Sunday, July 31, 2011

ST Excerpt Introduction


This excerpt is from the Introduction of Shadow Truth by Larry Tate

This Is the Book Everyone Fears

■The left is afraid that their tried and proven humanist-driven tactics will be laid bare for the entire world to see.

■The right is afraid to face the fact that despite their claims to be morally conservative, they are doing little, if anything, to combat the successful leftist agenda.

■The left is afraid that the right might finally take a strong stand.

■The right is afraid to let their dim and flickering light of morality and conservatism shine.

■The admitted liberal will be mad because this book insults him.

■The hard-core conservative will be mad because he will discover just how much he is being subjected to liberal policies.

■The moderate, who is conservative on fiscal issues but left on social and moral issues, will be mad because this book exposes just how much he has been fooled into embracing the tenets of Shadow Truth. Then, there are the other self-proclaimed moderates and progressives. Most of those folks don’t really know what they are, or what they stand for. Our nation is struggling with a myriad of fiscal policies, social policies and moral issues. The so-called moderates and progressives tend to be left-leaning on one or two of those issues, and right-leaning on the remaining issues. Regardless of which way they land, the moderates and progressives will be mad because this book exposes their hypocrisy by revealing just how much they have been fooled and manipulated by the tenets of Shadow Truth deception.

What Has Happened to Us?

How have we lost control of the world we live in? We have gotten to this place, through a seemingly innocent and logical progression of societal change. We have fallen for the most cunning form of deception, something that I call, Shadow Truth.

A Word from Our Enemy

My name is Satan, which means adversary. I also have a number of titles, such as the Prince of this World and the Angel of Light. I am on a mission of utmost importance to me. My objective is to conquer, and gain possession of, the Kingdom of God.

I have already initiated a variety of plans, tactics, and strategies in order to accomplish this daunting task. In the beginning, I even made an overt attempt to overthrow God, Himself. Through cunning and craftiness, I was able to recruit a significant number of His angels to assist me in that planned coup. To my disappointment however, I found myself, and my army of renegade angels, unable to fight against God.

Not one to easily give up, I redirected my efforts to overthrow God by seeking to influence his most cherished creation—mankind. Since I was unable to conquer God face-to-face, I decided that winning the allegiance of human beings would be the best way to infiltrate and destroy God’s kingdom. I determined that if I could persuade men and women to follow me, I would effectively conquer God’s empire. What else is there other than the sun, the moon, and the stars? God doesn’t care about those material objects. Mankind is His only passion. With them on my side, God’s kingdom will finally be mine.

I have devised a number of methods of deception. I once developed a plan that involved sharing falsehoods about God, His creation, and the purpose of human existence. However, I eventually had to discard that tactic. I discovered that most people would not follow me if I tell them outright lies. Then one day I stumbled upon the ideal way to lure mankind over to my way of thinking. I have created a very effective tactic which involves ever-so-gradually moving the bar of truth into something that is nowhere near the truth.

To my delight, humans have become clay in the potter’s hand, but now I am the potter. They now follow me wherever I choose to lead them. They are like a flock of sheep going to slaughter. I have finally settled on the ultimate and foolproof plan for overthrowing the kingdom of God.

My plan is very effective. It is the ultimate deceit. Mankind won’t realize what is happening to them. They won’t even have the ability to comprehend that I am fooling them into following me. By the time they finally do figure out what is happening, I will have already conquered the kingdom of God and they will have no way of reversing the damage I have done.

What is my plan? My plan goes far beyond just fooling the average human being. My plan is so devious that it is capable of ensnaring even the most devout of Christians. I have learned that God’s followers won’t easily believe a lie, but they are always eager to embrace truth. How can I deceive God’s followers with truth? It is easy. It is sure. It is devious. Like a grand chess master, I will trap them and leave them with no possible move—no way of escape.

I’ve found the most effective form of deception is to base it on truth. Even Christians will often accept my manipulations because of their eagerness to embrace God’s truth. Starting with God’s truth as my foundation, I have built an operation of deceit. Building on that first foundation, I can easily entice mankind to believe another version of truth. On top of that, I will convince them to believe yet another truth. My plan is so clever; I should receive a prize. Oh, that’s right, I will receive a prize! I will have the entire kingdom of God handed over to me. Without even realizing it, God’s own followers will hand me the kingdom of God on a silver platter. What do I call my ultimate plan of deception? I call it Shadow Truth.

What Is Shadow Truth?

Everywhere we look, we see customs, laws, policies, and other conditions that cause us to scratch our heads and ask ourselves, how did we as a society get to where we are today? All you have to do is open the morning paper or listen to the news on any given day—the headlines are filled with events that just don’t sound right. For instance:

In 2007 one school in Maine was reported to be handing out birth control pills to eleven year-old girls without their parents’ consent. Are other schools also doing this?

More schools and communities are taking Christmas out of their holiday events, and implementing more tolerant labels for the long-held Christian tradition such as, Winter Holiday.

A town in Colorado considered banning red and green Christmas lights from city property because those bright and cheerful colors might be offensive to certain members of the community.

We hear of city councils voting to deny certain religious displays because they may be offensive to certain minority beliefs that exist in our society.

Decisions and policies are being implemented which prohibit prayer on school properties, at school functions, and in other school environments.

Some school textbooks are now being produced with no teaching related to God being the Creator of the world.

Schools are convincing our impressionable children that it is no longer important to excel in what they do, especially when it comes to playground activities, school functions, and grade achievement.

Public meetings commence without a prayer being recited so as not to offend anyone who does not believe in God.

Public meetings that do begin with prayer often prohibit the mention of Jesus Christ in those prayers.

Assisted suicide is increasingly being accepted and utilized.

Certain school systems are being required to promote and encourage acceptance of homosexual lifestyles to children.

Some churches are allowing homosexual clergy to lead their congregations.

Situations like these are occurring because today’s society is locked in the firm grip of deception. How is it that so many people in our society are falling for, and accepting, such obviously wrong policies? How is it that we find ourselves obligated to comply with, and be subjected to, such policies? How is it that we can be threatened by lawsuits if we refuse to comply with some of these newly implemented policies? How can these deceptive things be accepted by the mainstream of today’s society without so much as a whimper?

Practice Makes Perfect

How have we lost control of the world we live in? There once was a time when the culture and traditions of various nations were proudly upheld by the majority members of those nations. Many of the Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures still do so. Where the U.S.and other Western nations utilize sensitivity and political correctness to suppress the traditions and cultures of the majority segment of the nation, the Eastern nations do not permit “outsiders” to change their ways and practices. Western nations tend to permit political correctness to suppress the beliefs and traditions of the majority, and bow down to the beliefs of those in the minority. It seems that if just one person complains that Christmas displays offends him, then those displays must come down. Every time we give in to someone who says that they are offended at our culture, we are losing more control of our nation.

The popular movie, Groundhog Day, is the story of a man who finds himself repeatedly waking up to the same morning, and living the same day over and over again. At first, he finds this to be a tremendous nuisance. However, eventually he realizes that since he is being forced to relive the same situations each day, he may as well learn from his mistakes. With each passing day he discovers the actions that result in negative outcomes and alters his behavior the next time around. Finally he has a day when he handles every circumstance in exactly the right way, producing the precise outcome he wants.

Satan has a similar advantage. While he cannot relive a day, as the movie character did, he has had the opportunity to study human nature and learn from one generation to the next, those tactics that work best. He has had thousands of years of trial and error to perfect his plan. It seems that many fronts of evil appear to be compounding right now as Satan sets the stage for his end-play. He is now deceiving mankind as in no other time in history. His greatest triumph is that most of today’s people don’t even realize that they are being deceived. The deceitfulness of his Shadow Truth is conceived in the realm of darkness and shadows, which is the habitat of Satan. Scripture warns us to be wary of the darkness of evil:

The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
Proverbs 4:19 (KJV)

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Ephesians 5:11 (KJV)

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
Isaiah 59:9 (NIV)

For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
Psalm 11:2 (NIV)

Is It Really Truth?

Shadows have no actual form or substance of their own—they are a faint representation of the real thing. Likewise, the idea behind the term, “Shadow Truth,” is that it has an appearance of truth, but none of the substance that comprises Absolute Truth. Shadow truth is an evil deception cleverly veiled as truth.

God’s Absolute Truth is found in the Bible and it is a firm foundation. It cannot fall; it will not fail. It is the solid ground upon which all of creation exists. God and His truth is the foundation of all that is. In natural terms, a building’s foundation is the support of the entire building. We see the building, but we don’t see the foundation because it is flush with the top of the soil. Satan, in order to be believable, builds his deceit on God’s very foundation of truth. A foundation cannot cast a shadow because it is buried in the soil. Using the same analogy, God’s foundation of truth cannot cast a shadow. Being that Satan builds his deceit from a foundation of truth, and being that anything built on top of a foundation is capable of casting a shadow, it can be assumed that Satan’s brand of “truth” casts a shadow. In that shadow are lies and deceit.

Quite cleverly, Shadow Truth was launched on the firm foundation of God’s undisputable truth. The underlying premise of Shadow Truth is to slowly and meticulously alter God’s Absolute Truth. This ingenious brainchild of Satan deceives mankind by way of its ever-so-gradual and unceasing truth-building process. Each so-called truth is constructed and derived through seemingly logical progressions of truth building. The progressions are so gradual that it is difficult, if not impossible, to discern that any change is occurring at all.

The first few progressions of Shadow Truth are likely to be just as true as the foundation of Absolute Truth on which they stand. In order for subsequent truths to be genuinely true, each must be fully supportable by Absolute Truth. However, there comes a time when a subsequent truth only has a previous truth as its foundation. As each ensuing truth is constructed, shadow truth becomes more and more unstable.

Each progression of Shadow Truth is so incredibly tiny and minute that it is barely discernable from the previous step. To be believable, the progressions that create each new truth must appear to be unarguably valid and logical. Deceit is achieved when a subsequent truth appears to be founded upon the most recent previous truth. This process continues until the final truth is actually an outright lie that is veiled as the truth.

