Episode-1404- Listener Calls for 8-8-14 — 110 Comments

  1. I’ve been looking into drip tape. You can pick up a 1000 ft roll of it for around $100. Up to 25 mil and different spacing from 4 to 24 inches. All it need is around 10psi. I think I’m just going to pick up one and see how well it works for a row of trees around the perimeter of my property.

  2. Okay, about this Atheism thing…

    It’s basically the rejection of magic. There’s no magic in the universe, just science that we don’t understand yet.

    Now that being said, just because someone looks at something from a logical point of view, doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it on a deeper level.

    There is a painting in my livingroom. It’s composed of a cotton canvas covered in a pigmented oil based paint surrounded by a faux gold plated wooden frame. I understand what that painting is, and yet I still find it incredibly beautiful. Every time I look at it, I’m struck by it’s beauty.

    That’s atheism. Looking out into near infinite space and appreciating it’s beauty, complexity and power for what it is….without attributing it’s existence to a creator. What humans understand is an infinitely small fraction of what there is, and admitting that there are things we don’t understand doesn’t diminish our lives. Saying, “I don’t know” doesn’t leave us empty, it frees us from Dogma and allows us to seek answers honestly and without bias.

    And when people say, “Well, you can’t be 100% sure that ISN’T true!?” All I can think is, “Well, you can’t be 100% sure that Santa Clause isn’t real.” Now the likelihood of Santa Clause being real is so far fetched that I don’t waste any time pondering it (and my life isn’t empty without Santa.) But you better believe that if someone claiming to be Santa showed up I’d want some DNA testing to determine his species. I’d want to study him. Not because I didn’t think a Santa could exist ever, but because an immortal man who travels faster than light would be science I didn’t understand yet, and his study would be fascinating!

    And that doesn’t make me agnostic. Agnostics believe there probably is magic in the world but we can’t understand it. Atheists believe there is a LOT we don’t understand, but just because we don’t understand it doesn’t make it magic.

    • I know I am switching definitions a bit here, but I promise I’m not trying to play games or act in bad faith.

      I remember reading Martin Buber back in graduate school. He commented that the difference between magic and religion is that in magic, you can go through a set of ritual procedures and essentially compell the supernatural/God to do what you want.

      However, in religion (as he defined it), while there may be religious ritual, none of this ritual compells God to do as you ask. You are essentially asking a Personal Supreme Being to do something you ask, and while this Person takes your request into account, He will make His own decision on what is best to do.

      Again, I know that when you were referring to magic, you meant no violations of the laws of physics by any religious ritual or any sort of god.

      Just wanted to add Buber’s 2¢.

      • Interesting but a Deist doesn’t even go that far with “prayer”. We believe you can pray for stuff all you want and it won’t do a ANYTHING, directly or indirectly to assist you.

        Prayer to a Deist is more an internal dialog, an understanding that there is a creator but that your life is yours to live. God isn’t going to alter it for better or for worse one bit. Again as a Deist we are honest in saying we don’t even know what God exactly is.

        Why then “pray” when you discuss your issues with the universe for lack of a better term you often find your own answers. The laws of both intention and attraction are both also VERY real and highly misunderstood.

        Both work this way, THE EXACT same shit will happen if you practice them or if you don’t. If you were going to go to work today and park in spot 20 and walk into the front office door, you are going to do it. Intention and Attraction won’t change that and won’t change what you walk past. What will be will be.

        However if you are practicing intention and attraction you will OBSERVE and RESPOND to what you see differently. So you will capitalize on what you would not of otherwise, this completely alters your course and does change your future from what it would have been.

        Funny thing is while this is a spiritual principle there is no reason an atheist should object to it.

        • Jack,

          While I’m not a Deist (I’m a Christian, albeit a poor example of one) I find your explanation of the Deist viewpoint enlightening. Thank you.

        • To support Jack in his proposition that prayer helps one’s self… this is entirely correct from a Jewish perspective. Although G-d hears our prayers, the actual change that occurs is to ourselves.

          From the Complete ArtScroll siddur (Orthodox Jewish prayerbook), page xiii, An Overview: Prayer’s Function… talking about the root meaning of prayer…

          “The root of tefillah is [fey-lamed-lamed], to judge, to differentiate, to clarify, to decide. […] The Hebrew verb for praying is mitpalail; it is a reflexive word meaning that the subject acts upon himself. Prayer is a process of self-evaluation, self-judgement…”

          To respond further to Jack… prayers probably should not be wishes to change things that have already occurred. In other words, you probably should not ask G-d to perform a magic trick!

          For example: “Oh dear G-d! Please don’t let that be MY house on fire!”

          What is the problem with that prayer? You are wishing to change what has already happened AND you want Him to switch the fire over to your neighbor’s house! Do you really think He is going to do that for you?

          A better prayer is “Dear G-d! Help me to get through this.”

          Second example of a useless prayer…. “Please dear G-d! Don’t let it be cancer!”

          The doctor takes a biopsy to check for cancer. The lab results will be back in a week. Whatever the results, it has ALREADY HAPPENED. You have cancer or you don’t. Your prayer that is NOT be cancer, at this point, is useless.

          A better prayer would be, “Dear G-d. Help me to heal quickly and help the doctor to understand what is going wrong with my body.”

          Whatever you pray for it is best not to pray for something magical. You can give credit to G-d for the things you do. That happens a lot in Psalms.

          You can thank G-d for the bread even though you are the one who planted the grain, weeded the fields, harvested and ground the grain and baked it into bread.

          There are examples in the Bible of G-d performing what we would call magic but this sort of thing only happened when the major prophets were praying. Obviously you must use care if you are a major prophet praying for stuff but since I doubt any of us are major prophets, we can safely ignore those instances and leave them for the experts to resolve.

          That is my opinion. Of course it is. I wrote it.


        • Alex,

          Sounds a lot like Basic Judaism by Steinberg. Great book. Albeit, from my perspective (which I know you don’t agree) I believe the change is both internal for reasons you outlined, as well as external. I.e., I believe that prayer can, at times, persuade God to change His mind and His actions.

          Naturally, I’m not expecting Jack to agree with this latter point. Nor do I expect you to agree. Of course, I’m fine with that. Just pointing out what I think is true.

        • I am an atheist, and I certainly have no objection to this; I try and practice this way of living myself.

          I think the difference between intention/attraction thinking and many “spiritual” practices is that this one does not rely on any sort of mysticism or necessary belief in the supernatural. It is a directed alteration of one’s consciousness as one goes through life, that can have demonstrable effects.

          In essence, you can decide that living that way is good for you simply through reasoning it out, without major assumptions.

    • So i have to bring up Jack’s explaination of agnosticism. An agnostic does not doubt god exists. An agnostic believes that god is unknown and unknowable. It is beyond the human intellence to know if god truly exists or does not. It is really the acknowledgment that man can not comprehend all things in our universe.

      • That is only one side of agnosticism. Agnostic is to be in a state of non-knowledge. Hence, it could be as you describe: the belief that something may exist but is by definition unknowable. It can also simply be an identifier or statement of no knowledge.

        Such as: I have no compelling evidence to indicate to me that the God of Abraham is an existent being. Following this, I would be agnostic about the God of Abraham. I have no reason to believe in its existence, but I also have no falsifying evidence; so I have non-knowledge.

        In truth, most honest atheists fall into this category.

    • Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms.

      It’s true that SOME agnostics lean toward the belief that there are supernatural things, but we just don’t understand them. However, most people that have actually thought about being agnostic, and don’t just say it because they can’t think of a better thing to call themselves, are just acknowledging that most things we simply do not know.

      Most of the atheist I have interacted with would fall into the category of agnostic atheists: they have no compelling evidence that any god or the supernatural exists, therefor they do not believe in it. If such a being came down from on high and demonstrated the ability to create matter from nothing, alter the laws of physics and claimed to have made woman from a piece of the first man, we would reconsider our views based on this new evidence.

      The rejection of magical THINKING is far more important than the distinction between rejecting the possible existence of magic and the probable existence of magic. All atheists who are critical thinkers reject magical thinking.

      I think a lot of the perceptual misconception of atheists comes from the fact that the prominent ones are also vehement anti-theists, and the hard-line “there is no god” is far more convenient for them than the average atheist’s “I have no evidence for god, so no reason to believe in God.”

      I’m an agnostic atheist. I am also very sympathetic to the Deistic view, or Spinoza’s take on God. That view just makes more sense than the others to my brain.

    • Shak,

      Would you say your belief as an atheist is something along the lines of this? “All knowledge, given enough time, could eventually be discoverable by the scientific method.” Essentially, the only way to discover truth is through the scientific method?

  3. It’s a common misconception that an agnostic is someone who isn’t sure about the existence of god. Maybe it’s so common that it’s a reasonable definition at this point. An atheist is simply someone who’s not a theist (does not believe in god). An agnostic is someone who considers the existence or nonexistence of god unknowable. You can actually be both.

    I agree with Shak, religion is essentially the belief in magic. I’m sorry if that offends religious people, but I don’t see how that’s an incorrect statement. I don’t think many religious really understand the mindset of atheists. To say “that’s such a sad way to live” is like saying “it’s so sad to not believe in Santa.” Yeah, maybe the world would be better if there was a Santa…but there’s not. There’s other good stuff, though! Lots of it! 🙂

    • I would say some religions are a belief in magic. Some not so much. Deism and Panentheism (note NOT pantheism) for example require no belief in anything anyone would call “magic”.

      These are simply ways of seeing the universe that allows for many possibilities and a universal intelligence, a singularity. Deism and Panentheism frankly are far more aligned with our current understanding of cosmology, applied physics, theoretical physics then atheism is.

      Frankly I don’t think you even understood what I meant when I said living as an atheist is a sad way to live. Your response about Santa pretty much shows you didn’t.

      The truth is science has so much it can’t explain. It can’t even explain the “life force”. What I mean is if I kill you dead but do so in a medically controlled environment. I can then keep you mechanically alive with a respirator, etc.

      Once you are in fact dead though you won’t even do so much as heal from a simple scratch. I can put all the antibiotics and curing salve on it I want, a dead person can’t even have a scratch healed.

