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Friday, October 28, 2016

The truth behind 205

Among this year's unprecedented amounts of unfounded media propaganda, I found this jewel:

https://noprop205.com/

Maybe a little perspective will clear this up.

Debunking the MJ myths:

"20 pages of new laws PROTECT BIG MARIJUANA" (noprop205.com)
There is no such thing as "Big Marijuana", unless you refer to the cartels that will lose $billions of revenue when these bills pass. It is well known that Big Pharma, which is actually a relevant concern and a real special interest group, has been a huge player in the push to keep MJ illegal. Don't take my word: http://www.businessinsider.com/police-unions-and-pharmaceutical-companies-fund-anti-marijuana-fight-2014-7

"Marijuana makes our ROADS MORE DANGEROUS" (noprop205.com)
It does not. If you look at stats on Portugal (which decriminalized near all drugs 15 years ago), you will notice it has the "greatest reduction in deaths in the EU over the last 10 years" ( http://www.emmashouseinportugal.com/living-in-portugal/are-portuguese-drivers-the-worst-in-the-world/ ), and notably less per capita than the US. Netherlands (another country similar drug policies), is at about half Portugal's accidental vehicle death rate per capita.

"Potent edibles ENDANGER OUR CHILDREN" (noprop205.com)
"People aged 21 years or older would be permitted to possess and use one ounce or less of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes" ( https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Marijuana_Legalization,_Proposition_205_(2016) ). Some may argue that it will be easier for kids to get MJ once the law is passed. But since medical marijuana legislation was passed in Arizona, general use statistics show a decline in use ( http://www.azcjc.gov/acjc.web/sac/AYSReports/2014/2014%20Arizona%20Youth%20Survey%20Profile%20Report.pdf ). "Potent edible" merely means food with weed in it, and is costly enough that nobody is going to be giving it away for free.

"Recreational marijuana has HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES" (noprop205.com)
Proponents of this argument will have you believe the significance of the following kinds of reports: http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2015%20final%20legalization%20of%20marijuana%20in%20colorado%20the%20impact.pdf While I agree that this data needs to be analyzed and monitored, the conclusions ignore several facts. The most relevant fact that comes to mind is this: THC will store in the fat cells of your body for several weeks. This means anyone who has ingested marijuana, even a week after the fact and while experiencing no influence or behavior from it, will test positive for use.

Keep in mind that the local data for states that decriminalized weed is still very fresh. More exhaustive and accurate studies have been done in the Netherlands and Portugal, two entire key countries where modern drug law reform has been implemented for over a decade.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Legislation

The First Amendment of the US Constitution ensures the government will not establish a religion, and will not favor one religion above another. Otherwise, we would not be free to worship as we see fit. As this is our right, so it is the right of every other citizen to worship (or not) as they choose, so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

This is a short story of the introduction of protestant legislation.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, a federal ban was placed on alcohol, with a few conditions: "For example, religious uses of wine were allowed. Private ownership and consumption of alcohol were not made illegal under federal law". This 18th amendment was repealed, as "In the 1920s the laws were widely disregarded, and tax revenues were lost." Sound familiar?

The effects:

- "As an experiment it lost supporters every year, and lost tax revenue that governments needed when the Great Depression began in 1929." (Repealed in 1933)

- "Within a week after Prohibition went into effect, small portable stills were on sale throughout the country."

- "A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to flourish." (This is the longest subsection in the article, see: Al Capone)

- "As saloons died out, public drinking lost much of its macho connotation, resulting in increased social acceptance of women drinking in the semi-public environment of the speakeasies."

- "Those who were determined to find liquor could still do so, but those who saw their drinking habits as destructive typically had difficulty in finding the help they sought. Self-help societies had withered away along with the alcohol industry."

- "Because of its higher alcohol content in comparison to fermented wine and beer, it became common to mix and dilute the hard alcohol." (Moonshine)

- "The Volstead Act allowed the sale of sacramental wine to priests and ministers... There were known abuses in this system, with imposters or unauthorized agents using loopholes to purchase wine."

Citations can be found with a quick google search.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Some Sort of Fiction

"When police kicked in the door to Layne Staley's University District apartment on April 19, there, laying on a couch, lit by a flickering TV, next to several spray-paint cans on the floor, not far from a small stash of cocaine, near two crack pipes on the coffee table, holding a fully loaded syringe in his right hand, and the syringe in his leg, reposed the remains of the rock legend." - Seattle News and Events, 2002 Sounds like some sort of fiction, doesn't it?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Atonement

"The guilt that accompanies mistakes can be washed away. If we seek to understand His Atonement, we will come to a deep reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, His earthly ministry, and His divine mission as our Savior." -Boyd K Packer

Monday, March 30, 2015

Truth exists

Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes.
- David A. Bednar

Monday, February 9, 2015

Voltaire

"A witty saying proves nothing." Even so, the wit often proves to be convincing. While taking in any popular media, I feel it's important to keep both of these in mind. Do you find yourself feeling that in order to find value in a message, it must also be entertaining? Do you look to comedians for information instead of doing your own research?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Science of Religion


The following is an essay I submitted for a religion class, Fall 2014. I whole heartedly believe the thesis, although I only spent about 2 hours actually writing it; I apologize if there are errors.

