Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do U.S. Citizens Feel Guilty For What Happened To Native Americans?

[H/T Mark]

Mark sent me an
interesting link the other day via email about Obama giving tribal people the option of buying back their land from the United States. Even after reading the link, I was a little confused about the hows and whys of this whole situation. I know that our forefathers did "take" this land from the Native Americans and honestly, I do feel bad about how all of that happened. Some people that came over here did brutalize the Native Americans, but others did have peaceful encounters so don't commit a fallacy when talking about the origins of our country.

An interesting conversation resulted from my questions to Mark.

I asked:

So, the way I'm understanding this is that tribal people will buy back land and then clear out the buildings and such to live like third-worlders? I'm pretty sure I'm not understanding the purpose of tribal people buying back their land. If I do understand correctly, there are reservations for tribes and also, wouldn't you agree that probably 99% of "tribal" people enjoy being a U.S. citizen? I would like to know your thoughts about the article.

His response:

Well, some Tribal people enjoy being U.S. Citizens, but like conservatives are learning, they already learned, it comes with a price. As the liberals railroad education, and take away teaching U.S. History, and the Constitution, Tribal People had their history taken from them, their way of life, to make them, more like 'us'. They would like to keep some of their old ways, and pass along a very proud heritage to their young, but are prevented from doing so, and that is unfair to them. We lied to them, made treaties with the Western Tribes, while pushing them off their lands, and then making them second class citizens. Even now the Tribal People are almost all in poverty, except those that were able to open Casino's in order to make money, but even then, their 'partners' in the casinos and Uncle Sam get part of their profits, and they don't get all they should.

We as a nation should carry more guilt about what we did to the Native Americans then we should over slavery, as yes, we bought the slaves, but we didn't capture them, their own people did that to them, not us, we were just the end users.

As for the idea of addressing their grievances and selling them back land, I think it is a bad one. The land they would 'get to buy back' will have no value to US and will leave a bad taste in their mouths for the dealings with the government. So no, don't do it, but find a way of making things right for the past injustices. Take the money that we spent in Iraq and spend it on the tribes, giving them better health care and education, that also involves their own customs and history, and allowing them to be proud again.

I think I agree with Mark that we as a nation don't care as much as we should about how some of our ancestors treated the Native Americans; there was a lot of bloodshed. Of course, mankind's history is filled with bloodshed, I just wish, overall, that our ancestors' encounters with the Native Americans could have been more peaceful.

Do you think our nation carries plenty of guilt for what happened to the Native Americans? Or should our nation carry more?

Read the original article by clicking here.

Read Mark's posts on my blog:

What is a democrat?

Church and State

Glee, God, and Unsupported Faith

Spending our way to a better economy?

Personal responsibility, compromise, and failure

Know what you believe

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are Conservatives Unchartible Tightwads?

According to recent studies, conservatives give more to charities than liberals do, 30% more to be exact. Now, that's odd huh? If I'm correct, conservatives are the ones that don't like the redistribution of wealth, so shouldn't that mean they are tight with money and scrooge-like? Hardly, but that's what liberals want you to think. Redistribution of wealth is not charity, it's not giving; it's stealing and shouldn't be done. Ann Coulter's latest article from Human Events explains the results from the latest study on giving by conservatives and liberals.

Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks' study of charitable giving in America found that conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than liberals do, despite the fact that liberals have higher incomes than conservatives.

In his book "Who Really Cares?" Brooks compared the charitable donations of religious conservatives, secular liberals, secular conservatives and "religious" liberals.
His surprising conclusion was ... Al Franken gave the most of all! Ha ha! Just kidding.

Religious conservatives, the largest group at about 20 percent of the population, gave the most to charity -- $2,367 per year, compared with $1,347 for the country at large.
Even when it comes to purely secular charities, religious conservatives give more than other Americans, which is surprising because liberals specialize in "charities" that give them a direct benefit, such as the ballet or their children's elite private schools. Indeed, religious people, Brooks says, "are more charitable in every measurable nonreligious way."

Brooks found that conservatives donate more in time, services and even blood than other Americans, noting that if liberals and moderates gave as much blood as conservatives do, the blood supply would increase by about 45 percent.
They ought to set up blood banks at tea parties.

On average, a person who attends religious services and does not believe in the redistribution of income will give away 100 times more -- and 50 times more to secular charities -- than a person who does not attend religious services and strongly believes in the redistribution of income.

Secular liberals, the second largest group coming in at 10 percent of the population, were the whitest and richest of the four groups. (Some of you may also know them as "insufferable blowhards.") These "bleeding-heart tightwads," as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls them, were the second stingiest, just behind secular conservatives, who are mostly young, poor, cranky white guys.

Despite their wealth and advantages, secular liberals give to charity at a rate of 9 percent less than all Americans and 19 percent less than religious conservatives. They were also "significantly less likely than the population average to return excess change mistakenly given to them by a cashier." (Count Nancy Pelosi's change carefully!)
Secular liberals are, however, 90 percent more likely to give sanctimonious Senate speeches demanding the forced redistribution of income. (That's up 7 percent from last year!)

I'm sure this study won't be aired on popular news broadcasts because it's fun to think that liberals are superior to conservatives in the area of "caring" for the poor and downtrodden, when in fact, it's conservatives that generally care more for the less fortunate. We (conservatives) are more interested in giving the less fortunate a hand-up not a hand-out.

You can read the rest of Ann's article (and you should) by clicking

*Note: the picture with this post shows the popular perception of a conservative republican from the eyes of liberals.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Evolution can't explain morality, a transcript article from Stand to Reason's blog, is a great read for those interested in morality. I read the article and I have to say (unsurprisingly) that I agree with Greg Koukl's position that evolution cannot explain morality. His main point summarized the argument well: If you argue that morality evolved, you may end up saying that one "ought" to be selfish.

