John Persico Business Consultant and Educator

 I have several models for organization excellence that I think will help any business to be more successful. This short video provides some of my philosophy in respect to both consulting and teaching. Please feel free to contact me if you have any interest in my work or would just like to discuss how I can help your business or organization grow.

The Tenth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  Do Weapons Prevent or Create Violence?

peace textGuns don’t kill people, people do!  Obama wants to take our weapons away so the Communists can take over the country.  A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. We have the right to defend ourselves.  What if someone attacked us and we had no means of self-defense?  Ridiculous, you cannot eliminate weapons.  If we did not have guns and missiles, people would kill each other with sticks and stones.  They always have and they always will.  You can’t eliminate violence by taking people’s weapons away!  Or can we?   (Listen to Give Me Love by George Harrison)

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”  ― John Lennon

There are several paths to take that would help us solve this mystery.  We could look at all the time spent in current and previous wars and compare that to periods of time when the earth was relatively peaceful.  We could look at countries where dollars spent on weapons are high and compare war or violence in those countries to their counterparts where dollars spent on weapons on low.  We could look at the per capita number of weapons in various countries and compare that to crime rates.  Unfortunately, each of these we are warapproaches has been tried and they actually prove very little.  For the most part, it would be a toss-up for each approach.  Those in favor of weapons would argue that without them, there would have been even less peace and those against weapons would argue that the weapons caused the wars, violence and crime in the first place.  They might say “Can you imagine ISIS attacking with flowers and cotton balls?”

“Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?”  ― Bill WattersonCalvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995

Looking at the role of weapons in violence actually misdirects us from a more important question. The more important question is how effective are weapons at resolving violence?  While it can be conceded that weapons do not create violence, are they the most effective means of dealing with violence?  It has often been said that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.”  It might even be more true to say that war represents a failure of politics and a resort to violence to solve problems.  So who is right?  Were Gandhi and King right or were Generals Sheridan and Patton right?  There has been some research which might cast light on this second question.

non violenceResearchers Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth show that non-violent movements are twice as effective in achieving their political goals as violent movements. For example, in Timor-Leste, where violent revolution failed, non-violent tactics secured independence and the country now earns a peace score of “high” in the GPI. (Timor-Leste scores 1.95; a score of one is perfectly peaceful.) When people choose non-violent movements they may be improving the structures that support peace in the long run even when governments respond violently in the short run.

Let’s take a hypothetical case.  Paul and Mohammed are arguing over whose religion is best.  Paul is a Christian and Mohammed is a killed manMuslim.  The argument gets more and more heated until Paul slanders the prophet Mohammed and calls him a pedophile.  Mohammed fires back that Jesus Christ was a fake and not the son of God.  Paul is armed with a concealed carry permit and carries a Glock 36 in a concealment crew neck shirt.  Mohammed is carrying a small 6 inch Jambiya in the waistband of his trousers with a special quick draw holster concealed under his shirt.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”  ― Albert Einstein

Paul throws the first punch at Mohammed who is knocked to the floor.  Mohammed starts to get up and reaches for his Jambiya.  Paul upon seeing the blade being pulled out of Mohammed’s waistband, draws his Glock.  Mohammed (still feeling the effects of Paul’s punch) lurches forward.  Paul aims and fires three times hitting Mohammed in center mass and right arm.   Mohammed dies almost instantly from a hit to the heart.

anger-cycle-3When the police arrive, Paul is very sorry. He did not mean for this to escalate as it did.  The police charge Paul with manslaughter.  Paul goes to court and is found not guilty.  Paul is then charged in a civil lawsuit with a wrongful death claim and found guilty.  The financial costs of Paul’s argument are well over 100 thousand dollars.  The mental and emotional strain to Paul and his family are incalculable as are the losses to Mohammed’s wife and children.

The strongest defenses to a murder charge are provocation and Self-Defense. If the defendant acted completely in self-defense, this fact may relieve the defendant of all criminal liability. If it does not relieve the defendant of all liability, self-defense at least may reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter. Provocation rarely results in complete absolution, but it may reduce the defendant’s criminal liability.