Eventually, Satan’s desired deception manifests itself in society as a belief, a practice, a policy, a custom, or a law. Unlike where it began, the ultimate shadow truth has no basis on, or connection to, Absolute Truth. There comes a time when the foundation known as Absolute Truth no longer supports the Shadow Truth on which society is now operating. However, since mankind is so caught up in the seemingly logical and necessary progressions of Shadow Truth, they end up believing outright deceptions and lies.

After a sufficient number of progressions of building its so-called truths on top of previous so-called truths, Shadow Truth begins casting a long and dangerous shadow of deceit. Just as there is no substance to a shadow, there is no substance to Shadow Truth either. In order for Shadow Truth to be successful, most of mankind must be thoroughly convinced to believe that the resulting lie is a truth. All of this is done without people even realizing what has happened to them.

The manipulation of truth begins very slowly, and gradually builds momentum. This manipulation of truth may cross over several generations. Each new generation is raised to believe that their current level of truth is the status quo. Hence, it becomes easier and easier to continue the trend of shadow truth building. With each subsequent generation, the momentum of truth building increases at a faster rate.

Most societies are founded upon a basic set of rules and laws. Those laws typically mirror many of the laws and traditions found in the Bible’s moral code. Then, Shadow Truth’s deception creeps into society and begins altering and changing those basic truths one seemingly innocent baby-step at a time, until they become accepted policies that have little or no relationship or comparison to the original principles on which they started. The final truths have no foundation on, or connection to Absolute Truth.

Mankind should have the forethought to investigate each and every progression to see if it is still fully supportable by Absolute Truth. Due to our shortsighted nature however, we tend to examine a new truth’s merits only against the merits of the previous truth. On the surface, Shadow Truth seems to be the right thing to do. This is due to the fact that it is crafted and designed to look good, sound good and feel good. Shadow truth appears to be based on perfectly sound logic.

The key to Shadow Truth’s success is that it starts out by coming to the rescue of genuine societal problems. To do so, it must have its beginnings on the foundation of Absolute Truth. In that way, it has the ability to deceive the masses. Each subsequent and evolving step of Shadow Truth is built on top of a previous Shadow Truth. People tend to accept each of these seemingly logical progressions because they appear to be completely valid and trustworthy. Each new step is such a small step, and such a logical step that is difficult to find any fault with the logic of the progression. Each new step is so incrementally small that is difficult to realize that it is in fact, evolving at all.

Absolute Truth is like the house that will continue to stand because it is built on a rock. Conversely, Shadow Truth is like the house built on sand, and is destined to fall.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV)

There is only one Absolute Truth. It was established by God before He created the world. Then there is Shadow Truth, which is being twisted and fabricated by Satan. Without a proper foundation, Shadow Truth is destined to fall, but not before it causes irreversible damage to mankind. Today, the entire world is traveling merrily along on the treacherous pathway of Shadow Truth that is being constructed by Satan. All societies that insist on blindly following Satan’s deception will eventually fail.

We need to realize that Shadow Truth is a series of deadly attacks against every aspect of our society. In order for the ploy to be successful, mankind must be thoroughly convinced to believe that they are improvements rather than attacks. Satan’s task is to cause us to believe that his attacks are actually needed changes and improvements in our society. We must be so deceived that we actually embrace each attack even as it is hitting us in the face.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book, Shadow Truth by Larry Tate

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Attention Parents: Your Parental Rights are Being Eliminated

Are parental rights secure? As a parent don’t you think you can make the best choices for your child, not anyone else? The right of parents to raise their children as they choose is so fundamental that our founding fathers saw no need to include it in the Constitution. However, this fundamental right seems to be eroding. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has a different idea on how you raise your children. It is a treaty which creates binding rules of law. A few things under this treaty are:

· The CRC would automatically override almost all American laws on children and families because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause in Article VI.

· Congress would have the power to directly legislate on all subjects necessary to comply with the treaty.

· A committee of 18 experts from other nations, sitting in Geneva, has the authority to issue official interpretations of the treaty which are entitled to binding weight in American courts and legislatures. This effectively transfers ultimate authority for all policies in this area to this foreign committee.

· Under international law, the treaty overrides even our Constitution.

· The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.

· A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.

Do you want to see your parental rights taken away? We live in a society that is attempting to do away with every value we hold dear. To see in a nut-shell the many seemingly unrelated societal changes that are happening under our noses, read Shadow Truth: The Ultimate Deception by Larry J Tate. This book will remove the shades from your eyes and make you aware of how dangerously close we are to becoming a world of slaves to a small ruling class.

For more information about Shadow Truth, go to

To order the book from Amazon, go to

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ACLU sues the State of Alaska after denying license identifying transgender woman as female

In the Summer of 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Alaska after the state denied a transgender woman a license listing her as female. For those who tend to lead a sheltered life, this “transgender woman” is a man who dresses like a woman, but if he were to undress, one would have no trouble figuring out that he is a man.

The ACLU contends that Alaska denied their client a driver’s license which identifies him as a woman. In this politically correct world, Alaska does allow transgendered individuals to change their reported sex if they can show evidence of a sex change. However, this particular individual had not undergone any such surgery. He simply wanted the world to recognize him as a female.

The ACLU said that people should not have to disclose sensitive personal information or be forced to make major medical decisions in order to get a driver’s license depicting them to be whatever gender they want to be associated with. The ACLU hopes to give all transgender individuals in the state the right to correct the gender marker on their driver’s licenses without undergoing major surgery.

The transgender person being denied the “female” license is apparently worried that having a driver’s license that doesn’t match his appearance and identity might place him at risk of discrimination and physical harm.

“Oh, relax a little,” say those in the live-and-let-live community. “What’s the harm in allowing a man to be referred to as a woman as long as he isn’t hurting other people?” Well—consider this: the next thing after a man is officially recognized as a woman is that he will have the right to shower with the girls in the ladies locker room. Is that really possible? You bet it is. It’s already allowed in the State of California.

We live in a society that is attempting to do away with moral values. To see in a nut-shell the many seemingly unrelated societal changes that are happening under our noses, read Shadow Truth: The Ultimate Deception by Larry J Tate. This book will remove the shades from your eyes and make you aware of how dangerously close we are to becoming a world of slaves to a small ruling class.

For more information about Shadow Truth, go to

To order the book from Amazon, go to

NBC Busted for Removing God from Pledge

For its opening of its coverage of the 2011 U.S. Open championship, NBC used a montage that included children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. So far, so good. However, activist employees of NBC chose to delete the words, “under God” from the pledge.

Had it gone unnoticed, this sort of practice would likely escalate exponentially. Unfortunately for NBC, the public did notice…and the public did not keep silent about their rage. Eventually, NBC issued a formal apology to members of Congress for its “mistake.” In a letter to U.S. lawmakers, NBC said that they were trying to produce a patriotic piece but their good intentions were undermined by a serious error in judgment by a small group of people within NBC, and those people have been reprimanded.

NBC was quick to tell Congress that the removal of God from the pledge was not approved by any senior NBC officials. Rather than expressing genuine regret over the removal of God from the pledge, NBC seemed to be more interested in the negative light that was cast over NBC by the publicity associated with the event. “It was an inexcusable mistake in judgment and it will not be repeated,” said NBC.

Okay, NBC “apologized” for the omission from the pledge, but was it a heart-felt apology? I doubt it. Most likely, NBC’s apology can be compared to a six year old kid’s apology for kicking his brother. He may be apologizing on the outside, but on the inside, he’s reveling in his brother’s pain. How did the video ever get aired in the first place? An organization as large as NBC could not have sent the altered video out on the air waves without someone in management knowing about it.

We live in a society where there are increasing efforts to remove all mention of religion from public life. Apology or not, NBC’s airing of that altered Pledge of Allegiance is a victory for those who do not want God to be mentioned in public.

To see in a nut-shell the many seemingly unrelated societal changes that are happening under our noses, read Shadow Truth: The Ultimate Deception by Larry J Tate. This book will remove the shades from your eyes and make you aware of how dangerously close we are to becoming a world of slaves to a small ruling class.

For more information about Shadow Truth, go to

To order the book from Amazon, go to

Two Southwest Governors ask their citizens to pray

In the summer of 2011, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin asked her constituents to set time aside to pray for an end to the drought that’s gripped her state for months. “I think if we have a lot of people praying, it moves the heart of God,” Fallin said. Oklahomans were encouraged to pray for rain to put a stop to wildfires and help out the state’s farmers and ranchers.

Meanwhile in Texas, Governor Rick Perry also asked his constituents to pray. He wasn’t asking for rain though. Governor Perry was asking citizens to come together at Reliant Stadium on August 6th for a solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation.

Ratification of Women’s Treaty could undermine American Rights and Values

CEDAW, the international treaty known as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women was signed by Jimmy Carter in 1980. The only thing keeping it from being implemented into our lives is ratification by the U.S. Senate. Longtime supporters of the treaty—including Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL), Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA), and State Department legal advisor Harold Koh—have been pushing anew for the U.S. Senate to ratify CEDAW. These supporters emphatically insist that joining the so-called Women’s Treaty would not adversely affect the rights and liberties of American women.

On the surface, this treaty sounds like an innocent and much-needed policy. After all, we as a nation have been gung-ho on eliminating all forms of discrimination no matter what they are. Who in their right mind still believes that we should discriminate against women? Who believes that women are some sort of sub-human species that are to be ruled over by men? The answer is—virtually nobody.

Then what is the problem with implementing CEDAW? Plenty—that’s what. This brain-child of the United Nations is telling member nations to bow down under some rather ridiculous rules and regulations. Germany has been criticized for not providing the same labor and social laws to prostitutes as is given to people in other lines of work. Belarus has been criticized for recognizing Mother’s Day because that particular concept reinforces an outdated traditional role for women. Ireland has been criticized for its stereotypical view that the role of the mother is in the home. The Czech Republic was criticized for being over-protective of motherhood. Slovenia has been criticized because they have too few infants and children in formal day care centers. The U.N. feels that children cared for in the home might miss out on educational and social opportunities being offered in Day Care centers. This world organization believes that keeping children out of Day Care centers amounts to discrimination.

