Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Son of a priest who didn't get a Catholic education

There's a story from the San Francisco Chronicle (suprise, suprise) about the son of a former priest calling for an end to priestly celibacy. Get the story HERE.

Something strikes me as odd, and I don't mean the fact that he doesn't know the difference between a dogma and a discipline: "As it turns out, the church's absolute celibacy dogma is relatively recent..."

Instead, its his ending that seems a bit familiar:
"Why leave the future of the institution to the anemic power of prayer when the
answer may be as simple as lifting the proscription on priests as patriarchs?"

Maybe its just me...
"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the
kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you," he said,
"if you will bow down and worship me."


Just in case anyone thought Pope B16 believed that hell didn't exist, thank goodness Fox News has caught up with him and heard a sermon delivered in Rome where he announced that it did in fact exist. Get the story HERE. I'm sort of impressed that they wrote this up actually. I suppose it was to stir up a little controversy with the only happy stories Joel Osteen crowd.

I'm still trying to figure out why at the end of the story among quotes by people about hell they used a quote from Jean Paul Sartre- an atheist:
"Locked forever in a small room with two other people"— Jean-Paul Sartre,
"Closed Doors"

Oh well, I guess we atleast know what he'll be doing for eternity. He, Nietzsche and Marx probably.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Philosophy critique anyone?

I was reading through reviews of Dr. Francis Collins' book The Language of God and in the very first review was an unconvinced atheist whose arguments are a tad suspect. The blue words are his, the red words are mine:

The first part of the book where he tries to present philosophical reasons for the existence of God is frankly, pathetic. Of course it is because you've already set the tone yourself. If you don't want it to be good it won't be.

Collins tries to present himself as fair and impartial but subtly denigrates nonbelievers with terms such as "materialists". Ah yes, "materialists." So snobbish of him to use the philosophically accepted term for atheist's theory of existence.

He quotes so much from CS Lewis, I kept thinking why am I reading this guy. I'm still wondering why you read Collins. Again, if you know you won't be convinved why read it?His two main philosophical arguments are completely unconvincing. First up, he tries the existence of "Moral Law" as evidence for God. But this is a joke. This has already been thoroughly explained by an evolutionary bias for altruism. I didn't know this. Well everyone, pack up your books and go home I guess. That whole "ethics" thing that was just a hoax. That so called "conscience" that pings you every time you want to do something "wrong" is just evolutionary bias. I guess that means that Hitler really was a fantastic leader since he was able to go "beyond" his natural bias. Or, maybe conscience exists... We are programmed to be altruistic and cooperative as this was required for us to survive throughout our evolution. Has this man never worked through Hobbes Leviathon and really thought it out? How can self-preservation a-la "pro-choice" be ethical yet ethics is an evolutionary bias towards altruism (think good of the group here) I suppose just another paradox of a wacky, random chance universe. It is instinctive at this point and gives us real pleasure. Yes, the wholesome pleasure of dying for the ones you love. Or in the case of soldiers, the ones you'll never know.

But Collins barely acknowledges this explanation. Next up he tries a "Longing for God" as evidence there must be a God, i.e how can you long for something that doesn't exist? But this makes no sense. We don't have a longing for God per se; we have a longing to understand things. First, I assume either Dr. Collins didn't explain the thought right or this guy wasn't paying attention. You can make two different distinctions among desires: 1) things which are "innate" desires- I thirst and desire something to drink 2) Things which are "artificial" desires-I really want that truck because its cool. In the case of #2 we understand that some people desire things and its possible that the thing doesn't even exist or that not all people may have the same desire. In the case of #1, however, we understand that all humans have that desire. Its innate because we all have that desire. As it turns out, when we talk about innate desire we realize that innate desires correspond to real things. We all want water, it exists. We all want sex, the opposite sex exists and it is possible. Again, the same isn't true about artifical desires. The thing doesn't have to exist not must everyone want it. A desire for a life after this one falls into the innate category as everyone wants it. It stands to reason that if every innate desire has a corresponding real thing that fulfills that desire then there must be an afterlife hence there must be some "thing" which gives us life after natural death. In the words Aquinas always likes to use- we call this "thing" God. For a more complete treatment and better explanation check out and look under his audio for his proofs for the existence of God.

