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MESSIAH: AN ESSAY

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Note (24JUL2017): Part Two added.

“For a child will be born to us,
A son is given unto us;
And the government is upon his shoulder;
And his name is called Wonderful Counselor;
That there government may be increased,
And of peace, there be no end,
Upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it.” -Isaiah 9:5

Introduction
As the Anti-Federalists in 1787 had predicted, after President Washington, these United States of America soon began perverse ways then continued them, led time after time down the Path to Perdition by politicians promising Heaven but delivering the predictable, inescapable consequence — Hell. Disasters, however, always do not begin immediately. Sometimes, they unfold over years. Sometimes, over centuries.

Given current trends, what hope might lie ahead? For Christians, the ultimate hope lies in the Second Coming of the Messiah. Until then?

Old problems will prevail. Old solutions will fail as they are failing now. Consequence? The end of The American Era, if not the end of mankind via nuclear war or plague.

Alternative? A new solution. Science. Specifically, Biobehavioral Science from the 21st-century and its derivative, the Science of Human Behavior.

If we humans, nevertheless, cling to the old way — to solutions politically motivated and politically manipulated — instead of a new way — to solutions scientifically-based and scientifically driven, what then?

A Birth
Several years ago, a young expert in Biobehavioral Science and his wife had celebrated the birth of their third child, their only son. Early in life, the boy exhibited wondrous gifts.
The young expert himself still was quite young, nearing twenty-nine. He was average in every way but intellectually.

“The reason universities are so full of knowledge is that students come in with so much and leave with so little.” -Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

His own formal education had ended with a degree from a small, Christian-oriented college in the Midwest, at which his major had been physics; his minor, biology. His education never ended, however. That education, formal and informal, had led him to the notion that, with rare exceptions at most, no truly great, revolutionary discovery ever had been made inside a university.

Well steeped in Science, he retained his Christian faith. His viewed Christianity and Science not as antithetical but complementary. Science asks, “How?” Religions asks, “Why?”

His wife, as attractive as he was plain, held a doctorate in English from a prestigious private university in the Northeast atop a baccalaureate in History from a State-operated university in Alabama. Her years in the Northeast notwithstanding, she remained thoroughly Southern. She spoke Southern. She acted Southern. She behaved in a manner becoming a Southern lady from Alabama — poised with soft, measured speech even when seething inside. She had chosen a traditional lifestyle, remaining at home with her children and assisting her husband in his work.

Unlike her husband, she had drifted away from her earlier belief in God, towards agnostic secular relativism. Yet, she wondered. Could there be a Supreme Being benevolent, caring, intervening? Was there really a Resurrection? Is there truly a Holy Trinity? If there had been a First Coming, could there be a Second?

Religious difference had failed to create marital discord. She even attended Church with her husband and the children. Long before, she realized that refusal would have its consequences, and they would not be favorable — to the family or to her. As her husband repeated ad nauseam, context and consequences!

Members of the family lived modestly, peacefully, and quietly. Their income came from the husband’s teaching Biology at a local, private, Christian-oriented, preparatory school for boys; augmented by freelance writing and occasional consulting. The last provided him with additional income.

“What is it that affectionate parents require of their Children; for all their care, anxiety, and toil on their accounts? Only that they would be wise and virtuous, Benevolent and kind.” -Abigail Adams (1744-1818); letter to John Quincy Adams, November 20, 1783

Both parents had rejected for all their children that which they regarded as the cesspool of governmental primary and secondary schools polluted by anti-American and anti-Western, ideological effluence from elitists of The Left and financial corruption from unionists. Since their children’s infancies, their mother had schooled them at home with assistance from private tutors; thereby, straining the familial budget.

Early in their son’s life, the parents faced a dilemma. The boy appeared to be exceptional, even for an apparent prodigy. A question arose. Should the parents have his intelligence assessed professionally? Ambivalent, they decided in the affirmative. Results? Spectacular! What more to do? Nothing, at least for the moment.

As his childhood merged into early adolescence, the boy’s gifts of great intelligence combined with benign temperament and physical prowess became increasingly difficult to ignore. His fairness and justice were balanced by kindness and patience. As his early adolescence matured towards middle adolescence, his gifts blossomed further. Clearly, he was becoming an extraordinary human being.

