All posts by Brad

The “true” meaning for the season and who hijacked it

You don’t have to look far to see someone complaining about how Christmas has become too commercialized; or how Santa Clause has taken over the meaning of the season. I agree with this sentiment, I believe many people focus too much on “stuff” and getting/giving of material gifts.

In an effort to bring the actual reason for the season back into the lives of our family my wife and I decided to start a tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. The actual reason for the season.

From the earliest writing to present, people have been celebrating the life-giving properties of the sun. With the natural rotation of the earth around the sun, the length of the night differs depending on the time of year. In the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the longest night of the year. With each night thereafter getting just a touch shorter until the summer solstice (the shortest night of the year) on June 21st. Then again, each night thereafter gets a little longer until once again the winter solstice.

There are written records of people having gatherings and feasts in celebration of this return of the sun. Life- death-rebirth myths are plentiful in history, most of which originate due to this natural cycle of the sun. The sun, the provider of light, warmth and giver of life dying and being reborn every year. Traditions and stories abound of people bringing evergreen bows, holly and mistletoe into their homes as a sign of life to come in the spring. The spring, when the sun returns and brings its life-giving properties. Many people participate in long held traditions of giving gifts at the end of the year as a gesture of gratitude for the blessing of the past and hope for the future. As well, many people participate in traditions of lighting lights during this time of year as a symbol of the coming light in the spring.

With the significance of this natural occurring event, one may think it would be more celebrated. Sadly, this event has been hijacked and I believe there are two major individuals to blame. Santa Clause and Jesus Christ.
Let me take a moment and break the stories of each of these two transgressors down.

Santa Clause is presumably a personification of Father Christmas; Father Christmas a figure who most likely originated from a combination of many different pagan figure(s) who represented the coming of spring. The early British people(s) celebrated by decorating with evergreen, holy and mistletoe. This Father Christmas character became even more significant when the Vikings invaded Britain and brought with them their winter traditions and superstitions. Odin (a Germanic god representing all types of characteristics like, wisdom, giving, health, love, battle and sorcery) would take on a human form and come and celebrate with the people between the 20th and 31st of December. This time of year, referred to by the Vikings as Yultid, lives on today as Yuletide.

With the colonialization of the Americans and the piecemeal beliefs which came over from Saint Nicholas to Father Christmas, Santa Clause was born; Santa Clause an imaginary figure whose origins come from pagan, Germanic and Viking gods.

So, what’s the harm of celebrating Santa Clause anyway? In my opinion there is very little harm in celebrating this jolly character. An admitted fictitious character created to make the cold, long, winter nights more comfortable.
I feel you can celebrate the arrival of Santa Clause down your chimney bringing gifts to good little girls and boys without infringing on the Winter Solstice celebrations, a hijacker of the true meaning of the season, but possibly still in the spirit of the season.

Now on to our next hijacker, Jesus Christ; a story of a god being born of man on the 25th of December to a virgin mother. First, it needs to be said, there is NO evidence in any Christian writings of Jesus being born on December 25th, not even in the Bible. Why, then does the entire Christian world celebrate the birth of Christ on this day?
Actually, if we consult the bible we get differing stories of who the father of Jesus was. Mathew says it was the holy ghost, John states God was made flesh, Mark makes no mention of it. Then there is Luke, who many biblical scholars claim was a Roman citizen to begin with. It makes sense why he would want to introduce the virgin birth and the humble beginnings of a god/man. This would align with many of the Roman god stories and help assimilate the two worlds.

These biblical discrepancies will need to be a topic for another day.
Back on point, the question. Why do Christians celebrate the birth of their savior on the winter solstice? Even if we grant Christians their virgin birth story told in Luke chapter 2, it was NOT on the 25th of December. So, why on the 25th of December?

Is there harm in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December? I would like to make the argument that yes, there is harm in doing so. First, those that believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ are not believing this as a mythical story. They believe this happened, God really did come down and have an intimate moment with Mary. Mary did have a baby as a virgin. But did it happen on the 25th of December?

The birth of Christ was NOT on the 25th of December. Therefore, if you want me to believe this actually did take place (Jesus was born from god and Mary as a virgin), then you may want to fess up to the fact that it did not take place on the 25th. Therein lies the problem. If you confess that it did not take place on the 25th of December, then you need to confess you do not know when it took place. Then you may need to be even more honest and confess you do not know if it actually took place at all. In the spirit of honesty, can we all just admit that Jesus Christ has hijacked the real reason for the season?

