiotic theory, but I had to mention it because it’s talked about so much.

Possibility 8) Higher civilizations are aware of us and observing us (AKA the “Zoo Hypothesis”). As far as we know, super-intelligent civilizations exist in a tightly-regulated galaxy, and our Earth is treated like part of a vast and protected national park, with a strict “Look but don’t touch” rule for planets like ours. We wouldn’t notice them, because if a far smarter species wanted to observe us, it would know how to easily do so without us realizing it. Maybe there’s a rule similar to the Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” which prohibits super-intelligent beings from making any open contact with lesser species like us or revealing themselves in any way, until the lesser species has reached a certain level of intelligence.

Possibility 9) Higher civilizations are here, all around us. But we’re too primitive to perceive them. Michio Kaku sums it up like this:

Lets say we have an ant hill in the middle of the forest. And right next to the ant hill, they’re building a ten-lane super-highway. And the question is “Would the ants be able to understand what a ten-lane super-highway is? Would the ants be able to understand the technology and the intentions of the beings building the highway next to them?

So it’s not that we can’t pick up the signals from Planet X using our technology, it’s that we can’t even comprehend what the beings from Planet X are or what they’re trying to do. It’s so beyond us that even if they really wanted to enlighten us, it would be like trying to teach ants about the internet.

Along those lines, this may also be an answer to “Well if there are so many fancy Type III Civilizations, why haven’t they contacted us yet?” To answer that, let’s ask ourselves—when Pizarro made his way into Peru, did he stop for a while at an anthill to try to communicate? Was he magnanimous, trying to help the ants in the anthill? Did he become hostile and slow his original mission down in order to smash the anthill apart? Or was the anthill of complete and utter and eternal irrelevance to Pizarro? That might be our situation here.

Possibility 10) We’re completely wrong about our reality. There are a lot of ways we could just be totally off with everything we think. The universe might appear one way and be something else entirely, like a hologram. Or maybe we’re the aliens and we were planted here as an experiment or as a form of fertilizer. There’s even a chance that we’re all part of a computer simulation by some researcher from another world, and other forms of life simply weren’t programmed into the simulation.

________________

 

As we continue along with our possibly-futile search for extraterrestrial intelligence, I’m not really sure what I’m rooting for. Frankly, learning either that we’re officially alone in the universe or that we’re officially joined by others would be creepy, which is a theme with all of the surreal storylines listed above—whatever the truth actually is, it’s mindblowing.

Beyond its shocking science fiction component, The Fermi Paradox also leaves me with a deep humbling. Not just the normal “Oh yeah, I’m microscopic and my existence lasts for three seconds” humbling that the universe always triggers. The Fermi Paradox brings out a sharper, more personal humbling, one that can only happen after spending hours of research hearing your species’ most renowned scientists present insane theories, change their minds again and again, and wildly contradict each other—reminding us that future generations will look at us the same way we see the ancient people who were sure that the stars were the underside of the dome of heaven, and they’ll think “Wow they really had no idea what was going on.”

Compounding all of this is the blow to our species’ self-esteem that comes with all of this talk about Type II and III Civilizations. Here on Earth, we’re the king of our little castle, proud ruler of the huge group of imbeciles who share the planet with us. And in this bubble with no competition and no one to judge us, it’s rare that we’re ever confronted with the concept of being a dramatically inferior species to anyone. But after spending a lot of time with Type II and III Civilizations over the past week, our power and pride are seeming a bit David Brent-esque.

That said, given that my normal outlook is that humanity is a lonely orphan on a tiny rock in the middle of a desolate universe, the humbling fact that we’re probably not as smart as we think we are, and the possibility that a lot of what we’re sure about might be wrong, sounds wonderful. It opens the door just a crack that maybe, just maybe, there might be more to the story than we realize.

Proof of Human Evolution

It has occurred to me that the proof for human evolution is right in front of our eyes.  

Literally.

