Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What's with IFTTT.com?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poll Response

I just wanted to give everyone the opportunity to give more detailed response to the poll in the comments to this post. Feel free to express exactly what you would like to hear about.

Friday, November 4, 2011

White House Responds to Extraterrestrial Petition

At 6:55 PM EST, November 4, the White House released through its "We the People" program an official response to the Extraterrestrial Disclosure petition on the White House website. The "We the People" program was started by the Obama administration as a way for the average U.S. citizen to raise questions about current issues to the government to get answers. Anyone can login to the White House website and create a petition. If the petition receives enough signatures from other site visitors, the White House has promised to review it and release an official answer.

There have been two petitions on the White House website related to the presence of extraterrestrial life and the U.S. government's supposed knowledge of this presence. One was posted by Stephen Bassett of the Paradigm Research Group on September 22 asking the President to "formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race and immediately release into the public domain all files from all agencies and military services relevant to this phenomenon." (Source 1)

The second was posted by Craig C. on the same day asking the government to relinquish allegedly suppressed information from communication with extraterrestrials. (Source 2) While the latter only received 5,387--more than the original goal of 5,000 signatures, but less than the current goal of 25,000--the former received over 12,000 signatures; over 10,000 of these were prior to the goal being changed!

The response was issued by Phil Larson of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. While the contents are not particularly exciting for the extraterrestrial disclosure community, it is one of several in-depth replies the White House has finally released to petitions. Mr. Larson explains that the government currently has no knowledge of any extraterrestrial life, but he goes on to explain all the efforts that the U.S. is currently engaged in to find extraterrestrial life. He also discusses the likelihood of extraterrestrial life and the probability of contact. (Source 3) This response was posted on the White House website, and it was emailed to those who signed the petitions.

For many this response changes nothing; the disclosure community will largely interpret this as further avoidance of the issue--or as proof of the fact that the secret organizations responsible for hiding the evidence shield it from even the eyes of the White House. However, the fact that this and other detailed responses have finally been issued to "We the People" petitions is a big step for the program. The White House has shown that they are willing to keep their word and provide insightful responses to the issues that citizens care about.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pre-Victorian Sources on Extraterrestrial Life


"The Lady yielded to their prayer, and said, weeping sorely the while: 'Again and again have I willed to tell you all, but I felt assured your hearts would be wrung with grief by my words, and therefore have I forborne till now; and now is the hour come I may no longer abide with you. No maid of this mortal land am I, but the Capital of Moonland is my birth-place. Long ago it was decreed that I should descend upon this earth, and bide there somewhile; but now is the time at hand when I must go back whence I came, for when yonder orb shall be at its fullest, a company of moonfolk will come down from the sky to bear me away.'" - The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, 10th century Japanese folktale

"Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: 'Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?'" - Plutarch

"And men have been formed and all the other animals that have life; and the men have settled cities and cultivated fields as with us, and sun and moon and the rest as with us; and the earth grows all sorts of produce for them, the most useful of which they gather into their houses and use. This is my account of the separating off, that it must have taken place not only where we live, but elsewhere also." - Anaxagoras, referring to other worlds

"There are innumerable worlds of different sizes. In some there is neither sun nor moon, in others they are larger than in ours and others have more than one. These worlds are at irregular distances, more in one direction and less in another, and some are flourishing, others declining. Here they come into being, there they die, and they are destroyed by collision with one another. Some of the worlds have no animal or vegetable life nor any water." - Democritus

"...there are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number...are borne far out into space. For those atoms.. have not been used up either on one worlds or on a limited number of worlds, nor on all the worlds which are alike, or on those which are different from these. So that there nowhere exists an obstacle to the infinite number of worlds." "we must believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world.." - Epicurus

"Rabbi Chasdai Crescas (14th century) writes that nothing in the Torah outlook precludes the existence of life on other worlds. The verse "Your Kingdom is one which encompasses all worlds..." (Psalms 145:13) implies the existence of more than one world. According to the Talmud there are at least 18,000. The existence of these other worlds and the fact that they rely on Divine Providence make it reasonable to think that life might exist there. The Sefer Habrit states that extraterrestrial creatures exist..." - Rabbi at Ohr Somayach