      The mechanical view of medicine says this should not be, yet it is. We can’t even explain life force and then we turn around and say there is no “God”.

      The other thing I think is that most atheists think God is a person in the mind of a “believer”. That a deist must just have a different image of some sort of being in the conventional sense. Not the case.

      Again “God” to many of us is more accurately a singularity, a conscious force, a creative consciousness then a “being”.

      It is very frustrating for the Deist, the Panentheist and even frankly the people I call “practical Pagans” to discuss things with an agnostic or atheist. The reason is we feel with good reason I believe that you judge our views based more on revealed religions then what we actually believe, say, mean and think.

      It is like telling someone the sky is blue and listening to them object to you but not object to the sky being blue, they explain to you that the sky isn’t orange. You end up like, man that isn’t what I said OR what I think.

      Pagans are hugely misunderstood. They are seen as nothing but want a be witches. People that watched one to many movies or TV shows. Most Pagans don’t “believe” in Paganism (if you are a Pagan and you do, I mean you know disrespect believe as you wish). What they actually see is Paganism as a guide to know the forces of the universe. A way to understand the universe and the earth and peacefully coexist with it.

      Many of them don’t actually “believe” in the God and Goddess. Not the way people think. This see this as an explanation of sacred duality.

      I will put it to you this way, when man can make so much as a clover leaf from scratch with no pre existing life in the “formula” I will consider atheism a possibility. We can’t even get close to that.

      To me there is a force in the universe, more accurately the multi verses (and that is highly scientific by the way) that is guiding and creative and conscious. And I will tell you my belief in such things is largely based on a life long study of cosmology and physics.

    • For those who would like to study the history of G-d from a scientific perspective, I suggest reading …

      “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” by John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler.

      If you are a full-fledged scientist you are going to get the full value of this book. If you are not… no worries. Read the first four chapters of the book and skip all the formulas. The authors have a good writing style and the first four chapters cover the basic history of science and how very little we know about our universe.

      In many ways… it’s magical…. Arthur C. Clarke magical, that is.

      “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” –Arthur C. Clarke .

      Barrow and Tipler convinced me through logic that we are alone in this galaxy, at least… and frankly… even if we are not alone…. the aliens are so far away it makes no difference.

    • Another good book to read on science and the absolute strangeness of the universe is …

      “Cosmology 101” by Kristine M. Larsen.

      She goes through the basic scientific theories but in her introduction she goes though what is faddish in science. She explains in a somewhat embarrassed fashion that there is a herd mentality in science that must be resisted. I’d say that cosmologists are the most aware of this and thus they are the most resistant to it, but not immune to it either.

      Also… check out the Wikipedia page on “The Horizon Problem”.

      It is suggesting that either light travels faster than the speed of light… or its magic!

      It’s probably not magic, but at this point it might as well be.

    • Regarding “pagans”….

      The Bible rejects paganism mostly because of the immoral acts they engage in… burning children alive, drowning people in their rituals, cutting themselves, stealing, public fornication, and stuff like that.

      My position on paganism is that as long as you aren’t burning children alive, murdering people or stealing my stuff… I’m going to remain open-minded. The public fornication stuff… well… keep that to a minimum please.

      All joking aside, I think it is clear that the pagans that are mentioned in the Bible are radically different from those who call themselves pagans today and we should not treat them the same.

      • Well actually Pagans were rejected because the “lord thy God is a jealous God”. That is why, plain and simple.

        All the talk of burning children, etc. is way over played, way over hyped. The place it went on the most was in Central and South America which at the time the Old Testament was written the writers had zero knowledge of.

        • Well… the Bible verse was not a blanket statement. It came with conditions and the strictness of its application applied only to the Jews.

          Also…. if a person does not believe in G-d then who is commanding him? Thus, that person cannot have the intent to disobey a commandment if, in fact, he is not commanded.

          In the practical sense, one must follow along with the commandments in the same way that one must obey the traffic laws whether or not you believe in the mayor of the city you are driving in but if you really think you are not bound by the laws of a mayor that does not exist then you can argue that in court.

          If you look in the Strong’s Concordance you will see that an alternative reading of the verse would be “I am a zealous God”… probably referring to the follow up phrase that He is going to enforce this one fairly strictly unto the third and fourth generation of people that hate Him and show mercy unto the thousandth generation of those who love him… which seems like a good strategy in most command situations. You want to emphasize that things are changing so you come down hard on the shirkers at first because its easier to ease up later than to tighten up later.

          Regarding the reality of whether or not things were “hyped” or not… I cannot say. As you pointed out… the writings are difficult to verify one way or the other. We sort of have to trust that our ancestors were reporting accurately and frankly (as we go through the history segment we will learn that) even our recent ancestors had different priorities when it came to reporting on what they thought was most important.

          The story of Balaam and his donkey is a prime example of things being left out of the story simply because it was assumed that the reader knew things that the modern reader simply wouldn’t think of … at least not right away.

          Anyway… gotta go. I’m not sure it’s important any more. Pagans are different now and that’s all I meant to say. If you are arguing that they are exactly the same as they are portrayed in the Bible (which I don’t think you are saying but if you are) I am compelled to disagree.

        • What I am saying is simple, “Pagan” is a blanket term used by all monotheistic faiths to describe any and all that worship (worship to the understanding of those who are monotheistic) more than one God. In other words both Hindus and Buddhists are pagans as defined by the church.

          Pagan has also been a blanket term used by the Church for those who practice witch craft or devil worship.

          My point is there is no Pagan faith in the way there is a Christian, Jewish or Islamic faith. To generalize Pagans now or at anytime in history would be like Generalizing frankly white people. I was going to say generalizing monotheists (which by the way a Deist is as we believe in a singularity even if we can’t exactly define it).

          But it is more like generalizing yes, whites or Asians or blacks. If you say Pagans believe or Pagans do or Pagans believed or Pagans did, well it is like saying, White People enslaved black people, it isn’t wrong it just isn’t accurate.

          At one time most of the planet was pagan, the practices of each version are about as diverse as the stars in the sky. Some sacrificed animals (so did Jews at one time) yet many didn’t. The native Americans were Pagan, frankly are Pagan. Today we are all sophisticated and call it “shamanic” but it is just a type of Paganism. A belief in many spirits and the earth as sacred. The Native Americans of 500 years ago were just as Pagan as the Hittites, but their practices, beliefs, etc varied widely.

          Pagans are the most misunderstood and slandered of all people in the history of the world. Not the most persecuted but the most slandered indeed.

          When a Pagan prays to the “forest spirit” they are worshiping nothing. What they are doing is acknowledging sacred life. This is and has been called devil worship for thousands of years, never was, never has been and wasn’t even worship in the way Christians for instance mean the word.

          I guess what I am saying is Pagan is really a basket term for “Other than Monotheistic Faith” and frankly that may not even be a big enough group. I am sure most people of one of the three big faiths would call for instances The Himba people of Namibia Pagan even though they are monotheistic and worship the god Mukuru who they see as the one God of all things.

          Pagan just can’t be generalized, in fact you can far more generalize Pagan beliefs today then you could have at the time of the authorship of the Torah. If a person today calls themselves Pagan we have a pretty good idea of what they mean. Most are of the Druidic Ireland/Great Britten based traditions. 2,000 years ago, Pagan simply meant “Other” and again was the majority of people in the world.

        • OK… well… I agree with all of that.

          A good book to read about the Bible from an academic viewpoint is ….

          “Archaeology and the Old Testament” by Alfred Hoerth.

          It is a college textbook and it explains the major theories on Bible history, what scientists know and what they can reasonably guess. It allows room for the believer and non-believer and it explains how we can know more detail about the life of Abraham than we can of King David.

          Fascinating stuff.

        • I think there is evidence of caananite people’s mentioned in the bible who did have contrary beliefs and many did practice human sacrifice at least at times, had sex orgies and so on. They had temple prostitutes as part of that religion and we see that such things existed in ancient Greece as well. The scriptures do not make any blanket endorsement of any ethnic or religious group however but also mention god will destroy any who violate his laws whether they are Jews, Christians, etc. There are plenty of examples of course of god’s tolerance and patience with people’s weaknesses and struggles.

          The great difficulty and subtleness of the left seems to be that it is easy to confuse sex with love because both tend to be soft .. the left is associated with the female also and reminds me of Eve in the garden ..

          Regarding hindus and buddhist, it is true that many christians regard them as pagan, however there are many conservative currents in those religions and I believe them to exhibit a kind of monotheism. That of course is controversial, however there are just different emphasis placed on what was lacking at that time, in some cases a prophet or sage would say go south and in another he would say to go north this in order to correct the errors of the people at that time. This may not mean that god is to be found in the north or south, but that those people where too far off base in that context and gthe message was tailored to them in that context but also it is not totally irrelevant to other times in history since the human condition does not always change that much . Buddhist are often though of as atheistic and many are to some extent, however the buddhist type of atheism found in the east differs very significantly from that of the west. Tibetan buddhist believe in spirits, demons, a kind of buddhist hell and all sorts of such things. In addition, buddha never declared there was no god, he simply refused to answer the question. When asked he was silent, to take that as a negative is the erroneous interpretation of his later followers.

          With regard to Mohammed, during his time there was a great deal of gambling, prostitution and such things.

        • Yoganada explained that according to the correct interpretation of hinduism, the multitude of gods does not express that there are many god but rather the different characteristics of the one god .. This seems to be found in the Christian trinity or the kabbalistic tree of life with the many sepherot or different names for god in the scriptures

          We can certainly find many problems in the modern world with corruption, pornography, human trafficking, warfare and so on. I find it naive to think the ancient world did not have it’s many problems as alluded to in the scriptures etc ..

          Also, we can say live and let live which in many cases may be a good way to follow, but if people have weaknesses then association with certain types of people or certain ideas may be harmful to an individual. This may be like the saying that a bad apple will make the whole barrel go bad. It may be that in some cases we need to oppose certain things for those reasons I feel ..

        • I believe there is abundant evidence of human sacrifice in the land of caanan and that area. I have read it in books on biblical archaeology and we where in Israel at one time with a tour guide. I don’t believe I have ever encountered anyone who expressed doubts on this to have ever really looked at the evidence etc. I have never seen any skeptics page or heard of such that could disprove this at least not based on what I have heard ..

