Monday, December 4, 2006

Memories of the Future

I am at a loss. I like philosophy, and at times I think that I have a decent grasp on a few things. But all my personal philosophizing on free will and predestination hasn't seemed to help me to make large-scale decisions, like where to attend school, who to marry, what career opportunities to pursue, etc. I like it when a philosophy is practical. I really strive to make my philosophy be useful in real life, and to be useful in real life it must represent reality. For example, ethics works very well in making correct predictions about the way the world really is (that is, certain actions are right and others are wrong) and then we can use those predictions to guide our daily actions. But not all actions have more than an ethical dimension. Sometimes we have to make a choice between two goods. How do we decide which path to take if both take us to good places?

I believe in predestination. I also believe in free will. Both exist in the same time and space, but most of the time we can't see that. Looking back I often think to myself, "I can see why this or that happened; if it didn't I wouldn't be here or so on and so forth." Looking forward is much more difficult. When I look forward I think to myself, "I can't see what or what not to do; where or should I go or what should I do?" Our destiny is difficult (if not impossible) to discern looking forward; and looking back sometimes doesn't give up many more of the answers we want.

At some point we have to decide if we believe that we have a destiny and what to do about it. I think we all have a destiny, in the sense that God knows what we will do, but our destiny is also controlled by the choices we make. So in effect we have to choose the destiny that is already "decided" for us. But how do we know what to do if we can't see the end product. Christians often call destiny "God's will" but if you look close I think you'll find that they are the same thing. Different social circles have just different names for it (no self respecting atheist is going to talk about "God's will," but he will likely feel comfortable wondering about his destiny). Enough semantics, how do I know what "God's will" is for my life? Can our destiny be known in the traditional sense? Can I go completely on my feelings? Does tradition have anything to say about my personal situation? Can my destiny be thought out rationally? What if each of those sources of knowledge tell me a different thing? Should one take preference over the others? If so, why? Without answers to these questions how can we keep from being paralyzed with uncertainty? (Sometimes I envy those people still in their chains watching the shadows on the wall. They can just float through life without worrying about such questions.) If I knew what "God's will" for me was I would be able to act or not act with confidence. A great number of times I have decided my actions based on an argument from reason. I don't know if tradition had much direct influence (although no man is an island) in my decision. And my decisions, at times, have flown in the face of my emotions. So for me I guess reason does take precedence over the other two. I hope that it's the right decision. Unfortunately, with life we can never really know if the decisions we make are the best possible decision.

Some stuff doesn't make sense to me. I try to figure it out, but it's just too complicated sometimes. So I end this entry not with a conclusion, but with a request. A request for my reader to shed some light on the subject of discerning God's will. Make a comment and maybe we can learn together.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Half Past Modernity

There are a number of people that I know who think that modernity is over. They have already welcomed in post-modernity and bid a fond farewell to its unfortunate forerunner. I have not joined the ranks of the post-moderns, partly because I've grown somewhat attached to the ideas of modernity, but mostly because I still see the philosophies of modernity almost everywhere I look. I concede that if you walk into nearly any university the discussions often have more than a tinge of post-modern thought. But outside of academia modernity is still doing quite well. How do I know this you ask? Well, I see the main misconception that modern thinking brought into everyday thought everywhere. So you ask, (wishing that I would be more straightforward) "What misconception are you talking about?" "Oversimplification," I respond (wondering why you didn't know that already).

That's right; oversimplification is the great mark of modernity. Think about those philosophies that came about during modernity. I don't have time or the expertise to talk about all of them, but I would like to touch on three of them to make my point. Let's begin with one of my friend's favorite philosophies: Socialism (a.k.a. communism, Marxism, etc.). The core of socialism can be summed up by one comment made by Marx and Engles near the beginning of The Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Marx took a bit of the truth, that there are indeed class struggles, and swells it to the point of making it the whole picture. No doubt class struggles occur, but history tells much more than just the story of class struggles. Marx and Engles oversimplify the multivariate tapestry that is history into an endless, bland cycle of class struggles.

