Save Money On Your Next Global Disaster Prediction!

It’s difficult being a Climate Change Advocate these days. You’ve spent a lot of time and money putting together a new prediction of global doom and gloom by a future date, and you’ve seen the deadline come and go. You’ve issued your 12-year predictions in 1990, 2000, and 2008. The world has not yet been sufficiently panicked into hysteria, so you go back to the drawing board. It will take a lot of time and effort to erase your old computer model results and come up with new ones.

What’s a climate scientist to do?

That’s where we come in. We’re Computer Model Elite and Discreet. And we’ve got the solution for you.

Our Climate Change Computer Models are unlike any you have encountered before. They are uniquely built and can handle all of the data you throw at them.

Meet our Computer Models: Asheena, Rebecca, and Tiffany.

3 Women

No more spending months and months pouring over computer code. These models already have their own built-in logic to process your data. It’s a simple process:

  1. Collect all of your meterological and climate data.
  2. Carefully organize the data into a comprehensive worksheet, sorted by date and location.
  3. Call us up and arrange to have lunch with one of our models.
  4. On the date of your scheduled lunch, bring your data, along with a check for 10% of your grant money.
  5. Take your model to lunch and discuss the weather.
  6. Bring her back to our lab.
  7. Receive your fully climate disaster prediction within 10 business days. If we fail to meet the deadline, you get to take the model out to lunch again. Whatever.

Many of you may have questions about our computer models. We answer them below in the familiar Q&A format below. 

Q: How sensitive are your computer models?

A: They are all a bit different, depending on the model you choose:

  • Asheena is sensitive to cold, so don’t put too much ice in her drink, and definitely do not sit under one of those ceiling fans at lunch.
  • Rebecca is sensitive to animals. A kitten or purse dog will go a long way. 
  • And Tiffany is sensitive to jewelry. Bring lots of it.

Q: Is your forecasting approach based on qualitative techniques, time series analysis, or causal models?

After a team of scientists and monkeys studied the issue for the past decade, we have settled on the following time-tested technique for forecasting:

dartboard

  • The first dart is the forecast variability index.
  • The second dart is the number of years mankind has left.
  • And the third dart is how many times you will have to put in a plug for our company in all of your speeches and news reports.  

Q: Are your models focused on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

A: No. They are focused on how expensive the restaurant is that you take them to lunch, so the atmosphere in the restaurant had better be luxurious. And one of the models is the daughter of the CEO, so keep your hands off.

Q: Do you stand by your models?

A: We stand by them often, but sometimes our feet get tired, so we sit down.

Q: Can our team of top programmers review the model’s code?

A: None of our models currently have codes. However, they do sometimes get the sniffles.

So pick up the phone now and call us. We can be reached at 1-800-ME-NAIVE. Ask for Guido. We will be here to help you save the planet and your career.

Guido

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Secret Memo to Accuser Of The Month

Recently, I sat down at a diner for lunch and found the following few pages of a secret memo. I didn’t see who had sat there before me, but the memo was a real eye-opener. I thought I would share it with you.

————————–

Dear Applicants,

I want to thank you all for your enthusiasm in wanting to be the latest accuser of Supreme Court nominee – and overall scumbag – Brett Kavanaugh. We have had such an overwhelming response to our request for new accusers that I haven’t had the time to spend with each of you individually. For that reason, I thought I would send out a memo to help guide you through the process.

First, make sure you get the latest application form. Many things have changed since the days when we processed Anita Hill. Now, you can accuse a far-right nominee of simply failing to recycle their water bottles and get a lot of air time. The new form takes all of that into account.

Section one is where you give basic information about your name, your address, your phone number, etc. Just remember that all of that is optional. If you do decide to enter that information, we will do everything in our power to keep that private[1]. For those of you who don’t remember any of that information because you are still too inebriated from your high school partying, it’s okay. Just enter “It’s complicated.”

The first section also has a small item that asks “Sex?” For those of you who aren’t acquainted with filling out forms like this, please just enter “Male”, “Female”, or any one of the 50-something identities named by Facebook. Please do not enter “Yes”, or “Whenever you’re ready.” Those are not considered acceptable answers and could get you disqualified.