If the United States Senate ratifies CEDAW, American laws, customs and behavior will be under the authority of the U.N. This world body will determine if we are complying with their interpretation of discrimination. It will jump right in the middle of all facets of American life that fail to achieve their ideals. The first thing on their list will be the American mothers who stay home with their children.

The concept of a one-world government is coming into our lives one step at a time. If certain Senators have their way about it, we will be taking one major step toward that one-world government. CEDAW is but one player in this attempt to take away our rights and freedoms. There are many things going on at once, and most of us don’t have a clue about what’s going on. To see in a nut-shell the many seemingly unrelated societal changes that are happening under our noses, read Shadow Truth: The Ultimate Deception by Larry J Tate. This book will remove the shades from your eyes and make you aware of how dangerously close we are to becoming a world of slaves to a small ruling class.

For more information about Shadow Truth, go to

To order the book from Amazon, go to

You’ll thank yourself for making this one small investment in your life, the life of your family and the lives of your children’s children.

Monday, July 18, 2011

MIT Study: Appearance is Everything

Who would have ever thought that voters may be swayed more by a candidate’s looks and appearance than by his or her political platform? An MIT study seems to suggest that it just may be true.

The study found that “low-information voters are most likely to vote for a candidate based on looks alone. “What,” you may ask, “is a low-information voter?” I’m glad you asked. Low-information voters consist of those who watch a lot of TV and are not up-to-date on policy issues.

People commonly judge other people according to first impressions, but once they learn more about them, they tend to update their impressions and forget their initial judgments. The problem with voting in elections is that many voters never go to the second step of learning more about the candidates other than that initial impression.

According to people conducting the study, the number of TV-watching, low-engagement voters is far from insignificant. The number of voters in this category could even be enough to sway the outcome of elections.

You think? It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that TV-watching, low-engagement voters may actually be a majority of voters. Even worse, is the fact that most of the people in this category are low-information voters. They hear headlines (on TV) and they make up their minds according to little catch phrases they hear. Beyond that, many of the voters who put candidates in office know next to nothing about what they are voting on.

Can this trend be reversed? It can, but it takes grass-roots efforts. Each of us, who actually pay attention, should discuss actual issues with these low-information voters. If we all do our part, things just may turn around.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number One

This is a story of a man who grew up not believing in the existence of God. Without giving much thought to God, he just lived his life from day to day. If he were to consider the existence of God, he would need to be presented with absolute proof.
One day he had coffee with a stranger in a coffee shop. This encounter led him down a path of discovery about God’s existence. During the course of several conversations with the stranger, he very well may have found some compelling proofs of God’s existence. What he did not know was that he was about to stumble onto something he was not expecting to find, something that was far beyond anything he could imagine discovering.
“I have a story to tell. I have a question to ask. Please join me as I take you on my journey. There once was a day when I met this stranger…”

Chapter One
The smell of coffee was in the air. Dishes were clattering. People were coming and going. My favorite coffee shop was of the local mom and pop variety. I didn’t like the flash and pizzazz of the fancy chain stores. I was one of those who felt more comfortable with a down-home atmosphere. But times do change. Some time back, even my favorite shop had awakened and smelled the coffee. Now, they, too, were offering those high-end coffees with names I couldn’t pronounce.
On this particular Monday morning, the coffee shop had its usual crowd. There were the loners like me, the early morning business meeting types, the health-conscious moms who wanted to treat their children to bagels rather than doughnuts, the internet junkies with their laptops, and then there were a few unfamiliar visitors.
I could always be found at the same coffee shop, at the same time, every morning. I had become a creature of habit. Every day I got up, got dressed, went to the coffee shop, sat at the same table, drank the same black coffee, ate the same whole wheat bagel, and then went off to work. To call me a man of habit would be an understatement. You could set a clock by my habits. I don’t know if my obsession with doing the same thing day in and day out was due to my personality or due to my training. I had studied math, physics, and engineering in school. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those geeks with six different writing instruments in my shirt pocket. It was all I could do not to carry a slide rule in my pocket. Slide rules had been outdated for years, but I just could not resist the urge to use one.
I wasn’t one to sample all the varieties of coffees offered at the shop. My only venture into fancy coffees was hazelnut coffee. Otherwise, my coffee was plain, and always black. My breakfast was a whole grain bagel with butter and honey. None of that fancy cream cheese for me. I felt more comfortable doing the same thing over and over again than doing something different.
My ritual included sitting at the same table for forty-five minutes, thinking about the long and tedious day ahead of me. My life reminded me of a movie I once saw in which the main character woke up on the same date, day after day after day. Every morning when he went outside, he saw the same people doing exactly the same thing as the day before.
All day long, I thought about numbers and the way things work. I was a fact-based person. I was more at home in a corner by myself than anywhere else. The last thing I wanted was to get involved with another person in idle chitchat. On the other hand, if someone wanted to talk about facts, science, and numbers, I was their guy. Otherwise, I could be found by myself, back in some corner.
Even though there were many familiar faces, I didn’t know any of them. In fact, I don’t think I can remember speaking to any of the other patrons during the entire time I had been visiting the shop. My only communication was an occasional hello to the counter help. The employees knew me and my unchanging pattern. When I walked through the door they would place the same coffee and the same bagel on the counter. In like fashion, I nearly always gave them exact change, down to the penny. You can’t get much more efficient than that.
After settling into my chair, I took a look around the shop. I saw a stranger walk in the door. He went straight to the counter and spoke to someone at the cash register. Then he started walking around the shop. I figured that they must have hired a new employee because he was walking up and down the aisles and around all of the tables, looking at each and every patron and smiling. Perhaps he is a greeter, I thought. I hadn’t ever noticed a greeter before, but that concept seemed to be catching on. I doubted that he would last long though. He smiled at everyone, but never uttered a word. Perhaps he’s a bus boy, I thought. No, he can’t be a bus boy. He isn’t cleaning off a single table.
It wasn’t long until he made his way to my table. He smiled at me and said, “Good morning, friend. How are you this fine and wonderful day?”
Good grief, I thought. He’s one of those happy people. He hadn’t spoken to a single person before he got to my table. Why did he choose to talk to me? Why can’t I just be left alone?
“Fine thank you,” I answered.
“I’m mighty glad to hear that,” he said. “This certainly is a great day to be alive. Wouldn’t you agree?”
I mumbled something barely audible, hoping he would take my hint and move on.
After glancing up to the counter he said, “Well, friend, I believe my order is ready, so I’ve got to run along. It’s been very nice talking to you.”
Oh good, he’s leaving, I thought. I guess he’s not a greeter after all. The strange thing about him was that if he wasn’t hired help, he certainly was being nosy.
After a bit, I finished my coffee and bagel. With one hand, I held my napkin just under the edge of the table. With the other hand, I carefully wiped the crumbs off the table and into the napkin. After neatly folding the napkin, I stuffed it into my empty coffee cup. On the way out the door, I put my cup, knife, and fork in the appropriate basket; threw the napkin in the trash; and placed my tray on top of the trash receptacle. Out the door I went to endure another day of mind-numbing number crunching.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

Friday, July 15, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Two

The Wager

On Tuesday morning I found the coffee shop busier than usual. The shop was rarely ever full, but this day was different. I picked up a newspaper, went inside, and stood in a long line to order my coffee. As I turned around to leave the counter, I noticed that there wasn’t a single table available. Toward the back, I spotted a lady who looked like she was nearly ready to get up and leave. Her bagel had been reduced to crumbs and her coffee cup was nearly empty. I drifted over near her table, not so close as to make her nervous, but close enough for me to grab the table before anyone else could. Shifting from foot to foot, I kept one eye on her and the other on nearby tables.

After a few minutes she got up and headed for the door. I was sitting in her chair before she could get two steps away.

Settling down, I began drinking my coffee and reading the paper. Before long, I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard a voice behind me saying, “Excuse me, friend, all of the tables are taken. Do you mind if I sit at your table while I wait for another table to open up?”

I turned around and saw the same stranger looking down at me with that same annoying smile on his face. I couldn’t think of a good reason to turn him down, so I reluctantly said, “Sure. Have a seat.”

After taking a sip of his coffee he began that idle chat I so disliked. It went on and on. First, he talked about the weather, then sports, then local news, then national news, and then world events. Trying to be polite I attempted to act interested, while in my thoughts I was wishing another table would open up so he would leave me alone. No such luck was with me that day. He discussed Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Israel. He talked about the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Then he started discussing the strife between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In no time at all, he was talking about religion. I wasn’t much of the religious type, so the more he talked, the more uncomfortable I got. “Sir,” I interrupted, “I don’t mean to offend you, but this religious business is something I really don’t care to talk about. I haven’t even made up my mind if there is a God or not. There are a lot of religious people out there talking about God, but to date none of them have actually shown me God. Now, if someone could definitively prove to me with pencil and paper that there is a God, I wouldn’t mind talking about God. So far, I just haven’t seen or heard anything to convince me that there really is a God.”

“Really?” he replied. “If you don’t mind my asking, how did you come by this way of thinking?”

I did mind him asking. But I had opened my mouth and he had responded. I didn’t have much choice but to answer his question. “Well, my parents weren’t very religious, so as a child, I rarely ever darkened a church door. As an adult, I just never gave religion much thought. My engineering background leads me to seek scientific proof for most everything I encounter. Facts and structure are the things that make me tick. If you can prove something to me, I’ll believe it. ”

Unshaken, he took another sip of coffee and sat back. “Well, friend, I can see that you’re the analytical type.” He stared out into space for a few moments and then continued, “You know, I have heard about the works of some great religious thinkers. Some people call them Christian apologists or philosophers. The information I have is that some of them actually claim to prove that God exists. I have often wanted to explore their arguments. Perhaps you would be interested in delving into them with me. Who knows, maybe both of us could benefit from their knowledge and wisdom.”

I knew I was in trouble. I had learned early in life that sales people have an answer for every excuse a potential customer can think of. It doesn’t matter what reason you give for not wanting their product, they have a response to your objection. Consequently, I had determined that when sales people come by, I should never give them an opportunity to answer any of my objections. Generally I had two or three responses, such as I’m not interested or I don’t want it or please leave me alone. Never did I give a reason for not wanting their product. I had become quite capable at cutting sales people off at the pass. It usually involved some rudeness on my part, but at least I could get rid of them rather quickly.

