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Christianity and Atheism: A Conversation

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I grew up in a religious family. As a child, my mother dragged me to faith healers who showed up once a month in Albuquerque and tried to “cure” my deafness. The faith healers themselves, while varied in the way they delivered their healing sessions, almost always shared the same routine. They would prop me up on stage in front of the church, and begin yelling something to the effect that I had somehow been wronged. By whom exactly was never answered, though I once asked a pastor, “If God made me deaf, why do we need faith healers to fix what God has done? That doesn’t make sense.” (My pastor immediately started praying, though I never got an answer).

When I moved to Colorado Springs some time ago, the very first thing I noticed were the number of multi-colored neon signs with the word JESUS prominently displayed on the side of buildings throughout the city. Almost all were multi-colored, although a few were in one or two colors only. As an atheist, I was curious about the signs and why there were so many.

One day not long ago, I had an interesting conversation with a waitress at a local restaurant. She was a tall, blonde girl who looked anorexic and spoke with a quick cadence – something like you’d hear from an auctioneer. I had told her I was deaf after I misunderstood something she had asked (I read lips – I wasn’t looking at her when she asked me what I wanted to drink).

She took my order, and I ate my food. When it came time for the check, she asked if I read lips (again), and I nodded. With intensely blue eyes staring down at me, she asked, “Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Sure. I saw JESUS last night.”

“What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus?”

“A relationship?” I asked back. “I think you misunderstood me. I said I saw JESUS last night.”

She looked confused and shrugged her bony shoulders. “Are you happy in your life?”


“Is there something Jesus can do for you through prayer?”

Of course I knew who she was talking to, but I decided to play along anyway. I confess that I often get the same question from Christians, who always seem to believe that somebody somewhere always needs saving – especially a deaf boy like me.

I smiled innocently at her, pretending to seriously consider her question. I shrugged and said, “Win the lottery?”

She laughed, and spent a minute or so explaining to me that God/Jesus is not about money, but about happiness. Undeterred, she pressed on again, “When did you last talk to Jesus?”

“I’m deaf. I don’t know that Jesus knows sign language, and I’ve never gotten an email from God, you know?” She seemed a little surprised – at least her eyes widened enough for me to notice that her blue eyes were really blue contacts. Her dark eyebrows, which I had just noticed, gave away the fact that someone had done a poor job of bleaching her hair because it was a yellowish hue that seemed unnatural.

“But you said you saw Jesus, right?”

I nodded.

“So then that means you must’ve talked to him. Where did you see Jesus, then?”

I paused for a second. Not wanting her to discover my intentions, I played along.
Sipping a half-empty glass of tea, I told her, “I dunno. Somewhere near the south part of town, I guess.”

“What was Jesus doing?” I suddenly felt like a criminal defendant on the stand, being cross-examined by a prosecutor set to achieve a high conviction rate. Her tone had changed considerably – or at least her body language told me as much.

“JESUS was flashing people.”

Instantly, her mouth widened, revealing near perfect teeth. I wondered if she’d had her teeth cosmetically done, but I wasn’t able to hold that thought long because she looked offended. Very offended, as if I’d mortally wounded her soul.

“Excuse me? What? He was doing what?”

“Flashing people. I think JESUS is for gays, too.”

Her body posture changed again, though I felt she was becoming frustrated with me. Feeling a little guilty, I decided to explain.

“Well, you know how the colors of the rainbow are ‘code’ for gays and lesbians, right?”

She nodded slowly and then leaned forward and put her hands on the table. Up to that point, she’d kept her arms crossed, and obviously discussing Jesus and gays in the same sentence seemed to draw her forth towards me, literally and figuratively.

“JESUS was covered in all the colors of the rainbow. There’s no mistaking it – JESUS is for gays and lesbians. I don’t know. Hell, I think the whole JESUS thing is gay, anyway.”

“You can’t be serious! Jesus is NOT gay! That’s impossible! The Bible says sodomy is a sin! I think you’re mistaken. Seriously.”

I nodded again. “I don’t know – all I know is what I saw. Seeing is believing, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but … tell me: what gave you the idea Jesus was gay besides colors?”

“The JESUS did. I swear. If you had seen JESUS, then you’d know what I mean.”

“No. Jesus most certainly did not give you that idea. You’re mistaken.”

“JESUS had gas, too. Quite a bit, in fact. I guess you could even say JESUS was quite excited by all the gas. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I dunno.”

She shook her head in disbelief. An awkward moment of silence passed between us. Trying a different tack, she asked, “Do you have a friend named Hez-SHUE?”


“Maybe you’ve got Jesus mixed with Hez-SHUE?”

“What? He’s got shoes? Who’s got shoes?”

“You know, the Spanish way of saying ‘Jesus’ is ‘Hez-SHUE?’”

“I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Who’s shoes are you talking about?”

Flustered now, she stood straight up and fumbled through her little black order book, and found my ticket receipt. “Here. I will pray for you.”

“You don’t have to pay for me. Thanks, though.”

“No, no. I said I will pray for you.”

“Oh, I see. No, that’s okay but thank you.” I slid out from the red vinyl seat and stood up. Facing her, I noticed for the first time that she was also biting her lip – a nervous habit, maybe.

“I’m atheist,” I said, smiling at her. “I stopped believing in religion a long time ago.”

“Bu- … what? Wait a minute!” Her mouth stopped moving. Her facial muscles tightened as her lips closed rather tightly. Her jaw muscles, I could see, were being flexed, and with a final shrug of her bony shoulders, she simply walked away without saying a word.

It’s too bad, really, because I wanted to ask her where I could get one of those multi-colored JESUS neon signs. I think it’d look pretty good hanging above my Playboy and Coors Light neon signs hanging in the garage of my house. At night, my friends and I sometimes sit in the garage, drinking beer. I use the signs as a source of light so I can read their lips as we talk.

I don’t know. I think I just might be in heaven here in Colorado Springs.

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About Paotie

  • Paotie

    Note to self: don’t press “Save” when you mean to press “Pending.”

    *bashes head on desk*

    Fuck. Oh well, better job next time.

  • Elaine

    Thanks that was a cute story made me giggle!

  • Michael J. West

    I’m with Elaine. I laughed all the way through.

  • Paotie

    Michael and Elaine,

    Thanks guys! I’m glad you liked it, even though I had editing errors (I make 2 copies of a story; one’s the original, one’s the “edited” version – I copied and pasted the original, so sorry for the errors.)

    Cool beans!



  • Richard

    That was a lovely outpour of that event. Is there something inside you that is wanting to have faith in Jesus. In order to be an atheist you have to first BELIEVE God and then disBELIEVE Him. But here’s what I say…what caused the turning point in your life when you became an atheist? You say religion is the cause of all problems…You hit the nail right on its head. Stop following a religion, instead pursue a relation. Just as I cannot describe the taste of strawberry icecream without having you taste it, I cannot describe how real Jesus is. Can I ask you to believe this one thing. My He show you the direction.

  • gonzo marx

    and i Quote – “In order to be an atheist you have to first BELIEVE God and then disBELIEVE Him”

    incorrect by definition…

    what you describe is not an atheist, but an apostate

    some atheists are apostates, but not all, and not all apostates are atheists

    definitions are crucial in this type of discussion


  • Leslie Bohn

    Strawberry ice cream tastes like strawberries and sweetened cream, very cold and blended smooth.

  • Richard

    Hey, Leslie is righto! That is how strawberry icecream tastes…thanks Leslie. :)

    And Excelsior, thanks for correcting me. You are correct. You win.

    We can keep arguing on this topic endlessly. I only meant to share, that I have discovered a good news that salvation comes through Jesus alone because all our “goodness” does not allow us to stand in the court of God after we die. It is only Jesus’s death on the cross and our belief in Him that makes a difference.

    Again, the Bible tells me that no one can change the heart of man except God Himself. That is not my aim therefore.

    Also, in case you are thinking…I am a 30-year old guy whom God has blessed abundantly and I thank Him for it. This abundance (not material, but mental satisfaction) can be yours too.

    Thank you for your time reading this.

  • Leslie Bohn

    Well, you can use it if you’re asked!

    Maybe there’s a way to describe the way you see JC, too? I don’t believe in any gods, but I do believe in the use of writing as mental/psychic exercise.

  • gonzo marx

    and i Quote – ““Again, the Bible tells me “

    now we have a bone of contention…

    which version, chapter?…verse?

    i Ask, because this Bible was written by Men…over 20 of the “books” within are letter attributed to Saul of Tarsus (Paul)and have little to do with anything the person of Yehsua ben Miriam (whom many refer to as Jesus Christ, a combination of an anglicanization of a latinization, Iesu, and a geek title “the Annointed”)

    so, where is it that you receive this profound belief about what you are told in this book?

    and how is it that you believe this book to be anything other than a work of Men?

    oh yes, the name is “gonzo marx”..Excelsior is a sign off statement, it means “always upward”, or “tiny wood shavings used in taxidermy”..depending on which definition you like


  • Richard

    I sure will use that description, trust me. 😉

    I saw you used the word “gods”. I dont believe in any of these “gods” myself. Just as there is there one physical Richard and one physically present Leslie, there is one God.

    Belief in Jesus gives you salvation. I guess no prizes for guessing…but you must believe in the theory of Evolution right Leslie? Please note that you can identify a tree by its fruit.

    What will happen when we die? Where do we go? If somebody would have told the little foetus in the womb that there is no life after the 9 months…and the foetus believed…it would surely die…it would not develop itself and not prepare for life “after birth”. What about life after death? What will happen then?

    I have known the Bible to be true from my own experience (reminds me of strawberry ice cream again :)) And my only desire is to tell you there is a God who is watching over you and that you can call upon Him to be saved. That is about as far as I can go in an article comment!

    Over to you brother. (If I am turning out to be a pain, please ignore me. I will understand.) :)

  • gonzo marx

    Richard, no “pain” speak your mind freely…just expect the same in return, eh?

    as to all the assertions you have made, you say you believe them..and i can easily accept that such are your beliefs

    but you also claim to have Answers to things like what happens after you die…show your proof, please


  • Richard

    Sorry Gonzo…that was Luke 12:12.

    Regarding the authenticity of the Bible, I think it much more trustworthy than the newspaper that we read each morning. You only need an article on yourself to appear in it, to discover the lies that it contains. Anyways no offence buddy…we’re just talking. 😉

  • Richard

    Will be back in 30 minutes. Have to run an errand.

  • gonzo marx

    no worries, no time limit – also no offense taken at i said, speak your Mind freely

    as for Luke 12:12 – “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”

    this appears to be speaking about a moment of Gnosis..personal revelation and Enlightenment…

    very interesting in the context of what we are discussion, are you stating that your own Gnosis has revealed these statements to you?


  • Leslie Bohn

    Yeah, I don’t buy any of that, Richard. Not logical in nature, harmful in practice.

  • Richard

    Leslie, I know that you aren’t buying anything that I am saying…which is why we are still on!

    Hope that your thinking changes some day…because what if you are all wrong?

  • gonzo marx

    one cannot know the veracity of any of it, until after one is dead, Richard

    hence the gist of my questions, especially in #15 above, as well as my Questioning things like the book you so believe in…


  • A Concerned Citizen

    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

    So isn’t simply loving another being a ticket to salvation?

  • Richard

    Hi Concerned Citizen,

    I hate to trivialize things down to this analogy but, it is not the steering wheel l that gets you to the destination – its the car that does.

    Now Love is the characteristic of God and is epitomized in John 3:16.

    Also, it is always more meaningful, dear brother, to read the Bible in context. John in (1,2,3 John) writes to Christians. So he assumes that you have already accepted Jesus.

    But again, I respect your views. Thanks for your time in reading this.

  • High Heels

    A lovely piece of writing, which took me out of myself for a few moments… thank you.
    Let me know if you find a source of flashing Jesus!!

  • Richard

    Hi Gonzo,
    You have a point…For without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

    If you dont have faith it is impossible for any of us to understand the mysteries of God’s kingdom brother. My life has been a testimony of God’s love for me and I am absolutely loving it. Unfortunately, at the cost of sound irreverent, I cannot shoehorn my thoughts on yours. In the same breath, I must add, that I appreciate and understand your viewpoint too – trust me, most people who finally come to Jesus start that way.

    W.r.t your question in #15, I would just call it equipping rather than anything else. See, I am a nobody to you and vice versa, but we are still able to communicate to each other. It is the love of God that He gives all His children a chance to accept Him. This is a very unique relationship that I have come to enjoy with God the Father through Jesus His Son; on judgement day I dont want to be asked by my Big Daddy that I did not try.

    But again, again, again…Gonzo, I respect your views really and completely. I can do precious little but pray that God change your mind…because the Bible says that the hearts of kings is in His hands.

    Take care and God bless. Keep smiling.

  • gonzo marx

    again, appear to have some really interesting interpretations concerning scripture

    but also appear to be unwilling to get into precise discussions concerning the same

    ah well, good luck to you


  • Richard

    Oops…I think I have been ambiguous enough in my posts. Could you please single out a topic we can discuss precisely. I want to know what you think.(Please bear with me Gonzo.)

  • Ray Ellis

    Let me get this straight, Richard. Unless you’re a born-again Christian, you’re on a slidetrough straight to fire and brimstone, correct? If I follow that logic to its conclusion, that means that billions and billions of people–here and deceased–are pretty much fucked. That would mean that heaven would have no room for–oh, I dunno– let’s start with Moses, just for the sake of argument.

  • gonzo marx

    not a problem…

    i had asked for a specific as to where, exactly, within your scriptures, some of the specific beliefs you profess come from

    not chapter and verse, but which book itself (ie: Matthew, Mark, Luke, James…etc)

    and as for beliefs, i mean the very specific things you have talked about..”salvation”, the “afterlife” and so on

    a good one would be what some call the “Rapture”, is this part of your belief system? this one i’m especially concerned with…since it is not mentioned in even Revelations…

    part of my curiosity revolves around the historical data concerning the editing, source material and compiling of what you call the Bible

    oh for me…pray for something you have a chance of helping, by your standards, it’s pretty safe to say i would be considered apostate and heretic, at the very least…


  • Richard

    OK Ray, lets try and get this heads-on. Look forward too…you dont drive looking ONLY in the rearview.

    You are claiming the opposite of what’s written in the Bible…See John 3:17 which clearly says “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)”

    If there’s a roadsign for max speed of 20 MPH and for some reason you dont see and go past the speed limit are you exonerated? Probably not. But the Bible tells us that God’s Law (10 commandments) were given for man to follow and which of us (including me) claims not to have broken any of it. Jesus came in the world to save us from punishment. He did not come to condemn.

