Aquinas’s Cosmological Argument and Edwards’s Responses

St. Thomas Aquinas’s Cosmological Argument attempts to prove the existence of God through empiricism, or in other words, through observational analysis of the interconnected nature of the universe and how it functions (class notes). Aquinas agreed with Aristotle in that through only experience, observation, and reason could humans attain rational conclusions about the world (class notes). Aquinas’s argument builds upon and transforms Aristotle’s concept of a Prime Mover into the Christian God (class notes). I will begin this essay by presenting and explaining Aquinas’ Cosmological Argument. Next I will offer responses to Aquinas’s argument as offered by Paul Edwards in The Cosmological Argument. Ultimately I will show how Aquinas and Edwards could respond to each others’ arguments. I will demonstrate an argument, on Aquinas’s behalf, supporting the impossibility of an infinite regress by utilizing the concept of God being eternal. Then I will demonstrate how Edwards could respond to this argument to disprove the existence of God as the first “cause in esse” by using the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Finally, I will respond once more, on behalf of Aquinas, to the potential argument offered by Edwards to show why God could still be the first “cause in esse.”

Aquinas directed his argument toward common people (class notes). Therefore, he attempted to present his argument in an easy to understand way. Aquinas’s full argument consists of Five Ways meant to be taken as a whole and all based on the Principle of Sufficient Reason and the impossibility of an infinite regress (class notes). The Principle of Sufficient Reason asserts there must be a sufficient reason for everything and there cannot be any “brute or unexplained facts” (class notes). Also, if one can provide a sufficient reason, or explanation for something, but others cannot, then it is more rational to believe the sufficient reason (class notes). Regarding the impossibility of an infinite regress, observation shows nothing can come from nothing and something can only come from something (class notes). If an infinite regress occurred, there would be initially nothing for something to subsequently come from (class notes). Additionally, in order to better understand Aquinas’s argument, it is important to recognize that Shatz notes how Aquinas’ argument regards God (as “first mover,” “first cause,” “necessary being”) as existing “simultaneously” with all “effects,” which would mean the causal chain, for Aquinas, would exist vertically and not horizontally (Shatz, 183). In other words, for Aquinas, God does not exist as a “first” back in time, but instead, God is eternal, therefore exists at all times with all “effects.”

Aquinas’s First Way is based on motion and is as follows: (1) Observation shows some things are in motion in the world. (2) If (1), then things have the potential to be in motion. (3) Therefore, things have the potential to be in motion. (4) Motion is the change of something from “potentiality” to “actuality.” (5) Nothing can be changed from “potentiality” to “actuality” unless by something already in “actuality.” (6) Therefore, all things in motion are put into motion by something else already in motion. (7) If (6), then there is a “first mover” which put all else into motion. (8) Therefore, there is a “first mover” which put all else into motion (Aquinas via Shatz, 184).

Aquinas’s First Way asserts everything in motion can only be put into motion by something else. Therefore, there had to be a “first mover” who put everything into motion. Aquinas asserting all things in motion are because of a “first mover” is based on the Principle of Sufficient Reason the impossibility of an infinite regress. If there was never any motion, there would be no motion now. According to Aquinas, if there were an infinite regress, if the vertical causal chain of movement went back infinitely, there would be no first something causing the movement of everything else (Shatz, 184). Therefore, because there is motion now, there must have been a “first mover” which put all else into motion (Shatz, 184). Aquinas’s “first mover” is his sufficient reason, or explanation, for motion (class notes).

Aquinas’s Second Way is based on “efficient causation” (Shatz, 183). Aquinas’s Second Way is: (1) Observation shows us there are “efficient causes.” (2) It is impossible for something to be an “efficient cause” of itself. (3) If (2), then every effect has a preceding cause. (4) It is impossible for something to be an “efficient cause” of itself because it would have to exist prior to its own existence to do so. (5) Therefore, every effect has a preceding cause. (6) If (5), then there is a “first efficient cause” which initiated all subsequent “efficient causes.” (7) Therefore, there is a “first efficient cause” which initiated all subsequent “efficient causes” (Aquinas via Shatz, 184).

Similar to his First Way, the Second Way asserts every effect is the result of a cause and nothing can be the cause of itself. Therefore, there had to be a “first cause” which caused everything else. Again, Aquinas going from all effects requiring a preceding cause to a first cause is based on the Principle of Sufficient Reason the impossibility of an infinite regress (class notes). If there were an infinite regress, if the vertical causal chain of “efficient causes” went back infinitely, there would be no first something causing everything else (Aquinas via Shatz, 184). Therefore, because there are effects now, there must have been a first cause which caused everything else (Aquinas via Shatz, 184). Aquinas’s “first efficient cause” is his sufficient reason, or explanation, for all subsequent “efficient causes.”

Aquinas’s Third Way concerns “possibility and necessity” or “contingency” (Aquinas via Shatz, 184; class notes). Aquinas’s Third Way is as follows: (1) Observation shows it is possible for all things to be in existence and not to be in existence (each existence based on the contingencies of other things being in existence). (2) Things which cannot always be in existence are not in existence at some point. (3) If (1) and (2), then nothing would have been in existence at some point. (4) Therefore, nothing would have been in existence at some point. (5) If (4), then nothing would be in existence now (as all things’ existence is contingent upon the existence of other things). (6) Something is in existence now. (7) Therefore, it is absurd nothing was ever in existence. (8) Contingent, merely possible, things are in existence now. (9) Therefore, something must exist whose existence is necessary, meaning not merely possible and contingent upon others’ existence. (Aquinas via Shatz, 184).

Premises (2) through (4) of Aquinas’s Third Way requires some explanation. Shatz explains that within and infinity of time, “all possibilities must be realized” (Shatz, 184). Shatz continues, if existence is contingent and “all possibilities must be realized,” then every contingent existence must “go out of existence,” and if everything goes out of existence, then nothing subsequently would exist at some point (Shatz, 184). Premise (2) asserts “things which cannot always be in existence,” meaning existence which is contingent, “are not in existence at some point,” meaning goes out of existence. Premise (3) asserts “if (1) and (2), then nothing would have been in existence at some point.” This premise asserts if everything is contingent upon the existence of other contingent things, and every contingent thing must go out of existence, then follows premise (4) which asserts “nothing would have been in existence at some point.” In other words, time is infinite. Since time is infinite every possible event must occur. If all existence is contingent, and every possible event must occur, then everything which exists must go out of existence, and due to this at some point the existence of all contingent things would have gone out of existence.

Aquinas’s Third Way asserts basically, via use of the reductio ad absurdum, everything exists because something else existed before it and created it. If nothing with “necessary existence” existed to create everything, then nothing would exist now (Aquinas via Shatz, 184). Since things exist now, there had to be something which has always existed (and whose existence was not contingent, and thus able to always be in existence) and created everything else (Aquinas via Shatz, 184). Or in other words, nothing would exist unless there was something whose existence was “necessary” (not contingent, meaning not able to go out of existence), creating the existence of all contingent things. Aquinas argues this first “necessary” being is sufficient reason for the existence of everything and he argues for the impossibility of an infinite regress by way of his Second Way. He argues if the contingencies went back infinitely, then there would be no “necessary being” to make existence now possible (Aquinas via Shatz, 184).

Aquinas’s Fourth and Fifth Ways are based on degrees (gradation) and design (class notes). In his Fourth Way, Aquinas applies Aristotle’s concepts regarding the gradation of states of existence (vegetative, sensitive and rational) to the gradation of virtues, intelligence, and power to argue not only for God’s existence, but for God’s omni-competence (Basic Problems of Philosophy, Bronstein, Krikorian, Wiener; class notes). His argument for the Fourth Way is as follows: (1) Observation shows in all categories of beings, there exists different levels in the gradation of attributes related to the beings. (2) Some beings exist with attributes on lowest levels in the gradation and some beings exist with attributes on the highest levels in the gradation. (3) Therefore, there must exist a being whose attributes demonstrate the absolute highest level in the gradation (Basic Problems of Philosophy, Bronstein, Krikorian, Wiener; class notes). This being, according to Aquinas is God and God is omni-competent, the highest level of virtue, intelligence and power (Basic Problems of Philosophy, Bronstein, Krikorian, Wiener; class notes). The sufficient reason for Aquinas for the gradation of intelligence, virtue and power is God.

Aquinas’s Fifth Way, argues for the intelligent design of the world and is as follows: (1) Observation shows things without intelligence are moved toward specific functions. (2) The specific functions things without intelligence are moved toward achieve the best results. (3) If (1) and (2), then things lacking intelligence must be moved toward their specific functions to achieve the best results by an intelligent being. (4) Therefore, things lacking intelligence must be moved toward their specific functions to achieve the best results by an intelligent being (Basic Problems of Philosophy, Bronstein, Krikorian, Wiener; class notes). For his Fifth Way, Aquinas basically argues the sufficient reason for things of no intelligence functioning as they do to achieve the best results in nature is because something of the highest intelligence, namely God, has designed these things to do so (class notes).

In response to Aquinas, Edwards argues against the Principle of Sufficient Reason and Aquinas’s assertion that an infinite regress is impossible (class notes). Regarding Aquinas’s use of the reductio ad absurdum in his Third Way, Edwards argues Aquinas does not succeed in proving an infinite regress is impossible (Shatz, 186). Edwards asserts one can acknowledge God’s existence, and thus the existence of all which follows from God’s existence, without acknowledging God as “the first member of the series” (Shatz, 187). According to Edwards, by not denying the existence of God (even if God is not the first cause), one does not reduce the argument to the non existence of everything. Furthermore, according to Edwards, if an infinite regress is indeed impossible, then it doesn’t mean there were not many different first causes or that the first cause is still in existence (Shatz, 187).

Edwards distinguishes, on behalf of defenders of Aquinas’s argument, between “causes in fieri” and “causes in esse” (Shatz, 187). A “cause in fieri” is a direct cause of an effect (Shatz, 187). For example, a spark is a “cause in fieri” of a fire. A “cause in esse” “‘sustains’…the effect ‘in being’” (Shatz, 187). For example, the wood on which the spark lands is the “cause in esse” of the fire. Edwards claims defenders would argue Aquinas asserted an infinite regress is impossible for “causes in esse” because if the first cause is taken away then all else fails to exist (Shatz, 187; class notes). Shatz explains, as Aquinas’s argument regards God as existing simultaneously with all effects, Aquinas’s argument focuses on the impossibility of an infinite regress in a “vertical series,” because in this case, if the cause exists simultaneously with the effect, and the cause no longer existed, then the effect would no longer exist (Shatz, 183).

A vertical series of “causes in esse,” according to Edwards could just as much exist in an infinite regress (Shatz, 189). According to Edwards, in a finite series there is one “supporting” cause, which has no support of its own, holding the entire chain together, whereas in an infinite series the entire chain is sustained infinitely by preceding causes and effects (Shatz, 189). Edwards argues in the case of the finite series, since the one “supporting” cause has nothing to support it, the entire chain would fall apart (Shatz, 189). However, Edwards argues, in an infinite series, each preceding cause and effect is supported, or “sustained” by the one prior to it, keeping the chain from falling apart (Shatz, 189). Due to this, Edwards argues, it doesn’t matter if there exists a “first cause,” all that matters is if there are “sustainers” keeping the chain together (class notes).