Yet in just ten minutes this stranger had tricked me into forgetting my tactics, and had lured me into giving a reason and excuse for why I didn’t want to talk about God. It appeared that I had fallen into his trap and made myself vulnerable to his sales pitch about God’s existence. Okay, I thought, I might as well hear his pitch. Eventually, I’ll be able to get out of this conversation and get on with my life.

“Well, sir,” I reluctantly replied, “I find it hard to believe that someone can prove that God exists, but why don’t you go ahead and tell me about these so-called arguments and proofs you’ve heard of. I’m warning you, though; I want hard facts and provable arguments. I don’t want any of that mystical mumbo jumbo.”

He smiled, set his coffee on the table, and said, “Okay, friend, I’m cognizant of how critical and analytical you are. I’m not going to try pushing any of my own beliefs off on you. I’m just going to share with you the beliefs that others have spoken of. Then you can decide for yourself. How does that sound?”

I nodded without uttering a sound.

“Friend, do you ever place wagers?”

“Of course not,” I said. Gambling was a subject I knew a little about. I had studied probability theory and the virtual guarantee that in the long run, gambling will always result in a net loss. “Sir, I don’t have any desire to lose my money on gambling. I have better things to do with my money. Life itself is a gamble, and my investments are a gamble. That’s enough for me.”

“You’re not afraid to speak your mind,” said the stranger. “Can you tell me what the definition of a wager is?”

“That’s simple,” I said. “A wager is the act of placing a certain predetermined risk on the outcome of a certain event. Normally, a person puts down a certain amount of money in a game of chance with the hopes of winning a larger amount of money.”

“Tell me, friend, have you placed any wagers today?”

“No I have not,” I bristled. “I don’t squander my money. Have you forgotten that already?”

Acting as though he didn’t hear me, he continued, “Just suppose, my friend, that you were to walk up to a gambling table and see that there are only two choices for you to bet on. You could place your bet on red or you could place your bet on black. While you are looking at the table, the dealer tells you that if you bet on black, the best you could hope for was to break even but you’re likely lose your entire bet. On the other hand, if you bet on red, the worst you could do would be to break even, but you’re likely to win a large sum of money. Now, friend, what would you do?”

I chuckled at the stranger and said, “For one thing, no casino would ever offer such a bet. But there’s no question what I’d do. Black has no chance of winning, while red has no chance of losing. So I would bet on red, as would anyone else who has a lick of sense.”

Sounding as if he was changing the subject he said, “Tell me, friend, do you enjoy having your coffee here at this coffee shop?”

I answered, “Yes, I sure do. I come here almost every day. What’s that got to do with placing a bet?”

Ignoring my inquiry, he continued, “Well, my friend, you came in a car, didn’t you?”

Now, I was getting a bit irritated. He seemed to be drifting from subject to subject. “Of course I came in a car. Otherwise, I’d still be walking.”

“If you’ll bear with me, my friend, surely you’ve heard of people being injured in automobile accidents. Wouldn’t you say that there is more risk of personal injury while driving your car to this coffee shop as opposed to walking here?”

“You’ve got me there,” I said. “Statistically, there isn’t much risk in driving a car, but due to the speed of the vehicle, an automobile accident does have the potential for causing serious injury. On the other hand, walking exposes a person to less risk from injury. So…yes I suppose there’s a little more risk in traveling by car than by traveling by foot.”

“So, friend, you did place a wager today. You made a determination in your mind that you would incur a little more risk by driving a car so that you could have more time to do other things today. On the other hand, had you chosen to walk to the coffee shop, while being somewhat safer, you may not have the time to enjoy all of the other things you want to do.”

“Okay, sir. You’ve made your point. I can see that I’m considering risks versus rewards in virtually everything I do. Now, sir, what’s this got to do with placing a bet in a situation where I know in advance which bet loses and which bet wins, and what does all of this wager stuff have to do with the existence of God?”

I was getting flustered, but he was as calm as a cucumber. Continuing on, he said, “I’m going to tell you about a wager you can make on the existence or non-existence of God. Once you see the wager, you may be convinced to believe in God without us having to go any farther exploring proofs of his existence.”

“Sir, are you telling me that by placing a bet, I will come to believe in God? That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard. For one thing, there aren’t any wagers in which a person knows in advance which bet wins and which bet loses. For another, a wager can’t even begin to prove the existence of God. Who in their right mind would make a bet on the existence of God?”

“You’re going to be a challenge,” he said. “But let’s continue. Would you agree that there either is a God, or there isn’t a God?”

“Yes, sir. That seems clear enough. There are only two choices regarding the existence of God. God exists, or He doesn’t exist. Mathematically speaking, God has a fifty percent chance of existing.”

“And, friend, would you agree that a person either believes in God or doesn’t believe in God?”

“I’m not sure about that, sir. I am in another category all together. I told you earlier that I don’t know whether I believe in God’s existence or not.”

“That’s all right, friend. Let’s see if that position deserves another category. Do you believe right now that God exists?”

With exasperation I exclaimed, “No, sir. As I said, I don’t know if he exists!”

“So, friend, you’re admitting that you don’t fit in the believing category, aren’t you?”

“No, sir, I don’t fit in the believing category.”

“Friend, it appears that your position of not knowing is in the arena of not believing.”

“Why is that, sir?”

“When we say that a person either believes or does not believe, we are saying that there is a believing category and a negative of the believing category. While you may not be declaring that God absolutely does not exist, your not knowing is in the camp of not believing.”

“Okay, sir, in that light I can see that a person either believes in God or doesn’t believe in God. You are making me weary with these fine-pointed definitions.”

“We have to make a solid case,” said the stranger. “Now, try to imagine placing a wager on one’s belief in God. What would be the risk you would be taking, and what would be the potential reward?”

I thought for a moment. The stranger had just taken me to a point I did not want to cross. I was being forced to provide an answer as though I was accepting the possibility of the existence of God. The stubborn side of me just did not want to give in to his argument. On the other hand, I was doing similar analogies every day at work by considering all sides of a particular problem. Feeling a bit relieved, I looked up at the stranger and said, “Well, I think we will have to make some certain assumptions first. Christians claim that after death believers go to heaven and unbelievers go to hell. Right now I don’t know if God exists, but for the sake of this argument I will use heaven as the reward and hell as the loss.”

“That sounds reasonable enough,” he said.

I pondered his question and said, “It appears to me that the wager placed is my belief or unbelief in God. And it appears that the reward or loss is what I encounter after my life has ended.”

“So, can you describe for me the various outcomes of the wagers?”

“I believe so. There are only two choices for the wager. I can either believe in God or not believe in God. So, if I believe in God and He does exist, then I would go to heaven. On the other hand, if I don’t believe in God, and He does not exist, I lose nothing; I break even. When I die, I will merely cease to exist.”

“Okay, friend, but what if you do believe in God, and he does not exist?”

“That’s easy. If I believe in God and he does not exist, I still break even. When I die, I will merely cease to exist.”

“And finally, friend, what if you don’t believe in God, but He actually does exist?”

“According to Christian teachings, I would go to hell after I died.”

“So, friend, like the gaming table we spoke of a few minutes ago, this wager has but two choices. One bet, not believing in God, has no chance of winning. The other bet, believing in God, has no chance of losing. If you were placing a wager on your life knowing that one of the wagers cannot possibly win, and the other wager cannot possibly lose, wouldn’t you want to place your bet with believing in God?”

Staring into space, I took a few moments to analyze his logic. After considering his statements from every possible angle, I turned my attention back to the stranger. “I see your point,” I said. “It seems to make sense on a certain level. And it certainly causes me to think a little differently about the existence of God. But still, this wager theory does not prove the existence of God. I would like to see the real proofs and evidence of the existence of God that you told me about.”

“Certainly,” said the stranger. “You’re stubbornness is quite evident and overt. I would like to share with you some of those arguments and proofs. Would you like to start now?”

My time was beginning to run out. “Sir, I really need to go to work.” Trying to be as polite as possible I said, “Perhaps if you and I meet again, we could continue this conversation.” Then with politeness aside I continued, “But it’s going to be an uphill battle to prove God’s existence to me. You’ve got to be armed with a lot more than some silly wager scenario. As a matter of fact, why don’t you bring God with you next time we meet?”

Without acknowledging my snide remarks, the stranger said, “Next time I see you, I’ll be happy to talk about some proofs of God’s existence.”

I excused myself and left the coffee shop. I didn’t know if I would ever see the stranger again. Oh well, I thought, I really can’t imagine that he could prove to me that God exists anyway.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

Slowly but Surely

Glenn Beck has been referring to the gradual, one step-at-a-time changes that are occurring in our society. Those who are not paying attention will some day wake up and ask, "How did that happen?"

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but every downward trend in this country is occurring with the "approval" of the Christian majority! "No way," you may say. "I don't approve of the immoral and liberal changes taking place."

Well, before you have yourself promoted to sainthood, why don't you consider this simple fact? It takes a majority vote to elect any President, Senator, Representative, Governor or council member. Yet, it is these very people who are enacting the laws and policies we Christians so despise. If the majority of the United States voters are Christian, then logic tells us that Christians are responsible for what's going on today.

Maybe you are voting, and maybe you are voting "the right way." Before you tell yourself that you are not the problem however, you will be well advised to read, "Shadow Truth: The Ultimate Deception" by Larry Tate. Even the most devout Christian will be prompted to reconsider his ways.

For more information, go to

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Three

The Mover

On Wednesday, I went to the coffee shop at my usual time. I found the shop to be nearly as busy as the day before. My usual table was taken but I really didn’t mind. I didn’t want to make it easy for the stranger to find me again. I settled in at a table on the other side of the shop. I chose a chair facing the wall, thinking that he may not recognize me and move on to pester another patron. After patting myself on the back, I buttered my bagel, took a sip of coffee, and opened up my newspaper.