    I thought I should allow you to respond before I go any further.

  • A Concerned Citizen


    My main point is that God is a little more universal than many give credit for. I don’t think Jesus would want salvation limited to the people who say “Jesus is Lord” or even people who, cognitively, believe it. Jesus, as we know him now, is simply a literary figure. . . a conceptualization of what he actually might have been (the kindness, goodness, etc). You cannot accept salvation from your conceptualization of God.

    Which brings me to my original quotation: God is love. Love, the actual experience, the will for the benefit of another being, is by far the closest experience we’ll ever have of God — and it is universal among men.

    I guess my problem with the Christian idea of “salvation” is the idea that we are separate from God — I don’t believe we are at all. I tend to believe that our time here is just growing into our relationship with God and “redemption” was just Jesus showing us how.

    I’ll be the first to admit my ideas are still developing. . . haha and somewhat convoluted. Still, I feel they have some merit to them.

    Anyway, I want to say I admire your patience and willingness to debate in a respectful way. :)

  • Richard

    Gonzo, for some reason the last para of your response in #26 welled up my eyes. (I’m sorry if I sound kindof silly and mushy saying so.)

    I can only tell you one thing Gonzo…God loves you. He sent His Son to die for you. Also know that since you were created in God’s image, the devil hates you…the devil does not hate you per se, but he hates you because YOU (and I and all humans) are created in God’s image.

    If I may have the audacity of telling you something, I can only suggest you not to be curious when reading God’s word. Read it with faith. There’s nothing wrong in trying. Dont worry about changing yourself…when you light a candle in a dark room, the room is flooded with light, you dont have to do anything to dispel the darkness. I know and believe that the word is working in you – if my belief is true please do not stifle this voice and you will start seeing things in a fresh perspective.

    Also regarding your questions, I really suggest you to pick up a Bible study, not with the intention of becoming a Christian…just with the intention of knowing more. Again, religion is man-made and always brings forth strife…relation is God-made and gives you abundant life. There is a lot of deception in this world and remember to test a tree by its fruit.

    If your current belief gives you sweet fruit, by all means enjoy it. But if doesnt, please rethink dear buddy.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    I’m also interested in hearing your view of things Gonzo. . . in my wanderings through some of the old articles/posts on BC I’ve found you to be an interesting (and very knowledgeable) guy.

  • gonzo marx quote “John” of the synoptic books, but even there you have differences in the account… the last words spoken, for instance…

    where you are going is a metaphor, none of which i Asked about

    let me simplify…according to your belief, what day is the sabbath, and why?

    we will keep it simple, and stick to that single Question for a moment to allow baseline points to be made by both of us for a start, fair enough?


  • Ray Ellis

    Actually, looking in the rearview mirror is a good thing to do, but not the only thing. What’s with your driving analogies, anyway?
    But here’s quoting you directly:

    Belief in Jesus gives you salvation.

    The implications of that statement pretty much reiterate what I said. It puts everything in a “them versus us” context. My version of God has nothing to do with strawberry ice cream, but I do believe that a fair and equitable deity is more complex than to put eternity into such a tiny little box.

  • gonzo marx

    oh yes, side note since your last came up after i posted my last…

    i don’t require any kind of “bible study”..i’m willing to wager i know more about all kinds of scriptures than most priests or ministers

    let’s stay for now on the single Question…which day is the sabbath, and why


  • zingzing

    gonzo, it seems to me like your setting up richard for a beating. it’s not really fair…

  • Richard

    Hi Concerned Citizen,

    Your ideas are by no means developing or fledgling buddy, its like a tall tree absolutely rooted well…just that my soil is different!

    Thank you for your kind words…without appearing a psychophant, I think your words are more mature and more convincing than mine…but as I said before, its the soil that’s different. :)

    You know buddy, if Jesus wanted His ego satiated in requiring that we believe in Him, He would have come in a knight’s armor, with sword in hand on a black stallion! But He came down on earth just like you and me, lived a perfect life without sin and bore our sins on the cross. It is not true that Jesus was arrogative but rather redemptive.

    Apropos the Christian idea of salvation, it by no means says that people are away from God. In fact the Bible says that man was made in the image of God. Infact the Bible says that the soul is God’s breath. But I do understand where possibly the notion you are talking about comes from.

    I would like to hear from you. :)

  • DukeDeMondo

    Regarding the post itself – i thouroughly enjoyed it. beautiful prose, right there.

    regarding the comments – to have folks bantering back and forth, completely disagreeing with other, and yet doin so with such patience and genuine desire for understandin of the other (maybe some of the desire stems from understanding so as to affirm a pre-arranged “aha, but!” wihch we’re all very guilty of, i dare say. many’s a time i’ve steered a conversation that way myself, hoping for a certain name / book / theory to be mentioned just so as i can slap it to blazes soon the hell as)

    yes – fills a fella with a great joy, to be seeing this kind of dignified debate. honestly. lovely, it is.

  • Richard

    (ZingZing – Gonzo is very polite and I appreciate him for that. :) Thanks in advance Gonzo for not beating me! :) :)

    OK, Gonzo, I believe that the Sabbath day was institutionalized by God as a covenant to remember how God brough His people out of Israel. While Sabbath is an important day to keep (and I believe any day of the week would be fine, infact I would love to be praying to God all the time), the true substance is of Jesus. This is mentioned in Colossians 2:16. Infact Romans 14:5,6 says “5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    Over to you.

  • gonzo marx

    you avoid the Question with a direct Answer…

    both of your Quotes are allegedly from Paul’s letters (Saul of Tarsus) and NOT anything that can even be remotely attributed to Jesus

    are you stating that you believe that Paul(Saul) somehow had direct insight into the Mind of “God”?

    but, you don’t want to directly deal with that one…fine..i was attempting to determine which dogma you adhere to in order to utilize a single example

    let’s try again

    if the 4 “synoptic” texts are indeed “inspired” can you tell me your thoughts concerning , we will go with just two discrepancies…

    the last words on the cross, and the text of the sign nailed above the cross


  • Richard

    Of all Gonzo, I must apologize, as I seem to be coming across to you as being prevaricating. That is not my intention buddy, trust me. I am trying my best to give you direct answers.

    Last words were “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” (of course I’ve copy-pasted the words from an online Bible). Also Jesus cried out before giving up His spirit.

    Just curious, hows this related to what we are talking about. Anyway, you are in the drivers seat.

  • gonzo marx

    it has to do with two fo the supposed synoptic texts having two different versions of not only those last words, but also of the text nailed onto the cross

    it has to do with trying to demonstrate that the works and words of Men are fallible, and nothing to do with anything other than what Man has written

    there’s more, but the point is moot


  • Michael

    My question to both is why are you bothering to debate from the text of religious scripture that’s been demonstrated to be borrowed from multiple sources that predate Christianity and even Judaism? The Christian Bible has very little originality to it, even in its religious principles.

  • gonzo marx

    Michael, i have not yet gotten into the historical and anthropological origins of many of these texts…

    note i have yet to bring up the historical fact of the “Bible” being compiled by Biship Iraneas of Lyon around 180AD

    instead i was attempting to determine which version of scriptures was being referenced , and why…then trying to explain and demonstrate some of the inconsistencies within said works of Men


  • Michael

    I see your point. I presume you realize there’s likely to be some resistance in getting to that point, especially now that we’ve let the cat out of the bag.

    Growing up in an Evangelical church, I was always amused by the teachings that we should distrust ephemeral emotions like love, anger, etc but simultaneously always trust in the feeling of faith, that God is out there and He/She/It loves us.

    Apparently, we should only trust those feelings that are sanctioned by the church.

  • A Concerned Citizen


    While I was at karate class I thought of a better way to say what I meant in my prior post. To say or even cognitively believe Jesus is God doesn’t increase your awareness of its reality (if it is). I believe that real knowledge, like Enlightenment in Buddhism, is a gradual realization of the Truth. It’s not something that can be systemized, but must be known with the intuition. It is an Awakening to the meaning of “I AM”.

    just that my soil is different!

    To continue that analogy, the overall garden’s still the same. Even though we have different ways of viewing the same thing, I believe we still have the same intention (to live well and be a good person). :)

    The Christian Bible has very little originality to it, even in its religious principles.

    I’m no Bible scholar, but maybe it synthesized the information differently? Anyway, no harm in rehashing old wisdom. Lack of originality doesn’t make the underlying ethical principles any less true.

  • gonzo marx

    good points, Citizen…

    and much of it seems to mirror many of my own thoughts… room enough in Infinity/Eternity for everybody to be right somewhere/when

    been a while since i put this up on BC, but it bears repeating

    gnosis > dogma

    on a side note..what style of karate?


  • JC Mosquito

    I believe in God. I also believe He was laughing all the way through that exchange between P & the waitress. I suspect His sense of humour is omnipotently sublime. He also chuckles a bunch throughh these exchanges on bc, and not in a mean spirited way. It’s a big, beautiful world, and we’re meant to enjoy it – even the exchanges that on the surface don’t seem so pleasant.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    gnosis > dogma

    LOL I like how you tied math into that statement. I think that’s actually a great way of saying it.

    I take Kenpo, the Ed Parker branch. Different from other styles because it’s a lot of in-close, rapid-fire movements. Involved in the martial arts at all?

  • Max

    There are plenty of ways to challenge someone’s beliefs without trashing them and being a lame dick.

    You get anti-kudos for being unfunny.

  • JC Mosquito

    BTW, all serious & semi serious Bible scholars ought to read the book Jesus for the Non-Religious by Bishop John Shelby Spong. In some ways, it’s a book that seems to say true gnosis = the mundane. Best of all, you can still believe in Jesus without having to believe all the other weird stuff that goes along with mainstream (and alternative) Christianity.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Max, who’re you talking to?

  • gonzo marx

    i think he means the Article itself

    which i found pretty funny without being abusive…

    i would have been quite a bit more aggressive about it a minute or two into the conversation

    but then, i have no problem with people’s Faith..i DO have a problem with evangelizing it towards me..i consider it rude, and rudeness towards me gets a response pretty quickly

    whereas folks like Richard here, who are polite, get polite discussion in return

    could just be me


  • gonzo marx

    Ed Parker stuff…most excellent choice, imo!

    yeah..i was involved from ’69 – ’96

    ba gua/hsing-i, wing chun, a bunch of other bits and pieces here and there in a type of Jeet Kune Do “any tool you find” philosophy…a bouncer for about 8 years after my time in the military…some teaching over the years

    hence why i asked

    :::bows, hand over fist:::


  • Michael

    I’m no Bible scholar, but maybe it synthesized the information differently? Anyway, no harm in rehashing old wisdom. Lack of originality doesn’t make the underlying ethical principles any less true.

    The reason I call this into question is because the Book is being used as a source of authority. What authority? How can you derive the existence of God from a book that claims to be the infallible Word of God while at the same time borrows the mythos of everything from the Great Flood to the virgin-born god-man.

    Wisdom is wisdom wherever you get it. “A soft answer turneth away wrath” really can work, but “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” does not. A text that uses itself as the authority for the existence of God is questionable at best.

  • JC Mosquito

    “A text that uses itself as the authority for the existence of God is questionable at best.” – Michael.

    True enough, which is why it’s a good idea to verify that in the real world.

    Interestingly enough, we’ve come to the point as a society that we prove our citizenship, credit and very existence by our documents – questionable at best, also.

    Interestlingly enough also – Micha-el – in Hebrew, isn’t “el” a designation meaning “of God” (Hebrew scholars correct me if I’m way off base, please).

  • Les Slater

    #11 Richard,

    “If somebody would have told the little foetus in the womb that there is no life after the 9 months…and the foetus believed…it would surely die…it would not develop itself and not prepare for life “after birth”.”

    The analogy that you are striving for is fatally flawed. On what basis do you give to the foetus, at any stage of its development, the ability to understand, even the concept of life, nevermind, its ability to stop its own development and die?


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Sounds like something I might have done in America when confronted with these people who just HAD to try to shovel Christianity down my throat.

    I did face a situation somewhat analogous to this once in Bet Shemesh seven years ago. We were on a pilot trip here, really an effort to convince my wife (who had no desire at all to leave Minnesota) to move here, and we were strolling in Bet Shemesh’s main drag early Friday afternoon.

    A young lady in a longish skirt walked over to me purposefully and handed me two small candles in a package, along with instructions on what to do with them. They were Sabbath candles, to be lit a half hour before sundown on Feriday night (sorry Gonzo) to inaugurate the Sabbath.

    The instructions were in Russian.

    I looked at my wife and told her in loud clear English, “you see, dear, in Israel we really do look like Russians. In fact, if you take a Russian, give him a tan, take his bottle of vodka away and give him coffee instead, and have him talk Hebrew, what you have is an Israeli. Now, if that girl had given us instructions in Hebrew….”

    At that very moment, as I was saying “Hebrew”, another young lady, dressed like the first one, equally purposeful in her stride, came over and grabbed the Russian sheet out of my hand and handed me one in Hebrew…

    Note to JC Mosquito: Michael – From the Hebrew, meaning “Who is like God?” In the Bible (BaMidbar/Numbers 13:13), a member of the tribe of Asher.

    Note to Richard: Gonzo Marx shaves with Ockham’s Razor. He is sharpening it on its strop now – I can see the glint of it in the dappled Maine sun…

  • A Concerned Citizen

    i DO have a problem with evangelizing it towards me..i consider it rude

    Same thing with me — especially as I’ve found most of the evangelizers to be completely irrational about it.

    That video was great — the monk spent the whole time toying with the TKD guy. I love the smirk on his face haha. Anyway, I don’t have any experience with wing chun, but I definitely like the “whatever works” philosophy of JKD.

    text that uses itself as the authority for the existence of God is questionable at best.

    Agreed, 100%.

