No we don’t need prayers.

There was a national prayer day held here I think yesterday where the leaders ask god to come and intervene and bring a solution to all the problems they manage to get us into between one prayer day to the next. It is a day that makes financial sense to the hotel owner whose hotel is hired for this purpose, the pastors who come to pray and those different teams that are invited to do one thing or other. It is a waste of time and money to sit to do nothing except talk to yourselves in the hope that some sky daddy is listening and cares about your shit and is going to send some angel your way to solve the mess.

It is time people realized they have a duty to change things and we would start by reducing the size of government, removing redundancy, checking on corruption, and reducing the public wage bill among other things than wasting time in prayer.

So please Messrs Uhuro, we have bigger problems and the solutions can’t be found sitting down appealing to some sky daddy invented by Hebrew goat herders. No, the solutions are elsewhere, they will be found in schools of higher learning through research development, developing sustainable ways to produce food, community policing, better education, provision of better health care and equal opportunities for wealth acquisition and generation and lastly promoting local talent in the different fields among others.

Blog break 8: Help needed

Folks, I have discovered that my mind plays tricks on me. It seems to me that it is quite able to deal with, what in many cases are, difficult concepts but find what everyone else considers simple and normal problematic to say the least. It is in connection with one of such problems that am calling  for help.

My problem has been to find a reason why our species really must get married and I will start by saying I have asked a number of friends for answers. I will list the answers below and what I thought about them, and I could be wrong- the more reason am asking for help.

  • Love

This is a difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. When someone says they are in love, what does this mean? Is its meaning universal or does it mean different things to different people. One then has to find someone where this concept means the same thing and find heaven on earth!  I find it is one of those concepts that have been bandied around that maybe it has lost the meaning it originally had.   Does the original concept go like “Love is patient, kind, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres”?  In your opinion, which of these theories are practical and how then can we measure adequate love to amount to marriage (what are the thresholds involved?).  what happens when it wears out… what can replaces the love that you once felt…. A dildo maybe?  So am hoping that those friends of mine who have been married several years will help here.

  • Companionship

By this I understand it’s someone to talk to or share with. Do you require this person daily or just on occasions and what happens if this one person is no more? Do you get a cat or do you get the second replacement?  To add to this, is that why we have cases of spouses plotting to kill another?  When the partner finds another to share and talk to – is this void after the person is no more, is too much to bear?

  •  Security

This has been the most difficult to make sense of. Many of the people I have talked with by this mean financial security which I find to be ridiculous because the person could lose their jobs or better still die. Is this a valid reason to get married?

  • Procreation

Unless the package includes staying together to raise the children, I think this is not sufficient reason to get married. One can adopt a kid What if both are not possible due to financial and suitability constraints, does that occur to any married couples? Besides I truly think the time when the maxim go yea and fill the earth made sense is way gone. There are enough of us already and I think the earth could do with a little break from births for a few years, just dreaming :-P.

  • A sense of Responsibility

Does one being in this institution make them work harder than one who isn’t?  A theory or a myth, that I wish my dear friends would help me understand.   Don’t we all meet at the bus stop at the same time and return back home almost by the same bus?  How is someone in marriage more responsible than one who ain’t…. what weighing scale can we use to measure this responsibility?

  • Society and family obligation

In many cultures one is expected to get married at some point.  This builds up a cultural pressure when both reach this desired ‘marriageable’ age (ripe for marriage).   To fulfill this egocentric, belittling notion, my friend had to oblige and get a bride!  A bride that has to be acceptable by the community and his family.  Is the bride for the society/family… makes me wonder, is she really your bride at the end of the day? Are members of the species getting married because of these societal pressures?

  • Gods command and love

Really? Does God therefore hate the single ladies and senior bachelors who have made a choice to remain as they are?  For the god believers, please tell me, is your god’s loves so limited that he/she can’t distribute it equally among his brood and what happens then to those who are married? Do they lose out on this supposed love since I had someone say that god loves those who are in perfect? marriages!  Please educate me here?

Lastly I don’t know whether this happens elsewhere or just here in the neck of woods. Many times aspiring couples invite friends for committee meetings where the friends are to help with planning for the wedding they should help fund this enterprise. Now am not against those who feel enamored by this contributions, but seriously why should someone else fund your fancy? Why not have a wedding that you can afford besides it is a one day affair? Maybe am missing something here and I really need help.

