Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Evolution of the Bible

The Bible and how it was formed is a difficult and complicated subject encompassing about 3,500 years of history, culture, theology, and politics. Despite what right-wing conservative Christians would have you believe, the Bible was not handed, fully-formed, by God to George Washington alongside the Declaration of Independence.

I know what you're thinking. What does a skeptic know about the formation of the Bible? A fair amount, actually. How can you be sure the information presented here is correct? I had 6 Christian pastors give their approval that this information is correct and accurate. In addition two PhD's in religious studies also gave their approval for this information.

Fair warning. One of the pastors who reviewed this said to me, "be careful sharing this information with Christians. Many of them are not mentally or emotionally equipped to handle this information. It could cause some of them to question their beliefs." That's kind of the point, pastor.

The information presented here is a summary. Obviously we are talking about nearly 4,000 years of information that could barely be covered in an entire semester course in college, condensed into one blog post.  So we're going to start from the present and work backwards, but unfortunately we have to hit the highlights and leave a lot of good information out.

Finally, the Bible we are going to be discussing is the 66-book Protestant canon. There are 10 different canons of the Christian Bible in 4 major divisions. Each of the ten canons differs in which books are included or excluded that differs from the others. All ten canons are considered “closed” which means all ten believe that a time of continual revelation has ended and they are not likely to change in the future.

Our story begins in 1825, when 7 books were removed from the Protestant Bible. The seven books, called the Apocrapha, were removed from the Protestant Bible by the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Apocrapha is the collection of 7 books which appear in the Catholic Bible but not in the Protestant Bible. So the Protestant Bible as it exists today, was born in 1825.

In 1647, the Westminster Confession of Faith was an assembly of the Church of England which determined the seven books of the Apocrapha did not meet the criteria to be considered authentic by the Protestant faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith established the 66 books of the Protestant Bible were authentic, God-inspired and true. After the Westminster Confession of Faith, Bibles were printed with the 66 books of the Protestant canon. The seven books of the Apocrapha were printed in a separate section from the other 66 books, which were removed completely from bible publications in 1825.  Until 1647, there was no Protestant canon.

Also, just as a side note, during his life Martin Luther also wanted to eliminate the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon. His pleas were rejected by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Because of Luther's stance on these four books, Protestant bibles that are written in German have the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as the last books of the bible, this is called the Luther canon.

In 1546, the Catholic canon was galvanized at the Council of Trent which agreed on the 73 books of the Catholic bible and the period for open revelation was considered closed by the Catholic church. Before the Council of Trent, many different Catholic denominations used numerous canonizations. But of course the Canon was unified in 1546.

In 1442, The Council of Florence established the 73 books of the Catholic canon that the Florencian denomination of Catholicism were required to use. 100 years later, the Council of Trent established the confirmed that the 73 books established by the Council of Florence to be the universally accepted Catholic canon.

Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of information about what happened between the span of years between 382 and 1442. These of course were the Dark Ages where information, writing, etc. was very scant. We do know that in 382 AD, a canon was decided upon by the Council of Rome which established the writings of the New Testament and the Old Testament which were very similar to the canon decided upon in 1442. What differences there are we cannot fully flesh out due to a lack of empirical information.

The reason that the 382 Council of Rome is significant is because this was the first time the church met specifically to decide which books were the true, holy, and accurate Word of God after Christianity became the state religion of Rome.

In 325, one of the most significant events in world history occurred. Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire under Constantine. The Council of Nicea was established. The Council of Nicea is one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. This council established the theology of the holy trinity, galvanized the foundational church belief that Christ was, indeed, the son of God, the observance of Easter, and of importance to this blog which gospels of Christ were authentic.

Around 200 A.D., Jewish rabbis declared the Hebrew Tanakh (the Protestant Old Testament) was considered closed. 

Between 70 A.D. and 110 A.D. all of the apostolic gospels were written, including the ones which are not considered authentic like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Mary.

Between 40 A.D. and 55 A.D. all of the Pauline letters were written.  

In 200 BC, Ptolemy II, the Greek king of Egypt, ordered the Hebrew Bible to be translated into Greek for inclusion into the Library of Alexandria. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is called the Septuagint. The Septuagint is used by 4 out of the 10 christian canons as “The Old Testament”.  Paul, in his letters to the early christian churches, used the Septuagint as his reference to Old Testament scriptures. Jesus also quoted the Septuagint. The reason this is significant is because the Protestant bible does not use the Septuagint as the basis for its Old Testament.

