The Blind Men and the Elephant (and Zoo Keeper Adventure Steve)

Your Rent A Friend is listening to the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
His mood is pretty good, though his contacts are pretty dry .

Whenever people talk about the differing religions of the world, someone will come up with the following analogy, or some variation thereof. In fact, mine is a variation thereof. So there. Of.

There is a zoo where works zoo keeper Adventure Steve. He takes care of all of the animals, including an elephant named Zito. The elephant in turn takes care of his rubber duck. The rubber duck doesn’t take care of anyone. She just floats around in Zito’s water dish.

One day, a bus full of philosophers came to the zoo on a field trip. They were the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers (the S.S.P.P.), and their field trip was also a contest (As everything is for the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers). When they got off the bus, they were all blind folded and lead to the elephant to see who had the smartest pants (metaphorically speaking).
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Fake Math and Flying Spaghetti Monster

Your Rent A Friend is listening to: Count Basie Radio on

His Mood is: Good, baby! It’s ALL good.
(Rent-a-friend’s note: The email address at which to reach me is now a hotmail address for reasons which elude me. In short, if you ever wish to email me, it will have to be at hotmail because my gmail account imploded and cannot be recovered. Like the deathstar. Poof. I knew I should have put a screen on that thermal exhaust port!)

If you’ve been reading this blog faithfully (and by the look of my stats about four of you have), you know that I have been attempting to prove the existence of Objective Truth as outlined in my Metaphysical Map. If you haven’t been reading my blog, you probably think I am on powerful drugs which are not necessarily prescription. Let me assure you all that I know exactly what I’m talking about. I am talking about TRUTH! And part of the reason I am talking about truth is because I wish to tell you about Jesus. It’s not as much of a stretch as you might think to go from Metaphysical outlines of objective truth to a Jewish carpenter who claimed to be God.
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The Science Behind Birthday Cake

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Pete Special’s Mozart Street

His Mood is: tentatively snacktastic

Not long ago we had hiked to the end of the Metaphysical Map and discovered that Knowing and Believing are impossible to separate, like duck-tape and leg hair. Along the way, we examined one of the biggest opponents to this idea, which is the position declaring “Science” to be the only real way to discover truth. And of course I pointed out that, if you choose to believe this position, it will not be based on scientific evidence. Sometimes the reasons which compel me to take a side in a debate are not hard to comprehend. This is one of those times.

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Cheap Samurai Tactics #2- Look Over There!

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

His mood is: On the Verge of Screaming for Ice Cream

Welcome once again to Cheap Samurai Tactics for beginners (Listed in your catalogue as CST 101, section 203). Cheap Samurai Tactics are just a form of cheating. Last time, I introduced you to the first of four categories of Cheap Samurai Tactics (CST’s), and gave you the run down on how to use the tactics within. Let’s review the categories:

1. P’Shaw
2. Look Over There!
3. Semantics
4. Slight of Hand

Today we’ll look at the second category:

2. Look Over There!

This is the Art of Misdirection. The key to these tactics is to change the subject without your opponent noticing that you have done so. You don’t have to lose an argument if you can start a new one when no one is looking!

A. Discredit the Source: If you can cast a negative light on the source of information, you can make the issue at hand guilty by association! For instance, if you could prove that recycling got its start with Attila the Hun, blood-thirstiest scourge of the 5th century, you could use that as an argument for the innate evils of reducing, reusing, and all that other stuff. Though, deep down, we all know that, were the devil of hell to say the sky was blue, the darn thing would still be blue. Just keep it under your hat.

A.1/2- “You’re Only Saying That Because…” A variation on CST 2-A. is to attack the motivation of the person with whom you are debating. This is usually in the form of: “You’re only saying that because…” And anything here will do. “…Because you’re a bigot, because you’re a Jew, Because you hate me, Because you’re a Jerk, Because you’re a republican, Because you’re a Nazi, Because you’re a Vegan, Because you’re a man-eating killer clown from outer space, etc.” Obviously the truthfulness of a statement has nothing to do with the motive the speaker has to share it, but the point of the CST’s is not to make logical sense. It’s to WIN WIN WIN!

B. Discredit the Proponents or Beneficiaries: If bad or foolish people agree with something, it must be bad or foolish. If it could be shown that the Ku Klux Klan preferred to travel by taxi, you’d have all the proof you need to denounce every cab in New York as racist. (Of course, everyone knows the KKK actually prefers to travel by bus, as it has more headroom for their big pointy hats. The same is true of witches, and a surprising number of ancient Egyptian deities.).

C. Use a Resume as Proof: Don’t just use a source’s credentials as a reason to trust them. Use it as proof that their ideas are true! Anyone with an MD, PHd, a DVD, or show on TV MUST be right about everything they say (provided it agrees with what you think, of course). And don’t let yourself think they can only be all-knowing in their field of study! A British biologist can write books on theology if he wants to! Can the study of nucleotide base pairs really be THAT different from being an Orthodox Jew? I mean, the man went to COLLEGE for crying out loud!

