Ben Mezrich has published eighteen books, including "The Accidental Billionaires," which was adapted into the film "The Social Network." In the first half, he discussed his latest work about the history of Bitcoin and the fascinating story of twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss's big bet on cryptocurrency and its dazzling pay-off. After the twins had a falling out with Mark Zuckerberg over the ownership of Facebook, they reaped a huge legal settlement worth $500 million (they took their payment in Facebook stock, which shot up in value when the company went public). But when they arrived in Silicon Valley to start a business as venture capitalists, people didn't want to deal with them because of their bad blood with Zuckerberg. During a 2012 trip to Ibiza, they heard about Bitcoin through an acquaintance and decided to invest $11 to $14 million in the cryptocurrency when it was selling for $5 to $7 per coin, Mezrich recounted. Their investment, purchasing around 200,000 Bitcoins, paid off massively when their value rose to a high of $20,000 per coin in the ensuing years (it is currently at about $8,500), turning the brothers into the first cryptocurrency billionaires.
Even though there is a great deal of volatility in the Bitcoin market, in some ways, Mezrich considers it to be a safer investment than funds in a bank, as each person holds their own share tied to a unique numerical code or password, and can keep this information offline to prevent hacking. The Winkevosses, for instance, safeguard their codes in jumbled form, stored at a variety of safety deposit boxes at banks across the Midwest. Though some have suggested the rise of Bitcoin is a tenuous bubble comparable to the Dutch Tulip Mania of the 17th century, he noted that that the digital currency has more utility-- it can be sent anywhere in the world in seconds and doesn't rely on any nation to back its value. Created in 2009, in its initial usage, Bitcoin was a favored way to buy illicit items on the dark web, though it has steadily grown more mainstream. In 2010, when the coin had almost no value, a developer bought two pizzas for 10,000 coins-- which would now be worth around $85 million!, Mezrich marveled.
In the latter half, former professor of philosophy and associate chaplain at a church in Michigan, Jeff Grupp addressed his concept of "God-Faith," and the ongoing debate between atheists and those with a religious or spiritual belief system. He argues that the strongest evidence for the existence of God is direct experience – "literally, feeling the presence of God...seeing his light in your mind's eye." This is how he defines faith, as a "mediation-prayer" that is to be done all the time as a way of life, and results in God literally implanting a continuous stream of joy and miracles into consciousness in those who live in this mode.
Everyone has the capacity to tap into this spiritual reality in which we realize there is more than just matter, said Grupp, though for some who stumble into it by accident, their experience may be viewed as mental illness. The creation of evil, he posited, occurs when people consciously decide (using their free will) to turn away from God. We can be absolutely humble in the face of God, he continued, experiencing his existence as a kind of poetry representing something far beyond what we can comprehend.