Greg argues that since morality is prescriptive, not descriptive, the herd/evolutionary description of morality cannot work because that description does not engage the fundamental element of morality, which is: how we "ought" to behave. What is the herd morality? I've covered it in some detail here. Greg's explanation is obviously the same, but he includes answers to common questions regarding morality "explained" by naturalistic causes:

"My basic point is this: what naturalists explain when they seek to explain morality in naturalistic, evolutionary terms is not morality at all. They are explaining something different. I get to that by asking a series of questions. Instead of looking backward, I look forward, and I ask a question of moral behavior like "Why ought anyone be unselfish in the future?" for example. The question came up yesterday regarding an observation that was done with chimpanzees. There was a group of chimpanzees which had, in a sense, punished one member for being selfish by withholding food from that member and therefore teaching that member moral behavior. Apparently, the moral rule that under-girded the lesson was that the other chimpanzee ought not be selfish. That's a moral statement and the question I'm going to ask is "Why ought the chimp (or human) not be selfish?" I'm looking for a justification there.

The answer is going to be that when we're selfish, it hurts the group. But you see, that answer isn't enough of an answer because that answer itself presumes another moral value that we ought to be concerned about the health of the group. So, I'm going to ask the question, "Why ought we be concerned about the health of the group?" The answer is going to be because if the groups don't survive, then the species doesn't survive. Then you can imagine the next question. "Why ought I care about the health of the species and whether the species survives or not?" You see, the problem with all of these responses that purport to be justifications or explanations for the moral rule, is that all of these things that are meant to explain the moral rule really depend themselves upon a moral rule before they can even be uttered. Therefore, it can't be the explanation of morality. When I ask the question "Why ought I be concerned with the species?", the next answer ends the series. The answer is, "I ought to be concerned with the species because if the species dies out, then I will not survive. If the species is in jeopardy, then my own personal self interests would be in jeopardy."

So, in abbreviated form, the reasoning goes like this: I ought to be unselfish because it is better for the group, which is better for the species, which is better for me. So why ought I be unselfish? Because it is better for me. But looking at what is better for me, is selfishness. So all of this so-called description of where morality comes from, gets reduced to this ludicrous statement: I morally ought to be unselfish so that I can be more thoroughly selfish. That is silly. Because we know that morality can't be reduced to selfishness. Why do we know that? Because our moral rules are against selfishness and for altruism. They are against selfishness and for the opposite. When you think about what it is that morality entails, you don't believe that morality is really about being selfish. Morality is about being unselfish, or at least it entails that. Which makes my point that this description, based on evolution, does not do the job. It doesn't explain what it is supposedly meant to explain. It doesn't explain morality. It is simply reduced to a promotion of selfishness which isn't morality at all"

Morality is selflessness not selfishness, which is something I believe everyone agrees on. Seemingly moral actions can be observed in animals, but ultimately, as Greg has made obvious, the herd morality is for selfish reasons and not for selfless reasons. Further, when an animal makes a seemingly moral action, it's not truly a moral action because animals are not held accountable to a moral lawgiver. Humans are held to a moral standard and that standard is God. When I make a moral action like, getting up out of my seat to let an older person sit down, I have nothing to gain from that action. I do not hope to get anything in return from the older person, nor do I hope to receive an award, it's simply a selfless action I know I ought to perform.

For further study on morality check out these other posts below.

Objective morals and Euthyprho's false dilemma

What is the basis of our values?

Moral argument for God part 3: the conscience

Friday, December 17, 2010

Theology of Christmas

Christmas is almost here so I thought I would share one of my favorite "Christmas" messages by John Macarthur entitled, The Theology of Christmas. John focuses on the incarnation of Jesus from Philippians chapter 2 for this Christmas message and it's a wonderful commentary on the passage. So, you can check out the transcript of the message here or watch the video below.

Enjoy! Also, if I don't make a blog post before Christmas arrives, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Should you provide free IT consulting work?

At TechRepublic, I read an interesting blog post under the IT Consultant section that caught my eye: "Stop providing free IT consulting work." I thought about that for a second, read the post and then thought some more. I do IT work, sometimes, in addition to my full-time job and there have been times (very few) that I've done free work for people (mainly close friends). While I do agree with the main point of the article in regard to businesses, I think technicians that do consultant work on the side can offer a few free services. Let me explain.

The other day a friend of mine called me and asked me what this error message meant: "windows cannot start...blah blah." Well, I have worked on her computer before, so I was familiar with it, and I asked her the usual questions, "Have you installed any new hardware/software recently," so on and I found out she had Windows Updates set for automatic installation. From that, I knew that was the problem and I knew it would be a quick fix. So, I asked her to bring it to me (laptop) and I'll take care of it. It was fixed in less than 30 minutes. To me, that didn't warrant a fee because it was a babysit job and she was a friend.

If you're running a business that is your bread and butter, then no, free jobs shouldn't be given and customers shouldn't expect them. It doesn't make sense to give free services because then you would probably soon be unemployed. If you run an IT consultant business, I suggest you read the whole article because there are good tips for reducing free consulting. If you do IT work on the side for people, I think it's entirely OK to provide free services that are quick and easy to fix.

Here's an excerpt from the post:

People don’t call electricians and expect free step-by-step instruction regarding how to repair a failed ground or intermittent circuit. So why do they call IT consultants expecting such assistance? I wish I knew the answer to that question, because I can feel my blood pressure rising just recalling some of the requests clients, customers, and other callers have made.

Clients have asked my office to provide free telephone support for a wide variety of topics, which include:

  • Can’t you just walk me through this 17-step, 45-minute installation for free over the phone?
  • Just tell me the exact steps I need to follow to remove this Trojan infection.
  • Provide me with the 23 steps I need to follow to complete a complex, complicated task that requires expertise, experience, and proven knowledge to properly complete, but don’t bill me for it.
  • What do I need to click on or select when I get to that 14th screen, again?
  • I’m going to migrate all my old data myself, but what’s a .PST file, where do I find it, how do I reload it, and will it work with my new PC that doesn’t have office productivity installed?