  • gonzo marx

    now Ruvy…nothing in your anecdote for me to *cut*

    i’m all for whatever works to bring solace to an Individual

    my difficulty arises when it spills over onto others in an intolerant fashion, even more so when conflict arises over something “because God said so”..especially when it was Man who “said so”, claiming to know the Mind of God

    THAT is why i tend to break out the razor that Ruvy gives me credit for wielding, to show that when folks quote from scriptural sources as if it was the direct “word of God”, they are really quoting men who make claims.

    example: 21 books of the New Testament (out of 27) are attributed to Paul (Saul of Tarsus), a man who persecuted Christians for Rome until the day he fell down on the road to Damascus, had a “vision” and then proceeded to write and evangelize as a Christian…

    now, scholars contend one of those books might indeed have been written directly by him…the rest were taken as dictation by scribes…some of the later “letters” are contended to have been written by such scribes and then attributed to Paul to lend weight to them

    yet ALL of these are treated by some as the infallible “Word”

    my razor asks, who said so? if this schmuck can have “inspired visions”, then who else has? John Smith of the Mormons? Mohammed? the Dalai Lama?

    i contend there is nothing written on this earth that was not written by a human being, and thus all is as frail and fallible as we are…sham, pretense, delusion and outright Lies are all that any other kind of claim can be

    whatever there is, lives in each and every one of us, no more and no less…it’s the Choices we make with every breath that defines us…not what another human claims in some book

    is there Wisdom in some writings? of course

    the Wisdom of Humanity

    nuff said?


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    This piece by Paotie was satire. So here, I keep the patter light. Generally I explain “my ideas in the articles I write or in comments.

  • JC Mosquito

    Gonzo – I’ve always seen the Bible as divinely inspired, or “written” as one might say, but even as a human bweing can only write well depending on the tools he or shes uses, the Holy Spirit has to use what ever he can get his hands on. Unfortunately, sometimes he probably had to use the human equivlent of a broken crayon, or a pointed stick. The message isn’t always easy to read, so anyone who says they have the definitive interpretation is likely just self deluded (including myself).

  • gonzo marx

    Ruvy..i know, i was just teasing back (and will read your links forthwith)

    JC – and there’s the rub…this inspiration by the “Holy Spirit” claim made by some

    as i Asked previously…how does one know that such is inspired by what? we have only the claims of those doing the writing…and who judges which is truly divine inspiration, and which is delusion?

    why were some scriptures chosen as “authentic” for the Bible, and others not so? what disqualifies the Book of Mormon under said criteria, or the Qu’ran?

    merely the Opinion of Men


  • JC Mosquito

    To believe divine inspirations starts and ends with the Bible is the problem – there are lots of other places to find it.

  • gonzo marx

    to believe in “divine” anything is the problem, to believe that some kind of outside Influence “inspires”, rather than something within is my difficulty

    i’m funny like that, and require empirical data, having an innate distrust of the snake oil salesman


  • Leslie Bohn


    Why would an omnipotent, all powerful god have to “use what ever he can get his hands on. Unfortunately, sometimes he probably had to use the human equivlent of a broken crayon, or a pointed stick?”

    Why wouldn’t he use the era’s Shakespeare? Sounds pretty far-fetched that god himself couldn’t find a decent ghostwriter. He could have asked Homer, or perhaps Plato, to recommend someone.

  • gonzo marx

    “ghostwriter” – lmgdao!!!

    a holy ghost writer is what some profess…

    my esoteric take on the idea


  • JC Mosquito

    Good point, Leslie. But look at who gets picked for the hard work in the Bible:

    1) read Moses’ encounter with God on the mountain where Moses tries desperatwely to weasel his way out of having to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt;

    2) Jonah, who is told to go to Nineveh – and promptly grabs the next boat in the other direction;

    3) David, who sends a soldier into harm’s way so he can get his (hopefully soon to be) widow;

    4) Saul of Tarsus – a persecutor of Christians who ends up on of the leaders of the early church;

    5) Peter, impulsive & not too brilliant fisherman – who, like Wile E. Coyote, tries walking on water & falls in like he’s in some Roadrunner cartoon; denies Jesus in his hour of need, who had earlier pulled out the ol’ sword/knife to defend Jesus and promptly attacks… the high priest’s servant – and yet becomes another leader of the early church.

    Nah – God has no interest in getting “only the best” working for Him; anyone who’s ready to work is welcome – heck, even if you’re not ready to work, you’re still welcome.

    It’s a big, beautiful world out there – if you want to believe that can be so without believing in God, that’s your business – I’m certainly saying that in my experience, my world is a richer place for my belief. I find it explains things that science can’t, and leaves room for me to accept mystery in its deepest sense as part of the natural function of the universe. And I hope you don’t think I’m some Bible thumpin’ redneck – maybe a redneck in some aspects, but the fundamentalist point of view is something to which I would be in totally opposition, except I think some people can’t read anything in a literate way, so I accept the fact that it’ll have to do for them – as long as they don’t thump me in the process.

    And I’m not always sure of it – I have my moments of doubt, but something always comes along to tell me it’s ok to do that too. Look at it this way – if I’m right, one day in eternity we’ll all look back and have a good laugh at ourselves blogging our opinions to each other. And if it turns out you’re right, we’ll then I guess I was wrong and that’s about it, isn’t it?

    Ahh, gonzo – I think I asked you this once before – you like empirical data – have you any room for a sense of mystery – the unknowable, the unpredictable? You know, it’s fun to watch the snakeoil salesman get shivved with Occam’s Razor… but sometimes the truth is much more complicated than could almost be imagined, and we only get glimpses of it. I mean, who’s to say or not say this series of comments itself isn’t divinely inspired?

    Pax vobiscum to y’all,


  • Paotie

    JC Mosquito ..

    Your #5 point – LOL –




  • gonzo marx

    JC – plenty of room for everything within Allternity…that’s my View

    the Mystery – everywhere and in everything, the fact that my Will can move my fingers to type fills me with Awe every time i think about it, even when i have plenty of empirical data to tell me the mechanics of how it occurs

    as for “unknowable”..only thing i think is completely unknowable at this point is what happens to the energy that makes up our Will/Mind after we die…

    Einstein says matter(energy) cannot be created or destroyed…only change states

    there’s enough Mystery there for me

    do i think there is something more? yep…purely subjective moments of personal gnosis coming from my past practice in the martial arts, where instants have occurred where the sum was greater than the whole of it’s parts

    in gung fu this is known as “moving with the Tao”, or even “actions in harmony with the will of heaven”

    as i say, purely subjective, and i can’t explain it…but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation

    hence why i have always stated i am apostate and heretic, but an agnostic by philosophy

    because in all honesty..i just don’t Know


  • JC Mosquito

    Gentlemen, ladies.. thank you for your time today. We’ll likely hash this all out again in the quarterly God vs. No God meeting here on bc. See you then – unless of course, the ‘Pocalypse happens before that….

  • Les Slater

    #68 Gonzo,

    I like you comments about Gnosis and martial arts. One of the most important books to effect my thinking has been the “Mathematical Theory of Communication” by Shannon and Weaver. Another thing fitting in here were Trotsky’s comments about suppressed animal instincs coming to the fore when under intense pressure in a sustained critical situation.


  • duane

    Holy Nodes of Ranvier, gonzo! The “energy that makes up our Will/Mind”? What is that? We have a brain, which is made from ordinary matter, organized into a marvelous machine that runs on biochemical energy, sucking up about 25 watts under normal operation. The energy is supplied by ingestion and digestion of food.

    “Mind” is just a grandiose term associated with higher brain function. “Will” is our need and ability to conceive of an action, then take it, the exercise of volition, no doubt an evolutionary adaptation. Mind, will, consciousness, emotion, self-awareness, etc. are all biological functions of our flesh-and-blood brains.

    When we die, the brain’s supply of energy is cut off, and the brain stops converting energy (which could be taken as a definition of death). The brain tissue, like the rest of our body, will break down chemically and be eaten by little beasties. Ah, the grand circle of Life. You are suggesting that there is a residual form of “brain energy” that continues on after death. The existence of such is beyond our current scientific understanding, akin to belief in a soul. Do you believe in some kind of afterlife? If so, based on what evidence or belief system? (I’m not saying that I don’t, by the way — just wanted to get your take on things).

    Eh, thanks ….

  • duane

    Oh, ooops, gonzo. I guess I should have finished reading your #68 before beginning my yak. OK, so it has to do with some altered state of consciousness that you experienced? Please to elucidate.

  • gonzo marx

    heh…duane, you have more info than the rest on this due to a previous e-mail

    as i said, when it comes to the Moment of death, and the possibility of anything afterwards…i don’t Know, the above rant is sheer speculation

    a long time ago, i read a Russian study on the subject, they put some terminal folks on a bed on top of a scale, and monitored the weight, up to the moment of death and a few minutes afterward

    after many tests and all kinds of calculations, they came up a few ounces short that couldn’t be explained

    not reading too much into it, and damned if i can find it…wracking my brains and scouring my personal library trying to find it to get you where it came from and exact numbers…but i just can’t seem to lay hands on it (not surprising after how many times i’ve moved over the years…could still be in the attic of my old arcade, which is torn down now)

    as for the medical science versus the metaphysical issue of Mind/Will…i understand the normal explanations, and find some of it unsatisfying…not too mention that there is so much even the experts don’t know about our brains

    all this adds up to why i claim agnosticism…not enough convincing data either way

    but i am fairly certain in my statements about scriptural things…i know the history and anthropological data pretty well as well as the archaeological data

    a sonic Joke, for duane and anyone interested


  • duane

    OK, gonzo. I think I read something somewhere some time about weighing the soul. I think it was subsequently debunked based on unreliable measurement techniques. I’m fairly certain that if evidence for such was available, it would cause more than a minor stir in the scientific community — we would have heard about it. It would be huge, don’t you agree?

    It’s true that most of the brain is not yet understood. But the rate of progress in understanding things neuro is staggering. I choose to be patient.

    And now, for something completely different ….

    From the Monty Python skit Penguin on the Television

    1: Per’aps it’s from next door.
    2: (yelling) NEXT DOOR?!? Penguins don’t come from NEXT DOOR! They come from the Antarctic!
    1: Per’aps it’s from the zoo.
    2: Which zoo?
    1: (angrily) ‘ow should I know which zoo it’s from?!? I’m not Doctor bloody Bernofsky!!
    2: ‘Oo’s Doctor bloody Bernofsky?
    1: He knows everything.
    2: Oooh, I wouldn’t like that, that’d take all the mystery out of life.

    Doesn’t that just about sum it up? There is in many (if not most) people a desire to be surrounded by mystery. Anyone in touch with themselves enough to know why this is? Is the world too banal and horrible to accept as is? My claim is that the Universe AS IS contains so much grandeur and so many “miracles” that commonly held belief systems in the supernatural are prosaically mundane by comparison.

  • gonzo marx

    well duane, i can easily agree that what we have and can observe already is indeed plenty of Mystery on it’s own…i say so earlier in the thread, even

    i think that since dying is universal among every possibility in the human experience…the ultimate Unknown….that it remains the great Mystery

    and you know where a penguin comes from cuz it’s tattoo’d on the back of their neck


  • Les Slater

    #71 Duane’s take on part of Gonzo’s #68

    This is complicated so will do it in multiple parts.

    Part 1:

    “You are suggesting that there is a residual form of ‘brain energy’ that continues on after death. The existence of such is beyond our current scientific understanding, akin to belief in a soul. Do you believe in some kind of afterlife? If so, based on what evidence or belief system?”

    I do believe there is a ‘brain energy’ that continues after death. I’ve been thinking about this for at least 50 years. I’ve done a lot of thinking, a lot of study and some experimentation. One does have to demystify the brain. For about three years I used large amounts of LSD on a weekly basis. Tried to get some idea of how my brain functioned with relation to my environment while under the influence. The more I observed, the more I saw material causes related to what some might call mystical experience. One of the more interesting ones was the so-called out-of-body experience. A more interesting one was getting into someone else’s head, the in-another-body experience. I analyzed these and came up with plausible material explanations. After some years I became what I consider a consistent and thorough materialist.

    The biggest question I pondered was that of ego. The question of the Star Trek transporter. One can imagine that such a machine is theoretically conceivable. It does raise some thorny questions though. One, is it really you, or is it just a duplicate? Does it matter? If you conclude it is really you coming out of the other end, then what does it all mean if it duplicates you more than once? Are there multiple yous? What would that mean? We would have to assume that you were reproduced in multiple space-time coordinates. That would mean that the yous would have different environments and the multiple yous would diverge into separate identities. Would any of the identities be YOU.

    By the way, the above scenario has practical application in discussing contemporary theology. The case of a fertilized woman’s egg having a unique soul comes to mind. If that fertilized egg splits into two in the development of identical twins, how do we sort that out? If the original soul was unique and nature divided it, and the genetic makeups of both are identical, which one keeps the original soul and which one gets the next serial number? Can there really be any difference in these souls? Can’t the souls DEVELOP their uniqueness? What if you chemically influenced whether there would be multiple births or not? Would the creation of a soul just be a matter of chemistry?

  • gonzo marx

    interesting thoughts there, Les

    as for your experimentations…allow me a Thought to share… resonant frequencies and/or harmonic concordance

    as to the twins dilemma, could it be the trauma of birth itself, when the parasite sheds it’s gills to use it’s lungs, the removal of the umbilical to the host?

    there’s medical answers to much of this, but many of those are unsatisfying

    hence the Metaphysical

    it’s trying to reconcile the two approaches that appears to hold the key, and we ain’t there yet

    but what i do Know is that many of what we currently think of as Answers will probably turn out not to be, the more we seem to find out, the more we find we were wrong in what we thought was fact previously

    quantum mechanics , for example

    deep Waters indeed, and we all need to learn to swim.



  • JC Mosquito

    Well, learn to swim better than Schroedinger’s cat, anyways.

  • Dr Dreadful

    gonzo #73, duane #74:

    It was not a Russian, but an early 20th century Massachusetts physician named Duncan MacDougall who tried to measure the weight of the soul.

    If you go to [Sierra November Oscar Papa Echo Sierra dot com] and type ‘soul’ into the search box, you can read all about it.

    As I recall, there’s also a brief but lively account of the experiment in Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Everything.

    (Sorry I couldn’t link to the site, and indeed ended up having to spell its name out using the phonetic radio alphabet. For some reason the BC spam filter doesn’t like that word.)

  • gonzo marx

    no worries Doc, i’d forgotten the Mass one..but the study i had read was indeed Russian, i’m positive of that…late 50’s early 60’s..VERY methodical

    it was discounted by some due to where it came from at the time..i cannot verify the veracity, not find the reference in my own library at this time

    but thanks for the links!!


  • duane

    Thanks Dr. D. Great stuff.