One of my favorite places to think is in the sauna at my gym.  The endorphins from the exercise have saturated my brain so I’m naturally high, and the heat makes me quickly relax as the sweat pours out of me.  It is at this transition between a hard, intensive workout and deep relaxation that wonderful insights will often present themselves.    

This gym has its amenities that include not only the sauna, but a pool, Jacuzzi and steam bath as well so it is quite popular with a very diverse group of people.  It also happens to be located very close to San Francisco one of the most diverse places on the planet.  Young, old, fat, thin, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Persian, Spanish speakers, French speakers, there is no limit on the diversity found there.  It is a veritable Galapagos of human specimen contained on three levels and 55,000 square feet.  

Now in order for living and irrefutable proof of human evolution one must simply do the following.

Go into the men’s locker room at my gym and open your eyes.

Boom!  There before you, is living walking proof of evolution while it dries itself off, applies deodorant, takes a dump and combs its hair.  

Not to be rude and trying to be as genteel as I can, the best evidence lies in the last noun of the previous sentence.  Hair.  

When you enter a locker room with an incredibly diverse array of men you will see hair, and a lot of it.  Hair will be in places it shouldn’t be, like on the tops of feet.  There will often be more hair running down the back than on the tops of heads!  Sometimes the hair is so plentiful on the torso it is as though they might be wearing a very poorly knitted sweater! 

michelangelos-david

The image of man we most commonly see before us in a gym locker room (or any changing area for that matter) could not be farther from the more classical male portrayal best represented Michelangelo’s David.  If one had never seen the nude male form before, was first shown a picture of David, then an image of one of the hairier specimens from my gym’s locker room, they could easily be forgiven for not believing the two examples are representations of the same species.  

The battlefield for this debate on evolution lies in the classroom.  There are monumentous debates among the states as to how the history and scientific books should be worded in regards to evolution vs other ‘theories.’  But just as Darwin emerged from his study and traveled afar for proof of his idea, our young people too engage in ‘field trips’ to further solidify and provide actual proof of what they have learned.  

As my gym locker room is a paradise of living, breathing scientific proof, yet undiscovered by the academic community I propose we arrange ‘field trips’ for the most mature of our young scholars.  What they will see is indeed shocking, but true science isn’t for the faint of heart!  Just march those wide eyed students right on through the middle from the door to the shower and back out again.  Let them pause to scribble down a few notes, snap a couple of pictures and gather undeniable evidence for consumption by the outside world.  Let the realization that we are indeed descended from the apes sink in right before their own eyes in all its musty, odoriferous and fuzzy glory!

 tourbusA revolution is at hand my friends.  It should have occurred a century ago at the Galapagos islands but nobody lives near the Galapagos islands so how could we be absolutely sure this wasn’t some anti-religious plot to confuse the faithful?  Well friends, my gym is in Daly City near San Francisco.  And San Francisco is a place everyone wants to visit if they haven’t already.  Perhaps in addition to field trips we could also make my gym’s locker room a stop on the big bus open top tour line!  Surely then everyone would then see for themselves and the case for evolution will disseminate far and wide as they return to their home countries!   

 Science is so exciting especially when new discoveries are made that completely overturn long held beliefs!  

A revolution indeed!  

A Divine Thought

As I ate lunch today I was thinking about what ‘God’ may say to us should he manifest himself and look around.  

I think he might wonder how human beings have twisted their thinking so much that they believe it God’s will to kill other human beings and to do it in God’s name!  

For the religious person, God created everything so what would give a person the right to kill another of God’s own creations?  In the eyes of a supreme being wouldn’t this be the height of arrogance?  And furthermore, the religious books are quite specific when they say “Thou shalt not kill.”  I mean it is only one sentence and short sentence at that!  It would be rather hard to analyze this sentence and the four words that comprise it to arrive at an interpretation that means the opposite!  

Yet, the three majors, Christians, Muslims and Jews simply cannot get the most important commandment through their collective heads!  