By late adolescence, he presented a strikingly handsome appearance with his symmetrical features; head of straight, thick, blond hair; piercing blue eyes; ideal height and weight; and exceptional health as well as physical strength and stamina.

Both his sisters clearly were bright. The boy, however, was beyond bright in a way that seemed almost ethereal. By adolescence, he was becoming too advanced for both mother and father to tutor. Some who knew of the boy suggested that, despite his youth, his parents should enter him early into higher learning at some prestigious university.

They refused. They regarded most colleges and universities, especially local ones, as academic pits of repressive ideological intolerance brutally enforced by self-inflated elitists of The Left — mainly from the Humanities.

They believed that within such institutions, by stifling cognitive freedom, forces of intellectual darkness were blocking the light of knowledge from guiding the way towards understanding and, thereby, towards wisdom. Dogma and indoctrination combined with intolerance had become the chains by which the self-righteous academicians were binding their young, hapless, naïve captives clamoring in their ignorance for mental slavery. No, such places and people were not for their son, but what was?

Feeling confused about that which would be best, his parents sought counsel from their pastor, himself a student of antiquity. To the husband the choice seemed a wise one. To the wife, not so much.
“What’s the harm?” she, nevertheless, told herself.

The Pastor
In his middle thirties, their pastor stood slightly on the short side. With thinning, sandy hair and blue eyes, his looks were pleasant, not quite handsome. In keeping with the times, he tended to dress casually but stylishly. His habits were immaculate as was his soft speech and gentle manner. He presented himself as a shepherd to whom his flock could turn for sound guidance.

One Sunday after services, he met with them in his study. He had known their son since baptizing him. Over several years, he viewed the boy with increasing amazement to the point of making the clergyman wonder whether the improbable might be probable. In the context of current trends in the Christian world of the West, the improbable seemed necessary or, perhaps, even a miracle from Heaven.

Their pastor began the meeting by allowing the parents to present their respective views of their dilemma. The views coïncided with few exceptions.

After the parents had exhausted their remarks, the clergyman asked, “In light of current trends, what’re your respective views of the world into which your son is maturing?”

Silence.

The couple looked at each other. Then, the wife motioned for her husband to begin. He did.

“Reverend, I am a person of great faith. My wife less so. Many in the Western world, like her, have little faith. Many others have lost faith entirely. Christianity is an evangelical religion. As good Christians, we should be spreading our belief. We seem, however, to be outnumbered by another sort of evangelical . . . atheists . . . spreading their nihilistic belief in nothing. The consequence has been accelerating the debt, decay, defeat, depravity, deprivation, desperation, and despair. These nihilists seem to be winning. So, I ask myself, ‘After all this world suffered during the last century alone, given that we now seem on the verge of exterminating all aerobic life including ourselves, where in God’s name is the Messiah?’ I can find no answer.”

The clergyman remained silent before speaking. “Sometimes, I wonder myself. Remember, Jesus on the cross asked, How God the Father could allow such cruelty? Jesus felt abandoned by God at that awful moment. For us at times to feel abandoned, therefore, is understandable. Despite all that has happened and all that is happening now, I personally still believe in our Savior. I still believe in the Resurrection. I still believe in the Second Coming of Christ.”

The wife asked, unintentionally a bit too sharply, “Why?”

“The coming of a Savior bringing peace was predicted as far back as the Old Testament by Isaiah.”

The clergyman then paused. He seemed lost in thought.

He continued. “Speaking of the Old Testament and Isaiah, I just had a thought. It relates to your quandary . . . and my own . . . regarding your son. With your permission, I’d like to introduce him and you to an expert on that book and the First Coming.”

Both parents asked simultaneously, “Who?”

PART TWO

The Suggestion
“The man to whom I’d like to introduce you is a scholarly rabbi at a local Orthodox synagogue.”

The wife exclaimed, “A Jew? How could a Jew help us?”

“Let us remember that Christ was born a Jew and the first disciples all were Jews. We portray our Savior as a Nordic Euro-Caucasian. He wasn’t. He was born a Semitic-Caucasian.”

The clergyman paused while searching a drawer for a piece of paper. Securing it, he continued. “Allow me to read a quotation from John Adams about Jews.”

Again in unison, both parents asked, “President John Adams?”

“One and the same . . . our second President, to be precise. It reads as follows: ‘The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist and believed blind, eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.’ ”

The wife remarked, “They certainly didn’t do a very good job civilizing Germany in the 1920s.”