These common calls increase stress and anxiety, but this madness doesn’t need to continue. While all IT consultancies should strive to assist clients, you must guard against providing service without compensation. If employees in my office lose just 15 minutes per day providing free support to callers, my office loses 625 hours (10 engineers times 15 minutes a day times 250 annual workdays) a year that would have otherwise been invested performing constructive tasks and assisting paying clients. That’s unacceptable and a disservice to those clients who do pay for the consultancy’ services.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Euthyphro Argument

Since the last post talked about the Euthyphro argument, I thought I would share this link to a Reasonable Faith Podcast (William Lane Craig's ministry) featuring William Lane Craig talking about the Euthyphro "Dilemma" and how to counter the argument. 
Reasonable Faith Podast, "Euthyphro Argument Revisited

Related Posts

Euthyphro's Dilemma Revisited

Objective morals and Euthyprho's false dilemma

Continuing the summary of Bill Craig's moral argument for the existence of God, I'll cover:
Objective Moral Duties Require God and The Euthyphro Dilemma.
These arguments are covered in much more detail in Craig's book On Guard

Objective Moral Duties Require God

If there is no God, what basis remains for objective moral duties? That's an excellent question! According to the naturalists' view, we are just animals, and we know that animals have no moral obligations to one another. Certainly, animals have shown moral actions toward one another, Craig doesn't deny that, but animals aren't morally obligated to one another. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra, but it doesn't murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it does not rape her-for there is no moral dimension to these actions. They are neither prohibited nor obligatory. 1
So if God doesn't exist, why think that human beings have any moral obligations to one another? Who or what imposes these moral duties on us? Further, where do they come from? Without God, it would be difficult to see moral duties as "anything more than a subjective impression resulting from societal and parental conditioning."2
When asked what actions are morally wrong, one might think of rape and incest and one would be correct in thinking said actions are morally wrong. Of course, maybe those actions (rape and incest) just aren't biologically and socially advantageous to the structure of society and have just become taboo. That does nothing to show that rape and incest is wrong, it just shows that those actions are not beneficial to society. That kind of behavior is readily observable in the animal kingdom. Craig says, "The rapist who goes against the herd morality is doing nothing more serious than acting unfashionably, like the man who belches loudly at the dinner table. If there is no moral lawgiver, then there is no objective moral law that we must obey."3 Just like in the animal kingdom, there is no morally wrong action, just unfashionable actions. Without God, that's all we can say about the "unfashionable" actions done by humans. There is no right and wrong. 

Now, it must be made clear that "the moral argument asserts, not that belief in God is necessary for objective morality, but that the existence of God is necessary." 4 This is really important to understand so the argument can be effectively used. The theist is not saying that belief in God is necessary to act morally, but that the existence of God is necessary for objectivity of morality. Not all atheists are bad people, in fact, some are very benevolent. There are going to bad seeds in all camps of thought. 

"Again, the question is not: Can we recognize objective moral values and duties without believing in God? There's no reason to think that you have to believe in God in order to recognize that, e.g., we ought to love our children. 

Or again, the question is not: Can we formulate a system of ethics without referring to God? If the nonbeliever recognizes the intrinsic value of human beings, there's no reason to think he can't work out an ethical code of conduct that the believer will generally agree with.
Rather, the question is: If God does not exist, do objective moral values and duties exist? The question is not about the necessity of belief in God for objective morality but about the necessity of the existence of God for objective morality."5
The Euthyphro Dilemma

What is another response from unbelievers? It's called the Euthyphro Dilemma (named after a character in one of Plato's dialogues). The dilemma is: Is something good because God wills it? Or does God will something because it is good? This is a popular objection to the moral argument for God's existence. If you say something is good because God wills it, then that good becomes arbitrary. God could have willed that cheating is good or that hatred is good, etc. That doesn't work does it? If you say that God wills something because it is good, then that good becomes independent of God, which makes moral values and duties exist independently of God, which contradicts premise 1. 

How does Craig answer the Euthyphro dilemma? He says that "we don't need to refute either of the two horns of the dilemma because the dilemma is a false one: There's a third alternative, namely, God wills something because He is good...I mean God's own nature is the standard of goodness, and His commandments to us are expressions of His nature. In short, our moral duties are determined by the commands of a just and loving God."6
So according to Craig, moral values and duties don't exist independently of God because God's own character/nature defines what is good and those morals flow out of God's nature. When the atheist asks, "If God were to command spouse abuse, would we be obligated to abuse our spouses?" he's asking a question akin to "If there were married bachelors, who would the bachelor be married to?" There is no answer because the question is absurd. 

Craig assures us that the Euthyphro dilemma presents us with a false choice, and we shouldn't be tricked by it. "The morally good/bad is determined by God's nature, and the morally right/wrong is determined by His will. God wills something because He is good, and something is right because God wills it."7

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 132
2. ibid, pg. 133
3. ibid, pg. 133
4. ibid, pg. 134
5. ibid, pg. 134
6. ibid, pg. 135
7. ibid, pg. 136

Common questions to this answer of Euthyphro's Dilemma are: How do we know God is good? How is his nature good? Wouldn't it be possible for murder and rape to be 'good' if God commanded it? 

Philosopher Ed Feser has an answer to the above questions. [h/t] Joe's comment on WK's blog post.

“Given the doctrine of the convertibility of the transcendentals, on which being is convertible with goodness, that which is Pure Actuality or Being Itself must ipso facto be Goodness Itself. Given the conception of evil as a privation – that is, as a failure to realize some potentiality – that which is Pure Actuality and therefore in no way potential cannot intelligibly be said to be in any way evil. Given the principle of proportionate causality, whatever good is in the world in a limited way must be in its cause in an eminent way, shorn of any of the imperfections that follow upon being a composite of act and potency. Since God is Pure Actuality, he cannot intelligibly be said either to have or to lack moral virtues or vices of the sort we exhibit when we succeed or fail to realize our various potentials. And so on. All of this is claimed to be a matter of metaphysical demonstration rather than probabilistic empirical theorizing, and the underlying metaphysical ideas form a complex interlocking network that is (as anyone familiar with Platonism or Aristotelianism realizes) motivated independently of the problem of evil or the question of God’s existence.” 

Read more by clicking here

Study objective moral values and duties further:

Do objective moral values and duties exist?

Euthyphro Argument

What is the basis of our values?

For more posts on morality click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nietzsche's Skepticism

Since I wrote up two posts on Friedrich Nietzsche, I thought I would share this great post by Hendrik van der Breggen (at APOLOGIA) on Nietzsche's skepticism. He summarizes Nietzsche's views on truth and knowledge and then gives his critique of those views. Hendrik teaches philosophy at Providence College in Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada.