Before I got through the first paragraph of an interesting story, I heard a voice behind me saying, “Hello, friend. It’s so good to see you again. Do you mind if I join you?”

What luck! He had found me in spite of my efforts to hide from him. While mustering up a fake smile, I said, “Hello, sir. Have a seat.”

He didn’t waste any time getting right into conversation. “Well, friend, do you have any thoughts regarding the wager theory we talked about yesterday?”

“It was rather interesting, in a strange sort of way. Sure it caused me to think, but it doesn’t prove that God exists by any means.”

“You’ve made a fair assessment of the wager theory, my friend. I just wanted to begin our discussion with a thought-provoking theory developed by a great scientist who had a hand in the development of probability theory. Before we continue, I would like to interject one more thing for you to consider.”

“What is that, sir?”

“People use elements of that scientist’s probability theory every day in the arena of economics as well as gambling, but you’re having trouble being convinced to trust his wager theory.”

“You drive a hard bargain, sir. But I think I have good reasons for accepting his probability theory while rejecting his wager theory on God’s existence.”

“What is that, friend?”

“His probability theory actually works. It works both in theory and in practice. On the other hand, while his wager theory appears to be sound on paper, it cannot be proven in practice.”

“It looks like I am going to have to work hard to convince you that God exists.”

I felt a smug look creep across my face. Leaning back in my chair, I said, “Yes, sir, you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

Without appearing to be intimidated in any way he said, “If you don’t mind, we could continue today with the thoughts and ideas of another great person.”

I figured I might as well go ahead and listen to him one more time. “Okay, sir, let’s hear another one.”

He smiled again and began with a probing line of thought. “Would you agree that at this very moment things are in motion?”

“Sir, I don’t know what planet you are from, but on this planet there are things in motion, and there are also things that are not in motion.”

“Let’s talk about those things not in motion right now. Would you agree that most everything either has moved or could be moved at some point in the future?”

“Yes, sir, it is reasonable that most anything has moved or could be moved.” This stranger had a way of communicating thoughts and ideas without making me think I was being lectured to. It seemed as though he just asked questions and I ended up giving all the answers. His teaching methods were about as strange as he was.

“I suppose the same would apply to all matter that is out in the universe as well. Am I correct about that, my friend?”

“Yes, I suspect that everything out in the universe is moving, has moved, or can be moved. So it appears to me that everything, no matter what or where, is moving or can be moved.”

“Very good, friend. Can anything move its own self?”

I needed a little time to think. I didn’t want this guy trapping me, but so far, he seemed to be straight with me. Let’s see, I thought. Obviously a rock can’t move itself. First something or someone must put the rock in motion. A tree can’t move itself, but the wind can cause the leaves and limbs to move about; large earth-moving equipment could actually uproot the tree, putting it into motion. What else? A car won’t move until some outside source puts a chain of events together, resulting in the car’s movement. The planets move around the sun, but not due to their own power.

“Sir, I don’t believe any non-living object is capable of moving itself, and I suppose the same goes with plants. But the animal kingdom is a different matter. You asked me if anything can move itself. Well, I can move my own self, and most other animals are capable of moving themselves.”

“Friend, you said that you are capable of moving yourself. Is your body a single unit, or is your body an organism made up of many individual biological parts?”

“Sir, I’m not sure if I am following you.”

“That’s all right, my friend. We are exploring this idea together. Let’s see…okay, let’s try it this way. A person might consider his car as a single unit, but is it not actually an assembly of many individual parts?”

“Yes, sir, there are thousands of parts that make up the total assembly of a car.”

“Likewise, isn’t your body just an assembly of many biological parts?”

“Well…I suppose it is.”

“Can your fingers move on their own free will?”

“I don’t believe they can, sir.”

“Can your hands and arms operate as if they had a mind of their own?”

“No, they can’t.”

“And, before you begin walking, isn’t there something other than your legs that causes your legs to begin moving?”

“I hope you’re coming to a point, Sir.”

“Yes, friend, I am. Wouldn’t you agree that your brain must send certain signals to your various body parts before those parts are capable of moving?”

“Okay, sir. I give up. It appears that you’re right.”

“And then there is the brain itself. Can your brain send those signals without some outside influence?”

“Sir, I believe that the brain is the command center of all that goes on in the body.”

“Can the brain operate without an ample supply of blood and oxygen being sent to it by other parts of your body?”

He had me there. “Sir, I stand corrected. It appears that nothing, not even an animal, is capable of moving itself. And it appears that even my brain is dependent upon some outside influence. It sounds to me that some outside force is needed before anything is able to move.”

“I believe we are getting somewhere, my friend,” said the stranger. “Is there such a thing as perpetual motion?”

If this stranger wanted to push off his philosophies on me; he was going to have his hands full. I knew enough about how things work to ensure that he would not be able to pull the wool over my eyes. The concept of perpetual motion has intrigued mankind for ages. There is just one little problem that gets in the way. Friction cannot be eliminated. No matter how slight, friction will eventually stop anything that is in motion.

“No there isn’t,” I replied. “Perpetual motion is impossible. Eventually, everything put into motion will cease its motion without the continuing influence of some outside source.”

“Okay, friend, it appears that any object in motion had to have some other mover to put that object into motion. And, likewise, there had to be some other mover farther in the past to put that mover into motion. This sequence of moving and being moved goes farther and farther in the past. Now, friend, I think we are about to be confronted by a problem.”

“What is that, sir?”

“I can imagine the first object ever moved, but I’m having trouble figuring out what moved the first object.”

“Well, sir, the first object moved was moved by the first mover.”

“Friend, that sounds logical, but didn’t the first mover also need a mover?”

“Oh, now I see the problem.”

“Yes, friend, it looks like we’ve come up against a brick wall. We know that every object that moves needs a mover. We also know that every mover also needs a mover. Somewhere back at the beginning of time, there had to be a first object in motion. We know that to be a fact. But that first object in motion could not have begun moving without a mover moving it. We can imagine the first object in movement, but what about the mover of the first object in motion? What moved the first object? What was the first mover? How could the first mover move the first object if the first mover had to be moved itself?”

Now my head was spinning. It was simple enough to think that everything moving was caused to move by something else immediately in its past. But the complication arose as we looked farther and farther in the past. I retraced our conversation in my head. The more I thought about it, the more unsure I became. How can there be a first mover, if something was required to move it? If that were so, it would not be the first mover.

“Sir, I’m a bit confused. I guess I just haven’t had enough time to think about it. I agree with you that we’ve encountered a problem with the first mover, but there must be an answer. Tell me, what do you think caused the first object to move.”

“Friend, in the universe, everything that moves must have something other than itself to move it. Likewise, the first object to have ever moved, no matter how far back in the past, also had to have a mover that put it into motion. We know that perpetual motion does not exist. Nevertheless, there still had to be a first mover. So, whatever it was that put the first object in motion could not have been a part of the universe. The very first mover had to be something that did not have something farther in its past to cause it to move. What do you suppose that could be?”

Talk about mixed emotions! I had absolutely no desire to consider the existence of God, but somewhere in the dark corners of my scientific mind, I was enjoying this stranger’s tactics. Nevertheless, I had no idea what the answer to his question could possibly be. In exasperation I said, “Sir, the only conclusion left is that the first mover must be an unmoved mover. I don’t know how that can be, but it must be so.”

“I believe you are right, friend. The one and only conclusion is that there must be an unmoved mover.”

“Okay, sir, now what? Where does that leave us?”

“We have determined that the first mover is an unmoved mover. The unmoved mover cannot be a part of the universe. This unmoved mover is none other than God Himself!”

There it was! He told me that he thought he could prove that God exists. We walked through a series of logical conclusions and ended up with the ultimate conclusion that God must exist. This stranger was making me think of things I had never considered before. His logic seemed to be sound, but was it good enough to prove to me that there actually is a God? I still couldn’t see God. With all of his so-called proof, I still couldn’t bring myself to believe that there really is a God. There must be an objection to this conclusion, I thought.

Weakly, I argued back, “Sir, I think you’re making an assumption that the universe had a specific beginning. I’ve heard it said that the universe is infinitely old. What do you say about that?”

“You might have an argument there,” he said. “Why don’t we explore that idea together? After considering some facts we already know about the universe, perhaps we can come to a reasonable conclusion regarding its beginning.”

I seriously doubted that we could solve the mysteries surrounding the beginning of the universe while sitting at a coffee shop table. “Sir,” I replied, “this has been a most curious conversation and I would love to explore the beginnings of the universe. But, I need to leave for work before I get fired. That would cause my personal universe to fall apart. Perhaps we could talk more on this subject if we happen to meet on another day.”

“Friend, I am honored that you would like to continue discussing things with me. I’ll certainly look forward to it.”

With that, I excused myself and hurried off to work.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Four

The Beginning

This excerpt is from the fourth chapter of Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

On Thursday morning I was able to reclaim my regular table. Apparently the conference or whatever it was that came to town was over. I didn’t bother trying to hide from the stranger this time. I was beginning to learn that he would find me no matter where I seated myself. About the time I got comfortable in my chair, I heard the familiar greeting, “Hello, friend.” I didn’t even have to turn my head to see who it was.

His hands were full. In addition to a coffee cup filled to the brim, he was carrying two saucers, one with a bagel and the other with a doughnut. Inevitably, he spilled part of his coffee on the table. By instinct, I immediately reacted by jumping out of my seat before any of the hot coffee could land in my lap. In short order, we were able to clean up the mess and sit back down at the table. With a silly grin on his face he said, “I sure made a mess didn’t I?”

“Well, sir, it happens to all of us.”

“It sure does. How are you doing on this beautiful day?”

“I’m fine, sir.”

He began buttering his bagel, drinking his coffee, and chatting incessantly.

I just let him continue on, occasionally giving him an “oh,” or a “yes,” or a “hmm.” It seemed as though this guy just enjoyed listening to himself talk.

Eventually he had to stop and catch his breath. After a moment he asked, “Friend, what were we talking about yesterday?”

Grateful for a change of topic I said, “Well, you suggested that there had to be a first mover, and you determined that the first mover must be an unmoved mover. You went so far as to say that the unmoved mover could only be God. Then we began discussing the beginning of the universe.”