What conclusions can a reader draw from this? I hope their own. Does the information presented make the Bible any more or less credible? No. The intention here is to challenge this false notion that the Bible is this perfect, unchanging thing. It's changed many times, and if history is any indication, it will likely change again in the future. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Concerning Victim-Blaming

This has the potential to be an explosive and emotionally-charged blog post. The author is frequently misunderstood. Usually whenever I enter into discussions on subjects my goal is to promote correct and proper thinking. Often times when I challenge someone's reasoning, they believe I am challenging their conclusions. That is not the case. If you tell me the sky is blue because fairies made it that way, I will tell you you're mistaken. This does not mean I believe the sky is red.

Having stated that, please allow me to make myself perfectly clear on this issue: it is never, ever, ever someone's fault they were raped. Ever. Rape is the fault of the rapist 100% of the time. It's never someone's fault they are the victim of abuse, mistreatment, etc.

I am always in favor of rational discussions which move a conversation forward. Frequently, conversations stop before they get started because often one side is not interested in truth, only winning. A prime example of this is the gun-control debate, in which both sides of the issue are culpable. When someone suggests increasing gun control, the gun support crowd labels them as communist, constitution-destroying liberals. Likewise, gun control groups frequently paint 2nd amendment supporters as ignorant, inbred, rednecks who support child murder.

This attitude is not helpful. It shuts down conversation, it prevents progress, is divisive, and is harmful.

I believe the term "victim-blaming" falls, or at least has the danger of falling, into this category. There are people who legitimately victim-blame. For example, "well she should have known better than to..." is victim-blaming and not ok. It's implying that someone's choices are what led to their victimization. No, a criminal led to their victimization. Point blank.

Having said that, I have been in conversations when I suggested that people be more mindful of their personal responsibilities and was accused of victim-blaming. I believe this is incorrect and not helpful.

Humans are greater apes (hominidae). One of the defining traits of homindae (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos) are complex and difficult social structures. This means that, like us, gorillas have difficult and complicated social rules in their groups. If you violate these rules, it has consequences, fair or not. An easy example of this are the Amish. They live within their own microcosm, and have complex social rules. No dancing, no hand-holding, no watching movies, no wearing modern clothes, etc. A lot, in fact, just about all of these rules are arbitrary and have no intrinsic moral value, they exist just to exist fair or not (from our outsider perspective anyway). Are a lot of these rules absurd, unfair, and silly? Yes. Are there real, actual, harsh consequences for Amish people who break them? Yes. Why? Because we are a group of highly-evolved apes who puts great emphasis on complex social structure and rules.

I assert it is our obligation to be aware of these rules. Violating social rules can have tremendous and devastating real-world consequences. Being aware and mindful of these rules is not an implicit endorsement that the rules are ok, or good, or moral, or fair. In fact, most of the time they're not. But the rules are there. They do exist. And although it's totally unfair, there are consequences for breaking them. Being aware of these rules aids in our prosperity.

For example, if a woman decides she would like to have sex with ten different co-workers on the same night that is her choice to make. She should be aware that a potential cost for her actions are castigation from co-workers, mockery, and even potentially losing her job. Being aware of the potential consequences because of social rules is not an implicit approval of them.  And suggesting that someone be aware of these rules in order to make better informed decisions it not victim-blaming. We have social rules in place for promiscuous women. They're not fair. They're outdated. They're arbitrary. They're silly and pointless. But they exist, and violating them comes at a cost. Fair or not.

We can argue all day long the rules are not fair (and they're not). Violating unfair rules still have consequences. This bears repeating; suggesting someone be aware of these rules helps them make informed decisions about their actions. It is in no way victim-blaming. We can actively work to overcome unfair rules in society while simultaneously bearing the cost in mind for breaking these rules.

Furthermore, suggesting ways in which people can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a crime as reprehensible as rape is also not victim-blaming. Yes, we do live in a rape culture. Yes, our collective attitude about rape needs to change. We can admit that, work to change it, while simultaneously reducing our likelihood of becoming a victim of rape. Again, acknowledging the dangers of a situation and planning to circumvent the risks is not victim-blaming. It's not promoting rape culture. It's being smart, and aware of reality.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Evolution vs. Creation - Round 1 Rebuttals

Welcome to the first round of the evolution vs. creationism debate between myself @weaksquare and @NewFarmOrder.