Next up is Sigmund Freud, not one of my favorite philosophers, who took the sex drive and made it everything. It is true that humans have sexual desires and that those desires influence how we think and act. But are we just sex crazed animals with nothing on the brain but reproduction? In general (unfortunately some exceptions do exist), all of our actions aren't driven solely by the desire to have sex. Freud oversimplified the complex inner works of the human mind into an unsophisticated and overpowering sex drive.

Finally, I would like to talk about the Darwinists (who are an evil, conniving group regardless, or at least says Dr. Dino). The father of evolutionary theory came upon a couple of fantastic truths: natural selection and the survival of the fittest. Indeed much of biological history has been shaped by these two truths, but the early evolutionists proceeded to apply those truths to everything that wondered by. In essence, they took the truth of natural selection and survival of the fittest and said that they explained everything from the number of lenses in the trilobite's eyes to economic theory to the emergence of human emotions. I concede the fact that evolutionary theory can help us to explain a great deal about our world, but it cannot by itself explain Reality. Darwinists oversimplified the multifaceted world around us into a violent world of "kill or be killed."

We've seen how modern philosophers instead of trying to understand the different parts of truth took a single truth and declared it the only truth. But do we still see this gross simplification in the world today? Socialism still lives. China and Cuba are still communist nations. Psychology students still underline entire library books about Freud. Many biologists still devote their entire lives to researching evolutionary biology. However, this is not what I mean when I say that I still see the folly of modernity everywhere. People in general have oversimplified everything. Thing are either black and white. You are either a Republican or a Democrat. No one wants to talk about compromise or moderation. Those things involve invoking other parts of truth, and our modern society wants none of that.

We aren't taught to question the world around us, instead we are told to take the "truth" that is spoon fed to us and swallow it without a second thought. For those of us who have started to philosophize about the things we have been taught, we become ostracized. We become the liberal thinkers in our church or school or workplace. Philosophy is too scary for most moderns. It shows us that the simple world that we thought we understood is in fact much more complicated than we were taught. And once you find that out there is no going back. Many people would argue with Plato that the unexamined life is worth living. Keep things simple; don't rock the boat; don't take off your chains and leave the cave; that is what we are taught. This is the world that modernity built. Post-modernity is on its way, and it will most likely arrive soon. But the world at large is still living the modern dream; a dream where thinking too deeply is a sin and where taking sides without the least bit of thought is the greatest possible good.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The Informed Faith

This blog started as a comment to clarify a brief statement in A Brief Introduction to Mormonism. It quickly grew out of control and became its own entity. At the risk of a similar event occurring again I invite you to read, ponder, and comment on the content below. Enjoy.

Hebrews 11:1 states "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (NASB). For a long time this concise definition of faith sufficed when I thought about this very abstract idea. But is that all there is to faith? I think not. Jesus showed his great wisdom when he used the metaphor of house building in relation to our lives (Luke 6:47-9) and so I will borrow this metaphor to illustrate my idea of faith. Faith is much like a house. Like a house, faith must have a foundation. But not all foundations are equal. A faith that has a weak foundation is what I call an uninformed faith. Conversely, a faith which has a strong foundation is what I refer to as an informed faith.

The foundation of faith is most assuredly belief. Belief can be supported by a number of things such as experience, reason, and tradition. Often beliefs have more than one support. For instance, my belief that goats will eat shoelaces given the chance is based on tradition and experience. My mom told me to be wary around goats because of their affinities for shoelaces (tradition). But I have personally had to shoo goats away from me lest they consume my shoelaces (experience). Now when I see an unfamiliar goat I can form a new belief using my reason which says that this particular goat will attempt to eat my shoelaces. If tradition says that goats will eat the shoelaces of the unwatchful and if I have seen the hunger of the goat first hand it is a good bet that any given goat will try to eat anyone's shoelaces. Each way of knowing confirms the others. I could believe that goats like to eat shoelaces simply because my mom said so. The tradition she has passed down to me is strengthened by my own experiences with the shoelace-starved goats I have encountered. Now, if on my journey I meet a goat who is not intent on devouring my shoelaces I may need to rethink my belief about goats. To my knowledge no such goat has been found.