Edwards also argues against Aquinas’s use of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Edwards argues, when providing a sufficient reason for the existence of anything, it is not necessary to ask for the cause of the whole, but instead simply the cause of the individual parts (class notes). By way of example, Edwards utilizes an analogy involving five people who have never traveled out of a small village in Alaska travelling to New York City (Shatz, 190). Edwards states the first person decided to move to New York City because of the warmer weather (reminiscent of Aquinas’s First Way, movement) (Shatz, 190; class notes). The second person moved to be with the first person, his wife, whom he didn’t wan to be without (reminiscent of Aquinas’s Second Way, efficient cause) (Shatz, 190; class notes). The third person is the child of person one and two (reminiscent of Aquinas’s Third Way, necessity and contingency) (Shatz, 190; class notes). The fourth person is responding to an ad seeking a person from a small village in Alaska for TV (reminiscent of Aquinas’s Fourth Way, gradation) (Shatz, 190; class notes). The fifth person is a hired private detective watching person four (reminiscent of Aquinas’s Fifth Way, intelligence) (Shatz, 190; class notes). In each case, asking each of the people why they are in New York City, provides sufficient reason for why each individual is there, and there is no need to ask the group as a whole why the entire group is there (class notes). Edwards’s example demonstrates there is no need to ask why the entire causal chain of events has happened, because sufficient reason can be given for each individual event.

Lastly, Edwards argues Aquinas’s explanation of God is a “brute unexplained fact” (class notes; Shatz, 193). The Principle of Sufficient Reason requires a sufficient reason, meaning everything must have a reason or cause (class notes). As Aquinas’s argument does not “show ‘how God can be his own cause or how it is that he does not need a cause,’” then Aquinas does not satisfy the Principle of Sufficient Reason by attributing the “first mover,” “first cause,” “necessary being,” etc. to God (class notes; Shatz, 193). If no sufficient reason exists for God, then it could be argued atoms or particles could be just as valid of a sufficient reason for all of Aquinas’s Five Ways (class notes).

Edwards main argument against the impossibility of an infinite regress is, for a vertical chain of “causes in esse,” it doesn’t matter if there is a first cause, it just matters if there are “sustainers” (class notes). Edwards notes how air sustains human life and the forces of gravity sustain the air (Shatz, 189). He continues that “it is difficult to see” what sustains the forces of gravity or atoms or electrons (Shatz, 189). Edwards notes, supporters of Aquinas’s argument could point out gravity, atoms and electrons require a “cause in esse” because these things could not sustain or “cause themselves, since…they would in that event have had to exist before they began existing” (Shatz, 189). However, Edwards argues, supporters of Aquinas’s argument would then assert the sustainer or cause of such things, namely God, needs no “cause in esse” (Shatz, 189). Edwards asserts that supporters of Aquinas’s argument fall prey to their own reasoning, meaning, they argue things require a “cause in esse,” except for when they get to providing a “cause in esse” for God (Shatz, 189).

So how could Aquinas argue against Edwards? Edwards asserted one could acknowledge the existence of God, but just because one does, it doesn’t prove an infinite regress is impossible because God could not be the first “cause in esse”. In response, Aquinas was a classic theist who viewed God as eternal, meaning timeless, and believed God exists simultaneously as the first in a vertical chain of “causes in esse” (class notes). If God is timeless, then the confines of time do not apply to God’s existence. If the confines of time do not apply to God’s existence, then God exists at all times. If God exists at all times, then God has always existed. If God has always existed, then God does not have a cause. Therefore, God does not have a cause and if God does not have a cause, it is impossible to provide a “cause in esse” for God’s existence. God doesn’t require a “cause in esse” because He has always existed. This argument would support Aquinas’s assertion that an infinite regress is impossible, because if God has always existed, then it is impossible for anything to exist prior to God’s existence. This argument would also counter opponents of Aquinas’s argument who assert that the cosmological argument doesn’t “show ‘how God can be his own cause or how it is that he does not need a cause’” (Shatz, 193). God doesn’t need a cause because He has always existed.

However, this argument does not support God as the first “cause in esse” using the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Edwards could argue other things could have always existed simultaneously with God, perhaps atoms for example. Edwards states, regarding particles and atoms, “it is not at all evident, however, that these particles cannot be uncaused” (Shatz, 189). If God has always existed, and thus has no cause, it is possible atoms have always existed along side God, and thus have no cause. If atoms have always existed along side God, and thus have no cause, then atoms could be the first “cause in esse” of the universe instead of God. Therefore, God could exist, but be completely uninvolved in the universe’s existence. Using this argument, along with the Principle of Sufficient Reason, one could argue atoms are the first “cause in esse.” Therefore, while an infinite regress is still avoided as there was a first “cause in esse,” God is not proven to be the first “cause in esse,” in this example atoms were the first “cause in esse.”

However, this second argument could also be answered by Aquinas. Aquinas could argue there is a fundamental difference between God and atoms. The difference is that God is, as an eternal being, non-physical. Conversely, atoms are physical. If atoms are physical, then they cannot have always existed, something had to create them. They couldn’t have created themselves because, as noted earlier, they would have had to exist prior to their own existence to create themselves, which is impossible. Whereas God, on the other hand, is non-physical, and as an eternal being, has just always existed. Edwards could reply that it doesn’t matter if there is a first “cause in esse,” all that matters is that there are sustainers. However, Aquinas could just as easily respond, in a vertical causal chain, if the first “cause in esse” is not sustaining the “sustainers,” then there would be no subsequent sustainers.

Aquinas’s cosmological argument has been one of the most widely debated and recognized arguments in the history of philosophy. On one side of the debate, Aquinas could argue against the possibility of an infinite regress by asserting God as being eternal. Of course, one would have to accept God as eternal for the argument to hold, which Edwards does (atleast in his argument) by arguing against the impossibility of an infinite regress in a vertical chain of “causes in esse.” On the other side of the debate, Edwards could utilize Aquinas’s argument regarding God as eternal to show how, given the Principle of Sufficient Reason, anything could be a sufficient reason, or first “cause in esse” of existence. To counter, Aquinas could assert God, as eternal, is non-physical, and only non-physical entities always exist, whereas, physical things have to be created by something, which makes it impossible for physical things to be the first “cause in esse.” Regarding Edwards’ assertion only sustainers are required, Aquinas could counter, without the first “cause in esse” sustaining the sustainers, there would be no sustainers. Ultimately, Aquinas could respond effectively to each of Edwards critiques.


Black Holes and Einstein’s Theories

Many magnificent phenomenon occur throughout the vast area of space. Physicists and astronomers have discovered empirical evidence for numerous unusual phenomenon which were at one time inconceivable or believed only theoretical. One such phenomenon is black holes. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicted the existence of black holes, even as he himself did not believe in the existence of these phenomenon (Lightman). For this essay, I will discuss the basics of black holes by starting with the circumstances surrounding the formation of these phenomenon. Next, I will discuss the “life cycle” aspects of black holes, then move on to the empirical evidence supporting their existence. Finally, I will discuss Hawking Radiation and the proposal black holes can evaporate. Throughout the essay, I will show how Einstein’s theories, the Theory of General Relativity and the Theory of Special Relativity, apply to black holes.

To understand black holes, it is helpful to start with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and General Theory of Relativity. Starting with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein asserted the Laws of Physics require the inclusion of “Maxwell’s equations describing electric and magnetic fields as well as Newton’s laws describing motion of masses under gravity” (Fowler). Maxwell’s equations are:

This states “the divergence of the magnetic field is always zero,” which means magnetic fields don’t “come from anywhere or go away anywhere,” but instead the field just “flows” from one pole to the next then back again, always balancing itself out to equal zero (Morgan-Mar).

This states “the divergence of the electric field equals charge density divided by εo,” which means “the amount of electric field coming from a region of space is equal to the total electric charge in that region of space” divided by “the permittivity of free space” (Morgan-Mar). Basically, the electric field in an area equals all of the electric charge in the area divided by a constant which is, if using coulombs to measure charge and volts per metre to measure the electric field, 0.0000000000088541878176 (Morgan-Mar).


This states the “curl of the electric field is minus the rate of change of the magnetic field,” which means the strength of the electric field equals the rate at which the magnetic field is changing (Morgan-Mar). Or in other words, the more the magnetic field changes, either by increasing or by decreasing, the greater the electric field.

This states “the curl of the magnetic field equals μo times the letter J, plus μo times εo times the rate of change of electric field,” which means the strength of the magnetic field is equal to the “permeability of free space” times “current density” plus the “permeability of free space” times the “permittivity of free space” times “the rate of change of the electric field” (Morgan-Mar). Or, the strength of the magnetic field is equal to the constant which is, when measuring the magnetic filed in teslas and current density in amperes per square meter, 0.000001256637061, times the amount of electric current present plus 0.000001256637061 times 0.0000000000088541878176 times the rate of change of the electric field (Morgan-Mar). Very simply, the changing, by either increase or decrease in strength, of the electric field creates a magnetic field (Morgan-Mar).

Newton’s theories, on the other hand, focused on gravity and force. Newton posited three basic laws. The first being “Every object continues in a state of rest or of uniform speed in a straight line unless acted on by a nonzero net force” (Hewitt). Or, if an object is not moving and nothing applies a force to it which is greater than the resistance the object provides, then the object is going to continue not moving. If an object is moving in a straight line at a constant speed and nothing applies a force to it which is greater than the resistance the object provides, then the object is going to continue moving in a straight line at a constant speed. Newton’s second law states “The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on the object, is in the direction of the net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass of the object” (Hewitt). Or, an object’s acceleration increases if the force increases, but if the object’s mass increases then acceleration decreases. Newton’s third law is “Whenever on object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first” (Hewitt). Or, basically, “To every action there is always an opposed equal reaction” (Hewitt).

Einstein took his predecessors theories and basically posited with the Special Theory of Relativity, that “the Laws of Physics are the same in any inertial frames,” meaning the Laws of Physics apply uniformly everywhere in “reference frames with zero acceleration,” (which is Newton’s first law of inertia) and the speed of light “in any inertial frame will always” measure 3×108 (Holzner, 341; Fowler). Additionally, the Special Theory of Relativity showed it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, because as an object gets closer to the speed of light the object’s mass increases, so it will take more energy to move the object (Holzner, 346). Basically, as an object gets closer to the speed of light, it moves toward infinite mass, which would require infinite energy (Holzner, 346). Therefore, in order to travel at the speed of light, an object of infinite mass, would require an infinite amount of energy, which is impossible. Einstein’s equation for this is:

However, Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity opposed Newton’s third law as the force exerted on one object with an electric field causes a “ripple” moving “outwards at the speed of light” and until that “ripple reaches another charged” object “the electric forces between the two will be unbalanced” (Fowler). But again, Einstein’s theory only partially opposes Newton’s theory, because Newton’s third law is still valid for mechanics involving speeds which “are significantly less than the speed of light” (Holzner, 347-48).