An excerpt of Breggen's post:

"Also, when Nietzsche says God is dead and not relevant, Nietzsche presumes that these non-existence and non-relevance claims are true—so Nietzsche’s claim about God indirectly refutes his denial of truth. Moreover, when Nietzsche sets out his will-to-power theory, he is presuming a truth position about this theory/interpretation actually being either simply true or pragmatically justified, which again indirectly refutes his denial of truth. Furthermore, when Nietzsche claims that there are only interpretations and no facts, he presupposes this claim to be in fact true, once again indirectly refuting his denial of truth.

Nietzsche’s perspectivism is similarly problematic. On the one hand, if there is no truth, then perspectivism isn’t true. On the other hand, if there are only perspectives (interpretations), then the thesis that there are only perspectives is a perspective too—one among many. So why go with it?

In other words, as philosopher Paul Copan points out, perspectivism faces a dilemma: “The perspectivalist either (A) says something trivial and thus not worth paying attention to (‘it’s all perspective, but that’s just my own individual perspective’), or (B) contradicts himself (‘it’s all perspective—and I’m speaking for all perspectives—so if you disagree, you’re wrong’).” Either way, perspectivism falters.

But perhaps Nietzsche (or a present-day postmodern disciple of Nietzsche) might reply that there is a missing option: (C) it’s all perspective, but it’s pragmatic for us all to accept perspectivism, for the sake of life. It turns out that this option is problematic too.

First, if C is set out as a truth and not merely a useful claim, then C self-refutes. That is, C would be set out as a non-perspectival truth claim about the usefulness of perspectivism, a claim that transcends perspectives, which C precludes (because, according to C, it’s all perspective).

Second, if C is not set out as a perspective-transcending truth, then the result is a debilitating infinite regress. That is, for us to accept C, C too must presume a perspective that makes it pragmatic for us all to accept it; but, then, that perspective must presume another perspective which makes it pragmatic for us to accept the perspective about perspectives; but, then, that other perspective…and so on. In other words, there is an infinite regress that makes C unintelligible.

So, if option C is the case, then either there is a self-refutation or an infinite regress. Either way, C falters too.

In other words, Nietzsche’s claim that it’s all perspective, all interpretation, doesn’t hold.

Therefore, Nietzsche’s perspectivism does not block our knowledge of the world. As a matter of fact, the obvious remains: there are truths, there are facts, and many of these can be known (albeit fallibly and non-exhaustively).

Significantly, these known truths and facts serve as the ground for interpretation to occur in the first place, and this allows us to do science, history, natural theology, etc.—and apologetics."

Read the full post by clicking here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is the basis of our values?

The focus of my study (other than studying TCP/IP in college) has been on morality. Is it objective? Do we need God for morality? Has morality come from evolution? Do objective moral values and duties prove the existence of God? This could be summed up in a question, "What is the basis of our values?" I found the question in William Lane Craig's book, "On Guard" and I thought that was a good question for this post, therefore, we'll look at Bill Craig's moral argument for God's existence. 
What is the basis of our values? Are they based on social convention? Personal preference? Evolution? God? I would argue that they are based on God. I believe there is good evidence for that, as I've covered the moral arguments for God from Kant, Sorley, Nietzsche; they all come to the conclusion that God is needed for the objectivity of morality. William Lane Craig covers the argument well, I obviously cannot cover it in this single post, but I'll summarize his argument and leave links for further reading. 
Bill Craig's argument is as follows:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. 
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists. 
A simple argument with a powerful conclusion. As Bill says in his book, "This simple little argument is easy to memorize and is logically ironclad."1 Generally, people believe the first two premises. Bill says that premise 1 seems correct to people because we live in a pluralistic age in which they're scared to death of imposing their beliefs on someone else. However, premise 2 seems correct to those same people because they believe it's objectively wrong to impose your values on someone else! Let's examine the premises more closely. 
Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Moral value refers to the worth of a person or action, whether it is good or bad. Moral duty refers to our obligation to act in a certain way, whether that action is right or wrong.2 Now, lets define objective. Objective means independent of human opinion. Bill gives the example, "...the laws of nature hold whether we acknowledge them or not, so they are objective."3 Subjective means dependent on human opinion, e.g., matters of which baseball team is better, or taste, whether pizza or good or not; subjective is person-relative. 
Now, on to defending premise one. I've learned in studying the moral arguments for God, traditionally moral values have been based on God because He is the highest Good. If He doesn't exist, what is the basis of moral values? Why think we have moral worth? Naturalism (the most popular form of atheism) holds that the only things that exist are the things that can be tested by scientific theories. Science is morally neutral, so you can't find morality there. What follows then? That moral values are illusory, they don't exist. 
On a naturalistic view, there cannot be objective moral values. Man has developed a "herd morality" in order to survive, just like animals, so there is objectivity to morals on this view. Consider what Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man,
"If...men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering." 4 
So, for the naturalist to think morality is objective, then he is committing speciesism, which is an unjustified bias to one's own species. 
I'll use Bill's own conclusion here:
"So if there is no God, any basis for regarding the herd morality evolved by Homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. Take God out of the picture, and all you're left with is an apelike creature on a speck of solar dust beset with delusions of moral grandeur." 5 
I'll cover more of this premise and the rest in later posts. So, what do you think? Do objective moral values and duties exist? Does Bill's argument convince you? 

1. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 129
2. ibid, pg. 131
3. ibid, pg. 131
4. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd edition (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1909), pg. 100
5. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), pg. 144

Moral facts or moral beliefs?
God and Morality Debate: William Lane Craig vs. Torbjörn Tännsjö MP3 Audio 
Dinesh D'Souza vs. Peter Singer Debate: Can There Be Morality Without God? MP3 Audio 
William Lane Craig's book On Guard 
Paul Copan, Why Science Can't Explain Morality 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is a democrat?

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don't yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don't yell at the person who didn't write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

What is….

I am starting a series called, “What is..”. And it will be more in general terms, and thoughts, than in deep thoughtful work. The topics I will cover deal with politics, What is a Democrat? A Republican? A liberal? A Conservative? A Progressive, or a Tea Party Member. We hear the terms tossed around, on Fox News, and with disdain on MSNBC, CNN CBS, NBC, ABC, but what are they really?

