Obama; How Things Have Changed.

By Richard Okelberry, April 25th, 2011 - I recently came across this montage clip of then presidential candidate Obama talking about the War in Iraq.  This compilation was put together by the Obama campaign to illustrate how he was against the war from the beginning in an attempt to win over the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd.  Of course this video screams out in irony when his words are compared to his position regarding our involvement in the current Libyan civil war.  Also, consider that Obama speaks here about bringing the troops home from Iraq immediately.

“America, it is time to start bringing our troops home! It’s time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreements that lies at the heart of someone else’s civil war. That’s why I have a plan that will bring our combat troops home by March of 2008!” – Obama, 2007 

Since March of 2008 over 200 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and the once vocal “peace protestors” have fallen eerily silent.

The only question now is; how long will it take the 2012 Obama Campaign organizers to realize that they still have this video up on Youtube and yank it down before others begin to make the same comparison?

One final quote from President Obama,

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.  As commander-in-chief, the president does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch.” Obama - Boston Globe, 2007

Congress has still not authorized the use of military force in Libya and not once has President Obama publically argued that Libya presented a direct and immediate threat to the United States.

As far as having a broad Coalition for Libya, consider that President Bush brought together 30 countries against Iraq while a mere 16 joined Obama in Libya!

Atheism a Product of Faith

by Richard Okelberry, January 29th, 2011 - Most recently I began researching some of the teachings being published by the organization, American Atheists.  Like many I was drawn to this organizations web site (www.atheist.org) following their recent anti-Christmas billboard campaign where they advertised, “You know it’s a Myth.  This Season Celebrate REASON!”

I personally found it very strange that in our modern society which has come to teach tolerance for various beliefs that anyone would try to seek mainstream acceptance in society by attacking the beliefs of others.

American Anti-theists dot Com

It is painfully evident by many of the statements on the American Atheists website that the organization’s primary mission is not to simply promote secularism but is more focused on promoting an Anti-theist agenda of social division through the use of demonizing rhetoric.  While the authors of the site will regularly remark that they are promoting tolerance, the tone of their arguments seem to confirm that they are completely uninterested in civil discourse and have instead chosen a strategy of promoting out right bigotry against religion.

“Some of us are bogging down in a debate over whether the promotion of secular humanism should involve “bashing” religion, or whether we should only focus on presenting humanism in a positive light. The answer is that both are necessary components of the secular humanist message, depending on the individual circumstances of each encounter, each audience, and each forum…

…We thus need to end the pointless debate about whether to “bash” or not “bash” religion in the process of promoting secular humanism. The opponents of religious dogma should be able to attack and ridicule religious beliefs the same as opponents of any other belief system can attack and ridicule that belief system.” {emphasis added} – To Bash or Not to Bash, American Atheist

Notice the intense focus on ATTACKING and RIDICULING religion while justifying their actions by blaming the religions they oppose of using the same tactic.

It also should be noted here that there is a certain level of hypocrisy and irony in the previous statement.  After all, it is the American Atheists that have called on the public to, “Celebrate Reason.”  Of course when you say that your beliefs are derived from Reason and Logic, then you should also be well aware that the use of “ridicule” in a debate has only one purpose; to generate an Ad Hominine (personal) attack against your opponent.  An Ad Hominine attack is considered fallacious because it attempts to discredit the arguments of an opponent not by presenting strong competing arguments based in Reason or Logic but by avoiding the topic and using personal ridicule instead.  An Ad Hominine attack is diagramed like this;

  1. A states argument X is True
  2. B ridicules A
  3. therefore, X must be False.

Logic dictates that just because B ridicules A, it does not mean that X is necessarily false.  X may very well still be true even if B ridicules A.  This is an attempt to persuade a jury to their cause by asking them to ignore logic all together and instead make an emotion decision about argument X based entirely on personal opinions about the character of A.  This certainly is a very strange tactic for an organization to use that is asking us to “Celebrating Reason.”

Ultimately, it would be more logical to change the name of this organization from American Atheists to American Anti-theists as their anti-religion campaign which serves as the core of this organization is certainly not shared universally by all atheists.

Production of Hate

After reading some of the opinions offered by this organization, it has become very apparent, as I’ve stated, that this is not merely a group of likeminded individuals focused on promoting a common belief system, but an agitated group of Anti-theists dedicated to nothing less than the total destruction of all religion.    Anti-theists are individuals who are not content in their own belief in an absence of god, but are motivated by various reasons to prove their belief through the systematic dismantling of the religious beliefs of others.  To this end, the American Atheist’s web site is completely loaded with various writings that attempt to demonize religion and the belief in a god as a whole with a primary focus on attacking Christianity.  It is these writings that give us the greatest insight about the primary motivations of this organization.