If the religions could not do this correctly then why should anyone pay even a moments attention to all the other nonsense they’ve spewn forth throughout the ages?  

Finally, this thought just suddenly entered my head.  I believe it might actually be a miracle because I was eating pizza and thinking about painting when this thought suddenly barged in and implored me to write it down!  By God this might have been a mystical experience, a vision such as the Saints have had in the days of old!  

Perhaps God has revealed his will through me!  

He says:

“Let’s start over; the only commandment shall be; Thou shalt not kill.  That’s it, once you can get that right we can worry about all the other stuff.  Just concentrate on that and in your services to me, just repeat it for 45 minutes.  You can sing it, mumble it, give a homily about it, but only repeat this over and over, nothing else.  When the call to prayer echos over the rooftops say nothing else but that.  Jews – what you call Kavanah, just put those four words in the center of it, nothing else.”

Very clear direction there.  Unfortunately given humanities track record I would imagine the following will happen:

  • They will forget it in the next 5 minutes
  • They will find a way to interpret it with the opposite meaning
  • By some miracle the killing will stop, but then people will be imprisoned, or perhaps tourtured, or perhaps interrogated by enhanced methods if they happen to be in the USA.   

Then we will have to wait another 3,000 years for God to intervene again.  Or maybe his instructions will come through a vision or mystical experience as it was known in the old days but whose name and definition has changed in modern times and can be found in a copy of Psychiatry Today.  

The ISIS takes a page from Spanish Conquistadors!

While reading my Lapham’s Quarterly I came across the “Requerimiento” (Requirement).  This was a written declaration of sovereignty and war, read by Spanish military forces to assert their sovereignty over the Americas.  

 “It was used to justify the assertion that God, through historical Saint Peter and appointed Papal successors, held authority as ruler over the entire Earth; and that the Inter CaeteraPapal Bull, of 4 May 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, conferred title over all the Americas to the Spanish monarchs.[1] The Requerimiento probably had its origins as early as the 8th century in the Dawah messages sent to non-Muslim nations by Arab conquerors, demanding that their recipients submit to Islamic rule (see Aslim Taslam).[2]

History repeats itself indeed!  The ISIS is taking a page from the Conquistadors who most likely took a page from 8th century Arabs!  So much for religion being about peace, love and not killing people.  

The Christians might say that this was during a more primitive time so it is unfair to compare.  My response to that would be another question.  Wouldn’t the teachings of the Bible be universal and timeless since it is supposedly the word of God?  Therefore, the only answer could be it is man’s understanding of scriptures that have changed.  Yes, the Western nations still make war but in all fairness I do not see any “Christian” armies marauding around, trying to take over more land and threatening people to either convert or die.  The Christians already went through that phase back with the Inquisition over 200 years ago.   

I do however see “Muslim” groups marauding all over the place and killing people.  The elite clerics of various countries stress that this is not Islam and these groups should be condemned.  It is hard to say this is not a characteristic of Islam when it keeps repeating itself over and over again.  Extremist groups are a concentrated version of the overall religion and belief just as condensed milk is an extreme version of cow’s milk.  And when I look around I do not see even the extremely concentrated versions of Christianity beheading people.  

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The Requerimiento document: written in 1513 by jurist Juan López de Palacios Rubios of the Council of Castile:

“On behalf of the King, Don Fernando, and of Doña Juana I, his daughter, Queen of Castille and León, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, Living and Eternal, created the Heaven and the Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, all the men of the world at the time, were and are descendants, and all those who came after and before us. But, on account of the multitude which has sprung from this man and woman in the five thousand years since the world was created, it was necessary that some men should go one way and some another, and that they should be divided into many kingdoms and provinces, for in one alone they could not be sustained.
Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be Lord and Superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole Human Race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be; and he gave him the world for his kingdom and jurisdiction.
And he commanded him to place his seat in Rome, as the spot most fitting to rule the world from; but also he permitted him to have his seat in any other part of the world, and to judge and govern all Christians, MoorsJewsGentiles, and all other Sects. This man was called Pope, as if to say, Admirable Great Father and Governor of men. The men who lived in that time obeyed that St. Peter, and took him for Lord, King, and Superior of the universe; so also they have regarded the others who after him have been elected to the pontificate, and so has it been continued even till now, and will continue till the end of the world.
One of these Pontiffs, who succeeded that St. Peter as Lord of the world, in the dignity and seat which I have before mentioned, made donation of these isles and Tierra-firme to the aforesaid King and Queen and to their successors, our lords, with all that there are in these territories, as is contained in certain writings which passed upon the subject as aforesaid, which you can see if you wish.
So their Highnesses are kings and lords of these islands and land of Tierra-firme by virtue of this donation: and some islands, and indeed almost all those to whom this has been notified, have received and served their Highnesses, as lords and kings, in the way that subjects ought to do, with good will, without any resistance, immediately, without delay, when they were informed of the aforesaid facts. And also they received and obeyed the priests whom their Highnesses sent to preach to them and to teach them our Holy Faith; and all these, of their ownfree will, without any reward or condition, have become Christians, and are so, and their Highnesses have joyfully and benignantly received them, and also have commanded them to be treated as their subjects and vassals; and you too are held and obliged to do the same. Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords, in his place, as superiors and lords and kings of these islands and this Tierra-firme by virtue of the said donation, and that you consent and give place that these religious fathers should declare and preach to you the aforesaid.
If you do so, you will do well, and that which you are obliged to do to their Highnesses, and we in their name shall receive you in all love and charity, and shall leave you, your wives, and your children, and your lands, free without servitude, that you may do with them and with yourselves freely that which you like and think best, and they shall not compel you to turn Christians, unless you yourselves, when informed of the truth, should wish to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, as almost all the inhabitants of the rest of the islands have done. And, besides this, their Highnesses award you many privileges and exemptions and will grant you many benefits.
But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.”
——–Update 10.6.2014——————–
I always enjoy when after I’ve written a post on some thought or idea, a mainstream publication also writes an article on that same idea.  It lets me know that my ideas are not that far off and I’m not completely crazy.  
AlJazeera posted Confidence men and their masquerade  which compares ISIS to the Spanish Inquisition.  To be honest, I think my comparison with the conquistadors is more on the mark but the Inquisition and fanaticism of the Conquistadors are one and the same so I won’t split any hairs.  

Ebola Virus – Kent Brantly and God

I was watching the news this morning and they went to a live feed where Dr. Kent Brantly survived the Ebola virus and is going to be released from the hospital. 

It is wonderful that he has survived and he is very courageous going into an extremely dangerous zone to try and help people.  

In his speech this morning he gave much praise to God and said his recovery is directly related to God’s intervention as a result from all the prayers.  

I found it curious that a doctor would thank God for a cure more so than the drugs and treatment so I looked up the organization he works for and it is called Samaritans Purse which of course is a Christian organization.  I’m not very familiar with them but for any group that goes into dangerous situations in order to help people is worthy of the highest praise.  

Perhaps this belief in a divine being that directly intervenes in our lives as the result of prayer is worth something since it does cause humans to act kindly and try to help people even when it puts their own lives at risk.  I would imagine that without this belief people would be a lot less willing to put their own lives at risk to help others.  I’m sure many still would but I think it would net out negatively if everyone suddenly stopped believing in God.

As for my own opinion about God should he exist I think he is doing an absolutely terrible job since he has let 1200 Africans die of Ebola but decided to save Dr. Bradley.  Perhaps nobody prayed for all those Africans or they didn’t pray intensively enough?  Perhaps Africans don’t given enough money to the church and thus God deems them unworthy of saving?  

Apologies, it just infuriates me to see people praising God and giving him credit for helping one person when many hundreds have died from the same disease.  

God – You’re doing an awful job and I humbly request a new one as soon as possible.  

