Author Archive: Paul Epps

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

 

Then Christ says, “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” and he goes on about the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It comes in one verse after another, and it is quite manifest to the reader that there is a certain pleasure in contemplating wailing and gnashing of teeth, or else it would not occur so often. . . . I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty. It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture, and the Christ of the Gospels, if you could take Him as his chroniclers represent… Read more →

Could Right and Wrong Exist Without God?

 

Kant, as I say, invented a new moral argument for the existence of God . . . One form is to say that there would be no right or wrong unless God existed. I am not for the moment concerned with whether there is a difference between right and wrong, or whether there is not: that is another question. The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, you are in this situation: Is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong… Read more →

Chess Game of the Day: French Defense

 

One of my online chess games. Black builds a probably winning advantage but is running short on time (in a 3+2 blitz game). I offered a draw, which Black declined. This was followed by some not-so-good moves on both sides, including a losing blunder by Black on the last move. Some annotations below . . . 1. …e6 French Defense 39. Qa5? Black has probably a winning advantage and it’s hard to find a strong move. 39. …Ba6+? Black could start to capitalize on the pawn advantage with 39. …c4. 41. Qa1? I didn’t see it coming but 41. Kh2 would have avoided the upcoming knight sacrifice on g3, which opens up the diagonal to the White king. Black is winning but has only 21 seconds left (I have 43) so I offered a draw, which Black declined. 42. Qa4? 42. Qc3 would have guarded g3. It’s too late for… Read more →

Whence Then is Evil?

 

EPICURUS’s old questions are yet unanswered. Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil? — David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Read more →

Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?

 

I do not myself think that the dependence of morals upon religion is nearly as close as religious people believe it to be. I even think that some very important virtues are more likely to be found among those who reject religious dogmas than among those who accept them. I think this applies especially to the virtue of truthfulness or intellectual integrity. I mean by intellectual integrity the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive. This virtue, although it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organized beliefs. — Bertrand Russell, “Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?” Read more →

Djokovic is Not Your Big Problem, Mate

 

Thirty days ago, Australia had reported a total of 247,000 COVID cases. As of today, the case count has risen to 1.8 million. And they think their biggest problem is Novak Djokovic?! Note that Djokovic was not even deported for public health reasons. He’s had a positive COVID test, followed by a negative COVID test, and everyone agreed he was safe via natural immunity. He was deported because as some point in the past, he expressed skepticism about vaccines and to have him in Australia, well, he might influence others in the country to become skeptical about vaccines. I’d say what’s more likely to cause Australians to become skeptical about vaccines is the fact that COVID is spiraling out of control while 80 percent of their population is fully vaccinated. Read more →

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: “Science”

 

Here’s a meme finding its way around the internet: If you are not a scientist, and you disagree with scientists about science, it’s actually not a disagreement. You’re just wrong. Science is not truth. Science is finding the truth. When science changes its opinion, it didn’t lie to you. It learned more. That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. “Science” doesn’t have an opinion. Scientists have opinions but they often differ. When a scientist disagrees with another scientist, which one is wrong? If science is not truth, why is it wrong to disagree? If “science” can change its opinion, then everyone who previously held the new opinion was right, and “science” was wrong. Why must people who know nothing about science attempt to give science lessons to the rest of us like we’re all morons? OK, I know the answer. It’s this COVID… Read more →

2021: The Year in Books

 

These are the books I read in 2021, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion. Books of the Year: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (fiction), Zeroville by Steve Erickson (contemporary fiction) and Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects by Bertrand Russell (non-fiction). My Library at LibraryThing Read more →

Is It Humane to Believe in Everlasting Punishment?

 

I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to the the line of indignation. You probably all remember the sort of things that Socrates was saying as he was dying, and the sort of things that he generally did say to people who did not agree with him. You will find… Read more →

What to Do in a Tsunami

 

JUST IN: The National Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami advisory is in effect for the entire West Coast and Alaska in the wake of an undersea volcanic eruption near Tonga. https://t.co/6QAUay90w7 — ABC News (@ABC) January 15, 2022 The good news is that on the water side of Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica there is about a 100-ft high bluff, which should be a good tsunami barrier. But a good way to go out would be sitting on the restaurant deck at the end of the pier (in the middle distance below) with a refreshing cocktail and speaking my final words just prior to being crushed by a wall of water: “See you in Hell!” Record the whole thing as a live TikTok. If that doesn’t go viral, I don’t know what will. Read more →

Chess Game of the Day: Italian Game Sudden Death

 

One of my online chess games. Some annotations below . . . 3. Bc4 Italian Game 3. …Nf6 Two Knights Defense 5. …Na5 Polerio Defense 6. Bb5+ Bishop Check Line 8. …Qd5?! More speculative than 8. …Nd5 15. Qf2? I thought White had the advantage had he played 15. Nh3, blocking the Black rook from pinning the White h-pawn. 17. Re2?? White has a playable position by covering the rook with 17. Kg1 (probably best) or one of several knight moves, but any effort at saving the rook by moving it results in . . . 17. …Ng3# Read more →

What Really Moves People to Believe in God

 

What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught to do so from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason. Then I think that the next most powerful reason is the wish for safety, a sort of feeling thath there is a big brother who will look after you. That plays a very profound part in influencing people’s desire for a belief in God. — Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not a Christian” Read more →

There Has Been a Rumor

 

There has been a rumor in recent years to the effect that I have become less opposed to religious orthodoxy than I formerly was. This rumor is totally without foundation. I think all the great religions of the world — Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Communism — both untrue and harmful. — Bertrand Russell, 1957 Read more →

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. — Charles Swindoll

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: “Insurrection”

 

What is an “insurrection”? I guess I could look it up. Is it a crime? Have any of the arrested protestors been charged with that? If not, why do we keep saying it? Is an insurrection bad by definition? Was the Revolutionary War an insurrection? Read more →

This Day in History: January 6

 

On Jan. 6, 2021, a group of unarmed citizens frustrated by their inability to date Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walked into a building. Read more →

Love One Another Or Die

 

We must love one another or die. — W.H. Auden Since we have to die anyway, shouldn’t the quote be “We must love one another and die” or “We must love one another then die”? It reminds me of another famous quote: “Go big or go home.” But again, I have to go home eventually so . . . well, you get the picture . . . Read more →

What’s the Plan B?

 

Good work, sir. Is there a Plan B? As always, it’s easier to promise things than it is to actually deliver them. To beat COVID-19, we need a coordinated national response from the federal government — but Donald Trump refuses to do his job. I've laid out exactly what I would do, and I encourage this president to adopt the plan in its entirety: https://t.co/SOVOPL7uPy — Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 7, 2020 Read more →

Next Page »