Very basically, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity states gravity is the effect of matter curving space and time (NCSA; Holzner, 352; Smarr). Einstein’s equation is:

Even though the equation “cannot be used for actual calculations…it clearly shows the principle that ‘matter tells spacetime how to curve, and curved space tells matter how to move’” (Smarr). On the left, the equation notates “how space is curved,” while the right side notates the ‘information about the location and motion of the matter” (Smarr).

If space and time were a large, square, soft pillow and the sun was a 16 ounce croquet ball placed in the center of the pillow, the pillow would curve under and around the ball. The effects of the matter and gravity causes the curvature. The curvature of the pillow to the ball is similar to what happens to time and space with the gravitational bending by matter.

Now imagine, instead of a pillow and a croquet ball, a massive star sitting in time and space, bending time and space around it. This massive star, more than three times the mass of the sun, is churning slowing away through nuclear fusion at the core of the star, a process by which hydrogen atoms fuse into helium atoms (Simonetti; Maran, 146, 222). The fusion process, by which heavier elements are fused with lighter elements, needs extremely hot temperatures, at least ten million degrees Kelvin, for the protons or neutrons of the elements to tunnel through each others electrostatic shields to be able to merge (Schombert; Simonetti). The process of nuclear fusion taking place within the star is creating electromagnetic (reminiscent of Maxwell’s equations) radiation, or gamma rays as demonstrated by Einstein’s E=mc2, meaning the energy emitted by the fusion process is equal to mass of the star times the speed of light squared (NCSA; Schombert). At this stage, the star is subject to two forces (NCSA). The force of the electromagnetic radiation stemming from the inside of the star causes an outward pressure pushing the star apart, while the force of gravity on the star’s mass stemming from the outside of the star causes an inward pressure keeping the star together (NCSA). As long as the process of nuclear fusion takes place at a balanced rate with the pressure of gravity, the two forces will equalize each other, meaning the star will neither explode from the outward pressure nor implode from the inward pressure (NCSA; Simonetti).

However, ultimately, the star is going to run out of enough nuclear fuel to keep the two forces equalized and the unwavering force of gravity will collapse the star in on itself (NCSA, Simonetti). When a star collapses, or compresses, inward on itself, several different outcomes could occur (NCSA; Guidry). If the star is about the mass of the sun or less, the star could become a white dwarf, a very dense and compact burnt out star (Maran, 174). The reason why these less massive stars become white dwarfs instead of black holes has to do with “degenerate electron pressure,” which is where the freely moving electrons in the atoms of the star repel each other, called the “exclusion principle,” creating an outward pressure resistant to the inward pressure of gravity (Simonetti). Another possibility for a star, is it could become a neutron star, which are stars that are smaller than white dwarfs but have more mass (Maran, 175). When these stars are no longer able to sustain themselves by nuclear fusion, they explode in a supernova which causes the surface “outer layers” of the star to be blown off (Lochner). The remaining core of the star compresses inward due to the force of gravity causing “protons and electrons to combine to form neutrons” (Lochner). Similar to the electron “exclusion principle,” these neutrons will repel each other enough to create an outward pressure resistant to the inward pressure of gravity (Simonetti).

However, a more massive star’s fate is much different. After burning through its nuclear fuel and undergoing a supernova explosion, the remnants of the star implode on itself (Maran, 175). The implosion causes the star to compress in on itself to “infinite density, creating” a “singularity”(Lochner; NCSA). Per Einstein’s theory, after the star compresses completely in on itself, the star’s mass and gravity are still there, leaving “an extreme distortion of,” or sharp curve in, space and time (Gould). Going back to the pillow and croquet ball analogy, imagine that the croquet ball imploded and left behind not only the curvature, or bending in the pillow, but a dark, bottomless hole. With the implosion of the star and the newly formed black hole, there are two important results to understand, “infinite density” and the “singularity.”

First, “infinite density” occurs because massive amounts of matter are immensely compacted into a small space, which subsequently results in the gravitational pull of a black hole, beginning in its event horizon, being so strong that even light cannot break free of it (Maran, 176). The outside edge of the newly formed black hole is called the event horizon (Maran, 221). Since light cannot escape from within the event horizon, if an object falls into the event horizon it will appear to slow down or even “freeze” as gravitational time dilation occurs (Simonetti; Bunn). The concept of gravitational time dilation is the result of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and Special Theory of Relativity (Smith). In Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, time dilates or slows down, as an object moves faster, closer to the speed of light and the appearance of the slow down is relative to speed of the observer (Smith). Additionally, in strong gravitational fields, time also slows down, and this slow down is relative to the observer (Smith).

For example, imagine one observer with a clock is far away from the event horizon, and a second observer is just outside the strong gravitational pull of the event horizon with a clock (Simonetti). For the first observer, the second observer and their clock, just outside the event horizon, will appear to slow down (Simonetti). Conversely, for the second observer, the first observer and their clock, far away from the event horizon, will appear to speed up (Simonetti). However, to each observer, time for themselves is normal (Smith). The effects on time can be explained as an “optical illusion,” because, due to the immense gravitational pull on light near the event horizon, it would take longer for the light reflecting the second observer just outside the event horizon to reach the first observer, making the second observer seem to slow down or even “freeze” (Simonetti; Bunn). In actuality, the second observer probably went through the event horizon and into the singularity of the black hole quite quickly (Bunn).

However, the fact that light being trapped in the gravitational pull of the event horizon means the first observer eventually wouldn’t actually be able to see the second observer at all when the second observer goes through the event horizon (Bunn; McIrvin). The second observer would become invisible due to gravitational redshift, in which light waves get longer in a strong gravitational pull, ultimately being stretched to infrared light waves (Smith; Bunn; Guidry; Maran, 224; McIrvin). The light reflecting the second observer’s decent into the event horizon will be pulled into longer wavelengths until the light, and consequently the second observer, is unable to be seen by the first observer (Bunn; Maran, 224; McIrvin). Gravitational time dilation is a apart of special relativity and “depends on the speed of one frame of reference relative to another one” (Hewitt, 654). Whereas, gravitational red shift, as a part of general relativity, “depends on the location of one point in a gravitational field relative to another one” (Hewitt, 654).

Once an object, or observer, moves inside the event horizon, the gravitational pull is so strong the “escape velocity” becomes greater than the speed of light, because the event horizon “moves outward at the speed of light” (Bunn). Therefore, since it is impossible for anything to move faster than the speed of light per Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, the object has reached a point of no return where it will move into the singularity of the black hole (Guidry; Bunn). The official point of no return, the point where the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, is called the Schwarzschild radius (Lochner). Black holes are considered “the edge of space” because anything that goes into the event horizon is fated to move into the singularity, and thus is gone from our universe forever (Gould).

Secondly, the concept of the “singularity” was expressed by Karl Schwarzschild who, using Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, found a formula for determining “the ‘length’ of a curve in spacetime” (McIrvin). Schwarzschild’s formula is, Sr = 2GM/c2, which is “Sr is the Schwarzschild radius, G is Newton’s gravitational constant (about 6.67428 x 10^-11), m is any object’s mass, and c is the constant speed of light (300,000,000 m/s)” (McPhee). Schwarzschild’s formula showed the curve reached a central point, the “singularity,” where “spacetime was infinite” and where space and time became switched, or in other words, where “the direction into the hole became a direction in time” (McIrvin; Gould; Bunn). Inside the black hole, the immense gravity causes the same effect of gravitational time dilation, where time slows down (Simonetti). However, according to Einstein’s theory, time not only gets progressively slower but will come “to an abrupt end,” “time itself is destroyed” (Gould). This sudden and destructive end of time is why black holes are considered “the end of time.”

There are three types of black holes, however, only one of them is theorized to be created by massive, imploding stars. Stellar mass black holes have the mass of three to up to a hundred times the mass of the sun and are created by supernova explosions (Maran, 177). Supermassive black holes have masses of hundreds of thousands to billions of times the sun’s mass, are believed by some scientists to start out as intermediate black holes which have masses of five hundred to a thousand times the mass of the sun and are believed to be at the center of every galaxy (Maran, 177). Physicists and astronomers have very little information on the formation and structure of supermassive and intermediate black holes (Maran, 177). However, it is believed supermassive black holes reside at the centers of galaxies and the one at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is called Sagittarius A* (Maran, 177)

It is important to note two things. First, no one really knows for certain what happens inside a black hole because no one could survive falling into a black hole to tell the tale. Physicists and astronomers have theorized, however, what happens inside a black hole depends on what type of black hole you fall into (Maran, 225; Bunn). It is not even possible for a person to fall into a stellar mass black hole, because they would be pulled apart, squeezed together along their width and stretched atom by atom apart along their length by “tidal forces,” before they even got through the event horizon (McIrvin; Maran, 225; Bunn). However, if a person were to fall into a supermassive black hole they would cross the event horizon into the hole before the tidal forces would pull them apart atom by atom (Maran, 225; Bunn). Before being pulled apart, the observer inside the supermassive black hole might see objects on the outside distorted and blue shifted by the gravitational bending of light and they might see time outside the hole speed up, but eventually, the observer won’t see anything anymore because they will be stretched apart (Maran, 224; Bunn).

Second, no one can actually see a black hole because light cannot escape the gravitational pull of the black hole to be reflected back for anyone to see. This presents a very good question. How do we know if black holes even exist if we can’t see them and if no one could survive the experience of falling into a black hole to tell others about it? The answer is Einstein’s and Schwarzschild’s theories mixed with empirical evidence and logic. Physicists and astronomers have observed many phenomenon which could only be linked, logically, to black holes as predicted and theorized mathematically by Einstein and Schwarzschild. The intense gravitational pull of a black hole pulls in matter which gravitates too close to the black hole and as this gaseous matter spins around the hole in the event horizon, it flattens into an accretion disk (Maran, 223). The gaseous matter spinning around the black hole gets denser as it is compressed by tidal forces and then it gets extremely hot (Maran, 223; Lochner). The extremely hot and dense gaseous matter begins to glow, causing the accretion disk to emit X-rays sent through space, which are visible by physicists and astronomers (Maran, 223; Lochner). To get an idea of how hot the matter gets in the gravitational whirlwind of the event horizon, X-rays are emitted from objects with temperatures of about a million degrees (Pandian). Also, since matter does not fall into black holes at constant rates, if the visible X-rays brighten sporadically, then it could indicate the presence of a black hole, because the sporadic X-rays would replicate the matter falling into the black hole sporadically (Lochner). Additionally, if the black hole exists in a binary system, which is a system of two stars, then not only can physicists and astronomers view the companion star feeding matter into the whirlwind of the black hole, but the visible X-rays coming from the accretion disk would be “periodically cut off” as the black hole is “eclipsed” by its companion star (Pandian; Lochner). For supermassive black holes, researchers can observe the black hole’s intense gravitational pull on the orbits of surrounding stars, as well as “giant jets of matter” coming from outside the black hole’s event horizon, but, very little is currently known about these two circumstances’ relationship to supermassive black holes because very little is know about supermassive black holes (Gould).