Africa Dinner

Israel invasion of Gaza – 2nd Post

At the gym today I had the misfortune to look up at the t.v. which was tuned to CNN.  They were covering the Israeli invasion and my blood started to boil.  

It appears an Israeli soldier was taken hostage and it was being called a “game changer.”  

I absolutely detest the way Americans describe war in terms of a sporting event.  But perhaps it is fitting as American media continually roots for one team which is Israel while trying to justify the worst atrocities.   

I wonder how many children were killed by Israel today.  I’m sure there must be some good reason like Hamas was hiding very ineffective missiles there which mostly are intercepted by their much touted Iron Dome anyway.  Seems like a perfectly good reason to kill those little Arabs.  I wonder what the accepted Israeli ratio is in terms of dead children to a discovered missile cache or tunnel.  Is the discovery of another tunnel worth 10 dead children?  20?  Perhaps one tunnel is worth unlimited dead children to Israel?  

I’ve seen too many articles these past weeks trying to justify dead kids.  Most of the articles put the blame on Hamas which is certainly accurate.  Hamas is vile.  But the fact remains that the damage Hamas inflicts on Israel is negligent.  The damage Israel inflicts on Gaza is obscene.  

I find this would be a good time for a quote.  

Out of our memory…of the Holocaust we must forge an unshakable oath with all civilized people that never again will the world stand silent, never again will the world…fail to act in time to prevent this terrible crime of genocide….we must harness the outrage of our own memories to stamp out oppression wherever it exists. We must understand that human rights and human dignity are indivisible.

Well apparently this quote is moot when the shoe is on the other foot now isn’t it.  Gaza looks pretty much like a concentration camp to seeing as the inhabitants cannot leave and the Israelis are doing their best to kill as many as possible.  Yes yes, please tell me how they call and warn the residents they are going to come blow up their house only to throw a shell right on the UN school.  

Another event in sporting news is that an Israeli soldier was captured and the American media referred to it as “a game changer.”  So let me understand this.   Over 1500 dead Gazans with a good portion of that being children is not a game changer but one captured Israeli is?  

What do you think happens in a war?  What do soldiers do in wars?  They kill people!  It seems entirely reasonable to me that the Gazans might want to do as much harm as possible to the Israeli soldiers wouldn’t they?  

So while I was at the gym they showed this Israeli soldiers picture about 15 times in 45 minutes.  Please take a guess how many dead Gazan children they showed.   

Zero.

Well, maybe I could just look up the carnage Israel is unleashing on the internet?

Israeli censorship

 

Nope!!!  Blocked, censored, not allowed!  We can only see the image of the captured Israeli over and over and over.  No Palestinian dead children allowed please.  Nothing to see here.   

Here in the US you simply cannot say anything bad against Israeli if you happen to be a politician or in the media.  The tentacles of Israel reach deeply into this country and have a stranglehold.  

These tentacles run so deep that Israel can commit the most horrible atrocities and the US will not only continue to justify the reasons but fund the bombs that kill these children as well?  Why?  Because America has a fucking ‘special relationship’ with Israel.  Aka, Israel has the US sucking its dick.  

And how will all of this play out?  Will this latest genocide bring peace to the region and turn all the Gazans into Israel supporters?  I think not.  Yes, who wouldn’t love a country or race that killed not only someone’s entire family but all the neighbors as well.  Hey, after all they sent a memo it was coming didn’t they?  

 

Israel invasion of Gaza

No need for a long post here and I certainly won’t try to change anyone’s opinion.  I just wanted to point out one small blurb in this BBC article.

“It brings the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the current offensive to 18.

The deaths of so many soldiers on a single day will shock Israeli society, the BBC’s Chris Morris reports from southern Israel.”

The number of Palestinians currently killed in the Israeli invasion as of 7/20/2014 stands at 425.  

So if I understand this correctly, 425 Palestinians does not shock Israeli society but any more than a few soldiers of their own killed is shocking?  

