Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 4, 1776; Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 O.S.) – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence (1776)
and the third President of the United States (1801–1809).
"Jefferson referred to "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence, he preferred to keep his personal beliefs to himself, a reticence that lined up with his philosophy of individual freedom and religious tolerance.

In "Notes," he put it this way: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Jefferson described Jesus' teachings as "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals."

The problem, he wrote in another letter to Adams, came in the "artificial scaffolding" that surrounded those teachings — the Virgin Birth, the miracles and so on.

"The Jefferson Bible" is his attempt to tear down that scaffolding.

...he used a razor to slice Jesus' teachings out of a couple of King James Bibles, then grouped them by subject (e.g., "false teachers") and pasted them into a scrapbook.

Jefferson preserved Jesus' life story and his teachings, but he removed anything that strained reason
— the walking on water or Lazarus' resurrection.

And Jefferson applied this standard to the smallest details.

Matthew 19:2, for example, reads: "And great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there."

But Jefferson carefully excised "and he healed them there."

..."The Jefferson Bible" ends with Jesus' entombment, and, given all the trouble caused by his published thoughts on religion, Jefferson seemed happy to take the book to his grave.

...The government produced an extravagant edition 1904, the government published more than 9,000 copies, with 14 going to each congressman — and with enough kept in reserve that a copy also went to every incoming representative or senator, a tradition that continued through the 1950s.

..."The Jefferson Bible" stands as one of the most interesting and iconoclastic moments in America's religious past — one man with a razor, a pot of paste and a unique and private set of ideas.

...Jefferson was no more a Bible thumper than he was a Bible burner.

A leader in The Enlightenment, Jefferson was a polymath who spoke five languages and was deeply interested in science, religion and philosophy."

Craig Fehrman
The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th-century Europe, that sought to mobilize the power of reason, in order to reform society and advance knowledge.

It promoted science and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition, intolerance and abuses in church and state.

Originating about 1650–1700, it was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), mathematician Isaac Newton (1643–1727) and historian Voltaire (1694–1778).

...The new intellectual forces spread to ...the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution.

The political ideals influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791.

"The Last Question"; Are we God?


In conceiving Multivac, [Isaac] Asimov was extrapolating the trend towards centralization that characterized computation technology planning in the 1950s to an ultimate centrally managed global computer [system]. ...Asimov "privately" concluded that this story was his best science fiction yet written...

Plot summary

The story deals with the development of universe-scale computers [AI] called Multivacs and their relationships with humanity through the courses of seven historic settings, beginning in 2061 [ published in the November 1956]. In each of the first six scenes a different character presents the computer with the same question; namely, how the threat to human existence posed by the heat death of the universe can be averted.

The question was: "How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?" This is equivalent to asking: "Can the workings of the second law of thermodynamics (used in the story as the increase of the entropy of the universe) be reversed?"

If the second law of thermodynamics
means concentrated pockets of energy in isolated systems, like Earth
even out over time,
where and what on Earth is more or less concentrated,
and how fast is what evening out?

Multivac's only response after much "thinking" is: "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

The story jumps forward in time into later eras of human and scientific development. In each of these eras someone decides to ask the ultimate "last question" regarding the reversal and decrease of entropy. Each time, in each new era, Multivac's descendant is asked this question, and finds itself unable to solve the problem. Each time all it can answer is an (increasingly sophisticated, linguistically): "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."

In the last scene, the god-like descendant of humanity (the unified mental process of over a trillion, trillion, trillion humans that have spread throughout the universe) [AI] watches the stars flicker out, one by one, as matter and energy ends, and with it, space and time.

If arable land, fresh water, irrigation, genetically modified seed
modern equipment, pesticides and fertilizers
convert fossil fuel into enough food to keep pace with population growth,
the populace is dependent on ever increasing supplies of finite resources

Humanity asks AC, Multivac's ultimate descendant, which exists in hyperspace beyond the bounds of gravity or time, the entropy question one last time, before the last of humanity merges with AC and disappears. AC is still unable to answer, but continues to ponder the question even after space and time cease to exist.

If resource consumption, food production, population,
money supply and temperature,
all rose faster in the last 50 years than the preceding 5,000,
we consuming more than replenishing

Eventually AC discovers the answer, but has nobody to report it to; the universe is already dead. It therefore decides to answer by demonstration.

The story ends with AC's pronouncement,


And AC said: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" And there was light"

What happens when linear food production
can’t keep pace with exponential population growth?