    And omigosh, check this out …

    “Perhaps the most surprising scientific evidence for the soul comes from quantum mechanics—specifically, from investigations of the subatomic phenomena that produce consciousness. Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist who has spent many years studying brain functions, has collaborated with renowned Oxford University polymath Roger Penrose on a model that explains consciousness as the result of quantum processes occurring in tiny structures called microtubules in brain cells. ‘I think consciousness under normal circumstances occurs at the level of space-time geometry in the brain, in the microtubules,’ Hameroff says. ‘But the fluctuations extend down to the Planck scale [far smaller than an atom] because the microtubules are driven bioenergetically to be in a coherent state. When the blood supply and the oxygen stops, things go bad and the coherence stops, but quantum information at the Planck scale isn’t lost. It may dissipate into the universe but remain somehow entangled in some kind of functional unit, maybe indefinitely. If the patient is revived, the information gets picked back up again.’ ”

    — From June 2007

    Penrose is definitely not a quack, by the way. Hmmm….

    Well, it’s just a theory.

  • gonzo marx

    heh…but a good one

    reminds me of a Quote – “the more I learn about quantum mechanics, the more it reminds me of Taoist black magic”


  • SonnyD

    # 71 Duane: What you described is the best description of a sociopath. A living breathing human form with certain human abilities: thought, memory, etc. But something vital is missing: the feelings that a complete human can have – love, empathy, sympathy, etc.

  • Les Slater

    “Penrose is definitely not a quack, by the way…”

    Sounds like complete bullshit to me.

  • Les Slater


    “the more I learn about quantum mechanics, the more it reminds me of Taoist black magic”

    I had a boss once that had a masters degree from MIT. Actually I have had several bosses that masters and PhDs from MIT. But this one went back to a reunion or something like that. He met his old thermal dynamics prof and confessed that even though he got all A’s in the course, he didn’t understand a thing. The prof shot back, ‘it’s alright, it all turned out to be wrong anyway’.


  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    #83 — July 12, 2007 @ 05:06AM — SonnyD

    “…the feelings that a complete human can have – love, empathy, sympathy, etc.”

    Yes, the human race would have disappeared, like all failed experiments, in an anarchy of Hobbsian murder and exploitation had not the evolutionary selection process selected for these high societal value attributes. Much as evolutionary selection developed high societal values among ants and bees.

  • duane

    To SonnyD (#83). Your physical brain is fully capable of “emotion”, as I mentioned in my #71, which would include those attributes you list — love, empathy, sympathy. Also, see bliffle’s response (#86). But I am aware of and appreciate your own unique take on things.

    To Les (#84). Right. It does sound like BS. But far be it from me to judge Penrose’s work. His track record is just too overwhelming.

  • gonzo marx

    it appears the crux of the Question is whether or not the Whole is greater than the sum of it’s Parts

    does the physical process of meat and chemical reactions produce something Metaphysical?

    i’m encouraged that it does by things like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

    the verifiable fact that mere Observation by a sentient being can influence the outcome leads me to think that there might indeed be something greater than the sum of the parts as we Understand it at this time in our scientific development

    “one Man’s magic is another Man’s engineering” R.A.H.

    hence my mention elsewhere about my own experience vis a vis martial arts gnosis


  • Les Slater


    “i’m encouraged that it does by things like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle”

    Are you 100% sure?

  • gonzo marx

    i’ll ask Schrodinger’s cat, if i can find it


  • duane

    I’m uncertain as to whether the uncertainty principle is understood with any degree of certainty. Suffice to say that the uncertainty principle places no limits on the precision to which a single quantity (or fact) can be known. Thinking such is a misread of what the principle says. Gonzo may be 100% certain, without violating the principle. I’m certainly certain of this.

  • gonzo marx

    heh…duane that was certainly Funny…to me at least…yet i’m almost never certain about anything, hence my normal qualifier of “i think”, which may be uncertain in itself , but certainly an attempt at certain honesty…

    but i digress


  • Les Slater


    “It does sound like BS. But far be it from me to judge Penrose’s work. His track record is just too overwhelming.”

    See my #85; it applies here too.

  • gonzo marx

    well Les, that’s the beauty of theoretical exploration…it’s all a guess, built upon evidence and adjusted as more and more facts or proofs become available

    much different than bald assertions of “fact” with little or no confirmed evidence or empirical data

    such as saying “God told me…”

    i’ll take Penrose over Saul of Tarsus any day

    your mileage may vary…


  • duane

    We’ve all had ample opportunity to ascertain your honesty, gonzo.

    Right. So …

    A waitress in a Colorado Springs restaurant. Deafness. Jesus. Gays. Atheism. Ice cream. The veracity of the Good Book. Salvation. Debating with dignity. Karate. Shoveling. Hebrew. Razors. Ghost writers. Mystery and the unknowable. The weight of the soul. Quantum mechanics.

    It seems that the Biq Questions often come back to physics, in spite of the oft-mentioned bromide, to the effect, “The Bible has taught me about things that science can’t.” Oh ye of little patience.

  • Les Slater


    “i’ll take Penrose over Saul of Tarsus any day”

    I might be inclined to also, but I’m not sure. It’s a question of historical fairy tales vs what purports to be science. Many can put Paul into a proper perspective. There are much fewer, I think, that can genuinly make progress scientifically in the issues we are discussing here.


  • duane

    Les (#93). Oh, you’re a science skeptic. I’m sure that you are reading too much into the comments of the wisecracking professor. Thermodynamics (not “thermal dynamics”) is not wrong. Ask the guys who designed your air conditioner or your refrigerator. Don’t believe in the tendency of entropy in a closed system to increase? I think you should seek out a second opinion.

  • gonzo marx

    it’s a matter of technique in approach, Les

    i should have been more clear

    one did the “God told me” bit, the other is working within the boundaries of science to work out theoretical answers based on empirical data

    you knew that, clarification is for the Record


  • Les Slater


    I am a skeptic, and yes, it is thermodynamics.

    “Ask the guys who designed your air conditioner or your refrigerator.”

    And what would I expect them to understand? I claim both are 100% efficient. I doubt either designer would agree.


  • duane

    Les: “I am a skeptic….”

    Why? I’m intrigued.

    “And what would I expect them to understand?”

    Thermodynamics. Part of their engineering programs.

    “I claim both are 100% efficient.”

    Well, they’re not.

    “I doubt either designer would agree.”

    And they would be right, of course.

  • Les Slater

    “Don’t believe in the tendency of entropy in a closed system to increase?”

    Not necessarily. Maybe as an overall tendency at this period of time, but not as an absolute that has to exist at all places, at all times and under all circumstances.

    Second opinion? I discussed this with K. Eric Drexler. He agreed with my skepticism about the absolute authority of the second law.


  • gonzo marx

    ok, you have any kind of link where he shows his proof to debate the second Law?

    am truly interested since it is considered a universal constant, and yet i’ve never even heard of any kind of contention otherwise…

    genuinely interested


  • Les Slater

    #100 duane,

    “And they would be right, of course.”

    Or mayby to their thermodynamics course used similar course material as the ‘wisecracking professor’ used.


  • duane

    Wow, Les. Very impressive. OK, so you and Drexler are skeptical that the Second Law is universally valid under all circumstances. Not all circumstances are accommodated by the assumptions inherent in the Second Law, viz., it applies only to a “closed system.” For example, the transformation of water to ice in your freezer looks like a local violation of the Second Law if one chooses to ignore the other system components, i.e., the space outside the freezer.

    But don’t let’s get tedious. I am willing to defer to you and Drexler. But I’m wondering how this conjecture has bred skepticism in you as regards science. Are you, in fact, skeptical of all science, or just that at the bleeding edge? If the latter, then, sure, even scientists are with you on that. If the former, then tell me more.

  • Les Slater


    “ok, you have any kind of link where he shows his proof to debate the second Law?” I have been looking for other work in this area for years. I have not seen any referrence to such.

    I discused the with K. Eric Drexler after a lecture he had given at MIT shortly after ‘Engines of Creation’ was published. I bought my copy from him.

    I thought that his ideas about powering nano-machines were naive. I raised a couple of questions and mentioned that I thought he should look to actual biological organisms for ideas on on where and how to get power. Somehow the issue of the second law came up. If I remember correctly, he said that some biological organisms violated the second law. I did not get a chance to persue that since there were others that wanted access to him.

    I explain the basis of my skepticism when I get around to explaining to duane why all, or at least the usual ones, are 100% efficient. It really boils down to a moral question.


  • gonzo marx

    understood Les, and thanks..i asked because i looked the fellow up after your mention, and didn’t see anything on the topic among his list of publications or lectures

    i look forward to your response to duane


  • duane

    Les: “Or mayby to their thermodynamics course used similar course material as the ‘wisecracking professor’ used.”

    Haha. Very good, Les. Touche.

    Well, gotta go. Baby needs a new pair of shoes. Looking forward to reading more from you guys later. I’m learning a lot.

  • Les Slater

    Ok, here goes.

    This may have to be a part 1. It is fairly complicated, especially since it involves morality, or at least a societal value judgment.

    It all started back in 1976 when we had a particularly hot June in Boston. My girlfriend and I decided to get an air conditioner for our apartment. It was a couple or so years after the beginning of the energy (oil) crisis. The air conditioner manufacturers were required to list the EER of their products. There was no Google back then. I had no quantitative idea what EER was.

    Ok, I asked all the smiling salesmen, we had no eBay or back in those days either, what EER meant. They ALL said that higher was better. I finally found one that said that EER meant ‘Energy Efficiency Ratio’. I then asked, ‘ratio of what to what?’. Nobody knew. I bought a Sears 5,000 BTU, 7.5 EER, unit. I finally found out that it was BTU’s pumped per KWHr.

    It did cool down the bedroom quite well. It was a small apartment with a small bedroom. I did know a little about how this thing worked. I heard about higher efficiency units. Was there a theoretical limit on how high an EER could go? Nobody seemed to know. People talked about motor and compressor friction but no fundamental limits. I thought about that for a while and gave up. After all I was not an air conditioner designer.

    I understood that this air conditioner was also heating up the neighborhood. That wasn’t good. That in itself was reason to get a higher EER unit. I also discovered that the electric bill went up. I used the EER formula and figured out how many BTU’s my electricity was contributing to the neighborhood. I started to resent paying the electric company to heat up my neighborhood in the summer time. I wasn’t the only one doing this either. What a deal for the electric company.

    I must figure out what’s going on. This is evil.

    I finally decided that rather than being pissed at the electric company or maybe trying to exorcize the evil, I might try to take a more scientific approach.

    Stay tuned for part 2.


  • Paotie

    Guys –

    Thanks for a great debate and conversation. I’m reading these postings with popcorn in hand.

    *munch munch*

    Part 2! Onwards, Les.



  • gonzo marx

    Paotie – glad if we could being as much enjoyment to the comments as you brought with the Article…

    Les – “waiting Is..”

    duane – got the time?


  • Les Slater

    Part 2,

    Well, I did a thought experiment with the aid of the first law of thermodynamics.

    It did not take me too long to figure that ALL of the electricity that came through the power cord connected to the air conditioner was heating up the outdoors. This is at least obviously true when all has reach thermal equilibrium, when the room is cooled to its minimum temperature while the conditioner is running full time. There is no extra energy required to keep the room cool. The energy going to the outdoors is precisely the same as the energy coming through the power cord.

    Maybe this is easier to see in the winter time. We’ll use a refrigerator this time. If you had one room with an infinite air sink around it at a constant low temperature outside with a thermostatically controlled resistance electric heating and a frig in the room. Also a light bulb if you wish.

    I contend that the electricity used will not make any difference as to whether the refrig is on or off.

    Stay tuned for part 3.


  • Les Slater

    I forgot to mention, this is only true if the frig, by itself, does not produce enough heat to sufficiently heat the room on its own.

  • Les Slater

    Part 3.

    Even when the frig is cooling and actually lightens the heating load on the AC power source, the extra heat from the frig represents the heat from, no, actually is, the heat from the inside. Overall no extra power is required to keep the frig at low temperature inside.

    To the extent that the refrig is heating the room, less power is needed from the electric room heaters.

    In the bigger scheme of things this means that the cooling action requires no power, 100% efficiency.

    Stay tuned for part 4.


  • gonzo marx

    ya palmed quite a few cards so far in your little thought experiment

    actual measurements of the pertinent details proves that there are indeed losses all over the place, all of which can be measured and explained

    but i’ll gladly leave the math involved to duane and other experts in the field who know much more than lil ole me

    but do go on…makes for a Fun read


  • Les Slater


    “actual measurements of the pertinent details proves that there are indeed losses all over the place, all of which can be measured and explained”

    Losses don’t matter. Look at the bigger picture. All the losses can be considered as part of the consumption of the electric power. They all turn into heat. You totally get the heat you pay for with the elctricity, losses or not. The frig is the easiest example. Do you dispute my statement that the electricity used will be the same whether or not the frig is on?


  • Les Slater

    Our desired product in the case of the room in winter is HEAT. All the losses turn into HEAT.

  • gonzo marx

    a bit confused here, do you mean the overall electricity used by the apartment in the time frame under question?

    if such is the case, and the only variable is whether the fridge is on or not..then i would have to say that the consumption of electricity is indeed higher with the fridge on or not

    even if it is just the trickle for the electronics involved in the operation of the thermostat inside the fridge and the controlling voltages for the compressor

    but, as i said..i’m not touching this one any further, i’ll gladly leave it to duane

    do carry on…


  • RJ

    Sooo…a cute young gal tried to strike up a conversation with you, and you responded by mocking her and her religion. Nice. You must be proud.

  • Les Slater

    “if such is the case, and the only variable is whether the fridge is on or not..then i would have to say that the consumption of electricity is indeed higher with the fridge on…”

    I say it does not matter. The tiny electronics etc are still just losses, just like the rest of them; they still turn totally into heat.

    If nobody else sees this after a while, I’ll try to walk through it in more detail.

  • Les Slater

    “Sooo…a cute young gal tried to strike up a conversation with you”

    Not everybody would take ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ as a friendly jesture.

    I don’t mind and I do not insult them. It happened to me on Monday of this week. We ended up exchanging phone numbers.

  • Wonderment

    Consider this argument for the spirituality of atheists.

  • Les Slater

    I consider myself a spiritual atheist and the atheist prayer did not resonate with me at all.

  • Les Slater

    Back to the fridge.

    I warned that this proplem was going to involve morality and value judgements. This is where Gonzo, and I presume others, go wrong.