It has been said that science and religion go hand in hand. It has been said also, and is a widespread belief in our society today, that religion and science are mutually exclusive. Yet again, it has been said on the subject, that science and religion are different, viable ways of arriving at the same conclusion. Through the course of the last semester, I've come to the realization that I don't believe any of these. Evidence suggests that science and religion, in their true forms, are the same thing. Through demonstration, experiment and scriptural documentation, I am going to describe how the two educational arenas coincide on every point of doctrine they profess. I will also address the veracity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, though not through proof.

As I am a computer scientist, it is only natural to start at this front. Computers recognize 1's and 0's, a communication technique called binary. Binary has a number of other aliases as well, such as machine language, and base-2. However, I like to refer to it as the “language of creation”. Not language of the Creation, but a type of creation nonetheless, such as imperfect men can implement on this Earth. You see, the binary-based turing machine (named after its creator, Alan Turing), is able to emulate the logic of any algorithm we can conceive, using the logic of no more than 1's and 0's (or true and false, yes and no, a and b, for that matter). This is the engine on which our modern computers are driven. So since before computers were even invented, scientists have been able to emulate any scenario (creation), be it familiar or theoretical, using algorithm computing based on binary, and use that fabricated environment to solve complex models.

Abraham had to be schooled before going to preach to the Egyptians, likely because their science was the most advanced secular teaching of their day. Just take a look from this passage in Abraham 3:15, “And the Lord said unto me: Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words”. As Abraham received instruction from the Lord, Noah also received instruction: “And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch” (Moses 8:19). And what was given to Enoch? “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there”(Moses 7:30). If this sounds familiar, it's because Enoch received the same understanding of the nature of God as Abraham. Therefore, as Abraham and Enoch before him, Noah understood the nature of God. Living in a time when language was not corrupted (see Genesis 11), his understanding was passed to his children and very quickly manifest itself in the Egyptian nation.

Egyptian mathematics differ from the math we are taught in imperial based schools. As we learn to multiply by counting the number of times a number is repeated, the Egyptians performed arithmetic using a binary calculation method. Imagine doubling numbers over and over to create a sequence. Starting with 1 you get 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ….. 2n-1. You can then actually generate any number you wish by summing any of these numbers, with no need to repeat and given number. So if we want to generate 25, we can start with 16, add 8, then add 1. In binary this number is equivalent to the veracity of the positions of each number within our sequence: 11001 (reading right to left, as is the system in binary digits). Although they may not have even referred to the binary digits themselves, they were using a binary calculation method, or as I would call it, the math of creation. With his understanding of the creation, Noah must have passed some of that insight to the Egyptians, his descendants through Ham (see Abraham 1:21), which explains their stunningly advanced mathematical and scientific society.

In another arena of science, the concept of the natural man is addressed. In the arena of physical science, the second law of thermodynamics states that in a natural thermodynamic process, there is an increase in the sum of the entropies of the participating systems. Entropy is defined as a disorder or randomness in that same system. So as the energy of a system is depleted, through work or any other kind of energy consumption, it starts to break down. The forces holding it together are losing energy. We are familiar with this concept, as we see it in the aging process of life forms, the natural decay of geographical structures, and other such processes.

In class we talked about how without God, man is nothing (see Moses 1:10). This coincides with other scriptures that refer to the state of man as being fallen, imperfect, mortal, or any other antonym of “godly”. In Moses 4:25, the Lord states “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.” But will man remain as dust? Man will die, yes, being mortal and fallen, and decay and turn to dust. Then in glory we will be raised through the power of Christ: “And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever” (Abraham 3:26).

So if man's physical life, as mentioned from both the scientific and the religious perspective, will break down and turn to dust, a state of disorder, what then of the spiritual nature of man? “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). Our physical life is a pattern of our spiritual life. “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth”. (Moses 3:5). So then, if the body breaks down when left on this Earth, far from the presence of God, so too our spirits, if left far from His presence, will break down unless we “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”. This matches the model of thermodynamics. Imagine a car runs out of gasoline through expenditure of energy. Will the car “live” again, unless its creator, man, adds fuel to its system? Thus man, without the assistance of God, cannot endure this life and hope to survive.

Philosophy is not more than pseudoscience, and could also be described as pseudoreligion. In either case, it fits snugly between our two topics of interest. I've found that a good deal of classic philosophers were religious men (even, to my surprise, Nietzsche). There are two concepts that fit well within this argument, namely the methodic doubt of Descartes, and the ring of Gyges, as described by Plato. Descartes found that only by first doubting everything he believed could he find those beliefs that were actually true (except, of course, his own existence). Plato offered a scenario in which Gyges, a man bestowed with a ring that granted him invisibility, offers insight into whether having no consequences to our actions would change our behavior. Are we naturally good or evil, both or neither?

