A [Mostly] Conservative Argument for Gay Marriage

You’ve all heard the social libertarian/liberal arguments for gay marriage. Tolerance, equal rights, blah blah. They are important and I believe in them, but they are the reasons I support gay marriage being legal. There are many things I believe shall be legal but do not approve of. It is clearly wrong to cheat on one’s spouse, yet few would be so paternalistic (un-libertarian) as to say that such a thing is the government’s business, for example. However, not only do I support gay marriage being legal on basic social libertarian grounds, I approve of gay marriage and these reasons why are what I call my conservative argument for gay marriage. Of course, no one needs my approval to get married, but that’s getting back to the standard liberal arguments you’ve already heard. Continue reading

Naturalistic Animism…

Here is an idea that I’ve been swirling around in my head for awhile. I feel that it isn’t quite cooked up yet, but has great potential. But let me know what you think! And be brutal, but don’t be dumb (unless you are dumb, in which case you can’t help it and I’ll allow it).

Spinoza layed outa quasi-religious, yet non-supernatural (one could say, Atheistic) system called naturalistic pantheism. Naturalistic pantheism approaches spirituality through nature from a Judeo-Christian starting point (the way I see it; his audience was Christian). Spinoza begins with the all-powerful God of the Hebrews and ends with an all-powerful, consisting of all things, logical, unthinking “God” (you can just call “him” the universe if you want).

Spinoza’s views have been very influential. Albert Einstein, Arne Næss (founder of the deep ecology movement), Steven Hawkings and countless philosophers have been influenced by Spinoza’s naturalistic pantheism. It has been used as a way to understand human behavior and the universe. Our brains aren’t general-purpose calculators, so there is power in phrases such as “I want to read God’s thoughts.”

I propose a biocentric spirituality that is to animism what Spinoza’s views are to pantheism and deism.

The way is to look at the nature of life itself, which leads us to realize that more things are living than those that have DNA, are carbon-based or eat and shit. I do not speak of extraterrestrials (though I do hope I can meet an alien, even if it’s single-celled, in my lifetime, so long as it’s not murderous), but to a wall that astrobiologists constantly run into.

How do we define life? When going to other planets in search for life (what life chauvanists we are), all we know to look for is something carbon-based (since carbon bonds with, like, everything) and that’s based on water (high specific heat capacity, low freezing point, high melting point, our understanding of pH is based on it, hydrogen stops oxygenation, etc…). However, the truly fascinating thing about astrobiology is that distant lifeforms can be stranger than we ever imagined. That leads us to propose more generic ideas of what life is, but depeding on how we word it, we can exclude things like virii and prions or include things like entire ecosystems or social movements (in extremely broad cases).

I would say something is living if it has an ability to maintain homeostasis in a chaotic environment and adapt (even if the individual can’t, if it can reproduce, then that counts as adapting since even simple asexual reproduction allows a slow sort of evolution). But just as a multicellular organism is made up not only of countless cells, but also a symbiosis of bacterium in the case of animals (you’ve probably heard this before, but bacterial cells outnumber human cells in your body 10 to 1 – that’s probably the main way you keep bad guys out most of the time), an ecosystem containing individual species can itself be a lifeform (please see Lovelock’s work.. this idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds). When we get broad like this, it might seem silly, but it’s just because of what you’ve been taught.

I would accept a broad definition of life, but then lay down an important dividing line – if the lifeform exists within a specific substance and has a clear boundary, within which only it maintains homeostatis, then I say it is a true lifeform (examples: ladybugs, whales, acetobacter). If it exists throughout time and place and has no definite boundary, then it is a spirit (examples: the Earth’s ecosphere, various ecosystems, religious movements).

What Hegel calls a gheist, what Smith calls the invisible hand, what Lovelock calls Gaia, what Jung calls an archetype, these are all spirits. ‘Wait’, you might say, ‘these are radically different concepts, you nit-wit!’ Ah, but cyanobacteria is a very different concept from a flying snake. So there. I know there are holes in this idea and maybe something essential is missing that would improve it greatly. So, have at it, folks!

My Cyclopean, Fire-Breathing, Cider-Swilling Llama Friend

Once upon a time I took groats to my groat-loving llama friend
And often I mistook shadows for my child-saving llama friend
To one such shade I talked and I, by my local school teacher, stalked
“So you took our oats, oaf”, pointed to rotting pile, angrily, quoth
Only a fool could think! my humble offer does the llama eat!
For groats and oats are food fit only for horse and man and meals, crude
No, my llama friend be with or without my sweetened gift of feed

Oh, the days I do miss he’d make a bully crawl, or a girl kiss
It cost only a call to wish, to will, to watch the teacher fall
But one meal was not sweet not cabbage, nor beans, but a loathsome beet
I wished as I might call but none unsweet, not even beets, would fall
Only a fool could think! a llama greets me from the kitchen sink!
For far and forgot be for him as near as cider and glass be
Yes, my llama friend be though nary a place you can hope to see