When I ask people whether or not we live in a free will universe they almost always say yes.  That’s not surprising because who would deny that we have free will.  However, when I ask them other unrelated questions they often respond with answers which would not allow for the existence of free will.  So I’m confused, or maybe I’m just curious.

I’m curious because I was raised in a strong Christian environment and even considered becoming a minister one day.  Although I never did become a minister, the whole discussion concerning a prime creator still fascinates me to this day.  So at the risk of offending some people’s belief systems on this subject, here’s what I’ve learned.

The paradox concerning free will most often comes up in the context of God’s interaction with His creation.  For example, how many times have you heard someone pray to God?  No doubt many of you have yourself.  Now here’s the rub.  God can’t answer your prayers because if He did it would violate our free will.  Not only that but neither can He interfere with the affairs of man.  After all, man is either free or he isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways.

All of which brings us to the question of sin and the Christian dogma of the fall of man and his redemption by grace.  Down through history, this has been one of the most perplexing questions in theology and philosophy.  For how can man have free will and yet be judged because he supposedly broke God’s commandments?  On the other hand, how can you have a world where there is no personal responsibility?

Believe it or not, the answer mostly has to do with how we define God and how we view who and what we are.  The explanation of those issues I will leave to a later date as it would probably require several blogs to explain.  Suffice it to say that God gave us free will so that we could exercise it.  That’s why they call it free (will).  However, being omnipotent, God actually knows the choices that we will make and, furthermore, that good choices and bad choices (i.e. duality) are both actually necessary in order for man to come to a complete understanding of God (and by extension himself).

So there you have it – the good, the bad and the ugly, all of which are part of God’s creation.  So the next time you hear someone say that God works in mysterious ways, remember that God’s creation doesn’t necessarily define God himself.  By that I mean that the mystery is not the work of the invisible hand of God but rather the work of the world created by Him, a world which we don’t understand.   It’s a world which has become what it is based solely on our free will and the choices that we make.  If you want to change it, or change yourself, you need to look within instead of appealing for divine intervention.  God has nothing to do with it.  Besides… He has seen this movie before and already knows how it will end.

The Prophet

04/25/2011

There have been all sorts of soothsayers, clairvoyants and oracles down through the ages – from the Mayans to Nostradamus to Edgar Cayce.  But there’s one prophet that most people have never heard of.  His name is Albert Pike and he purportedly wrote a letter foretelling WWIII.  What’s unusual about that letter is that it is said to have been written in 1871!  Obviously, that was long before the onset of either WWI or WWII.

The purpose for this WWWIII was supposedly to set the stage for the creation of a new world order.  Sound familiar?  The war would be triggered by a conflict between Islam and Israel which would result in their mutual self-destruction.  The sucking sound you would then hear would be the world powers being drawn into the conflict.

By itself, this is singularly not that exciting until you realize that Pike also foretold WWI and WWII.  As the story goes, WWI was intended to overthrow the Czar of Russia and thereby pave the way for Communism on the world stage, while WWII was necessary in order to establish the sovereign state of Israel in Palestine.  Of course, in 1871, no one I dare say had ever heard of Communism or Israel. Hmmm.

Now Albert Pike was a rather interesting character.  He was a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  He was also a 33rd degree Mason and he wrote and published “Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.”  Strangely enough, there is even a statue of him in Washington DC. According to urban legend, Pike had ties to the Illuminati and it was those ties that were intimately linked to his visions of the future.  Some people would even say that his visions would later become a blueprint for total world domination.

So there you have it.  A colorful story of revelation (think divine), intrigue (a missing letter from a famous museum) and conspiracy on a global scale involving some of the biggest names in modern history.  I wonder when Dan Brown will write a novel about it.

Play Money

04/11/2011

When I was a kid, we use to play different board games usually with the use of play money.  It was fun to spend money with no consideration for whether or not we were getting any value for it.  Today, it seems that our Congress is still playing kids’ games.  As former Senator Dirksen once observed, “A billion here,  a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

I particularly find laughable the whole debate over spending cuts.  After all, any serious debate about the budget has to start with an objective, for example to significantly reduce unemployment.  Then one needs to decide on some serious goals to achieve that objective – like balancing the budget and having a business environment in the country that creates jobs instead of one that ships them overseas.

Instead, Congress has been arguing over cutting paltry sums from social programs like Medicare and Medicaid. However, despite the budgetary crisis, the military budget is strictly off-limits because of our concern that terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya somehow threaten our national security.  I wonder, though, how the people without jobs feel about that.  If you asked them, I would guess that they might be willing to forego dropping a few $5 million drone missiles on civilians in, say, Pakistan or Yemen for the opportunity to put food on the table for their family.

The ensuing budgetary debate between Republicans and Democrats even threatened to shut down non-essential governmental services.  Actually, to come to think of it, maybe that’s not such a bad idea anyway.  It’s not like most people receive much value from the federal government for the taxes that they pay.  By the way, that’s why they call them non-essential governmental services.

In the end, there had to be a settlement so that both sides could declare victory – and what a victory it was.  Even after all the cuts, the country will continue to have an annual trillion dollar deficit, the Federal Reserve will continue to print money (out of thin air) and the taxpayers will eventually have to foot the bill including the billion dollar bonuses for Wall Street.  Now how’s that for redistribution of the wealth?

You see, some things never change – especially politicians who will promise you the change you may desperately want and need.  In reality, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class – well they’re just plain screwed.  Just go ask your congressman what he or she is doing to improve things.  You’ll probably get one of those canned letters that says that the congressman is very busy working hard on their constituents behalf.  I forget, though, are they working hard or hardly working?  Truth be told, they’re in a congressional committee meeting somewhere on Capitol Hill trying to figure out just how to spend all of that play money.