Besides the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, physicists and astronomers have located several, highly probable, black holes by observing X-ray emissions (Pandian). The first candidate was located in the 1970’s in the constellation of Cygnus and was named Cygnus X-1 (Pandian). It has been debated whether Cygnus X-1 is a black hole because its mass is only 3 times the sun, meaning it could be a neutron star (Lochner). However, other more probable candidates for black holes have been discovered, such as A0620-00, located in the constellation Monoceros, with a mass of three and a half times the sun (Lochner; StarDate). Also, credited with the best potentiality of being a black hole is V404 Cygni, located in the constellation Cygnus, and is approximately ten times the mass of the sun (Lochner; StarDate).

So, the star has exhausted its nuclear fuel, exploded in a supernova, and finally became compressed to infinite density by gravity to become a black hole. What’s the next progression for the black hole? Stephen Hawking’s theory of Hawking Radiation asserts black holes will eventually “evaporate,” or in other words, shrink to nothing (Bunn; Simonetti; McIrvin). Hawking’s theory is very complicated, but to try to basically understand it, several other theories must be understood first. To start, the law of conservation of energy states “energy cannot be created or destroyed” but, within a “closed system” it can “be transformed from one form into another, but the total amount of energy never changes” (Hewitt, 707). The equation for the law of conservation of energy could be understood as PE + KE = 0 or PE = -KE, where PE is potential energy and KE is kinetic energy (Oracle). The two energies will always balance out in a closed system, so energy is neither being created nor destroyed. However, the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics allows for the law of conservation of energy to be broken, but only for brief periods of time (Bunn). The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states “that the position and velocity cannot be measured, exactly, at the same time (actually pairs of position, energy and time)” (Schombert). The uncertainty principle is notated as:

Where delta x is the error in position times delta p is the error in momentum which is greater than Plank’s constant over 2 pi. In other words, particles move “like waves,” with “undulations,” and if these movements are measured, it is impossible to determine the location of the undulating particle because the movements of the waves causes the particle to “be almost anywhere” (Holzner, 350-51; Schombert). Conversely, if the location of the undulating particle is determined, then it is impossible to measure the movements of the wave because if the particle has a “definite position,” then the particle wouldn’t have a “certain velocity” (Holzner, 350-51; Schombert). Imagine the particle as a race car speeding around a track. If a person were to try to take a picture of the car, one of two things would happen. The car would either be blurred but the background of objects and people would be clear. Or, the car would be clear but the background would be blurred. It is not possible to get a clear picture of both how fast the car is going and a clear picture of the exact location of the car at the same time.

The uncertainty principle applies to other “complimentary pairs,” like energy and time and by observing one aspect of the “complimentary pair,” the other aspect is unable to be accurately observed (Schombert). To modify the uncertainty principle to energy and time, one would simply replace delta x with delta E and delta p with delta t then 2 pi with 4 pi. As a result of the uncertainty principle, the macroscopic world of physics is determinate, based on cause and effect (Schombert). Whereas, conversely, the microscopic world of quantum physics is indeterminate, not causally determined (Schombert). Additionally, Planck’s constant is so minute, h is 10-34, therefore the uncertainty principle doesn’t apply to the macroscopic world (Schombert).

The consequences of the microscopic world being indeterminate are: (1) “Since quantum events do not have a ‘cause,’ this also means that all possible quantum events must and will happen” and (2) If (1), then “without cause and effect, conservation laws can be violated, although only on very short timescales (things have to add up in the end)” (Schombert). Therefore, the law of conservation of energy can be broken, which allows for mass and/or energy particles and anti particles to appear instantaneously, “out of nowhere,” but only if the two equalize and extinguish each other almost just as quickly (Bunn). When this particle/anti particle pair appear, equalize and extinguish each other, they exist simply as “virtual particles” (Simonetti). If a “virtual particle” pair should appear near a black hole, and if one of the particles should get pulled into the black hole by the gravitational pull leaving the other outside without its opposite equalizing partner to extinguish its existence, then the particle on the outside of the black hole turns into a “real particle” (Simonetti, Bunn). This “real particle” now contains mass it accrued due to the gravity of the black hole, taking a very tiny amount of mass from the black hole (Simonetti, Bunn). As these “real particles” appear and take mass from the black hole, they emit glowing radiation, made of energetic particles, antiparticles and gamma rays, termed Hawking Radiation (Bunn; Hamilton). If the black hole is releasing more mass through Hawking Radiation than it is taking in, then the black hole, over an incredibly long period of time, approximately 1066 years, will eventually evaporate entirely in one last burst of radiation (Hamilton; Simonetti, McIrvin).

Even while this essay outlines, basically, the formation, “life cycle,” and eventual evaporation of black holes, physicists and astronomers are still compiling theories about these strange phenomenon. Not very much is known for certain about black holes. However, what is known has stemmed primarily from Einsten’s theories. Additionally, our knowledge of black holes definitely demonstrates how these phenomenon are among the most unusual and magnificent of the universe.

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Political Science Final

Under the Clean Air Act of 1990, Congress passed new laws designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles and coal burning power plants. After the signing of the legislation, regulation and policy formation duties for the Clean Air Act was given to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is a non political independent regulatory agency. EPA regulations require new coal burning power plants to emit less then one pound of mercury per gigawatt of electricity generated. However, older existing coal burning power plants are not required to take any action to upgrade their facilities in order to limit their mercury emissions.

William McMann is the plant manager of an older MegaPower Inc. coal burning power plant in Cincinnati, Ohio. McMann realizes the plant is currently emitting four pounds of mercury per gigawatt of electricity generated. His engineers discover that if they upgraded the plant at a cost of $1 billion, they could reduce the mercury emissions from four pounds to two pounds per gigawatt as well as save $2 billion worth of mercury. McMann discusses the proposal to upgrade the facility with the corporate office for MegaPower and learns EPA regulations state existing plants who undergo a “significant” upgrade are required to limit their mercury emissions to one pound per gigawatt of energy generated. The upgrade proposed is considered by the EPA as “significant” enough to require the plant to further limit mercury emissions to one pound per gigawatt which would cost MegaPower $4 billion, resulting in a $2 billion loss for the company. Naturally, MegaPower corporate headquarters and McMann become frustrated with the EPA regulations.

McMann discusses the situation with friends, family, and colleagues. McMann, his family, his friends and many of the employees at the plant live within five miles of the plant and are well aware that a reduction of mercury emitted from the plant would result in the citizens breathing cleaner air. Not only would a reduction make the environment healthier, if the company could reduce expenses then the company could increase benefits or pay for the employees. McMann also realizes if the plant has to upgrade at an additional cost, then MegaPower will have to recoup the loss by charging customers more for energy. McMann researches population statistics nationwide and discovers that just like in his community the vast majority of citizens who live around coal burning power plants are either African Americans or Hispanic Americans. These lower middle class to lower class minorities have chosen to live near power plants due to the lower cost of housing and would be the most impacted by higher mercury emission levels.

McMann also voices his concerns with his colleague Edward Jones who is a supervisor at another older coal burning power plant run by a different company, Power Source Inc. Both MegaPower and Jones’ company are members of Coal Energy. Coal Energy is a non profit interest group designed to promote the use of coal to supply energy. Jones realizes existing coal power plants across the nation could benefit from upgrading to reduce mercury emissions and save money. However, the EPA regulations are forcing power plants to keep emitting higher levels of mercury because the existing plants who would undergo the upgrade would be required to further reduce mercury emissions to one pound per gigawatt of energy generated, which is not economically feasible for the plants to do. MegaPower’s CEOs along with Coal Energy realize if they are unable to feasibly upgrade their plants to reduce mercury emissions then they are a target for Environment First, a powerful collaboration of several environmental interest groups. Subsequently, they realize if Environment First is able to convince the public that coal burning power plants are not a safe and clean energy source then the plants along with the entire coal industry will become at the risk of extinction, resulting in a huge mass of commodities with no value and a lot of people becoming unemployed. Together, McMann and Jones find that the citizens living in the area surrounding the plant, employees at MegaPower, customers of MegaPower, the interest group Coal Energy and other coal burning power plants across the nation all have an interest in the EPA regulations.

MegaPower and Coal Energy believe that if the free market system was allowed to function, then older power plants would upgrade to significantly reduce mercury emissions while saving money. The upgrades would decrease pollution, create more construction jobs in the area, and the money saved due to the upgrades could be reinvested into the system. MegaPower and Coal Energy believe the EPA regulations have resulted in a Law of Unintended Consequences. With the intervention of the national government, power plants are forced to keep emitting higher levels of mercury because the federal government requirements are not economically feasible for the plants. Additionally, they believe the EPA regulations cause the local economy to suffer due to the loss of construction jobs and the additional money which could have been reinvested into the economy. MegaPower and Coal Energy feel there would be more consideration to their views if the individual states were allowed to set regulations regarding coal power plant upgrades and emissions.

Calvin Finn is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientist working at the Riverbed Fish Hatchery in Pennsylvania, across the state line from the MegaPower plant in Ohio. Finn has studied the effects of mercury pollution on the environment and has found that the increase of mercury in the air, water and soil has caused health problems for the fish at the hatchery as well as other wildlife who rely on the fish as a source of food. Finn’s research has been utilized by Environment First who has rallied on behalf of the EPA standards arguing that as older power plants require upgrades they should be held accountable to limiting their mercury emissions to the acceptable levels of one pound per gigawatt of energy produced. Finn believes there is a Tragedy of Commons effect on the health of not only the wildlife, but also the welfare of the citizens in any states surrounding the power plant who are at increased risks of getting cancer due to the higher levels of mercury emissions in the air, water and soil.

Coal Energy along with MegaPower and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with Environment First each begin their own investigations into the issue of mercury emissions from coal burning plants and EPA regulations. Coal Energy and MegaPower argue the EPA regulations are unconstitutional because the U.S. Constitution does not grant the federal government the jurisdiction over policing air, water and soil in individual states. They argue the United States was intended to be a system of limited government and Amendment X of the Constitution supports states rights to police powers within the state. They argue these police powers include the right to protect the health and safety of the citizens of the state, which would include the policing of pollution in the air, water and soil. Since the coal burning power plant is located in Ohio, they feel Ohio’s state offices should be able to decide on the proposed upgrade to the plant. They argue through manipulative interpretations of the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Commerce Clause, Congress has passed legislation which arguably infringes on states rights to police powers. They further argue that the use of federal mandates requiring states to follow policies set forth by undemocratic independent regulatory agencies has further deteriorated rights given to individual states by the Constitution. Additionally, they argue the EPA regulations disproportionately affect minorities, since minorities primarily live around coal burning power plants are therefore are more highly affected by the mercury emissions. MegaPower and Coal Energy are seeking either deregulation to the EPA restrictions regarding “significant” upgrades or allowing states the ability to police restrictions on coal power plants.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along with Environment First on the other hand view it as a multi-state issue which would grant the federal government and the EPA the right to set regulations on coal power plants. They argue the natural rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” includes the citizens rights to clean air, water and soil. They argue not only does the pollution from the plant cross state lines, but the power supplied by the plant goes to several other states. Therefore, since the plant provides energy to other states, it falls under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution which gives Congress the right to legislate on matters concerning the plant. They cite John Marshall’s ruling in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) where Justice Marshall gave the Supreme Court’s definition of commerce as “all commercial intercourse-all business dealings…” which would include mercury emissions and upgrades to the plant. Marshall’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause allows Congress to make laws regulating air and water pollution. They also argue the Necessary and Proper Clause gives Congress the right to do whatever is required in order to perform their constitutional duties and the Commerce Clause falls within Congress’ constitutional jurisdiction. Additionally, they argue per the Supremacy Clause, the Clean Air Act of 1990 is the supreme law of the land and individual states would have no authority to override the law. Since the EPA regulations are on behalf of the constitutional legislation passed by Congress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environment First argue the regulations are appropriately enforced.