In section two, you have to identify your political status and the political status of the person you are accusing of heinous acts. It looks like this:

Section 2

2.1 I am a (check one):

___ Democrat accusing a Republican nominee

___ Republican accusing a Republican nominee

___ Democrat accusing a Democrat nominee

___ Republican accusing a Democrat nominee

For the purposes of the Kavanaugh nominee and any other nominees that you wish to accuse in the future, if you checked either of the first two responses, go on to the section 3. If you checked either of the last two responses, please call 1-800-NOTACHANCE[2].

The next section is section “3” for those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to have passed elementary math. In this section, you identify both where and when the evil acts of the nominee occurred. Please don’t let this trigger you into a nervous wreck. The only reason we want this information is because we can locate the people who were present at that time and persuade[3] them to cooperate with us. If you can’t remember anything about the incident other than Kavanaugh’s laughter while he was throwing ice at you, that’s okay. You do not have to enter anything into the application that you don’t want to, such as name, address, and any factual information.

The next section after section 3 (also called “section 4”) is crucial. In this section, you identify all of the unspeakable acts Kavanaugh (or a future nominee) performed against you. If you are unable to remember any of these acts being carried out by Kavanaugh, please see our staff hypnotist. She will help you recover your memories of these things. Believe me, you will recover a lot of memories. Even as I write this, we are identifying more and more memories that each of you will recover.

After your recovered memory session, fill out the section. You only have to check the ones that apply. In fact, you may want to just check all of them to be safe. Here are some tips on the specific items.

  • You can check “Sexually Assaulted Me” if he assaulted you, kind of tried to assault you, thought about assaulting you, or gave you a flirtatious grin. (I’m very sorry to make you try to remember this.)
  • You can check “Tried to Get Me Drunk” if he forced alcohol on you, gave you a beer, stood by a punch bowl that was spiked, drank from a water bottle that was obviously filled with what looked like vodka, or hung around people who were drinking at a party. (Please grab a hanky if you made it to this part. There’s not much more.)
  • You can check “Ran a Gang Rape Mob” if you saw him participate in a gang rape, acted like he wanted to participate in a gang rape, ever mentioned the word “gang”, or stood in a line where he was trying to go to the bathroom.
  • You can check “Was a Violent Serial Killer” if you ever saw him murder someone in cold blood, killed a joke by telling it badly, or threw an ice cube at anyone.

The final section is just additional information that helps us to know special information about you that could make your case more important. Here are some of the questions:

_Y__ I will not fly in an airplane. (Note that this is already marked “Y” to save you time filling out the application.

___ I have studied how to take polygraph tests to get good results.

___ If selected as Accuser Of the Month, I agree to be paid the equivalent of ten thousand Venezuelan dollars or its equivalent in American dollars.

___ Even if not selected to be Accuser Of The Month, I am still willing to harass Senators and their families in the Capitol Building, the airport, restaurants, or the bathroom in order to get them to vote correctly, as long as I am paid $2 for each swear word that I utter.

And remember to initial the disclaimer at the bottom of the form that says

___ By initialing here, I agree that everything in this form is 100% true and accurate, and if anything is determined to be false, I will agree to change my story.

There now! That wasn’t so bad, was it? Of course not.

Please take your time to complete the application before you initial and turn it in. After all, it isn’t every day that we get this opportunity[4]. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.

[1] At least for a few weeks.

[2] And ask for “Guido”.

[3] By “persuade”, we mean “threaten”. Remember Guido?

[4] That is, the opportunity to destroy the life of a committed Conservative and their family.

Re-Upholstered Memories

 

Recovered memories

There’s a guy I know who fell into an upholstery machine. He’s fully recovered now.

I know, I know. It’s a stupid joke. But I’ll do anything to get a laugh.

The only tie-in with my theme here is that it’s about “recovering”.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I discovered that Christine Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are based on “recovered memories”. Not a lot has been written about this part of the story. Most of us focus on the fact that it happened so long ago, that there isn’t much evidence that it happened, but she seems so sure that it happened.

That’s where the recovered memories come into play. Recovered memories are sometimes a tool used by psychotherapists and other counselors. The idea is that, if you are having a psychological problem, then it may well be your brain’s response to a traumatic memory it is trying to repress. Through interviews, recounting personal history, and possibly hypnosis, the psychotherapist tries to bring those traumatic memories into the light where the patient can discuss them. By successfully dealing with these recovered memories, so the story goes, the patient is eventually freed and healed.

That’s the theory.

I remember being part of a church in the late 80’s and early 90’s where a counsellor held group sessions to heal people with psychological problems. This counsellor focused on recovering memories of practically everyone in the group. Everyone had traumatic childhood sexual abuse. Everyone.

