All Fall Down

It’s interesting to think that, without God, science turns into engineering, philosophy turns into vocabulary, and ethics turns into politics.  With God, all of these fields of study are transformed into subcategories of theology.

For those who want to protest, here’s what I mean:

Unless there is a God, there is no designer for the universe.  Without a designer, there is no design.  If there is no design, then there is no reason to want to discover the fundamental principles of the universe. What makes you think that there are fundamental principles at all, or that such principles won’t change?  All that is left to science is figuring out how to make stuff.  Everything else is storytelling, with the intent of covering up unproductive employment.

Similarly, if there isn’t a God who generated such abstract concepts as beauty, truth, goodness, agency, and happiness, then those concepts are entirely flexible, and they can change from era to era, and place to place.  Furthermore, there’s no real reason to think that they exist at all, or are worth any effort to achieve.  All that remains is careful defining of terms, so that they can be used cogently in sentences.  You have to know exactly what sort of wind you are sewing.

And Ethics?  The answer to every ethical assertion is always “says who?”  And if the reply to that isn’t “God,” then the next reply is always, “Try and make me.”  Trying to make people do things is the bread of politics.

There’s more than one way  that Jesus Christ holds the universe together.

Initial Counseling


SUBJECT: Initial Counseling/Philosophy

The purpose of this counseling is to provide you with a basic understanding about my philosophy of leadership, my standards, and my expectations for you as platoon sergeant. The platoon sergeant’s position may be one of the most complicated jobs in the army. You have direct, personal contact with more soldiers than anyone else in the army, so you have more fires to put out, more people to motivate, and more people train. I’ve seen taffy being pulled in a candy shop that could take a lesson or two from a platoon sergeant. But I have complete confidence in your ability to adapt and overcome, so long as we work together and keep our objectives in sight.


Here’s my best definition for leadership: Initiative plus planning. Initiative means you picture what needs to be done, and then decide that you are the one to make it happen. Planning involves thinking far enough ahead that issues can be addressed before they become emergencies. A good leader will get the maximum out of his team with the minimum amount of effort. Initiative without planning is poor leadership because it maximizes the results by maximizing the effort. Over time, that wears people out. Planning without initiative isn’t leadership at all. It’s procrastination. It minimizes effort and minimizes results.

Every leader mixes these two qualities in different ways, and as closely as we have to work together, those differences are going to cause tension. I trust you, and I have absolute faith in your ability to carry this platoon to success. But as platoon leader, I carry full responsibility for everything that happens in my platoon. The commander will not accept, “My platoon sergeant…” as an excuse. So I must be informed about everything that happens in my platoon. I will sometimes want you to take a different course of action than you think is best. When that happens, I expect you to argue with me, and argue hard. If there is merit in what you have to say, I will probably bend. But the final decision must rest with me.

Taking Care of Soldiers.

In the Army, the mission is always the highest priority. But in a high OPTEMPO environment, we have to keep the next mission in mind, and the mission after that. One of the things that make me proud of my platoon is our ability to push longer and harder than anybody else in order to make the mission happen. But there’s a balance between pushing as hard as possible to complete the mission at hand, and pushing hard enough to hurt our readiness for the next mission. We have to take special care to take care of soldiers. I consider this a planning issue.

  • Delegation. As the OPTEMPO goes up and the number present goes down, the need for delegation gets stronger, even though it gets harder to do. It’s the nature of the battlefield to give more responsibility to younger soldiers. The only other option is to do all the work yourself, and that is unacceptable. We must coordinate and divide the labor.
  • Recognition. I’m a firm believer that the carrot works better than the stick. Sometimes corrective action is necessary, but most people, most of the time, already want to perform well. It’s part of a platoon sergeant’s job to help Soldiers recognize what excellence looks like, and to encourage excellence by pointing it out privately and publicly.
  • Safety. Allowing an unsafe act is fundamental to what it means to not take care of soldiers. Accidents can happen, but violations of safety standards must not be tolerated. Unsafe acts usually occur when soldier’s sense of urgency extends to the point that they use it to justify lowering standards in order to achieve a goal. Our challenge is to help Soldiers see that lowering the standard is not placing the mission first.