Our opening statements can be found here: Opening Statements



Premise #2 For Creationism: Without Our Creation To Ask Existential Questions, We Would Not Have Darwinism

I’m glad, in your first point, you raised the idea of the common coexistence of evolution and creation as theories. I would like to now argue that not only can they exist together, but that creation is, in fact, a prerequisite of Darwinism. This is because Darwinism doesn’t offer plausible reasons as to why we would know our own purpose outside of the gene-preservation-and-propagation machines that are our mortal vessels. Creation does - we must be able to think about why we are here, and choose whether or not to love our God, because the criteria for afterlife depend on belief. Every human must thus be born with the capacity to think outside their own physical existence.

Indeed, I find it an irony when evolutionists, as they so frequently do, assert that a belief in the existence of a God results from some misuse of reason, because this inadvertently reveals their belief that the faculty of reason is there (or, as I would prefer, ‘designed’) to fulfil the purpose of discovering the truth of our being. There is no real evolutionary reason, to my knowledge, for man to ponder existential questions as he does. I doubt a dog thinks much about its place in the universe, only the particular motor functions to which its genes assign it for survival.  If thought is a neuro-physiological phenomenon to Darwinists, as I’m inclined to believe, then why am I to trust it?

In other words, if the thoughts in my mind are but motions of atoms in my brain to suit survival and propagation  - this, a mechanism arising from unguided, mindless processes over millennia - why should I believe anything it tells me (including the fact it’s made of atoms)? Creationism gives a more cogent argument as to why we are able to think about why we are here. We have to have the free will to choose whether to believe or disbelieve, in order that we may be judged. If there was a creator, His mind could comprehend cause and effect, and so too must ours, if we are indeed created ‘in the image of God’. It also explains why this capacity is unique to man amongst animals. Because we are, in effect, mini-Gods, we too have a world of dominion. The animals and the plants yield to our superior intelligence, and we can treat them as we wish; with forgiving kindness, tough justice, or base cruelty.

Indeed, it seems little known that the reason there was such a flourishing of scientific thought in the 16th and 17th centuries’ Enlightenment was due to belief in the Christian God, and scientific discoveries, unlike today, did not challenge believers’ faith. As C.S Lewis wrote, ‘men became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law in nature because they believed in a lawgiver.’ Even Newton’s magnum opus, Principia Mathematica, was, in his own words, written to ‘persuade the thinking man’ to believe in God!

This is  Wittgenstein called the ‘deception of modernism’ - the notion that the laws of the universe explain the world to us, when all they do is describe structural regularities. Even if I were to accept evolution as fact - and there is no doubt it has, regardless of absolute truth values as a theory, provided some great advances in all aspects of human understanding of the universe - it still cannot explain ‘something from nothing’ as creation can. Apologies for the cliche, but ‘what caused that Big Bang?'


You stated in your opening argument, “we were created with the knowledge of good and evil unique amongst the animals… evolution cannot explain this.”  Your premise is demonstrably false. We can directly observe animals, mostly social mammals, engaging in moral behavior. These creatures will help other members of their group with no expectation of reward. Animals have been witnessed saving other animals, not even of their same species, in distress. Dolphins frequently fend off sharks attacking humans. Gorillas have protected humans that fell into their habitats from other gorillas. Killer whales frequently work together to gain a meal, even though only one member of their group enjoys the spoils. Apes will share their food with other members of the group, to ensure fairness. Your premise that animals have no concept of morality is false.

Secondly, evolution perfectly explains this. When the group prospers, the individual prospers. We stand a better chance of survival the greater number of healthy members we have. Thus, it is in my best interest to ensure everyone is healthy and able to contribute. When a member falls on hard times, we help them up. Because one day I could fall on hard times and it would be nice if you help me up. All of this behavior is of a direct benefit to the group and is at the very essence of what describes evolution and survival advantages.

Your second premise states, “without creation to ask existential questions, we would not have Darwinism.”  That is possibly a true statement. Evolution (Darwinism) is still a fact.

You also claimed in your rebuttal, “there is no evolutionary purpose… for man to ponder existential questions as he does.” Also false. There is a tremendous survival advantage in having an accurate understanding of reality. Yes, there are questions bigger than us, that’s a given. There are a lot of gaps in our understanding of nature. Pondering the answers helps us to gain a better understanding of this life and by proxy increases our odds for survival. Having your beliefs comport with reality provides a direct evolutionary advantage.

