Saturday, June 30, 2012

Does God Exist

Can anyone prove that God exists? Perhaps the question should be can anyone prove that God doesn’t exist. The atheists argue that since His existence cannot be proved scientifically then by definition He doesn’t exist, but isn’t that argument just as much of a faith based argument as those that argue for His existence? Of course the corollary to this argument is, was the creation of life spontaneous or directed? Some believe that God created life while the atheists reject that argument while believing that life was a chemical accident and that life on Earth spontaneously appeared. Of course those who believe in this “scientific” argument ignore the first rule of the scientific method which is that in order for something to be true it must be repeatable. To date the various attempts at creating life from inert forms have failed so technically the creation of life remains unproven and those who believe in the scientific explanation do so on faith because it is not based on any scientific fact. But the fundamental question remains – does God exist? Where did everything come from? There must have been a starting point, a time before the creation of the Earth and the Universe. At one time it was believed that the universe was static – that it had always existed but science has proven that to be false. The universe is expanding and the rate of expansion is slowing which leads to the obvious conclusion that like a rubber band it must stop and contract back to its starting point. This means that at some point the entire universe must have had a zero or starting point. Science answered this question with the Big Bang theory, which postulates that the entire universe at one time did not exist but came into being in one enormous explosion. That explosion – the Big Bang – created space, time, and all mass in the universe. Unfortunately this theory has this big hole which is – what created the explosion and where was all of that mass and energy prior to the explosion? The answer to that question is in hot debate so the scientific community continues to come up with theory after theory like parallel universes, multiple Big Bangs, and various other strained explanations each one intended to answer the question without resorting to God. The idea that God might have created the universe is an unacceptable explanation to scientists and atheists because God to them is a myth so there must be a scientific explanation even if no one knows what it is. The fact that this position is as faith based as is the belief that God created the universe seems to escape the atheist and scientific communities. Accepting that the Big Bang happened – whatever the cause – space was created along with every single proton, electron, and neutron in the universe. Each of these particles is exactly the same and everything in the universe from galaxies, to planets, to trees, to people are composed of these exact same particles – combined in different forms of course, but forms randomly created by chance into life according the scientific community. However, this argument relies heavily on evolution which has problems of its own revolving around speciation and adaptation. In the beginning the Earth was a far different place than it is today. Science can trace the evolution of the universe from the first nanosecond to today, but the problem starts when all of those identical atomic particles begin to collect and combine into things and some of those things somehow become self-replicating and alive. This is believed to be true but not demonstrable. Nevertheless the first living thing is believed to be something akin to pond scum and that all of mankind is descended from that pond scum. Precisely how these random particles combined into that living pond scum organism is unknown – speculated and postulated on, but not demonstrable. Theories about the creation of life abound and the scientific community is certain that God was not involved and they believe there is a scientific explanation because they have faith in science. But it isn’t just the creation of life that is in question but the creation of everything that lives. From that first pond scum we must accept that every living thing has sprung from that primordial scum – every fish, tree, bacteria, and animal. All of that may be true but of course but it really can’t be demonstrated or meet the rigors of scientific investigation in the sense that it demonstrates that God played no part in the creation of life or existence. So to those who challenge me to prove God exists, I challenge them to prove He doesn’t.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Middle East Overview