So, I will try to answer those questions, for those who may have them, and see if maybe someone can make some sense of all this political brouhaha.

So, What is a Democrat?

I have to admit, for the most part, I have always known that a Democrat is someone who doesn't believe what I do. “They” are to the ‘left’ of the political spectrum. So, I am kind of excited to find out what it is that they truly believe, and who knows, maybe we are closer to somethings than I have previously thought.  But on the main points, I know we don't share the same beliefs. I don't believe in Abortion as a form of birth control, and they seem to. I also don't think I have the right to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body, and again, they seem to. So, what do “they” believe.

Well, the first site I went to online, talks about the differences between Republicans and Democrats, and this seems to be a very well written site. Democrats are “Centrist to the Left of the political spectrum, While an individual voter may not agree with every position taken by his or her chosen political party, a Democrat tends to believe in a progressive social agenda, workers' rights, diplomacy over military action and a clear separation between church and state.[i]

Okay, based on that, what does it seem to say? Progressive Social Agenda, well that explains why Homosexual groups are mostly Democrats, as they see them as having the ability to acceptance for their choices and their ways of life. Yet, there are Homosexual Republicans, so as a ‘group’ they don’t see things in a complete harmonious agreement. Therein lays an interesting viewpoint or question, should it be up to the Federal Government to decide how people can live their lives? Where does the intrusion end? Is it right to dictate what happens in the bedroom between two consenting adults?

We see where Progressives and Democrats take a stand on issues that follow their party dictates. Some Progressives see President Obama as one of their own, not as a Democrat, but as a Progressive, because he is suppose to ‘Change’ the world and the way we, America, are viewed in it. And as a Democrat in the United States Senate, he was the most liberal member there, which is saying something when you have Ted Kennedy or Harry Reid in the Senate, or comparisons to Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank in the House of Representatives.

There are reports in the news, and with some of my Facebook friends, about how some feel the President Obama didn’t go far enough with Health Care, and hasn’t moved fast enough with his Progressive, and some say a Socialist agenda. Which leads me into the next aspect of What makes a Democrat…

Workers Rights, now this is a touchy subject with me, having been in two different Unions, as a condition of employment, not by choice. Well, one was by choice, but they were going to take Union Dues out of my paycheck even if I hadn’t joined, and with power tools being involved, having some kind of backing isn’t always a bad thing, even though it had totally inept leadership up at the top of the union.

By saying that Democrats are for this and Republican’s are not, makes it sound like Republicans are soulless individuals who don’t care about the individual worker, which I have never seen to be true. Taking Workers Rights back to the Health Care Debate, how is it fair for someone to HAVE to supply Health Insurance to their employees? For the small business man, it is a death blow. Health Insurance IS NOT guaranteed by the Constitution, nor was it ever intended to be. So, some person has an idea for a business, they open a shop or a store, and they have a success, YAY! That should be celebrated, not killed. If they chose to expand their business, they hire someone, they have, HAVE TO PROVIDE Health Insurance for their employees. When I worked for McDonnell Douglas, even for the money they were making, the cost of Health Care was outrageous, and the cost to the employees themselves was pas the point of cheap. I had 100% coverage for 2.49 a week, while making 15 dollars an hour.

Republicans do care about the workers, and providing for the workers, but they also have to answer to shareholders, or the bosses don’t have jobs. So, are Unions totally bad? No, they had their purpose and time, and they were, sad to say, NEEDED due to how owners took advantage of the labor work force in the later part of the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Massive profits were being made, while the worker had deplorable conditions to work in. Look at the coal mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, Black Lung was killing workers, who lived in a company town, and all their money went to what the company wanted, housing costs, food costs, clothing costs, and God forbid you had a family. No health care for the employees, and if you got hurt, you got tossed, and a fresh person was brought in to take your place.

What about now since we have arrived in the 21st Century? Do we really need to pay 3 dollars for a dozen eggs at the local Kroger due to having to provide benefits for their employees and families? Well, sadly, in some industries, YES, that kind of protection is still needed, because the Federal Government, which can’t decide the simplest of things, cannot protect the workplace for American workers. Greed and shareholders send jobs overseas where they don’t have the regulations and can turn a massive profit, and they can buy a new yacht for the summer season. There is a National Relations Labor Board, but they are toothless, and can easily be pushed around, because the Federal Government is more concerned with our sleeping habit, or I should say, our bedroom habits to be concerned with the Work Habits of its people. So, on this aspect, yes, there is work to be done, and some smart people need to get on it, but please, don’t let them say, “We’re here from the government”.

Okay, now, diplomacy verses a military action. There should always be a willingness to talk over war, but what happens next? When Mr. Obama took over the White House, he chose to say that we need to find diplomatic solutions to the problems of the world, and that he would get right on that. Cool, how’s that working for ya?

Iran, they have pretty much ignored what has been said, what has been done, and are going ahead with Nuclear Energy, Plutonium Enrichment, and well, we ALL know they are going to make a bomb. A REALLY BIG MOTHER TRUCKIN BOMB. And there is nothing we can do about it. How many Democrats voted for invasion of Afghanistan after 9-11 when the Taliban had taken credit for what had happened? Who REALLY wanted Al Gore Jr. in the White House to say, Hey, We are sorry for your grievances, let’s get together and talk things out…

No one. Well, maybe a few, but they are still out there smoking their ‘crops’ and still in a haze. Would it have been better had no of this happened? YES! When dealing with a group whose only concern is to force their views and beliefs on the rest of the world, by hook or by crook, by death, destruction, murder, killing of innocents, even their own innocents, well, welcome to the real world, there are times with it is war to protect those we care about.

Democrats like to say it is someone else’s problem, or concerns, and they aren’t responsible. REALLY? FDR brought us Social Security, I have paid into it for 33 years and it won’t be around when I come to collect it. It is a SOCIAL ENTITLEMENT, which we can no longer afford, like a One Payer Health Care System, Medicaid, Medicare, but the way to pay for it is to take the money from those who have earned it, as long as it isn’t their money, and who cares if it puts people out of business? That is their problem for having the American Initiative, the drive and hope for a better future for their own.