    My #116:

    “Our desired product in the case of the room in winter is HEAT. All the losses turn into HEAT.”

    Gonzo #114:

    “actual measurements of the pertinent details proves that there are indeed losses all over the place, all of which can be measured and explained”

    Losses? I have stated that ALL the losses turn into HEAT, our desired product.

    Why claim that we have a problem with value judgement and morality? It is that Gonzo does not see the losses, he clearly sees, as part of the DESIRED product we are looking for. He sees them as BAD things. How can BAD things be DESIRED? It’s not a question of morality here, it is a question of thermodynamics, and what we are trying to accomplish.

    Putting aside the fridg for a moment let’s look at the normal electric heat with the thermostat. Let’s attach a very small neon light accross the heater supply voltage so we can see whether the heater is in its powered cycle or not. That neon light will consume miniscule power.

    A child, oblivious to the function of the heater, might be considered to find the little light going on an off as entertaining and the only object of concern. An analysis of the efficiency of the function of this entertainment light would find that efficiency quite low. After all, 99.999% of the electricity is just wasted as a heat loss. What a poor design.

    More later,


  • Les Slater

    There seems to be a fatal design flaw in the entertainment light. It never works in the summer. Also, even in winter, the time the light stays on seems to be effected by whether the frig is on or not.

  • andy in wales(thats in uk)

    “If somebody would have told the little foetus in the womb that there is no life after the 9 months…and the foetus believed…it would surely die…it would not develop itself and not prepare for life “after birth”.”


    Just found a new way of losing weight! From now on I will tell myself that the enjoyment i get out of chocolate doesnt last long so therefore it’s pointless eating it.

    What a load of %*@@!!

    Oh….hang on….someones speaking to me….’yes’, ‘yes’, ‘ok’.

    ‘God’ has just told me that all you non-beleivers are on the right track and he is fed up of being the subject of all this arguement. If he had known he would have caused all this trouble he would never have started this ‘life and all else’ project in the first place.

    Dear Lord, thank you for what must surely be Divine inspiration. I would never have thought of it if it were’nt for you!!

    WAKE UP Y’ALL (His words not mine)

  • duane

    Not quite following you, Les. How is the 2nd Law violated, and what does morality have to do with your electric bill, and what do either of those have to do with atheism or religion?

  • gonzo marx

    :::munches popcorn, just waiting for the skirmish twixt duane and Les:::

    prelude entertainment, with sly commentary included


  • duane

    Skirmish? Nah. Just trying to learn from Les. The 2nd Law is not really a “law” at all. It’s an assertion of how Nature appears to behave. It’s the answer to the question, “If an explosion can convert a car into a pile of junk, can another explosion reassemble it?” There’s nothing in the 1st Law prohibiting that. The 2nd Law is given as if to say. “It is highly unlikely. That seems to be the way Nature works” … ummm … loosely speaking. It’s all based on probability. It’s not inviolable but, as far as I know, a violation has never been observed.

    Eh, thanks for the Ministry, gonzo. That woke me the hell up.

  • gonzo marx

    anytime duane..ya know i like ta share…

    side note: saw TooL, on friday …awesome show, as always…wish ya had been there with us

    and for andy in wales (we know it’s in the UK..heh), ya might like ta have a chat with JuJu, may his tusks always glow with the Light of Reason…bring peanuts…


  • duane

    Great swinging parabolas, gonzo! You mean they let old farts like you into a Tool show? Well, damn. That sounds great. As for myself, I saw Jane Monheit last night with her jazz quintet. A bit tamer, but still … great pipes. Next up, Alan Holdsworth, electric guitarist par excellence … I’m not worthy ….

  • Les Slater

    “Not quite following you, Les. How is the 2nd Law violated, and what does morality have to do with your electric bill, and what do either of those have to do with atheism or religion?”

    We have not gotten to violating the second law yet. We haven’t even got past the fridge being 100% efficient.

    I say that saying the frig is wasting energy is a value judgment. If one had a frig that consumed an average of 300 Wats of electricity then it could function just as well as a 300 Watt electric heater. Both do just as good a job at heating.

    One would not complain that the electric heater had losses, hense saying the same about frig is value judgement. Getting pissed at electric company because frig produces net heat same as electric heater is moral issue.

  • Temple Stark

    I’m warming to this issue.

    Isn’t God the eternal and infernal energy source for the ethereal and the intrinsical?

    Etymology is my god with which I gain salvation and damnation, though of course both are solely in my mind. Temple

    PS I particularly like C. Citizen’s thoughts. Love Love. Love. Love is all you need. And the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.

  • Les Slater


    “…and what do either of those have to do with atheism or religion?”

    It does, I only got to part 1 on my explqanation of what happens to the energy of the brain after we die. It’s fairly more complicated than the air conditioner or frig.

    Let’s see if we can get past this one. After we can agree that the frig is 100% efficient, at least as far as being a heater is concerned, we can go on to the 2nd law.

  • duane

    OK, Les, let’s narrow this down a little. Please re-explain what you mean by “efficiency” for a fridge. Then we’ll go from there.

    The EER is defined as the rate energy extraction from the cool reservoir divided by electrical power input at 95 degrees F. The EER is usually greater than one, so it will not do as a definition of efficiency in the thermodynamic sense. The heat energy dumped to the environment (your kitchen, in this case) is greater than the electrical power input, which satisfies the 1st Law.

  • Les Slater

    “The heat energy dumped to the environment (your kitchen, in this case) is greater than the electrical power input, which satisfies the 1st Law.+

    Why do you say that? Where does the extra energy come from? The only time when more heat gets dumped into the kitchen than is supplied to the frige is when the frig is in the process of cooling its interior. After the inside temperature stabilizes, then the amount of heat emination from the frig will be precisely the same as the heat equivelent of the elctricity being supplied to it.

    The anount of heat that the refrig contributes to the kitchen when it is turned on, till the time that it’s thermally stabilizes, is the input power times time, PLUS the amount of heat that was in it and now in the room. After it stabilizes it is the input power in, times time (KW Hr), equals (BTU equivelent of), heat out.

    Note that a stable low internal is maintained by the input power producing exactly its eqivelent of heat out. In this case the frig is acting no different than a resistance heater as far as how much heat it puts into the room.

    If you can acknowlede this I will talk about efficiency.


  • duane

    Les: “Why do you say that? Where does the extra energy come from?

    There is no extra energy.

    (electric power x time) + (heat drawn from cool reservoir) = (heat out)

    “The only time when more heat gets dumped into the kitchen than is supplied to the frige is when the frig is in the process of cooling its interior.”

    That’s all I’m saying. But it is always in the process of cooling. It is not perfectly insulated from the outside. So the power is always being drawn. Besides this minor quibble, I think we’re OK.

  • gonzo marx

    :::munches imaginary popcorn while standing, cuz the rest of BC is boring as fuck right now and sleep is about 50-60 hours away:::

    thinking of the many who toil in silence


  • Matthew T. Sussman

    “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.”

    “I’m not honest, but you’re interesting.”

    –Daniel Tosh

  • duane

    Cryogenics meets metaphysics.

  • El Bicho

    Am I at the right site? Didn’t know there were actual discussions like this taking place. Thanks all for the entertaining read.

  • Les Slater


    ” But it is always in the process of cooling. It is not perfectly insulated from the outside. So the power is always being drawn.”

    Then do you say that the refrig is putting more heat into the room than the equiv electric energy coming in? That violates the first law.


  • SonnyD

    Duane: Something sounds awfully strange about your comparisons. A refrig does not use power when it is off. The thermostat doesn’t need power, it’s mechanical. There is no heat when it is off. Microwave, kitchen range and coffee maker, on the other hand have lighted clocks and always draw some power. And your concern about heating the neighborhood is a little off, too. You may temporarily heat some air, but air movement is going to disperse it and somewhere up the mountain is a guy with a heat pump drawing heat from the outside to heat his room.

    What does this have to do with religion or lack thereof?

  • Les Slater

    “What does this have to do with religion or lack thereof?”

    The observation that there is a tendency for entropy to increase has been turned into a God of which we all have to bow. Any challenge damns one for Eternity.

  • Les Slater


    let me clarify a bit further. When the temperature within the frig stabilizes, there is no further any net transference of heat to the evironment. If there were it would mean that the inside the frig were still dropping. So regardless of what lack of perfection of the insulation, at that point, the amount of heat being produced by the frig is precicely = the electrical energy input. That does satisfy the first law.


  • Les Slater

    “…there is no further any net transference of heat to the evironment.”

    Should say:

    “…there is no further NET transference of heat from inside the frig to the evironment.”

  • duane

    Les (#141): “Then do you say that the refrig is putting more heat into the room than the equiv electric energy coming in? That violates the first law.”

    That doesn’t violate the 1st Law (see my #136). The cold compartment loses heat energy, call it Q. If you want the heat lost to the environment to be precisely Q, then you have what’s called a perfect refrigerator.

    No one has ever built a perfect refrigerator. That’s because the 2nd Law requires any spontaneous heat transfer to be accompanied by an increase in entropy (S). Spontaneity gives way to electrical intervention. The 2nd Law requires

    (1) Q_high > T_high x Q_low / T_low

    to enforce Delta S > 0, where T_high is the environment temp, T_low is the fridge temp, the Q’s are the magnitudes of the heat transfers.

    The 1st Law is, for this problem,

    (2) Q_high = Q_low + Pt

    where P is the electrical power and t is the time. Plugging (1) into (2) gives you

    (3) Pt > (T_high – T_low) x Q_low/ T_low

    which is positive. Therefore, (2) shows that the heat dumped is greater than either the heat extracted or the power input. It is, at the very least, the sum of the two.

    As an aside, if you rearrange (3), you get the coefficient of performance K, which is related to the EER

    K = Q_low/ Pt = T_low / (T_high – T_low)

    which is greater than 1 for a decent fridge. The 2nd Law prohibits K from being infinite (Q_high = Q_low).

  • duane

    SonnyD (#142) and Les (#144),

    I’m not an expert at refrigeration technology. And I’m not sure that the operation details really matter here. I’m still not sure where Les is going with this. Maybe we will end up discussing Joule expansion, heat exchangers, and the boiling points of refrigerants, but for now, I’ll just mention that there is this concept of “stand-by power.”

    Evidently, the stand-by power of a modern fridge is typically about 17 watts.


    Source: BRANZ Study Report No, SR 141 (2005)

    For example, a refrigerator compressor is on for most of the time and, when the compressor switches off, the refrigerator has a standby power of about 17 W.

    The top five appliance types in terms of their standby energy per house are (in order from largest to smallest):

    Refrigerator Freezer
    Computer (includes CPU and monitor)

    These five highest appliance types account for more than half the total household standby energy consumption.

    For refrigeration appliances this is a combination of control circuit power, anti-sweat heaters and, in the case of traditional New Zealand models of refrigerator, butter conditioner.


    SonnyD: “And your concern about heating the neighborhood is a little off, too.”

    I’m not concerned about that at all. That was Les.

    SonnyD: “What does this have to do with religion or lack thereof?”

    I dunno yet. Something about entropy and damnation.

  • SonnyD

    Les: That’a what I was trying to say without knowing the language.

    Duane: You can go on all day with this, but if there is a flaw in your basic premise, you still aren’t proving anything. When are you going to get back to the subject?

  • duane

    Hi SonnyD,

    … but if there is a flaw in your basic premise…

    I’m willing to corrrect any flaws. Could you please point them out?

    …you still aren’t proving anything ….

    It’s not my intention, at least at the moment, to prove anything.

    When are you going to get back to the subject?

    Which subject is that, SonnyD?

  • SonnyD

    Duane: Sorry about the confusion as to who said what.

    Four of the five examples you gave, I was aware of the standby power but didn’t know that all refrigerators were now built that way. Admitted, frost free models run a defrost cycle when you don’t hear it running. And the techie nerds are trying to add all sorts of strange abilities into refrigerators that don’t make any sense at all. But does the basic, economy model that we cheapskates buy consume power constantly?

  • gonzo marx

    #146 is why i was leaving this to duane

    as someone with close to 30 years in the field of electronics…there IS standby power as duane points out, if it’s an appliance, and it is turned on, and there is a transistor or especially an IC chip ANYWHERE within the device, the device was made in the last 20 years…then i can say unequivocably that there is a “soft start” section of the power supply that draws some current as long as the device is plugged in

    tough to type standing up, will check in to see how this progresses…

    entropy = damnation? very interesting Theory


  • Les Slater


    All are making this way too complicated. This is part of the problem. Don’t worry about standby energy, don’t worry about efficiency at all and don’t wory about the second law.

    The main point I am trying to make at this time is that after the frig has been runing for a sufficient time and the internal temperature is stabilized, I am saying all the further consumpsion of electricity gets totally turned into heat. We might argue that some sound comest out of the box but that sound will totally turn to heat, the energy of the sound will turn into its equivelent in heat. All we have left maybe is electromagnetic radiation. We can add EM absortion material to the walls and turn all that into heat too.

    Does anyone propose that there is more energy coming out of the box than is going in? Does anyone propose that the elctricity is turned into anything other than heat?


  • Les Slater

    PS: Forgive some of my untimeliness of my responses. I’ve been in Chicago for the past couple of days. Yesterday a good part of the day was going to a funeral.

  • duane

    OK, Les, sounds good. Carry on. And my condolences.

  • Temple Stark

    So this religious talk is really all hot air? :-)

    Thought as much. The C v A debate is always interesting even if the fascination lies in trying to hotly insert logic into an illogical conversation.

    Of course, people who live by logic die by logic, by God.

    — Temple

  • SonnyD

    Aha! I didn’t know we were talking about recent models only. Nor did I realize it has been 20 years since they started sticking those dadburned new fangled power guzzling gadgets into anything they could get their hands on. Example: In 1995 I had to go back to Indiana to clear out the 60 year accumulation of stuff in my parents home. One of the things I sold was the GE refrigerator they had used since about 1940. If it wasn’t damaged in transit, it is probably still running. I guess I’m still under the impression that a refrigerator should come on, make things cold and go off. Silly me!

  • Les Slater

    “Aha! I didn’t know we were talking about recent models only.”

    Old, new? It doesn’t matter.

  • SonnyD

    I wouldn’t argue with Duane’s expert opinion on the subject of electronics. But someone, was it Les with his “thermal dynamics” started leading the conversation astray. In #133 he promised that he would show how his comparison of electrical appliances would apply to what happens to the energy in the brain after death. I was still waiting for that to happen and couldn’t see how Duane was making any points one way or the other as regards that discussion. So I have a one track mind. So sue me! (8>P

  • Les Slater


    “show how his comparison of electrical appliances would apply to what happens to the energy in the brain after death.”

