.

God Exists:  Logically Proved?

Religion is like politics because either topic will cause trouble in polite company .  This is not an especially polite blog, so a one-time departure from politics to consider the possible existence of the Most High doesn’t seem out of place.  However, courtesy demands a cautionary note before we begin:  if you arrived at this page because you Googled “does God exist?” or “ontological argument” or some other religious term or phrase, be forewarned that Overalls Nation has pictures of semi-nude women wearing overalls.  Folks with tender eyes or delicate sensibilities should seek enlightenment elsewhere, because they will see such pictures when they scroll down.

Are we clear?

Good.

Assuming that only us sinners remain, let’s begin.

.

.

Whether the argument we’re about to examine is truly convincing is open to question.  The fascination here is more about the argument itself than it is about the Almighty’s actual existence.  It’s a logical structure that can stick in your head and stay there for years, like a riddle or a paradox that goes first one way then the other way, and you just can’t settle it.  Hopefully, one bright reader will either confirm it conclusively or put it to rest forever in a brilliant comment.

Definition: What do we mean by “God”?

The first thing we need is to define what we’re talking about.  This argument borrows St. Anselm’s definition of God:

“God is the being greater than which nothing can be conceived.”

In other words, you can’t imagine a being greater than God.  If you have a concept of God in your mind, but it is possible to think of something greater, then your concept of God is wrong.  You can’t think of anything that is more powerful, more intelligent, more permanent or more loving than God.   We don’t need to decide whether we’re talking about the God of the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads or the Sutras.  All we’re talking about here – all we mean by “God” for the purpose of discussion –  is Something with the attribute of being greater than any other thing you can think of.  There is no need to drag in any doctrinal clutter.  If the argument succeeds, it only proves that that Something, with the attribute stated above, exists.  People who kill each other over their differing religious outlooks can proceed untroubled by any conclusion reached here.

.

.

Premise #1:  Necessary or Impossible

The certain and undeniable statement “God either exists or He doesn’t” is where our argument begins. Surprisingly, there are some important facts to be deduced from this statement, in light of our definition of God.

First, if God exists, He is necessary.  The word “necessary” should be taken here in its strict  logical sense.  A thing that is necessary cannot fail to exist.  It must be.  If 2+y=3, then it is necessary that y=1.  That is the sense in which God is necessary if He exists.  Here’s why:

As the greatest conceivable being, if God exists at this moment in time, there could never have been a time when He didn’t exist.  In the same way, He’ll never stop existing at some point in the future.  A temporary God would not be as great as a permanent God.  So the being we’ve defined would have to be eternal.  He could never not exist.  He would be necessary.

One the other hand, if God does not exist, He is  impossible.  He could never have existed in the past, and He’ll never pop into existence in the future.  Our concept of Him demands that He would be eternal and necessary.  So if he isn’t here now, he never was and He never will be.  His existence would be a total impossibility.

God’s existence implies His necessity.  His non-existence implies His impossibility. So our beginning statement “God either exists or He doesn’t” leads us to our argument’s first premise: “God is either necessary or impossible.

.

.

Premise #2: What is impossible?

Some things we call “impossible” really aren’t.  Imagine that there are 50 beautiful, semi-nude women wearing overalls sitting in the House of Representatives chamber.  Such a thing is so unlikely that it would be ridiculous to give it serious consideration.  But is it possible? Yes, it is.  The most skeptical person would have to admit that it is in fact conceivable – just barely.

Consider another claim:  “The solid brown overalls I am wearing are blue.”  Is that possible?  No, it isn’t.  You can’t see my overalls, but you still know my claim is false.  The reason is, we say something is impossible when it is self-contradictory and logically absurd, as that claim was. There is absolutely no chance that my brown overalls are blue.

Now consider a third claim:  “God exists.”  Is that possible?  This statement is like the one about the overalls chicks in the House chamber.  However unlikely we may find it,  there is nothing self-contradictory or logically absurd in it.  Even if the prospect of His existence seems outrageous or wildly improbable, in the final analysis He could just possibly exist.

The statement that breaks the deadlock of premise #1 follows: “God is not impossible”

.

.

With both of our premises in place, the syllogism is complete:

God is either necessary or impossible.

God is not impossible.

Therefore, God is necessary.

Unless there has been a misstep somewhere in the reasoning process, God cannot not exist.  His existence is an absolute necessity.

.

.

Your humble blogger goes back and forth on this one and honestly doesn’t know what to think.  If you have any insights one way or another, your comment will be much appreciated.

