Objective Morals and the Fish Slapping Dance

Your Rent a Friend is listening to the likes of the Killers, Foo Fighters, and Everclear thanks to Pandora.
His mood is pretty good. 58 out of 50 I’d say.

I was setting fire to old tires full of orphan kittens this morning when I realized that the only thing that has kept me from making arson (Burning down hospitals, specifically) a full time career is all the time I spend selling drugs to grade school kids as a way to fund the local chapter of the Illinois Nazis. Racism isn’t cheep you know. Not the real, fascist, genocidal kind. So, I thought I could start splitting my time between drugs and theft more efficiently by forcing other people to rob for me by threatening their wives and children with high explosives and anthrax. Every successful person has a team under them. Look at Jim Henson, Oprah, or Attila the Hun just to name a few examples. And I want my career as a Fascist polluting racist thieving drug czar to be more than just a hobby. I want it to be really big, because I want the world to be a better place. It’s a lot of work, but I really feel it’s the right thing to do.


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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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Is there a Ducky in Pascal’s Box?

Your Rent a Friend is listening to Dashboard Confessional

His mood is negatively effected by cheap French Onion Soup

Are you a gambler? Do you love the thrill of tossing those dice, spinning that wheel or pulling the leaver? Are you, like me, seriously disappointed by the new slot machines where you push a button? I mean, seriously! Push a button? Pulling the leaver is half of the fun! Where else in life do you get to pull a leaver anymore? Maybe if you’re a mad scientist creating a monster in a lightning storm, but for the rest of us (Or mad scientists in nice weather I suppose) we want the leaver! Don’t take away the only interaction I have before my money disappears forever! I want a leaver to pull and spinning pictures of fruit! I’d get that feature in my next car if it were available.I myself am not really a gambling man. The primary reason is this: I will always lose. You’re better off betting against me than against the Chicago Cubs. If there are dice in my hands, I am going to lose. I think it’s my spiritual gift. Which brings me to today’s topic. What if I could offer you a bet with a certain and amazing pay off?  Yes, you have to pay in at the front, but you can’t lose anything, and you have the chance of winning vastly more than you can possibly imagine. Sound good? Let me give you a metaphor: “Is There a Ducky?”!
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Fake Math and Flying Spaghetti Monster

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

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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Cheap Samurai Tactics #3- Using Words as Weapons

Your Rent a Friend wishes he was listening to No Line on the Horizon by U2.

His mood is: groggy and Meh.

Welcome back to Cheap Samurai Tactics, where you learn how to shake, rattle, roll, and do the grammatical twist it takes to never lose an argument, even if you’re wrong, or simply have no idea what you’re talking about. Nobody likes to be wrong, but let’s face it, all of us will be wrong every now and then. This doesn’t mean you have to admit to it! If you play your cards right you can still come out with the façade of victory. Even better than being right is winning an argument, or maybe just getting in the last word. Frankly, sometimes you have to just take what you can get.

First we leaned how to cover your tracks with a thick layer of attitude. Next, I showed you how to divert attention away from your shortcomings in fact, details, information, or brain power. Today, you’ll learn how to use the spoken and written word to make the truth fairly unimportant to the outcome of a discussion. I present to you the third category of Cheap Samurai Tactics:

3. Semantics. This is the art of wielding words as weapons. Not to be confused with Semitics, which are people of the Middle East, especially the Jews, semantics is playing with language. Used for good it leads to jokes and puns and songs. Used for evil it’s the following Cheap Samurai Tactics.
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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.”

rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

Cheap Samurai Tactics #1- P’shaw!

Your Rent a Friend is Listening to: Church Music by the David Crowder Band

His mood is: Spent like a dollar in a candy store.

In a recent blog I discussed how Christians get called all kinds of nasty names, like “Arrogant” or “Close Minded,” on account of the fact that we label the things we believe as “True.” I know- the nerve of us. Aside from the self-defeating and rather silly nature of this complaint, you’ll notice that it is also an attempt to side against the idea without actually taking any pains to prove the idea wrong. Even if we agree that we are close minded and arrogant, that does nothing to prove that what we believe isn’t still True. This diversionary tactic is one of the many devices I like to call “Cheap Samurai Tactics.”