    I just wanted to say if something like this frig discussion could not be followed then the energy from brain would be helpless.

    Thermostats, electronic or otherwise have nothing to do with this frig case.


  • Les Slater


  • duane

    Les, why don’t you just say what you wanted to say? The details might not matter. But maybe they do. We’ll see. Quit stalling.

    energy in = energy out

    Fine. Now what?

  • SonnyD

    Les #157 Right. Concerning what you were saying, old or new doesn’t matter. Gonzo was illuminating me on the power usage of today’s appliances. I wasn’t exactly up to date on that. Oh well, don’t worry, be happy.

    I get into these conversations for only one reason. You people make me think. I also do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, play online games, etc. I’m told it’s good to keep the mind active. The old “use it or lose it” idea. It’s also a means of contact with the outside world. Four channels on the idiot box aren’t a lot of help. It’s nice to know there are still people out there who can carry on a conversation. The world doesn’t end at the hill across the road from my front door after all. Carry on.

  • SonnyD

    Now, Les, play nice.

  • duane

    And get on with it. Sheesh.

  • gonzo marx

    didn’t mean ta toss a monkey wrench into the gears… was merely mentioning a Variable, a bit retentive of me…i know

    but sometimes crucial Variables can be left out of the equation, improperly skewing results…and i am funny about that

    but do go on Les…i’m interested in seeing where you are going with this….


  • Les Slater


    “energy in = energy out. Fine. Now what?”

    Finally! And the energy out is heat.

    Now ,let’s go back to the room in winter with both the fride, fith its thermostats and whatever, plus a resistance electical heater with its thermostat.

    If the heat from the frig is not enough to heat the room to desired temp, AND the heat from the room heater IS enough to heat the room to desired temp without the extra heat from frig, we will find that the total electical powered to keep the room at desired temp will not make ANY difference as to whether the frig is ON or NOT.

    The cooling action of the frig is ABSOLUTELY FREE!


  • Andy Marsh

    Sorry I missed all this…I’ve been reading through some of the comments and it really looks like it’s been fun!

    Personally, I’ve learned a lot about organized religion since I came to BC and met gonzo…a lot more than 11 years of catholic school ever taught me! Used to be a time when I just hated the catholic church…now it’s to the point where I’m pretty much disgusted with all organized religion!

    I’ma start my own religion…based only on maybe two or three of the gospels I say are the important ones…and they aren’t even in the bible!!! Maybe I’ll get rich like L. Ron?!??!

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Maybe your the next incarnation of L.Ron!!

  • Andy Marsh

    Yeah…I can see the neon now…Andy Marsh’s Church of the Holy Hookah!!!

  • troll

    which texts Andy – ?

  • Andy Marsh

    If I was gonna pick ’em troll…

    I’d say the first would be the Gospel of Thomas…of course that one’s gonna make it a little difficult to get people into church…that whole…under every rock thing…

    I also enjoyed the Gospel of Mary Magdalene…and the latest one I’ve read is the Gospel of Judas…so, those 3 to start.

    All of them seem to throw a monkey wrench in the current version of organized christianity…probably why I like them.

  • Les Slater

    I would choose Thomas.

  • troll

    damned anarchists everywhere…under every rock…under every bed

  • gonzo marx

    anarchists unite!!!

    you have nothing to lose but your isolation…


  • Les Slater


    Do you understand my #166?


  • gonzo marx

    Les… it looks like the olde “7 x 13 = 28″ Abbott and Costello schtick

    i think i am following about the heat bit, but not how the coolant function of the fridge is “free”

    to my Understanding, the total electric energy into the room is slightly greater than the function of all work done + heat loss due to hysterisis

    but i’m waiting to see your entire bit all in one place so i can look it over, and again am willing to leave it to duane to check the math…i’m not at finest critical thinking capabilities at the moment…will look at it all again once finished with current difficulties and a nap…

    but do keep going, am checking it as i can stand still..

    and Andy…good ta *see* ya


  • Andy Marsh

    The fisrt time I read the Gospel of Thomas (thanks gonzo) I could not understand why it was left off the list…then it was pointed out to me that the one quote…

    77. Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.

    Split a piece of wood; I am there.

    Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

    And this one…

    39. Jesus said, “The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so. As for you, be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves.”

    These two quotes I think would have made it more difficult to get people into any church…let alone one that was in hiding!

    These quotes were copied from… Gnosis

  • Les Slater


    If you did we can explore the significance of this and move on the a scenereo where the violation of the second law is explored. This will require move from the frig example (also works with air conditioner bu not as easy to explain) to a new one where the thermal energy of molecules in a gas is locally reduced causing a local cooling.


  • gonzo marx

    Les – carry on, as i said, i am interested in seeing where this goes…

    Andy – glad to see your Reading has struck a Chord

    the Gospels of Thomas, Mary, Simon and Judas are indeed very interesting reading and aid in putting the first 2 centuries of christian thinking into context, a context far different than what Iraneus and the unified (catholic)Church and it’s descendants desired…

    big difference between working towards personal Enlightenment and scapegoating “salvation” unearned, eh?


  • Les Slater


    “Les – carry on, as i said, i am interested in seeing where this goes…”

    Are you following it so far? Do you understand my 166 and 178. duane finaly acknowledge energy out = energy in. This is clealy pretty basic but just as clearly neither of you saw it in the examples I was presenting until much explanation with concrete examples.

    Do you understand why I say the cooling in the frig was absoluteley free?

    I long ago said where I was going. I need to know that the steps layed out so far are understoo.


  • Andy Marsh

    LIke I said before gonzo…I was baptized a catholic…did first communion….and even comfirmation…I’m saved…doesn’t matter what I do as long as I go to confession every once in a while…and get last rites before I die…the rest of you are screwed! At least that’s what they taught me in catholic school!!!

    Amazing that when I was a kid I had to go to confession for going to a church that wasn’t catholic, christian, but not catholic! That was one of the things that really really bothered me about catholicism…that…we’re right and everyone else is wrong attitude just really pisses me off!

    Side note…I was in Borders…looking for the Gospel of Mary Magdalene…a saw a lady that was picking out different bible type books…you know the stuff…”scholarly” interpretations of bible writings…I pointed her towards the Gospel of Thomas explaining to her how incredible I thought it was and she actually picked one up and purchased it. I’d have loved to been a fly on the wall when she showed her pastor or priest the books she had purchased! Do you suppose I need to go to confession for that one???

  • gonzo marx

    Andy – this one was for you….

    i figured you would get the Joke/Revelation when i typed it…

    for Andy


  • Andy Marsh

    Very entertaining…both the links…thanks again gonzo.

  • Les Slater

    Specifically, do you see why the refrig being On or OFF in the winter example ment aabsolutely NOTHING as far as the amount of electricity being used?

  • Les Slater

    I can explain why the is no difference as to how much electricity whether the frig is on or not. I can lay it out more clearly if we do not full understand.

    This is very contrary to current thinking so I am not surprised to disbelief here.

    I’m about to shut off the computer and head home to Detroit. See ya in a few hours.


  • duane

    OK, Les, your presentation thus far has a bit o’ the sleight-of-hand about it.

    “The cooling action of the frig is ABSOLUTELY FREE!”

    You’re simply trading off heating from two power sources.

    Also, your assumption was that the fridge had reached so-called “equilibrium,” where no cooling action is required at all. So, your conclusion in 166 contains in it a direct contradiction of your assumption.

    Your criterion of merit is the amount of room heating as it translates to a comfortable room temperature. By removing the need for the fridge to cool, you may as well use light bulbs as heat sources. The fridge, in its capacity to cool air, has been removed from the equation.

    But let’s not get sidetracked again. Please just lay out your argument in toto, and then we’ll have a look at it.

  • Les Slater


    I’m at a rest stop in Michigan so will only be able to give this one shot for now.

    “By removing the need for the fridge to cool, you may as well use light bulbs as heat sources. The fridge, in its capacity to cool air, has been removed from the equation.”

    This is precisely what I intended to do. And yes light bulbs could be used. However the light bulb would not have any of its internal parts below ambient temperature. The frig does. From a black box point of view, over a bracketed period of time, there is no difference between the light bulb (I prefer a heater) and the frig.

    If you agree that this is the case, then one musk ask, what energy is keeping the internal temp of the frig at a relatively stable temperature, which is below the ambient?

    No slight of hand here.


  • duane

    Les, again you’re jumping back and forth between idealizations and realities. On the one hand, you assume the the fridge temperature is stable with no outside energy input, but on the other hand you’re asking what energy maintains stability. You can’t have it both ways.

    IF it’s stable, there is NO cooling required (by definition). The only energy input is stand-by energy.

    IF cooling is required, then energy input is required.

    The REAL answer is that there is no way to keep the fridge colder than the outside environment without supplying power. Try it yourself. Unplug the fridge and see how your frozen veggies hold up.

    Am I missing something?

  • duane

    Here we go with the continuing debate about refrigerators. Under the “Satire” heading, no less.

    Les asks (#167), “…what energy is keeping the internal temp of the frig at a relatively stable temperature, which is below the ambient?”

    You tell me.

  • Les Slater

    The actual EXTRA energy that is NEEDED to pump the HEAT from INSIDE the frig to the OUTSIDE is precisely the energy of the HEAT that was REMOVED.

  • zingzing

    why are you talking about refridgerators?

  • Les Slater

    zing, would you prefer air conditioners?

    I have deen trying to debate with the Priests of the God of Thermodynamic.

    I am an atheist.

  • zingzing

    i don’t know…

  • duane

    Les, back up. I thought you had invoked some kind of “equilibrium” state where no heat was being pumped at all. Now (#189), you’re talking about pumping heat from inside the fridge.

    Please clarify your hypotheses or we aren’t going to get anywhere.

    Besides, your statement

    “The actual EXTRA energy that is NEEDED to pump the HEAT from INSIDE the frig to the OUTSIDE is precisely the energy of the HEAT that was REMOVED”

    is not generally true. I wrote #146 for a reason. My Eq. (3) shows the relationship of the heat removed and the power input. It depends on the two temperatures. If, for example, the fridge temp is 270 (Kelvin scale) and the outside temp is 540, then, in a minimum-entropy heat exchange, Pt=Q_low. You can find other temperature pairs that will allow the same thing. With typical values T_cold=270 and T_high=300, the power requirement is only 11% of the heat extraction rate. Check it out.

    Zing (#190). Very good.

  • Les Slater


    “Les, back up. I thought you had invoked some kind of “equilibrium” state where no heat was being pumped at all.”

    I never said that nothing was being pumped. All I said was that at eqquilibrium net energy in = net energy out. Equilibrium does not at all mean no heat is being pumped. As a general rule, equilibrium is when all counteracting forces balance each other.

    “is not generally true. I wrote #146 for a reason. My Eq. (3) shows the relationship of the heat removed and the power input. It depends on the two temperatures. If, for example, the fridge temp is 270 (Kelvin scale) and the outside temp is 540, then, in a minimum-entropy heat exchange, Pt=Q_low. You can find other temperature pairs that will allow the same thing. With typical values T_cold=270 and T_high=300, the power requirement is only 11% of the heat extraction rate. Check it out.”

    I’m a high school drop-out but I know enough that your equations do not, in any sense whatever, address the simple relationships that we are talking about.

    Efficiency is not a very useful concept here. Does one say that a black box is 0% efficient because there is no noticeable output but heat, or that it is 100% efficient because it is a heater and ALL the electrical energy is converted to heat?


  • duane

    Les: “…your equations do not, in any sense whatever, address the simple relationships that we are talking about.”

    Well, Les, then I guess I’m through here. The equations are nothing more than simple algebraic expressions of the laws you are purporting to challenge. I have shown you, on at least two occasions, that you are simply mistaken, and pointed out inconsistencies or confusion in your statements, which you refuse to acknowledge. OK, that’s BC for ya. But #146 is not merely an opinion based on political leaning, or religious persuasion, or a philosophical credo. It describes nature. You will have to work very, VERY hard to refute anything in that particular post.

    All along, you have insisted that others follow your argument, and we have tried. I am disappointed to find that you have not understood my comments, especially #146, since, in spite of your claim to the contrary, it addresses the topic squarely in the face.

    If you do not understand, or worse, will not accept basic physics — and that’s all it is, I didn’t pull that stuff out of a hat — I cannot help you.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not leaving in a huff. I just think we’re on different wavelengths. I will read along, but I’m going to have to drop out of the discussion. Please finish elucidating your idea.

    Carry on.

  • Les Slater

    Duane #134 “The heat energy dumped to the environment (your kitchen, in this case) is greater than the electrical power input, which satisfies the 1st Law.”

    My #135 “Why do you say that? Where does the extra energy come from?”

    In #136 duane states “There is no extra energy. (electric power x time) + (heat drawn from cool reservoir) = (heat out)”

    But in my #135 (note that this precedes his #136), I say the same thing, “”The only time when more heat gets dumped into the kitchen than is supplied to the frig is when the frig is in the process of cooling its interior.” It is only different in the sense that both are referring to different points in the same process. Duane’s is referring to a phase of the process where net heat is being removed from the frig. Mine is after the process has stabilized and no further NET heat is being removed from the frig. These are not contradicting each other.

    Further in #136, duane says he agrees, “That’s all I’m saying.” But then shows his confusion, “But it is always in the process of cooling.” He just explicitly agreed with my, “”The only time when more heat gets dumped into the kitchen than is supplied to the frig is when the frig is in the process of cooling its interior.” We both seemed to have made the distinction between before and after the point of equilibrium, then, “But it is always in the process of cooling. It is not perfectly insulated from the outside. So the power is always being drawn.”

    The power is always being drawn? Is he implying that even after equilibrium, more heat is coming out of the box than the equivalence of the electrical energy going into the box? If this is his implication then he has to explain why he would call this an equilibrium. The only place this heat can come from is from within the box and this means that the temperature would have to further drop and continue to drop to provide this extra heat.

    Duane ends, yes, CONCLUDES, his #136 with, “Besides this minor quibble, I think we’re OK.”

    Minor quibble? He either is saying that there is no equilibrium, or even if there is, it is still drawing power because of the lack of perfect insulation. But what should we think of this ‘minor quibble’? That we can ignore it because that there is no consequence in this discussion? That’s nonsense. It is not a minor quibble, but a fundamental point of confusion on duane’s part.