American political and economic leadership
should be held accountable for what their conduct has wrought
that our warriors fight and die to protect

America build up military power as it strengthened economic power
while its industrial base moved overseas to use near slave-labor
paid for with printed money

Question those with less to lose, who may think you have what they need,
who may be saying what you want to hear,
while urging you to do what they don’t want to or wont

If about 50 million years after Earth formed about 4.55 billion years ago
an asteroid about the size of Mars crashed into Earth
leaving the moon, which is about a quarter the size of Earth,
led to different kinds of  non 'air' breathing life about 3.9 billion years ago
until something started excreting oxgen, like our current vegetation,
which killed off whatever couldn’t adapt,
and about 99% of the thirty billion or so different kinds of everything that has ever lived on Earth 
doesn't exist anymore and left no descendants,
what are the chances of modern humans lasting how long?

Nothing in the entire universe ever perishes…but things vary, and adopt a new form.

Though this thing may pass into that, and that into this,
yet the sums of things remains unchanged.

Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD), Metamorphoses

If most 'everything' is made of many atoms
which may have very possibly been around before this universe,
which may continue to exist after the current universe is gone,
when something living dies or when an inanimate object disintegrates,
do the atoms become part of everything else?

Every atom you possess
has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms
on its way to becoming you.

Bill Bryson

If all the atoms in a human body are completely replaced with other atoms about every 9 years
and a child gets about half its DNA from each parent,
a quarter from each grandparent, an eighth from each great-grandparent and so on,
and the genetic code of everything alive and has ever lived is essentially the same only different, 
is everything on Earth relatively interconnected?

Is everything everything?

So when we say that 80% of the population can expect to be ancestors of all surviving individuals,
we are talking about their 22nd great-grandchildren…
[or] one four-millionth part.

Richard Dawkins
Professor of the Public Understanding, Oxford

If the genetic code of everything alive and has ever lived on Earth
is fundamentally the same but a little different,
did every living thing  basically come from the same beginning?

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe
is that none of it has tried to contact us.

Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes

If there is more unknown than known
like what started everything and why or if what started everything is still around,
and we don’t know for certain what happens before life or after death,
what is the purpose of cognitive existence?

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

Should we be able to think and do what we want
as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else doing the same?

The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

If Earth became uninhabitable,
and 'we' had a spaceship big enough for some people and enough supplies
that could go 250,000 miles per hour,
and it would take about 11,276 years without stopping or hitting anything to get to the nearest star, 
where the chances of there being a habitable planet may be at most one tenth of one percent, 
should we take better care of what we have?

Once off the cliff, there is still hope if you keep running.

By running ever faster you may not fall.

Wyle E. Coyote

Don’t tread on others unless they’re treading on you, be unloved,
criticize if it won’t help, lose your temper unless it would be bad to keep it,
be a very good bad example, lead without permission, do guilt,
offend many to benefit few or let ego override intelligence.

Don’t do anything you don’t want done to you, unless you need to.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:13

Don’t think you need want or want more than you need,
confuse compassion with justice, consciously over-compensate for unconscious doubt,
over-adore wanted acquisition, do what you don’t want to get what you don’t need,
underestimate irrationality, or think more of what could have than what may be.

"All collected data had come to a final end. 

Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated 
and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. 

No matter. The answer -- by demonstration -- would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. 

Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe 
and brooded over what was now Chaos. 

Step by step, it must be done.


And there was light----"

Don’t believe everything you think, conclude what you want because you want to
or confuse effort with result.

Don’t afflict inanimate objects with conjured meaning.

Don’t want what you can’t get, let obsession with righteousness metastasize into hubris,
rationalize faults by blaming others, think you know what you don’t,
do what you don’t understand, over think or swim with the incontinent.

Don’t let small mistakes become big ones
by eliminating what’s not working and doing more of what is, sooner than later.

You shall not favor a poor man in his cause.

Exodus 23:3

Don’t think you know what you don’t, conclude what you want because you want to,
say you can if you cant, obfuscate or say you’re going to do and don’t.

Don’t self fulfill prophesy.

You shall not raise a false report

Exodus 23:1

Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you to get what you don’t need,
hide confusion with obliqueness, cut what can be untied, over-sacrifice need for want and vice versa,
catch falling knives, stereotypically generalize, resent, envy, slur, avenge,
ask a barber if you need a haircut, let what you own own you, lend need,
spend more than you make, build monuments, be selfish, unlovable or apathetic,
sacrifice future unhappiness for an unnecessarily pleasant present,
owe more than you can easily repay, succeed at failure or give up.

The true measure of a man
is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

Samuel Johnson

Give your family a better chance to succeed than your forefathers gave your parents
and your parents gave you.

Make luck happen.

Create a higher likelihood of a better present by securing need and achieving want
in the shortest time with the least risk for as long as possible,
by thinking of what and when relative to what was
and what may happen after what could happen next.

Do the most good, in the best way, with as many people
for as long as you can.