After each side concludes their investigations, they begin to practice their civil rights in order to make their individual arguments publicly known. Both sides practice their freedom of speech in discussing their views with other like minded groups and individuals in their social circles. They then, under the freedom of assembly, begin to hold meetings to discuss all aspects of their arguments and to decide what their next action steps would be to further their individual causes. MegaPower and Coal Energy decide to utilize their freedom to petition the government to air their grievances with their representatives in Congress. Environment First decides to utilize the freedom of the press and reaches out to the media to get their views to the public.

Environment First and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contact the media in Pennsylvania to educate the public on the high mercury levels in the fish at Riverbed Fish Hatchery. They discuss the effects of the high mercury levels on the wildlife in the area and note how the mercury has also been found in the water and soil. They explain the effects of mercury on humans and blame the increase in mercury in the area on the MegaPower coal burning plant in Ohio. Through the use of the media, Environment First and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have reported news but also identified a problem to the general public. MegaPower and Coal Energy, forced to respond, seek to use the media in Ohio as a political forum to discuss EPA regulations they feel are detrimental to not only the Cincinnati plant in question but to society as a whole. MegaPower and Coal Energy hope to garner support from the public in order to form a stronger base of constituents who share their beliefs and who will contact their representatives in Congress on behalf of MegaPower and Coal Energy. Both interest groups, Environment First and Coal Energy, decide to use the media to hold public opinion polls on the issue so they could forward information in support of their arguments to members of Congress.

Environment First and Coal Energy both also take advantage of social movements to further promote their causes to the public and the federal government. Environment First focuses on the public’s new found desire for a healthy lifestyle and living environment after years of increasing death rates caused by cancer. They claim the air pollution from coal burning power plants is responsible for increasing the risks of getting cancer. They also claim the higher levels of mercury in the soil, water and fish are other causes of cancer. On the other hand, Coal Energy focuses on society’s ever expanding need for affordable energy. Coal Energy argues, not only are coal power plants affordable and efficient sources of energy, but they also help the U.S. become more energy independent since the coal used is harvested in the U.S. instead of from a foreign source like most of the oil the U.S. uses is. Both interest groups use direct and indirect techniques in order to reach representatives in Congress with their views. Both groups directly lobby Congress by sending representatives the information on the public opinion polls to show constituents favor one interest group’s views over the other’s. Both groups indirectly reach Congress by asking members of the groups and constituents to hold rallies and to write letters to Congress showing support for the interest group’s views. To provide first person insight, Environment First asks Finn to contact Congress on their behalf, while Coal Energy asks Jones and McMann to contact Congress on their behalf.

The public opinion polls and letters from Environment First reach Representative Max Powers of Pennsylvania. Coal Energy’s polls and letters reach Representative Trent Steele of Ohio. Rep. Powers and Rep. Steele are both up for re-election this year and decide to look at making the issue apart of their political platform based on the advice of their political consultants. Their political consultants use focus groups to gain further insight into how their constituents feel about the issue. The results of the polls reveal that constituents’ views run parallel to socioeconomic status. The working class were more likely to favor the views of Coal Energy, while the higher income class favored the views of Environment First. At the same time, Environment First sets up a Political Action Committee to conduct issue advocacy advertising in anticipation of Rep. Powers political support for their cause. Coal Energy also sets up their own Political Action Committee in order to not only run issue advocacy advertising but to raise money for Rep. Steele’s upcoming campaign.

Even though both Rep. Powers and Rep. Steele are incumbents and feel their seats are fairly safe, after their political consultants look into the issue, they feel the issue is important enough to make apart of their political campaigns. Rep. Powers uses his franking privileges to promote education amongst his constituents regarding the detrimental effects of the coal burning power plant located in Ohio and asserts his dedication to upholding as well as strengthening EPA standards in dealing with the plant. Rep. Steele views the EPA standards as being detrimental to the economy in his district and to the safety of his constituents. Rep. Steele intervenes on behalf of MegaPower and Coal Energy and speaks with the head of the EPA regarding the regulations. Cybil Waters, head of the EPA, discusses the issue with Rep. Steele, but the meeting concludes with no changes to the regulations. Rep. Steele speaks with members of his party whose districts also have older coal burning power plants. Other House Representatives, seeing the benefit to themselves and their constituents should changes to the EPA regulations be made, agree to support Rep. Steele’s request on the floor of the House of Representatives for congressional oversight into the EPA regulations implemented in response to the Clean Air Act. Rep. Steele claims the oversight is required in order to make sure the EPA’s policies and regulations are being enforced inline with the intentions of Congress. Rep. Steele further suggests that a select committee be organized in order to investigate the social ramifications of the EPA’s regulations, specifically EPA’s regulations in regard to the situation surrounding the MegaPower plant in Cincinnati. Rep. Steele suggests once the investigation is completed by the select committee that the results be forwarded to the appropriate standing committee, the committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in order to look at if the regulations are appropriate and in the best interest of the citizens of the United States.

At the same time, Rep. Steele and his like minded associates in the Senate reach out to the current President of the United States, John Masters. Rep. Steele is aware that Waters, head of the EPA, is due to resign so he and his colleagues share their viewpoints with the President’s office while urging the President to nominate a new head for the EPA who would be more sympathetic to their ideals. With the ability of the House of Representatives to cut funding to the EPA and with the ability of the Senate to refuse to approve the President’s nomination, President Masters’ office agrees to hear Rep. Steele’s arguments. After being briefed on the issue, President Masters asks his Chief of Staff, Sharon Piper, to investigate the issue further then report back to him.

Piper asks the Council on Environmental Quality, under the Executive Office of the President, to investigate the potential environmental ramifications of EPA’s policy if all of the older power plants in the nation choose not to upgrade and continue emitting higher levels of mercury. She also asks them to investigate what would happen if all the older plants cut their emissions to two pounds of mercury per gigawatt of energy produced. Additionally, Piper asks the Council of Economic Advisors, also under the Executive Office of the President, to investigate the different economic aspects of the issue. Specifically, Piper asks what could happen to the economy if coal burning plants were allowed to upgrade as they are requesting and what could happen to the economy if plants were required to upgrade at a $2 billion loss.

To investigate the issues, the Council on Environmental Quality and the Council of Economic Advisors seek the assistance of different government bureaucracies. The Council of Environmental Quality seeks the assistance of the Department of Energy whose office focuses on research and development into clean energy as well as analyzes energy and environmental data. The Council of Economic Advisors seeks the assistance of the Department of Commerce whose office could provide economic statistics. Piper also contacts the EPA requesting information from their offices regarding the regulations in question. Once Waters hears of Piper’s request, she recalls the conversation she had with Rep. Steele. Waters was appointed as the head of the EPA per the Weberian model of bureaucracies, but many of her employees are civil service personnel who gained employment through experience. Therefore, even though she is due to retire, she feels strongly about EPA’s mission and certainly wouldn’t want a reduction in EPA’s and her employees’ funding, per the acquisitive model of bureaucracies. Waters knows the House of Representatives controls appropriations and could limit EPA’s funding if they disagree with EPA’s regulations. Waters responds to Piper with information on the regulations and adds that per the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 the regulations in dispute were published in the Federal Register for interested parties to view. Waters also notes that representatives from Jones’ company, Power Source, were members of the committee negotiating the terms of the now disputed regulations, therefore legally they cannot challenge these regulations in court. Additionally, Waters points out that once the negotiations were completed, the agreed terms were again published in the Federal Register where MegaPower and Coal Energy had 90 days to voice any concerns they may have had.

After investigating the issue, the Department of Commerce finds the EPA regulations detrimental to the economy and provides statistics in support of lightening the restrictions on “significant” upgrades to coal burning power plants. The two different sides of this issue have now formed issue networks. On one side of the debate is the issue network consisting of Environment First (interest group), Finn (scholar), the media in Pennsylvania, Rep. Powers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA (bureaucracy). On the other side of the debate is the issue network consisting of Coal Energy (interest group), MegaPower (company), Mann and Jones (experts), the Department of Commerce (bureaucracy), the media in Ohio, and Rep. Steele. These issue networks lead way to the give and take in three way political iron triangles. Rep. Powers sees Environment First with its thousands of voters in his district as a source of votes so he feels it necessary to address Environment First’s concerns. Whereas, Environment First needs Rep. Powers assistance in working with government bureaucracies, specifically the EPA, to enact regulations in support of their ideals. The EPA needs the support of Rep. Powers and other members of the House of Representatives in order to ensure their operations budget. All while Rep. Powers needs the assistance of the EPA to implement regulations which would benefit Environment First and their supporters. On the other side, Rep. Steele needs the voter support provided by the thousands of employees of MegaPower and members of Coal Energy. MegaPower and Coal Energy need Rep. Steele’s assistance in trying to deregulate the EPA’s restrictions on upgrades to coal power plants. Rep. Steele needs the Department of Commerce’s assistance in showing the negative effects to the economy due to EPA’s regulations in order to bring about changes to benefit MegaPower and Coal Energy as well as their supporters. The Department of Commerce needs Rep. Steele’s appropriations and legislative support in the House of Representatives.

As the issue is being addressed in the legislative and executive branches of government, MegaPower and Coal Energy decide to further tackle the issue in the judicial branch. MegaPower and Coal Energy decide to challenge the EPA regulations in court with a class action lawsuit which they hope would lighten the restrictions on “significant“ upgrades to all older coal burning power plants across the nation. They base their lawsuit on Amendment X of the Constitution giving state’s rights to police power over the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of the state. They argue the EPA regulations are unconstitutional as the state in which the plant is located should have police power over mercury emissions. Furthermore, MegaPower and Coal Energy argue the regulations disproportionately affect minorities since the areas surrounding coal power plants are inhabited mainly by minorities. The federal court system decides to hear the case due to the lawsuit involves a federal agency and a federal question regarding the Constitution. The case begins in a trial court. Due to limited jurisdiction, the case is heard in the court of Federal Regulatory Agencies. Judge Justin Nothersmith hears the case and sides in favor of MegaPower and Coal Energy, claiming states do reserve the right to police the health, safety and welfare of residents of the state. Additionally, Judge Nothersmith applies the strictest scrutiny to the case and determines the regulations do have a vastly greater impact on minorities. EPA understanding their agency’s power and influence is deteriorated by Judge Nothersmith‘s ruling, appeals the decision. The case moves to an appellate court due to the lack of evidence to support Judge Nothersmith’s ruling. Upon hearing Judge Nothersmith’s ruling and learning the case has moved to a U.S. court of appeals, Environment First files an amicus curiae brief to the appellate court citing Marshall’s 1824 ruling and stating their arguments in regard to the issue. The appellate court rules in favor of the EPA citing the Commerce Clause, specifying the case law of Marshall’s 1824 ruling in Gibbons v. Ogden. Additionally, the appellate court scrutinizes the case for disproportionate impact to minorities, and determines the regulations do not infringe on any fundamental constitutional rights of minorities living near the plants. If anything, the court responds, the regulations requiring stricter restrictions on mercury emissions support citizens rights to clean air, water and soil. Determined to pursue changes to EPA’s regulations, MegaPower and Coal Energy petition the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court refuses to hear the case due to Marshall’s 1824 ruling which would apply the Commerce Clause to the case, but more so due to the ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA (2007) in which the Supreme Court ruled the EPA has full regulatory authority and jurisdiction over policing air pollution under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA determined states have no jurisdiction over policing air pollution.