And there was a twist, though. The childhood sexual abuse caused each patient to develop multiple separate personalities. It was basically like the movie Sybil or the Three Faces of Eve, old movies that dealt with the topic of multiple personalities in a person.

Getting back to the experience, I was an elder in the church, and I was concerned about what was going on. I started reading about Multiple Personality Disorder (or MPD), and it seemed like a lot of superstition based on very scant evidence. I began to hear about bizarre therapy sessions going on. The counsellor acted like a hammer in search of a nail. Everyone had the same condition.

In the half dozen years since that period, I read stories about how this was going on in other churches and counseling practices. Patients “recovered” memories of childhood sexual abuse, sometimes at the hands of parents or pastors. The place of abuse was said to have taken place in a church basement, even if the church didn’t have a basement. These patients often confronted their supposed abusers. In almost all instances that I heard about, the abuse never occurred. Tempers flared between the accusers and the accused. Families were torn apart.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the practice and phenomenon actually in vogue about 130 years ago, then died down. It appeared again after The Three Faces of Eve came out in 1957, then died down. It reappeared after Sybil came out as a TV miniseries in 1976, then died down again. And the latest outbreak was in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is now in a quiet phase.

Professional psychiatrists looked into the matter and saw a gaping chasm of scientific evidence. In most instances, any instances of multiple personalities were really borne out of “suggestible and gullible therapists” guiding “suggestible and gullible patients” into discovering recovered memories and multiple personalities. The therapists were not so much helping the patients to recover their memories as they were actually training them to come up with memories.

It is still controversial, with some people saying they were helped by the approach. I think it’s bottled snake oil.

Studies have been conducted into how easy it is to implant false memories into a willing subject. The researchers told their subjects that specific things happened when they were younger, such as getting lost at a mall. As the researchers told more details about the false story, the subjects began to envision the story as if it were true. Eventually, the subjects adopted the false stories as true stories.

The therapy of recovering lost memories should have been totally debunked by now. There may be a small number of patients for whom it is true, but it seems to be primarily just a lot of bunkum. Yet, there was at least one therapist who still practices it, and that therapist used it to treat Christine Ford.

And here we are, decades after it was largely discredited in the psychiatry profession, with a woman claiming to have recovered memories of being raped by a man who many years later is a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

In my opinion, it may very well be that Christine Ford actually thinks she was assaulted by Kavanaugh many years ago. It is possible that she was coached into searching her mind for some event in her distant past – an event that was somehow assumed to include a sexual assault. I can’t imagine why she picked Kavanaugh, but it may have been that he stuck out in her mind for some reason. Nevertheless, it could be that Ford actually believes it happened, primarily due to the particular brand of psychotherapy she was subjected to.

This is why both Kavanaugh and Ford may be telling the truth. The former actually didn’t do anything, and the latter is recounting something from an implanted false memory. I can’t say the same of Ford’s Democratic handlers. Those handlers just seem to be doing anything they can with Ford for political purposes. And it’s still possible that Ford made all of this up. But there’s also the possibility that she’s just talking about false memories she was guided into.

Regardless of how this turns out in the battle for the Supreme Court, I hope the practice of recovering memories gets pushed way into the back of the therapists tools and only used for rare, extreme cases where it may be needed.

snake oil

 

Galileo, the Rainbow, and Guido

Researchers at Brown University recently came up with some surprising research results. So, of course, the Ivy League School did what any institution committed to science and free speech would do.

They quashed the results.

That’s because the findings upset the Perpetually Offended in the LGBT community. It didn’t please them, so Brown University knew they had to remove the results from their web site, even though it appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, PLOS One.

We know that’s the right thing to do, because that’s exactly  what happened to Galileo:

“Hi, Gal! What’s up? Anything new on that telescope?”

“Oh, hello Cardinal Snooticus. I just discovered that the sun does not revolve around the earth. It’s the other way around.”

“Oh, that can’t be right, Gal! You need to look again. Maybe you’ve got a smudge on your telescope. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a smudge.”

“Well, I don’t know about that. I can only report what I observe, Cardinal.”

“Gal, or perhaps I should say Mister Galileo. I don’t think you are getting the picture. Your scientific results do not sit well with the Church. “

“But that doesn’t matter to me. It’s science.”