Belief needs some kind of support. The more support a belief has (from tradition, reason, etc.) the stronger and more credible it is. For example, I believe that Christ lived, died, and was resurrected because the support is there in the form of tradition, reason, and experience. Tradition, in the form of the Bible, tells us much about Jesus and his early church. Reason utilizes physical evidence that informs us that he did indeed live when and where tradition tells us. And personal experience has brought me to the knowledge that he still lives and interacts with mankind. This confluence of supports has created for me a strong belief that Jesus was who he said he was.

Earthly house foundations are often made with rebar and concrete. Instead of rebar, the walls of houses have wooden 2x4's to support them. In place of concrete, contractors use drywall and paint to complete the walls. In the same way, faith is not necessarily made from the same materials that make up the underlying beliefs. Faith does not necessarily have hard evidence to back it up. For example, I have faith that Jesus' death atoned for our sins. There is no tangible evidence for this claim, but I have faith that this doctrine is true because I believe that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament spoke the truth. Tradition, my reason, and experience have led me to be confident that my belief in the accuracy of the Bible is well placed. With a solid foundational belief in the Bible I can take on faith doctrines which have no physical evidence, like free will and predestination, laid forth in the good book.

Faith is like the walls of a house. Those walls need a foundation if they are to stand against the elements. The foundation that faith is built upon is belief. Beliefs are constructed from tradition, reason, and experience. When beliefs are constructed from incorrect facts, faulty logic, and emotion they are more prone to crumbling and taking down the faith that is built upon the belief

Getting back to the reason that I started writing this blog, my discussions with the Mormon missionaries (the Elders), I must state that there is no question that I privilege the informed faith above the uninformed faith. Who among us would argue for a faith that springs from falsehoods and forgeries? I think that I should further clarify what I mean by an informed faith. It is a faith supported by belief which has credible evidence to support the belief in question. Ancient manuscripts and carvings are, to me, more credible evidences than a feeling you get. My belief in the veracity of Christian theism is backed up by real evidence; many of the doctrines I believe are taken on faith but are based on the belief in Christian theism. When I speak to the Elders I can't help but think that their belief that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet is based on the subjective feeling or vision they received when they prayed. Their faith is based on a belief supported by feelings. It makes me wonder if they are really building their houses on the Rock or shifting sands.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Third Nephi: My First Look at Mormon Beliefs

It may seem that this installment is somewhat superfluous. By the end of my last article I have fully rejected that the Book of Mormon is inspired Scripture. You may be asking “Why continue to talk about the Book of Mormon?” and I would answer, “Maybe we can glean some truth from the Book of Mormon.” It might not be credible Scripture, but neither is The Republic and we can still learn truth from Plato. The Elders told me that everything taught in the Bible is analogous to what is taught in the Book of Mormon. They claim that the two records make it more difficult for false schisms to form by stabilizing one another. So let us examine the two books and see if they are really as closely aligned as we would be told.

The first section I read in the Book of Mormon was the account of Jesus’ appearance in the Americas (3 Nephi 11). To summarize: a great number of people are gathered together discussing the meaning of the past few days’ signs (these signs were prophesized to signal the arrival of Christ). A loud voice from Heaven calls three times (it was unintelligible the first two times) saying “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7). Do you remember hearing something like this before (Matt. 3:17)? After they hear the voice, the glorified Jesus descends from the clouds and stands among the people. Everyone gets a chance to pass by and feel his wounds. He preaches to the crowd and baptizes them. He picks out twelve specific men and gives them the authority to baptize and spread the gospel. Chapters 12 through 14 pretty well mirror chapters 5 through 7 of the book of Matthew, which (for those of you like me who aren’t Bible scholars) is the Sermon on the Mount.

Let’s take a moment to look at these chapters with a discerning eye. The first thing that I noticed was Jesus’ entrance into the New World. His choice of entrance is just about as opposite as you can get from the way he came onto the scene in Judea. In the Old World, He entered in with no fanfare in a shed in a little town called Nazareth. He lived a fairly uneventful thirty years before beginning his ministry. During his ministry he often told the disciples not to proclaim him the Messiah (Matt. 8:4; 16:20; Mark 8:29-30; Luke 9:20-21). But all those previous ways of doing things go out the window as Jesus crossed the Prime Meridian. Instead of a quiet ministry beginning in rural South America, Jesus comes in like it’s the Second Coming. It seems that from the beginning this might not be the same Jesus of the Bible.