Cheap Samurai Tactics are, in short, bad arguments. It’s the muscle you get when you don’t splurge on the really good Samurai, and you wind up with the second rate, slightly used, discount warehouse Samurai. My friend, Captain Dan, would use this phrase to describe any kind of short cuts and cheating, but here I’m using it in reference to cheating in an argument or debate. The CST’s are best used when you either know you are wrong but don’t want to admit it, or you don’t care if you’re right or wrong, you just want to fight about something and don’t feel like being bogged down by facts and reason. Perhaps it’s because you’re a lawyer and your client won’t pay you if they get the chair, or maybe you’re an advertiser who is being paid to sell something that serves only to irritate the people who buy it. Maybe you’re just a jerk. Whatever the reason, there are CST’s for you.
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Science, Faith, and Papaw

Your rent a Friend is Listening to: Snow Patrol’s A Hundred Million Suns

He is feeling: Much better, thank you

I’ve been explaining the difference between belief and knowledge, and their need for each other. Belief and knowledge are like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. You can separate them if you try hard enough, but it doesn’t result in anything worth listening to. It only serves to show how very much they need each other. Thus, anti-faith “scientism” is the Yoko Ono of the Metaphysical world.

The pop culture fight between belief and knowledge (or between faith and reason, or between religion and science, depending on what TV news program you are watching) is actually about the kind of evidence one chooses to accept. The word “Faith” is used to imply a belief based on the authority of the source, as opposed to evidence which is quantifiable (which means you can count them, like marshmallows) or empirically verifiable (which means it’s learned with the five senses and likely to be the subject of one of the lab projects in your science class work-book).
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World Views Up in Smoke

Your Rent a Friend is currently listening to Louis Prima (and loving it).
His mood is: Classic.

One of the great buzz words in modern Christian apologetics is “World View.” What this means is the philosophy that you see the world through. It’s the set of beliefs and assumptions that you use to understand, judge, and/or evaluate the world and your experiences. One of the ways you can evaluate a World View is by trying to figure out how you would have to live if that world view was really true.

For instance, there is a very popular metaphysical view that truth is relative. It’s called, Relativism. (Real creative, right?) Relativism teaches the idea that what is true for you is not necessarily true for me. This sounds great on paper because it seems open minded, as if no one is ever wrong. However, it’s really just a way for someone to say, “What you believe in is stupid,” without making themselves feel like they are not open-minded, much in the same way people sugar-coat racism by calling it “Diversity.” But I digress.
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Sean’s Shirt IS Red!

Greetings my Ham Sandwhiches! It’s your Rent A Friend here, and my inspiration for today’s lesson on all things awesome is Sean Slaughter from the What in the Ham Sandwich? Show.  http://www.thehamsandwichshow.com/

Check them out on i-tunes. Be a Hamster.

I recently listened to Ham Sandwich Show Podcasts “Oprah’s Church” from 12/11/08, and “Debate with an Atheist” from 6/12/07. In both, Sean attempts to make a point about the universal nature of TRUTH by first appealing to what color his shirt is. I think I can help streamline his argument. It goes like this:

The Scene- Sean is wearing a red shirt and talking to his wife, True-Asia, and their friend Cook, AKA Cook Dawg, AKA the Drumma Beast Boy, AKA Saint Nick, AKA Captain Platypus of Space Patrol (Some of these nicknames might not be accurate).

Sean: My shirt is RED.

True-Asia: No, your shirt is black.

Cook: You both be trippin! You shirt be green!

Sean: I think you mean to say, “You both are trippin. Your shirt is green.”

Cook: Yes, of course. Excuse me. Your shirt is green.

True-Asia: Spoken like a true gentleman.

STEP 1.

FACT: They each perceive the shirt differently.