        • There was many struggles and battles with the people in and around the middle east. The Asyryians of that area engaged in very brutal conquests. The biblical prophets seemed to a large extent to contrast significantly with the religions of the surrounding peoples. These prophets where not always pro Israel in the sense that Israel can do no wrong, some of them where not happy with the Israelite behavior and spoke out against them, condemned them etc at various times.

          Also, as far as land area, Israel was a small country and never set out on a conquest of large areas of land the way other empire building peoples did.

        • a related topic seems to be the Palestinian issue. It seems like god commanded the Israelites to drive the caananites out (which they never did completely). However, the Palestinians are a different people that ended up there from the Islamic empire. To me, their religion is much different than the Canaanites. In addition, I believe Jews got along with Muslims better than they got along with Christians for many centuries.

          I don’t feel that the many Christian interpretations on these sorts of issues that I have heard are compelling either. Modern warfare in many ways seems more brutal than ancient warfare. I don’t get too excited hearing about bombings of civilians in Gaza and it does seem like the British arranged alot of things in the middle east so that people would be fighting each other. That doesn’t mean I favor a 2 state solution or anything. I never really figured out what I think the answer is and most people don’t care what I think anyway and have their minds well made up.

          I feel like many Jews like the rest of us are caught in this contrived war on terror where all these radical groups get funded by the west behind the scenes

    • Regarding whether the Bible was addressing actual human sacrifice… it is reasonable to assume that the Bible was responding to attitudes and writings of the past and present… acting as corrective guidance. Thus human sacrifice didn’t actually have to be prevalent at the time for the Torah to address the immorality of human sacrifice.

      Remember that when G-d told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Issac, Abraham didn’t complain nor even question G-d yet when G-d wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah you couldn’t shut him up so it wasn’t a problem with being afraid to ask. And of course, Issac himself must have been over 30 years old so he must have cooperated even climbed up on the altar himself. This is an assumption but a reasonable one.

      The only reason all of this would happen without objection would be because human sacrifice was not unusual even if it wasn’t common. Luckily for Abraham and Issac… they didn’t have to go through with it. G-d prohibited human sacrifice and substituted animal sacrifice in its place… and when the Temple was destroyed… prayer substituted for those animal sacrifices.

      I could go deeper but this isn’t a Bible study.

    • I know Jack isn’t a huge fan of tillage and plowing, but a one bottom plow is a great tool for making fence rows, mainly in cutting a nice shallow trench to plant your fence row into, or pour your seed slurry into.

      • FTR I don’t hate plows. Hell I love the concept of a Yoman’s Plow and sub soiling and Key Line Plowing for establishment.

        My view, plow to establish, not to control.

        That said annual sub soiling for about 10 years on key line does amazing things to build soil.

        • Oh, I know there are numerous uses for tillage when done in a controlled and planned method, its just that many people seem to believe any form of tillage or plow is absolutely raping the Earth. I tend to ignore those people cause they generally seem to have very little on (or in) the ground experience. The plow in any form is a very powerful tool, and like all very powerful tools, can be used to quickly and effectively improve soil or the environment or to destroy it.

  4. I have always heard that alliums are bad for dogs; but, Ben Falk has said that he feeds his dogs garlic as a natural tick repellent with great success… wonder where alliums=bad comes from

  5. I agree that we are not gonna get off gas, coal, and oil anytime soon and fantasies about the whole world becoming substainable overnight are extremely silly.

    That said I still on the fence about whether working with corporations/governments would be ethically comfortable for me even if I thought a lot of good would result.

    History has taught me that corporations/governments are very good at twisting the ideas of good well intentioned individuals and using them cynically to advance their morally reprehensible agendas and to fuel their propaganda/misinformation machines.

    Alot of good men and women have been burned badly thinking they could use the power of government/corporations to good ends by working with them instead of against them.

    That kinda gives me pause.

    Would I work with a government/corporation to put in organic gardens to feed the poor If it also meant I had to be photographed shaking hands with some dictator/ceo I disliked intensely and have that photo disseminated in propaganda/promotional materials that was used to make that particular government/company look better than it is?

    Why is this company/government asking me to do this…are they “greenwashing” or seeking to score some other kind of diplomatic/propaganda/marketing point and the gardens will neglected,bulldozed,and turned into chemical factories after their political uses are exhausted?

    Are they really sincere?

    I couldn’t do it I am too cynical and untrusting of these entities…..I couldn’t personally stand to have it implied in any way that I give these kinds of assclowns any legitimacy.

    I don’t fault anyone that would though….but I would caution that if you do be prepared to have your image/work used in ways you might not foresee/intend.

    • Corporations I will work with, they are led by MONEY this is easy to understand and manipulate.

      Governments, HELL F NO! Governments are motivated by power and control.

      I am happy to make a company more profitable for doing the right thing, even part of the way.

      I will never help a government gain more power, no matter what amount of good they do, the theft of property, freedom and self sufficiency is always greater than any good.

  6. “dog food” is a pretty recent “invention” designed to part dog owners from their $$. All through history dogs have eaten table scraps and foraged. While I agree canines are predominately meat eaters they are opportunistic scavengers. In a local town with many flowering crab apple trees the coyotes will eat fallen crab apples once they are soft and perhaps a bit fermented.


  7. Glad you took my call about the gas/oil/mineral companies. I really value your opinion Jack and this is something that’s been turning in my head for the past few months now. I think that it was a spot on assessment about the industry as a whole and how permaculture can help repair the harm done.

    The reason I asked in the first place is because I’m finishing up my PDC with Geoff’s online course and planning on moving back up to the Dakotas where I grew up, (currently living in FL). The energy boom seems to be going strong up there. I see lots of jobs in this industry but I am not comfortable with working for one of them and being personally involved with these destructive practices. I guess, as you mentioned in the response, however we all are contributing to this in some way whether directly or indirectly. Unless we flip the breaker switch and pretty much go completely go off-grid we are still contributing to the problem. I think though, that I could work as a consultant contractor for one of these companies if I could sell them on the idea.

    If you were a consultant, how would you go about approaching one of these companies? What methods would you use to try and convince them of doing the right thing? How would you Jack market permaculture to a gas/oil? mineral company?

    Again thanks.


    Here is a great documentary with Doug Wilson and the late Christopher Hitchens about the whole atheist vs. religion debate going on for those who have an hour and a half to kill.

    Raises some great points to some of the objections and misconceptions we tend to have on this topic. I imagine it will probably lead to more questions and dialogue on the subject, but I really enjoyed it (at least from a Christian perspective)

    • I would go from the stand point first of safety. The safety culture that is prevalent in the oil and gas industry (at least when we are talking about the majors here) is rather robust because they all are constantly looking at their numbers like days away from work, spill rate, and what not (I know it may not seem that way to some, but they are so obsessed that you can’t walk up and down a stairs without using the handrails at my work without someone being worried about your safety). So care for the people and earth together, in terms of you don’t want to risk harming your employees, a smaller foot print is always great for clean up, etc etc.

    • I’ll double harp on a point Aniera is making, but from another angle.

      Empower yourself to look for the answer yourself (especially if thats what you want to do), and take note of Anieras answer as possibly one you hadn’t considered, and one others might not consider. (I didn’t consider it).

      People have really got to think above and beyond that permaculture is “I want to grow food for myself and my family, and smile rainbows”. Your ability to market, is limited by your ability to think creatively and outside the box. Just about nobody is going to help you with that, but they may be able to provide you with some TIPS on how to come up with ideas.

      If you can’t formulate ideas for marketing, you won’t be able to succeed in what you want (you’re relying on somebody else to do the heavy lifting). The main point I’m trying to get across is, get creative, and if that’s the challenge you want to do, believe in yourself, and trust me you’ll come up with an awesome solution.

    • Just FYI, I would count Christopher Hitchens to be an honest man in that when he has a bias he is willing to admit it. Thus one must use care when reading his work because sometimes he is unreasonable…. in the sense that he is not always being objective. If you would tell him that he was being unreasonable he would admit he was. That allows me to respect him but read with caution.

      Another atheist I respect is Penn Jillete. I read his book “God, No!” and it was a reasonable presentation of atheism. I ended up liking him. The book made me feel uncomfortable because it begins with an Orthodox Jewish man who decides he is an atheist and comes to Penn Jillete for advice. (I am Orthodox.) Penn’s advice is reasonable for an atheist, but he fails to understand (and the Orthodox Jewish man fails to understand) that Judaism allows for atheism. It’s not recommended, but it is allowed. Thus, if someone must lead the prayers and the only person available that can do so is an atheist, then we let the atheist lead the prayers, but a believer is to be preferred.

      One might wonder how a religion could accept an atheist. The reason is that G-d commands us, but if one does not believe that “the Commander” exists then who is commanding you to do anything at all? You lack the intent to disobey. In the secular sense, if the police tell you that you are breaking a certain law, yet if you believe that there is no such law, you must cooperate with the police but you will lack the necessary intent to break the law. Intent matters.

  8. Glad you took my call about the gas/oil/mineral companies. I really value your opinion Jack and this is something that’s been turning in my head for the past few months now. I think that it was a spot on assessment about the industry as a whole and how permaculture can help repair the harm done.

    The reason I asked in the first place is because I’m finishing up my PDC with Geoff’s online course and planning on moving back up to the Dakotas where I grew up, (currently living in FL). The energy boom seems to be going strong up there. I see lots of jobs in this industry but I am not comfortable with working for one of them and being personally involved with these destructive practices. I guess, as you mentioned in the response, however we all are contributing to this in some way whether directly or indirectly. Unless we flip the breaker switch and pretty much go completely go off-grid we are still contributing to the problem. I think though, that I could work as a consultant contractor for one of these companies if I could sell them on the idea.

    If you were a consultant, how would you go about approaching one of these companies? What methods would you use to try and convince them of doing the right thing? How would you Jack market permaculture to a gas/oil? mineral company?

    Again thanks.


    Here is a great documentary with Doug Wilson and the late Christopher Hitchens about the whole atheist vs. religion debate going on for those who have an hour and a half to kill.