While Christians contemplate which day they will pick as the new date to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s celebrate the Winter Solstice. Take a moment and appreciate the wonder of the solar system and how the earth rotates around the sun. Bring the pines into the home to celebrate the hope for new life. Light a candle (or put up modern Christmas lights, less of a fire hazard) as a symbol of the light that is coming back. Give gifts, not because there may have been three wise men. Give gifts as people have for millennia at the end of the year as a sign of prosperity and hope for the new year.

I hope once you have read this you will understand why I prefer not to say Merry Christmas, I prefer to say Happy Winter Solstice or Happy Holidays. Not because I am being politically correct, but because I feel we should give respect to the real reason for the season, not the hijacker’s.

On that note, I wish you all a very Merry Winter Solstice and hope you will enjoy it now with a new light. Take a moment to do some further research on the origins of the holiday. I think it will help you enjoy them even more, and have gratitude that the sun will come back up and continue to give us warmth and life.

Happy Winter Solstice from me to you!

Moral behavior as currency

I walk into a café and order a meal; the meal is prepared and I enjoy it. I clean up my space, thank the café owner and leave without pulling out my credit or debit card. This café participates in the moral behavior method of payment. I gave the café a positive review and the café owner likewise reviewed my behavior.

Depending on how I treated the staff, cleaned my space and acted towards the others in the café I would get a positive or negative review. Each and every interaction I have with others is rated. In a life time there will be trillions of interactions each of them contributing to your moral bank account.

The next morning the café owner goes to the market and picks up supplies. There is no need to bring a check book, the café owner has built his own moral bank account. The customers of the café are pleased with the food, service and have given many positive reviews.

In each of these interactions the supplier was able to identify the moral account and debit the respective amount needed for such a transaction. This moral account is something that each individual has, and can debit or credit. I can credit my moral account by being kind, having good reviews from others as well as volunteering to help folks in need.

With our level of technology, we are not that far away from being able to track human interactions in this way. For all intents and purposes this would eliminate theft and most crime. No longer will people break into your home to take your valuables.

Every individual creates their own moral account and can spend it based on the kindness and moral behavior.

Lets do another thought experiment. An individual treats people poorly, eventually people will stop doing business with this person. Or maybe this person will have to pay twice or three times as much for their goods and services due to their bad behavior and negative reviews.

In short, the kinder and nicer you are to everyone the more “money” you will have in your moral bank account. The better your business does the bigger the moral bank account would be.

I am interested in your opinions. Is there a point this would break down? How difficult would it be to switch to a system like this?

The day my bike met the car

My knuckles turned white as I gripped the shaking handlebars of my pedal bike. The faster I went the more intense the shaking became. I could feel the air rushing through my short brown hair and whipping my shirt behind my back.  At this point I started praying my bike wouldn’t throw me off; it had been known to do that from time to time. Right then I started to regret the bet I had made with a good friend earlier that day. We were the toughest kids in the kindergarten class and, we had to prove it every chance we had. We wanted to see who could race down the main street hill in our little town the fastest.  Let me explain this was not just any hill; this hill was “HUGE”!  Not only was it steep, it also had several sharp turns. Everyone in town called it “Hospital Hill”. I always thought it was called that because after ridding your bike down it most kids ended up in the hospital. It wasn’t until later I found out it was because the hospital was at the top of the hill. That did make it convenient; after a wreck you only needed to be taken to the top of the hill.  Most of the other six year olds in town would walk their bikes down. Not us, we were too tough to be caught walking our bikes.

Of course the safest way to ride down the hill was to stay in your own lane the whole time, although that was not the fastest method. If you wanted the fastest time you would need to ride from your lane across the street to the inside of each turn.  This required you to try to stay in a straight line making a zigzag motion as you passed the different turns. This meant that for a moment during each left turn you ended up in the wrong lane and was unable to see what was coming up the hill towards you.  It was during one of these left hand turns that I happened to see the grill of a fast approaching car; or rather the car I was fast approaching.  The next thing I remember was opening my eyes in my bed the next day.