The LDS Church differs from other religions (not all, but some), in that personal education is encouraged. Not only through reading and studying does the Church instruct, but also through personal revelation. We actually encourage the members to go around asking questions about the truth of all things. In Article of Faith 13, it reads “we believe all things”. All of them? Well, of course not those things which are untrue. But through revelation we can know the truth of all things. First, though, we must doubt. But, isn't this wrong? No. If you never have a question, how can you hope to receive an answer? We don't refer to doubt in the Church. Neither does the Lord. The same concept Descartes refers to is described in the scriptures as “humility”. Consider the following from D&C 5:24: “Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not humble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, then will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see.” We have to admit that we do not know all things, and that we know nothing to the degree that our Father knows, in order to learn. This is equivalent to Descartes' methodic doubt.

Concerning the morality of man, there is no evidence to suggest that men, on a general level, can be described as inherently good or bad. We are given agency. What we do with that agency is a personal, not a general, topic. Gyges is described as being made invisible by the ring he possesses. Invisible to whom? We must assume, if he is truly unaccountable for his actions, that he is invisible to God. Also, we must assume he is accountable to himself. In a similar situation, let's hypothesize that if a man's brother were to ask him to go and care for an old friend who is sick, he would do so, and return when his friend has passed away. This would not imply that the man is inherently good. Neither would his abandoning the task, and upon hearing word of the old friend's death, returning, imply that he is inherently bad. His actions are a manifestation, decidedly unknown to his brother, of his inner love for both his brother and this old friend. It is no wonder then, that the Savior revealed the following, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Leaving the realm of philosophy, and returning again to physical science, we will look at astronomy. From Einstein's work in his 1905 paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”, we understand the following concepts: “Two events, simultaneous for one observer, may not be simultaneous for another observer if the observers are in relative motion... Moving clocks are measured to tick more slowly than an observer's "stationary" clock... Objects are measured to be shortened in the direction that they are moving with respect to the observer”. So as can be observed, if I were to take two identical clocks recording the same time, leave one on the ground, and fly another around the Earth in a jet plane, the result would be two identical clocks recording different times.

Abraham learned something similar, as recorded in his book. “The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night, is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years” (Abraham 3:5). This was given to Abraham in order that he might understand the truths of astronomy, in order to preach to the astronomically advanced Egyptian nation thousands of years ago. Yet perhaps the thousands of years prior to Einstein are not quite as significant as the century prior to Einstein that is related in Joseph Smith's story.

Revelation is the key to Abraham's understanding of astronomy. In the 1800s, when Joseph was translating Abraham's records, he too was under the guidance of divine revelation. Even though it was only in the century prior, Joseph, a man with little education and no background in scientific endeavors, was able to produce the same theories as the man who, a hundred years later, would be known as possibly the world's smartest man, and the icon of intelligence to this day. It is then sad to think that Einstein's writings may be one of the leading causes of agnosticism in society today, especially when compared to the good that has been accomplished from the testimony and works of the Prophet Joseph.

Lastly, I would like to address the scientific method itself. We start with something we want to know, and from there form a hypothesis, along the lines of “If I do this, then that will happen”. We test our hypothesis, using whatever experiment is appropriate for the occasion. We collect data from the experiment, and come to conclusions based on the data. In order to carry any legitimacy, the experiment must be able to be repeated and generate similar results, a concept referred to as an experiment's being “replicable”. This is a generally accepted format, globally used by the scientific community to perform analysis of the world in which we live and beyond.

Let's see if we can't find these elements in the acquisition of knowledge within the LDS Church. Joseph Smith wanted to know which church he should join. The question. He read in James 1:5 that “If any of you lack wisdom, [then] let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”. The hypothesis. Early in the spring of 1820 he retired to a grove of trees, and prayed to God to know which church he should join. The experiment. Joseph received a divine, personal revelation while in the Spirit, from the Father, through his son Jesus Christ. The glorious data.

We follow Joseph's example in finding out for ourselves whether the church is true. Elder David A Bednar, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, has counseled us that it is not enough to rely on the testimony of others, that we must know for ourselves if the Gospel is true. The prophet Moroni invites us in the Book of Mormon to ask if the book is true. We are taught weekly at meetings and classes to pray for guidance from the Father concerning all that we do. This is in truth as replicable an experiment as can be requested. Millions of people have replicated it, asking the Father while under the influence of the Spirit, in the name of Christ, if these things are true. They have received testimonies of the Prophet Joseph, and of the restoration of the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ in this modern day.

Religion and science are not at odds any more than we are at odds with our God. True religion includes true science, and we have nothing to fear from learning more truth. We are imperfect beings, and have an imperfect science as it is executed on this Earth, as we also poorly execute the Gospel of Christ in our limited capacity to understand and love our brothers and sisters. I look forward to a day when we see with purer eyes, and are able to discern the creations of God from a greater light than even Abraham experienced in this life.