Now let’s rerun the same scenario with a few minor changes.  Paul is not carrying a gun and Mohammed is not carrying a knife.  The same argument ensues and Paul punches Mohammed.  Mohammed rises shakily from the ground and stumbles to his feet.  Mohammed is too disoriented to counter-attack and has no training in hand to hand combat.  He has no knife to rely on.  Instead, Mohammed asks Paul “Why did you hit me?”  Paul, now on the down stage of the Anger Cycle is feeling remorseful and says “I am really sorry.  I don’t know what got over me.  I did not appreciate your calling Jesus a fake.”  Mohammed says “well, you insulted the Prophet but I did not hit you.”  Both men go their own way vowing never to talk to each other again.  No police have been called and the only physical damage is a sore jaw for Mohammed.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi

Road-RageAt this point, you might be laughing at my scenarios and decrying their likelihood.  However, I have been in many situations where fighting has occurred and the second scenario was the more likely of the two if no weapons were involved.  Put weapons into the mix, add alcohol and I guarantee you will be looking at the first scenario.  Add alcohol san weapons to the second scenario and you will simply have two drunks cursing each other but going home physically sound.

So, what role do weapons have in peace making?  Did the Russians not nuke us because we had a greater nuclear deterrent?  Quite likely this was the case during the Cold War.  However, what if neither side had nuclear weapons, or bombers or aircraft carriers or machine guns or hand grenades or napalm or bio-chemical weapons?  What if diplomacy and persuasion and peaceful non-violent protest were the only weapons to grace each side?  Would the world be more peaceful or simply less violent?  What is the difference you may ask?  A good question.

Peace can be defined:  A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations.

Non-violence can be defined as:  The policy, practice, or technique of refraining from the use of violence, especially when reacting to or protesting against oppression, injustice, discrimination, or the like.

gun store 047Peace is never likely to exist perpetually.  People, nations, religions, ethnic groups will always have a degree of enmity between them.  Peace will be cyclical as the nature of the world is in most things.  Periods of civility will be interspaced with periods of incivility.  But incivility does not have to turn into violence.  Without weapons of mass destruction, without weapons of mayhem, without weapons of killing, people may be more likely to find non-aggressive means of settling disputes. The disputes will most certainly arise but a focus on peace as opposed to aggression can mean that we minimize violence and decrease the amount of murder and wars that our societies have seen since the first cave-people.  We must substitute non-violence for violence and teach peace and not war.

Time for Questions:

Do you feel peace in your life?  Are you confident in walking the streets at night?  Do you worry about road rage?  Do you carry a concealed weapon?  If so, does it make you safer?  What would it take to make you feel like the world is a safe place?  Do the Army, Navy, Air force and Marines help you to feel safe at night?

Life is just beginning.

“The artist is always beginning.  Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”  ― Ezra Pound

The Ninth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  What is Life?

lifePeculiar that question is!  Perhaps it is the most peculiar of all the mysteries.  Life is life is it not?  I am either dead or alive.  When I stop living my heart stops beating.  I stop breathing.  My mind dies.  Rigor mortis sets in and my limbs become rigid.  My body begins to decay — BUT STOP– We are describing death not life.

Life is joy.   Life is action.   Life is love.  Love is friendship.  Love is compassion.  Life is charity.  Life is pain and life is pleasure.  Life is complex and life is simple.  Life is toil and life is rest.

In the famous story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a number of graves are robbed to provide body parts for a scientific experiment.  The goal of the experiment is to create life.  The patched up body is connected to a bunch of electrodes which are connected to some electrical conductors that are fed by huge electric generators.  At some point in the experiment, the generators explode amidst a large amount of sparks and electrical charges.  Somehow this has the effect of giving life to the dead body which is subsequently named Frankenstein monsterFrankenstein after the scientist who created him.  Of course, a body that is stitched together with multiple body parts lacks a certain symmetry that is considered necessary for human beauty.  Thus, Frankenstein is labeled a monster since he does not conform to traditional norms in terms of his physical appearance.