“Maybe you should talk to Bishop Guido here. He’s from the Inquisition.”

“Actually, uh, Cardinal, I do think I may have a smudge after all. Never mind. It never happened.”

Of course, we all know that’s not what happened. Western society for centuries has put science in a high position in our culture. Christians of all stripes have learned to consider science as another important source of truth, but not the most important source. (And my apologies to my Catholic friends. This was just a silly story.)

But for people who have abandoned Christianity, there is nothing else that’s authoritative to turn to other than science. Secularists like to say that they count on science, and science alone, as the source of truth. We are constantly reminded of that by celebrities and luminaries, lecturing Conservatives about how we need to just focus on science, not opinion. One of the most recent examples of this was Harrison Ford, who spoke out against the anti-science leaders who are skeptical of climate change.

This is thrown at us all of the time. The Perpetually Offended accuse us of being anti-science. But, at the same time, those same accusers only accept the science they like.

And that’s where the research at Brown University comes back in. It was entitled “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports”.  The study had a number of interesting findings:

  • The parents of many female adolescents reported “outbreaks” of gender dysphoria that were statistically unlikely. These girls never reported any instances of gender confusion until they began to hang out with other girls who engaged in heavy Internet use and binge-watching of videos of transgenders.
  • There is a high probability that the outbreaks of gender dysphoria were due to social and peer influence and pressure
  • Peer influence in adolescent girls is typically linked with depression, eating disorders, and drug use

These findings do not fit the template put forward by the LGBT community. Their story is that transgender people are “born that way”, and that it’s not a trend you can just try out and adopt because your friends are doing it.

So the Perpetually Offended were offended again. Adopting the same bully tactics they use with practically anything else they object to, they raised a ruckus with Brown University and demanded that the paper be deleted. Brown University complied. These days, it doesn’t take actual death threats to bring universities into compliance with the Perpetually Offended. It only requires the possibility of death threats. Or perhaps a visit from Guido.

Past studies have shown that the vast majority of adolescents who identified as homosexual or transgender as a minor no longer do so as an adult. I think it’s fair to say that it probably would happen to the children in the Brown University study as well.

The earliest American attempt to determine the percentage of adults who are homosexual was a 1948 book by 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey called Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. That study claimed that 10% of the male population was homosexual, but it was based on a count of incarcerated men. It is well understood how “group pressure” in prison often makes those men homosexual, at least while they are in prison. (It should be noted that the 10% figure has been discredited, although it is still repeated throughout the culture. Subsequent studies have shown homosexuals at somewhere between 1.5% to 2.4%.)

Interestingly, a recent survey of Americans showed that most Americans believe the rate of homosexuals in our population is about 21%, which is much, much higher than the actual population. Much of that is probably attributed to the fact that the lifestyle is pushed and promoted throughout the media. That media gives the general impression that homosexuality is more prevalent than it really is.

In addition, there have been a number of recent studies that focused on “sexual fluidity”, or the concept that at least some people can flow between heterosexual and homosexual behavior easily. There certainly are a number of celebrities who appear to have done so, including Drew Barrymore, Elton John, and Anne Heche. But the other studies cited earlier show that the vast majority of people who have ever engaged in homosexual acts will not continue to do so throughout their life.

We are beginning to get a better picture of how homosexuality has become such a “big thing” in our culture. It is a cultural phenomenon that is primarily spread by group pressure. After that pressure is lifted, there is only a very small fraction that remains attracted to the same sex. The homosexual lifestyle has an influence that reaches far beyond the actual population, primarily due to their allies. However, it appears that the vast majority of those who have tried that lifestyle did so because of pressure. It was tried by them and rejected. Let us help those who want to leave that lifestyle. Let us also continue to allow academic freedom to pursue science wherever it leads us. And let us resist the Guidos of this world that pressure us.

Do Super-Women Really Exist?

 

There are many times when we are discussing difficult issues and the issue is staring us right in the face. But the reason we don’t go there is because we think it’s not permissible in the current culture. There was an article recently on CNN.com that is a great example.

A digital producer, Alexandra King, recently wrote about an interview that the Harvard Gazette gave to Lauren Groff, a novelist. During the interview, Groff was asked how she achieves a balance between work and family. King was really interested in what she would have to say. Most women struggle to balance the two, so King was hoping to get some insight into how to juggle both work and family. Instead, Groff said:

Until I see a male writer asked this question, I’m going to respectfully decline to answer it.