"...The basic premise of the existence of extraterrestrial life is strongly supported by the Zohar. The Midrash teaches us that there are seven earths. Although the Ibn Ezra tries to argue that these refer to the seven continents, the Zohar clearly states that the seven are separated by a firmament and are inhabited. Although they are not inhabited by man, they are the domain of intelligent creatures." - Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread forth in both..." "And He has the power to gather them together when He will so please." - Quran 42:29

"Life, as it exists on Earth in the form of men, animals and plants, is to be found, let us suppose in a high form in the solar and stellar regions. Rather than think that so many stars and parts of the heavens are uninhabited and that this earth of ours alone is peopled – and that with beings perhaps of an inferior type – we will suppose that in every region there are inhabitants, differing in nature by rank and all owing their origin to God, who is the center and circumference of all stellar regions." - Cardinal Nicholas of Kues

Bruno wrote that other worlds "have no less virtue nor a nature different to that of our earth" and, like Earth, "contain animals and inhabitants". - Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher

"I am of the opinion that it is not particularly necessary to assert that all planets must be inhabited. However, at the same time it would be absurd to deny this claim with respect to all or even to most of them." - Immanuel Kant

"...all the unnumbered Worlds that revolve round the fixt Stars are inhabited, as well as this Globe of Earth." - John Adams

"... I believe that man is not the most perfect being but one, but rather that there are many degrees of being superior to him. And so when I stretch my imagination through and beyond our system of planets, beyond the visible fixed stars themselves, into that space that is in every way infinite, and conceive it filled with suns like ours, each with a chorus of worlds forever moving around him; then this little ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow imagine, to be almost nothing, and myself less than nothing, and no sort of consequence." - Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Appeal for Scientific Imagination

Forgive me for my lackluster nature in keeping up with the blog recently. I've been somewhat occupied after my recent wedding and honeymoon. In the absence of a post of mine, here is a thought provoking article from a Christian science-fiction writer:
http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/08/faith-and-the-scientific-imagination/

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Google+: Please Switch To It

This is my solemn plea to all my friends to please switch over to a service that will offer us much better connectivity in the long run, from a company that has proven time and again that they are not going to sell us out. I recently posted the following on Google+:
I don't understand why everyone complains about the fact that nobody uses Google+ yet. The same complaint was there when Facebook first came out because myspace was previously the biggest thing. Google+ already has over 11.5 million users. It has a growth rate of 22% in 24 hours. The fact is Google+ has accumulated a lot of users and is accumulating them faster than Facebook.
Sure, it may have taken your grandma "forever" to join Facebook, but the market has changed since Facebook was released now the 50+ demographic is one of the fastest growing (http://www.allbusiness.com/marketing-advertising/market-groups-mature-market/12399242-1.html) which means that your grandma is likely to catch on to Google+ faster than she did Facebook, especially since it is attached to Google services she may already use.

Why else might you stick around on Facebook? Events. A lot of people have to RSVP for events on Facebook. In the long run, though, Google+ will be better for event planning since it can be tied into your Google Contacts (and your hotmail contacts, and your yahoo contacts, and your phone contacts...and your Facebook contacts).

Then, of course, there are games. Have you seen the Chrome Web Store? Yes, they even have FarmVille: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jchlepkjiaohpppcjacoldhlidbcfhan. Chrome Web Store has MafiaWars, FIFA Superstars, Pet Society, Millionaire City, Bejeweled, Bejeweled Blitz, Ravenwood Fair, Texas HoldEm, CityVille, Angry Birds, and much more. All your favorite Facebook games are in the Chrome Web Store which is part of the seamless Google experience.