    Raises some great points to some of the objections and misconceptions we tend to have on this topic. I imagine it will probably lead to more questions and dialogue on the subject, but I really enjoyed it (at least from a Christian perspective)

  9. To the guy who called in wondering if table scraps gave his dog worms: There’s a few common helminths (worms) that infect dogs that owners detect with eyesight along.

    Dipylidium caninum (a tapeworm) is sometimes detected when proglottids (worm segments full of eggs) are passed in the stool and look almost like rice. Eventually, you might see whole worms hanging out of the dogs butt which you need to pull out (with gloves, of course) and dispose of. If your dog has this then he as fleas and he’s eating the fleas.

    Toxocara canis (roundworm) can also be detected in stools as whole worms and puppies are generally infected from their mother transplacental or transmammary but dogs area also infected from eating feces or an infected animal like a rodent or rabbit.

    There are also several species of hookworm that can infect your dog but your not going to pick up on it via eyesight, but you may see your dog looking anemic. These are geohelminths and infect directly through the skin upon contact with the ground.

    Since your dog may be infected and show no signs at all, the best detection is done by testing for the presence of eggs in the stool. And yes, you can become infected with all of these, so it’s good to use some sense when addressing the problem.

    I should add that heartworms (Dirofiliaria immitis) are also one you won’t pick up on visually (the actual worm, I mean), but is very important to test for and prevent using monthly doses of ivermectin. Mosquitos are the vector for this microfilaria and it will flat out kill your dog. Those of us in the South have to be vigilant about this one.

    Hey man, I give my dog scraps too, depending on what it is, and for what it’s worth, my dogs loves citrus. When the satsumas are ripe, we both eat them every day.

  10. Question for Darby – Do I have to get sunflower seed that have already been hulled or could I get whole ones and grind them?

    Regarding Osage Orange – I’ve read about taking the fruit and leaving it in a bucket all winter and then in the spring take a drywall mud mixing attachment for a drill and mix it all up. then dig a shallow trench and pour this slurry in it.

  11. I just heard the segment out the brazillian pepper tree. I know nothing about the plant but I have seen brazillian pepper honey on Wonder if it has any extra benefits. I wonder what sort of a mead it would make.


    • @ Paul
      I have lots of Brazilian pepper around where I live. The honey is delicious. It has a slight kick to it. I’m sure it would make a phenomenal mead. The berries can also be dried and used for pepper too. If you get the gourmet pepper corns (the ones with the different colored pepper) they are the reddish colored ones I believe.


  12. I started making my own layer feed years ago, centered on organic red winter wheat, which has a %15 protein, plus carbohydrates fro energy. I mix in some whole peas and some flax seeds. I do not grind it up, I soak it for 12 hours, drain, then let it sprout in the bucket for 48-60 hours, storing once or twice during that time. Just get little tails on the wheat. I give them crushed oyster shells on the side.

    They do not have access to free range, the predator load is too great here. I do throw in whey from cheesemaking maybe once a week, and some weeds when I need to from yard work. I should/could be throwing in more greens, I just runout of time, so it is when it is, not daily, maybe at least once a week, more in the spring when the main garden is going in.

    It has been 5 years, they lay eggs, reproduce, new chicks hatch and grow. Not saying to follow this formula at all, just an example of how there is likely alot of room for variation. I did not calculate how much to do the different ratios, and sometimes it varies. Right now it is 2 1/2 large empty quart plastic yogurt containers full of organic wheat, 3 handfuls of peas, 2 of flax. I have small hands. And, I am a home chicken operation, not a commercial one, and I have a mix of heritage breeds.

  13. Jack I feel you misunderstand why the world seems so perfect, It isn’t because someone designed and planned everything. It was brute forced with untold failures by nature before anything succeeded. At a glance it seems like nature sends a weed to repair an area but in reality trillions of seeds tried and failed before something was suited to the area. To me personally my lack of belief in a god doesn’t diminish my awe at the world around us the incalculable chance of a plant growing or a person being born to me personally is amazing and to diminish the failed attempts by saying a god planned it seems to downplay their sacrifice. Just thought I would add my opinion, love the show keep up the good work.

    • I didn’t say the world was perfect, I said the universe was. We are not even speaking the same language here.

  14. I’m always just amazed at what I can learn from the call in shows. Thank you Jack for the quality you give us.

  15. Thought Chef Keith Snow’s advice was great. I’d just like to add that if you’re going to be doing any amount of meat grinding do yourself a favor and get a dedicated electric grinder. They’re a bit pricy but if you’re doing a lot of meat processing they’re well worth the money. I’ve used a 1 hp grinder (from Cabela’s) for about 10 hunting seasons now and the thing has been bulletproof. It makes grinding a bunch of burger a snap and I’ve found that I’ve expanded my meat processing to include seasoned burger and sausage blends.

  16. An additional thing to think about regarding “getting money for a business” is coming from the aspect of flipping the situation around where you’re providing an opportunity that other people are TRYING to jump on.

    All the best kickstarters and startups have this in common. The last thing you want to do when getting money from people is making it so that they have the upper hand, where they’re doing you a favor. Every kickerstarter I have ever backed I said “I have GOT to get in on this one”. Not for charity, not for whatever, but because getting X out and being part of it is something I want to be a part of and the way I do it is by acting on it now and using my money.

    The opposite approach is the absolute worst idea ever and likely will see you hating the project or trying to please people you have no purpose being in business with (they’re anchors your tying your success to).

  17. Jack, I just wanted to apologize to you. I always assumed you were an atheist, but were claiming to be a deist, just to avoid the pointless arguing. In my defense I can say you may be the first completely honest man and I was unprepared. It is like meeting a leprechaun.
    That said, you are wrong about the line between Agnostics and Atheists. Agnostics believe that the existence of G-d is unknowable. Atheists just don’t believe because they know it is knowable, but have found no evidence.
    I used to be an agnostic, now I am an atheist. Show me proof and I will be a believer. That doesn’t make me an agnostic. An agnostic thinks that existence is outside of the field of evidence. i.e. G-d could be the best liar and all of existence could be the Truman show for all of us. I apply Occum’s razor and call BS.

    I can understand your pity for atheists. Religions have an understandable allure, but faith is a slippery slope that I cannot condone in myself as it is cognitive dissonance. You say you have proof, and I am open to it, but so far, I have searched and disproved it all. Yes, there are still huge gaps in my knowledge and all knowledge, as there always will be, but always the gaps narrow and in a regular progression. Einstein proved Newton wrong, but not by much and so it goes. Each day, old questions are answered and new questions are asked. Meteorology has been mostly answered, but Quantum Mechanics has not. Dark Matter and Dark Energy are just being asked, but does that mean G-d is hiding in the other 96% of the Universe or G-d rolls the dice? The jury is out, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so show me some evidence. And that certainly goes for your “life force” argument which seems weak especially coming from someone who so completely understands the inter-connectivity of systems.
    Love your show, keep up the good work.

    • I don’t agree on agnostics, I think your definition is way too narrow.

      If agnostics ONLY are people who “Agnostics believe that the existence of G-d is unknowable.”

      What do you call someone that says I have no clue if you can know God or not, no idea. I have no idea if God exists or not, I just don’t know but I doubt God exists?

      What are they then a Neo-Agnostic? LOL

      And yes I am a Deist and likely more spiritual than most.

      • Richard,

        “Einstein proved Newton wrong, but not by much and so it goes.”

        Just a nitpicking point unrelated to the purpose of this discussion, but Einstein proved Newton completely, fundamentally wrong.

      • Exactly. In my philosophy discussions on agnosticism, we came to the same conclusions in about 4-5 different groups: there are Agnostics and people who are agnostic.

        Agnostics, big a as we called it, hold the philosophical position that certain things are intrinsically unknowable.

        People who are agnostic or in a state of agnosticism simply admit that there are many things that we do not know, and things that we currently cannot know. That does not preclude the future knowing of these things as the big a Agnostic posits.

        Even as an atheist , I must logically point out that we currently cannot know that God or a god does not exist, as there is not hard falsifying evidence.

        I personally see enough circumstantial evidence to discredit most earthly concepts of god. However, the Deistic position seems far more plausible, and as we learn more about the universe it may even become more so. I’m open to that possibility, because I recognize myself as an agnostic being.

        • Jack: I would call that an agnostic atheist. One that has no belief in a god, but would be willing to admit that they don’t have all knowledge and could be wrong.

    • Imagine you were to come upon a table with Scrabble letters spelling out “Richard”, and I told you, “It’s the craziest thing. I just reached into the bag, and started dropping letters onto the table randomly. And these ones happened to fall face up and spell your name.”

      Would this extraordinary claim require extraordinary evidence? How much more so the order found in the universe? Wouldn’t it in fact be more reasonable to assume an intelligent being was responsible for the order found in the Scrabble letters? How much more so the order found in the universe?

      So I wonder, what you would consider sufficient evidence for a Creator?

      • Well, let’s look at the probabilities. Assuming you are a honest person and using a standard set of Scrabble tiles, and assuming we place the tiles right side up and turned correctly, then that will happen approximately one time in every 9.09 trillion times. That sounds rare, but if I give a Scrabble set to every person on Earth (round down to 7 billion) and ask them to try it every 30 minutes, then it will usually happen 3 times every 24 hours. Or if we add in the flipping and drop their hours to 8/5 and give them vacation, it will happen twice a week and 126 times a year.

        So what proof would I need? Tough to say. Clark’s quote comes to mind of any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic, so it would have to be something that defies more than science, but logic. The observation aspect of Quantum Mechanics comes close, but it still doesn’t show independent intention. A g-d has to act independently of constant laws. i.e. a g-d of gravity isn’t much of a g-d if they always follow the law of gravity.

        • Richard the key here was to make huge number understandable in an analogy.

          The probability of the random elements of the universe lining up to make a single strand of DNA by random occurrence are likely something on the order of ten to the trillionth power over the odds of the scrabble tiles. Not to mention you simplified them.

          The way this was supposed to work is the tiles were just dropped and no just the right letters in the right order but they all line up so they read properly and no you don’t put them right side up that has to happen on its own too.

          For the analogy to be more complete we need about 100 billion tiles and we need most of them to be nonsense. Only 26 of the 100 billion are letters in the alphabet we know.

