Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

There has been renewed discussion of whether the Net will morph to a magazine/TV model, with access dominated by the huge portals. Speech like mine will never be excluded but will be hard or impossible to find. I read this month that the most thorough of the search engines only covers about 16% of the Web. I would be interested in your opinions on what the future holds.

A highlight of the month: The Censorware Project came out with a new study, this time on Bess, a product sold for use in schools which lets through massive amounts of hardcore porn while blocking Redbook Magazine, baseball sites and the Bible. Since all these products block socially useful, marginal speech (Bess blacklists the personal web pages on the Tripod and Xoom services wholesale) government-mandated censorware will take us another big step closer to the tame Web, dominated by big business.

That reminds me of a "first contact" novel by Frederick Pohl: an alien race of wild lively balloon creatures is discovered. At the end of the novel they survive as tame ornaments tethered to the colonists' Christmas trees.

I thrive on your email and can be reached, as always, at jw@bway.net.

Does God Exist?
Dear Mr. Wallace:

Let's face the facts: Lizard's articles are so bad, they make me laugh. You should at least demand some kind of knowledge in the specific area of the articles, instead of accepting articles which contains nothing but crap. When you write an article about something as important as religion, you should at least be able to tell when a argument is valid or not. You should also be able to tell the consequences of your own arguments.

Mr. Lizard would benefit greatly from going back to school and take a class in philosophy of science.

Marcus Johansson marjo397@student.liu.se

Dear Mr. Wallace:

A response to The God Debate: A Reply, by Andrea Steward.

It is always amusing to me that I can start off agreeing with an article, and then with continued reading finally realize that perhaps my approval was overly haste. Such is the case with your article regarding God's existence.

Overall, it is my opinion that you simply come across as angry, even bitter. But that put aside, your arguments:

1. "What if we actually took the time to trace the beginnings of the most well seated religion in the western world-- that being Christianity-- and were to follow it down to see where and how it started and why?"

Okay, first thing's first. Why is only the western world important? Also, I am assuming you are defining "most well seated" as number of believers? Judaism is the oldest of the "big" religions in the western world, as both the Christian and Muslim religion spawn from it. Wouldn't that make it the "most well seated"?

2. "The bible is, for many people, a book that is mystical, magickal (if I may use that term loosely when referring to the bible), and full of profound wisdom that must be deciphered by its priesthood to be understood, then fed back out to the flock to put into application."

This is simply not the case. You could make a valid argument if you were only discussing Catholicism, but you are talking about all Christians, which includes the various Protestant sections. Protestants, on the whole, specifically believe that the Bible does NOT have to "be deciphered by its priesthood to be understood. . ."

3. "What was before the bible? What was before this god of the bible? These questions do not even enter the minds of those debating over the existence of god because the work done by the priesthood of the bible did their work exceptionally well."

To answer your first question there, the Torah. Assuming you ask what was before the Torah, the answer is that simply because it wasn't written down yet has absolutely nothing to do with it being or not being. Gravity existed before science discovered it. For your second question, that is an extremely important question and is quite often thought about. Surely you are aware that one of the "Proof's of God" is the "First Mover" argument. Without going into the validity of that argument, it certainly has been discussed.

4. "The religion of the society is also defined by the conquering tribe, nation, king whatever the case might be, and the religion is always meted out by that conquering nation in their own favor."

Usually true, but if you had researched the history of Christianity, you would have discovered it does completely apply during the early days of the Church. Rome hated and tried to destroy the Christian movement for a very long time before accepting it. After Rome did accept it, I acknowledge that it forced conversions of those it conquered.

5. "We think we have come so far in our world today. Our use of technology is deplorable, but the fact we figured a few things out makes us feel as if we have something on the ball."

Sweeping statements, without presenting any real support. This is the start of where you appear, to me, bitter. Then it goes into fairly typical Wiccan history justification, which is fine.

6. "Walter Lee brought up the name of one of the revered "fathers" of the church in past ages, Thomas Aquinas. I am going to place here a quote from his writings, "Further, the husband is bound to correct his wife. But correction is given by inflicting a just punishment. Since then the just punishment of adultery is death, because it is a capital sin, it would seem lawful for a husband to kill his adulterous wife. Further, it is a more grievous sin to kill one's mother than one's wife, for it is never lawful to strike one's mother, whereas it is sometimes lawful to strike one's wife. But matricide is not an impediment to marriage. Neither therefore is wife-murder." Those are the words of one of the most revered and respected church "fathers" of our time. I could go on, but I think my point is made."

Although all you are doing is insinuating instead of making a real argument, I will assume that the quote is to discredit Aquinas. What you are really doing is making a logical error. To discredit a statement because of the person who is making it is illogical. The (in)validity of the statement rests on itself, not on the messenger. In other words, your point is not made. In fact, it doesn't even really exist as a point.

7. ""The first clergyman was the first sly rogue who encountered the first fool." - Voltaire"

I wanted to end with a quick comment on your quote... that you are yourself a clergy person, for exposing a religious/spiritual view.

Grant Gottfried ggottfri@mail.ucf.edu

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I was referred to your "Nizkor" web site for my western civ 2 class which I am currently taking. I have previously studied about the Holocaust and in high school participated in the March of the Living-- a two week Holocaust study which tours Poland and Israel.

I am very impressed with what you have created. It is an extremely important event in the worlds history and must be taken very seriously. Your information is presented nicely and in a way that is easily accessible. ALso your information is very concise, which is important to those who are learning about this great tragedy.

Thank you for making such an excellent source for people wanting to learn more about the Holocaust!

Jessica Mario

Dear Mr. Wallace:

It is a true shame that John Kennedy Jr. and his wife and her sister died in the plane crash. Despite the yoke of being designated "royalty" (by the media) John Jr. seemed like a very personable and likable young man. As a citizen, I am thankful that efforts to rescue them, and when hope had faded, to recover their remains were so substantial.

A Coast Guard spokesman (with a straight face) announced on national television that the extraordinary resources expended with ships, search aircraft, and navel vessels by the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and NTSB were the same as would be used for anyone (I assume that includes me) in the event of a suspected crash. No one in the media questioned that statement, so I assume it must be reasonable and true. I feel much more secure now when I fly my private aircraft, knowing that my government would go to such great lengths and expense to find me under similar circumstances.

I must say however, that it takes a remarkable lapse in judgment, even for a low time pilot, (actually, ESPECIALLY fir a low time pilot) to venture into marginal VFR or possibly outright IFR conditions (night, low visibility etc.) without an instrument rating. If I, like John-John, only had 47 hours of experience and of course, no instrument rating, I (like most reasonable people with an appropriate sense of mortality) would likely have turned around and gone back. Continuing under those conditions presents a risk that is unacceptable under virtually any circumstances. At least, I am comforted in knowing that the government will spare no expense or effort to find me if I do decide to cast judgment aside, press on, and take risks far in excess of rationality.

Bob Wilson


It was good to see your site discussing things which now no longer are in the interest of majority.I come from India, I am a software Engineer and I can tell you how capitalism is changing the way of our lives.It is probably after a good amount of time that the middle class is seeing a good economic prosperity.

Every person wants to become a millionaire as quickly as possible. The easy going life is now replaced with competitiveness in every sphere of life.

Vishal Singh Vsingh@MahindraBT.com