Friday, June 15, 2012

On If

          On If

          “If”! Most subtle of words! A shy word, a wary word, a word guarding entire alternate universes! “If”! A shield, a promise, a trap, a revelation!
          I blog here of three uses of ‘if’; one in ancient history, one in modern popular culture, and one for my own personal philosophy.

          First: once King Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great, sent a message to the Spartans. The message read, “If I invade Sparta, then I will burn the crops, level the city, and slay the people.” The Spartans sent back a message; it read, “If.” Philip then sent a peace delegation.

          Second: once, on Star Trek Voyager, Chatokay was kidnapped and brainwashed into serving an alien army. His Vulcan crewmate Tuvok tracked him down; Chatokay brandished a phaser and bellowed, “Prove that you are Tuvok!” Tuvok said, “I will… if you lower your weapon.” This convinced Chatokay right away.

          Third: as an agnostic, I do not affirm the existence of God, nor deny; but I might at times want to discuss God. How to do so? By preceding each assertion or speculation about the nature of God with the phrase “If God exists, then…” This allows both imaginative freedom and intellectual integrity.

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