Nothing illustrates this more than these aggressive statements from their web site,

“Religion causes people to break the laws of ethics and morality in the name of a god…

…Religion dulls the mind and weakens the senses.

…Religion spreads like disease through societies, rarely coexisting with pre-existing mythologies, rather preferring to conquer or be conquered.  Religion is anything but tolerant…

…American Atheists is not afraid to point out that which is true: religion is ridiculous. Mythology and religion are synonymous, and none is better than another. Religion is malicious, malevolent, and unworthy of respect.”  – Religion, American Atheist

It is obvious from these statements that this organization has moved well beyond offering an opposing view point or belief and is lacing its arguments with a level of hatred that is rarely seen in modern society except from the most fundamentalist of groups.  It is clear that the American Atheists have crafted themselves in the likeness of a long line of bigoted organizations that propose to advance their agenda through the dissemination of Hate.

Rather than seeking to create a society free from such hate and division through a mission of acceptance and understanding, the American Atheists seem instead to find an advantage in sowing the seeds of division through distrust.  Just as Hitler found it beneficial for the advancement of his cause to demonize the Jews by blaming them for the lion’s share of social/economic problems in Germany, this group is promoting itself by laying the blame for all the ills of societies around the world squarely at the feet of religion by declaring that, “In the history of the world, nothing has been the catalyst of more grief, hatred, war, and crime than religion.”  This is a powerful statement that is presented without a single shred of evidence in support of their argument.

Intuition and Faith

Of course there is a bitter irony in the fact that Atheism at its core is truly no different than any other religion.

While an Atheist might argue that their beliefs are not similar to those of religion because they do not believe in a traditional god or creator, the reality is that “religion” as a whole is more properly defined by the existence of Faith.  You see, Faith is the belief in something that cannot be proven.  It is Faith that ultimately forms the primary foundation of all religion, not the belief in a god or creator as an atheist might suggest.  The belief in god or a creator is simply one product of Faith.  While the American Atheists may deny the existence of Faith in their own belief system, simply denying something does not make it true as anyone who is as dedicated to logic and “Reason” as the American Atheists profess to be, should know.

Ultimately, “Faith” as we know it is a product of Intuition which forms the very foundation of logic and reason.  This is because there is so much of the world that we do not understand or can never prove, but are forced by reason to accept.  As such, we must all eventually use Intuition to take certain “leaps of faith” in forming our world view.

Belief without Proof.

To give an example of how Intuition is a key component of our human nature, imagine for a moment this simple scenario.

A person takes a ball and tosses it into the air.  Relative to our perspective, the ball goes up a few feet, stops and then falls back down to earth.  Now the question is; did the ball ever actually stop moving in mid-air before it fell back to earth?  Using Intuition, the obvious answer is, YES!  We tell ourselves that if the ball was moving up, then changed course under the pull of gravity and began moving down, “logic” dictates that it must have at some point stopped moving completely.  Few would disagree with this conclusion.  Of course, actually proving that the ball stopped in mid-air creates a curious dilemma.

You see, there is one major component to this quarry that must be taken into account; Time.  Unfortunately for us, Time is an abstraction that cannot be pinned down by simple physical measurement.  We can never actually capture and observe the exact moment when the ball stops completely in its vertical rise because we can continue to subdivide a given measure of time in half infinitely.  Even if we had a movie camera capable of infinitely increasing the rate at which it takes pictures of the event, we would never be able to capture the exact point at which the ball is suspended in midair because there would always be an ever smaller slice of time preceding the “stop” that we could observe.

Because we cannot prove through Observation (a key component of the scientific method) that the ball ever actually stops, we are left to use our Intuition in making a final logical analysis of the event.  Ultimately, without any actual proof, we all rely on our Faith (ability to believe without proof) to form our belief about the event.  Without such faith through intuition, science as we know it would grind to a halt and be forever mired in the abstract details of the universe.

The reality is; both the belief in a god and the belief in a universe devoid of design use the exact same Intuitive Process.  While both may come to different opinions regarding the nature of the universe, both must eventually ground their positions in Faith, not in Empirical Evidence.  While one person may profess that there is a god, given a specific amount of “evidence” (no matter how weak that evidence may be) and another may argue that there isn’t a god, given his/her observations, both are relying completely on their own personal Intuition or Faith in stating their positions.  The question will only ever be as it has always been with religion throughout history; can we disagree with each other in a respectful or civil manner?