Social media picked this up, and many women heartily agreed with her answer. But King was disappointed.

King does not have children. She must be thinking about it, although I have no idea what her marital status is. But Groff did not answer the question for King. All she did was have a snappy comeback.

King is struggling here. She’s wondering if super women really exist. In her view, work/family balance for most women is achieved:

WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY. BALANCE ISN’T EVEN THE RIGHT WORD. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO SOMETHING.

King was searching for some help, some advice, but she received none. Most women in today’s society, bombarded by the feminist message, don’t see why women should be hindered in their careers by their family. They want to be unhindered, just like men appear to be. King feels the same way, yet, she says:

But more broadly, I’d argue, whether we like it or not… current circumstances do make this a woman’s question. It’s an undisputable fact that it’s the ladies, not the gents, who have to endure the physical onslaught that is pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.

And later, she says:

It’s safe to say that American mothers live in crisis. Yet your average working mother is rarely asked how she balanced work and family. She just has to figure it out.

The problem, says King, is that successful women such as Groff never really say how to achieve work/family balance. They never answer the question. And most women in our society are simply struggling. They believe everyone else is doing it except them. Most women believe the successful women have actually figured it out. However:

The sort of women who are publicly asked about what it’s like to be a working mother in the United States are almost always the ones more likely to have more resources to address the myriad challenges every working woman in America faces.

Exactly, celebrities and top business women seem to have it all together, but that’s because they’ve got money to hire “resources” to take care of their children. They may have nannies, tutors, or well-paid babysitters. Or they send the kids to top boarding schools where they don’t have to worry about them. Or they can take off a year or two from work without seriously damaging their family’s finances. Meanwhile, most women today aren’t at a financial level to have those “resources”.

So what is the answer?

In her article, King seems to believe the answer is for the U.S. government to give women more paid maternity leave. She misses the point that it’s not the government who has the answer. Even if a woman were to get 3 years of paid maternity leave, she might not be present for her child. The answer is for the parents to allow the mother to take time away from her career in the early years to be present for her children.

But what if King could actually question whether her premises about feminism are true?

  • Why do women struggle so much with this?
  • If women are liberated, why is childcare still a burden for them?
  • Why does the daily burden of caring for children still mostly fall to the mother, while men still feel most comfortable with being the primary provider for the family?
  • If nature or God equipped women with the means for giving birth, for nourishing them when they are infants, and with empathizing with their children more than men, then is feminist ideology really true?

I’m sure some of you reading this are wondering what cave I crawled out of. Where have I been for the past 50 years?

I get it. I’m not trying to say that women are not equal with men, nor am I trying to say that women are the only ones who should be raising children. Women are just as smart and capable as men. Women should be allowed to have the same careers as men, where physical strength is not an issue.

But why not look at whether mothers should look be spending more time with their children and less time at work? Perhaps suspend their career, especially when the children are very young. Perhaps super women don’t really exist.

This is the recommendation of Erica Komisar, a psychoanalyst who wrote Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. She writes about many studies that show how children do much better physically and psychologically when their mothers – yes, their mothers – stay home and take care of their children. This I not a religious belief. It’s something she discovered through her own work. She herself worked part time in the early years. She writes:

From my firsthand professional observations, I have come to understand the connections between these symptoms and disorders and the emotional and physical absence of young children’s mothers in their day-to-day lives. An increasing number of parents come to see me because their child is suffering from a variety of social, behavioral, or developmental disorders. It’s clear to me that these symptoms are often related to the premature separation of children from their mothers.

What is the primary problem?

Too often, mothers are putting their work and their own needs ahead of their children’s. I know this issue is a very controversial one – so controversial, in fact, that few dare to address it.

There it is again. No one wants to talk about it. Young children need their parents’ time, especially their mother’s time.

The obvious answer for King’s question of work/family balance seems to be to put career on pause, at least for awhile. Stop struggling and searching for an answer that doesn’t seem to exist. Instead of stretching both you and your child, give yourself time to be with your child by taking time away from your career.

But the feminist leanings in King don’t seem to allow her to go there. I suspect it’s hard for most women to consider that. Most probably still think there’s a way to do both excellently.

It has only been since the 1970’s he women have entered into the workforce in large numbers. It remains to be seen whether the social experiment of feminism actually works. We have already seen that no-fault divorce, which was a well-meaning approach to helping couples get out of a failed marriage, has been a disaster. It may be that we will see that with feminism as well.