But then, what would I know? I am only a Republican; I OBVIOUSLY don’t care about people, right?


These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

[i] http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-democrat.htm

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest writer Mark to do a series on politics...

The guest writer here at Reformed Seth, Mark, will be doing a series of posts tentatively called, "What is..." and each post will be on different political platforms/ideologies. For instance, "What is Republican?" will be one post and Mark will give a survey of that party. Another might be, "What is Liberal Ideology?" I, like you, am looking forward to this series even though I have a good idea of terms and platforms, I'm sure Mark will bring his winsome authorship to the details of the terms in a fresh way. If you're new to politics, you'll especially enjoy it and if you're not new to politics, read the posts and comment, to dialogue with Mark.

I'm not sure when the first post will be done, hopefully it will be soon. As soon as he emails the article, I'll post it here.

Check out Mark's other work here at Reformed Seth.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wintery Knight's Morality Series

Over at Wintery Knight's blog (a blog you should visit daily), he has a single post that indexes everything he has written on atheism and morality. Since morality has been the recent focus here at Reformed Seth, I'm recommending Wintery Knight's morality posts to you. His focus was whether atheists can adopt the moral point of view rationally, when it goes against their self-interest to do so. He actually surveyed atheists as well to get results for his study. It's very interesting. 

Check out WK's study on atheism and morality here

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Mark C's It...

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express an opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

In this wonderful country that we live in, The United States of America, we have a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights. Sadly, those documents aren’t read by everyone the same way. Some see it as a guideline, that is to be interpreted by any whim, political poll, or Politically Correct breeze that flows through the land.

Well, the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, "Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”[1]

So, we shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, which most will agree simply means we shall not show backing of one faith over another. That we won’t take Christian’s over Catholics, or Mormon’s over Islam, that we recognize the right for different faiths to exist within the framework of the Constitution and United States. GREAT! Until a liberal or progressive gets a hold of it, then suddenly it takes a severe turn for the worst.

I was wondering the other day, with that Amendment already laying out the law of the land, how is it that we continue to have this fight/discussion/discourse all over the place. So I posed this question on Facebook, and wanted to know about the separation of Church and State, and this ‘Wall of Separation’ that was supposed to exist. I was sent the following link, which led me to this topic for today’s thoughts.

Wow, what an eye opener. The phrase of Wall of Separation was coined by Thomas Jefferson, but not in the manner that it is used by the liberals and progressives to strip us of our faith and Christian Heritage, and to try to beat believers over the head saying that we are not a nation founded by Christians or with Christian principles. I could not, in any way, shape or form, due a summary or do justice to the importance of this article, and the proof that it brings to simple facts, that Jefferson was more interested in the separation of FEDERAL powers, like trying to force a nation to buy Health Insurance, and State powers, which were by the framers of the Constitution supposed to have more control then the Federal level.

This is shorter than I expected, but I am curious as to what others think about the simple statement that the Wall of Separation is indeed not about faith, and government, which let’s face it could use all the faith in the world to correct it, but about how the Federal Powers to govern those of us who have the right to live here instead.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

[1] http://topics.law.cornell.edu/constitution/billofrights

Friday, October 22, 2010

Glee, God, and Unsupported Faith...

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.

Glee, God and Unsupported Faith…

It might surprise some people that I am a huge fan of Glee. For those who don’t know, Glee is a show on Fox that shows the trials and tribulations of a group of singers who want to be accepted by the general populace, and to fit in with each other.

I was in choir in high school, and in theater also, and I’m straight. I can relate to the crap they take from outside the group, as we were called ‘Choir Fairies’ ‘Choir Fags’ all because we wore robes. Of course, with the average height of our Baritone/Bass section being over 6 feet, they only would say things if one of us were alone and there were at least 3 of them.

Well, on the episode of Glee that I write about, three episodes ago, one of the characters, Finn, made a Grilled Cheese Sandwich that had a little burnt part that looked like Jesus, he called it Cheesus.

Finn was not a person of faith, but thought that God was talking to him, or showing an interest in him, and he started asking questions, wanting to have faith, even praying to Cheesus to make him Quarterback of the football team again, so he could be popular as he had been before, and when he does achieve that goal, then he thinks that Cheesus is all powerful

On a secondary plot, the Openly Homosexual, Kurt, has a crisis when his father has a stroke. Now Kurt, of course has NO FAITH what so ever, because in his world, all Christians can’t handle that he is homosexual, which of course isn’t true, in the Glee Universe, or in real life.

So, Finn is trying to find God, and Kurt is pissed off because people want to be there for him, and he pushes them away, because God can’t be real, at least to him. Even when he comes to his father’s room, and he friends are around his father, praying for him, of all faiths, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Kurt dismisses them all, kicking them out of his father’s room, because if God can’t love him for who he is, then God can’t be real.

So, then we get Sue, who hates the Glee club, see them as a drain on useful things in life, like being a Cheer-io, the cheerleader coach. Jane Lynch is wonderful as the Cheerleader Coach, and is brought in to dissuade people for expecting God to be there, to answer prayers, to actually care about US, because her prayers weren’t answered when she prayed for her older sister to be healed, from having autism, and because she wasn’t, God isn’t real.

So, Sue gets Kurt to stop believing in Cheesus, Mercedes invites Kurt to her church, where he sees that there are people who accept him as who he is, or has decided to be, and Sue finds out from her sister, that she never wanted to be ‘normal’ but was happy the way that she is.

Well, to me, this really does mimic so much of life, in its real course.

Finn, instead of finding someone, including his friends, to confide to, thinks he has all the answers, and then gets his new found faith crushed by one who doesn’t believe in God, due to her ‘prayers’ not being answered, as instead of seeing how God can work through people who might be different then the norm.

Kurt discovers that not all Christians are out to condemn him, to hurt him, to stone him, but that there are those who will accept him. Because we do not, in anyway shape or form have the right to judge others. We may disagree with their choices, but they are the ones who have to answer to God in the end. We can share the love of God that we have received, we can disagree with the way they chose to live their lives, but we cannot judge them for it.