If anyone wants to read the argument as Norman Malcolm wrote it in that dusty old book*,  here it is:

Let me summarize the proof.  If God, a being greater than which cannot be conceived, does not exist then He cannot come into existence or have happened to come into existence, and in either case He would be a limited being, which by our conception of Him He is not.  Since He cannot come into existence, if He does not exist His existence is impossible.  If  He does exist He cannot have come into existence (for the reasons given), nor can He cease to exist, for nothing could cause Him to cease to exist nor could it just happen that he ceased to exist.  So if God exists His existence is necessary.  It can be the former only if the concept of such a being is self-contradictory or in some way logically absurd.  Assuming that this is not so, it follow that He necessarily exists.

.

______________________

* Malcolm, Norman.  Logic and Certainty: Essays and Lectures (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963), p. 144

.

Operation Burn Notice

25 November 2011

The good folks of Wisconsin are unhappy with their governor. Right after he was elected, Gov. Scott Walker took the unannounced action of introducing legislation to bust the state’s public employees unions.  Republican legislators had to break procedural rules to do it, but they passed the bill in an illegal, late night session.  As a result of Walker’s assault on the pro-labor tradition of Wisconsin,   there is presently a recall drive under way to remove Governor Walker from office.  And Governor Walker’s supporters are using a tactic to save him from the people’s ire that is so below the belt, so dirty and  so blatantly felonious that no one would do it but an arrogant sociopath who feels himself above every law and civilized standard of human conduct.

.

.

It’s not the dishonest rhetoric that we hear from the anti-recall forces.  And it isn’t their threats of violence against the families of the recall volunteers who collect signatures for their petitions.  No, it’s Operation Burn Notice.  OBN members pose as recall petition volunteers, and just like the real ones, they also collect signatures for Scott Walker’s recall.  But they do not submit their completed petition forms; they burn them.  Residents who sign legitimate recall petitions may never have them counted by the Government Accountability Board, because they had the misfortune of giving their signatures to Tea Party activists instead of to honest recall drive volunteers.  One man who was collecting recall signatures in front of Walmart told a local newspaper that he would not be turning them in.  He said there are about 1,000 OBN members like him.  They can be seen on Tea Party Facebook pages, talking about how many people they deceived and bragging about how much democracy they destroyed today.  Creeping fascism in America is no longer creeping.  It is smiling at you in front of Walmart, asking for your signature.

.

.

The ghosts of the Brownshirts rise from their hell and glow with pride.  Their ilk lives on in Operation Burn Notice.  And there is a whole year ahead until the 2012 election for the new Republican party to channel the Reich and further sharpen its foul tactics. The GOP has thrown down the gauntlet, and we see how it is going to be.

The official Facebook page of Operation Burn Notice is here (note: since this page was outed, OBN has moved its command and control to an unknown location):

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Operation-Burn-Notice/127747064001477?sk=wall

.

.

.

.

.

Socrates on OWS

20 November 2011

Should the Occupy movement give up it’s leaderless and organic structure so as to become a meaningful, effective force in Society?  This is the very topic of an ancient Greek manuscript, a fragment of which was newly discovered recently in the ruins of ancient Athens.  In it, the familiar figure of Socrates spars once more with Protagoras.  Like so many of the Platonic dialogs, the matter is left largely undecided in the end, but the issues are explored for the reader’s edification.  Here is the English translation of the fragment:

Protagoras:

I have watched with joy, O Socrates, as thousands of young Athenians, many of whom are your followers, have made their camp in the Agora at the temple of Hermes to protest the wanton greed of the wealthy who oppress the workers, the poor and the slaves.  But I am troubled, my friend, that their leaderless and unorganized ways doom their effort to failure.  If they are to effect change, they need the structure and disciple of a strong and well-loved leader.  And who better to lead them but you, Socrates?

.

Socrates:

My heart is warmed also, friend, to see these brave and dediated citizens coming to the aid of the 99%. But they are not followers of mine, Protagoras, though many of them are my good friends. It seems to me that they have succeeded far beyond expectations.  Why should I interfere in their affairs?

Protagoras:

Surely you have heard how men in power belittle them!  Rich and powerful senators say, “See! They are a rabble without goal or demand.  They know not what they want.  They are but a mindless force that seeks only to tear down  Athenian society.”  But if the protesters were represented by a respected leader like you, Socrates, this charge would be exposed as a lie.  For no one speaks more powerfully, clearly or pursuasively than you.

.

.

Socrates:

You forget, Protagoras, that I make no claim to knowledge. If I know nothing, how will I instruct Athens in its ailments and cures?  And If I pretended to know what is best for our state, and with the assent of the protesters give voice to these proposals, the senators would say, “These notions are but the opinions of that old gadfly Socrates, and the mindless youths of Athens merely parrot what he puts in their minds.”