FACT: They DO each perceive the shirt.

FACT: Perception requires something to perceive. If the shirt was not REAL, they would not all perceive it at all.

THEREFORE: The shirt is REAL. The three independent perceptions prove it does exist, even though they disagree with some details. It is not an illusion or a hallucination, or what politicians refer to as “A Press Release,” or “The Polls” or “Statistics.” But I digress.

STEP 2.

FACT: The shirt actually exists. It is REAL.

FACT: A real object will reflect a certain wavelength of light, while absorbing the others. (In other words, it will be a certain color. See your box of Crayons for details.)

FACT: One color is not another color. (Red is not black, green is not yellow, etc. See the labels on your crayons for further details.)

THEREFORE: If the shirt is RED, it is not black or green. If it is green, it is not black or red, etc. Again, Crayola has given you all the information on this that you will ever need, in convenient boxes of 64 (With a sharpener in the back!!!). Sean, True, and Cook CANNOT all be correct. At least two of them MUST be wrong.

STEP 3.

FACT: If the shirt is RED, it is not black or green. (Only in a discussion of philosophy would this have to be stated.)

FACT: Color is determined by the wavelength of light, not by perception. (A Yellow taxi remains yellow even when no one sees it, or when it is seen by a color blind person who cannot see the color yellow. His limited perception would not change the wavelength of the light coming from the Taxi)

FACT: Sean’s shirt is reflecting a light wavelength range of roughly 630–740 Nanometers, which is (and what most human eyes perceive as) the color red RED. (Yes, I looked this up on Wikipedia. Don’t you judge me!)

THEREFORE: Sean’s perception is correct, and his assertion (“My shirt is red”) is TRUE. Cook and True’s perceptions and/or assertions are FALSE. (Either they see it incorrectly and are honest about what they see, or they see it correctly but are lying.)

STEP 4.

FACT: Light is necessary for us to see, but we do not need to see light for it to exist. In other words- Our perception allows us to be aware of light, it does not MAKE the light. The light exists OUTSIDE of our perception.

FACT: The light reflected by Sean’s shirt would remain the same even if no one saw it, or if no one saw it correctly. (A room full of color blind people might all agree that Sean’s shirt is black, but they would all be wrong- it still reflects a light wavelength range of roughly 630–740 Nanometers, AKA RED. The reality has not changed, but their perceptions cannot accurately see what is REAL)

THEREFORE: Reality (Of which light is one part) exists outside of and independent of our perceptions, knowledge and beliefs.

STEP 5.

FACT: Reality is independent of our perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs.

FACT: Truth is word or thought accurately reflecting reality (describing what is REAL).

THEREFORE: TRUTH exists independently of our perceptions, knowledge or beliefs.

Conclusion:

Because Sean’s shirt is REAL, then there are TRUE facts about it (Like what color it is) and FALSE statements concerning it (Like saying it is green when it is in fact RED). Because there is ONE reality (of which the shirt and all of us are a part) then the TRUTH about the shirt is TRUE for all of us, even if we do not perceive, know, or believe that truth. It is TRUE that Sean’s shirt is red, even if we do not see, know, or believe that it is, because the TRUTH is not determined by our perception, knowledge or belief, but by the real shirt (i.e. Reality).

Application:

God made all that is. There is one REALITY. We perceive it accurately, and thus perceive TRUTH, or we perceive it wrong and perceive an illusion. We can know, think, or say something which accurately describes that reality, which would be TRUTH, or we can believe, think, or say something which does NOT accurately describe reality, which would be a lie. Anything TRUE is true for ALL PEOPLE because the truth does not depend on us, it depends on REALITY.  Any truth is universal. If it is not universal, it is not TRUE. And as God is the creator of all reality, this is why it can be said that All Truth is God’s Truth.

Oh, and everything that can be said, Metaphysically, about Sean’s shirt, can be said about rubber ducks. In case you wanted to connect this with my previous blogs.

rentafriend2000@hotmail.com

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