“Sadly, no. Politically, Hitler fed off the intentionally anti-Germanic, pro-Marxist ravings of some Jews of The Left there. Conversely, there were some Jews of The Right . . . nationalists. . . who emphatically opposed them to the extent that, early on, these nationalists went so far as to support the Nazis in order to thwart those whom they considered their misguided brethren.”

The wife replied, “Jews for Hitler? Hard to believe!”

Feeling more than a bit perplexed, the parents requested a few minutes to confer privately in the hallway. Upon their return, they accepted the offer — still perplexed and ambivalent but hopeful.

After the meeting, the pastor telephoned the rabbi about the matter. The Jewish scholar agreed, requesting to meet initially with the boy without the parents in the room.

The Rabbi
Some days later, they met late one morning at an Orthodox synagogue. Upon meeting the rabbi, the parents experienced a surprise. Admittedly, they had not known what to expect, but whatever fantasies they may have entertained, none was to match reality.

The reality was that the rabbi was a kind, sweet, soft-spoken man in his late fifties. In spite of his age, his full head of well-trimmed hair had remained dark red. Even his traditional beard maintained its color — without dye. His eyes were a striking green that matched the skullcap perched upon the back of his head. Were it not for his skullcap, the couple might have mistaken him for a handsome, Catholic Irishman.

The rabbi was dressed stylishly in a tan suit with a light-blue shirt as background for a green and red, paisley-patterned tie — the green matching his eyes and skullcap; the red, his hair. His socks were a dark tan, and his shoes were dark-red cordovan that matched his belt with its gold buckle.

He began by interviewing the boy with the parents absent but the pastor present. After introductions, the rabbi began. “To start, young man, let me say that anything we discuss goes no farther than this room . . . on the part of your pastor and me, that is. You yourself are free to divulge anything that you wish to anyone you wish. Now, do you have any questions of me?”

The boy seemed uncomfortable but answered, “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, Sir, but I thought you’d be wearing one of those funny-looking, black outfits.”

The rabbi smiled. “The Jews who dress that way belong to a particular sect known as Hasids. The sect began in Poland during the eighteenth-century. The large majority of Jews including us Orthodox do not belong to that sect, however. Any other questions?”

The boy had none, so they paused to sample some tempting pastries on hand. The two men drank tea. The boy drank milk. As a rule, eating elicits an unconditional response of relaxation. This occasion confirmed the rule.

After saying a brief prayer in Hebrew, while reaching for a pastry, the rabbi asked, “Anybody remember what the poet, Oscar Wide, said about moments like this one?”

The boy smiled, answering, “I can resist anything . . . except temptation.”

The pastor interjected while reaching for a pastry, “ I suppose that why the Lord’s Prayer reads, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ I believe that I will yield, however.”

The rabbi answered, “Everything in moderation with some notable exceptions.”

While they snacked, they engaged in a pleasant discussion by the conclusion of which the rabbi ascertained who the boy was; what he was; and where in his young life he was.

Afterwards, as the departing pastor and the boy were walking down the hallway, the rabbi could not help overhearing the echoing conversation between the two. Again, he yielded to temptation. He eavesdropped.

The boy was saying, “The rabbi really fooled me.”

“How so?” the pastor asked.

“He’s really a neat guy. I liked him. I liked him a lot.”

“Would you like to talk to him again some time?”

“I don’t know . . . maybe. Yeah, I guess so.”

With increasing distance, their voices faded. The rabbi smiled while thinking, “Who knows?”

To be continued . . .

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DISSATISFACTION GUARANTEED

Monday, January 9th, 2017

“Life outside society would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” -from Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

We Westerners live in societies that, throughout the relatively short history of our species, our forbears would have considered miraculous. Until well into the 20th-century, life for most remained as Hobbes as described it.

“Death borders upon our birth, and our cradle stands in the grave.” -Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter (1564-1656)

Consider the following: As late as the end of the 19th-century, one out of ten births ended in maternal death. Two out of ten, in fetal death. Surviving infants faced substantial mortality from commonplace disease and unavoidable trauma as well as even greater morbidity therefrom.