Even though Environment First and the EPA won the court case, Rep. Steele along with his House and Senate colleagues who have coal burning power plants in their districts and states, were able to apply enough political pressure to get the EPA to ease the regulations on “significant” modifications to coal burning power plants. Since the courts ruled on the regulatory authority of the EPA, not the actual regulation in dispute, politicians, interest groups and constituents were able to form a strong enough issue network to cause the EPA regulation to be overturned. Domestic policy was formed through a long political process involving interest groups, bureaucracies and all three branches of the government. Interest groups and the media brought the issue to Congress through agenda building. Policy formation then occurred as Congressional committees and presidential offices investigated the issue. Policy adoption occurred as the government chooses the best policy out of all the options to implement. Courts, bureaucrats, and regulatory agencies administered and implemented the policy. After the policy has been in effect for a time, there is a period of policy evaluation where governmental and non governmental groups evaluate the positive and negative effects of the policy.

Identity Formation In American Literature as Exemplified by Culinary Customs

The identity of an individual consists of the person’s own personal likes, dislikes, beliefs, ideologies and viewpoints. Individual’s identities are formed by their culture through cultural mediation, which is the assertion children learn their identities from immersion in the culture surrounding them. One must ask themselves to really consider what ingredients, put together and imbued for lifetimes, make up cultures, and subsequently individuals in each cultures’, identities. One ingredient would be food. Every culture has its own unique cuisines and customs surrounding eating. I will explore how different writers, from varying backgrounds, have used the most basic and universally shared human requirement to exemplify the formation of their individual identities and chronicle their conflicts with their identities.

Writers Gus Lee, in China Boy, Esmeralda Santiago, in When I Was Puerto Rican, and Charles Chesnutt, in The House Behind the Cedars, all use food to demonstrate the formation of identity and conflicts surrounding identity. Lee’s main character, a young boy named Kai, struggles between what others believe he should be and what he is naturally inclined to be. His conflict is between being Chinese and being American. Santiago’s main character, a young girl named Negi, is a Puerto Rican girl who has just moved to America but who doesn’t want to be American. Negi grapples with trying to remain Puerto Rican in American society. One of Chesnutt’s main characters is Warwick (John), who is a man of mixed African American and Caucasian descents. He encounters internal and external conflicts by concealing his real mixed identity in order to realistically portray his “passing” Caucasian identity.

The concept of an American identity is an evolving and obscure concept. Kai and Negi have difficulties with the indistinct idea of what is perceived as American. Kai’s 

Chinese identity is marginalized by his stepmother when she says, “‘He asks for food that Irish would not give to pigs. He looks like a refugee, and looks stupidly at everything’” (Lee, pg. 64). Kai’s father, when explaining the cuisine at the Chinese banquet for Kai’s new stepmother, illustrates the perceived differences between the Chinese and Caucasian American cultures. Kai’s father explains, “‘Chicken heads. Not cut off, since that’s bad luck. So stupid! These superstitions! Cutting off heads mean not giving everything to the guests. Like, holding back something valuable’” (Lee, pg. 133). Kai is conflicted between the Chinese culture he loves, where superstitions and delectable food are abundant, and his father’s struggle to adjust his own cultural identity to become more perceived as a typical, Caucasian American. Kai’s identity (and consequently his self esteem) as a Chinese boy, according to his father and stepmother, is “stupid” and not fit for “pigs.” Kai manifests the unwarranted sentiment of being stupid, or looking stupid, as evidence of this identity conflict. Similarly, Negi’s identity is molded by misperceptions of what it means to be American. When Americans come to Puerto Rico, Negi becomes aware of the differences between Caucasian American food and Puerto Rican food. Santiago writes:

[H]e described the necessity of eating portions of each of the foods on his chart every day. There were carrots and broccoli, iceberg lettuce, apples, pears, and peaches. the bread was sliced into a perfect square, unlike the long loaves Papi brought home from a bakery in San Juan, or the round pan de manteca Mami bought at Vitin’s store. There was not rice on the chart, no beans, no salted codfish. There were big white eggs, not at all like the small round ones our hens gave us. There was a tall glass of milk, 

but no coffee. There were wedges of yellow cheese, but no balls of cheese like the white queso del pais wrapped in banana leaves sold in bakeries all over Puerto Rico. There were bananas but no plantains, potatoes but no batatas, cereal flakes but no oatmeal, bacon but no sausages. “But senor,” said Dona Lola from the back of the room, “none of the fruits or vegetables on your chart grow in Puerto Rico.” (pg. 66)

Negi immediately forms her identity based on what she eats and separates herself from Americans based on what only these Caucasian Americans eat. Not only is Negi’s identity created by differentiating between foods Americans eat versus foods Puerto Ricans eat, but Negi’s character is also shaped by the cultural imperialism of the Americans trying to change the way Puerto Ricans eat. Negi’s identity becomes not just a Puerto Rican girl, but a Puerto Rican girl with strong feelings about American imperialism.

Similar to Americans trying to change Negi’s cultural food identity, Kai experiences this conflict when his father remarries after his mother’s death. Kai learned and replicated Chinese customs surrounding eating. Lee writes:

The Chinese eat with the joy of abandonment, they relish of a pride of lions. The object of a Chinese meal is eating. It is not a spectator sport, and the theme of the exercise is free pleasure after a long day’s work. Chinese food is complex artistry in preparation, and simple, un restrained celebration in eating. People talk, shout, laugh, and enjoy must modestly be viewed as the most complex and diverse cuisine in the world. (pg. 78)

After Kai’s mother dies and his father remarries, he compares his eating customs with the 

eating customs of his Caucasian stepmother and discovers “[t]he purpose of a meal with Edna was protocol. We learned an elaborate preparatory procedure that made scrubbing for brain surgery seem dilatory. No talking, no grinning. Death to laughers. Food to a fascist is somber business. After all, it eventually produces waste matter. Unless no one eats” (Lee, pg. 79). Kai knows he is a boy who enjoys the conversation and leisure of mealtime as well as loves eating. However, when his stepmother moves in, he is forced to not enjoy mealtime and to not enjoy eating. Food is very much a part of Kai’s identity, however, his stepmother, in order to try to make him more American, denies him the ability to socialize as a Chinese boy during mealtime and denies him the ability to eat Chinese food at home. Kai is fond of the Flowering Nation Grocery because “It was a small, congested three-dimensional picture box of my heritage, and of my heritage’s primary cultural activity: food” (Lee, pg. 243). Kai’s ravenous hunger is unquenchable because he is being starved of his cultural identity. He devours food in an attempt to grasp onto and connect with his cultural identity. Food is symbolic of his culture, a reminder of his past and hope for the future in the predictable continuance of Chinese cuisine and culture. Lee writes, “Chinese food brought more than splendid sauces, delightful flavors, wonderful textures, and all the pleasures of a child’s innocent tastes. It carried a spiritual message of the past and suggested hope for tomorrow through the survival of continuity” (pg. 242). Kai’s identity, in respect to his reverence to Chinese food and culture, is not a mystery to him. His fight is with others trying to change his identity to be completely Caucasian American. Kai’s identity does change, but it does so by incorporating elements of Caucasian America into his pre-existing Chinese American identity.

Similarly, as Kai is forced into a more Caucasian American identity by being 

denied access to his Chinese culture and food, Negi is concerned about turning into an American by being forced to eat more American food. When the Americans set up the kitchen on the island and stock it with American food, she feels she is being forced to become someone who she is not and asks her father “‘If we eat all that American food they give us at the centro comunal, will we become Americanos?’[…] ‘Only if you like it better than our Puerto Rican food’[…]It was a sweet-salty smell, bland but strong, warm but not comforting, lacking herbs and spices” (Santiago, pg. 74-5). Negi already has negative feelings about Americans, she has already firmly defined herself as Puerto Rican, and has no interest in adopting American culture. She doesn’t want to be American and when she encounters American food, which is spiced differently, it further instills in her the differences between herself and Americans. To Negi, her Puerto Rican identity is “strong”, “warm”, “comforting”, and suited to her tastes. Whereas, to the contrary, the American identity which she feels is being forced on her, is “bland” and unappealing. Ultimately, however, Negi’s mother moves her to New York and Negi’s identity changes to become more American, particularly because the availability of the types of food found in Puerto Rico are not available in America. When she gets off the plane in New York she notes how “Edna, Raymond, and I each had bundles to carry, as did Mami, who was loaded with two huge bags filled with produce and spices del pais. ‘You can’t find these in New York,’ she’d explained” (Santiago, pg. 215). Negi sees in the bags of produce and spices, the last vestiges of her Puerto Rican identity.

Opposed to Negi and Kai being forced to change their identities, Chesnutt’s Warwick chooses to change his identity in the hopes of having a better life. When Warwick returns home to visit his mother and sister his mother exclaims: 

“Good gracious, Rena!’[…]“John’s be’n in the house an hour and ain’t had nothin’ to eat yet! Go in the kitchen an’ spread a clean tablecloth, an’ git out that ‘tater pone, an’ a pitcher o’ that las’ kag o’ persimmon beer, an’ let John take a bite an’ a sip.” Warwick smiled at the mention of these homely dainties. “I thought of your sweet-potato pone at the hotel to-day, when I was at dinner, and wondered if you’d have some in the house. There was never any like yours; and I’ve forgotten the taste of persimmon beer entirely.” (Chesnutt, pg. 16)

Warwick, during his time passing for a Caucasian man, could not enjoy sweet potato pone or persimmon beer because these cuisines were a part of the African American culture. Warwick’s passing identity as a Caucasian man meant he had to eat what a Caucasian man would eat. To exemplify this, Chesnutt writes of how food demonstrates the differences between the hospitality of Southern African Americans and Southern Caucasians. While Southern African Americans serve sweet potato pone and persimmon beer, Doctor Green asserts, when hosting Tryon, “‘Make him a salad,”[…]“and get out a bottle of the best claret. Thank God, the Yankees didn’t get into my wine cellar! The young man must be treated with genuine Southern hospitality’” (Chesnutt, pg. 91). Dr. Green’s interpretation of “genuine Southern hospitality” including a salad and wine, marginalizes the hospitality and cultural identities of African Americans who serve sweet potato pone and persimmon beer. Additionally, in a story of passing, where a man who is of African American descent passes for a Caucasian, the type of food presented by him to visitors as a host demonstrating hospitality would reveal his identity as an African American. Even if Warwick were to simply enjoy sweet potato pone and persimmon beer 

in his own home, by himself, it could cause his servants to question his ethic identity.