Protagoras:

If articulating the message were the only concern, perhaps I would agree with you, Socrates.  But there is more to consider. You discourse daily with the people in the street, and you know that many citizens of Athens would join Occupy if they could. But how can merchants, artisans, tradesmen, soldiers and slaves, all earning a livlihood for their families as best they can, drop their tools and turn aside from their wages to camp out in the Agora, singing songs and carry signs?  A leader, Socrates, would diversify the movement.  He would find tasks that could be done by all citizens who love the cause.   Some would speak in the Senate.  Others might write or distribute literature.  Some might organize meetings among their fellow workmen.  If the Occupy message spread beyond the Temple Square and infiltrated Athens at all levels, how many more worthy Athenians would join the cause?

Socrates:

Ah, but Protagoras, it is possible to shout down a few who disrupt the Senate.  And it is easy to dismiss those who pass out tracts or who shout out at town halls as tinfoil hat fringies. A “diversified” movement that is split into different areas of effort can be addressed and beaten in each of its smaller areas of concern. But it is impossible to ignore a mighty, unified army of protesters gathered together in the Agora who disrupt commerce and who howl so that all of Athens hears!

.

Protagoras:

But don’t you see, Socrates?  Without specialization and structure, the movement acquires a poor image in the minds of many conservative citizens.  “Look at those dirty, disgusting people”, they say.  “See how they pee and poop!  Observe their unwholesame, profane, horny amd unmannerly ways!”  A leader like you, Socrates, could clean them  and make  them presentable to the polite society of Athens.

Socrates:

I have said those very things about them, friend Protagoras!  Would that the protesters took occasional leave for a bath! I am a man of the polis and of the logos.  I love order, reason and logic, and chaos nauseates me.  Many men who like to listen to me, such as young Plato, mistake my orderliness to mean that I think the universe is governed by order, geometry and perfect eternal Form. Yet it is not so.  The basic truth of life is chaos, Protagoras.  Life is squishy, squiggly, smelly, juicy, noisesome, randy and raw. Those who truly love life are the same.  They are horrible persons.  But remember that a persona is but a mask worn to hide who you really are.  I am an expert at wearing such a mask, so I am not a horrible person like the protesters. But I do not express my love of life, my compassion, my generosity of spirit, my openness or my love as well as they do, because of my persona.  I wonder if their way is not the better way. No, Protagoras, a rigid old man like me cannot lead such as these.

.

.

.

.

.

Dirty Hippies

12 November 2011

If you frequent political discussion forums*,  you know that our conservative friends don’t think very highly of the folks who take part in the Occupy protests.   That this unruly mob is nothing but a bunch of lawless, dirty, lazy and loose-moraled  bums is a typical comment from the more respectable and upstanding citizens.  They say that Occupy proves once and for all that we liberals are horrible people.  Horrible people.  It’s time that we acknowledge the complete truth of this accusation.

.

.

Generally speaking, we liberals tend to be unwashed, undiscipli­ned, rowdy, irreligiou­s, loudmouthe­d, impulsive, horny and disobedien­t people. What is more, I am not even ashamed of these failings – of being a horrible person. You see, I think it is good to be a horrible person, if you understand “person” in its classical definition of “persona” – a mask worn to hide who you really are. I am terrible at wearing such masks, as are, I think, the majority of my liberal friends. What you see is what we are, and sometimes it ain’t pretty to those who are accustomed to facades.

.

.

Among the horrors of being a liberal are such unmanly qualities as love, compassion­, generosity­, trust, creativity­, learning and adaptabili­ty. It’s all part of being a horrible person, and I wouldn’t give them up for any money.

.

_____________________

* As a Latin word,  the proper plural form of “forum” is fora.  I’ve finally decided to surrender to the colloquial and say “forums” because everybody else does it.

.

.

.

About This Blog

11 November 2011

OVERALLS NATION has been a going concern for a few months now.  It’s attracted around 10,000 hits, and it even has a few active followers.  Not exactly a powerhouse, to be sure, but not a dud either.  And since it appears that neither I nor the few hardcore overallers that visit will be losing interest anytime soon,  I think maybe it’s time I said a little bit about your humble blogger, me, and what I’m doing here.

.

.

My name is Matt, and I live in a big American city.  I put on a suit every day and go to work in an office building.  I wear suspenders because I can’t abide mankind’s worst-ever invention, the belt, around my middle-aged paunch.  If I could sit at my desk in overalls, I’d do it, just like I did when I drove a truck for a living. Weekends working in my garden is when I get to be who I really am, an overaller.  Such a garment, overalls!  Absolutely unmatched for comfort and function.  I own Big Smiths, Keys, Liberties and Dickies.  An old, patched and stained pair of button fly Dickies are my favorite.