Depending upon geographical location and climatic changes, humans faced the threats of hunger from famine and thirst from drought. Periodic plagues swept across the land; for example, Bubonic Plague (“Black Death”) that killed as many as 200-million in the 14th-century. The threat continued; for example, influenza in 1918 that killed as many as 100-million. It continues today.

What changed a context dominated by fear and despair? Not idiosyncratic ideologies. Not superstitious myths. Not charismatic charlatans with their empty promises. Only Science and its applied derivative, Technology. The scientist Isaac Newton (1643-1727) alone contributed more to overall human betterment than all political leaders combined.

Science and Technology changed the quality and quantity of human existence. Consider just the luxuries of air conditioning to cool and central heating to warm, never mind the necessities of clean water to drink, untainted food to eat, and medicines to cure.

Consequence in the Western world? For one, satiation accompanied by dissatisfaction with the benefits with which Westerners have been blessed.

“A fool hath no delight in understanding,
But only that his heart may lay itself bare.” -Proverbs 18:2

Now, consider the hordes of whining, spoiled, self-indulgent ingrates demonizing those betters throughout history to whom they owe their comfort — nay, their well-being and, for most, their lives. More dangerous is their demonizing the means of their good fortune — Science and Technology — in favor of misguided ideologies and mystical superstitions.

“There is gold and a multitude of rubies;
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” -Proverbs 20:15

Beyond comfort, health, and longevity, we owe Science an unpayable debt for bestowing upon us the gift of knowledge — knowledge of our world; our universe; and, yes, ourselves. Yet, when we employ that branch of Science describing our own behavior, cognition, and emotion — the Science of Human Behavior — to better society, we reject it, preferring charismatic charlatans and pseudo-scientific myths.

“The light of life is insufficiently bright to overcome the darkness of reality.” -Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970)

For our disregard of that branch of Science, we humans likely shall pay a heavy price. What price? Our existence.

The two, most perilous threats to human existence coming from the darkness of reality are nuclear war and plague. The former is a consequence entirely of our own behavior. The latter, largely a consequence of it.

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” – John Heywood (1497-1580)

The time is not too late. The clock, however, is ticking. Tic-toc … Tic-toc … Tic-toc.

Before we as a species cease to exist and while time remains, let us try, at least, to see the Road to Redemption by brightening the light of life. How? By using the fuel of Biobehavioral Science and its offspring, the Science of Human Behavior.

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THE END OF DAYS?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

“And it shall come to pass in the end of days . . . .” -Isaiah 2:2

This time, could it be true? Could we really be approaching the end of days?

For millennia, self-styled prophets have been predicting as imminent the end of days. Witness the predictions when the years were approaching 1000 AD.

Yet, could today the end of days truly be nigh? Possibly? Likely? Certainly?

Heretofore, we humans ourselves did not possess the means to bring forth the end of days. Today, we do — nuclear weapons and, less likely, deadly pathogens. We can summon our own end of days at any moment for any reason — or for no reason. Remember Caligula?

Then, we should consider Mother Nature. She always has had the means and occasionally has displayed them with devastating consequences.

See “The Exterminators.”

There are those who believe, with justification, that we humans have been making Mother Nature angry — very angry — by the consequences of our over-populating; thereby, decimating her handiwork. Truly, it’s not nice to make Mother Nature angry. Doing so has its own inescapable consequences.

Consider the Hebraic Scriptures. Worth the effort, even for atheists. Are not we humans fulfilling many of the prophesies preceding the end of days? Sufficiently to mark our demise?

Science tells us, “Behavior has its consequences.”

We ignore that dictum at our peril. To do so is to tread blithely down the Path to Perdition. Many an observer claims that we are on that path with its dismal destination in sight.

If so, do we still stand a chance? Indeed, we do.

We can leave the Path to Perdition for the Road to Resurrection — not at some future time in some future world but here and now. How? There is a way.

Here in these United States of America, the context has been changing deeply and widely. As a people, we have become alienated and angry. We recognize the rot in the four, secular cornerstones of society — government, law, education, and medical delivery. We want not false promises but true change, albeit ill defined.

Therein lies the rub. What change? By whom?

The risk becomes jumping out of the proverbial frying pan into the fire. The chef in charge of change may be a malevolent Satan not a benevolent savior. Can we discriminate beforehand between the two? Yes. How?

By not seeking The Who or even The What but by seeking The How via following the three, simple guidelines of the Scientific method — specificity, objectivity, and accountability.