“Oh yes,” he said. “You must be keeping notes. But don’t forget, friend, we came up with those conclusions together.”

“The last conclusion was yours, sir.”

“Perhaps, my friend, but it does bear consideration, does it not?”

“I will keep my mind open, sir.”

“That’s good enough for me, friend. Well now, what do you think about the beginning of the universe?”

“Sir, I haven’t burned up many of my brain cells dwelling on the beginning of time, but I’ve heard a couple of theories. One is that the beginning goes back to infinity. Another is that the universe had a definite beginning. As far as my opinion goes, I tend to lean toward the theory that the universe is infinitely old.”

“Okay,” he said. “That is as good a starting point as any. Let’s just explore some known facts and see if we can agree on a logical conclusion.”

“Sir, do you really think that two regular guys like us can figure out the beginning of time right here in this coffee shop while sitting at this table?”

Chuckling, he replied, “You don’t appreciate the brain power you have, my friend. But who knows what we can accomplish until we try.”

“Okay,” I sighed. “Let’s get started.”

“Perhaps we should first agree on the meaning of the term infinity,” he said.

“That’s an easy one for me,” I said. “Infinity is an unlimited and unending extent of time or quantity.”

“Unlimited and unending…” he pondered. “Okay, so if the universe is infinitely old, then the beginning must extend backwards toward the past, down an unlimited and unending extent of time prior to today. Is that right?”

“It sounds like we are off to a good start,” I said.

“Okay. To help us understand an infinite amount of time in the past, let’s talk about something simpler first. Let’s talk about numbers in general.”

“You’re the teacher, sir.”

“Friend, I would like to think that we are doing this together. I pose a question, and you answer. You pose a problem, and together we will work out that problem.”

“If you say so, sir.”

“Now back to numbers…if it is possible to count forwards for a certain number of units, wouldn’t you agree that we must also be able to count backwards to the point of beginning?”

“Sure enough,” I replied. With my background, math was an easy subject.

“And likewise, if it is possible to count backwards for a certain number of units, wouldn’t you also be able to count forwards back to the point of beginning?”

“I don’t see any problem with that assumption either,” I said.

“Friend, pick a number.”

“Pick any number?”

“Yes, any number is fine.”

“Okay, my number is 823.”

“823? How did you pick that number?”

“I don’t know, sir. It just came in my mind. Is there a problem with that number?”

“Any number is fine. I was just curious about where that number came from. It’s a bit strange, but we can work with it.”

I thought, Why is he calling me and my thoughts strange? He makes himself at home at my table, talking about all kinds of weird stuff, and he thinks I’m strange?

Continuing, he said, “Okay, we’ll start with the number 823. Now, if we were to count forwards for another hundred numbers, we would get to 923. Is that right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now that we are at the number 923, is there any problem with counting backwards until we get back to our original number of 823?”

“No problem, sir. If it is possible to count forwards to some certain number, it is certainly possible to count backwards to the point of beginning, whatever number the beginning happens to be.”

“All right, friend, if instead of counting forwards from 823 to 923, what if we were to try counting backwards from 823 to 723?”

“Sir, there wouldn’t be a problem doing that either. We can count back to the number 723 and then count forwards back to the original number of 823.”

“Great, friend. You are helping me immensely. Now, what if we were to try counting backwards from the number 823 all of the way to zero? Could that be done also?”

“No problem, sir.”

He looked toward the ceiling as if he was counting the ceiling tiles. Then he said, “Let’s consider the first moment of the universe. Is it conceivable to imagine the first moment of the universe?”

“Well, that would be a long ways back there, but I suppose a person could imagine the first moment.”

“But, friend, you said that the universe may be infinitely old, and that infinity is an unlimited and unending extent of time. If the beginning is infinitely in the past, then the very first moment must always be farther and farther back in the past, beyond any moment previously identified as the first moment. So how could the very first moment ever be identified?”

“Hmm…sir, you have a point there. Now that you put it in that kind of light, I doubt that the very first moment could ever be identified.”

He tapped his fingers on the table, considering his next words. “Okay, so you say that the first moment in an infinite past cannot be identified because by the time you could get to what could be conceivably identified as the first moment, you would just find that the actual first moment would still be farther in the past. Am I right?”

“I believe so, sir.”

“Consequently, the definition of an infinite past simply does not allow for a first moment.”

“That looks to be the case, sir.”

“Help me out, friend. Wouldn’t the beginning of time be considered as moment number zero?”

“Well, sir, technically the first moment would be moment number one, not moment number zero. But, I understand your point. Just before moment number one should be moment zero.”

“Okay then, Mr. Know-It-All. Let’s call the first moment, moment number one.”

For just a brief moment, I wondered if his last remark was some sort of an insult. But his big, crooked smile easily disarmed my negative notions regarding his intentions. I relaxed a bit and said, “Okay, sir.”

“Friend, if the first moment is always farther and farther in the past, then it appears that there may be a problem in assigning the number one to the first moment.”

“We may be on to something, sir.”

“We’ve already determined that it is possible to count from any given number back to the number zero. But if the first moment is elusively farther and farther back in the past, I don’t see how it would be possible to count back from this present moment to the very first moment in an infinite past. As a matter of fact, it is quite impossible to count back to the first moment if the beginning is infinitely far in the past.”

“I don’t have any problem with that assumption,” I said.

“Okay, we’ve determined that we can’t identify the first moment. Consequently we can’t attach the number one to the first moment. So…since we can’t identify the first moment, perhaps we could identify the second moment. Do you think it would be possible to identify the moment that occurs after the first moment?”

I thought for a little bit and said, “When considering a series of moments, it seems logical to me that the second moment should be identifiable, but if the first moment can’t be identified, then I don’t believe that the second moment would be identifiable either.”

“So,” said the stranger, “it sounds to me like you are saying that if the first moment can never be identified due to it being infinitely far in the past, then by default, the second moment would also be infinitely far in the past. Okay then, let’s go farther up the ladder. What about the third moment?”

“Well, sir, if there is no identifiable second moment, it doesn’t look to me that there could be an identifiable third moment.”

“Let me get this straight,” mused the stranger. “If you can’t count back from today to the first moment and if you can’t count back to the second or third moments, it would appear to me that you also could not count back to the fourth, fifth, or sixth moments. Is that right?”

“We are talking about infinity, sir.”

Continuing on he said, “If you can’t count back to the moment after the first moment, then you also can’t count back to the next moment after that or the next moment after that or the tenth moment or the thousandth moment or even the millionth moment. This hard thinking is about to singe the hair on my head.”

“Yes, sir, mine too.”

“Now, friend, if I had ten beans in a row, one of those beans would be the tenth, one would be the ninth, one would be the eighth, and so on, right down to the first bean. We can count back to the first bean because the beans had a beginning. But, in the case of an infinite past, there aren’t any first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth moments. Likewise, there can’t be any tenth, hundredth, thousandth, millionth, or billionth moments. Am I right?”

“I can’t fault your logic, sir.”

Without saying a word, the stranger got out of his seat and started walking around the room, looking at the other coffee shop patrons. He went to the window and gazed outside for several minutes. I had given up on understanding this stranger, so I just sat there drinking my coffee and eating my bagel. After a long while, he came back and sat down. Without saying a word, he gave himself a vicious pinch on the arm. “Oweee,” he yelled out.

Embarrassed, I looked around to see if he was disturbing other patrons around us. Fortunately, everyone seemed to ignore him. “What are you doing, sir?” I whispered.

Ignoring my question he asked, “Friend, would you pinch yourself too?”

I was getting a little exasperated with him. I was accustomed to sitting in a corner and being somewhat invisible. This guy’s antics were compounding the risk that unwanted attention would be drawn to me. “No, I will not pinch myself until you tell me what is going on.”

“I’m right here!” he exclaimed. “I’m here…and this coffee shop is full of other people who are here. I am right here…in the now and the present, along with a room full of people. I just wanted to find out if you’re here too.”

Indignantly I retorted, “I don’t have to pinch myself in order to know that I’m here. What is your point, sir?”

“Well, friend, it looks like we just proved there’s no such thing as an infinite past.”

“What?” I exclaimed in a startled voice. “What does pinching ourselves have to do with proving that there is no infinite past?”

With a look of triumph, the stranger smiled at me and said, “If time past goes back to infinity, then we and our universe could not and would not exist. The present time can exist only if it is a step in the future from an immediate step in the past. But, if time past goes back to infinity then step number two has not yet been reached. If step number two has not yet been reached, then steps three, four, five, and six have not been reached. If step six has not been reached, then the tenth, hundredth, thousandth, millionth, and billionth steps have not yet been reached. So whatever step we are in, here in the present, could have never been reached. As a matter of fact, if the beginning of the universe goes back to infinity, then the beginning has not yet occurred. If time past goes back to infinity, then there actually is no such thing as time. Consequently, this current moment right here in this coffee shop can never be reached. If time past goes to infinity, then you and I would not be sitting here right now, pinching ourselves and acting silly.”

Still feeling the burning in my face from being embarrassed by his recent outburst, I replied, “Respectfully, sir, only one of us is acting silly…and it isn’t me.”

Still smiling he said, “Maybe I’m getting a little too excited about what we just discovered.”

He then leaned across the table and pinched me on the arm before I had time to pull back. I flinched and sat up straight, looking at him with evil eyes. My arm was stinging, and a red spot was beginning to form. Still smiling he continued, “If time past goes to infinity, we would not be sitting here right now. But, the fact is…we are sitting here right now; we are pinching ourselves. The only logical conclusion left is that time and our universe definitely did have a beginning.”

I was stunned and speechless. I didn’t know if I was more shocked at his conclusions or the fact that he had taken the liberty to reach across the table and pinch me. I had never thought of time like that, but it certainly did made sense. This stranger seemed to be able to solve one of the mysteries of the universe right there in the coffee shop, while sitting at the table.

After a little bit I said, “You may be right. It appears that the universe did begin at a specific time.”

“It’s not just me, my friend. We did it together.”