Summation

As I read through much of the information provided at the American Atheist website, the authors there seem quit content to forego any reasonable or respectful form of disagreement in favor of the same tribalistic assaults on those that do not share their view of the world as we have come to expect from a long list of bigoted groups.  As a society that seeks to improve civility in the world we should all reject and lend little support for this organization.  In addition we must continue to expose their distortion of facts about various faiths along with their desire to rid the world of religion.  Of course we must do this in a manner that favors civil discourse.

We must know and accept that this is not the first organization throughout history to use these tactics.  Furthermore we must keep ever present in our minds the serious dangers to society that such hate filed rhetoric posses.  History is landmarked with the terrible costs that populations have endured when such hate filled rhetoric is allowed to take hold.

(NOTE:  In coming posts I will address specific instances where the American Atheists seem quite willing to abandon Reason and Logic in favor of some kind of Atheistic Dogma.  Additionally, I will show how they regularly misuse, misrepresent and outright lie about the teachings and history of various religions to promote this dogma.)

Gravitational Doppler Effect; an Accelerating Universe.

I’ve been giving some thought to the various theories regarding the expansion of the universe.  While we have known since Edwin Hubble first made his observations using the Doppler effect that the universe is expanding in all directions, it was not until 1998 when scientists where observing a Type La Supernovae that they discovered that the universe is not just expanding but also accelerating in all directions.  This came as a big surprise to most in the scientific community since it was long believed that the pull of gravity would eventually slow things down following the Big Bang; causing all matter in the universe to fall back on its self.

While there are many theories that have attempted to explain this phenomenon, perhaps the most popular is a theory that some hypothetical “dark energy” is providing the motivation for this unexplained acceleration of the expansion of the universe.  I want to propose instead that it might be a gravitational Doppler Effect that is the culprit.

The Doppler Effect occurs when frequency of light or sound or any other electromagnetic radiation coming from a moving object is compressed on the bow side of the object and expanded on the aft side.  This can be most commonly experienced as a train passes by while blowing it horn.  As the train approaches, the sound has an increased pitch as the sound waves are compressed at the front of the train.  As the train passes, the pitch suddenly drops to a lower pitch as the waves are being stretched out by behind the now receding train.  The same thing happens with light.  In fact, if your eyes were sensitive enough you would see the train turn slightly red (red shift) as it approaches you then turn slightly blue (blue shift) as it moves away from you.

I want to propose that perhaps the force of gravity, which was predicted by Einstein and confirmed in 1993 by physicist Sergei Kopeikin to be limited by the speed of light and as such is also believed to propagate in waves, is doing the same thing.

While gravitational waves have yet to be detected, if gravity does travel in waves then intuitively it would mean that if a large gravitational object like a star is moving in a given direction, the gravity in front of that star would be slightly greater in the direction of its movement and slightly less in its wake due to the Doppler Effect.  Essentially, the star would be propagating in front of it a greater number of gravity waves of a given amplitude which should cause a slightly greater curve in the space/time at its bow.

This “gravitational bow wave” in front of an object like a star in motion, might it’s self be a sort of self perpetuating    accelerator.  Because the gravity well in front of a moving object is deeper than the gravity well behind it, the object would perpetually seem to be falling into its own gravity well.  It would be like constantly digging a hole in front of a ball rolling across the ground.  Of course, this argument is predicated on the idea that the frequency of a given gravitational force wave has an effect on the overall depth of a given gravity well by compressing waves of a given amplitude into a tighter space.

Additionally, if the strength or Amplitude of gravity waves diminishes over the time the way that other waves passing through a medium lose strength by imparting energy into the medium, we should also be able to predict that the blue shifted gravitation waves propagating to the aft of a star should travel farther then their red shifted counterparts on the bow of the star.  This would essentially mean that the gravity left in the wake of a moving star would be stronger at a greater distance or have a greater affect on distance objects.

Essentially, stars and galaxies at a greater distance from the center of the universe would appear heavier and have a stronger gravitational pull on stars near the center.  Because the lower frequency waves travel farther, much like the low frequency bass at a concert can be heard at greater distances than the high frequency treble, the objects in the outer universe should be pulling with slightly greater force than those at the center.   This should cause a net gain in acceleration, at least near the center of the universe.  A measure of the rate of acceleration for objects near the center of the universe versus the rate of acceleration for those objects at the distance reaches of the universe should show whether this theory is at all probable.

For certain, the study of gravitational waves will for sometime be at the heart of our attempts to understand what is perhaps, the least understood primal force known to man, Gravity.  We are now only beginning to ponder how gravity affects the fabric of space as it propagates around the universe, not as a smooth interconnecting force but as a complex interplay of elemental forces moving in waves.

