Archive for the ‘Religion’ category

The Book of Mormon

March 24, 2013

My friend Bob often likes to dedicate his blog posts to religious topics on Sundays, so I figured that I would follow suit (at least for this Sunday).

Admittedly, I am not much of a religious fellow, however I am not one of those who consistently attacks those who are religious.  To each their own, I say.

However, I have read quite an array of religious texts and many of the philosophers that I admire come from the Christian and Muslim traditions (though, the works that I enjoy weren’t dealing with primarily religious issues).  Needless to say, I am very tolerant of other people’s views on this subject, because while I don’t necessarily subscribe to them, I also know that most everybody around me does subscribe to one religious belief or another.

In any case, I recently came upon a Book of Mormon while staying in a hotel over the course of a two week cross-country road trip, and as is the case with such books that set in the nightstands of hotels, they are there for you to take (that actually is why they are there, if you didn’t know already).  I don’t often pick up books that I will not read, so I swiped that one up without much thought … let me explain.

About 6 years ago I was living in a small condo in the college town of Kent, Ohio.  When hanging out with friends I would often see a commercial from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints showing a phone number to call in order to “receive your free Book of Mormon“.  Obviously, I had heard about the magic underwear and Jesus living in the Americas and all of that, and I had seen their churches in many cities in the US and countries around the world, so I was quite intrigued.  Mind you, this intrigue has nothing to do with any sort of feeling of belief or intellectual magnetism toward such things, but rather it was an undying curiosity in knowing what it is all about (for my own reference).

Anyhow, I decided to give this number a ring, and they took down my info and promised that a book would be forthcoming.

About a week or two later I heard a knock at my door.  When I opened it I saw two 19 or 20 year old girls who were super-hot.  I don’t mean pretty, I mean smoking hot.  They told me that they were from the church and they confirmed that it was me that had shown an interest in reading this book.  However, they would not give me the book unless they were allowed to regularly enter my home on numerous occasions over time to teach me “how the book is supposed to be read”.

I must admit, given their beauty and my carnal nature, they almost talked me into it (it was a very tough decision, to be sure).  But my more logical thinking-tool luckily took precedence and I refused them.  I knew exactly what they were doing. I almost regret not seeing just how far it would go.

Needless to say, I never did receive the book that was promised by that TV ad.  However, I now have that book sitting before me, so I have no choice but to read it (it did, after all, take many years to finally get it).  I look forward to it almost like a man who’s remained abstinent until marriage, only I doubt that the payoff will be quite as pleasing.

Depression and Suicide

March 23, 2013

This is going to be quite a strange topic and I might be making a mistake in revealing myself so openly, but I always find that honesty is the best policy and I don’t often fear the opinions of others with regard to myself.  So here goes …

I will admit that I have had bouts of depression at 2 or 3 points in my life, so intense that I have even thought of taking my own life because of it.  Don’t worry, this is definitely not a common occurrence in my life, I mostly found myself in this position when dealing with great stress.  An example would be during my teen years when many changes were happening in my body and I was so immature that things that I would today think were insignificant often seemed like the end of the world.  My most recent bout of depression occurred when I was in the military (say, around 2005 or so).  I not only had great moral conflicts with what I was doing– I still regret being a part of that world of moral depravity– but I was also only getting maybe 2-3 hours of sleep per night for many months at a time (my rational judgement was obviously very disrupted).  So clearly I am not one that is prone to depressive suicidal thoughts in any regular sense and I don’t foresee putting myself in such situations in the future (learning from past mistakes is a great tool).

However, I must admit that suicide has crossed my mind for another reason: curiosity.

What is the purpose of this whole thing that we call life?  Is there an afterlife?  Do we have a soul and is it eternal?  Where did existence come from?  Stuff like that.

I know that the entirety of human thought can never and will never produce a definitive answer to these questions, because we as a species are simply not enabled with that capacity.  We can only view the world in our living existence and our senses are very dull.  Sure, we do sense a great deal of our physical world, and our continued search for answers to our questions often reveal new truths of our worldly existence, none of which get us much closer to the truth of spiritual existence in any appreciable sense (we’ve moved only a tiny trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a sliver during our entire history with regard to the questions of existence) .  So, the only way to get that answer in any immediate way, it seems to me, is to commit to taking the journey, to end one’s life in pursuit of it.  That is the only way of really knowing.  Cross the plane.

I am one that always seeks absoluteness to the questions that vex my mind.  However, there is one reason that I will never ever commit suicide in pursuit of the absolute answer to these questions:  I am going to die anyhow, just as we all are.   Certainly I am not that anxious, life is already too short.

The Reverend Robert P. Murphy

August 10, 2012

I was clicking around economist Dr. Robert P. Murphy’s site earlier today and clicked on one of the commenters’ screen names, which led to that commenter’s blog. Well, since the blog in question is immediately up-front in telling us that its opinions are “snarky”, I think that it is reasonable to say that its pronouncements are to be taken with a grain of salt.

What caught my attention, however, is the blogroll. It lists only four sites, each of them blogs. One of those sites was that of Bob Murphy, and it referred to him as ‘Rev Bob Murphy’.

I’ll admit that it is humorous to refer to Bob in that context, and it is quite apt on certain occasions (for instance, Murphy always posts a religious post on Sundays), but I don’t think that Dr. Murphy is out there preaching religion in his economic pursuits. In fact, I’d say that most of his Sunday posts are a seeking of truth in a particular area of thought: theology. This doesn’t mean that he cannot separate these two disciplines (economics and theology).

Murphy is a very competent economist who really understands the mainstream (esp. the synthesis), and is highly influential in the heterodox Austrian school of economics. I think that the real implication of such an erroneous title is that Murphy’s opinions are influenced by religion, therefor the Austrian School is influenced by religion and is thus not science.

I cannot say for sure, myself not knowing the writer of that blog too well, but that is what I draw as a conclusion from the available evidence. If that is the implication being set, then I would just like to say: considering the reality, there exists no science that is not influenced by religion.

Update: I have recently had correspondence with the owner of the blog. To be sure that I don’t mistake anything, I will quote him directly: ‘“Rev Bob Murphy” is a snark at Bob’s religiosity, and his atitude toward biblical evidence, not a reflection on his economics”.