          Then we are lucky Richard has no letters that are duplicates. Then we need to not get Richard to show up once in a random drop but BILLIONS of times.

          This is far more along the math required for creation to be a random circumstance. And remember though I believe in God, I most certainly don’t believe in “magical thinking” as atheists seem to accuse anyone who isn’t an atheist of.

        • //Richard the key here was to make huge number understandable in an analogy.//

          I completely agree, and so was my response. I know it is unfair to compare Scrabble tiles to DNA, but also unfair to compare the number of people to the number of unbounded proteins in the primordial soup or a 24 hour day to the billion years between the cooling of the Earth and the origin of life and that ignores that possibility of Panspermia which could add billions of years if it came from a first or second generation star.

          The numbers are just too big to contemplate. All I wanted to do is show how remote possibilities can become less remote when mass selection is involved.

          PS I got my probabilities from multiplying possibilities of 6’R’s out of 100 tiles, 9 ‘I’s out of 99 tiles, etc. so I think the calculations are correct, but I leave it to those who have have used probability theory after the 1980s to correct me.

        • Two things.

          One, am I to understand the evidence for a Creator you would find sufficient would have to defy logic? The evidence one could produce to convince you would have to be illogical?

          Second of all, I’m not saying it isn’t possible to drop tiles at random and spell out “Richard”. I’m more asking, if I was to show you a table with Richard written in tiles, would it be more reasonable to assume it happened by chance, or that it was created by an intelligence? It seems the atheist comes from the presupposition that an Intelligence doesn’t exist, so despite all the reasons and evidence to support the conclusion that complex order comes from intelligence, (I say complex order because pulsars send orderly pulses that we can detect, but no pulsar we’ve ever heard has ever sent those pulses in waves matching the first 10 prime numbers or anything remotely complex) we can never come to that conclusion, because the Intelligence doesn’t exist, therefore it must be by blind chance. Would you apply the same logic to seeing your name written in Scrabble letters, even if you can calculate the odds of it occurring randomly?

        • //One, am I to understand the evidence for a Creator you would find sufficient would have to defy logic?//
          In a word yes. I would think any definition of a deity would include some level of independent action. This action would not be purely rhythmic, etc. such as the action of pulsars and would seem to an observer who did not know of the deity as illogical.
          For example there have been tests that have been run to see if the action of strong emotion could affect the action of a random number generator. Other test to see if unified prayer could cure disease or lengthen life. If either of these tests gave a positive result, then it would be illogical, because the mechanism would be completely outside known science.
          Looking back maybe logic is the wrong word, but hopefully you see the direction I am going.

          //if I was to show you a table with Richard written in tiles, would it be more reasonable to assume it happened by chance, or that it was created by an intelligence?//
          OK, under those conditions I will restate my answer. If those tiles were on Earth in a location accessible by beings smart enough to spell out the word with opportunity, then yes, it would make more sense to assume the word was created by an intelligence.
          But…if the tiles were in a location not accessible by a known actionable being then the question is harder to answer.
          Let’s say I come home from a daylong trip to my two dogs and a previously clean house to find that one or both dogs have inexplicably attacked my Scrabble set. Upon retrieving the tiles I find among other words, my name spelled out on the floor. Should I assume that: A. My dog(s) are doggy genius’ and are sending me a message? B. That G-d is sending me a message through my dogs. C. My daughter did not clean her room as she attested. D.That my dog got weirdly lucky. or E. Buglers have broken in and attacked my Scrabble set and left this as a distraction. F.Aliens have visited me and left me a message.
          You dogs and kids may vary, but I’m leaning to C, based on probabilities but I think it demands further investigation. Certainly a 70′ crop circle in my backyard would alter my opinion.
          What I’m saying is that adding in actors who were previously unidentified should show traces of other actions made by those actors. Added variables should simplify solutions not complicate them. Adding in a creator can seem to answer many questions, but it also creates just as many.

          // It seems the atheist comes from the presupposition that an Intelligence doesn’t exist, //
          I was raised a Baptist and was instilled with the presupposition that a Creator did exist. The problem was that the more I learned, the more didn’t make sense to me. I looked at other religions and none seemed to have any better answers, again, to me. Decide for yourself.

  18. Tough to argue on the validity of a definition of a word in a living language, but I will attest that my definition is aligned most current published definitions, though some list it as an alternate. From the root, agnostic means “without knowledge”, so I can see your case for saying it means you are not sure about the existence of g-d, but I would still disagree, with your assertion that those who will not deny the possibility of a creator are not atheist. A negative cannot be proven, so it is unrealistic to expect that in any discussion.

    • “Tough to argue on the validity of a definition of a word in a living language,”
      This applies to any word, at any time. I should also note in general you could argue any “language” has this property. The exception to this might be something like a “computer language” but to be specific and precise, its quite obvious that a computer language (binary) is not the same as a human language.

      I will also state, I do not use your definition, nor have heard many people put it that way. You have created two people who are hard liners in their opinions, with zero grey room. (As jack suggests).

      Athiest: Definite there is no god
      Agnostic: Definite that there is no way to prove a god.

      I think most people are more likely to not follow definite views, regardless. Consider we’re speaking about beliefs here, most people might say…

      Athiest: I don’t believe in a god/gods
      Agnostic: I don’t know whether I believe in a god or not.

      I see the agnostic approach generally used when people are so unsure of it, that they use it as the catchall.

  19. Not to throw even more dust into the air, but to understand a word, one must understand its inception and entomology.

    One of the early Christian sects were called the Gnostic. They claimed to posses gateway knowledge that was necessary to truly understand the secret meaning and knowledge within the Scriptures. Most of the sects had one or a few specialty points to which they clung and this was the Gnostics pet point of reference. I cannot say if they were correct or delusional, but from them we do get the word gnostic, which means “to know”, specifically sacred and hidden knowledge.

    Thus, the antithesis of gnostic (to know), would be agnostic (to not know). Take it for whatever you think it is worth, fellow TSPers. 🙂
    Cheers! Rick.

    • You can read about the Gnostics in Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire… volume 1, chapters 15 and 16.

      Gnosticism is a weird blend of Christianity and Zoastrianism. They were an esoteric group (meaning elitist) and were quite popular at the time. That may be why the early Church felt compelled to edit the Gospels to remove difficult passages that the Gnostics were taking advantage of.

      For a good example of a troublesome passage, you can read the book “Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized” by Dr. James H. Charlesworth.

      Don’t buy it. It’s an academic book and it’s really, really dry but it covers ONE VERSE in the Gospel of John that favorably compares Jesus to a serpent.

      No doubt that will freak out many Christians…. which is why Dr. Charlesworth wrote such a detailed and thick book and only published it at the end of his academic career. I read the book and he makes a good case for a snake being a symbol for healing. Remember that the symbol for medicine is a pole with two snakes entwining themselves around it.

      I hope that doesn’t upset anyone but academics suggest that there are verses missing from the New Testament and they were removed early on probably because the Gnostics were taking advantage of certain verses and twisting them to mislead people.

      Don’t worry about it too much. I learned about religion in college so I tend to approach it from an academic viewpoint. I believe in G-d and frankly… I assume (and believe) that He is powerful enough that if it made any significant difference, He’d let us know.

      I’m an Orthodox Jew, BTW. I throw that in occasionally so that the new reader understand by point of view.

      Alex Shrugged

      • Like I said I have a different take.

        The Gnostics didn’t take advantage of the Gospel of John, John is a Gnostic Gospel. John is written in code, sure some was removed (Christians did you know this?) but even what remains is coded Gnostic verse.

        Many “Gnostic Gospels” were called heresy and done away with, burned, etc. If one reads John the way it was interned to be read Gnostic in some ways means “learned” one finds that this Gospel is not what it seems, frankly I find it a lot better.

        Frankly I disagree with the current view that Gnosticism has 2nd century origins. Most historians agreed until the the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, that is when the consensus became what it is today.

        Yet this dog doesn’t hunt with me. I see the origins of Gnosticism in many other places including in Kabbalism.

        For as long as there have been religions, there have been those who have seen the wisdom of them yet the contradictions in them and their use to control others.

        The Gnostics of the 2nd Century that are RECORDED into history anyway seem more like the Essines then true Gnostics. Abstinence, isolationism, etc.

        We always need to remember that history is written by the victors, and victors tend to slander their enemies.

        • This is the first I’ve heard of this specific mention of codes and a quick Google hints that the codes are in the “Secret Book of John” which hints at a book other than the canonical Biblical one. So before I start researching I’d like to know that much.

        • Don’t know about the secret but I do know as Alex stated parts of John were REMOVED before it was canonized. So perhaps it is just the unaltered version though I have not ever seen that.

          All I will say is this, Read John, front to back. But do so if you can make yourself with the following view.

          1. The story is just a myth and you accept that as being so as the reader. You have to read this as a person would read any story that is full of truth but not meant to be taken literally.

          2. There is symbology in the story, it is designed to convey a truth that the powers of the time would kill you for saying or circulating outright.

          The Churches (protestant and catholic) have both called John “The Spiritual Gospel” in their teachings, they don’t know how right they are I think. Even with parts removed the message of John remains constant for those who are “knowing”.

          Think of this in the vein (not connected to) something like the book The Da Vinci Code. You have to read it for the message inside the book.

          Ironically this is also how the book of Revelations was written also by a “John”. Revelation was never about the future it was a coded message about the time it was written.

        • Do you have a link or resource that shows earlier manuscripts with the original text of John (prior to the omissions that occurred during canonization) to compare to the canonized text of John?

    • The big problem the Church had with “Gnostics” which as you say became a generic term of slander like Pagan and say Gentile, was the Gnostic said, “we don’t need the church”.

      In the end that was the conflict! Frankly many Gnostics as you say were early Christians. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in the message of Christ, they simply saw no need for the intermediate authority of the church.

    • Alex,

      I admittedly haven’t read Charlesworth’s book on Jesus being compared to the serpent, so I don’t know how he addresses this. However, Jesus being compared to a serpent shouldn’t surprise any Christian. Here are the texts.