The rest of the story had to be told to me by my best friend Tom.  He had watched the entire thing from a little higher up the hill.  Once I hit the front end of the car, I flew over the car and through the air landing on the lawn of a nearby house and coming to rest at the base of a small pine tree.  The woman who hit me, or rather the woman who I hit, that’s neither here nor there, ran to the front door of the home whose lawn I lay in.  She and the women who lived there soon figured out who I was and called my Mom.  Fortunately the town was very small and everyone knew each other.

I was lucky; I had a pounding headache, a few bumps, bruises and scrapes but nothing major. When my mother arrived she loaded her knocked out son in the car and drove home. Whether this event gave me brain damage or not is still under review.

My mother believed that the solution to any illness was a warm washcloth and a good old fashion prayer. Believe it or not it works most of the time, and better than you might think.  Don’t get me wrong, my mother never withheld medical treatment from her children, she was had a lot of experienced when it came to childhood injuries. I was the fifth boy in our family of six boys and two girls. If she would have ran to the hospital every time there was an injury she would have lived there. She learned the difference between a hospital injury and a day in bed injury.

When I woke up the next day I didn’t remember a thing.  Although, my friend played the entire event back to me a hundred times, he kept telling me how cool it was to see me “superman” over the front end of the car, fly through the air and eat dirt next to the tree. I don’t know what got him more excited the fact that I almost died or that he won the race.  He had made it to the bottom of the hill, and I hadn’t therefore he claimed victory. This accident of course did not stop me from riding my bike; well it did for a little while due to the fact that my bike lost the battle between it and the car. This unfortunately was not the first near death bike accident and it as well would not be the last.

Unfortunately my mother had planned to have a big family picture taken the day following my superman experience.  You need to understand that getting our family ready for a portrait was not as easy as you might think.  There were eight of us… and not all of the boys were as well behaved and mannered as I.  Although even after my wreck there was no way I was getting out of the photo.  As my Mother said, “Come Hell or high water we will be there as a family”. I looked rather dazed, a little bruised, and had a few rocks and dried blood in my hair; but there I was in the happy family photo.