You claimed the Age of Enlightenment was due to the Christian God. I disagree. The Age of Enlightenment was due to Christianity, and would not have even been necessary if it were not for the Dark Ages, for which Christianity is also responsible. Nonetheless, outside the scope of this debate.

Finally, you asked claimed evolution cannot explain “something from nothing” and then asked, “what caused the Big Bang?” It does not matter. Evolution is an explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, not an answer for questions of cosmology. Whatever did or did not cause the Big Bang has zero bearing the evidence for biological evolution, which is ample. Shall we return to the topic of evolution?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Evolution Vs. Creation - Weaksquare vs. NewFarmOrder

Welcome to our debate on evolution versus creationism. @NewFarmOrder and I have agreed to a friendly debate. The format is simple. Each side will present opening arguments, followed by 4 volleys, followed by closing statements. Each post will not exceed 2800 characters (roughly 20 tweets).

As with any debate, either side is unlikely to change their views on the subject. The reason debates are held is to ensure our own beliefs are reasonable and rational and that other onlookers can read, with interest and do the same.



Premise #1 for Creation: We were created with a knowledge of good and evil, unique amongst the animals. This is so we can know our God. Evolution cannot explain this knowledge, and the free will to choose either. It does not exist amongst the animals, who follow instincts alone.

One of the central tenets of Christianity is that we were created by a loving and good God. For this to be true, it therefore follows that we must have a sense of what is good, in order that we can recognise how good our God is in the first instance! And this we do. No matter how evil a regime in history, whether it be the Soviet Communists, Genghis Khan's Mongols, the Nazis, or whichever villains you wish to imagine, not a single one has had a different fundamental set of morals than the one all human beings share. We all inherently know it's wrong to lie, steal, or betray one another. The most heinous Nazi Commandantes returned home to give gifts to their children and wives. In this sense, the Ten Commandments, which puts these things in writing, is not even needed! Every human knows to do these things, which harm other people, is wrong, and causes guilt. No society in history has a set of morals whereby bad actions cause joy instead; where lying or betrayal, for example, is exalted.

Now, as history grimly attests, people still DO these things, of course. But they never do them just for the sake of doing them. Badness is not done for the sake of being bad. Badness is done for the sake of attaining some personal good, for example money, intelligence (when behind enemy lines in a conflict, for example), or power. So, we have a sense of right and wrong, something other animals do not. And we do evil only in order to attain earthly pleasures.

What happens, then, when we shift human aspiration to their need for spiritual pleasures, not earthly ones? Well, when trying to live their life in praise and worship of the Christian God, humans try not to break the fundamental morals we all know and accept, which are codified in the Bible. It's harder to be selfish, knowing they have a God who knows their thoughts and inner being. There is now an ineffable sensation of immense guilt at wrong doing that was not there before.

Yet the most devout Christians still break the rules, and still commit sins. The reason given for this is that sin IS human nature. God is perfect; humans are not. Because we are imperfect, we cannot help but be tempted by earthly pleasures. We are thus doomed to die, for ‘the wages of sin is death’. A world without sin would be a perfect world, the one all of us want (because we were given the ability to know what is good). On Earth, most of us entertain notions as to how we can achieve world peace, happiness, and prosperity, because of our knowing it to be possible. But we will never have world peace, because sin is our nature, and God, loving us, chose to gave us free will to choose our own path. We are not forced into doing what we know is good. Without a fear of God, many frequently do its opposite. Darwinism removes the sense of responsibility unique to us.


Evolution is a fact. Yes, I'm talking about both micro evolution, and macro evolution (which is compound micro evolution). All life on Earth shares a common ancestor.  Most people don't understand this because they errantly believe "theory" in science means some kind of guess. It doesn't. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of the natural world that is repeatedly confirmed through observation, testing, and peer-review.  A scientific theory differs from the word "theory" in colloquial language  which does mean guess or hunch. In science a theory is the highest possible goal attainable.