In the last week the Egyptian Military announced that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate has been elected President with 51% of the votes. Not a mandate by any means but a real milestone. Of course the military has rewritten the constitution to weaken the presidential authority, but there are other encouraging signs. The new president has announced he will pick both women and Christians as Vice Presidents, whether this happens or not remains to be seen but the mere announcement of intent is encouraging. It has been feared that if the MB gained power they would immediately turn Egypt into an Islamist state. Of course that still might happen but with only 51% of the votes it seems that perhaps the MB will actually attempt to establish a unity approach. While Egypt is the very foundation of Islam it is not alone in the Middle East and what happens there can signal changes throughout the region. For example during this same period Palestinians fired 55 rockets into Israel from Gaza, a Turkish Military jet was shot down by Syrian air defenses, three Syrian air force officers have defected to Jordan including one with his aircraft, and Syria has finally spun into an outright civil war. All of these things are interesting but they must be viewed in their totality. Within the Middle East Turkey is the only truly secular government with an Islamic majority, but that majority has been moving toward an Islamic government and a less secular one. Turkey would like to be a larger influence in the Middle East because they need more political stability and less violence throughout the region. The current regime in Syria has lost control as it spends out of control and into civil war, Turkey needs to see a new regime there. After all Turkey is bounded by Iran with its radical Islamic government and Syria whose government is heavily influenced by Iran via Hezbollah, so with a new regime in Syria, Turkey could work with the new government to expand its influence throughout the Arab world and counter the influence of the radical Islamist elements on its borders. The Muslim Brotherhood has been struggling to gain a legitimate political presence since the 1920’s. For much of that time it has been an outlaw regime similar to the IRA in Ireland. It was the MB that claimed responsibility for the assassination of Sadat in Egypt. Now for the first time they are recognized as a legitimate political party with control albeit tenuous control, of Egypt. Now that they have control of Egypt the MB must find a way to not just deal with the military but to reduce its power, reduce its power without violence. What happens now remains to be seen but without doubt Hamas sees the MB and Egypt as an ally in its war against Israel. The Israeli’s are holding back for the time being while the new Egyptian government stabilizes. For the moment it seems that Hamas is escalating its war on Israel on the belief that the MB will abandon the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty and join in the general Arab war on Israel. However, it seems that the Saudi’s along with several other nations have condemned Israel publicly and played along with Hamas and Hezbollah by giving them lip service but without actively working against Israel. Therefore the probability is that Egypt will seek some sort of Modus Vivendi with Israel and lean on Palestine and Hamas to find a political solution and cease their stupid little war that has achieved nothing, not likely to achieve anything, while reducing the credibility of the entire Arab world. Turkey may be the key to the whole area although it seems they are trying to determine what to do next without actively supporting the Syrian rebels. If those rebels can get organized and show they are not dominated by Iran, Hezbollah, or radical Islamic forces, then Turkey and other nations might come to their aid and end the Assad regime.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

France, The Euro and Beyond

I have been fascinated by the impact of some of the recent events which have rocked the world economy. Of course the first is the reaction by the Greeks to their failed socialist economy which can only be described as denial. The denial being that socialism is a viable governmental form when the costs outstrip the revenues. Their solution is to blame the Germans, blame capitalism, blame the banks, blame anyone and everyone except that person they see in the mirror. So they threw out the government and their austerity program and are now happily returning to their old ways without any idea whatsoever of how to pay for anything. Like all socialists they seem to believe that the “government” will pay for everything by taxing the rich. Of course all of the rich in Greece left a long time ago and when they joined the Euro-zone they gave up their control of their currency, this was a small point which they ignored in their haste to expand their Club Med life style. Now we see the same plan developing in France – that is a total denial that socialism doesn’t work. The French refuse to sacrifice anything to austerity. They feel they are being exploited by being expected to work more than a 35 hour work week and to retire at 62 rather than 60. They know that capitalism is evil and socialism guarantees that the government will always be there for them. Of course they are a little vague regarding where the government gets the money to pay for their benefits other than from the “rich” meaning companies because any individual with any substantial income has already moved his assets out of the country. Furthermore, the socialist government has made it so difficult to lay anyone off that no business will hire new employees. Instead any new jobs are being sent offshore where it is easier to control the staffing. The current thinking in France is that socialism provides for everyone assuring everyone an equitable share of the wealth. Anyone who doesn’t grasp the benefits of socialism must be selfish and greedy, and this brings us to the Euro. Money is an abstraction whose only value is what we collectively give it and the ability of the issuing government to ensure that value, so the dollar, the pound, the yen, and other currencies are monetary instruments guaranteed by their governments but not so the Euro. The Euro is an artificial currency with no specific government guaranteeing it and no specific European government can print new Euros – hence the problems in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and throughout most of the Euro-zone to a greater or lesser extent. The Euro Zone is dominated by socialist governments whose consistent policies have been oriented toward maximum employment with the least amount of work and the most generous benefits. However, the party is ending because none of the Euro-zone countries can sustain these benefits based on their revenues which mean they must be reduced. These austerity programs are not popular but if they are not implemented the Euro-zone can collapse France is the most recent country to refuse to accept these austerity driven reductions in benefits. France was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Euro-zone thinking that they would be the dominant force. This turned out to be a gross miscalculation because their socialist policies focus on employment and not on productivity. . The unintended result ironically has been higher unemployment as companies refuse to hire new people unless forced to. The wages are inflated relative to the output so these companies look overseas for growth which results in a double strike at home—higher unemployment means less tax revenue and higher unemployment costs. The government expands as new government jobs are created and with these jobs comes greater bureaucracy and with that bureaucracy comes lower productivity and an incentive for employers and investors to move overseas. Today the Greeks are voting to decide whether to continue their Club Med economy or to adopt some measures that would keep them in the Euro-zone. Either way the party has ended because the piper must be paid. A return to the Drachma will certainly cause rampant inflation which will create serious problems but staying with the Euro will force serious austerity measures which will effectively demonstrate that socialism cannot be sustained over the long term. Will the French get the message? Will the socialists in Europe get the message? Only time will tell.