    Also note that he is agreeing with me, excepting for a minor quibble of course, without any recourse to any specific temperatures, or temperature differences. His only mathematical framework here is, “(electric power x time) + (heat drawn from cool reservoir) = (heat out)”.

    His fundamental problem seems to be his understanding of the nature of the second term on the left side.

  • gonzo marx

    imo, duane is not the one with the fundamental problem…


  • Andy Marsh

    I’m just kinda curious…what the hell does this have to do with christianity and atheism?????????

  • gonzo marx

    i think Les was going to somehow tie in his refrigerator stuff with what happens to our Energy when we die…

    still ain’t seeing it, have some hunches of where he is going to try and go

    in #146 duane lays out the Math that describes the situation of Les’ example (analogy/metaphor)

    what i think is going on is that Les is attempting to equate human Consciousness(Mind/Spirit/Soul) with the *equilibirium* *state* of his “fridge”…and thus that he is theorizing that during Life our Energy is in an equilibrium state between input of fuel(food) and output (muscular energy + thought) with nothing left over for the inEffable…

    just a guess..and i don’t want to assume i understand where Les is going…


  • Les Slater


    I am in no way going in the direction with this thermodynamics question to deal with the question of afterlife.

    I am, though, sing some similiarities between some’s understanding of thermodynamics and faith.

    I was also hoping thagt the Gospel of Thomas might go some place, that is a little closer to my ideas of afterlife.

    I went to a couple of lectures by Elaine Pagels, one of them was about the Gospel of Thomas. I was quite impressed with her historical materialst approach to the subject. I also read her ‘Beyond Belief’.

    Next, I will start moving on to see how this all fits into the violation of the second law and actully propose a mechanism that would do just that.


  • Les Slater

    When I say all, I am not referring to Thomas or any other topic connected with what happens to the energy of the brain after death. The second law question will proceed from the frig question, no need to bring Jesus, any of His disciples or God into this.

  • gonzo marx

    do continue on, Les…i’m curious as to where you are going with this

    the link Andy put up goes to Gnostic Bishop Heoller’s site…good reference material there for all things Nag Hammadi as well as all kinds of Gnostic reference material and lectures…quite comprehensive, imo


  • gonzo marx

    on the side topic of Bishop Hoeller…

    what is a gnostic? is a nice essay written by Hoeller that serves as a decent Introduction for those interested….poke around the rest of the site for info and links…

    shout me if i can help with the topic


  • troll

    hey socrats – your dialog is for shit…nobody is following you down the garden path

    how about defining your terms – listing your axioms – and stating your hypothesis

    then if folks don’t get what your saying they can ask direct questions other than: ‘what the fuck – ?’

  • Alyse

    I am not going to enter the god/no god debate (I fall squarely on the no god side). I just wanted to say I enjoyed your article.

    Dog On,


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    All the Discussion has disapparated for almost a week…

    Looks like Les Slater and Duane got into a time machine, went to Electric Avenue in Monkey Wards in the late ’90’s and have continued their conversation there, surrounded by then brand new fridges….

    And they don’t appear to have returned…

  • troll

    I prefer to think that Les is considering how to reformulate his argument

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    If either of them return, we can ask them if they have any flower petals from the year 807,563 CE. And also if they have reformulated their arguments.

    Personally, I like the argument reached by some scientists that the Universe has more the character of Mind than Matter. It sticks in their throats to say “G-d” (even with the vowel popped in the middle), but hey, that’s okay.

  • Les Slater


    “I prefer to think that Les is considering how to reformulate his argument”

    No, my argument stands as it were. It’s not an argument anymore. It is simply the recognition that after the frig stabilizes it is the thermal equivelent of a resistance heater as far as heat output and electrical input are concerned.

    My further discussion was to introduce a proposed machine that would violate the second law.

    The frig example does not violate the second law. It is a SIMPLE illustration of the first law. It is just looking at it from another perspective.

    The question I have for Ruvy. Can God violate any of these laws?


  • Les Slater

    I am not the one that has introduced nonsense into the discussion. I had tried to keep it totally within the realm of the first law. It must be the mere fact that I even mention the second law that stands as a barrier to simple and straight thinking.

    Duane, dwelling on the losses AFTER thermal stability, is introducing the erroneous idea that this loss somehow comes from a place other than the input electrical power.

    His #188 pretty much shows his hopeless confusion.

    “IF it’s stable, there is NO cooling required (by definition). The only energy input is stand-by energy.”

    This is not true on more than one account. First, this is only a particular case of stability, namely that of the inside of the frig at ambient temperature. It does not even need the standby energy. It can be unplugged. If the ambient is stable, then the temp inside the frig will ultimately be stable and at ambient temperature.

    Second, another, and more useful point of stability, is that at a desired inside temperature which lower than ambient. In this second case, nobody is proposing that power is not consumed. All I am saying is that the all of the power that is consumed is turned into heat.

    I focus on the stabilized state because as the temperature is dropping we have a more complicated situation. We start with a certain amount of energy inside the frig, and then remove it. WHILE it is being removed, we have the output energy equaling the input energy PLUS the amount of energy removed. When the frig is turned off we have no input energy from the AC power but we do indeed have input energy which, does in fact, heat the inside of the frig. When the inside temp of the frig reaches ambient temp, the energy removed from the ambient is exactly the same as that was removed by the cooling in the earlier part of this cycle.

    This is SIMPLE first law here. Where’s the problem?

    “The REAL answer is that there is no way to keep the fridge colder than the outside environment without supplying power. Try it yourself. Unplug the fridge and see how your frozen veggies hold up.”

    No shit. What’s the point?

    “Am I missing something?”

    Yes, look up and notice the forest. Not all wisdom is in the trees. There’s a bigger picture.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    The way I comprehend all this, the universe is G-d’s creation. Therefore, He makes the rules – and changes them according to His whim. So, the answer is that He is not “violating” any rules, He is acting according to His will.

    That said, logic dictates that He not go outside of these rules or bend them too often, lest his creatures go nuts trying to figure out which end is up – literally.

  • troll

    *the energy removed from the ambient is exactly the same as that was removed by the cooling in the earlier part of this cycle*

    so…let’s assume this as a premiss (and argue about it later if need be)

    what’s next…even given a thought experimental machine that violates the second law where are you going with all this – ?

  • Les Slater

    “so…let’s assume this as a premiss”

    I shouldn’t have even mentioned it. It is of very little importance. I give up.

  • Les Slater


    I know. I just like hearing it. It’s so comforting.



  • troll

    Les – if you can’t proceed to state where you are going and continue to get snagged on this item ‘of little importance’ then you should give up

    at this point I can only surmise that you’ve had some epiphany that you cannot express in a way that I as a member of the hoi polloi can grok

  • Nancy

    That’s what I like about BC: some of these discussion start of on Subject A & then go all over the map. From a proselityzing waitress to the bible to thermodynamics & Tao. If ya hadn’t read it, you’d have to wonder how on earth it got there. Good discussion all. Nice story to being with, too.

  • Les Slater


    “so…let’s assume this as a premiss (and argue about it later if need be)”

    Assume the premiss? And maybe argue about it later? Of course, only if need be.

    Sheesh!!!! What you consider the PREMISS on which to proceed was totally peripheral to what I am trying to say.

    We can not start by walking into a forest, walking up to a tree, getting out the magnefying glass, aha, the bark, let’s proceed with the bark as the premiss.

  • gonzo marx

    Les – relax….breathe..

    try setting down your metaphorical tangent, and just say what yer trying ta say

    so far, if i understand the convolutions correctly….all ya have stated is that the electricity is all being used

    ok..go with it, now what?


  • Les Slater

    “If ya hadn’t read it, you’d have to wonder how on earth it got there.”

    Faith Based Quantum Thermodynamic Tunneling.

  • gonzo marx

    “Faith Based Quantum Thermodynamic Tunneling.”


    i’m trying to see where you are going with this, but the faith based and tunneling parts are throwing me off

    thermodynamics don’t require “Faith”…it just works, and “tunneling” i would need defined


  • Les Slater

    “so far, if i understand the convolutions correctly….all ya have stated is that the electricity is all being used”

    Finally! If I said that in the first place nobody would believe me. Well, at least as far as the frig is concerned.

    If all the electricity is being used, turned into heat, then we have a complete satisfaction of the first law. No?

    My point is that this is true, wheter or not, some cooling has occured. You pay the same to the utility company either way. Frig, electric heater, same heat output, same electic bill.

  • gonzo marx

    with the caveat that not all of the energy transforms into heat…i’m with you, and you should have just said it straight up…your dithering was much more confusing than you might think

    i’ll go so far as to say all the electricity that your meter monitor is used somewhere in the house that is being monitored…a miniscule percentage is wasted, but the vast majority goes into either powering a device (lightbulb, computer, tv, radio, fridge, washer/dryer, etc) or as waste energy of heat due to hysteresis losses



  • Les Slater


    You’re not as close as I thought you were. You are still mystifying the process. I’m trying to make this as simple as possible.

    The room under consideration has its own metering. we’ll for the purpose of argument assume that the meter only registers to power that was delivered to the room, whether or not, it has consumed any power.

    I will also assume that the temp outside the room is cooler than the lowest temperature ever reached inside the frig and that this temp is constant and has infinite sink.

    I have also stated that the room has a heating capability of its own and does not depend on the frig. And that the frig’s heating the room is not sufficient to maintain what I have been referring to as the ambient temperature. The in-room control of its heating system is sufficiently accurate to maintain a constant temperature and there are mechanisms to maintain constant temperature distribution.

    The walls, ceilings, windows, doors all have a uniform heat loss to the outside.

    The heat generatede by all controls inside the room only must be sufficiently low as to not heat the room to ambient with refrigerator running.

    In other words, a highly controlled situation.

    Misc source of heat do not matter. Whatever heat the the refrig provides or does not provide will be compensated for by the the thermostically controlled room temp by turning on and off of the heater to maintain room temp.

    I say that the room takes a certain amount of power, gotten from the electrical service, to maintain its desired ambient temp. That power, all turned into heat, will make no difference as to whether the frig is on or off. Of course the frig uses no power when it is off. It also produces no heat. The room heater has to make up the difference.

    The electric bill is the same.


  • gonzo marx


    you have many postulates which you ask to be a given, but are indeed variables

    for the sake of discussion, i’m more than happy to set those aside with the caveat that they exist, but a minor thing

    i still ask…so?

    and await your getting to the point


  • Les Slater


    The point is that you don’t see the point.

    Somewhere in this thread I mention that I have been very influenced by Shannon and Weaver’s ‘Mathematical Theory of Communication”, written in 1948. I particularly remember Weaver’s comment on redundancy. He pointed out that the English language is 50% redundant, you could randomly remove 50% of the characters and it would still be highly readable. He also pointed out that in any purposeful communication that the channel contained less than the actual message. e.g., a channel might be a single bit transmitted. The bit would only be a one or zero. The actual message would be greater. A zero could represent ‘by land’ and a one ‘by sea’.

    Weaver pointed out that this is fundamental for all channels, including, non electronic, personal communications. The actual transmission of a message could never totally be through the channel itself, that there is a necessary commonality in understanding how a message will be coded at the transmitting end, and how it will be decoded at the receiving end. The relationship between the coding and decoding can never be arbitrary. To the degree the coding mechanism and decoding mechanism are not fully in sync with each other gives rise to distortion.


  • gonzo marx

    Shannon and Weaver’s work is given as a postulate, no argument form me on that one…

    still…what’s your Point?


  • troll

    welcome to the distorted inexact world of non formal systems and every day life – and good luck to you

    get on with it – ?

  • Les Slater


    The point is that my coding mechanism and your decoding mechanism are not in sync. So what we are going through, as is known communications parlance, in the training mode, and have not hand-shaked an agreement.

    We are not on the same page. I keep pointing to misunderstandings and they are persistently ignored. We can’t move on without further distortion.


  • gonzo marx

    Les – i’m stating that i comprehend your assertions and that with the stated small caveats…i’m following, awaiting you to further your Points

    do i get everything you might be trying to communicate? probably not…i’ve been clear in my concerns and stated they are minor…only raised in case of future conflicts down the proverbial Path (so i can point back to them and show why i raised said objections..)

    part of it is in dealing with your parable/analogy rather than straight talk

    when using Metaphor, a level of ambiguity and interpretation is presumptive…such tools are great for explaining or expanding on something, but do poorly in setting out baseline axioms due to the inherent inaccuracy of the model under consideration

    say it straight up, and we can take it from there, fair enough?


  • Les Slater

    “i’ve been clear in my concerns and stated they are minor”

    I think they are fundamental. I have tried to address all of your caveats in my 224. Which ones haven’t I addressed?

    Both you and duane point to losses. I wholeheartedly acknowledge the losses, and they are not minor. I just say they make no difference, they all heat the room. In this case that is our desired product. We get exactly what we pay for, no more, no less.

  • gonzo marx


    ok, what comes out is less than or equal to what you put in ..a given and acceptable axiom

    still don’t see where you are going, and am rapidly losing the ability to care

    please state your case and we can take it from there


  • Les Slater

    What’s the point? I’ve said this before but will try to make it more explicit.

    I have said that the cost of the cooling function is absolutely free as far as the electric bill is concerned, but only if the ‘waste’ is useful.

    If we decide to heat our room with resistance heating, which is faily common, the incremental cost of cooling the inside of a refrigerator is absolutely ZERO.

  • gonzo marx

    and i say it still takes electricity

    heat is a waste byproduct of the refridgeration process

    and NOTHING is “free”, you still pay for every erg of electricity coming into the place…the Energy used for cooling ALWAYS costs and is NOT offset by the heat produced

    set your example in July and you pay extra to cool the heat from the icebox with the air conditioner, the savings on the heat bill are minor…especially if your heat is not normally produced by electricity

    now, you said you were going to show something violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics…so far what we have are semantic argumentation attempting to say that cooling your food via appliance is “free”…which i refute

    but i’m willing to go along and see where your Analogy takes us, just fucking lay it out…please!


  • Les Slater

    I never said it did not take electricity and somewhere many comments ago I said that it doesn’t work in the summer. The thermodynamics of it though, are true whether or not you find the heat useful. That is what my warning at the begining of this discussion was referring to when I talked about morality and value judgements clouding our ability to think of this in scientific terms.