The longer I wear overalls, the more I think they symbolize something.  If you’re looking for a fellow who can do a job of work, you know that the one in overalls is your guy.  For a hundred years overalls were the garment of choice for the working American Supermen who plowed, welded, riveted and built our great nation.  Overalls are about honest, sweating, can-do labor.  The picture at the top of each post says it all.  But there’s more.  When you are in a big American city, and you see the unusual sight of a guy going about his day in overalls, you instantly understand that this is a confident, open and friendly person.  He’s got nothing to sell you, no image to project on you, and no false pride to defend.  He’ll smile, shake your hand, tell you the time of day, give you a smoke and listen to your troubles;  and do it all as if there’s nothing better he’d rather be doing.  He’s got rough edges.  He’s not presentable.  He might cuss like a sailor and laugh way too loud at his own joke.  But you know you’re looking at someone who is able, willing and fundamentally decent.

.

.

A few years ago I happened upon an old snapshot on a blog.  It was of a young lady named Nell, taken at Woodstock back in 1969.  She’s smiling, flashing a peace sign and wearing nothing but a pair of overalls.  Hot damn.  Sexiest thing I ever saw.  After that I became obsessed with finding photos of women wearing overalls and nothing else.  They aren’t east to find, once you get past the standard photo sets that are out there.  You wouldn’t believe the crap you have to sift through to find these photographic gems.   To date, I’ve collected about a thousand R-rated overalls pictures.  But what to do with them?

The idea of running an overalls photo blog seemed right, but there are others who do that already, and they do it better that I ever could.   So on a lark I decided on a blog that combines my obsession with society and politics with my love for overalls.  Overalls Nation is the humble result.  I have to confess that the name is not original.  There is another blog named Overalls Nation, but it is long dead.  I hope its owner does not mind.

.

.

Here are my guidelines:

The Pictures

 The subject or subjects must be wearing bib-and-brace overallsNo coveralls, no fancy bibless or stapless affairs.  And she cannot be wearing a shirt under the overalls.  This is my one hard-and-fast rule, which I break whenever it tickles me to do so.  In the more pornographic shots, I crop so as to reduce the rating to R.  And I hate those pictures where the model is putting on a fakey, exaggerated horny expression.  Get that ugly mug off my monitor!

The Writing

I decided early on never to write in the first person, and I haven’t until today.   Nobody cares what I think, so I’m not going to tell you what I think.  I think that what I believe is true, so I’m going to write it as if it were true, not as if it’s what I think. However, I might relax this rule in the future.  Sometimes a personal stamp adds something.

I wanted at first to avoid using terms like liberal, conservative, Republican and Democrat, and to write from a kind of unbiased, objective point of view.  It has been impossible to carry it off, and the blog would be unbearably boring if I kept trying.  If you don’t take a position, you have very little to say – so I’ve let my liberalism burst proudly forth.

 

That’s about it. Thank you, friend and fellow overaller, for visiting.  Whether you’re here for the pictures or the talk, I’m glad you came.

.

 

 

.


Ayn Rand and Tea Party Pathology

6 November 2011

You cannot understand the Tea Party and the present day far-right without knowing about Ayn Rand, the novelist and political philosopher.  The words “Atlas Shrugged”, the name of one of her novels, appears on handheld signs at every Tea Party rally, as does the name of it’s hero, John Galt.   Republican Senator Rand Paul is named for her.  GOP Congresman Paul Ryan was inspired to enter politics after reading Ayn Rand as a young man.  Rand is required reading for clerks of Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas.  Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh routinely speak of her in glowing terms.  Ayn Rand’s “objectivism” is the foundation of the Tea Party and present-day conservatism.

 

According to Ayn Rand, the vast majority of people in the world are “moochers” – lazy and stupid individuals who deserve no better than to work as slaves for their betters, the “producers”.  The producers are the rich captains of industry, and they exist on a plane apart.  They are the Supermen we remember from Nietzsche and Hitler, and naturally the rules do not apply to them.  These heroes of Rand’s novels rape women and sabotage their nation’s infrastructure as expressions of their own superior will.

 

The essence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that in order to be truly moral, one must thoroughly embrace selfishness and reject charity.  The impulse to help a fellow human in need is a failure and should be ripped out of the heart.  Rather, it is best to express one’s own will on the grandest possible scale, and if sacred rules are broken, so much the better.  That is why Rand gushed with admiration for William Hickman, a serial murderer who in 1927 raped, killed and dismembered a 12-year-old girl.  She wrote that this man had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'”  She thought that was a good thing.

 

 

This is the very base of the modern far-right.  If the present-day capitalism that has sprung from the soil of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and which ravages the people and the planet as an expression of the will of the powerful few – if all of this seems rather sociopathic, that is because it literally is.

 

 

 

.