The fact that the chapters which retell the Sermon on the Mount are nearly identical to the account in Matthew is a source of little interest. Maybe if Joseph Smith had never read Matthew, then this would be of great importance. The only interesting point in those three chapters is the addition of a Beatitude. In 3 Nephi, the first beatitude is not “Blessed are the poor in spirit” but rather blessed are those that are baptized (12:2). This beatitude is conspicuously absent from the Biblical account. Of course, this addition doesn’t prove that the Book of Mormon is totally different theologically from the Bible, Jesus did preach about baptism; but it does begin to show the disproportionate amount of importance that Mormonism places on good works, in this case baptism.

In addition to reading those chapters, I also skimmed through the histories that recorded the events before Christ’s appearance. It seems that even before he was born the people in the New World knew that the Messiah’s name would be Jesus. Even more surprising is the fact that they actually understood the purpose of the Messiah! Almost two thousand years after his appearance there are still a great numbers of Jewish scholars who don’t understand the purpose of the Messiah. So how did the people here understand and believe everything about Jesus’ necessary sacrifice? Remember that during Jesus’ time most Jews thought that the Messiah was going to be a political savior not a man who would die on a cross. To fully appreciate this problem, please allow me a short tangent so that I can propose an adequate analogy to illustrate my point.

The progression of revealed religion and mathematics has a great deal in common. Both started off with a very basic understanding. The idea that a God even existed is as enormous a leap as the discovery that there exists a number called zero. In our modern day we take zero for granted, but it was quite a feat to come up with the concept of zero. As time progressed so did math and religion. Math added new functions like addition and division. Religion discovered the new ideas of good and evil. Even more time passed and both branches of knowledge continued to advance. Mathematicians found algebra, geometry, and calculus. Theologians (or their ancient counterparts) were shown Jehovah, the sacred act of the sacrifice, and finally the Great Act of the Sacrifice of God Himself for the sins of mankind. When we look back at these discoveries through time, we lose the appreciation of the monumental changes in thought that it took to move on to the next level of development. In addition to this loss of awe, we have taken for granted that we need each step in the progression to get to where we are now. Without basic algebra we wouldn’t have discovered calculus. In a like manner, without exposure to the early Judaic beliefs and practices we would not be able to understand Christ’s sacrifice. That is part of the reason I believe that we have the Old Testament. It tells us where we came from spiritually so that we can understand critical points of doctrine, such as, why Jesus died.

It seems to me that the people in the New World were at the level of basic math in their spiritual lives when the Jews arrived around 600 BC. They quickly advanced to algebra with guidance from the displaced Israelites. And when Christ arrived they made another enormous jump-- from algebra to calculus III. Now it is possible that they were capable of making these huge leaps in understanding, but I doubt it. If you throw the average Algebra student into an advanced calculus college course he will be able to follow some of the lecture. But at the end of the day you will have a very confused kid. In the same way, I think that the people of the New World would not have been able to understand Jesus as quickly as they purportedly did.

This short entry is no doubt far from the entire story, but I think that even from this small sample we can see that the Book of Mormon does not accurately portray the Jesus in the Bible or the required progression of thought needed to understand Christ’s mission. There may be something yet for us to learn from the Book of Mormon, but the odds are that it won’t be much.

A Brief Introduction to Mormonism

Wednesday morning last October started as Wednesdays usually did. I awoke, showered, had some breakfast and sat down to finish up some Physical Oceanography homework for the next day. As I worked, a knock came at the door. I rose and answered it. To my surprise two nicely dressed gentlemen in their twenties introduced themselves as missionaries of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints. They asked if they could come inside and talk to me. I agreed and they entered as I scrounged up three chairs.

Once we were comfortably seated they proceeded to go through their rehearsed speech. They asked if I had heard of Jesus, salvation, Joseph Smith, prophets, etc. I told them I had and what I didn’t know, they kindly filled those blanks. They shared with me Scriptures from the Bible as well as from the Book of Mormon. At the end of our hour long meeting they gave me my own copy of the Book of Mormon and asked me if I would take some time to read some of it, and pray about its veracity. I told them I would.