While I will say again that I am certainly no physicist, we should all remember that great discoveries are regularly found by amateur astronomers.  Within the world of Theoretical Physics, while few of us have the mathematical backgrounds necessary, we should all remember the words of Albert Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

And one more quote…

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new…” – Albert Einstein

Giving Up on Gas

 by Richard Okelberry, July 6th, 2010 - Here is an excerpt from a conversation that I have been participating in response to an essay written by Gary Kunkel titled, “The Madness of King Coal.”  While there are plenty of people who are critical of our current dependence on dirty fuels like coal and petroleum, at some point we have to start talking about viable options to such fuels.  The following details one possible way of converting our system from a gasoline based transportation system to one that runs on Compressed Natural Gas and eventual Hydrogen.

 

“So what does this tell us? If you want people to carpool, use public transportation, use more efficient cars, buy solar panels, cool their AC to 78 and not 72 and all those holy grails of policy outcomes, then make not doing so really expensive…” – Brewski, OneUtah.com

You are dead on about higher prices causing major changes in the habits of consumers.  The problem is; that is the exactly the opposite direction we need to go in.  First, having the government artificially drive up the cost of living is not going to sit well with voters and it will only lead to the government using the new found revenue to expand its operations.  Remember, government rarely goes through a major downsizing, so whatever we add to the farm, we have to feed.  Second, artificially ramping up the price of fuel and electricity to spur conservation will ultimately have a huge detrimental effect on our economy.

While Republicans and Democrats like to each blame the other side when the economy falls on its face, historically major recessions have all been tied directly to the availability of natural resources.  With the exception of the Great Depression which was tied to a super drought and dust bowl which put agricultural workers (the largest employment sector of its day) out of work, every other major recession since has been tied to an energy crisis.  While it is true that each of these periods of spiked energy costs helped to encourage conservation, it did so by creating havoc in family budgets which ultimately caused people to stop consuming which ultimately brought the economy to a halt.  We have to be very careful when we talk about crafting energy policy based too heavily on restricting energy to force less consumption.  Additionally, higher fuel prices leads to inflation since energy costs are built into most every product or service.  So consumers have less to spend and things end up costing more.  It is a vicious cycle that is difficult to get on top of.

As much as many of us conservatives would like to see a small, less intrusive government, we have to understand that energy represents a natural monopoly as do most natural resources.  As such, the government has a legitimate role in the production and distribution of energy as a mechanism of maintaining a stable economy.  In fact, it is one of the only areas where government can have a positive effect on the direction and overall growth of an economy.

Here is one plan that I believe would work for helping to maintain a healthy economy while serving the need to remove our dependence on dirty fuels.  (I wish I could say that I came up with this.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember who did because they certainly are deserving of credit.)

First, the federal government needs to begin converting its entire fleet of vehicles to natural gas.  If we begin doing this with the postal service, it will give fueling points at every post office.  This will allow the state governments to use these fueling depots to then convert all of their vehicles which will also lead to the state government building their own fuel depots.  It’s all about distribution here and by phasing in natural gas use in vehicles it will allow production and distribution of natural gas to gradually ramp up and won’t cause a run on the resource which will run its price up too quickly.  At the same time that this is going on the Fed begins giving serious incentives in the form of tax credits to those that bear some of the expense of converting their own vehicles and gives industry similar incentives to companies for expanding production of natural gas ready vehicles.

Second, because natural gas is cleaner than gasoline but not completely clean, the government then begins working towards doing the same conversion and providing the same distribution with hydrogen fueled vehicles.  Keep in mind that at every step through the process, anyone who has either a gas or hydrogen vehicle will be allowed to use any government fuel depot to fill up their car and any private distributor will have access to the distribution network.  By expanding our use of Hydrogen we will also be expanding our production of hydrogen and advancing safe storage techniques.  Once these techniques are perfected, wind and solar will both become more viable methods of producing electricity because hydrogen can be used as a storage medium for excess power that can be later reconverted at times when wind and solar are not able to meet demand.

Of course, nuclear and geothermal energy will likely need to play a primary role in our eventual conversion to hydrogen fuels, if we are going to be expected to meet the demands for hydrogen that will occur if every vehicle will eventually use it as its primary fuel source.  (We should also consider how certain areas that are rich in geothermal activity may see a sort of gold rush during this era of conversions.  Utah would be one of those states.)

This process will likely take 30 years to complete, but it is a plan that would eventually lead to a nation free from fossil fuel dependency.  We also need to consider that as America goes, so does the rest of the world.  As cheap natural gas, then hydrogen fueled vehicles cars begin to out pace traditional gasoline vehicles in production, the cost of these vehicles will drop below the price of their older siblings.  This cost shift will translate into a global shift in the primary fuel source used for transportation.