With foggy eyes, I looked around the room and out into the parking lot. After recomposing myself, I glanced back to the stranger. He was busily munching on his bagel. Here we were, struggling with the mysteries of the universe, and this stranger was just gobbling up bagels and slurping coffee as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

After an uncomfortable silence he said, “What a relief to know there is no such thing as an infinitely old universe. If it was, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our coffee today. And this bagel is just too good to miss out on. Isn’t it fun solving age-old mysteries of the universe?” With his mouth half full of bagel he cheerfully said, “You know, friend, life is just about the greatest thing there is.” Then with a chuckle he uttered the old cliché, “It certainly beats the alternative. What do you think?”

Sometimes, this guy seemed to be so far out in left field that he should be institutionalized. Then at other times, he seemed to be able to look straight into the heart of a very complicated matter. I sat back in my chair and just stared at him with a puzzled look on my face. I just didn’t know what to make of the guy sitting across the table from me.

After downing his coffee, he said, “Friend, we went off on a tangent discussing the beginning of time. I believe we can get to the bottom of several other proofs that God exists. I’ve got plenty of time if you do. Are you ready to get back on track and discuss another proof?”

I couldn’t make up my mind if I enjoyed having discussions with him, or if I hated them. In one way, I was aggravated at the way he had elbowed his way into my life, but at the same time it was rather intriguing to follow his arguments to their conclusion. I looked at my watch and was surprised at how fast time was passing by. “Oh my, look at the time. I’ve got to run, sir. Maybe I should take a rain check on that offer.”

Without the slightest hesitation, he said, “No problem, my friend. The next time we meet, we can talk about the first cause.”

I didn’t have a clue what he meant by the first cause, but I was confident that he would have some profound explanation for it. I was already late for work so I said good-bye and excused myself. As I was walking out the door, I turned around and saw him go up to the counter and order another cup of coffee, along with the biggest bagel they had. Shaking my head, I headed off to work.

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Five

This excerpt is from the fifth chapter of Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

The Cause

As habit would dictate, I entered the shop at my regular time, bought my same black coffee, and proceeded to my favorite table. Not long afterwards, the stranger came through the door, bought his coffee, and found his way to where I was sitting.

He stretched his arms up high and took a deep breath. As he exhaled, he let out a pleasant sigh. Then he cheerfully said, “Top of the morning to you, my friend.”

“Hello, sir,” I said. “Have a seat.” This fellow was just too happy and optimistic for me. I wondered to myself, Doesn’t he ever have the same old boring and routine days like everyone else? He’s too young to be retired, but he never seems in a hurry to go to work. What’s up with this guy? In spite of my questions, I didn’t ask any for fear that he would want to reciprocate by asking personal questions about me. Not that I had anything to hide, I just didn’t like opening up to other people.

“I am so glad to see you again,” he said with that same permanent smile.

His smile reminded me of music show personalities. All through the show they have a great big smile plastered on their faces. I often imagined them eating and sleeping and even shaving with that huge abnormal smile. I usually got more enjoyment out of those imaginations than I did from their actual shows.

I was brought back to reality when he said, “If you like, we can continue our conversation and talk about another proof that God exists.”

“Sure,” I said. “Day before yesterday we discussed that every object in motion needed a mover. That was interesting and thought provoking. Some people might actually find it to be convincing, but I still have my doubts. I’m not easily swayed by every seemingly logical statement that comes my way. What else do you have that I can sink my teeth into?”

“Well, I don’t know if I can promise to give you the absolute answer you want, but I do have more proofs to share with you.” He stopped talking, took a sip of coffee and began looking around at others in the coffee shop, saying good morning to them. They must have been as self-centered as I was, because they pretty much just ignored him and continued to eat their bagels and drink their coffee as if no one else was in the coffee shop. Or maybe they thought he was the strangest person on the planet and simply ignored him. The brush off by the other patrons didn’t seem to affect him at all. He turned back to me and asked, “Did your coffee cup make itself?”

What a strange question. He said he was going to talk about God, but instead he asked if my coffee cup was capable of making itself. “No, it didn’t make itself. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that.”

“If the coffee cup didn’t make itself, then who or what made the coffee cup?”

“Well, sir, a machine made the coffee cup.”

“A machine?” he pondered. “Now this machine you are speaking of…did it make itself?”

“Now, you’re playing games with me,” I said. “No, sir, the machine didn’t make itself either.”

“Okay, friend, you’re saying that the coffee cup didn’t make itself, and the machine didn’t make itself either. Now then, machines are made up of many parts, right? Perhaps the parts made themselves. What do you think, friend? Do you suppose that the various parts of the machine created themselves?”

“I don’t know where you are going with this, sir. No, the parts of the machine could not, did not, and never will make themselves. Do you have a point to your madness?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. The coffee cup didn’t make itself. The machine that made the coffee cup didn’t make itself. The parts in the machine didn’t make themselves either. It just makes you want to scratch your head in wonderment, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m just scratching my head until it bleeds. Continue on, sir. Please make a point before I lose my mind.”

“Oh yes…I believe there is a point to my line of questioning. Everything that exists was created or caused by something else. That something else was an object or entity that already existed. Friend, herein is our dilemma. As we go farther and farther back in time, we should eventually reach the first thing that was created or caused. Is that right?”

“I don’t see the dilemma, sir. What is so confusing about the first thing caused or created?”

“Well, friend, perhaps you can help me with my confusion. Everything in existence needs something else to cause or create it. So when we get to the very first thing in existence, we should be able to determine that something was the cause of that very first thing. But if every cause is also in need of a cause, then what caused the first cause?”

“Now, you’ve got me thoroughly confused,” I said. “You must stay up all night dreaming up these riddles. How do you ever get any sleep?”

With a belly-rocking laugh he answered, “I’m not losing any sleep at night, but thanks for the concern. It certainly can be confusing. It’s almost like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. If the chicken came first, then we wonder how the chicken came into existence without first hatching from an egg. If the egg came first, then we are in a quandary about where the egg came from, because an egg can only come from a chicken.”

My mind began drifting. I really didn’t have any concern about how much sleep he was getting. As a matter of fact, it was rare for me to feel such emotions for anyone, much less this stranger who had befriended me. I knew he was just being polite, but all too often politeness tends to be little more than a façade. On most any day of the week, someone will ask me how I’m doing. Before I have a chance to open my mouth and answer, they are moving on and talking to someone else. To me, politeness is highly overrated.

Back to the task at hand, I continued our conversation. “All right, I see our dilemma,” I said. “How can we dig our way out of this one? What caused the first cause?”

“Well, let’s just dig a little deeper. Nothing can begin to exist on its own power. It must have a prior cause before it can begin to exist. We’ve already determined that the universe and everything in it had a beginning. The first thing in the universe had to have had a cause. That is a fact. So, there must be something that is not a part of the universe that caused the universe and everything in it to come into existence.”

I had to protest his last statement. “Sir, there can’t be something that is not a part of the universe. The universe is the accumulation of everything that is. Outside of the universe there is nothing. Anyone should know that out of nothing comes nothing. So, how can there be something that is not a part of the universe? Quite obviously, something can’t be a part of nothing.” I leaned back with the confidence that I had stumped the stranger.

“You bring up a valid objection,” he said. “Let’s try it from another angle. Everything that exists was caused by something else. Anything and everything that ever came into existence was not capable of making its own self but had to be caused by something that already existed. Going back in time, we find a chain of caused objects preceded by the causes that created them. Eventually, we must find our way to the very first object that was caused. This first object must also have a cause. We now know that the universe had a definite beginning. And we know that everything that is must be caused by something that already exists. The only conclusion left is that there must be a first cause that is uncaused.”

Repeating himself he said, “Everything that exists was caused by something. That something was caused by something else. So, everything that ever existed had to have been caused by something else that was previously caused. If there was no uncaused cause, then the first thing that came into existence had to come from nothing.”

“Sir, I think you are baiting me. I guess I’ll go ahead and bite in spite of my better judgment. Something can’t come from nothing. That is impossible.”

“Well, if something can’t come from nothing, then we are left with the one and only conclusion that the very first cause had to be uncaused. The uncaused cause had to exist outside of the universe of material things. But the uncaused cause also must be something. It can’t be nothing.”

“Are we getting somewhere, sir?”

“Friend, I do believe we have arrived. The uncaused cause is not a part of our universe of material things, and the uncaused cause is not a part of nothing. Friend, I think we have stumbled onto the solution to our problem. Day before yesterday, we discovered that the first mover had to be the unmoved mover, called God. Today we have determined that the first cause must be the uncaused cause, called God. This uncaused cause is not a part of the universe. This uncaused cause is outside of time. The uncaused cause has no beginning, and it has no end.”

I found myself regretting the day I crossed paths with this stranger. Up until then, I felt fairly confident about my beliefs. He was causing me to doubt myself and question most everything I had previously settled in my mind. “You know,” I said, “I can’t think of an objection to your so-called proof at this very moment, but there must be one. Your conclusion seems to hold water, but I just can’t see how it absolutely proves the existence of God. It sure would be convenient if I could just see God. Then I would know for sure that he exists.”

“You are stubborn, indeed,” he said. “I’m sure that this proof is not an absolute proof, but it sure sounds convincing to me. Since we got to the bottom of the First Cause, perhaps we could explore another proof.”

“Not today,” I said. “My cup is empty, and it’s time to go to work. It appears that you’re beginning to become a regular patron here at the coffee shop. Perhaps we can continue the next time we meet.”

“You’re the boss,” he said with a big smile of his face. “I’ll look forward to our next chat. If you don’t mind, I’m going to just sit here a little longer and have another cup of coffee.”

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll see you later.”

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

Monday, July 11, 2011

CWAS Excerpt Number Six

This excerpt is from the sixth chapter of Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate

The Necessary

On Monday morning, the stranger was already seated at my table when I walked in. In a sense, he was no longer a stranger. We had been having regular encounters and conversations. He certainly didn’t treat me like a stranger, not even on the first day we met. But I wasn’t anxious to take our relationship to the point of being friends. Being more comfortable on a formal basis, I hadn’t even asked his name, and so far he hadn’t asked mine. As I approached the table he said, “Good morning, my friend.”