There is the very last bit that I think happens in many East African cultures and in the east where bride price or dowry is paid. I don’t know if it still happens in the west or it has been dropped. I have listened to all the reasons for paying either and in my view they all come short. In my view, it boils down to seeing a woman as something to be possessed, just as we possess our other gadgets. I get it that it is cultural. In my anthropology class at the university one of the things I learnt about culture is that it is adaptive, fluid and not cast on stone. Isn’t it time for the committees, whoever the members, looked into this matters and advised or proposed a way forward. I don’t see why people should be slaves of the dead men and women who came before them. I realize by saying this it will be said of me to be a person without roots, and just so you know, I don’t really care much about roots. Soon I will be dead, I see no need of living my life as a slave of a man or woman who died several years before my parents met and their parents before that met. That is my way and I want to keep it that way.

To sum up my little survey, marriage simply equals to a lot of expectations, that many a times are not met and hence the frustrated lot you find talking to themselves in the streets.  Get married if you may, and as the great Nietzsche said, if you get a good wife you will be happy if a bad one you will become a philosopher.  Live and enjoy life and look pleased like a cat with two tails (hopefully)!!

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Related articles

Couples who engage in pre-marital sex considered married- court

Philosophical discussions

Prayson has posted a quote from the writings of Hume on his blog, a post that has elicited quite a bit of comment but which I think do not respond directly to what he[Hume] was alluding to and it is my intention to try to address the question here briefly and invite further comments.

A little philosophy, says lord BACON, makes men atheistsA great deal reconciles them to religion. For men, being taught, by superstitious prejudices, to lay the stress on a wrong place; when that fails them, and they discover, by a little reflection, that the course of nature is regular and uniform, their whole faith totters, and falls to ruin. But being taught, by more reflection, that this very regularity and uniformity is the strongest proof of design and of a supreme intelligence, they return to that belief, which they had deserted; and they are now able to establish it on a firmer and more durable foundation.

– David Hume, (NHR 4:329, Hume’s emphasis)

Cited: Natural History of Religion, in The Philosophical Works,ed. T .H. Green and T. H. Grose, 4 vols. (Dannstadt, 1964)

This quote here alludes to the design argument for the proof for the existence of god. Unlike other arguments that attempt to show the existence of god can be proved with the aid of pure reason alone, such as the Ontological argument, this argument starts with alluding to experience, that is, that we observe in the world of experience things that display regularity, uniformity and an appearance of design and then shifts to the ontological argument in its conclusion that there must exist a supreme intelligence. This conclusion, however, doesn’t follow from the premises. All that can be granted to the proponent of this argument is that there could exist an architect for the order in the universe but as an argument for the existence of god it is insufficient.

As a general comment, I need to add that if the existence of god were provable, only one argument would have been sufficient. The fact that there exists so many arguments attempting to prove that a god exists goes to show that they have all been insufficient in the course they set for themselves.

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One of the comments on the post is irrelevant to say the least and commits a logical fallacy. He writes

You are on the loosing side. Atheists comprised an estimated 2.01% of the world population, according to The World Factbook in 2010. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

The Christian share of the world’s population has stood at around 33% for the last hundred years, which says that one in three persons on earth are Christians.

Christianity, in one form or another, is the sole state religion of the following nations: Costa Rica (Roman Catholic), Denmark (Evangelical Lutheran), El Salvador (Roman Catholic), England (Anglican), Finland (Evangelical Lutheran & Orthodox), Georgia (Georgian Orthodox), Greece (Greek Orthodox), Iceland (Evangelical Lutheran), Liechtenstein (Roman Catholic), Malta (Roman Catholic), Monaco (Roman Catholic), and Vatican City (Roman Catholic). There are numerous other countries, such as Cyprus, which although do not have an established church, still give official recognition to a specific Christian denomination.

Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and many of the population of the Western hemisphere could broadly be described as cultural Christians. Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the Greek and Roman empires, as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Europe. Until the Age of Enlightenment, Christian culture was the predominant force in western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science. Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into Christian philosophy, Christian art, etc..

I want to point out that we are not in competition with christianity or any world religion for numbers. It is the religious who need numbers in their congregations for various reasons, atheism only calls for you to be rational and whether you chose to do so is your business. It has been noted that rationality is not for everyone since there are people around the world whose only concern is how they will get the next meal and as such do not have the luxury to spend their time thinking about philosophy.

The second problem with this argument is that the author isn’t concerned with whether the claims of christianity are true but rather with the number of the adherents of his particular sect. I would like to tell him that a false belief doesn’t become true because it is held by many people. The only thing that the numbers show, is that a significant part of the human population have bought into the story of some Hebrew goat herders set in the Middle East. Nothing more.