For any plan to succeed, it will have to be something that can be widely accepted by many people of varying political backgrounds.  I believe that this plan is one that both sides of the isle can get behind because it takes into account the need to reduce harmful emissions while being simultaneously concerned for economic growth.  Ultimately, we need to worry less about how many SUVs people are driving and more about how to provide those SUVs to the public that use a cleaner fuel.

For those interested in using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or interested in getting involved in promoting CNG, here is a useful web site. CNG Now

No Singularity?

SIngularity

 

by Richard Okelberry, June 20th, 2010 - This morning I woke up and decided that I was going to depart from my regular political rants and instead I was going to challenge Einstein and one of his long standing, widely held ideas concerning black holes.

You see, Einstein predicted that inside a black hole, there would be so much mass concentrated down into a space so small that at this single point; both mass and gravity would become infinite.  Einstein called this point the Singularity. For some time now I have been batting around in my head two problems regarding the existence of such a single point of infinite mass and gravity.

First, it is important to stress that I am NOT a physicist.  I am however a thinker that loves to twist ideas from various sources around in my head.  As such, I am going to present the following idea to several physicists so that they may shoot it down.  You see, I am under no delusion that what I am about to say has not already been considered by the scientific community and expect fully to be summarily dismissed for whatever reason.  Still, you like me may find this idea interesting.

Problem 1: Gravity and Time

I am going to claim that Einstein’s idea of a singularity at the center of every black hole cannot exist.  My reason for this is simple and has to do with time.  Any physicist will tell you that gravity effects time.  The more massive an object is, the more it slows time down; even to the point that time almost stops completely.

I am proposing that much like time becomes the “protector” of the speed of light, so does it protect the very fabric of space by insuring that a singularity never forms within a super massive object.  In a recent new television program “Into the Universe with Steven Hawking” the renowned physicist, Steven Hawking gave a great description for how time is able to place a speed (of light) limit on every object.  While I have heard this concept described in many different ways, Mr. Hawking’s description is simple and straight forward.

Mr. Hawking proposed that we imagine a train traveling at as close to the speed of light as possible, 99.9% the speed of light.  He then asked us to imagine what would happen if one of the passengers, a small girl sitting at the back of the train in this case, got up from her seat and ran down the isle towards the front of the train.  Basic intuition tells us that if the train is travelling just shy of the speed of light and the girl gets up and runs forward, her new forward speed should be added to the speed of the train and thus the little girl should be traveling faster than the speed of light.  While this may sound logical, it simply is not what physicists like Mr. Hawking tell us would happen.  Instead Mr. Hawking goes on to describe how the girl is never able to reach and surpass the speed of light because as she attempt to move forward, time slows down for her relative to her forward progress.  As she attempts to run faster and faster, time continues to limit her by slowing down even more, thus insuring that she will never be able to actually reach or exceed the speed of light.

I believe that something similar may be happening within super massive objects like black holes.  As matter falls towards a potential gravitational singularity at the center of a black hole, the closer it gets to the center, the longer it takes to get there; at least from our perspective as observers.  Essentially, I am proposing that the time it takes for something to join a potential singularity keeps doubling infinitely and therefore the mass never joins with the potential singularity because it takes an infinite amount of time to get there.  In essence, it is not gravity that becomes infinite in a black hole but time.

Physicists tell us that this journey towards a singularity only appears to take forever from the perspective of an observer on the outside, while the journey in “real time” for someone actually falling into a black hole only takes mere seconds after passing the Event Horizon.  I would argue that it may be the singularity that is the mathematical illusion and only exists as a potential in all cases.

To prove this, I have constructed a possible experiment to prove what is actually happening at or near the speed of light and in or near a singularity.  To conduct this experiment we need a few exotic things.  We need a pair of quantum entanglements, a particle accelerator and a nearby Black Hole.

For those not familiar with quantum entanglements, they are two particles linked together in the same quantum mechanical state.  When you observe one of these particles, you can always be certain that the other particle is in the opposite state.  These two possible states are often referred to as their spin but it is easier to think of them as being either positive or negative.

A great way to describe this would be to imagine two quarters on a table.  You use your magic quantum mechanics wand and forever join each coin to the other by some magical force.  Now your friend takes one of the coins and carries it to a distant planet.  If you both flip your coin into the air at the same time, catch it and reveal the result on the back of your hands, you each will reveal the opposite result.   If you see heads, you can be absolutely certain that your friend’s coin toss came out tails.  No matter how many times you do this, your friend will get the opposite result as you regardless of the distance between you.  You get tails and he gets heads.  You get heads three times in a row and he will get three tails in a row.  Einstein called this phenomenon, “spooky action at a distance.”  Needless to say, Einstein was not a fan of it, because it implied that there was some kind of faster than light communication.