Food is not only a creator of identity, but also a reminder of identity. As time passes and changes a person’s diet, food represents the evolution of identity. In the above passage by Chesnutt, Warwick is remembering his past identity, elements of which he has put aside, such as sweet potato pone and persimmon beer, to form a new identity. Negi’s childhood identity is forced to adapt to American culture, resulting in an internal conflict. Negi’s fight to retain her Puerto Rican identity in America is demonstrated by how food is symbolic for the transition between childhood and adulthood. Santiago writes:

Today, I stand before a stack of dark green guavas, each perfectly round and hard, each $1.59. the one in my hand is tempting. It smells faintly of late summer afternoons and hopscotch under the mango tree. but this is autumn in New York, and I’m no longer a child. The guava joins its sisters under the harsh fluorescent lights of the exotic fruit display. I push my cart away, toward the apples and pears of my adulthood, their nearly seedless ripeness predictable and bittersweet. (pg. 4)

Negi’s identity has been shaped by her childhood filled with guavas, but as she progressed into adulthood her identity has morphed and she can longer enjoy guavas as she once was able to because of this transformation. Her identity now is filled with apples and pears, which is an identity of someone not entirely Puerto Rican and not entirely American. Kai’s identity becomes a fusion of diversity and as such, is a representation of America itself. Kai loves fries and recalls having “kosher bologna sandwiches, made on rye bread with thinly sliced dill pickles. ‘Ohh, Joey,’ [Kai] whispered, ingesting them with joy. They were delicious” (Lee, pg. 240). His character exemplifies pluralism by him 

actively seeking out the foods (as well as the languages and the religions) of other cultures. His identity of inclusion and enjoyment of different cultures’ foods (all while retaining a strong connection to his own culture) is the epitome of American diversity. Kai seeks to learn about and respect all cultures of America and, as such, he truly exemplifies the American identity.

Ironically, it could be said for all the characters, Kai, Negi, and Warwick, whether they knew it or not, all their identities are American. In “American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity,” Michael Jay Friedman speaks of a concept “in which each successive immigrant group retains a measure of its distinctiveness and enriches the American whole.” The beautiful idea Friedman is asserting is that America is a place where each culture that resides adds new customs to the American culture which changes America’s identity. Kai, Negi, and Warwick each have identities molded by the cultures they were exposed to in America, and each have changed America’s identity with elements of their own unique cultures. The American identity is all cultures’ identities.

Works Cited

Chesnutt, Charles. The House Behind the Cedars. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2007. 16; 91. Print.

Friedman, Michael Jay. “American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity.”, 13 Feb 2008. Web. 31 Jul 2010. < ebyessedo0.5349237.html>.

Lee, Gus. China Boy. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1994. 64-243. Print.

Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2006. 4-215. Print.

Judaism’s Zionist Movement Exemplified in a Reform Judaism Service

Reform Judaism is a sect, or more appropriately referred to as a movement, in Judaism which is regarded as having more liberal viewpoints on the teachings associated with Judaism. Reform Jews believe in the ethical teachings of the Jewish Bible, or as it is called in Judaism the Tanakh. Even though Reform Jews may not view the Tanakh as historical fact, they do utilize and emphasize the teachings as guidance in securing and maintaining a Jewish homeland. For this religious service paper, I will examine as well as demonstrate how the Zionist movement was exemplified in the Reform Judaism service I had recently attended.

Several aspects of the service related to the Zionist movement. Rabbi Wenger first led the congregation in reading several psalms from the Tanakh. The congregation read verses from Genesis 28:12 through Genesis 28:14 which recounts the story of Jacob, who is Abraham’s son. While Abraham is considered the father of Judaism due to his own relationship with God, Rabbi Wenger focused on Jacob’s interaction with God. The psalms tell of Jacob dreaming of a ladder leading to God. In the psalms, God speaks to Jacob and tells him “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

The reading of Genesis 28:12 through Genesis 28:14 could be viewed by Orthodox or Conservative Jews as reaffirming a covenant relationship, or mutual obligation, between Jews and God. Due to Orthodox and Conservative sects of Judaism viewing the Tanakh more as historical records, they would interpret the psalms more literally. Orthodox and Conservative Jews would view the psalms as Jacob reaffirming his father’s (Abraham’s) promise to God that all male Jews would be circumcised and in return God will ensure His chosen people, the Jews, will populate the earth which would then lead to the blessing of peace for all Jews. Therefore, to Orthodox and Conservative Jews these psalms reflect an ancient covenant in which if Jews abide by their promise to God to circumcise all male Jews then God will bless them with peace.

Orthodox and Conservative Jews believe they must circumcise all male Jews at eight days old in a rite of passage, or religious ritual marking a stage in the life of the follower, called a brisk in order to uphold their end of the covenant with God. However, Reform Jews do not believe in the spiritual significance of circumcision. Orthodox and Conservative Jews believe in a coming of a messiah, or Jewish King, who will lead the Jews to peace. Reform Jews, on the other hand, believe in a messianic age of peace but not a messiah. Additionally, Orthodox and Conservative Jews view Jews as God’s chosen people, meaning people specially picked by God to deliver the teachings of God. However, Reform Jews (similar to Reconstructionist Jews) do not believe Jews are God’s chosen people.

In order to understand Rabbi Wenger’s meaning, the reading of psalms Genesis 28:12 through Genesis 28:14 at the service must be understood from the viewpoint of the Reform Jew. Reform Jews do not interpret the Tanakh literally. Instead, Reform Jews believe in the symbolic principled teachings of the Tanakh. Therefore, Reform Jews view the covenant relationship between God and Jews as figurative, guiding them morally to actions in line with God’s will. For example, if Reform Jews live ethically in accordance with the teachings of the Tanakh, God promises to lead them to a homeland and to peace.

Considering these aspects of Reform Judaism, the reading of the Genesis psalms during the service are more likened to diaspora rather than to reaffirming a covenant to fulfill the brisk. During the Jewish diaspora Jews did not have a homeland of their own and were scattered amongst other cultures. The Genesis psalms above note how the Jews would be “spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south.” If one reads further in Genesis, they will find Jacob’s name was changed by God to Israel. After World War II, Jews were brought together and blessed by God with the promised homeland which they named Israel after Jacob. The effort by Jews to obtain and sustain a Jewish homeland is called the Zionist movement. The reading of the psalms by the congregation at the service linked the Jewish diaspora with the quest for a Jewish homeland, the Zionist movement.

After reading the psalms, Rabbi Wenger spoke of the movement to secure a Jewish homeland. He first asked who in the congregation had most recently been to Israel. He then asked the congregation to consider a 1947 quote from Zionist Chaim Weizmann. Rabbi Wenger quoted Weizmann as saying, “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter.” Rabbi Wenger then read a poem by a pro-Zionist poet, Natan Alterman, entitled “The Silver Platter.” While reading the poem, Rabbi Wenger brought the congregation’s attention specifically to a part where the poet writes of a time when Israelites will ask Israel’s battle weary soldiers who they are, and the soldiers will respond “We are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.”

Rabbi Wenger later asked the congregation to reflect on Israel. He asked for the congregation to offer a silent prayer for Israel as well as all those who have died defending the nation. He then asked the congregation what they are doing or could do to give Israel to the next generation “on a silver platter.”

Rabbi Wenger connected many concepts to make a point. The reading of the psalms reminded the congregation of the difficulties Jews have faced throughout history due to being dispersed without a homeland. The reading of the psalms also reaffirmed having faith in obtaining peace by securing the land promised by God, the Jewish homeland.

By asking the congregation when they had last traveled to Israel, Rabbi Wenger was emphasizing to the congregation that the nation of Israel belongs to all Jews, not just Israel’s citizens. When Rabbi Wenger read the 1947 quote from Weizmann stating, “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter,” he was reminding the congregation of the sacrifices made by Jews to obtain a homeland and the sacrifices still being made today by Jews to maintain their homeland.

When Rabbi Wenger stressed poet Natan Alterman’s verse “We are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given,” he reiterated the sacrifices required and actions needed to be taken by the congregation to not only hold onto the nation of Israel, but to lead it into the messianic age of peace. Rabbi Wenger reaffirmed the need for social action by the congregants for the sake of their homeland when he asked them to offer a prayer for Israel and those who have died for the nation. He challenged the congregation to take action toward the messianic age of peace by asking the congregants what they could do to give Israel over to the next generation “on a silver platter.”

I spoke briefly with Rabbi Wenger after the service. To be very honest, at the time I hadn’t realized exactly how he was weaving together the psalms with the Zionist movement and the quest for peace. However, as I began writing this paper, Rabbi Wenger’s purpose and teachings all became very clear. I realized Rabbi Wenger was explaining all Jews, regardless of where they may be dispersed in the world, have an ethical responsibility to Israel. All Jews are morally obligated to obtaining peace for the sake of the nation of Israel and Israel’s children who reside all over the earth. To all Jews, despite the ideological differences between Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist, Israel is more than just a place to live or a country. Israel belongs to all Jews regardless of whether they are a citizen of Israel or not. Israel is an example of God’s presence and will. Israel is every Jews’ Promised Land, a fulfilled promise by and a gift from God.

Dependent Arising, the Five Skhandhas and Holism Exemplified in a Jodo Shinshu Service

Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is a sect of the Mahayana branch of Buddhist teachings. The influence of the Mahayana ideologies is demonstrated by the Jodo Shinshu members seeing Buddha as a spiritual savior and coming together to help each other reach enlightenment. Followers praise Amida Buddha, Buddha of Infinite Light and Infinite Life. For this religious service paper, I would like to explore how the concept of “dependent arising”, the five skhandhas and holism were exemplified in the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist service I attended.

Bishop Koshin Ogui spoke to the congregation offering words of enlightenment. He stressed “awareness, understanding, realization and enlightenment“. As he spoke of these concepts, I recognized the underlying basic ideologies of Buddhism as being present in his lecture. In Buddhism the individual must have awareness of the existence of dukkha, then understand dukkha is caused by tanha, then realize the path to overcome dukkha is the release of tanha, which will then lead the individual to enlightenment and Nirvana.

Bishop Ogui spoke of two concepts he felt would assist the congregation to their path to enlightenment. The first idea he spoke of was “all things are impermanent”. He stated everyone and everything is always changing based on “causes and conditions”. The second idea he spoke of was “all essences are selfless”. He continued by stating when we say “I”, we are speaking of illusion. To use his words, “I is an illusion”. According to Bishop Ogui no one would be who they are without others and there is “no separation of me from others”. He also spoke of the “illusion of ego”.