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The same fellow lists two [he claims] there are ten facts that show that evolution is false.  Yours truly is not a biologist and as such will invite comments by those who are well versed on this subject. He writes

Scientific Fact No. 1 – Human Egg and Sperm Proves Evolution is Wrong

The evolutionist ignores the problem surrounding the human female egg and the male sperm in the evolutionary theory. The female egg contains the X-chromosome and the male sperm contains either an X-chromosome for the reproduction of a male or a Y-chromosome for the reproduction of a female. The female eggs all develop within the ovaries while she is a baby (fetus) within her mother’s womb. Evolutionists claim environmental factors cause small changes in the offspring in the evolutionary chain. However, the environmental experience of the female cannot change the chromosomes within her eggs and cannot have any effect upon her offspring. Her body cannot go into the eggs contained within her ovaries at her birth to make an intelligent change. Females cannot be a part of the evolutionary theory for these reasons.

I honestly don’t get what he is saying.

Scientific Fact No. 2 – Chromosome Count Proves Evolution is Wrong

There is no scientific evidence that a species can change the number of chromosomes within the DNA. The chromosome count within each species is fixed. This is the reason a male from one species cannot mate successfully with a female of another species. Man could not evolve from a monkey. Each species is locked into its chromosome count that cannot change. If an animal developed an extra chromosome or lost a chromosome because of some deformity, it could not successfully mate. The defect could not be passed along to the next generation. Evolving a new species is scientifically impossible. Evolutionists prove that getting a college education does not impart wisdom.

If I understand what he is saying, it appears to me, he believes he evolved from a monkey which I don’t think is what is taught in evolution. Last I checked the theory of evolution posits that we share a common ancestor with other primates. I would be interested in knowing if he means by scientifically impossible that it is not possible in nature over long period of time for changes to occur?

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Related articles

Hume on religion

Blog post 7: A question

For readers in Britain, you may have more details on this case than I do, and that fortunately is not the question. It is a case between a married 30 year old teacher and his 15 year old student who had a crush on him and from what I gather from the report exchanged explicit texts, went to France where they were on the run for a few days. I gather the teacher is being accused of abduction.

The question here is, when is a girl/boy mature enough to consent to sex? Though the teacher isn’t on trial for any sex offence as far as I can tell, I think this relationship between the two of them forms a good basis for dealing with the question of consensual sex.

Jeremy Forrest trial: Teacher’s ‘multiple sex sessions’

Some news from the neck of woods

Folks, whenever I write about my neck of the woods, am complaining about some church minister or the idiots sorry meant the politicians who hold the rest of us hostage so today I thought I could share about something where we lead the world or at least the world should learn from us.

Our cooperative[SACCO] movement has helped to alleviate several thousand out of poverty.

The next innovation where we have led is mobile money transfer. Mobile phones here basically are small mobile banks.

Related articles

Why does Kenya lead the world in mobile money?

An overview of SACCOs in Kenya [pdf]

A peek into Kenya’s SACCO sub-sector

More on bonobos

Recently, I did post a youtube video of our cousins having one of those moments of dispute resolution or is it ending group tension. There is this post here that presents some interesting studies of what goes on in the bonobo kingdom. 

The author has very interesting views on the human race. For example he writes

Throughout these little narratives, we enjoy looking back smugly at capitalized Nature and in particular the other primates—the chimpanzees, the gorillas, the orangutans—to marvel at the superiority of our evolutionary state and the hideous detritus we left behind on our way upward. Among the many signposts in our smooth, progressive arc away from all the fur, tails, and knuckle dragging is the ennobling shift to marriage and monogamy. We possess a higher sense of spiritual grace in our couplings, we are told, not merely because we have escaped the primal rut that defines the life and death of other mammals, but also because this lofty claim to love prevents society from collapsing into what the Puritans would have called a seething pit of sin and debauchery. But what if even that noble tale is, like the heroic epic of the mammoth hunter, a kind of Pleistocene PR spin, obscuring a sex life that, truth be told, is far more frisky, kinky, promiscuous, and hilarious than our cover story suggests.

And for those religious people who claim that homosexuality is unnaturally should think again, am not saying they have been thinking but just giving them a benefit of doubt. He writes

Bonobos also shocked these earliest scientists because they possessed a cheerful sense of general promiscuity, weaving wanton sex into their society, and they boasted a sexual repertoire once thought to be the exclusive property of Homo sapiens—deep kissing, foreplay, oral sex, homosexuality, and polyamory.

And he thinks the bonobos would outdo the Indians if there was to be a contest to rewrite the Kamasutra. Consider this about their sex positions where he writes;

No description, academic or otherwise, can quite do justice to the comedy that is bonobo sex. On a hilarity scale of one to ten, most animal sex trends quickly toward ten. Bonobo sex goes to eleven. Throughout the day, males and females, adolescents and elders alike greet one another sexually for apparently almost any reason—and do so with everything from a quick feel, to porn-style choreographies, to elaborately athletic couplings.

and continues to say further

The sheer variety of bonobo sex puts the Kamasutra to shame and Savage-Rumbaugh is at her wit’s end trying to taxonomically describe the numerous positions of standing, sitting, prone, upright. Coming up with distinctions can be fatiguing when, for instance, one of the favored bonobo positions can only be described this way: the “male would at times thrust briefly during a ventro-dorsal prone bout then, while maintaining intromission, begin to walk, pushing against the female with his pelvis and moving her across the ground as she lay on her back, sometimes turning her in a complete circle before pausing to resume thrusting.” What to call that one?