So now imagine we have a pair of these entanglements.  We keep one in our lab and stick the other in a particle accelerator.  As we send or separated quantum entanglement around in circles through the accelerator and continue to check the state (flip the coin) of its pair in our lab, intuition tells us that something strange should happen as our particle in the accelerator approached 99.9% the speed of light.  Time for this super fact entangled particle should begin to radically slow down and even nearly stop.  As time for our super fast particle comes to a near stop, its “spin” should also come to a near halt.  If this is the case then every time we observe its entangled pair in the lab, we should get the exact same result.  If the spinning coin in the accelerator stops spinning in time and get’s stuck on say heads, then so should our lab coin repeatedly give us the result of heads.

Now if we perform this same experience but instead send one of our quantum entangled coins into a black hole we should observe one of two phenomenons.  Either our lab coin once again gets stuck on heads as our black hole coin get stuck in time or our lab coin continues to flip normally as our ill fated black hole coin meets its fate at the singularity.

If our entangled black hole coin does get “stuck” in forever freefall it should indicate that the problem for physicists where black holes seem to destroy the laws of physics as both gravity and mass become infinite simply, does not exist because the source of their problem never occurs and can only be described as a “potential singularity.”

Problem 2: Newton’s Shell Theorem

Newton-Shell-Theorem

Another problem that continues to challenge my understanding of black holes has to do with Sir Isaac Newton’s Shell Theorem.  Among other applications, in short the Shell Theorem shows us that at the center of any massive body like the earth or the sun, the gravitational pull is zero.  Well, it’s not truly zero; it’s just pulling in the opposite direction.

The concept is rather simple.  If you are standing on the earth, you have the entire mass of the earth pulling on you beneath your feet.  Now say you could take an elevator to the center of the earth.  As you travel downward, you begin to notice that there is an increasing large amount of the earth not just below your feet but above your head as well.  Of course this mass above you is pulling on you gravitationally in the same way that the mass of the earth below you is.

As you get closer to the center of the earth, you begin to experience something very curious.  You are getting lighter and lighter as more and more of the mass of the earth is no longer below you but above you.  Once you reach the center of the earth you become perfectly weightless, as all of the earth is around you in every direction.  It’s not that gravity is no longer pulling on you, it just that gravity is pulling equally on you in all directions cancelling it’s self out.

By now you have probably guessed that I am now going to apply this same principle to black holes.  While black holes are truly far more massive than the earth or even the sun for that matter, the same principals outlined in Newton’s Shell Theorem should also be applicable to black holes.

According to the Shell Theorem, at the center of a black hole there should be ZERO gravity!  Of course this notion flies in the face of the common belief by physicists that gravity becomes infinite at a single point (the singularity) in the center of a black hole.  I would argue that this may not be the case because once again the singularity is never able to actually form since no matter how hard you try, there will always be more matter behind you the closer you get to the absolute center of the black hole.  I believe that this is safe to say because even at the forming of a black hole, when a massive star runs out of enough energy to hold it’s self up against its own gravity and collapses, there is already an area of zero gravity at the center of the collapsing star.  As the mass of the star moves in on its self towards the center to form a black hole, any matter towards the center would be pulled on by the matter at the exterior and vice versa.  This should lead to a kind of stasis or balance between the interior gravitational forces and the exterior gravitational forces.

If this turns out to be true, it would mean that while truly massive, a black hole is far from a tear in the fabric of space and time but merely a huge massive object that simply prevents light and other radiation from escaping (besides Hawking’s radiation that is).   Rather than the mass of a black hole being concentrated down to an infinitely small point, it is likely just a swirling mass of varying densities, much like a star whose light and radiation are forever trapped in its gravitational field.

Conclusion:

I have no doubt that each of the hypotheses have been considered in detail by scientists and summarily discounted.  Still, in my long standing quest to better understand the strange phenomenon surrounding a black hole, I want to invite anyone to challenge these assertions.  As I’ve said, I certainly am no scientist.  I am just an inquisitive mind struggling to understand some of the more abstract notions that science and the universe have to offer.

Communist Jesus

CommunistJesus1By Richard Okelberry, October 30th, 2006 - Many over the years have tried to argue that the Biblical New Testament is full of references to communism. Mr. Austin Cline in an essay titled “What Does the Bible Say About Communism & Socialism?” makes the argument that Christians who are opposed to communism are hypocritical representations of their religion. True communists the world over believe that individuals should hold few if any personal possessions and that the bulk of a societies resources should be divided up as needed between everyone. Mr. Cline uses the following Biblical quotes to support his presumption that Christians should embrace this economic philosophy.