Let’s fast forward a few days to the point where I have read a bit of the Book of Mormon and have had the chance to meet again with the two Elders (that’s their title as they are in their 2 year missionary journey). They believe that the Book of Mormon is the inspired record of Jesus in the New World. Here is the basic storyline: around 600 BC a group of Jews flee Jerusalem as the Babylonians are invading and end up in the New World by boat. They build up a civilization that is taught about Jesus Christ. In 33 AD, Jesus, in his resurrected form ascends down on their Temple. He teaches them, they all believe, and He returns to Heaven. They all live in peace and harmony for awhile, but after about 400 years the people have become so evil that they self-destruct. Before they do, the son of Mormon, Moroni, buries the records of this civilization, which are in the form of golden plates, so that they won’t be destroyed. During the early 1800s, Joseph Smith is praying and asking God to show him the one, true church. The answer that he gets is that they are all wrong. So God, a resurrected Moroni, angels, among others, in a series of appearances showed Smith the golden plates with the Book of Mormon on them. He was given the ability to translate the plates into English, and we have what is known as the Book of Mormon. Smith founded the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1830. Soon after founding the church, Smith and his followers were persecuted and moved to Illinois where Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob. Brigham Young became Smith’s successor and led the Latter-Day Saints to Utah where the headquarters of the Church remains to this day.

Mormons hold that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are inspired Scriptures. However, there are some big differences in the two. Unlike the Bible, the Book of Mormon cannot show us the original manuscripts from which the English translation comes. The plates from which the translations were made have been taken by the messenger who first gave them to Joseph Smith. I have been told that you must pray and ask God for the knowledge that Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. God does grant us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5). But God also calls us to use our minds so that we may know the truth (1 Thessalonians 5:21). God does give wisdom, but wisdom is the correct use of knowledge and God does not command us to ask for knowledge. We must seek out knowledge for ourselves.

So let us objectively look at the claims for the Book of Mormon. As I have already stated, there are no original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. Maybe there are third party pieces of the Book of Mormon. Even if we didn’t have the manuscripts we could still reconstruct all but a handful of verses of the entire New Testament. But there are no letters containing pieces of the Book of Mormon. No ancient commentaries on this book have been unearthed. There aren’t even any writings that refer to the Book of Mormon, before the 1800s of course.

The Book of Mormon may not have original manuscripts or third party fragments like the Bible. But both books include lengthy sections of history. Now it is well known that the places mentioned in the Bible exist. You may have even heard of Jerusalem or Rome. The Bible also speaks of people, like Paul, Jesus, Pontius Pilate, Abraham, Moses, and Solomon. There is a plethora of third party confirmations that these people actually existed. Ancient records and inscriptions outside of the Bible talk about them. The Bible also includes events, like the Roman rule of Judea in the 1st century AD, the exodus, and the exile. Many of these events have external confirmations that they in fact happened. So maybe the Book of Mormon has such confirmations of the places, people, and events which make up the history it reports. But, as you may have already guessed, there is no such confirmation.

Now I will grant the concession that I am no great student of the Book of Mormon, and (believe it or not) I know far from everything. There could be some evidence for the Book of Mormon, but the missionaries that I have spoke with have not been able to cite any real evidence. Their best attempt has been to tell me that they know that there is “all kinds of evidence,” for the Book of Mormon; they are just ignorant of it.

For the Elders, the credibility of the Book of Mormon stands on one thing: faith. They have prayed and asked God if the Book is true. And in their own ways they have received affirmative answers. I cannot dispute the credibility of their experiences. Their experiences are in the realm of the Subjective where Lady Reason has no sway. But I can relate to their belief. My own conversion to Christianity was largely subjective. I felt the Holy Spirit move and after much diligent work on His part I acted. But as time passed I was not satisfied that I had felt something that May evening a decade ago. I studied to see if the story that the Bible told was indeed true. I wanted to know if my subjective feelings were based on an objective reality. After some time I found the answer that I sought. There is indeed a Jesus and he did die. More so than that, He was resurrected. I came to see that my faith is not placed in a feeling that can come and go, but in a God-Man who lived and died on this Earth, rose, ascended and is coming back. Without credible objective evidence to support it, Mormonism appears to be a religion based on subjective feelings that have no roots in reality.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Letter to Dr. Dino