Now let’s take this to real life and how our high schools seem to be. Had there been someone allowed in the high schools to talk to Finn about his new found faith, he would have found that there really is a God who answers prayers, and that it isn’t about false idols, but about faith in things unseen, but hoped for. Catholics, to me, have a problem in burning candles to Saints, and the virgin Mary, when all they were are people, and it turns their eyes away from God, and onto things that don’t matter.

Had Kurt not allowed his heart to be hardened against a loving God, because Kurt pigeon holes all Christians as being the same, then he would have been open to hear the true message of God and Jesus.

And in real life, who knows, maybe that is what should happen, to those who are so lost in high school. People are so freaked out by those who profess faith, they bag on those who show faith, attack those who want to help, and turn to people who want to stop them from seeing God, and that faith TAKES faith, and it isn’t always an easy answer, and sometimes the answer is no, but that in the end, it is up to you and a relationship with God that will determine your path.

Glee is a wonderful program, and boy do they make the bucks off of the soundtracks, which they push each week after the shows, but the writing is wonderful, showing how hard it is for those who are different to fit in during the high school years. I know I had a hard time because of my faith, and I don’t push it on anyone, but have always been willing to share it with those who want to know.

These are my thoughts, and how Mark C’s it.

More information on these topics:

William Lane Craig answers the question, "Christian homosexuals?" here.

God and Tragedy by Greg Koukl here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five (7) tips to ensure safe online purchases...

This is an article I read, over at TechRepublic, by a great blogger named Michael Kassner. He recently fell prey to conveinence over safety. The five tips he lists are very benefical, may seem like "common sense," but even the greatest of techies' fall short in their effort of shopping safe online. Here are the five tips Michael provides:

1: Use a credit card provider that offers one-time credit card numbers

This is where I got sloppy. I normally use a credit card provider that offers one-time numbers. But I was in a hurry and didn’t. What I gained at the moment was lost times 10 when I had to clean up my mess. Using my one-time credit card number would have removed any possibility of someone reusing the stolen information.

2: Make sure the Web site is valid and trustworthy

I recently wrote a piece on Blackhat SEO and how criminals are subverting real Web sites with malware or creating believable copies of real Web sites loaded with malware. I suggest using one or more of the site-rating Web-browser extensions. If the site is problematic, you will know.

Some of the better-known extensions are Web of Trust, LinkExtend, and McAfee SiteAdvisor. You also have the option to check questionable domains on the extension developer’s Web site.

3: Check to see whether the Internet connection is secure

This may seem obvious, but people get lulled into complacency. I have to remind myself to double-check that a closed padlock is displayed, that https is used, and that the certificate is valid — ideally, an EV certificate. Each Web browser uses a slightly different approach, so make sure you understand how your browser advertises secure Internet connections.

4: Beware of deceptive or disguised offers

Last year, I wrote an article about coupon-click fraud and how people were unknowingly signing up for programs or offers they did not want. When you’re filling out the information required to make an online purchase, carefully read what all the check boxes represent, regardless of whether they’re selected. Opt-in and opt-out wording may be interchanged.

5: If actively shopping on the Internet, check often for unusual debit/credit card transactions

This tip is important. In almost all cases, discovering fraudulent charges early will lessen the impact of the problem. In fact, financial institutions usually absorb the charges if they’re reported within a few days. So check often and know the liability limits used by your debit/credit card provider.

Extra tip: Call the order in if there is any doubtSounds simple enough, but many people don’t think of it. If I have any concerns at all, I will call the order in. The company may still have problems, but you don’t have to worry about its Web site being malicious or phishing for your financial information.

Another extra tip: Keep track of monthly or revolving debit/credit card chargesI now have a list of all my monthly charges, like the YMCA. I hope I won’t need it, but if my credit card information is compromised again, I will know who to contact.

Final thoughts: I got caught, giving convenience the nod over security. The above advice should prevent a reoccurrence. I hope l take it.

An extra tip I would add is to USE PAYPAL when shopping on eBay. Ebay is good about stressing the importance of using Paypal, I just thought I would mention it. Also, AVG utilizes the safe Web-extension serive in their
free anti-virus protection, so you don't have to purchase McAfee or others for that service. Make sure, when you're on websites that have you enter information, to check that you see "https" in the address bar at the top of the browser. The padlock is important to notice too.

For more resources on internet security click here.

Michael Kassner's blog posts and blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is God a moral monster?

To answer quickly, "no." Paul Copan wrote an article with the title, "Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites," in which he examines an OT difficult passage of the Israelites taking over the land of the Canaanites with brutality. Here is an excerpt:

4 Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide?

Both Rauser and Morriston utilize the term "genocide," and Rauser mentions "ethnic cleansing." However, ethnic cleansing suggests a racial hatred, which just is not behind the injunctions to kill Canaanites. Consider how Rahab and her family were welcomed into the Israelite fold. Visions of ethnic and moral superiority are not part of the picture.[17] In the Mosaic Law, Yahweh repeatedly commands Israel to show concern for strangers and aliens in their midst (for example, Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:18–19), since the Israelites had been strangers in Egypt. Moreover, prophets later view the nations once singled out for judgment (for example, the Jebusites–a Canaanite people [Deut. 7:1]) as the ultimate objects of Yahweh's salvation. For example, in Zechariah 9:7, the Philistines–on whom God pronounces judgment in 9:1–6–and the Jebusites (who came to be absorbed within the fold of Judah) are both to become part of God's redeemed "remnant." This theme is reinforced in Psalm 87, where the Philistines and other enemies are incorporated into the people of God.[18]

Yahweh's evident concern for the nations in the OT hardly supports a Gentile-hating, arrogant ethnocentrism. Rauser notwithstanding, the Israelites did not determine themselves to be the in-group, who in turn demonized the out-group and then destroyed them. Yahweh pointedly reminds his people that their taking the land is not due to their intrinsic superiority ("righteousness," "uprightness of heart"), but because of the "wickedness" of the Canaanites. Indeed, the Israelites are "a stubborn people" (Deut. 9:4–6).