It is interesting that we find electricity to be connected with life.  Atoms resonate at a certain speed and when they stop resonating death ensues.  If we can mix the right ingredients in a petri dish or a test tube (some call it primal soup) and then run an electric current through it, will we create life?  We have described life earlier but we did not really describe life.  What we described were the symptoms of life, the effects of life.  Animation as opposed to stagnation.  Life is movement.  Death is stillness.  But what is life itself?  What is that spark that we think is connected to an electrical current?

See  — This is the famous lecture given by Erwin Schrödinger in 1943 at Trinity College in Dublin.

While we live, we defy the logic and order of the universe.  We defy entropy and we defy chaos.  We defy all the known laws of existence.  On this planet, third from the Sun in a not so unique solar system in one of a zillion galaxies in perhaps one of a zillion universes, life has sparked.  Was it electricity, solar energy, geothermal heat, magnetic waves, primal radiation, DNA or will power?  What was the key which created animation from inanimate matter?

Genetics pioneer J. Craig Venter announced Thursday that he and his team have created artificial life for the first time.  Using sequences of genetic code created on a computer, the team assembled a complete DNA of a bacterium, then inserted it in another bacterium and initiated synthesis, or in Venter’s words “booted up” the cell.  In a statement, Venter called the results “the proof of principle that genomes can be designed in the computer, chemically made in the laboratory and transplanted into a recipient cell to produce a new self-replicating cell,” controlled only by the synthetic genome. Scientist creates life.

So we have self-replicating computer cells, interesting but the snag is that they started with a living cell.  They created a new cell out of an already living cell.  Quite a feat but not the same as creating life.  If we are going to create life, it seems we must first find out what life is.  Philosophers, scientists, generals and theologians will all have a different definition of life.

Socrates:  Life is honesty. Life is integrity.  Life is the search for truth.  Life is understanding yourself.

Edwin Schrödinger:  Life seems to be orderly and lawful behavior of matter, not based exclusively on its tendency to go over from order to disorder, but based partly on existing order that is kept up.

General George S. Patton Jr.:  Better to fight for something than live for nothing.

St. Thomas Aquinas:  The soul is like an uninhabited world that comes to life only when God lays His head against us.

DNASeems kind of funny, that no one whether they are a philosopher or scientist can answer the question “what is life?”  Well, they actually do answer the question, but it really tells us little or nothing about what “life” is.  Is life some type of electricity, organic plasma, atoms with a soul, a spirit or the breath of God?  What magic elixir or unknown form of energy renders inert matter into something living, learning and loving?  We can create babies but we cannot figure out how life begins or where the will to live comes from.

“It is interesting that Hindus, when they speak of the creation of the universe do not call it the work of God, they call it the play of God, the Vishnu lila, lila meaning play. And they look upon the whole manifestation of all the universes as a play, as a sport, as a kind of dance — lila perhaps being somewhat related to our word lilt”  — Alan Wilson WattsZen and the Beat Way

I remember years ago (from biology) that it was thought that the smallest unit of life was the cell.  Bacteria were considered to be alive but viruses were in some kind of limbo.  I still don’t really understand this since viruses seem to be doing the same think humans do: Replicating, killing and dying.  Here is what they say about viruses:

Viruses, like bacteria, are microscopic and cause human diseases. But unlike bacteria, viruses are acellular particles(meaning they aren’t made up of living cells like plants and animals are), consisting instead of a central core of either DNA or RNA surrounded by a coating of protein.