“Hello, sir.”

“Being alive is about the best thing there is. Don’t you agree?”

“Well, it’s better than the alternative,” I replied. “It sounds like things are going good for you, sir.”

“I’m just great!” he resounded. “If life was any better than this, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. How was work Friday?”

“Every day is just like the day before,” I moaned.

“Well, I think you’re in for a great future. I don’t know why I think so, but I just feel it. Can you feel it?”

“Not really, sir.”

“You’ll come around, I’m sure. Start imagining yourself doing what you want to do and feeling the way you want to feel. Start imagining that the answers to life’s questions are right in front of you, waiting to be seen and understood. Pretty soon you will come to believe what you are imagining. After you imagine something and believe it, you will eventually begin doing the things necessary to achieve it. Soon, you will find yourself possessing it.”

I wasn’t sure if he was feeding me some sort of mumbo jumbo or what. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that sort of philosophy, but I never had given much consideration to it. I decided to file it away in my mind and reconsider it at a later date.

While I was mulling over his last statement he asked, “Are you ready to see if we can discover another exciting proof of God’s existence?”

“I didn’t realize that the first two proofs were exciting. But yeah, let’s hear it.”

“Well, I for one can’t wait to get started.” He didn’t waste any time getting right into the subject matter. “I’m sure you’d agree that you, yourself, exist.”

“Well, that seems easy enough to answer, sir. I saw myself in the mirror this morning while nicking myself with a dull razor blade. So yes, I believe that I definitely do exist.”

“Can you exist in a vacuum chamber?”

“No, sir, I need air to breathe. Besides that, my eyes would probably pop out of their sockets if I was in a vacuum.”

“Can you exist without food?”

“No, I can’t. My body needs the nourishment provided by food in order for me to survive.”

“So, it appears that the survival of your body is contingent upon other things and other factors.”

“You have no argument from me,” I said.

Without hesitating, he continued, “It looks like you are telling me that your body can exist only if something else also exists right now, at this very moment.”

“Sir, I believe that to be true. Our bodies require the influence and impact of other things in order to survive.”

He leaned back in his chair and twiddled his thumbs. After a few moments he asked, “Friend, what exactly, are you?”

He had a strange way of communicating his ideas. “What am I?” I asked. “I’m a human, of course. The last I checked, I wasn’t in the jelly fish family.”

His perpetual smile grew even bigger. “Well, whether you are a human or a jelly fish, wouldn’t you say that you definitely are a material being?”

“No one has accused me of being a ghost, sir.”

Ignoring my sarcasm he asked, “And wouldn’t you say that you are a limited being, as opposed to an infinite being?”

“Sir, we decided previously that the term infinite implies something of an unlimited and unending nature. So yes, I am a limited being.”

“Finally, friend, are you a changing being?”

“Of course, I’m changing. I have a picture of myself when I was twenty-one years old. I certainly don’t look the same today as I did then. And then there are those aches and pains. I didn’t have them when I was twenty-one either. And then there is the problem with my hair. When I was twenty-one, I had lots of hair on my head. Today, that hair is on my back and in my ears. So, yes I am a changing being. I’m not too happy about it, but that’s the way it is.”

“Friend, you are about the funniest person I know. Anyhow, you’re admitting that you are dependent upon other factors, and that you are a limited and changing being. What else do you suppose is limited and changing?”

“Well, everything in the animal kingdom is limited and changing.”

“Is that all?”

This guy didn’t make things easy for me. Far be it from him to volunteer much information. He acted like he wanted me to come up with all of the answers. Who was teaching whom? “Well, sir, I reckon that everything in the plant kingdom is also limited and changing.”

“Is that all? Is there anything else?”

While waiting for me to think about his question and respond, he was busy drinking his coffee, eating his bagel, and glancing about the room. He was beginning to get on my nerves. There were times when he reminded me of when I used to play chess with my father. Being a youngster and not having much enthusiasm for becoming intimate with the intricate strategies of chess, I would have to sit for minutes on end laboriously thinking about each and every move. Not being one to sit idly by, my father would keep busy reading a book, changing channels on the radio, or talking to others in the room. The more he did that, the more frustrated I got. Eventually, and with much hesitation, I would make my move. Out of the corner of his eye, he would see me retract my hand from the game board. With speed and flair of authority, he would then move his piece. Then the whole frustrating process would start all over again for me.

My eyes must have glazed over while I was reminiscing about my past. I had completely forgotten what he had asked. “I’m sorry, sir. My mind must have drifted off. What did you ask me?”

“Not a problem, friend. You said that both plants and animals are limited and changing. I asked you if anything else is limited and changing.”

“Oh yes, now I remember. I’m not sure what else is also limited and changing. But I suspect I will know shortly.”

“I am referring to inanimate objects. Take rocks for example. Do you suppose that rocks are limited too?”

“That’s simple enough to answer. Yes, rocks are limited too. They’re not infinite by any means.”

“Wouldn’t you agree that most everything on earth is limited?”

“Sure. Why not? Everything on earth is limited.”

“What about the planets and stars? Are they limited?”

“Well, the only other choice is unlimited or infinite. So my vote is for all planets and stars being limited too.”

“Bear with me, my friend. I certainly do appreciate your patience.”

Patience is necessary indeed, I thought. I needed a lot of patience to listen to this fellow every day.

“Since the universe is the total accumulation of all planets, stars, and all other matter, wouldn’t you say that the universe and all that is within it is limited?”

“You drive a hard bargain, sir. Sure, why not? The entire universe is limited.”

“Perhaps you would also agree with me that the universe and all that is within it is also changing.”

I was beginning to understand the negative feeling that most people have with attorneys. Like this stranger, an attorney continuously builds his case one statement at a time until his victim is backed into a corner with no way out.

“Sir, I’ve got to protest. I don’t know that I can agree on the changing part. A rock doesn’t change. It’s inanimate. How can a rock change?”

“Have you ever hit a rock with a hammer?”


“Did it break?”


“So, it changed, did it not?”

“If you put it that way, I guess so.”

“What about the sun and the stars? The very act of giving light and heat requires change doesn’t it?”

“I suppose so.”

“Now, there is other matter in the universe. There are planets, asteroids, comets, and no telling what else drifting about in the universe. Do they not change whenever they are impacted by other matter floating about in the universe?”

A bit irritated, I protested, “Sir, you won’t quit until you win. Yes, it seems that the entire universe and all that’s within it is limited and changing in some form or another. What else do you want from me…my first born?”

Undeterred, he continued, “Now, my friend, let’s recap a little bit. The existence of every human, every animal, and every plant is contingent upon something else for its very being. Without something outside of themselves, they would not have come into existence. Without something outside of themselves, they would not continue to be in existence. Without something outside of themselves, they could not change.”

“I believe that is what we agreed on.”

“And all other matter, while not living and breathing, is dependent upon something outside of itself to cause it to change in the way that it changes. All matter and the entire universe, living or not living, is dependent or contingent upon something else.”

“It sounds like we are going in circles again, sir. You remind me of a guy who has one foot nailed to the floor and all he can do is walk in circles. But yes, you seem to have a point.”

“You are quite comical, my friend,” chuckled the stranger. “Your existence is contingent upon something else. The existence of that something else is contingent upon something else yet. This contingency goes on and on and on. It goes farther and farther back in the past to the very beginning. We already discussed that there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Likewise, there can’t be an entire universe of contingent beings that are all dependent upon other contingent beings for their existence and change. Everything that exists needs to be given being, but at some point in the past, there must be something that was not contingent on something else.”

“I feel like I’ve been here before, sir. I think you’re getting ready to make a point.”

“Yes, I believe we are working our way up to a point. There must be something that is not and cannot be contingent on something else. From our description and definition of the universe, this something cannot be the universe itself, and it cannot be any part of the universe. This something that is not dependent or contingent upon something else can only exist in itself. It must be something from outside the universe of matter and limited beings. But what is outside of the universe?”

“We have previously determined that there is nothing outside of the universe.”

“Can nothing have an influence on something?”

“No, sir. We’ve made a determination on that also. Nothing is nothing. Only something can have the capacity to influence something else.”

“We have arrived at another dilemma, my friend. All matter is contingent upon something else for its existence and/or change. But beyond the beginning of the universe, there was absolutely nothing. Before there was something, there was only nothing. If nothing has no capacity to create or change, then the universe could not have begun to exist. Yet, my friend, the universe did begin to exist. So there must be a necessary being that is not contingent upon anything else for its own existence. There must be something that exists, something that does not exist on the condition that something else gives it existence. There must be something that exists only in and of itself. The only thing required for this thing’s existence is this thing itself. There must be a necessary being that is not a part of the universe. There must be a necessary being to cause the being of all contingent beings. All of creation cannot owe its being to its own self, but to something other than itself. All of creation had a beginning. If all of creation had a beginning, then there was a time in which it was not. All of creation and all parts of creation could not have created themselves. All of creation was the result and influence of some other necessary being that was not made or created. This Necessary Being is God.”

“Kudos to you, sir,” I said while slowly clapping my hands in mock applause. “You’ve done it again.”

“No, my friend, we have done it again, you and me together.” Continuing as if I had not just insulted him, he said, “So far, we have explored several proofs of God’s existence. He is the Unmoved Mover, He is the Uncaused Cause, and now He is the Necessary Being. Our two simple minds have proven that God exists. How do you feel about our discovery?”

“As I stated before, these proofs are thought provoking indeed. As convincing as they are, they still don’t absolutely and without a doubt prove that God exists. At the risk of sounding defiant, I wonder if you have any other proofs.”

“You ask and I provide,” replied the stranger. “Yes, my friend, I do have more. Let me think…oh yes, I’ve got another good one. It goes like this—”

Quickly, I interrupted him, “Wait a second, sir. Time is getting away from me again. Will you be here tomorrow?”

“If you’re going to be here, I’ll make a point to be here also, friend. I look forward to sharing another proof developed by a great thinker.”

Getting up I said, “Sounds like a date. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The above excerpt is from the copyrighted book Conversations with a Stranger by Larry Tate