D. Argue Against the Metaphor: At some point your opponent will make use of an illustration to clarify a point. THIS is where you strike! For instance, it has been said that the way men think is different from the way women think: “Women’s thoughts are like spaghetti, because they all intertwine, and men’s thoughts are like waffles because they compartmentalize.” This is where you would shoot back: “So you’re saying that men’s and women’s minds are both made of starches and carbohydrates? You’ve just proven MY point, that men’s and women’s minds work the exact same way.” And then you’d go home and sacrifice a goat at your shrine of Hillary Clinton to thank her for your victory.

E. Focus on the Fringe: In every group, category, or concept, there is a tiny collection of anomalies. If you can keep the focus on that tiny sample, you can deflect any facts which only relate to the 99% your opponent dogmatically insists represents the issue. This is the way people pointed to George Burns and said, “He’s 105 and he smokes a cigar every day!” And to them, this was good evidence that smoking isn’t bad for you. Then there’s the more than 1,000 deaths every day in this country that are linked to smoking. But I digress.

E.2. The Parts= the whole: This is known as the “fallacy from composition.” It is making the assumption that, because each part of something has some property, then the whole must also have that property. For example- an elephant is made up of parts that I could easily eat within the span of ten minutes. Elephant toenail? Easy. Elephant eyelash? Just splash a little dressing on that and it’s gone. Elephant spleen? Serve it with a side of green beans and I’ll chow that down with time to spare. Therefore, since each part of an elephant can be eaten by me within ten minutes, it can be argued that I can eat the whole elephant in ten minutes. Just bring me the extra large bottle of barbecue sauce and have dessert ready in eleven minutes.
There are times when this argument isn’t invalid. If I say, “Each tile on the bathroom floor is blue, therefore the whole floor is blue,” this would be correct. And it doesn’t require a stomach pump when I try and prove it.

F. Turn Facts into Bazaar Absolutes: Like the previous CST, this works by making mountains out of mole-hills. Only, this time, instead of you focusing on the fringe, you’ll imply that your opponent is doing so. They may, for instance, admit that a college education isn’t 100% protection from becoming poor and homeless. This is where you quickly say, “You think people who graduate from college all wind up homeless? Or maybe you want us to believe that every pan-handler in the city has a PhD in reverse economics?” And in that precious second of stunned silence, you shake your head scornfully and walk off as though you’ve just won the argument. I think we can all admit that getting the last word is even better than being right.

G. Feelings!: You will have strong emotions related to certain topics (Or you can pretend to, if you take a few acting classes at your local community college). Nothing is easier than assuming that your feelings prove the truthfulness of something. This is the concept that most marriages are built on these days. This is one of several key reasons most marriages fail these days, but I digress. My point is, if something makes you FEEL bad, it must BE bad! And if something makes you feel good, it must BE good! Of course, you’d never come out and say this, because you’d sound like some unicorn-fairy-rainbow-cloud-dancer from the 3rd grade. Focus on the feelings, let the rest be assumed. If you wanted to defend your position legitimately, you’d probably have you change your position first.

Next time we’ll learn how the pen is mightier than the sword, and how the tongue is like a spark that starts a terrible fire. In the mean time, your homework is to find ways to make use of these handy tools of deviance. And don’t limit it to conversations. If you’re losing at poker, just lay down a pair of matching cards and say “Go Fish.” As my friend, Captain Dan, always says, “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.”

The Duck is on the Floor

A friend and I were walking down the street in the heart of Chicago, headed to find some food. Finding food is one of a very few selected reasons to be on the street in Chicago after dark, especially in the winter when the temperature drops low enough to cause all life functions to cease and then to be blown away in the hurricane-like winds that roar through the ice-crusted buildings. The other reason is to find entertainment, like the plethora of small theaters where actual actors stand on an actual stage and recite memorized lines. Or they drink beer and make it up as they go. I’ve been to both kinds of theatre in Chicago and the lesson there is: you get what you pay for.

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God Part II (In a Nutshell)

Though it has nothing to do with my topic, I wish to start with an example of how marriage really can be an amazing partnership. My wife and I, working together for mutual triumph, recently achieved a 500 note streak on Guitar Hero. 500 notes!
I know, right? I was so psyched! I think it is an excellent start to our seventh year of marriage, and I thank God for her.
Speaking of God (For aside from being your Rent A Friend, I am the Transition King), this is part two of my explanation of the nature of God.