    Your 234 pretty much says that this whole thing is impractical, that there are better ways to heat a room than resistance heating and the frig wouldn’t make that much difference anyway.

    I never said that was proposing a practical answer to the heating problem in winter.

    What I think I successfully did was to demonstrate, that under controlled circumstances, using the efficiency loss of the frig to supplement the resistance heater’s heat output, without incurring any further loss by cooling the inside of the frig.

    This does not violate the second law but to realize that the only energy that one could find , not violating the first law, for the cooling function was the energy in the air inside the refrig. In a first law sense, it removed itself. All other energies were TOTALLY accounted for.

    It made me think. The second law was my next target.

  • gonzo marx

    the energy transfer from the cooling coils to the air inside the appliance, that’s the “work” being done, with a byproduct of heat from the cooling coils and electronics

    as for any “value judgment”..that is a function of design principle…if you build something to cool, and you get heat as a byproduct…that’s considered “waste” by definition, meaning it does nothing to further the intended work

    now, where is this going?


  • Les Slater

    “meaning it does nothing to further the intended work”

    Are you a believer of ‘Intelligent Design’ as far as thermodynamics is concerned?

    Do you believe thermodynamics follows the dictates of the designer? God or engineer? Your qualification here is NOTHING but a value judgement.

  • gonzo marx

    Les…you are bordering on the silly

    the Designer in this case is the engineer who created that more, no less

    stop fucking around and attempting to skew what has been typed and try just typing out what it is you are trying to say…the Record is right here for anyone to read

    the “value judgment” is for the engineer only, he was designing a device to keep food cool for storage, anything outside of said function is waste, which a good engineer keeps to a minimum…hence no jet engine on your alarm clock


  • Les Slater

    Let’s take a break and talk about Tammy Fae. She has just passed.

  • gonzo marx

    objection, your Honor!

    counsel is trying to distract from the subject with a non-sequitor


  • Les Slater

    Suggestion withdrawn.

  • Les Slater

    And what if I was in a small cold room with no other appliance than a frig? Would you expect me to endure the cold in deference to the intent of the engineer? Now who’s being silly? The frig is a useful heater. If gonzo isn’t looking I might even set the internal temp thermostat to max cold. Me being an engineer knows that will make the frig put out more heat.

    This intent thing is just nonsense as far as the discussion at hand is concerned.

  • gonzo marx

    the more you type, the more i am forced to conclude that the discussion is pointless, fruitless and sheer frustration

    enjoy your day


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    This conversation between Les and Gonzo has been a pleasure to read and watch, even though I didn’t understand half of it (failed physics – couldn’t get past professor Mukerjee’s South Asian accent and the absence of air conditioning in a summer college course).

    It is illustrative of what happens when two well intentioned people cannot agree on fundamentals in a discussion and argue past each other. For this reason alone, it was worth slogging through the metaphors involved.

    Both of you now have an idea of the frustration of Talmudic study. Sages argue with each other, rarely agreeing on the fundamentals at issue, and there is nearly never a satisfactory resolution – so the students are left to follow the sage of their choice…

  • gonzo marx

    well Ruvy…i say fuck following any sage

    read the Material for yourself, find out where said material comes from, and make up your own Mind

    anything less is sheeple behavior, imo

    since your example are all about the wrangling about the writings of Men, you get subjective interpretations, hence arguments

    this one is strange since we are dealing with physics…pretty Objective, and #146 shows the formula involved…also clearly objective

    under discussion is some strange analogy/metaphor which has gone no where in actually conveying any meaningful content to the overall discussion so far

    there’s the recap…


  • Les Slater


    I’m not frustrated, just disappointed. I had lots of fun trying to get my ideas straight. I am satisfied that I succeeded in that.

    I am very pleased that you found the discussion to have been a pleasure to read and watch. My discussion was never aimed at physics majors. I kept it at the simplest level that I possibly could and still maintain rigor. I suspect you understand more than you admit.


  • Les Slater

    Also, I feel vindicated that Gonzo ended with a rousing defense of subjectivity.

  • gonzo marx


    Les, just how deluded are you? are was that sarcasm?

    i did not defend subjectivity merely because i pointed it out

    but, what the fuck ever…when you want to speak plainly about a topic, i’ll read offense, but imo you just ain’t cutting it with esoterica OR physics

    one Question…are you an engineer or a HS drop out? if both, how did you manage that one?


  • Paotie

    Les/Gonzo ..

    I’ve enjoyed this conversation as well.

    Les: what do you propose happens to the energy that sustains a human being after they die? Your analogy seems to suggest that energy has to be displaced when a person dies. Religious people tend to think this “energy” is really a soul, and persons are then subjected to judgement of the souls. As an atheist, I wonder if the energy that sustains my life will be transferred after I die, although I’m inclined to think the energy sustaining me today will be converted to decomposition. If I am cremated, my body will transfer the energy towards heat.

    I might be wrong and ask for correction. I think I understand your fridgerator analogy in the sense of energy displacement. Of course, I could be wrong, too.

    Regardless, I’ve genuinely enjoyed your analogies. In fact, I have enjoyed the conversation between you and Gonzo and hope to see more of the same in the future.



  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    You write,

    i say fuck following any sage… read the Material for yourself, find out where said material comes from, and make up your own Mind…
    anything less is sheeple behavior, imo

    I understand and sympathize – but the source in the Torah itself, and the discussions are about law. The sages speak as judges, but without the authority to enforce their decisions – hence the lack of resolution. For this reason, one reads all the arguments. It allows you to get at all the permutations of the law that theses sages discovered.

    All this sounds pretty impractical – until you are faced with a decision to make as a judge (a rabbi) and you need something to give you guidance and some authority.

    Just a sample: a woman comes to you and her belly is a little round. She tells you that “the visitor” has not visited for two months. Obviously she is pregnant. Having this baby would reduce this family from poverty to penury; giving up the baby to another Jewish family is just not an option – the nearest family lives 200 kilometers away, a 5 day journey; in the eyes of this community, giving up the child to a non-Jew to raise would violate the agreement you made with the local prince granting you residence: Jews are not to be a burden on the community. What do you say to the young woman? The Torah, the original text, does not give clear guidance on abortion. But the sages, arguing over the issue, do generate ideas as to what to do.

    That is the value of the Talmud, Gonzo. They generate ideas so that a judge following in their footsteps can use to come up with a solution for the young women of the age. And because the young woman sees you struggling over the texts and scratching your beard, she can have some confidence in that you have wrestled with the issue – her issue.

    In the end, your authority as a judge (rabbi) rests on the confidence of those coming to you for judgments.

    That is the recap…

  • Les Slater

    “one Question…are you an engineer or a HS drop out? if both, how did you manage that one?”

    It’s a long story. I did not have enough credits to graduate with my class in 1961. I joined the Air Force and spent nearly four years there. During the time in electronis training at Keesler AF Base in ’62. I voluntarily doubled my classroom work load. I went to class 12 hours a day. I studied computers in addition to my assigned ‘heavy ground radio maintainence’. I aced all courses and sections thereof. I was offered an instructor assignment but refused and requested to be assigned outside of training.

    My first assignment was to Eilson AF Base in Fairbanks Alaaska. I was assigned to an HF receiver site that was closed the day I got there. I normally could have been reassigned to the transmitter site but that closed the same day. The communications group I was assigned to also maintained ground and airborne radar and navigational aids. I trained in these field.

    I was there for 14 months. I asked fto be reassigned before 18 month tour was over. I was then assigned to an empty building in Cross City FL. It was supposed to be a crypto communications center. I studied cryptographic technology and got top Secret Crypto clearance and was issued .45 cal auto side arm. Nothing ever came of that building while I was there. They finally got tired of me and sent me to McDill AF Base in Tampa, FL. I was finally assigned to work in original MOS. I promptly got into motorcycle head on with truck and was totally out of action as far as the Air Force was concerned. They kept me in aabout another year until my four years were up.

    I took some college courses through correspondence and at Tampa University. I got my high school GED and one year college GED. I applied to Tampa U. They granted me an invitation to start as a sophmore. I never took them up on it.

    More later.

  • gonzo marx

    Les – you got yer GED, nuff said

    Ruvy – ah we hit the conundrum…who wrote the original?

    i say it was the hands of Men, and while there is much Wisdom is Man’s wisdom

    other interpretations, some of which you share, claim Inspiration did guide those hands…

    again, i Ask…from where? and see only the words of Men

    so while i easily grant that Wisdom and precedence can indeed be found in writings…i do NOT see anything more than said Wisdom of Men…and thus remain a Skeptic in authoritarian pronouncements from ANY text


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Ruvy – ah we hit the conundrum…who wrote the original?

    i say it was the hands of Men, and while there is much Wisdom is Man’s wisdom

    other interpretations, some of which you share, claim Inspiration did guide those hands…

    again, i Ask…from where? and see only the words of Men

    We’ve done this dance before, Gonzo. You make your claim; I make mine.

    If we accept your claim, then the millennium old proofs of the 15 billion year age of the universe get tossed out with the rest, my boy – along with the near perfectly accurate timing for the lunation of the moon – coming from a people who didn’t calculate that lunation from the watching the moon, but from reading the Torah and following the Clues left therein…

    I seriously do recommend to you the book Genesis and the Big Bang by Dr. Gerald Schroeder. He explains these things far better than I, with my puerile knowledge of either math or Jewish law… And being that you are a mathematician by training, you should have little trouble following the logic – logic explicated by a fellow who, among other things, was involved in the weapons testing in the early ’60’s – his first story in the book, and his explanation of how his impression of deer changed.

    However, what I wrote you concerning the Torah, and the Talmud, is the same application that any person would make to the secular law and its development, and why judges look up laws in thick tomes. Note that in my example, I put the word “judge” before the word “rabbi.” This was not accidental.

  • gonzo marx

    just for your lunar calendar bit, since i think it is endemic to the points at hand

    i’ll easily grant that some Men derived a solid lunar calendar from reading scripture

    but here’s the thing, why is it so difficult to understand that some Men who HAD been making astronomic observations were the ones who put those “clues” in there in the first place?

    nothing supernatural to be found, more’s the pity


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, in the days before you sent us “you tubes” with hard rock tunes carrying philosophy, you used to send links with some real hard reading. And when you sent them my way, I looked – I respect your intelligence, even if I do not necessarily agree with you.

    So, to humopr a fellow seeker, check out this site and read a couple of the essays posted there…

  • duane

    Ruvy, this business about the 15 billion year old universe is fascinating. You said that the proof of this was known some 1000 years ago (or more?). As far as you know, did this proven fact ever enter into discussions of the age of creation, you know, the Ussher stuff? Why did so many people adopt the picture of the 6000 year old universe? Is that just a Christian thing?

    Also, I was wondering the heat death of the universe was predicted in the ancient texts, i.e., is the lifetime of the universe mentioned? That would involve the 2nd Law, which, as far as I can see, remains unscathed by the preceding discussions.

  • gonzo marx

    as far as i know, Usher used biblical geneologies tied to known historic points to calculate the 6000 years as a literal timetable presented by the combination of Old and New Testaments as an accepted canon

    what Ruvy is talking about is a bit different, best to let him explain it

    :::munches popcorn:::


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    There is a comment stuck in the maws of the anti-apam device that requests of Gonzo that he humor me by checking out Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s website. This is his research.

    According to Maimonides, the story of Creation is a hidden story, with the text as written largely for children and those who can get their moral lessons no other way. The creation itself is described by a rabbi named Nahmanides, whose description jives with the Big Bang theory developed in the last third of the last (Christian) century.

    The six thousand year business is largely a Christian theory, though some Jews are just as literal (and in my eyes, just as foolish) in the way they read the Torah.

    I do not know about the heat death theory or whether it may be in the Zohar or not.

  • duane

    Hi, gonzo. Yeah, I knew about the adding up all the begets, but I have no idea about the other deal.

    By the way, Ruvy, I’m back from the future. No flowers. Interestingly, however, there was a sheet of folded up newspaper in my pocket, which I only discovered after my arrival back here in 2007, perhaps placed there by dear Weena. The headline said

    WORLD TO END ON MARCH 15, 808,422!

    Some things never change.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Well, Duane, now that you are officially back from the world of the Morlocks, I now have two comments in the maw of the anti-spam device, One explains to a degree the ideas of the fifteen billion years.

    Let’s try this again. Looking forward from creation there are six “days.” That is what you read in the Torah, which is G-d’s perspective. Looking backwards to the Big Bang, our perspective, there are 15 billion years, which can be roughly divided into six “days” of lengths that double in size as you go backwards in time.

    That is Gerald Schroeder’s theory. But the 15 billion years number is at least 1,000 years old.

    The numbers from Ussher are nice – and that is about all… They are worthless.

    I should point out that some sects of Jews reject evolution and refuse to admit to geologic evidence. With time they’ll get with the program – or have the program shoved down their throats…

    As to the heat death theory, this is something I do not know about at all. What is on the “radar” of most Jews who pay attention to these things is redemption and the coming of the messiah, and what hell may break loose beforehand, and what the world will look like immediately afterwards. Heat death looks into the far future.

    But I can always ask.

  • duane

    Thanks, Ruvy, but let me re-ask my questions more clearly. If you don’t know the answer, no problem.

    Did the determination of the 15-billion-year-old universe get lost at some point after it was stated? Was this recently re-discovered? If not — if people of faith have always known about this — how did Ussher and his contemporaries (not to mention people of our era) so easily dismiss it?

    6,000 is the number that many Christians like. Cosmologists holler, “13.6 billion!” and those of faith see a conflict between their beliefs and the oh-so-misguided flailing of scientists. If the number was 15 billion, those of faith would simply say to the struggling cosmologists, “Of course!” and see no conflict, at least in that arena.

    As far as having science shoved downs people’s throats, when does that ever happen? I know you’re exaggerating to make a point, but let’s face it, people believe what they want to believe. When confronted with evidence or argument that contradicts their beliefs, they have at their disposal many rebuttals that adequately serve their purpose. There is no Room 101 for people who don’t like the numbers 4.6 billion and 13.6 billion. ‘Twas always thus, and ever ’twill be.

  • Les Slater

    Any idea why we have seven days in a week?

  • Les Slater


    I haven’t forgotten your question. I’m just pondering it.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Gonzo and me having a little fun.

    I liked your original post. I’ll never be able to pass another flashing Jesus sign without thinking of open trenchcoats.


  • Les Slater

    BTW, my all time favorite flash was in the Pink Flamingos movie.