If that is not enough to make you read the article, I hope this 

In any human boy’s development, there comes a moment when he jokes with his friends about how weird it would be if instead of shaking hands, we just walked up to one another and handily rubbed each other’s crotches. Everybody laughs—that’s crazy. But that’s essentially what the bonobos do. Human society is replete with displays of near intimacy and suggestive touching. We have developed customs of opposite-sex and same-sex hugging and kissing, handshaking, and back patting. And all of them serve as tokens of affection, perhaps with some subtle intimation that the encounter might develop into something else. Bonobos essentially went there and then kept going. On the long arc of sexual development as primate culture, maybe we’re the missing link on the way to bonobos.

will be enough nudge to go over and read the article. 

We are not perfect, so what?

Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect[ Mathew 5:48]

This post is not about the direction of heaven from earth or wherever nor about whether such a father exists, no, I just intend to ask for an explanation on the word perfect. In several conversations with each other, one often hears the comment we are not perfect as an explanation for something or other or better still as an excuse for something done or not done. There are people who call themselves perfectionists and so on. My first concern is whether perfection can be achieved?

My little understanding of evolution tells me it is mindless in the sense it has no goal. I don’t think it looks to create perfection but through natural selection favours those [traits] genes that best fit the environment. So for the evolutionary scientist or any such person who accepts evolution through natural explanation as offering the best explanation for the development of life on this rock we call home. The believer on the other hand claims that their deity is all perfect. My question here is two fold, what stopped them from creating a perfect man[ whatever that means] and why would they need to create men in the first place? What was it that they wanted to achieve in creating mortals they considered not perfect?

The perfect ideal rests in reason and not in reality. The idea of a supreme and perfect being is given by reason alone and not attested to by reality. I don’t think talking of a perfect square or circle is warranted for either it is a circle or not circle and same applies to a square. It is my interest in this post therefore to inquire as to what you, my friends, mean when you talk of a perfect man and do you think this can be realised or it will always be still possible to conceive of a perfect man.

 

on free will and other questions

Folks, those of you who have followed this blog know yours truly does hold the view that we don’t have free will. I have written quite a number of posts that can be found here, here, here, here and here that try to espouse my thinking on the idea or opinions by other philosophers of old on the same question. At the same time, those who have followed the discussion know of my friend whom whereas we agree on many issues, we don’t seem to find common ground on this question.

He recently did a post where again this question was raised and in which he introduces a new dimension to the conversation. First he offers a definition of consciousness and stages of consciousness that I would like to borrow, especially since I have not read much about it, but which I think is appropriate for our use. He writes,

Firstly, consciousness can be defined as the waking state. This essentially means that to be conscious, one needs to be awake, aroused, alert or vigilant. The stages of consciousness can range from wakefulness, to sleep to coma even. Secondly, consciousness is defined as experience, a far more subjective approach. This notion suggests that consciousness is the content of experience from one moment to another. Consciousness is highly personal, involving a conscious subject with a limited point of view. Thirdly, consciousness can be defined as the mind. Any mental state with a propositional content is considered conscious. Thus this includes beliefs, fears, hopes, intentions, expectations and desires.

We can agree that these definitions, for lack of a better word, represent the stages of consciousness but doesn’t necessarily tell us what consciousness is nor does it add to the knowledge of what the essence of ‘I’ as a being that thinks is.

I want to introduce a third position to this very interesting and ongoing debate. The third is the position, that I believe, Hume, the great skeptic would have offered, that we can’t know whether we have free will or not and should suspend judgement. The reason for this being that we are trying to answer a question about us as an object in itself, a cognition we are not capable of making. Whereas, this answer is not satisfactory to many, I think it is one that need some thought. In advocating skepticism, I shall in the meantime, maintain, not dogmatically, but from reason that we don’t have free will since as things in nature, we are not exempt from the cause – effect continuum.

I have been, in the past 2 or so weeks been reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and he writes that the following four questions are at the apex of all cosmical questions that human reason aspires to find answers but that it can at least as far as we can tell, we can’t have the correct answer. The questions are

  1. does the universe have a beginning and a limit to its extension in space
  2. do we have a soul
  3. are we free agents
  4. is there a supreme being

What are your answers to these questions and can you justify your answers. Are there any other questions that you think I[he] left out and which are these questions?