Viruses also lack the properties of living things: They have no energy metabolism, they do not grow, they produce no waste products, and they do not respond to stimuli. They also don’t reproduce independently but must replicate by invading living cells.

cold-virus-virus-The above sounds like a reasonable argument to make that viruses are not “living” in the same sense that cellular creatures are.  Nevertheless, they replicate, die and seem to have some will to live or at least as much will as many humans have.  If we assume that the opposite of living is dead, viruses are certainly not dead.  If one were to ask what the “life force” in a virus was or what motivates a virus to take over another organism’s cells, one would have to know what creates life.  The same problem with defining the life force in humans applies to viruses.

“For about 100 years, the scientific c community has repeatedly changed its collective mind over what viruses are. First seen as poisons, then as life-forms, then biological chemicals, viruses today are thought of as being in a gray area between living and nonliving: they cannot replicate on their own but can do so in truly living cells and can also affect the behavior of their hosts profoundly. The categorization of viruses as nonliving during much of the modern era of biological science has had an unintended consequence: it has led most researchers to ignore viruses in the study of evolution. Finally, however, scientists are beginning to appreciate viruses as fundamental players in the history of life.”  —

So, where does that leave us with the initial question “What is life.”  I think the answer must remain we don’t know.  Is it willpower?  Is it a germ that we have not found yet?  Is it some chemical that when mixed with something else creates animation and sentience?  Is it some mysterious force in the universe that we have not yet identified?  Why are animals alive and rocks dead?  Could this mysterious force create “living rocks.”

I promised an answer to the 12 greatest mysteries of all time when I started this series of blogs.  In each one to date, I have attempted to provide some sort of an death-07answer.  Until now, I was fairly happy with my responses to each question.  This ninth question has me stumped.  I cannot think of any place to find an answer.  What makes life for humans may not be the same thing that makes life for a virus or a bacterium.  Goats and dogs might have very different definitions of life but seldom write books or poems about their feelings.   We may someday find out how to extend life but I think we are a long way from finding out what creates life.

“To be alive, it seemed to me, as I stood there in all kinds of sorrow, was to be both original and reflection, and to be dead was to be split off, to be reflection alone.”  ― Teju ColeOpen City

Time for Questions:

What do you think creates life?  Do you think humans will ever be able to create life? Why or why not?  What do you think living means?  Do you live to the fullest or do you take life for granted?  What is the secret to your life?  If you could redo one thing in your life, what would it be?

Life is just beginning.

“The beginning is always today.”  ― Mary Shelley

The Eighth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  What is the Purpose and Meaning of Life?

Life-Purpose-2013Once upon a time in a far far away land, there lived a little old lady in a shoe.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  You know it’s going to be a good read if you start with a famous opening line, so I thought starting with four famous opening lines would be a sure winner.  If nothing else, did I get your attention?  If so, maybe the meaning and purpose of my life has been fulfilled?  On the other hand, is there more to life than just this?  What is the purpose of your life?  What meaning does your life have for others and for yourself?  Let’s start with the first part of this mystery, what is the purpose of life?  (Listen to Jill Zadeh’s What On Earth Am I Here For?)

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  ― Eleanor Roosevelt

The purpose of life is actually a rather senseless question if viewed from any perspective but that of a human being.  For example, dogs and cats do not sit around pondering the purpose of their lives.  Chickens, geese, goats and cows do not wonder why they are born or what they are born for.  Only people seem to worry about “why am I here?”  Purpose derives from an expected allocation of effort.  My purpose today is to mow my lawn.  Your purpose might be to take care of your children or to go to work and develop some new software programs.   When we expect something from either ourselves or others, we call this a purpose.  Webster’s defines purpose as:

  • The reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something
  • The feeling of being determined to do or achieve something
  • The aim or goal of a person: what a person is trying to do, become, etc.