      John 3:14-15 (Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus)

      And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

      Numbers 21:4-9

      From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

      Comparing the text, I don’t see anything other than standard Christian teaching, nothing shocking. People sin, God sends judgment, people ask for deliverance from judgment, God sends way for people to be delivered. Jesus seems to be saying “Hey, remember that story about the snakes biting people, and Moses making a bronze serpent, so if anyone looks upon it, they’ll live. Well, I’m going to be lifted up on a pole one day, and if anyone looks upon that pole, they’ll live, with eternal life.”

      Maybe Charlesworth has something more to it, but from a pretty basic reading of the two texts, I don’t see anything troubling according to basic Christian doctrine.

      You seem pretty well read, do you know of any manuscript evidence that shows passages in the earlier manuscripts that is missing from later manuscripts?

      • You write, “You seem pretty well read, do you know of any manuscript evidence that shows passages in the earlier manuscripts that is missing from later manuscripts?”

        I suggest reading an article by Charlesworth entitled “Jesus, Early Jewish Literature, and Archaeology”.

        In appears in the book “Jesus’ Jewishness: Exploring the Place of Jesus within Early Judaism”.

        I’m not endorsing the whole book but the whole book is academic, peer reviewed and thought-provoking. It is also sitting on my bookshelf right now.

        Alex Shrugged

  20. What was the Church in the beginning, as I understand it, was a universalist or catholic (small c) church and wished to remain so. The Gnostics were a secretive, elitist group that felt that special knowledge or “gnosis” was required to be properly pious. In other words, if you were a Gnostic you were “in the know”. If you weren’t “in the know,” you were out. (Gnosis is Greek for “knowledge” and specifically… religious knowledge.)

    Gnosticism was similar to kabbalism in that it was (and somewhat still is) special and secret with revealed knowledge reserved only for its membership but the historical paths were different. Gnosticism seemed to fight with the mainstream Christians. Kabbalists tended to keep to themselves and not defy the mainstream. In time the kabbalists were accepted into mainstream Judaism… somewhat… with the mainstream picking and choosing the more easily digestible bits of it and incorporating it into the religious service and religious commentary. There is even a children’s book I read that was translated into English that featured a Cabalist performing what one could only be called “white magic”. (“Children’s Stories,” translated by Isaac Bashevis Singer. I also read the kabbalist Nachmanides’ commentary on the Torah which is not out of the ordinary for Jewish study.)

    So… it is what it is.

    Modern day kabbalists do not (or at least should not) dabble in magic, white or otherwise, since the Holy Ari forbade it some time before 1572.

    There are other restrictions on the study of Kabbalah imposed some time after 1676 due to problems with a kabbalist named Shabbatai Tzvi. He claimed to be the Messiah and about a third of world Jewry believed him. He got funding for a ship and men to take back the Holy Land. He was caught by the Ottoman Sultan and given a choice to convert to Islam or die. He decided to convert to Islam. (I think I’m going to put that into the history segment line up right now! OK… I have it stubbed out on my local copy. ;-))

    Shabbatai’s followers still exist… I suppose they are waiting for him to rise again. See “Sabbateans.”

    Another form of modern day Kabbalists are the Chabad/Lubavitchers. They are the mostly likely kabbalists one is to meet. Certainly, I know many here in Austin, Texas. Nice guys but some of them (not all of them) believe that the Rebbe, Rabbi Mendel Schneerson, the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe, will rise from the grave and become the Messiah. (I’m not one of them. Neither am I a Lubavitcher though I’m glad to pray with them.) I am told there are people designated to watch his grave for his rising. (The Rabbi himself never made such a claim but such is the burden messiahship. If one claims it, one cannot be it, the logic goes. The logic escapes me.)

    If any of this makes Christians feel uncomfortable, it should, but I’m not trying to talk anybody out of or into anything. I’m laying out what I think are the facts.

    From a believers standpoint Christianity may well be G-d’s revelation to the Gentiles. That seems to be the modern Catholic viewpoint anyway. The Pope declared that the Jews have a separate revelation from the Christians and that is the only logical position one could take and still believe that G-d revealed anything at all in the Bible… if you think about it… but a lot of people are not thinking about it.

    Regarding the terms: pagans, gnostics and gentiles being negative terms… I’m not sure how one avoids the negativism. I wanted to say in a recent history segment (I didn’t because of space) that in Switzerland it was difficult to find certain critical nutrients in the soil. This malnutrition in the Swiss caused an inordinate number of children born with various forms of dwarfism. We keep changing the name of dwarfs (or dwarves as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it) to the current “Little People”. In Switzerland in the Middle Ages, they called such Little People… Christians… in order to remind folks that these people are children of G-d like anyone else. The term “Christian” was shortened and became the word “cretin” and is a negative word today.

    The point is that it’s not the word but the attitude that the word reflects. You can call the pagans “Ice-Cream-Cones,” and in a hundred years Ice-Cream-Cone will be every bit the negative word (if it is negative) that the word pagan is today. Also… the word “bedlam” is an example of a positive word being distorted into a negative one. (See the TSP Wiki, Year 1405: “In a Word: Bedlam”).

    The same process works in reverse. A good example is the word “queer,” which has become a somewhat positive word for homosexuals. (An example is the TV show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” which helps heterosexual men dress better.) Another classic example is “Orthodox Jew.” That used to be a slur in case no one knew that. It became more positive when Jews who were not toeing the Reform line decided they needed a name and liked the label “Orthodox”. A more sensible term would have been “Orthoprax” but it doesn’t roll off the tongue. )

    Was that all too cynical? I’m not trying to be negative here. I’m trying to relate the facts as I see them. What you all do with them is up to you.

  21. I am going to point out that every time jack even mentions religion there is about a million and a half posts correcting, or adding minutia to it. I guess out of all the debates out there, its the least interesting one to me which is why I always find it funny that there are so many posts. I may find it even more interesting that Jack feels compelled to reply to them all haha….

    Nowadays I’m becoming more facinated with how to get myself to view something from a totally different perspective. I am coming from a place where I believe everyone generally has a reasonable and logical answer to what they say (otherwise they wouldn’t say it, if they believe it), but how they come to their conclusion seems to really bewilder people. I think this is generally because everyone is attempting to view their conclusions from their perspective and framing it in their own views. “That does not compute, because my definition says this, so therefore what you say can’t possibly be true”.

    I usually lump this topic in with people who get a little way too excited with “Science”. (You know using your five senses in an organized and systematic fashion to claim knowledge over reality). A person above called people who believe in religion as believing in magic, this seems to fit into this viewpoint. I read it as derogatory, foolish, typical, completely misunderstanding with lack of empathy, intentionally obtrusive, hubristic and completely incorrect. I believe this is the typical situation of focusing on one’s vantage point long enough that any other just doesn’t make any sense what-so-ever.

    • Sounds like “Messiah Complex” and it exists in many places other than religion, such as science.

      This is when someone discovers something at least they feel is earth shattering awesome and then tries to save everyone else by telling them about it.

      Not a simple, hey I have this great new X I am using and it is great, you might want to know about it, let me know if you do.

      But over and over every time, X is the way forward, you got to try X, wow X changed my life, etc. to the point of where it becomes verbal diarrhea!

      Over zealous sales people are a good analogy of this. We had a term for what they did to people they called to often. We called it TTID Syndrome.

      Tell Them I Died Syndrome.

      “Mr. Smith that guy from XYZ is on again”, “oh him, shit, tell him I died”

      • I think it literally applies in every facet. I think what ends up being dangerous is when you’re not so familiar in some sort of space and you have people who are like that.

        Which kind of sucks because those who can help you are wading in the shit that can’t. But I’ll accept this as just being reality.

    • I almost didn’t want to post a reply for this reason, but I think there is some validity to having some part of this discussion and that is as an exercise in critical thinking.
      It is tough to dance the fine line on touchy subjects and I hope my words have not offended anyone, but the important part is not what your belief system is, but that it is yours and not just something just pushed on you. That goes for religion, politics and millions of other facets of life. Too many Christians don’t read the Bible and few know where it came from. Too many people who expound the virtues of science, don’t know the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. Too many people cherry pick ideas without understanding their origins or context and that is a big problem that deserves a bit of discussion. Some of that will be a discussion of terms. I personally thought Pagan was synonymous with Druidic, but I was mistaken. Examining labels is an important part of understanding, especially when you are dealing with historical statements where words as seemingly simple like “corn” change so dramatically.

      • Wise words or as some redneck son of a coal miner has said on his podcast many times, simply, “know why you believe what you believe”.

        Oh and Richard if you want the project of reading the Book of John the way I suggested here is a clue of those who call themselves the “knowing”.

        In John the story is the of the loaves and fishes and 5 loaves and 2 fish fed 5,000. Now frankly if you take that literally and believe God can do anything there is NO MIRACLE to be seen really. Gee God can make a little bit into a lot, well wow who would have thought that.

        I mean really think about it, if God sent himself to earth as a man in the form of his own son with all of God’s power and if you believe that is anything he did a miracle? The inclination is to say yes, it is. But a force that can do anything doing something as mundane as creating 2500 fish and 5000 loaves of bread, really? A miracle? I mean it would be like calling it a miracle that I got up and put my socks on, again if you believe God was Christ and God can do anything, there is NO miracle in this. It is just an all powerful God doing what he chose to do.

        So what if we don’t take the story literally? What if we say what is the miracle in feeding 5000 with five loaves and two fish?

        Here you go man, the grain in five loaves if sowed as seed can indeed five thousand and the row of just one female fish fertilized by a male fish indeed can produce thousands of new fish. Why do you think the story even started out with 2 fish and 5 loaves? Why TWO fish, not one or three. Do the math especially with the technology of the time on sowing grain.

        You take it from there if you want to see what is coded into the Gospel of John.

        @Alex the concept that the Gnostics kept what they knew to themselves out of some elitist view is more historical slander. They saw these things as self evident to any that would simply look for them, not to mention they feared death for saying what they believed to be true.

      • Well said.

        I just don’t know if I agree necessarily that religion is the best use of this, mostly because it makes some ordinary people get really stupid.