The Army has standards for everything. I have only one standard that I apply to everything: Do what’s right. “There is one thing… which a [person] can always do, if he chooses, and that is, his duty; not by maneuvering and finessing, but by vigor and resolution.” I will always put every effort I can into making sure I am doing the right thing. Or you can put it in the negative: the one thing I can’t stand is to be wrong. And if I find out that I am wrong, I will do everything in my power to fix it. I will actively seek out correction, and I will take every comment seriously. I expect you to do the same.

Yeah, why can’t the government just not care about rights?

Yeah, why can’t the government just not care about rights?.

Rust Belt Philosophy is my new blog I read because I want to make sure I’m not in an echo chamber. He’s confident to the point of arrogance and disagrees with me, I think, on every point.

I wanted to comment on this post, but my work computer prevented me. The problem here is that we have some hidden gods in the room. I’m not sure if the Fed itself is the god, or if Demos is. If Demos is the god, then the state is his temple system. Either way, Eli’s god is in defiance of my God. I don’t see why I need a reason why my God’s system should comply with his.

But I can say with confidence that I will not bow down.

Libertarians Who Tell You What to Think

Libertarians Who Tell You What to Think.

Hmm. Libertarianism is starting to sound less like a perspective and more like a pseudo-religious philosophy, like stoicism.

As a Christian, anyway, gossiping is wrong, and so is covetousness, which is really the basis of sitting around comparing incomes for equality. At the same time, free association, and forceful disassociation, is the foundation of public morality. But it’s a given that a Christian has a different understanding of what it means to be free.

The Way of Kings

Just finished reading The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. It was very good. Sanderson is pushing into the realm where he’s starting to possibly compete with Tolkien. He certainly handles religion better than any fiction author I’m aware of.

The beautiful thing is that he goes there, when so many writers, infected by the practical atheism of the day, are writing stories about a magical world where people have no religion, and religion never occurs to them. Sanderson takes religion seriously, and he doesn’t lay all his cards down either. While it does come out that there are some “right” answers, in the mean time the opposing views get their say, and some times the argument that wins is clearly not the author’s own. That said, there’s still just a hint of a Mormon squint to it. So, like with Orson Scott Card, somewhere you’re going to find out that “God” is a little more mortal than you expected, and that holiness comes to those people who just work hard enough at it. (My standard caveat: if you’re afraid of that awful Mormon cult, don’t be. They aren’t a cult, they’re heretics, on a level with people who think Jesus was a great teacher. Mormonism is Pelagius, plus science fiction)

In the mean time, his characters and world building are believable, and they have good reasons for some pretty decent philosophical and theological debates. There were a couple of different places where he got my heart rate up.

The book is a little thick: At 1000 pages plus, it took me a little over a week to read.

Now I’m going to switch back to non-fiction, and see if I can plow through 200 pages in a month. I’ll probably quit the book, as usual.

Save me from Socrates!

Or: How a little Heinlein in the diet can save a lot of time in philosophy class

I wasn’t allowed to read Heinlein growing up. No, that’s not true. If I’d discovered Heinlein on my own, I don’t think they’d have taken the books from me. But my mom threw out all her copies before I learned to read. She decided Heinlein hated Jesus. Growing up, I got the sanitized version in bedtime story format. (What, you didn’t get Space Cadet at bedtime?) My first Heinlein that I actually read was sometime after I turned 20.

It’s probably best to save Heinlein until after you’re an adult, because he always seems to have an agenda. There’s always one character whose job it is to lecture the reader, usually by having a very one-sided conversation, in which the opposing view says, “Well, gee boss, I hadn’t thought of that.” If you agree with his point, it’s great. Wow! Look at him hit that one out of the park! But if he’s preaching on some note that you don’t see eye-to-eye on (say, free love), you’re stuck watching an idiot get slaughtered in a one-sided debate.

After a while, you get a little wary of the set-up. You can see it coming and you start preparing better counter-arguments in your head. Of course, whoever is standing in as Heinlein’s preacher can’t stand against your arguments either, since he can’t hear you. So he keeps rambling on. Eventually, you have to learn to let it roll, or throw the book across the room.

Now I’ve finally gotten around to reading a little Plato, and let me tell you, the minute Socrates opens his mouth, I got an old familiar feeling. This guy is totally copying Heinlein. No wonder they called him the gadfly of Athens.

And just like Heinlein’s preachers, some of his positions are good, and sometimes… just… stupid. All he needs is somebody to come along with a reasonable counterargument. Maybe from a Christian. Because most of the time, his arguments just sound… pagan.