Dogs and cats don’t need to justify their existence.  Humans seem to have a built in desire or even obsession with defining a purpose for their lives.  It is not enough for us to merely exist; we must be driven by a “divine” purpose or at the very least by a set of stupendous goals.  A very popular book was called the “The Purpose Driven Life.”  The author Rick Warren states that:

“If you have felt hopeless, hold on! Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose.” ― Rick WarrenThe Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

Those who have no purpose in life are excoriated and blasphemed as rudder-less losers who will never amount to anything.  The highest good in life is to have a purpose.  The higher your purpose, the more important you become.  If your purpose in life is to become a janitor that ranks much lower than being President of the United States of America.  Wanting to become a janitor will probably not get you elected “most likely to succeed” in high school.  The more your purpose benefits others, the more impressive it is.  I am going to save the world, eliminate hunger and eradicate disease is much more impressive than I am going to make a lot of money, become famous and have ten Ferraris in my garage.  Thought it does seem that most of us choose the latter purpose and forget saving the world; it is still a much more admirable objective than “I am going to go fishing and golfing every chance I get.”

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make the-purpose-of-life is to be happysome difference that you have lived and lived well.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So the first part of the eighth greatest mystery of existence can be answered very simply.  Your goal or purpose, should you choose it, is to have as much dam fun as you can while you live, but don’t tell anyone else that this is your real purpose of existence.  Tell everyone else that you “want to make the world a better place for your children and your children’s children and to do this you will become a politician and help to bring peace to the world.”  On second thought, skip the politician role and make it a great theologian who will spread the word of God.  On third thought, skip the theologian role and become a famous comedian.

Next we move on to the meaning of life.  This is almost as silly an objective as finding your true purpose in life.  There is no meaning of existence.  I take that back.  Other people will tell you the meaning of your life long after you are dead.  History will tell you the meaning of your life if it ever has any.  If you are lucky, or unlucky, books, critics, reviewers, biographers and liars will tell the world what the meaning of your life was.  You my friend will never ever know what the meaning of your life was.  The reason is because “meanings” of life are always; yes always, bestowed posthumously.   (Listen to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life)

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”  ― Albert Camus

the-meaning-of-life-is-to-find-your-gift-tthe-purpose-of-life-is-to-give-it-awayThe meaning of your life will be established after careful review of what you wanted to do and what you actually accomplished.  Just kidding!  But it is comforting to think that is the case.  Actually, the meaning of your life will be established through a random process determined by how many friends and how many enemies you managed to accrue in your lifetime.  In other words, who cared whether you lived or died!  If you had a rather small funeral service and very few cars in the funeral procession, chances are you won’t have enough people who care what the meaning of your life was.  Your survivors and children will probably not care either unless you left a large inheritance and an unclear will. To illustrate what I am saying let’s take a few famous and not so famous people and look at the meaning of their lives.

  • What is the meaning of Julius Caesar’s life?

Answer:  I don’t have a clue

  • What is the meaning of Abraham Lincoln’s life?meaning-of-life

Answer:  To save the union?  To free the slaves?  To give the Gettysburg Address?

  • What is the meaning of Elvis Presley’s life?

Answer:  To make music?  To make bad movies?  To make money?

You will notice that I have a lot of question marks above.  Perhaps I should have paid more attention during my high school history the-meaning-of-life toysclasses.  The truth is I really don’t have a clue.  There are few (if any) famous figures for which I could tell you the meaning of their lives.  As I sit here, I really can’t think of any.  Let’s take a couple of figures who are much less famous but who interacted with my life much more significantly than either Honest Abe or Elvis ever did.  Of course these dead souls of whom I refer are my mother and father.  (Listen to Kevin Max’s Just An Illusion)

  • What is the meaning of my mom’s life?

Answer:  I wish I knew and if I did, I would tell you. She was a good mother, caring friend and never hurt a soul but as to the meaning of her life, I haven’t an inkling.

  • What is the meaning of my father’s life?

Answer:  I once thought it was to make my life miserable.  I am now oblivious.  If the evil that men do lives after them and the good is oft interred in their bones, then I must have missed the meaning of my dad’s life  since I often thought Shakespeare had it just the reverse.  Paradoxically, I now miss him more than I miss my mom.