        I was drunk/drinking in Daytona Beach one year and saw a “religious extremist” rally that was trying to protest people from going into a bar. I intentionally chose the words extremist and protests because thats how most people saw it. Other than speaking calmly with a microphone and holding up signs I didn’t see anything extreme about it. The amount of ridiculous over the top college student drunk actions on them was inexcusibly ridiculous. Somebody says “you may regret doing things tonight, you should stop” and you feel the need to scream in their face (Drunk i might add) it kind of takes you back. In my normal fashion, I felt no problem shoving the drunk idiots off of these regular human beings (we’re all human right?), especially since I was trying to speak with their leader. (Maybe i had something to learn).

        Great enlightening conversation and effectively came away from the conversation with “I have more in common with somebody who is over the top religious who has their shit completely in line and takes things literally, than most anybody else.” Why? Consistency of their arguments and thinking rationality. Even if its religious based, there was significant amount of rationality throughout. He didn’t convince me to “change my religion” but did convince me that people can make very cohesive arguments with lots of information, that makes sense.

        • Religion and politics are kind of third rails of conversation, but religion is more important as it is taught earlier and its foundations go deepest. To understand a person you need to understand their fundamental drives. A key piece of that is what is your view and purpose of life. Religion may form some or all of that foundation that you build the rest of your life off of and build your view of good and evil. My best friend is a Deacon of his church and we talk casually about subjects of faith as his is well thought out and solid as a rock. Others, even those I have known well, act like they have been slapped when they find out I am an atheist. Like my choice is an assault on theirs or possibly because they think good and evil can only be divined from scripture, so they may see it as I am admitting to be a sociopath.

          But I’m not. I feel guilt about eating pork, as pigs are smarter than dogs, and I like dogs. This decision came from examining what I would and would not eat, and I decided intelligence was a meaningful gauge. Sadly bacon is delicious, but I try. This is not to say that my decisions are to be inflicted on others, but just ones I find for myself after examining the foundations of my beliefs. You may or may not eat pork, or anything else, but you should know why. Hopefully I have not incensed any pig farmers, that I would discuss not eating pork, but once I started with religion, the discussion of food choices hopefully seems mundane.

        • So your “ok to eat something” decisions are based off of intelligence? What does that even mean “smarter”? Learns tricks easier?

          Great example is that they say dogs like poodles are smarter than say a Scottish Terrier (a dog i have). A scottish terrier is actually way down there low on the “intelligence lists”. Why? Because they’re more difficult to train. Why? They’re terriers, and they’re independent. So is smart a dog that can learn tricks well and be a total right hand man with a human, or one who is independent and does “what he feels he needs to do”?

          If I pull even lightly on the intelligence issue it’ll unravel into madness. There is almost no logic arguments that will give you “what is intelligent and what it is not”. Life doesn’t work that way, it simply is.

          For me, if it tastes good and people have been eating it for thousands of years, that’s a good enough bar for me.

  22. Regarding Bible Codes… the Qumran Jews tended to place secret codes in their writings and claimed that there were secret codes in the Bible. This search for secret codes has crept into normative Jewish thought and observance. The study of such codes from a Jewish perspective is called gematria. It is a type of numerology and it allows many Bible commentators to draw connections between various passages in the Bible that would not normally be connected.

    Just to give you a sense as to how such a code would work you must first know that the original Hebrew numbering system did not use Arabic numerals. It used (and often still uses) Hebrew letters for numbers: alef for 1, bet for 2 etc. As one might guess, numbers can spell words… like chai which means “life” is also the number 18. Thus the number 18 becomes a special number and when a rabbi asks for a donation he will often ask for a multiple of 18 such as 36 for “double chai” or twice life.

    There are computer programs devoted to finding the number of a word or phrase or verse in the Bible and trying to equate it to other phrases or words in the Bible. They use various methods for doing this. I don’t bother with it too much except that it makes for interesting discussion.

    BTW, in my prayerbook, The Complete ArtScroll Siddur (nusach Ashkenaz) in the back pages is a special list of lines from the Bible. Let’s see what page…. page 924 “Verses for People’s Names.” The idea is that you select the verse to read based on the first and last letter of your Hebrew name. Let’s look for mine… yud and ayin…

    Psalms 72:13 “He will have pity on the poor and needy, and the souls of the needy he will save.”

    That is my verse in the Bible.

    I don’t use this system. I’m telling you that the system is in active use today by many people, but if it was really mainstream it wouldn’t be in the back of the book. Know what I mean?

  23. I apologize for saying religious folks believe in magic. You are right, Mike, it’s derogatory, lacks empathy and isn’t even true in many cases – and even if it is, it’s a jerky thing to say.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that science is just “using your five senses in an organized and systematic fashion to claim knowledge over reality”. It’s the accumulated knowledge of many people doing that over many years, building on the discoveries of those who came before. It’s created a lot of what we depend on and is the reason a lot of us are alive. Also, it seems to me like the best way to “claim knowledge over reality”.

    • Every religious person should believe in magic. Otherwise, said religious person does not follow the Bible. The Bible says that magic exists. Thus… if one believes the Bible is true, one is compelled by logic to say that magic exists. A religious person is not allowed to use magic but it is there just the same… if you are following along…. yes?

      Now… I think the objection would be that ALL of the religious stuff is magic. Well… as I’ve said before (paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke) things we don’t understand often do seem like magic and I’m willing to bet that if you jumped into a time machine and went back to 1776 and showed George Washington your flashlight, you’d be on trial for practicing witchcraft and magic.

      It’s a matter of perspective.

      • It is true the Bible says magic exist, but it seems to differentiate between magic and miracles. I think an atheist usually attributes a belief in miracles as “magical” thinking, or a belief in magic. Now, in a Biblical worldview, and a deistic worldview, miracles are indeed possible. It certainly makes sense if the presupposition is there is a Creator outside of the universe responsible for the existence of the universe. If, and I know for some this is a big if, but if a Creator does indeed exist, then miracles are no problem. The Creator created the universe, parting the Red Sea is child’s play in comparison. Any miracle is trivial in comparison. So why don’t we see more miracles? I don’t know, but one possible reason is because miracles are a validation, like a King’s signet seal to verify when a message is truly from the King. Maybe miracles are used to validate new revelation being given to mankind, and all the revelation needed has already been given. Miracles are only ridiculous and magical thinking if there is no Creator. We all have the same evidence before us, for example DNA. That evidence can’t tell us either way it’s origin. How one interprets that evidence is based largely on our presuppositions. If one concludes there is Creator responsible for the results we observe, then with that one conclusion, it is perfectly rational to at least be open to the idea of miracles.

    • @Alex
      That’s not quite what he meant, I’ll admit I took a stab in the dark at his meaning, and it seems I hit the appropriate one. When people say “magic” they mean it in a “you are too dumb to see what’s going on behind the scenes so you believe in the facade rather than the real thing.”

      No need to necessarily apologize. I mean I’m certainly not offended, I’m not religious by a long stretch, and even then I was just mostly pointing it out that people seem to start really stretching things, usually in condescending ways. We could equate it to a strawman argument if you will. I am going to pick apart your argument, but don’t take offense to it, it’s just my nature, and I like to fully flesh out every single statement, particularly glossed over ones. (Devil is the details, so when glossing over occurs, when I think it shouldn’t, I dig deeper).

      I think its very fair to say what I said regarding science. Because that is what it is. “Science” = the “Scientific Method”. The scientific method is a methodology for understanding phenomena by formulating a hypothesis then testing it. Revising that hypothesis, then testing again.

      “It’s the accumulated knowledge of many people doing that over many years, building on the discoveries of those who came before”

      That depends on what you’re boxing when you say “science”. I would also peg you to define “knowledge”. Anybody in the science field whos worth two sh!tz will definitely pause for a moment when you say something like “knowledge”. Science doesn’t do anything other than what it does, which is to test phenomena using a systematic approach. That does not presuppose that anybody ever does or needs to look at another person’s scientific work. That might be better stated as the “scientific community”. I will further add that EVERYTHING in science is built off of the 5 senses and the extension of those senses. Science also requires that it must be testable, and particularly testable in isolation.

      “It’s created a lot of what we depend on and is the reason a lot of us are alive”

      I am going to call it like I see it, bullshit. Particularly the “a lot of us are alive”. I’m surprised you would even say something like that. It doesn’t matter where you look on this one, its bullshit. While I agree that science has certainly led to electricity, the internet, exploitation of oil, etc, its such a long stretch into loonieville that we’re alive because of it. I might snarky add that hundreds of millions of people died in the 19th and 20th century due to “science”. I’ll point out that the Nazis and Soviets were obsessed with science, to the point where science was above all. I’m not equating science to Fascism/Communism but I will say its been the destructive religion for quite some time now.

      I am making a jump based off of what you said and will point out that looking at the medical industry in another light and its propaganda overwhelmingly (to me) shows the bullshit of that statement. People who are all sorts of good natured use “scientific advances” and “science” to kill and maim people with unnecessary surgery and doctors who are completely unaccountable.

      “Also, it seems to me like the best way to “claim knowledge over reality”.”

      Why? Just because? This is a fairly common diversionary statement by people who just give a blanket pass to science, without any regard to what it is, how its being used today (and in the past). Saying it is the “Best way” immediately closes your mind to other possibilities, which, I assure you there are numerous even not so large questions unanswered in science because they’re simply not testable.

      I don’t care what the discipline is, it shouldn’t receive a blank check, particularly on something like defining reality. I might point out though that its not necessarily the scientific method or “science” that defines reality, but the people who use science define reality. It’s ok for defining reality for themselves, but for others is another story.

      I’ve ranted on this long enough, long story short, I couldn’t disagree more. (By the way I studied science in college, I’m a software engineer by trade, and my wife is an employed scientist who smoked me in grades all day long).

    • Regarding the difference between “magic” and “a miracle” in the Bible… two words are used that have different meanings but the context in which they are used, suggests something similar is happening… or that if they are different, they would be indistinguishable from each other.

      If you look at Exodus chapter 7 you will see a discussion between Moses and G-d as to what to do when talking to Pharaoh. G-d says that when Pharaoh asks for a wonder, he is to do what G-d tells him to do. As it turns out, Moses produces a snake from his staff.

      Then Pharaoh calls out his sorcerers and they produce a snake as well. To the eye there is no difference.