Acts 2:44-45

  • 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

Acts 4:32-37

  • 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 5:1-10

  • 1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

In his essay Mr. Cline states, “Killing bourgeoisie land owners who fail to give all of their money to the community? That’s not merely communism, that’s Stalinism.” These quotes taken out of context would seem to suggest as Mr. Cline has that every Christian should sell off everything they own and offer it to be used by the entire group. Furthermore, Mr. Cline would suggest that a faithful Christian should kill anyone who refuses to participate. Of course, as with anything in the Bible it is important to understand the broader context. In this case, Ananias and Sapphira where not struck down because they failed to donate ALL of their property. In reality, their demise had nothing to do with their possessions and everything to do with their attempt to deceive God. These, two had attempted to enter into the inner trust and fellowship of God’s followers through deception and were abruptly stopped by the direct will of God.

There were plenty of people at the time that didn’t sell everything to give to the early church and none of them where similarly dispatched. It is also important to note that it was God that took the lives of this husband and wife, not the followers. In fact, through out Christ’s travels he was offered places to stay by followers that owned property that was never sold off and divvied up. This illustrates that not everyone is called to express their faith in this manner. Often time critics of Christianity will try to use quotes like these from the Bible to expose what they see as some deep rooted hypocrisy in Christianity. While I will admit, that because Christians set high moral standards of faith and conduct for themselves, they are often more hypocritical than non-believers. However, the fact that all Christians don’t turn over everything they own and promote widespread communism is not an example of hypocrisy. Most of these criticisms come from a failure to understanding the broader messages of the Bible. Much like looking at a drop of blood beneath a microscope and thinking that you have a complete understanding of the entire organism, it is impossible to bring up a single Biblical quote and make a general theological statement.

First, we must put these passages from Acts into proper historical prospective. We are talking about the very beginnings of the Christian Church. A time when new followers were asked to shed their prior existence to become born new in Christianity. Also, as an early church commanded by God to spread the news about Christ, there was a great need for resources to fund both travel and the expense of establishing new congregations. Coupled with the fact that sharing resources in family style units can have a profound unifying effect, it is easy to understand why the Disciples would find great benefits to communal living. If you think about it, every family practices a form of communism by sharing its resources. Of course no where in the Bible, does Christ or any of his followers suggest that this economic model should be used throughout all of society and forced on believers and non-believers alike the way that Stalin did.

CommunistJesus2 (2)Instead Christians are encouraged to be generous and giving on their own without government mandate. In fact it can be strongly argued that forcing an individual by action of the government to give up a portion of their possessions to be given unjustly to another individual is in direct conflict with Christian principles. If I were to say pass a law that takes more taxes from what I consider a wealthy individual then give that money to the poor so that I don’t need to pay as much in taxes, I would be guilty of both coveting my neighbor’s possessions and theft. This is especially true if I am somehow the direct beneficiary or recipient of those social services. The tendency for humans to be covetous is not only one of the most difficult commandments for Christians to obey but ironically is also the very reason why communism as broad economic model exists in the first place. Nowhere in the Bible does God support a “Robin Hood” form of society. Instead we are each called to make our own decisions about how we will live our lives and how we individually will provide for the poor. This doesn’t mean that Christians should be against all forms of socialism. Christians should have no problem supporting a welfare system to maintain the greater good of society as long as the funding of those services are done in a way that is fair and just. Unfortunately our current hyper-progressive tax system is neither. Another Biblical quote that is often misunderstood regarding wealth can be found in Matthew 19:16-24.

  • 16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

At first reading these passages seem to suggest that Mr. Cline is correct about his assumptions. It seems that Christ himself is instructing all of us to give up everything we own to follow him. We have to remember that Jesus regularly used parables and examples designed to be applied philosophically to a broad range of situations. Here, much like a Buddhist might challenge a disciple by answering a question with a question, Jesus is asking us to challenge the way we see sin and question how righteous we are. At its core Christianity is about recognizing ones own sinful nature. This passage gives us a sobering reminder that we cannot live our lives in a sinless manner and questions whether we are truly willing to give up everything if necessary to follow Christ. Even those that believe they are without sin are terribly mistaken.

What Christ is really saying is that we need to be willing to give up everything and follow him not that we must give up everything to follow him. We should have no other gods that we place higher than him; that includes wealth. Jesus did not command that everyone should relinquish all of their worldly possessions. Instead he was illustrating that while this man may have thought he had upheld all of the commandments he was in fact unable to place God above all things. While Christians do practice a sort of communism, hence the term communion used to describe the mutual partaking of the Lords Supper, no where does the Bible give rise to the modern communist economic model. Instead we commune in the same faith and belief that Jesus is the prophesized Christ.