To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:3

If there’s less risk and higher return in using a plan that matches circumstances
than trying to force circumstances to fit a plan,
relax, accept and embrace uncertainty, focus, hypothesize, experiment,
observe, acknowledge mistakes, compare, question the status quo,
consider the counterintuitive, anticipate anticipation,
find strength in weakness, weakness in strength and advantage in disadvantage,
know what you own, consult wisdom, accept and learn from criticism,
look within for faults found in others, embrace differences, respect momentum,
be incremental, bypass irrelevancy, protect your flanks, calculate risk,
prepare for instability when stable, reduce to the least common denominator,
rise above and control emotion, weigh choice, adapt, practice with someone better,
commit, accept responsibility, maximize what works, minimize what doesn’t,
tear band aids off swiftly, pay yourself forward and play to win.

History shows again and again
how nature points up the folly of men

Blue Oyster Cult

Do the right thing when no one’s looking,
leave others better off for having known you and the world a better place than you found it.

Forget what you give, value what you get,
return what you borrow, replace what you break and forgive quickly.

Hope everything happens the way it does
and leave unanswered questions.

Have as much fun as soon as possible
with the least amount of risk for as long as you can.

If the credit industry slashes trillions of consumer lines of credit
totaling about half of available consumer liquidity,
are living standards likely to rise or fall
for those who don’t step back from conformist thought
while many with collectively held erroneous assumptions fracture
succumb to deer in headlights incomprehension
compounding prior miscalculations?

Can any good person get to heaven,
or do you have to believe certain thoughts?

Do suicide bombers act in ways they think God wants them to?

If God were a defined certainty,
would the number of people following different religions increase or decline?

If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic,
and you can only save a canister with five inseminated eggs,
or one 4-year old child, which do you save?

Is life support God’s will
if $100,000 keeping one patient on life support
could provide seeds to grow food for 10,000 starving others?

Could this be heaven or hell depending on what you choose to believe?

If something started everything, is everything else supposition?

Would the God of rectangles have four sides?

Can an atheist be superstitious?

What do you believe that you can’t prove?

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support
religious worship, place, or ministry...,
nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief,
but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain
their opinion on matters of religion.

Thomas Jefferson
Virginia Bill on Religious Freedom

On the philosophy of Avatar

July 4, 1776; Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Why are weak governments and/or fringe political movements
more likely to embrace religion or nationalism
in times of economic and social instability
and/or when distractions appear helpful to bury other more important issues?

Passover Conundrum; Exodus 12:23

If sentient beings on another planet played chess with Earthlings
would God would be on our side, as long as the player is a white, not gay, Christian American?

Are you a robot?

Were we all predestined to have free will?

If I knew you were a robot,
would you want me to tell you?

Literalists don’t practice all they preach

"This is for the fat girls."

"In the Name of Religion"

Craig Fehrman: "Thomas Jefferson's personal Bible"

"In Orson Scott Card's The Worthing Saga
...Abner Doon is the person out of the past of The Worthing Saga universe
who put everything into motion.

It is due to him that things are the way they are,
and it is to him that everyone owes thanks for a better tomorrow.

What did he do to bring it about?

He destroyed everything.

The old universe was a decadent empire
where those with wealth and power
could extend their ability to keep things in stasis by thousands of years.

...The result was a predictably stagnant and hopeless society.

How Abner brings about the fall of the empire is never directly addressed,
but is alluded to in the way he plays a game...

In one of the worldwide tournaments
where players purchased the rights to play nations in a computer simulation
that began in 1914, one player had managed to build Italy into a powerful empire
on the verge of global domination.

It was a beautiful and seemingly immortal political creation
that inspired the world of entertainment and academics, if merely a hologram.

Abner buys the rights to play Italy, refuses to sell,
and destroys it by carefully orchestrating corruption, oppression,
and aggressiveness in a way that leads not to isolated rebellion,
but a total and simultaneous collapse into anarchy.

When Doon topples the real empire,
he does a thorough enough job to bring a halt to space travel
for thousands of years.

And out of the ashes rises are more diversified humanity
better equipped to plumb the depths of time and space.

Doon the destroyer. Doon the serpent. Doon the messiah.

...When does a life of comfort and stasis cease to be life?

How much adventure and uncertainty do we need to be human,
and when do we slip deep enough into routine that we cease to be?

How much destruction is justifiable in an act of creation?

Is playing the devil any worse than playing God?

How much does one individual have the right to force on all humanity?

Maybe Abner Doon was good and evil, just and wrong,
God and anti-God at the same time.

Maybe all those people are who enter and leave this world
leaving life unimaginable without them as much as with them."


"Propaganda Techniques [Mainstream] & News"; Uses to Brainwash Americans"

Religious and Rhetorical Ethics: Adolf Hitler