Specificity n.: defining events in a way that differentiates those events from other events that may be similar but not identical.

Objectivity n.: referring to events that are observable and measurable, either directly or indirectly; and

Accountability n.: observing and measuring events in a way that is verifiable and can be made public.

“Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” -John Donne (1572-1631)

We all die. The current question is whether each will die separately in his own time and place or whether all will die together at once. We do have a choice.

Shall we choose the former by rerouting ourselves onto the Road to Resurrection? Shall we choose the latter by continuing to tread the Path to Perdition?

What’s your prediction? Why say you so?

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THE VALUE OF ENTERTAINMENT

Monday, July 20th, 2015

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”-Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Never underestimate the value of entertainment. Take, God, for instance.

Some claim that the angels convinced God to create the Heavens and Earth because He was bored. God bored? Why not? If God created Man in His own image, and Man can become bored, why not God?

Let’s say for the sake of discussion that God did create the Heavens and Earth because He was bored — but in six days? No way!

Admit it. Six days is merely a metaphor. Remember St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), no slouch when it comes to commenting on God.

When asked why didn’t God create it all sooner, he essentially replied, “Because there was no sooner.”

Imagine understanding the nature of time sixteen hundred years before Einstein! St. Augustine was right. Time exists only within the confines of the Heavens created by God. Hmpf! And we think we’re so smart; whereas, the sages were so dumb. Given our recent antics, maybe we’re the dumb ones.

Second question: Why did God create a seemingly cruel world of predator and prey in which His creatures eat each other in order to survive? For His entertainment?

Yes? No?

Yes, it seems cruel to us because God allowed Man — but only Man — sentience to understand his own mortality and the true nature of Mother Nature.

No, other animals don’t spend time obsessing about cruelty of predator and prey. Only Man does. Cruelty is a point of view — a point of view other species don’t have.

The fact of the matter is that Mother Nature probably is neither cruel nor kind. If anything, Mother Nature is disinterested — couldn’t care less; thus, God may not have created the system but merely created the seeds of the system — Big Bang and all that. Then, He sat back, pretty much staying out of it, and watched as the system further created itself with its paradigm on Earth of predator and prey.

Third question: Doesn’t “free will” make us the guilty parties not God? With human sentience comes free will; specifically, the capacity of cognition to modify context, behavior, and consequences.

If anyone is cruel, is it God or we ourselves? God allowed us the capacity to modify our own behavior. So, how do we use that capacity?

We continually design and develop new and more effective ways to keep ourselves alive as individuals while reproducing like vermin. Aren’t we the ones wantonly exploding our number, overpopulating the world, and destroying this precious planet — this planet, of which few exist in the cosmos, let alone in out Milky Way. That’s gratitude, for you!

At the same time, we continually design and develop new and more effective ways to murder each other and to massacre other species wholesale? Aren’t we the ones about to exterminate most of them and all of us in a wholesale mass extinction never before witnessed?

See “The Exterminators” below.

Witnessed? By whom? God, of course. Now, is that irony entertainment or what?

If this line of conjecture contains a shred of credibility, we might ask ourselves whether God really will find it entertaining when we unleash the mass murder of all aerobic life on Earth via a horrific nuclear holocaust. Why should He not?

Anaerobes will survive. Then, the show can begin again.

Fourth Question: Can we, as a species, survive our own predilection for self-destruction? Many, if not most, scientists predict that we’re five minutes from the proverbial midnight of total doom — more likely, one minute given Obama’s recent, suicidal Iranian Nuclear Accord. Is there an alternative to our self-annihilation? Possibly.

An alternative to oblivion? Sound promising?

Wait! Will it require thinking? Will it require effort? Will it require admitting truths while denying lies? Worst of all, will it hurt someone’s feelings?

Forget it! Why bother? Why not just continue to watch mind-numbing TV, or play a self-stimulating video-game, or send a meaningless messages to others who really don’t give a fig?

Then again, maybe survival is worth a try. Survive? How?

Via science. After all, we created the widely used science of physics, with which we’re about to use to destroy ourselves. Shall we try using the largely ignored science of human behavior to save ourselves?

Try perusing the semi-fictional novel, Inescapable Consequences..

Would God find our endeavor entertaining? Very likely, especially if we exist only as an antidote to His boredom.

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