 

Is Clint Eastwood a Good Father?

Recently, an article on Fox News spoke about how Clint Eastwood is a great father. The article mentions that he “is earning critical acclaim for one of his oldest roles – being a dad.” The article speaks of Eastwood in glowing terms, mentioning how he was “hands-on” as a father, had a great sense of humor, and made time for each of his kids.

Being a good father does, in fact, include having time for your kids. But that’s not all. It’s also about providing a stable family for your children.

And then there’s this:

His son Kyle, 50, is his eldest from his first marriage to Maggie Johnson, which lasted from 1953 to 1984. Alison, 46, followed after, but during that marriage, he welcomed another daughter in, Kimber, 54, through an affair with Roxanne Tunis. Clint has two other children, Scott, 32, and Kathryn, 30, with his former girlfriend, Jacelyn Reeves, as well as a 25-year-old daughter, Francesca, with Frances Fisher, who co-starred alongside him in the four-time Academy Award-winning Western, “Unforgiven.”

In 1996, he married Dina Ruiz and the couple had a daughter, Morgan, now 21-years-old.

That makes 7 children from 6 wives.

In the past, divorce and broken homes were seen as bad because it was breaking a life-long promise to remain faithful to one another. But if both man and wife wanted to split, then it was considered okay. Perhaps not ideal, but okay. The kids, it was thought, were resilient and would recover just fine.

And that was how most of our culture considered divorce when No-Fault Divorce swept the nation in the 1970’s.

However, a recent book called Primal Loss by Leila Miller explores the toll divorce has taken on children. The book consists of stories told by adult children of divorced parents. Over and over, these adult survivors of divorce talk about how hard it was to understand who their family was. One individual recalled the following:

I recently realized that I was forced to abandon and then reconstitute my idea of family seven times by the time I was 23:

First family: my mom, dad, and me…

Second family: post divorce, still my mom, my dad, and me but living in two homes; my two parents are single

Third family: my mother remarries; my dad is single

Fourth family: my father remarries; both parents are now remarried

Fifth family: my father divorces; he is single again, and I remember feeling excited that I’ll get to spend more time with him; my mother is still married

Sixth family: my father remarries again; both parents are now remarried

Seventh family: my father and his third wife separate; he is single again, and my mother is still married

The testimonies in the book recount over and over again about how they never really knew what was family, what was home. They were constantly moving. During holidays, they would have to be part of a blended family where they hardly knew many of the people present. There was no one to confide in. No real place to come “home” to. Most of these individuals are still recovering, even decades after the divorce.

It shines a light on Eastwood’s concept of family. It was whoever he happened to be with at the time. If you happen to be one of his children, you would be hard-pressed to find your father spending vacations, holidays, or birthdays with your own family. Eastwood would be off with whoever is his latest family.

I don’t mean to come down hard on just Eastwood. There are plenty of families broken by divorce that cause those children to wonder who they belong to, where their home is. It’s the culture we have created. And now we have lots of divorce survivors who need to be healed.

The good thing is that there is a religion that heals and mends broken hearts. It’s a religion that allows anyone, no matter how broken their family is, to find a new home among real brothers and sisters who care about you.

Our Imaginary Morals

map confused

It’s really a simple question. It is one I have wanted to ask many times. Yet, for many people, it seems to be unanswerable.

I remember the first time I asked the question. I was talking to a neighbor. We were talking about raising kids. Mine are grown adults. Her two children are both too young for school. She had complimented me about my adult children, that they seemed to have their heads on straight. I said that, yes, I think that’s because we raised them according to the truth in the Bible, which describes right and wrong, evil and good.

I know my family seems an oddity to her. She has never encountered a family where the parents and the kids are all Christian. She has only seem the older generation embrace Christianity, while their offspring rebel. I certainly know good Christian parents who have attempted to raise their kids to be Christians, only to see them abandon Christ. We have been blessed never to have experienced that in our family.

But my interest was not about raising kids. It was about right and wrong.

I thanked her for her compliment about my children, and then told her I wanted to ask her a question:

Where do you get your morality from? How do you know what is right and wrong?

She was taken aback. She didn’t really know what to say. I could see that she was searching in the recesses of her mind for an answer. It didn’t come.