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”  ― Anaïs Ninmeaning-of-life

Cogito ergo sum  I think I must find some meaning to my life, so I guess I will go on looking for it.  Everyone tells me, I can’t live without it so I will search until I die for the meaning of my life.  I am sure it is just around the corner and as soon as I find my purpose in life, my meaning can’t be far behind.  Until then, I shall assume the meaning that my dog Arnold seemed to have:  To run, to sleep, to chase, to eat, to lick, to bark, to poop and to die.  He never seemed to worry about much else.

Time for Questions:

Have you found the purpose of your life? Have you found the meaning of your life? Have you been looking?  If not, why not?  What do you think the purpose of your life is? What do you think the meaning of your life is?  After reading my blog, will you continue your search?  Why?  What do you think about the irrelevancy of such a search?

Life is just beginning.

As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.”  ― Criss Jami

For some very profound thoughts on the issues that I address in this blog, you should listen to What is the purpose of human life? —- Sadhguru — This might just be the most valuable 12 minutes you have ever spent thinking about this issue.







The Seventh Greatest Mystery of All Time: Will Humanity Destroy Itself? 

This is an easy question to answer.  Because of course, it all depends on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.   (Click on the End of Humanity Song by Dawn of Ashes)

nuclear waA pessimist will answer YES!  Humanity will destroy itself.  The end is near. Judgment day is coming.    The righteous will be exalted and the profane will be destroyed.  The guilty will be condemned to suffer everlasting fire and damnation in hell.  Weapons of mass destruction are everywhere.  War will continue to consume the earth.  Terrorists and barbarians will overrun the civilized worlds and plunge the earth into chaos.   Humanity will blow itself to bits with nuclear weapons of fusion and fission.  All it will take is one arrogant and ignorant country to set off a holocaust of nuclear war that will destroy all of humanity and make the earth forever uninhabitable.  The world will be covered by vast radioactive clouds that will blot out the sun and create a new ice age.  The ground will become barren due to the radiation that will last one million years killing all life as we now know it.

“They say the captain goes down with the ship, so when the world ends, will God go down with it?”
― Fall Out Boy

“If the world were coming to an end tomorrow, I’d probably call in sick to work.” ― Jarod Kintz

garden-of-eden-art-picture-the-bible-27092885-840-630An optimist will answer NO! Humanity will not destroy itself.  People are infinitely perfectible.  We keep learning from our mistakes.  Humans have colonized the earth and adapted to every known condition on every continent.  We have managed to end war over and over again with our enemies.  We can learn and do learn to forgive each other. The power of love will overcome hate and the golden years of humanity are still ahead of us.  We will conquer death and conquer disease and conquer the environment.  We will create a heaven on earth of gardens and crops that will feed all of humanity forever.  We will eradicate poverty, hunger and disease.   We have learned to overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable to previous generations and we will continue to do so.  The human brain is more powerful than any computer and when we learn to all live together in peace and harmony anything is possible.

“Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith;
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come called charity, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise; but shalt possess
A paradise within thee, happier far.”
― John Milton

Another person might have replied to the initial question that it depends on whether you are a person of faith or a person of science.  I say nay to this assertion.  Scientists can be pessimists or optimists and people of faith can also be either pessimists or optimists.  Thus, I contend that my original division is the correct path to pursue the answer to this question.  The pessimist will say yes whether or not they are religious just as the optimist will say no regardless of their religious orientation.  Nevertheless, just for the hell of it, let’s see what a person of faith might be likely to say about this question and then compare their answer to the person of science.   For this, I have selected two friends.   The Reverend Dwaine Powers is a man of deep religious thinking and orientation.  He has studied the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Torah and the Koran.  He lives, breathes and walks with God and his faith.  We will also talk to Dr. Letitia Summers.  Letitia is a rationalist, agnostic and scientist.  She has her Ph.D. degree in Nuclear Physics and has been named several times to the list of most important scientists of the twenty-first century.  Her list of honors, awards and published works would fill many pages.  Letitia is a study in objectivity, rationality and studious interpretation of facts and not conjectures.