As I sit in West Palm being, well, homeless, and living off the kindness and couches of my friends, I have found myself a bit bored and so I took the time to write an email to a popular Creationist: Dr. Kent Hovind. Here is what I said:

How important is it that a Christian believes that the world was created in six, 24-hour days a few thousand years ago? I always thought that the central tenet of Christianity was not the cosmology laid out in Genesis, but rather the humanity and divinity of Jesus of Nazareth who died and was raised to life in an act which atones for the sins of humanity. If we can agree on the claims that Jesus made about Himself and the acts He performed, what does it matter if He created the universe 6,000 years ago or 6 billion years ago? Is the huge amount of research and effort and funding that feeds the "Creation vs. Evolution" debate really being used in the best possible way? Or have we forgotten that Christ calls us to "Love our neighbor as ourselves," not to convince him that our view is right and any other way of looking at thing is stupid? If we channeled our efforts toward loving our "enemies" instead of insulting their intelligence and integrity maybe they would see the light on a hill that we are supposed to be.

Here is the Automated response I got the next day:

Dear Matthew B. Davis,Thank you for your e-mail for Dr. Hovind. Each day we receive an abundance of calls, e-mails, and letters for him and it has become extremely difficult for him to answer each one personally because of his very busy schedule. He would very much like to talk to you and suggests that you call into his daily radio program. If you do not wish to call into the radio, your question will still be submitted to the radio show and will be answered during the live radio broadcast. If you are unable to listen to the program during the scheduled airtime, you may listen to archived radio shows at To listen to the show, go to our website and tune in to Creation Science Hour which is on weekdays from 4:30 - 6:00 pm (Central Time). Click on the red bar which appears at the top of our Home Page to listen to the broadcast during this time period. Dr. Hovind answers all kinds of questions live during the CREATION SCIENCE HOUR. His AOL instant message name is drdinolive. Or call our toll free number at 1-877-479-3466 ext 136 during this time period. Outside the U.S. the phone number is 1-800-479-3466. When he is out of town the program will be pre-recorded.God bless,CSE Customer Service

About three days after I received the email above one of the staff members sent me this short, but to the point message.

Dear Matthew,
Wow – please stop attending the wishy washy church you are going to now and find a Bible-believing church!
Love with *justice* - got it?
If there was no Fall, there was no need for the Cross.
Sincerely, Paul
(Dr. Dino Staff)

After receiving the above email, I responded to Paul:

I appreciate your response, I had nearly given up the hope that I would get anything more than an automated response. To respond to your message, the church I currently attend is actually how I was introduced to Dr. Hovind. In Sunday school one of the classes showed his lecture DVDs. Outside of Sunday school, I have never even heard a pastor or speaker talk about evoultion except to condemn it. Furthermore, I agree wholeheartedly that without the Fall the Cross would not be needed. Humans are naturally sinful and that is why we need salvation. But the doctrine of the Fall is not the issue. In fact, the doctrine of the Creation, that the one, true, triune God created the universe, is also not in question. The true issue at hand is the relative importance of the doctrine that states that God created the universe in six literal days. I think that some doctrines are more important than others. For example, the doctrine that Jesus is God's Son is more important than the doctrine that says the only right way to baptize someone is full immersion. In the grand scheme of things, if you were baptised with a sprinkling of water or dunked doesn't matter as much as if you call Jesus that Son of God or just a great prophet. Along that same idea is where my question lies: How important is it to believe God created in six literal days? Must someone embrace that idea or be condemned to Hell? That is the question which I asked, but I'm afraid it was not fully addressed. If you or someone on the Dr. Dino staff could address my question I would greatly appreciate it. In closing, could you also expand on your comment "Love with *justice* - got it?" Thanks again for responed to my question, I look forward to further dialogue with you.


A few days later, Paul responded:

Sir, Please understand that I cannot write for long. I apologize for this. We take the Bible very seriously. Baptism, as one doctrine, is an important one. Creation in God's image, as the Bible said, is another. You seem to be a smart person, but ... one who is not well grounded.Best Wishes, Paul

As you can see, Paul still has not answered my question. If you have any thoughts, feel free to respond.