My neighbor is agnostic, while her husband is atheist. I had known this for awhile. I have been curious for years about how someone can know right from wrong if they have no underlying moral map. Actually, I figured that nonbelievers probably have some moral map, but it just wasn’t apparent to me. Maybe it’s the golden rule. Maybe it’s a hodgepodge of different beliefs. What, I asked, did they rely on to distinguish between right and wrong? How do they know so they can guide their children?

I anticipated some possible answers. One possible answer is that right is doing what is legal and wrong is doing what is illegal, but there are some significant problems with that answer. First, governments don’t always do the right thing. They may pass a law that we believe is wrong. For example, slavery was legal in many states until the Civil War. If we were anti-slavery, would we say that, because slavery is legal, then it must be right? Of course not. There are many examples of unjust laws or unjust judicial decisions. Do we change our morality based on what’s legal? That would be absurd.

In addition, some things may be wrong even if there is no law against it. For instance, most people believe it is wrong to lie. However, telling a lie, except in certain legal matters, is not a crime. Many people condemn the act of lying, but they don’t want to see a law against all lying.

Another possible source for our morality is our friends who surround us. After all, we do tend to hang around people who believe the same way we do. And we are tremendously influenced by people we are close to. Unfortunately, there are some things wrong with this view as well. The biggest problem is that it’s groupthink. A group may have views about whether something is right or wrong, but try expressing a point of view that runs counter to the group. You immediately get isolated. You may even find yourself unwelcome in that group. The pressure to conform in a group is strong. Many people follow the norms of a group, not because they believe what the group believe in their heart, but because they don’t want to get kicked out of the group.

And then there’s the same problem: What if the group believes the wrong thing? Do I just change my moral map whenever the group changes theirs?

Returning to my story, my neighbor had no answer. I followed up by asking simple questions like, “Does it make sense to use ‘survival of the fittest’ to guide our morality? If that principle is true, wouldn’t it be okay to simply live each day taking advantage of others so we end up on top? Or if nothing is right or wrong, wouldn’t it be best to simply do whatever we want, act anyway we want, as long as it’s something we want to do? What would prevent us from robbing a bank?”

It was all so unexpected for my poor neighbor. I apologized that I wasn’t trying to give her a hard time. It was truly just something I wanted to know. How did she know what was right and wrong?

I’ve asked that same question about right and wrong to others since then. Whenever I ask a nonbeliever, I get the same answer. They don’t know how to know what’s right and wrong.

We all need a moral map. We need moral maps just like we need geographical maps.

In times past, Americans used a variety of ways to figure out how to drive from city to city. There were few, if any, maps to help drivers navigate the different types of roads. Often, drivers just had to strike out on their own and figure out each road on its own.

In the early 20th century, when Americans started driving cars out of town to go to other cities, we didn’t have the same infrastructure we have today. Not all roads were paved. Not all roads had clear signs. Not every town had a gas station. And the roads often wound around the countryside, not necessarily trying to go the straightest path. Many Americans used the Official Automobile Blue Book. It gave step by step instructions for going from one town to the next. Eventually, you could find your way to where you wanted to go. If you didn’t read the book correctly, you could end up in the wrong place.

Later, travel maps were created. These were foldable maps that could fit into your glove compartment (assuming you could fold the maps back the way they were originally folded). They were an improvement, but many people don’t follow maps well. It was still very easy to end up on the wrong road and at the wrong destination.

Today, practically every American who has a cell phone knows how to use the GPS feature of their phone to get them from one point to another. Want to go to a new restaurant you heard about? Just plug it in your GPS. Want to get to that marathon in another city? Just plug in in your GPS. Want to do a cross-country trip? Just plug it into your GPS. You will get turn-by-turn audio and visual directions making it very easy to getting to your destination. It is nearly impossible (but still possible) to miss your destination.

Geographical maps show you where you came from, where you are going, and various routes that will take you away from your destination. Many of us Americans would never dream of driving to a new location without using our GPS.

Unfortunately, it is not the same with our moral maps. As a Christian, I know what my moral map is. It is the Bible. It tells me where I came from and how to get where I want to go. And it tells me the roads that will only take me further away from where I want to go.

A good moral map can do that as well. Unfortunately, many of us in today’s society are like American drivers at the beginning of the 20th century. They have an idea of where they want to go, but they don’t have a clue how to get there.

We’re all free to find our own way in this world. The good thing is that there is a map easily available to those who want to follow it. For those who insist on finding their own way, I hope you find the Destination.