Groups. Google invented Groups: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!overview

Look, if your only excuse is that "all your friends" are on Facebook, it's a bad excuse and it's time to get over the fact that Facebook has been here so long. Here is another post I made recently on Google+:
People have gotten so used to Facebook that they have begun to treat it as a commodity--people forget that it is a product. Google+ is simply a better product (in my opinion), and if people can get over the mindset that Facebook is where all their friends are (previously the myspace mindset) then I think Google+ will shine.
For those nay-sayers who think Google+ is just a rebranded Facebook, here is what Google+ has to offer that Facebook doesn't:

  1. It's easy to share stuff with only certain friends.
  2. Hangouts--basically like Skype built into Google+, it is a seamless voice/video/text chat experience with added features like a synchronized YouTube viewer.
  3. View information based on your interests (this is called Sparks).
  4. Photos and videos upload instantly as soon as you take them (but don't go public unless you set them to later).
  5. You can fully delete your Google+ account--Facebook always keeps your information around.
(http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/266334/6-things-google-can-do-that-facebook-can-t)

Friday, July 1, 2011

ET Poll

Hey everyone, I have posted a new poll to see what my readers think of ET. Please discuss in the comments.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Billy Graham on ET

"I firmly believe there are intelligent beings like us far away in space who worship God, but we have nothing to fear from them because, like us, they are God's creation."

"Nothing can hide the fact, however, that these unexplained events [extraterrestrial encounters] are occurring with greater frequency around the entire world and in unexpected places...."

"Our solar system is just one of billions in God's colossal Creation - and I find it very hard to believe He would have created only one living planet, Earth."

"I firmly believe there is intelligent life in outer space - beings who probably look very much like the average American."

"I feel they [advanced extraterrestrial civilizations] have developed space vehicles capable of reaching Earth."

"I don't believe that all reported UFO sightings can be dismissed as mere figments of the imagination. Without doubt, there have been legitimate sightings of flying objects which cannot be explained."


"I've discovered that many of America's top scientists and astronauts - who are actively investigating the question of extraterrestrial life - share my view. I firmly believe there are intelligent beings like us far away in space who worship God. But we would have nothing to fear from meeting these people. Like us, they are God's creation. And if we should eventually make contact with these civilizations, it would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of mankind. It's mind-boggling to imagine how much we could learn from them. They're probably at least as advanced as us, and possibly more advanced - which means they may have found answers to many of the problems we face on Earth. Disease, war, environmental pollution may be nonexistent on these other living planets. But my biggest hope would be that they are loving, caring societies who are at peace with God and free from sin. I see no reason why other planets should be cursed with the riots, demonstrations, wars and rebellions which threaten the future of our civilization."

"From my studies of the Scriptures, I can find nothing that would change our faith in the Gospel if we discover life on other planets."

Modern Myths: The USA is a Christian Nation

Thank you all for reading my first Modern Myths post on Native Americans. I hope you enjoyed it. This next issue is one that will be controversial, but like many myths it can affect the way that we think in alarmingly dangerous ways.

The USA is a Christian Nation and was founded in Christianity
A view that has been predominant from the 1950s until recently and is still commonly believed especially among the average church-goer--the idea of the USA being a Christian nation is an integral part of the mindset of many Americans. As strong as patriotism is the sentiment that we belong to God's nation. This view affects the way we view Christians, non-Christians, foreigners, public policy, and much more. It is rooted in the reason many people think the way they do about national and international issues.