The reasons the Biblical God is my foundation for the Metaphysical journey are several:

First, I am a Christian and I know Him. He’s real. It would be profoundly stupid for me to start with some other god, none of which I believe to be real, when I am trying to map out the nature of truth. Also, with almost all other religions, their god (Or gods or godess or what have you) is not the eternal, self existent creator of all from nothing.  This means you have to start a step before them with the pre-existing universe, whatever it was, and then go back to find out who or what made THAT and what proto-universe They lived in… and frankly, it gets me dizzy trying to figure out where, if ever, the process might end. So, we’re gonna Occam’s Razor all of that and assume that we only need one God and one universe. Otherwise we’ll need a padded cell and a lifetime supply of Aspirin.
There is much that can, has, and will be said about God/Jesus, but for right now my purpose is to prepare you for the Metaphysical journey, and it starts with God.
Thus I present here the relevant nature of God in a nutshell and the ways in which He is surprisingly different from other gods:

1. God is ETERNAL. He exists outside of time (Which he created) but can act inside of time. He had no beginning and will never end.
The god of Mormonism, for instance, lacks this divine aspect. Its idea of “God” is that any man can become god of their own world by being Super-Mormon. Thus, our god was once a man, born on another planet under another god, and he earned his way up to his present status as the man-with-the-biggest-desk. The god he once lived under was once himself a man who earned his way up the corporate ladder under a still different god, and so on. Despite the built in stairway-to-heaven structure, it is still considered rude to refer to Mormonism as a “Pyramid Scheme,” so don’t do that. Of course the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians had a fun bunch of comic book hero gods and goddesses, almost all of which came into being by being born, or built, purchased on e-bay, or in one case, popping out of Zeus’s head like some giant zit. Of the 330 millions gods of Hinduism (No, seriously, 330 million! Imagine the endless potential for holidays!) only one is actually eternal- The Brahman. The rest are forms or facets of that one which emerged from him at some point. Also, some would argue that the Brahman is more of an impersonal force than a god per say, but that’s another semantic blog for another semantic day.

Despite the name, the Brahman is NOT a comic book super hero. If you can figure out what the superpowers of The Brah-Man would be, let me know. Maybe we can start a new comic book. Bollywood would be itching to make the movie! Or would condemn us as blasphemous heretics! I’m really not sure which!

2. God is ALL POWERFUL. He can do anything that can be done.
This obviously wasn’t the case for most of the old school gods. They were always getting tricked, fooled, manipulated, or coerced. Sometimes they would get stuck under a rock, or injured or killed in personal vendettas and gangland warfare, like our modern Gangsta Rappers. I’m guessing the reason all those old religions died out was the invention of baseball and daytime television. Let’s be honest, between Soaps and Sports, you have everything the “Zeus & Co. Players” could come up with.
A good example of how the Biblical God is different than other gods is just the fact that most of your popular religions have a particular god or goddess for everything. Thor can do thunder, lightning and maybe even light showers coming from the northwest, with strong gusts up to 35 miles per hour, but can he do ferrying the to the underworld? No. For that you need Anubis or Charon. And they can’t do a thing for crops. You need some corn god for that one, like Osiris. And can the corn god do apple trees too? Probably not. The Union would never allow that kind of thing even if he had the time. This is probably how the Hindus got 330 million gods in the first place.
Jesus can do 330 million things by himself, so one God is plenty.

3. He is the CREATOR of all space, time, matter, energy, etc. He created it out of nothing.
There is NO creation account like the one in the Bible except, oddly,  the Big Bang Theory. God made EVERYTHING from NOTHING some finite time ago. All other creation stories have some pre-existing world with water and plants and a sky and probably a Radio Shack and a tanning salon. The Big Bang Theory agrees that the universe popped into existence from nothing, nowhere, and nowhen a finite time ago, but it rejects the idea of a creator and says the universe is un-caused; it sort of made itself, like a rabbit pulling itself out of a hat without a hat. Or a rabbit. This would be an amazing magic trick (without a magician) and well worth the price of admission. No one would argue that it is not infinitely unlikely to happen, but, as it has been said “it only had to happen once.” Some of you think I’m making this up, but sadly I am not. I’ll explain it all some other time.

4. God is ALL KNOWING. He knows all that is, was, or will be, and all that would be were things different. And because he is out of time, he doesn’t need to remember stuff or predict it, he sees it all in an eternal NOW.
Again, all of your other religions have stories where various gods trick each other or where humans fool their gods or pull one over on them. It wasn’t so much a religion as a cartoon with some of these guys. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but when your god has the same problems running the world that Elmer Fudd does bagging a rabbit, you seriously need to rethink whether he’s worthy of worship.

5. God is PERSONAL. Unlike The FORCE (TM Lucasfilms Ltd) He has thoughts, feelings, preferences, characteristics, and a will. While Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn did imply once that the Force ™ also has a will, he may have been speaking metaphorically and certainly does not represent the Jedi Temple, The Council, nor the majority of Jedi doctrine.

6. God’s main motivation/Character trait is LOVE. While he is righteous and just, he loves us with a really BIG love and therefore made a way for sin to be punished (satisfying his righteous justice) and yet adopt us into his family.
There is much left to say, but let me have the Bible sum it up for me:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Nutshell in a nutshell: God is Big, Unique, and wonderful- and He Loves You!

OK, there is your foundation for the metaphysical map to everything. Whew! Covers a LOT of ground. Now that I have this done, I need to go play some more Guitar Hero. Maybe you should go do the same. I can’t say there is a direct correlation between my excellent marriage and my good Guitar Hero score, but it is worth trying.
Just in case.

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