Seems the media continues to be very pro Israel.  I read news from a number of sources around the world and in more cases than not the Palestinians are described as terrorists while that word has never been used to describe the Israelis.  

Furthermore, in the opinion sections of most dailies I’ve already seen pro Israel pieces aplenty.  Know how many pro Palestinian pieces I’ve seen in the Western media?   

Zero.  

Now that you’ve read the above you might think I’m pro-Palestine?  I do not support either side.  In one quick paragraph here is how I see it.  

Israel has a right to exist.  The Palestinians have a right to not be enslaved by Israel and create their own state.  Israel should quit oppressing the Palestinians and the Palestinians should quit terrorizing Israel.  There you have it.  

Unfortunately, I do not see things getting any better.  I see war for the next three centuries unless another world war redraws the maps again.  

 

Russia shooting down passenger planes again

Looks like Russia could climb back up to enemy #1 again after a brief 25 year lull. When the USSR fell the attention turned to random, disorganized terrorists who tried very hard to bring down planes full of innocent people,,,, but Russia actually does it.

A leopard never changes its spots I suppose.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007

500px-Putin-Evil-Bond-Villain-Never-Misses-His-Mark

BBC News – UK non-Christian claims ‘absurd’, senior Tories say

BBC News – UK non-Christian claims ‘absurd’, senior Tories say.

I came across this article today and had to comment.

What I find hard to comprehend is that we have more education, more knowledge and more science readily available to our populations today than at any other time in history.  Yet, our societies cannot shake free from thousand year old beliefs full of magic, fairy tales, and made up stories (many of which have since been discredited) that make up religion.

Here we have two seemingly intelligent men who have risen quite high in politics.  Yet they demand that the UK is a “Christian” nation.  They are correct that Christianity took root in the UK and have influenced the country for 1,500 years.  In this case the UK is a Christian nation.

But the UK was pagan before the Christians came so wouldn’t it also be fair to say the UK is a pagan nation or is 1,500 years the cut off.

I had to laugh when I read this:

“We are also a very tolerant nation. In fact one of the great Christian values is tolerance and respect for other people, people of other faiths, other views. So I think our Christian heritage sits very comfortably alongside our plurality and our tolerance as a people.”

Yes, if we read the history books we see how tolerant the English are/were of all the countries they colonized.  The list is rather long and can be found here.  I’m sure all the natives really appreciated the Christian tolerance of the British when they were being invaded and subjugated.

As a consequence of colonization there has been mass immigration to the UK from the colonized countries which certainly hasn’t sat well with the white natives!

It’s not that the conservatives didn’t try to stop it.  Just a quick look on Google and I came across one of the most famous speeches against immigration called the “Rivers of Blood speech” .  In this speech a conservative member of Parliament tried to warn his countrymen about the dangers of letting in all these colored colonial subjects into the UK!

Well, Enoch Powell was right; this is why London is now called Londinistan.

It seems to me that the demand the UK be known as a “Christian” nation is just a cry to try and hang on to the past, a past when there weren’t very many immigrants, which is what old conservative white men do best.  Their ancestors went out conquering other nations and when the mess comes back to haunt them (albeit with a 300 or so year lag) they get all upset about it.

But to throw them a bone, I would say that Europe is vastly more tolerant of immigrants than most countries in the world.  Change comes slowly and the immigrants should do their part and try to fit in to the host culture.  After all, if their culture is the most important thing to them, then wouldn’t it serve them well to just go back?

If the old white men want to call the UK a Christian country let them do so.   With so many immigrants holding other beliefs the UK is actually a multi-religious country no matter what a couple of old Tories say.

It’s just a shame that no matter how the argument turns out, Christianity, while it does have its good parts, is just one more way for mankind is trying to explain his own existence, which like the other religions, is not based in facts.

In the end, these two Tories are simply saying that since the traditional bed time story of the UK has been read for the past 1,500 years it should really be considered the official bed time story and that’s that.