In order for any scientific theory to be taken seriously it requires evidence and a lot of it, which evolution has. But that's not enough. A theory, after all, is well-substantiated and repeatedly confirmed. Theories also have to make predictions, have to withstand a rigorous battery of peer-review and most importantly have a direct application to other scientific fields. Evolution shines brilliantly in all four categories.  Evolution predicted the discoveries of such well-established scientific facts like the similarity in DNA. The fact that humans share 98.5% of their DNA with chimpanzees is not relevant. The fact that evolution predicted it would be so close, and in what order to other mammals is significant. Evolution has also enabled science to create strains of food that can withstand harsh climates like Saharan Africa to feed the hungry. Evolution has been used to stay ahead of evolving microorganisms and to develop vaccines to protect against them. Evolution and its application has saved millions of lives.

Must one abandon their religious belief to accept evolution? Absolutely not. More Christians accept evolution than atheists according to the Pew Research Center, and not all atheists accept evolution. People from every country, every religion, every belief system, both accept and reject evolution. It's independent of any religious belief. Many prominent Christians throughout history can and do still hold both beliefs. People like the Reverend Billy Graham believe that God may very well have used evolution to create man, but that does not change the fact that he still created man. Dr. Francis Collins, former head of the human genome project says, “there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for common ancestry. I would not necessarily wish that to be so as a Bible believing Christian but it does not serve faith well to deny that fact.” So evolution is not the proposition “God did not do this.” Evolution is the proposition, “if God is real, and God did this, here is how.”


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Quick Tips for the "I like Chess but Suck at it" Crowd

I hear you. You like chess. It's a neat, beautiful, elegant game. But you suck at it. No shame in admitting that.  Listen, don't fret about it, I've lost more games of chess in my life than most people will ever play. So just because I'm pretty good at chess doesn't mean I don't know how annoying it is to lose. I can give you some tips on improving, but part of your improvement is probably going to be taking a lot of ass-beatings from some good players. That's how anyone gets better.

First and foremost, there is no magic formula for getting better at chess. It takes work, a lot of work. Professional chess players study for upwards of 8 hours per day (it is their full-time job after all). Point is, you can study chess for a lifetime and still never know everything there is to know about the game because of its rich complexity. But there is no shortcut to getting good.

That being stated, there are some principles of the game that can get you pointed in the right direction so the work you put in actually means something.

1 - Learn how to Checkmate

The object of the game is checkmating your opponent's king. Many really good players often lose sight of that objective. So before you start getting wrapped up in the Sicilian dragon opening theory, or the Evans Gambit, or studying the subtle interplay of knights vs. bishops in closed positions, learn to checkmate the king.  Fortunately, learning to checkmate the king is like riding a bike. Once you galvanize the patterns in your mind they are there forever.  Every new player I coach in chess, we start with checkmating the king.

May I recommend this website, called "Mate in One" which is nothing but "White (or black) to move and checkmate." It's simple, but will teach you a lot about the game of chess.

2 - The Bigger Army Usually Wins
If understanding the objective of chess is to checkmate the opponents king, it's important to know the side with the larger army can usually beat his opponent into submission, then checkmate the king.

Everyone knows the queen is the most powerful piece on the board. But is a bishop stronger than a rook? Are two rooks stronger than a queen? What about a knight and a pawn for a rook, would you make that trade? What about three pawns for a bishop, would you make that trade? A general guideline to help you make these decisions are piece values. All pieces are rated in terms of how many pawns they're worth. A pawn is worth one pawn, obviously.

Pawn = 1
Knight = 3
Bishop = 3
Rook = 5
Queen = 9
King = Infinity (Don't trade the king. If you do that it's game over.)

Knowing these piece values can help guide you to making good decisions during the game. If I can give up my rook and capture my opponent's knight and bishop I should do that because the rook is worth five and a knight and bishop combined are worth six. Therefore I come out ahead. Staying on the "advantageous" side of all of your trades will lead you straight to a lot of victories.

3 - Give Yourself a Lot of Options

If the main objective of the game is capturing the king, and having a bigger army will almost always lead to checkmate, then having a lot of options will give you good chances at getting the larger army and/or capturing the king.  What I mean by giving yourself a lot of options is getting your pieces into the game. A big mistake a lot of beginners make is to mobilize one or 2 pieces onto the board and then start attacking while the rest of their army is sitting back at home base doing nothing.  Get your pieces (not pawns) off of their home squares. In the first ten move of the game, you should move all of your pieces from their starting squares towards the center of the board in some fashion, castle your king, and touch your rooks together (If you don't know what Castling is, look up a tutorial on YouTube. It's essential knowledge).  Having all of your forces mobilized will give you a lot of different and exciting things you can do. Your force is always strongest when it's working together in concert rather than operating independently.