I have managed to convince both Dwaine and Letitia to visit me for this interview in my office in Frederic, Wisconsin.  Letitia came from the National Physics Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for this interview and Dwaine came from the Chapel of Enlightenment in San Francisco, California.  We conducted this interview over a table of Foie Gras, lobster stuffed oysters, bouillabaisse and fresh baby asparagus shoots that had been marinated in a tarragon, garlic and shallot sauce.  After we were suitably refreshed we cleared the table for a smorgasbord of my favorite drinks including Three Philosophers Ale, 12 year aged single barrel Bourbon, Casa Noble single barrel 7 year aged Anejo Tequila and some excellent 30 year aged dark Rum from Barbados.  As they say, “In vino veritas.”

John:  I think my blog readers will be really glad you both could join us and provide us with your responses to this question concerning whether or not humanity will destroy itself?   Can we start off by being unconventional and let the lady go last?

Dwaine:  My pleasure.  I noticed that you implied the answer will depend on whether or not one is a pessimist or an optimist?  I think you are dead wrong John.  You truly do not understand what religion really is or what the power of faith means.  I hope I am not giving offense.

John:  None taken.  The older I get, the less I know.  Can you explain this reply?

Dwaine:  Well first of all religion is not based on pessimism or optimism.  It is based on faith.  There is no such thinasteroid.impactg as destruction of humanity.  If God wanted to destroy the earth, he or she could do so tomorrow.  The earth is a place for us to develop our souls and spirituality.  It is like the cauldron of oil that a hot blade is plunged into in order to forge it and anneal its edge.  Without the cauldron, the steel is brittle.  The earth is the cauldron for humanity.  Some come through His process stronger and ready to move on while others break and must be put back into the elements and go through the process again.

Letitia:  I find myself agreeing with the first part of what you said Dwaine as it also applies to John’s understanding of science or should I say lack of understanding.  John also does not understand science or how a scientist thinks.  We are not optimists or pessimists.  We are interpreters of facts and evidence.  We measure outcomes based on inputs and precise calculations of probability.  There is no room for optimism or pessimism in scientific inquiry.

John:  Wow, I guess I really screwed up on this mystery then.  So what is your opinion Letitia or how do you respond to Dwaine’s interpretation?

Letitia:   Well, you have pointed out some possibilities of how humanity might destroy itself.  You noted war and weapons of mass destruction.  You hinted at environmental degradation which we have already started with global warming but you also I think totally skipped some potential disasters that could destroy humanity and come from outside.

John:  Such as?

Letitia:   We have been hit by many asteroids in the past and the probability of a major strike that couldDinosaursDieOut_small destroy all of humanity is pretty high.  It has happened before and is probably the major reason for the demise of the dinosaurs.  But even more important than this potential disaster is the fact that species may have built in limitations to their lifespans both as individuals and as species.  This is an area that has not been thoroughly studied but thousands of species have come and gone and there is just as high a probability that we will be one of them as for the Sabre Toothed tiger or Woolly mastodon.

Dwaine:  Letitia, I think we probably are more alike in our thinking on this than John is.  His view is very simple.  I am not talking about the imperishable of the human body but the imperishable of the human soul.

Letitia:  Science will go on and on whether or not humans are the ones to develop it and reflect on it.  As Plato noted ideas are indestructible.  Whether or not there is only one universe with many galaxies or whether we live in a multi-verse with an infinite number of galaxies and universes, science is the fulcrum for all eternity.  Science is the one constant that dictates laws and life.

Dwaine:  Perhaps eternity is where the soul and science become one.  Perhaps what you call Science, I call God?

John:  Well, I think that Dwaine’s comment is a good note to end things on.  I want to thank you both for coming and gracing us with your observations.  I hope you both have a good trip home and your planes land in one piece or at least you get an airplane with some seat space.

Time for Questions:

Will humanity destroy itself? What do you think? Why or why not?  Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Do you agree with me or with Dwaine or with Letitia? Why?

Life is just beginning.


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