When Bishop Ogui spoke of “causes and conditions”, “I is an illusion”, and the false nature of ego, I thought of how this correlated to “dependent arising”. As we discussed in class, in “dependent arising” all dukkha arises within an individual because the individual is not free from tanha. The five skhandhas we discussed which together make up an individual’s ego (and lead to tanha and dukkha) are: 1) Form or matter – “the physical world”, 2) Sensation or feelings – “desires”, 3) Perceptions and discriminations – “opinions”, 4) Mental formations – “making choices”, 5) Consciousness – “the illusionary you”. The way the five skhandhas work together to form an individual’s ego would be based on the individual’s interaction with “the physical world”, the individual develops feelings or “desires”. Due to the individual’s “desires” they form “opinions” about themselves, the world and others. The individual then “makes choices” based off their “opinions” and those choices create the “illusionary” ego.

This cycle perpetuates itself in the individual’s karma. The individual’s “illusionary” ego causes the individual to act according to their false view of themselves which causes others in “the physical world” to react to the individual based off their false self. The individual then develops new “desires” based on the feedback they receive from the “physical world”. From the individual’s new “desires” the individual forms more “opinions”, then makes more “choices” based off those “opinions” and further solidifies their “illusionary” ego. Essentially, what the individual puts out into the world, is what the individual will receive back from the world, this is karma. The cause and effect, or “causes and conditions”, of the five skhandhas resulting in an “illusionary” ego, and ultimately dukkha, is what I believe Bishop Ogui was speaking of.

Bishop Ogui also spoke of “all things are impermanent based on causes and conditions”. I also saw these comments to be in regards to the “causes and conditions” of the five skhandhas. I believe Bishop Ogui was pointing out that everyone changes and the way in which individuals go through the cycle of the five skhandhas constantly changes as well. However, to reach Nirvana the individual must have, using Bishop Ogui’s words, “awareness, understanding, realization and enlightenment” despite the impermanent nature of life.

Bishop Ogui also stated “all essences are selfless“ and “I would not be me without others”. He then gave examples such as he wouldn’t be a teacher without students, or a father without a child. Additionally he spoke of “no separation of me from others through causes and conditions“. The ideas conveyed by Bishop Ogui demonstrate a holism aspect of Buddhism. We are all interconnected and the actions of one individual could affect everyone else. I believe Bishop Ogui was pointing out it is the way of the universe, or dharma, for each individual to be connected with every other, again through “causes and conditions”.

By including “causes and conditions” to the concept of holism, I believe Bishop Ogui was combining the idea of the five skhandhas to the concept of holism. The five skhandhas in themselves are holistic. One individual is connected to the rest of the world through “desires” and “opinions”. Additionally, the choices made by the individual not only affects the individual, but their choices reach out to others. One individual’s choices impacts others by determining how others will perceive them, which in turn will decide how the individual is treated by others.

Another aspect of Mahayana Buddhism is the belief that each individual should live with the compassion, empathy and willingness to help others just like Buddha. Mahayana Buddhist sects teach the bodhisattvas (enlightened ones who stay back from Nirvana to help others reach Nirvana) lives are the best lives to follow. I believe Bishop Ogui was using the holistic nature of the five skhandhas to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the way of the universe and humanity as well as to remind the congregation to practice the kindhearted spiritual teachings of Buddha. Since we are all interconnected and according to Mahayana teachings stating the bodhisattvas lives are the best lives to emulate, then recognizing the holism in the five skhandhas would help people reach enlightenment then in turn assist others in reaching enlightenment as well.

The concepts of “dependent arising”, the five skhandhas and holism were evident throughout the service. In just a short lecture Bishop Ogui was able to convey major Buddhist ideologies and tie each of them together to assist the congregation with “awareness, understanding, realization and enlightenment”.

Mill vs. Williams

Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which asserts as happiness is the only thing humans ultimately desire, then the greatest good would be actions which result in the happiness for the greatest amount of people. Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism functions with the Utility Principle which states all actions should aim for that which is worth pursuing, and in the case of Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism, that which is worth pursuing is happiness for the greatest amount of people. As such, Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory, meaning the rightness or wrongness of any action is determined based on its consequences, or again in the case of Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism, if the action results in happiness for the greatest amount of people. John Stuart Mill is a proponent of Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism, whereas Bernard Williams argues against the theory.

In “Utilitarianism,” John Stuart Mill defends the ethical theory of Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism. Mill begins by asserting The Greatest Happiness Principle, which states “that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (211-12). Furthermore, he explains happiness equals pleasure and/or lack of pain, which is the ultimate goal of humans (212). I would like to focus on the next portion of Mill’s argument in which Mill defends Epicurean ideas regarding pleasures. He states there exists different kinds of pleasures and some are more worthy of human pursuit than others. His argument is:

(1) If humans seek pleasures above and beyond mere bodily pleasures, then humans are not satisfied with simply obtaining bodily pleasures. (2) Humans seek pleasures above and beyond bodily pleasures, such as “intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments” (212). (3) Therefore, humans are not satisfied with simply obtaining bodily pleasures. (4) If (3), then humans ascertain which pleasures are more worthy of pursuit. (5) Therefore, humans ascertain which pleasures are more worthy of pursuit. (6) If (5), then humans can only ascertain which pleasures are more worthy of pursuit by experiencing and having knowledge of both pleasures. (7) Therefore, humans can only ascertain which pleasures are more worthy of pursuit by experiencing and having knowledge of both pleasures. (8) If (7), then intelligent humans who have experienced and have knowledge of both pleasures will choose the pleasure which satisfies their “higher faculties” (213). (9) Therefore, intelligent humans who have experienced and have knowledge of both pleasures will choose the pleasure which satisfies their “higher faculties” (213). (10) If (9), then no intelligent human would choose a limitless amount of bodily pleasures over pleasures which satisfies their “higher faculties” (213). (11) Therefore, no intelligent human would choose a limitless amount of bodily pleasures over pleasures which satisfies their “higher faculties” (213).

According to Mill, these pleasures which satisfy a person’s “higher faculties” would lead the person to logically accept Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism. However, I question premise (8), because I am not sure how he jumps from people experiencing both kinds of pleasures to it being “an unquestionable fact” people would choose the pleasure which satisfies their “higher faculties” (213). Mill explains a person with “higher faculties requires more to make him happy” and people would not choose to “sink into a lower grade of existence” (213). To opine on Mill’s argument, it doesn’t necessarily follow just because a person is intelligent they would, without a doubt, choose pleasure of the mind over bodily pleasure. The possibility exists for an intelligent person to choose bodily pleasure over the pleasure of the mind, so it would not be “an unquestionable fact” they wouldn’t. Mill could argue against my opinion by stating anyone who chooses bodily pleasure over pleasure of the mind would not be intelligent. But, then the question becomes, what criteria does Mill use to define intelligent people? If intelligent people are those who choose pleasures of the mind over pleasures of the body, then Mill’s argument becomes circular. However, Mill does respond, in a different direction, to my question further in the article by stating intelligent people would “voluntarily choose the lower description of pleasures in preference to the higher” because “they have already become incapable of the other” (214). So, his response to my question and opinion would be, an intelligent person who is no longer able to experience the pleasures of the mind would choose bodily pleasures. However, even Mill questions this response when he says, “It may be questioned whether any one who has remained equally susceptible to both classes of pleasures, ever knowingly and calmly preferred the lower” (214). To provide my opinion once more, Mill’s questioning of the possibility of an intelligent person, with access to both kinds of pleasures, choosing bodily pleasure over mental pleasure demonstrates a conflict between the calculative, literal utilitarian application of the theory and practical human nature.

In “A Critique of Utilitarianism,” Bernard Williams argues against the theory by highlighting how the theory conflicts with human nature. Williams makes three major points countering how Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism fails. First, he states the theory disregards personal moral feelings of right and wrong as “self-indulgent” and to a rational utilitarian “there is something dishonorable about such self-indulgence” (218). Williams argues, the theory determines right and wrong based on the happiness of the greatest amount of people. Therefore, just because someone is feeling bad about committing a certain action, such as killing one person to save another nineteen people, as long as the majority of people are happy, the person’s feelings are irrational and shouldn’t be considered.

In his second argument against the theory, Williams addresses the consequentialist aspect of the theory and states it leads to “negative responsibility” (219). He states it assigns causation responsibility for an effect inappropriately. Williams states the theory claims, “if I know that if I do X, O1 will eventuate, and if I refrain from doing X, O2 will, and that O2 is worse than O1, then I am responsible for O2 if I refrain voluntarily from doing X” (219). Williams states it is not the first person who is responsible for O2 because they refrained from doing action X, but another person who actually acts to bring about O2.

It is Williams’ third argument against the theory I would like to focus on and opine on. Williams asserts people seek out happiness through personal “commitments” and/or “projects” (220). To give my opinion, compare premise (2) of Mill’s argument where Mill states humans seek pleasures above and beyond bodily pleasures, such as “intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments” (212) to Williams stating people seek out happiness by being involved in their own personal “commitments” and/or “projects” (220). Since pleasure equals happiness to Mill, premise (2) for Mill’s argument reaffirms Williams’ argument that people seek out happiness by being involved in personal “commitments” and/or “projects,” because people achieve pleasures such as “intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments” through their own personal “commitments” and/or “projects.” Mill could argue his statement in question means these aspects are sought after and fulfilled in the individual only by their relation to the happiness for the greatest number of people. However, again to provide my opinion, these aspects of “intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the moral sentiments” are held in the individual and as such are generated in the individual through the individual’s own personal “commitments” and/or “projects.” Therefore, neither the individual nor the group would achieve happiness if it were not for the individual’s own personal “commitments” and/or “projects.” If, according to Williams (and affirmed by Mill), people seek out happiness through their own personal “commitments” and/or “projects,” then what is a utilitarian to do when his personal “commitments” and/or “projects,” which he has built his life around, conflict with the happiness for the greatest amount of people?

Williams states, “it is absurd to demand of such a man, when the sums come in from the utility network which the projects of others have in part determined, that he should just step aside from his own project and decision and acknowledge the decision which utilitarian calculation requires” (221). Williams argument is: (1) If Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism is sound, X is required to give up his personal commitment and/or project which he has built his life around because it conflicts with Y’s project and Y’s project creates more happiness for more people. (2) It is absurd to require X to give up his personal commitment and/or project which he has built his life around because it conflicts with Y’s project and Y’s project creates more happiness for more people. (3) Therefore, Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism is absurd. Williams is asserting, to be a utilitarian, you must selflessly give up any rights to personal happiness if it results in the happiness of the group, and this, according to Williams, is not only absurd but impractical to human nature.

Personally, I enjoyed reading both of the articles. I can appreciate the logic behind both arguments. However, I do have to agree with Williams, in that it does seem impractical for Group Eudaimonistic Utilitarianism to work because it seems impossible for anyone to be completely selfless. Additionally, it seems impossible for someone to find pleasure, and thus be happy according to Mill, if they were completely selfless. Unless, of course, utilitarianism is stating a person should be happy, even though they are not, simply because other people are happy.