Finally, it is completely understandable that Mr. Cline missed the underlying message of the passages used in his essay. As he mentioned in his article there have been many religions like the Shakers who also made this same mistake. Of course if God had meant for the path to him to be a simple one the Bible would read more like an instruction manual. Instead, Jesus wanted his followers to be critical thinkers not merely blind sheep. In a final word about communism, Ronald Reagan once said, “Communism only works in Heaven, where they don’t need it, and in Hell, where they already have it”

Kong vs Zilla!

An epic rematch!

When I was just a child, my older brother and I had quite a few rivalries.  We would even flip through the phone book beginning to end seeing who could get their finger on the page fastest ant each turn to declare, “Mine!”  This meant the object you were pointing at was yours and you moved on to the next page.  Of course being a few years older, my brother always got the motorcycle and I was stuck with the delivery van.  One of our fiercest rivalries came between King Kong and Godzilla.

One again my brother got first pick, which left me with Godzilla.  Not that I really minded this time because I thought that in a fight, with his blow torch breath and cascading electrical back, Godzilla would just pummel King Kong.  Not so, according to my brother, he would always point out how much bigger Kong’s brain is and therefore, he could outwit Godzilla.  He would explain that Godzilla’s brain was only the size of a pea which made him a big dumb lizard.  Well, the day came that the 1963 movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla was finally on TV.  This was before the days of cable, movies of this caliber were usually aired on Saturday afternoons or late night.

None the less, the battle was terrific, and I must admit I really felt that Godzilla had the upper-hand.  Unfortunately the director conspired against me and gave the draw to Kong, who swam home victorious after apparently drowning Godzilla in the ocean.  At least that is what the big brained monkey wanted us to think.  In reality, Godzilla is perfectly at home under the water and while he certainly swam off in disgrace, he was never dead and certainly not defeated.

I was forced to bear years of humiliation over the loss of my champion.  All the while I knew that something just wasn’t right.  Eventually, the conspiracy became evident.  They made Kong way bigger than he is in “real life.”  While King Kong is measured in feet, Godzilla in measured in stories (see figure).  Thankfully, through the magic of modern CGI effects, we finally have two modern movies that make this difference crystal clear, Godzilla (1998) and King Kong (2005).

Both movies have their climactic scenes in NY City, so the comparison is easy to make.  It is obvious that Godzilla would simply crush Kong with his big right toe, or claw or whatever you call it.  Now I’m sure that Kong would be at least a bit of a nuisance before the big squish.  Kong is pretty quick and climbs like a monkey, especially because he is a monkey, absent a tail.  In the end however, as the tag-line from Godzilla says, “Size Does Matter.”  Plus, Kong is an emotional mess and is way to easily distracted by the ladies.  Godzilla on the other hand, is a machine of destruction, punching holes through buildings and crushing cars in his mouth like crackers.  We may never get to see these two titans finally go at it again, but that is only because the movie would only last about 5 minutes and you wouldn’t even get to finish your popcorn.  If they did make it however, I would be there with my older brother to see it.

Looney Clooney

LooneyClooneyby Richard Okelberry,  Well, for those of you that like me didn’t watch the Academy Rewards Sunday, (I read the transcripts) it seems we all missed the historical perspectives of George “Looney” Clooney. Apparently, Mr. Looney was rewarded for his work exposing a CIA plot to gain access to foreign oil with a shiny golden god and a few moments to defend the Academy’s “out of touch” nominations.

It appears that the “Media” has been responding to an ever persistent claim that the Academy awards have lost touch with the values of the American people. According to Mr. Looney, the Academy was instrumentally ground breaking by being

“the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular”

and by giving

“Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters.”

Of course the Academy did nothing about black sitting at the back of theaters.  Their primary concern with AIDS didn’t occur until it began affecting Hollywood’s promiscuous lifestyles.  As far as the civil rights movement, I must have missed the large groups of Academy members marching along side Dr. King.  In fact, if I’m not mistaken, isn’t it the black community that has been complaining for years that too few black actors are even considered for high profile roles and that even fewer are nominated for high awards.

Mr. Looney does have one thing right though, the Academy, over the years has become nothing more than a soapbox for social and political statements.  Regardless of whether these statements come in the form anti-Bush rants during acceptances or prom the actual nominations themselves.  While most of the on stage rants were subdued this year, most like because of past public reprisal, the nominations were nothing but a social and political wish list for liberals.

This is evident by the award given to Mr. Looney.  The film “Syriana” where the US Government and CIA is portrayed as a diabolical evil entity.  Then look at Looney’s other nomination as director of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a film that tries to draw obvious parallels between the years of McCarthyism and the US government.  It doesn’t take much to understand that Looney Clooney is “Proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch” more than he’s proud to be an American and in touch with his audience.