      Well… is there a difference? In this case, semantically yes, but practically no. In the case of Moses, G-d uses a Hebrew word that means “wonder, miracle” which is related to the word for “brightness”. It’s a big display like fireworks.

      What the Egyptians sorcerers do is related to the word for writing or engraving. What is implied is that they are drawing circles and other signs in the dirt.

      So… two different words without a lot of emotional baggage, frankly. Anyone can write in the dirt. That doesn’t mean they are witches. And big displays are interesting but not necessarily important in and of themselves. But by placing them together in the same context, the Torah is equating the two actions.

      On the other hand, the sorcerers will eventually fail to bring about similar “miracles” and the displays that G-d will produce will be ever more brilliant.

      So… there is a difference between magic and miracles but it is not always apparent at a glance.

  24. Regarding “Panspermia” and the idea that life on Earth was somehow seeded from someplace else in space… this is barely credible. It has becomes something of a shell game for those scientists who realize that the creation of life on Earth is so improbable that one could almost say impossible if it weren’t for the fact that we are here to observe ourselves alive and kicking.

    I am old enough to remember when this theory was first trotted out. It is the basis for the Michael Crichton novel… “The Andromeda Strain” (1969). If you recall the original movie and the novel, a special space probe called “Project Scoop” was sent to take samples of near space looking for unusual organisms for use as a bioweapon. They found one and it almost killed them all. Great novel. Good movie. Totally full of crap… but at the time, when the space program was just getting going, it was reasonable to conjecture about possible space microbes.

    OK… so why did space scientists drop this idea of Panspermia by the 1980s? Well… logic did them in.

    1. Statistically speaking, if you wanted to seed Earth with microbes, it would have to be one heck of a lot of microbes to ensure that a colony would survive.

    2. The microbes would have to seed the Earth at a specific geological time… a narrow window in geological terms.

    In order to satisfy those two prerequisites to qualify as a scientific theory and not just wild-ass-guessing, there should be one heck of a lot of those microbes out there RIGHT NOW! In fact they should be so thick that an astronaut ought to be able to just reach out and grab one! Thus the storyline for the Andromeda Strain was born and the reason why the Apollo astronauts were placed in quarantine after returning from the Moon’s surface. (Microbes, if they really existed, might be under Moon rocks.) Yet, when science made a concerted effort to look for these microbes, they weren’t there.

    Where are the microbes?

    In a recent episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson used slight-of-hand to suggest that the reason that there are no microbes in space (microbes which we should see in abundance if Panspermia wasn’t just a load of crap) is because we happened to pass through a nebula that was chock-full of these microbes but now that the solar system has moved beyond that mysterious (and missing) nebula the microbes are no longer here.

    That… is a shell game. Dr. Tyson has not solved the problem. He has moved the problem somewhere else… far, far away… where we cannot verify the truth of it.

    It’s like saying…

    “I found the Holy Ark of the Covenant!”

    “How would you know?”

    “Because there would be two stone tablets inside!”

    “But there are no tablets inside.”

    “Yes! They were stolen! But until we find them, this is obviously the Holy Ark of the Covenant!”

    To be fair, he may be right, but the “proof” is elsewhere and very little chance of finding it. Until then he’s charging good money for you to listen to his claims.

    Whatever Panspermia is, it is not good science. It’s just a guess… a guess that has been made before… rejected and trotted out again to help the atheists who feel uncomfortable because the possibility of life on Earth is so utterly improbable that it actually makes the idea of G-d doing it seem the more reasonable idea.

    Or the Vulcans did it. 🙂

    • //1. Statistically speaking, if you wanted to seed Earth with microbes, it would have to be one heck of a lot of microbes to ensure that a colony would survive.//
      Why? I’m no biologist, but I would assume all you need is a breedable set, but why do you need a lot? They would be dropping onto a planet with no competition. If the food was here, then they could multiply without competition.
      //2. The microbes would have to seed the Earth at a specific geological time… a narrow window in geological terms.//
      Yes, narrow in geological terms but still hundreds of thousands of years, so a LONG time in biological terms. We are growing DNA not mountains.
      //there should be one heck of a lot of those microbes out there RIGHT NOW//
      Well maybe there is, but they would be inside asteroids and we haven’t looked in many, but in the few we have looked in we found amino acids: We may learn more now that the probe has Also I think it is pertinent to remember how the Earth was reshaped by the planetoid that created the moon. There was a Mars sized planet that struck the Earth. That planet came from somewhere and possibly not this solar system. If it came from a solar system with a 1st or 2nd generation sun, then as I mentioned it expands the time scale out for creating life exponentially. Again Dr. Tyson mentioned a nebula, which seems (excuse the pun) nebulous, but the origin of the Moon proves some serious stuff happened to create the Earth. Stuff that luckily has not happened since. So it seems unfair to me to claim that what happened then should still be happening now. The test of this would be a thorough search of the moon for bacteria remaining from its birth, but we haven’t done that yet.
      I’m not saying Panspermia is likely, but I will need to see more evidence to prove it is farcical.

    • The reason you would need “one heck of a lot of microbes” is that not many would survive the trip through space…. so… to make sure you have enough that will survive the trip through space under radiation, and the cold and vacuum you would need one heck of a lot of them.

      Then many more would not survive entry through the Earth’s atmosphere (assuming that the microbes are riding on space rocks and not free-floating). Many will die on entry.

      Then they would have to survive the actual landing. Obviously if they landed inside a volcano, they would not survive and at the time there were a heck of a lot of volcanoes on Earth.

      Then they would have to survive whatever conditions that existed…. like a corrosive atmosphere. Frankly… oxygen is a poison. It is extremely corrosive. It’s a wonder anything lives at all on Earth with such an atmosphere… but there it it.

      And then…. as the Cosmos program pointed out… the microbes would also have to survive the melting of the entire planet when it gets hit by a Mars-sized object that wallops the heck out of the Earth and creates that big white thing up in the night sky we call “The Moon”.

      The probability of surviving all of that makes Russian Roulette using a Glock automatic pistol seem like a sensible game of chance. (There is always the chance that the gun will malfunction, after all.)

      That’s why you need one HECK of a lot of microbes in order to give life the one chance it would need to survive on Earth and propagate using the Panspermia model and the only model more ridiculous than Panspermia is the one where life develops on Earth … all by itself.

      Biologists know this though they don’t like discussing it. It’s sort of like proving that their job should not exist except that it does exist and they can’t figure out why.

      A good book to read on the subject was written by an atheist. I’m not sure he realizes what he does to his own argument but he drives home again and again that life on Earth (at least intelligent life) is so utterly preposterous that if defies credibility. You’d have to be a fool to believe it possible if you were not, yourself, alive and standing on this very rock staring at it and having life stare back at you.

      The book is… “Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History” by Stephen Jay Gould.

      This book is also on my bookshelf.

    • Regarding the “narrow window” for the Panspermia model… in geological terms it is narrow but it is hundreds of thousands of years. OK… so… you think this is plenty long enough and if we are talking about the Vulcans seeding the Earth then… yes it is, but if we are talking about a random event in space, then we are talking about either… a fantastically improbable chance event for a small number of microbes to hit the Earth.

      The Earth is traveling in orbit around 66,940 miles per hour or 18.59 miles per second. A rifle bullet travels at about half a mile per second, supersonic.

      So…. we are talking about some small particle traveling at high speed, in some random direction, and happens to intersect the Earth traveling at a very high rate of speed and presuming they don’t annihilate each other, lands on Earth and survives. This would be like shooting a rifle bullet and trying to land it gently on another rifle bullet.

      It could happen, but in order to make that happen, you would need G-d’s good grace or one heck of a lot of rifle bullets flying all over the place so that one bullet would just happen to land on another bullet.

      Could it happen?

      Yes. But unlikely in the extreme. Anyone who believed such a thing would happen has more faith than I do. A better explanation that Panspermia is needed…. something that doesn’t sound like three-card Monty.

    • In general, it seems I have to admit defeat here as your bookshelf is better than mine and you have actually read them all. 🙂 But parting points are about my thought process about comets:
      //“one heck of a lot of microbes”…radiation…cold..vacuum…Earth’s atmosphere, oxygen// Water is a fantastic radiation shield. A room surrounded by only a couple of meters of water will shield astronauts if we even go to Mars, so I assume the ice of a comet would work just as well. This also solves the vacuum issue and the cold issue is actually a benefit as frozen bacteria will go dormant. As for Earth’s atmosphere, we didn’t have much of one and certainly very little oxygen as that was created by the bacteria. If a several km wide comet with dormant bacteria struck the primordial Earth, it would certainly burn off some of its size, but what is left would then cushion the rest as it slams into the Earth and then melt. I propose that this occurred in a 500 million years period during what is called the “late heavy bombardment” period of Earth which gave enough water in them to form the oceans of the Earth.
      Somewhere there must be a flaw in my logic, so I will see if I can go read the book you mentioned and find out what it is.
      PS It has been a pleasure having such an intelligent discussion on these topics. I hope we can have more in the future, even if I don’t win any.

  25. Don’t feed your dog bacon or bacon grease. If I see a rise in pancreatitis cases, I’m gonna blame you Jack

    • Oh horse shit, dogs are made to eat animals including pigs. Frankly dogs are better equipped to kill and eat a pig than a human.

      • Again horse shit! Perhaps you should say not to feed dogs nitrates. Real bacon is simply made with salt.

    • @lance

      To be very blunt, anybody who gives their dog bacon or bacon grease should be brought out back and had the uhm dog shit whooped out of them.

      Its too good to share!

      Har har har.
      My dog gets bacon grease (a little) when he gets to do the dishes in the morning. (He gets to lick my egg yolk/bacon grease plate).

  26. Odd… I hit the “Reply to” link to respond to a poster yet the blog here is adding my response to a different person’s posting. I did that once and thought I made a mistake so this last time I was very careful and it still went wrong.

    Just so you know.

    • I often don’t get or at least see the “Reply” link. I think because off truncation and/or wrapping and conflicts with the graphic at left . I though it was browser dependent, but now I’m not sure.

  27. Hello. Jack mentioned a movie about global warming, but I can’t seem to find it. Can anyone give a link?

    I searched on “why global warming died”, but nothing came up for me.