This is a great take on the problem of the taking over of the Canaanites. The Israelites were not superior to the Canaanites at all, most importantly, no human being is better than another human being, so I think Paul Copan makes a good case here. Racial hatred was not behind the killing of the Canaanites. The taking of the land was because of the wickedness of the Canaanites. To read the first and the rest of the article click here.

For more Paul Copan resources click here.

Moral resources on Wintery Knight's blog here.

William Lane Craig, "Did Commit Atrocities in the Old Testament?" under the Reasonable Faith podcast section.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Free Microsoft Applications

Over at TechRepublic, I found an interesting article about free Microsoft applications. I was thinking I already knew all of the ones offered, but I was really surprised. Of the 10 mentioned, Worldwide Telescope looks the most interesting, though the others are cool too.

1: Paint.NET

Paint.NET started as a computer science project at Washington State University. But it was such a good image and photo-editing product (as well as an exceptional example of the .NET Framework technology in action), Microsoft hired the two developers, Rick Brewster and Tom Jackson, and has allowed them to continue improving the application and offering it as a free download. Paint.NET has a great user interface (Figure A), and it’s easy to use. It provides all the essential image-editing features you need, plus layers, special effects, and support for a wide range of image formats. Paint.NET also has quite a following on the Internet, and you can find lots of help, tutorials, and plug-ins — and it supports Windows 7!

2: Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition

If you’re a Web site developer at any level, you need to investigate Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition. This easy-to-learn, easy-to-use development environment makes it a snap for anyone to create Web sites or small applications. Mainly aimed at the amateur or intermediate-level developers, Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition provides professional-level features that will allow you to create a wide variety of Web sites, from the most basic HTML to more advanced ASP.NET pages or SQL Server databases. You can get started by viewing an introductory video that covers the main features of this package and walks you through some of the most common tasks.

3: XML Notepad 2007

If you need a basic, yet powerful XML editor, you’ll want to investigate XML Notepad 2007. The user interface features a tree view pane on the left that provides a color-coded view of classes, tags, and values. On the right, the main text editor pane shows all text, which is synchronized and color matched to its associated identifier on the left. You can even customize the colors and choose fonts to your liking. Other features include drag and drop, find and replace, incremental search, instant XML schema validation, a built-in XML Diff tool, and much more. You can learn more about the XML Notepad 2007 Design on MSDN.

4: Virtual PC 2007

Windows 7 supports Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. However, if you are running Windows Vista or Windows XP, you can still download and use the free Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 package, which will allow you to run multiple operating systems at the same time on the same physical computer. Virtual PC 2007 is easy to install and easy to use.

While you can install your own copies of Windows in Virtual PC 2007, at the time of this writing, Microsoft has several preconfigured VHDs (virtual hard drives) containing sample copies of Windows XP and Windows Vista that you can download and install in Virtual PC 2007 for testing purposes. You can find another Vista evaluation here.

5: WorldWide Telescope

The WorldWide Telescope from Microsoft Research offers a rich visualization environment that essentially provides you with a virtual telescope. This package brings together amazing imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope and approximately 10 earthbound telescopes. The images are stitched together seamlessly, allowing you to pan around outer space and zoom as far into any one area as the data will allow.

6: Windows SteadyState

If you support shared-access computers in a public venue, such as a classroom/lab, a library, or an Internet cafe, you’re definitely a prime candidate for Windows SteadyState. With this package, you can configure and lock down a Windows system to be just the way you want for your public setup. Users can do whatever they need to do, change whatever they want, or even inadvertently crash the system with malware while they’re using it. When they are done, you can reset the entire system to be exactly the way that it was the first day you configured it, just as if no one had used it. You can find several demos as well as an FAQ that will help you quickly determine if Windows SteadyState is the tool for your environment.

At the time of this writing, Windows SteadyState supports Windows XP and Windows Vista. Once Windows 7 is out the door, Microsoft should be adding it to the list of supported operating systems.

7: SyncToy 2.0

As its name implies, SyncToy is a synchronization tool designed to assist you in maintaining duplicate copies of files you might keep on a laptop and a desktop or on a desktop and a network drive. With the widespread availability of inexpensive external hard disks, SyncToy is also a great backup tool. SyncToy is intuitive, and it sports a straightforward user interface. In fact, the first time you use it, the opening screen prompts you to select a pair of folders you want to use, and then for simplicity, the folders are designated as the Left Folder and the Right Folder. There are five synchronization methods to choose from, but since there is no built-in scheduling capability, you must perform the operation manually. Even so, SyncToy 2.0 is extremely quick and efficient and is a great tool.

8: Office Accounting Express 2009

Office Accounting Express is an easy-to-use accounting package that has the familiar Microsoft Office interface and is designed to integrate seamlessly with other Office applications. Providing most accounting features a small business might need, such as managing credit cards, bank accounts, payroll, vendors, invoices, quotes, cash sales, and even built-in PayPal functionality, Office Accounting Express is a great piece of software for business managers.

9: SQL Server Express 2008

SQL Server Express 2008 is a slimmed-down version of SQL Server, yet it retains all the powerful SQL database features you need for building Web sites and apps. In fact, there are three versions: Express, Express with Tools, and Express with Advanced Services. It’s easy to learn and easy to use, and it provides the same advanced database engine as the full-fledged editions of SQL Server.

10: ServerQuest II game

OK, for the last of these Microsoft freebies, let’s take a look at something technologically entertaining. Do you remember playing the vintage computer games King’s Quest or Leisure Suit Larry? If so, you should enjoy Microsoft TechNet’s ServerQuest II game. It emulates the same sort of pixilated graphics (Figure C) and cheesy humor as those classics, but it’s aimed at IT professionals and computer specialists. In the game, which is created with Silverlight and runs in your browser, you play an IT pro (either Matt or Alicia) whose objective is to keep the network running smoothly while encountering a host of technical problems that are presented as games and puzzles, ranging from the absurd to things you might encounter in the real life of an IT pro. As you work through the tasks, you’ll learn about and use Microsoft technologies to solve problems, encounter hidden Easter Eggs, earn geek points, and get to post your high scores for others to compete against. The game is really very humorous — and you might even learn some interesting troubleshooting techniques as you play.

So which one sounds the most interesting to you? Do you know of any other free applications from Microsoft?