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The universe and its purpose; the Supreme Court and the healthcare law; the death penalty as a deterrent

April 08, 2012
(Los Angeles Times )

Views of the universe

Re "A universe without purpose," Opinion, April 1

A cosmologist — through careful study and thoughtful consideration — concludes that the universe has no purpose. A theologian — through careful study and thoughtful consideration — concludes that the universe has purpose.

Neither can prove their respective cases beyond a reasonable doubt. For the cosmologist, the universe is in a state of infinite hypothesis. For the theologian, the universe is in a state of infinite mystery. Both must eventually rely on faith to support their propositions.

The real rub, however, is that neither worldview excludes nor excuses one from seeking virtue and rejecting vice. The relentless logic of both advise loving action to address the human condition.

Atheist or theist, the only way to sustain humanity's equilibrium is to find footing upon the common ground of love.

Roxanne Vettese


I agree with Lawrence M. Krauss that one doesn't need to believe the universe to be divinely created to find meaning in life.

But given the enormous complexity of this universe he cites, allow me to suggest that this all could also portend the limits of science and what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger railed against as calculative thinking: the modernist mind-set toward ideologies that explain it all (such as Marxism).

Rather, Christ-like faith and humility may be in order, and the truth may yet be revealed in the poetry behind those divine-inspired narratives Krauss dismisses as "fairy tales."

Given the mess we're in, I go along with Heidegger's quip, "Only a god can save us."

Brad Hachten


Krauss reminds us that we exist in an indifferent universe and that thinking we are at all important in the overall cosmological scheme of things constitutes pure hubris.

Card-carrying atheist Clarence Darrow expressed it quite graphically many decades ago: "The best that we can do is to be kindly and helpful toward our friends and fellow passengers who are clinging to the same speck of dirt while we are drifting side by side to our common doom."

Ben Edwards


When we are able to contemplate a universe without God's control, maybe we'll be able to accept the possibility of a government that doesn't control everything. First things first, I guess.

Jim Johnson

San Diego

Restraint vs. activism

Re "GOP lawyers see tilt to activist high court," April 1

Law professors Charles Fried and Douglas W. Kmiec, both lawyers in the Reagan administration, make a good case for judicial restraint with regard to the Supreme Court's decision on the 2010 healthcare law. But since this is the same court that went out of its way to unshackle campaign contributions, sensible restraint is not what one expects.

The Constitution says plainly that all legislative powers shall be vested in Congress. If the court does subvert the Constitution by substituting its will for that of Congress, then its fingerprints will be clearly on the resulting chaos.

True conservatives will pray that this does not happen.

Len Gardner

Laguna Woods

Judicial activism has long been a concern, but what about legislative activism? A legislator should at least consider three factors before voting a bill into law:

Whether it is constitutional.

How much money we will have to borrow to enforce the law.

That the lawmaker has read the text of the bill in its entirety and understands every aspect of it.

Obamacare falls short of all three. A conservative-leaning Supreme Court should overturn this overreaching and unconstitutional legislation.

Fried and Kmiec, both having supported Barack Obama in 2008, can hardly be considered conservative in their viewpoints.

Geoffrey C. Church

Los Angeles

Analyzing the death penalty

Re "Death penalty decisions," Editorial, April 2

The Times writes about deterrence as a reason for a death sentence, "A reasonable person might stop to think about being put to death before killing, but then most reasonable people don't kill, and most killers are not reasonable people."

Actually, killers in California reason very accurately that our justice system truly doesn't permit any executions, not even for multiple sadistic murders. Therefore the killers conclude very reasonably that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, because they're guaranteed comfortable accommodations, complete leisure and excellent medical care for life. Taxpayers foot the bill.

In a final insult to reason and decency, The Times uses these inflated costs as a reason to oppose the death penalty.

Charles K. Sergis

Redondo Beach

You left out another reason for a criminal sentence: closure. People assume the death penalty offers closure. Sadly, no criminal penalty can give you that.

As a victim of a particularly vicious crime I know for a fact that closure comes from within. The incarceration or state-sanctioned death of a perpetrator will not cure post-traumatic stress disorder, nor will it bring back one's dignity or a lost relative.

Jamie Lavin

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