However, the USA is not a Christian Nation, and it was the farthest thing from the intent of the founders for it to be so. First, lets take a little peek at what the most influential founders were like:
  1. All the founders were raised Christian. They were raised Puritan, Anglican, Congregationalist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Catholic, Quaker, and Huguenot, but they all had strong Christian rearing. The late 1600s and early 1700s Christianity was familiar for all of them. This may not surprise you since by the end of the reign of Elizabeth I, virtually the entirety of the UK considered themselves Christian.
  2. Despite this strong Christian upbringing, only half of the founders were Christian. Benjamin Franklin was a deist who believed Christianity to be bunk. George Washington was a deist who considered Christ a good teacher and always left church while everyone else took communion. John Adams was a Unitarian and a deist; Thomas Jefferson was as well. James Madison was a deist. Alexander Hamilton was irreligious most of his life, though he later had an Episcopalian conversion experience after the founding of the USA. Robert Paine was a Unitarian. Benjamin Rush was a universalist. Gouverneur Morris was a deist, and Thomas Paine was also a deist.
  3. 65% of the founders were Freemasons. For those of you unfamiliar with the Freemason view of religion: "Every Mason must believe in God and in the immortality of the soul. The Volume of Sacred Law must be open on every Lodge Altar. A candidate takes his Obligations upon his knees. Before engaging in any important undertaking a Mason seeks aid and guidance through prayer from the Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe. This is religion, but it is not a religion. It is faith, but it is not a faith confined to any one creed. It is worship, but it is not a worship chained to any one Altar. In the great words of the First Book of Constitutions it is the religion in which all good men agree. It is the ground which underlies all religions, all churches, all creeds..." This view is inherently Unitarian Universalist (though it is not tied with the church of that name). Mason founders include Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, John Hancock, Robert Paine, James McHenry, Roger Sherman, Thomas Paine, and Paul Revere.
Despite this the founders did represent a people largely consisting of Christians. These people whose identity was deeply Christian were influential in the establishment of the principles of the nation. However, it was these very Christians who did not want the national identity to be Christian. The states fought for the inclusion of an explicit statement of the separation of church and state, because not only did they want to keep religion out of government but they wanted to keep religious identity separate from national identity. This had caused them much trouble back in Britain--Puritans, Presbyterians, Baptists--many of them came to America because they wanted to escape discrimination based on their personal beliefs. Separation of church and state kept an individual within the nation from being discriminated against based on belief and it kept the nation from being discriminated against by other nations based on belief. It allowed for political issues to remain political and religious issues to remain religious.

The Pledge of Allegiance was originally composed by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, in 1892. This is its original form:
I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
The "under God" was not added until 1954. The pledge was a national pledge, not a religious pledge.

"In God We Trust" was not originally on US currency. In 1864 it was added to the two-cent coin only, but it was never added to the dollar bill until the 1950s.

President John Adams said in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797: "The United States government is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." He also stated at a different time: "It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [formation of the American governments] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven..."

Why is this important? There are a number of people out there who consider the USA to be "God's nation". These people will often act like the USA is the core of Christianity in the modern world. The USA holds no such privileged position. The USA is as much God's nation as any other nation is. It is not some kind of chosen nation. The important thing to remember is that it was founded on freedom--so that anyone would be free to have their own beliefs.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/uk_1.shtml
http://www.formermasons.org/issues/the_religion_of_freemasonry.php

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Modern Myths: Native Americans Were Primitive

As I was thinking where to head next with my blog, this great idea suddenly popped in my head: "Top Ten Modern Myths and Why They're Not True". While I assembled the material for this blog post, I realized that there would have to be much more than ten points and that to do each point justice I would need to make separate posts. On that note, here begins my new blog series "Modern Myths".

Native Americans were primitive before Europeans came along

Many of us have grown up with images of the hooting, hollering "red man" dancing around the camp fire by his tee-pee and sharpening his tomahawk for scalping the "white man". These images have been spoon-fed to us by TV shows (e.g. Looney Tunes), sports teams (e.g. Redskins), and wild tales from USA folklore.

In reality, Native Americans were quite advanced. They had built towns. They played organized team sports. They excelled in hunting and fishing. They had somewhat democratic government structures. In farming they were experts. Women often held prominent roles in their society. They had medicine which they shared with the Europeans. They had sophisticated religion and theology which were a key part of their society. Cleanliness was important to them: in fact, they were more clean than the Europeans for whom bathing and clean clothes were not all that important. Their culture was centered on toleration and freedom. They avoided conflict when possible and abhorred devastating war. They had a sophisticated language. Monetary currency and economic systems were also present in their society.

The Native Americans generally strived for good relations with the settlers. In fact, scalping was introduced by the Europeans. It is due greatly to Native Americans that settlers survived the early years.

Resources:
http://www.mobyfinn.com/lists/ten-myths-about-american-history/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Americans_in_the_United_States