Response to Curtis Howe from FB Post

Curtis Howe
I must apologize I did not respond to this over the weekend. I wanted to give a thoughtful response and did not have time over the weekend. Also this is a long response but I felt it necessary.
First, you have never answered my original question. Have you read Charles Darwin’s book “The Origin of Species”?
Second, the word theory is not a theological word; he word creation is theological position. There is no evidence for creation. With billions of people on earth believing in creation not a single person has been able to give any evidence for the position. Hence why it is a theological stance, a position of faith and therefore is not a “theory” in the scientific use of the word.
Your post:
http://www.annualreviews.org/…/annurev.an.01.100172…
This edition of annual review of anthropology shows many scientists doubt evolution is as valid as everyone claims. The evidence doesn’t match up all the way.
My response:
The link you posted lead me to a portion of an abstract, which if you desire to read the entire document you have to pay a fee… (no thank you)
In addition it references the lack of evidence from “observational science” for evolution. However, observational science or in this (fossil record) can be used to show links between mammals but that is not the only use of fossil record.
Side note: looking to poke a hole in the evidence of evolution by fossil record? Find one fossil that is out of its order. All simple fossils are found below more complex fossils. Here is a great video explaining this aspect of fossil evidence for the progression from simple to complex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex5RQT66TvY
Curtis using lack of evidence from fossil record as an argument against evolution is exposing your lack of understanding of the subject. I do not say this to be insulting, just to point out that you are making a stance on something of which you have very little understanding.
I would encourage you to read up on the other aspects of science that have much more compelling arguments for the theory of evolution:
Genetic commonalities. Human beings have approximately 96% of genes in common with chimpanzees, about 90% of genes in common with cats (http://genome.cshlp.org/content/17/11/1675.full) , 80% with cows (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/324/5926/522.full), 75% with mice (http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1000112). This does not prove that we evolved from chimpanzees or cats, though, only that we shared a common ancestor in the past.
The amount of evidence within the genetic community in favor of evolution is so overwhelming; ignoring it is paramount to ignoring the sun as a source of power.
Common traits in embryos: Humans, dogs, snakes, fish, monkeys, eels (and many more life forms) are all considered “chordates” because we belong to the phylum Chordata. One of the features of this phylum is that, as embryos, all these life forms have gill slits, tails, and specific anatomical structures involving the spine. For humans (and other non-fish) the gill slits reform into the bones of the ear and jaw at a later stage in development. But, initially, all chordate embryos strongly resemble each other.
Your Post:
http://hjerison.bol.ucla.edu/pdf/neocortex.pdf this scientist believes if anything modern humans are a de-evolved species since we do not have as many cognitive abilities in our senses as other primates.
My response:
Curtis, I am not sure you read this entire document. This is a document that goes into great detail about how the efficiency of a brain corresponds with the size of a brain. Within the realm of evolution the brain gives up space for efficiency. The brain may well give up “unnecessary functionality” for efficiency as well. Why? Because over thousands of years brains that are more efficiency have hosts that survive with less effort. Those hosts, which required more effort during times when food was scarce, well… didn’t survive. The hosts who survived were successful in passing their genes along.
In addition I do not think the scientific community supports your conclusion.
Your post:
What I believe is there is irrefutable evidence life existed on earth long before Adam and Eve were here. When God “made” things he set laws in motion that allowed life to appear. When that life filled it’s reason for being it was wiped out to make room for the next life God wanted here. This way creation follows an order or dispensation then transitions to the next. So I do not subscribe to the modern Christian way of creationism. I believe man like creatures and life were here long before Adam and Eve.
My response:
You do stand apart from the LDS church official doctoring on this point (that may not be a problem for you).
Joseph Smith taught that Adam and Eve walked out of the Garden of Eden in Jackson County Missouri approximately 6K years ago. Joseph Fielding Smith also taught that there was no death on earth until after the fall. Therefore, all fossil evidence and the diversity of the DNA on earth must be rejected.
An informative link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam-ondi-Ahman
I think it is becoming more and more common for biblical scholars to look at the Adam and Eve story as a copycat or a re-write of a Sumerian Myth. So, I agree with you that life was on earth long before the story of Adam and Eve was supposed to have taken place. I just part from your thoughts about how the life got here.
Your post:
Most anthropology and entomology show that life doesn’t constantly go through small incremental changes yet keeps the same patterns until a burst of innovation happens that changes things. Science shows the ability to speak and write seemed to just appear rather than slowly improve over time. Many languages just seemed to appear near the same time rather than slowly changed.
My response:
I am not sure where you are getting your information in order to make a claim like this. But this is verifiably false. Of course when an event takes place (meteorite strikes the earth, major climate change, earthquake separating continents…) the amount of change is exaggerated, or accelerated for those people, animals or so on that were better equipped to survive, those that where not equipped to survive did not. Read Charles Darwin’s book for starters. “…Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure, though slow steps.”
As another example of slight changes to adaptations you can look to the misquotes found underground in the tunnels of London England. As humans were forced underground during the Second World War the mosquito ended up in an environment different then their above ground relatives. They were forced to adapted (not innovate as you stated) over the years in order to survive their new environment. These two environments over the last 75 or so years have produced two different species of mosquito. They can no longer bread with each other. This of course is only one of billions of examples where adaptation happens slowly over a long time. Given millions of years this slight adaptation can produce much more then two different species of misquotes.
Pigmentation of the skin has also been shown as a slight adaptation of our response to the sun and not a difference of species. In essence there is no such thing as race, just different skin pigmentations in response to location relative to the equator.
I have not studied a great deal on the development of language. However, in order to understand when humans developed language we can use casts of the skull to determine when the prefrontal cortex was developed enough. We can also look to writing, which would have also required even further development. It is more complex to write then it is to speak.
Your post:
In fact, if you read the writings of justin martyr ( or saint justin who lived around 100 ad) he states the early Christian church didn’t believe that God created everything out of nothing like most Christians believe today. That ideas doesn’t take firm hold in the church until the fourth century.
Around the turn of the century most Christians believe that God took “stuff” that was there and organized it to create life.
My response:
It’s a neat idea… But there is no evidence.

Why this Site

The main reason I put this site together was for my bio and my reading list. In business world I wanted people to get to know me. Granted I have a linkedIn account but I wanted a little more.

The reading list is a simple way to direct people to a place where they can go and find out what books I like, don’t like and so on. Yes there is “Good reads” but I was looking for something a little more personalized.

From time to time with no real order I will write about things and I hope you enjoy.