4 - Don't make Idle Threats

One thing that separates novice players from good players is their use of threats. A novice player will see a threat she can make and immediately take it. It feels kind of good being in control, even if for a move, but it's an illusion. Good players will see a threat they can make, and not take it, but instead hold it in their pockets and see if they can leverage it for gain. Let me see if I can provide you with a good concrete example.

Disclaimer: I realize this is the ugliest chess board ever. I color-coded it so you could follow along with my example.

It's white to move. So what's going on here? Well material is even. That means the armies are the same size. White's rook is being attacked on d5 (blue) by a knight, so he needs to move it. White also has a checkmate threat. White is threatening to move his queen to g5 (orange) and checkmate black on g7 (red) because the queen is supported by the bishop on b2 (lime green).

A weak player, would see that threat and immediately move to Queen to g5 (orange). But that's a bad move, because black can respond with pawn to f6 (yellow) blocking the path of the bishop, and threatening to take the queen. Now the queen has to retreat and then black is going to follow up by taking the rook on d5 (blue) with his knight, winning an exchange (giving up a knight, 3, and gaining a rook, 5) and black will have a big advantage.

That's what a weak player would do.

An intermediate player would see that does not work, and would likely retreat his rook back to d1 (purple). Not a bad move, but there's better.

A good player will see there's a threat to mate by playing Queen to g5 (orange), and she'll look for a way to take advantage of it. The right play here is Rook takes knight on a5 (gray). Black will follow by bishop takes Rook on a5 (gray) and then white will now follow with Queen to g5 (orange) simultaneously threatening checkmate on g7 (red), and the undefended bishop on a5 (gray). At worst, white is going to come out on top by a pawn (he gains a knight, 3, and a bishop, 3, in exchange for a rook, 5). At best, black will overlook the mate threat and retreat his bishop and white will win by playing Queen takes pawn at g7 (red), checkmate.

I don't want to get you bogged down in analysis and theory and fancy play. I just wanted to illustrate that just because you see a threat, don't grab it. Be patient and look for something better. There's an axiom in chess, "When you see a good move, try to find a better one." Even strong players sometimes fall victim to making a good move instead of a great one.

5 - Play a lot

Sign up for It's free, they have a smartphone app, and you can play to your little heart's content. As I alluded to in the beginning, getting the crap kicked out of you will help you learn a lot. When I first started playing, I fell victim to a lot of traps. But that helped me learn the traps and also how to avoid them and then finally how to beat them. I would urge you not to play computers. Computers don't make the same kinds of mistakes humans do. Chess engines have to force themselves to make bad moves at random intervals. Playing against people will help you learn how and why people make easy mistakes, especially when they're under pressure and will condition you to play a certain way. You'll get no such luxury from a computer.

6 - Don't Give Away Your Army

One bad mistake people make is they simply overlook getting their pieces taken. If someone moved a pawn up and threatened your knight... move your knight. This seems mundane, but especially early on in getting better at chess protect your army! If you focus on this and this alone and not even worry about checkmating the king, you will win a lot of games. The reason is because most people aren't disciplined enough to care for their army. Eventually your opponent will screw up and leave a nice juicy knight just sitting wide open on the board for your queen to take for free.

Be disciplined and alert. The person who wins the game of chess is the one who makes the next-to-last mistake.

7 - It's a Game, Don't Sweat it.
Look, you don't have to see 20 moves deep into the future to be a good player.  People often think that chess grandmasters have these mystical powers of computer-like analysis. They don't. Some are better than others, obviously, but for the most part they simply have a lot of experience, know a lot about the game, and can sometimes play without even calculating moves they have so much experience. Learning the principles of the game, exercising some patience, and discipline will go a long way in aiding you to becoming a proficient chess player. And even if you don't get any better, don't worry about it. It's just a game. It's been said that knowing how to play chess is the mark of a gentleman. Knowing how to play chess well is the mark of a wasted life. It's a joke, but do keep that in mind. The game is there to be enjoyed.

8 - Get Advice from Better Players

Most players who are any good at all won't mind spending some time helping weak players. The reason is because someone helped them when they were a weak player and they remember what it's like. Don't be afraid to ask someone for help or advice who is better than you. You can even ask me for advice. I'm available on Reddit @weaksquare (yes, it's a chess term). Happy King-hunting.