Second, A desire for God does not correspond for a desire to understand things. I assume the author of the review associates Christian's desire for God with Greek or Roman explanations of natural events via mythology. A short course in theology should disprove this. Christian thought does not center around "Why does stuff happen?" nearly the way scientists do. Instead the focus is on an "us" and "Him" relationship meaning how we stand before our Creator and our Ultimate Judge.

He comes across much better when he moves into the scientific realm where he is in his element. He neatly debunks the reactionaries that desperately are trying to justify a literal interpretation of Genesis and the Bible. He gives a reasonably balanced view of the state of science in explaining the universe and where there are still major gaps in our scientific knowledge for example, what came before the big bang, and the anthropic principle. Good. I'm actually not suprised at this though. He's agreeing that fundementalitsts may be wrong on a literal interpretation on Genisis instead of commenting on whethere or not there was a decent argument put forth for I.D. or anything like that.

In summary his position is: 1. Science hasn't quite explained everything yet 2. People like to help each other 3. People want a God to believe in. Thus I will be a Christian. That's it. Sorry but I was expecting a little more than this for all the hype. Save your money. I'd say maybe this guy should leave the syllogisms to Socrates. I would put Collins' argument like this WARNING- NOT A SYLLOGISM:
1) If science had a reasonable explanation of existence it might be possible to show that God does not exist, but science CANNOT explain everything and in fact has considerable gaps which will probably never be filled, 2) Innate recognition of a moral standard among all human beings AND the fact that innate desires distinct from artificial desires MUST always have a corresponding fulfillment points towards the existence of a universal creator God, 3) It is reasonable and in fact probable to assume based on #'s 1 & 2 that God exists.

Note that these arguments don't end in the probability of the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, however I'd guess that's where much of the CS Lewis comes from that this guy didn't read.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Funniest Philosophy Video In The KnownUniverse!

If you pick anything to look at today about philosophy, make this it. Absolute hilarity.

Good Pr0-life rap

Catholic Cartoons

Its funny because its true. From the Catholic Cartoons blog.

Alas, I am but one of God's dupes...

According to a recent article in the LA Times by Sam Harris, found HERE, "there is not a person on Earth who has a good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead... And yet billions of people claim to be certain about such things." I guess that whole "all the eyewitnesses who claimed it were willing to die gruesome deaths and claimed its truth all the way to the grave" thing must be irrelevant. Or maybe the fact that while hundreds of saint's burial places are pilgrimage sites and have been marked since the death of the saint, yet no such site exists (unless you're a self proclaimed genius like James Cameron) for the greatest religious figure ever. Only an empty tomb for Him. Foolish us.

Who can forget, as the article says "Many of these ideas, by their very nature, hobble science, inflame human conflict and squander scarce resources." Hmmm, you mean all the funding that came from the Vatican for the majority of science projects until the late 1700's and all of the clergy who made the discoveries such as Roger Bacon who was one of the earliest advocates of the scientific method or Johannes Kepler who is famous for his laws of planetary motion. Nope, always in the way those religious folks. You know the type, the one's who funded Galileo. Of course it is the religious who inflame human conflict. Such as Stalin's murder of millions in the gulags of the Soviet death machine, or under Mao's Chinese regime. If you count their atheism as religion anyway.

Next coming to the plate is Sam Harris' idea that "Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death." The Dominionist Christians? Who are they?They're calling for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death? They must not be very loud, I've never heard of them or what they're evidently saying.

I think it must be Harris however who is moving down the line toward diminishing reasonableness because he says "There is no question that many people do good things in the name of their faith — but there are better reasons to help the poor, feed the hungry and defend the weak than the belief that an Imaginary Friend wants you to do it. Compassion is deeper than religion. As is ecstasy. It is time that we acknowledge that human beings can be profoundly ethical — and even spiritual — without pretending to know things they do not know."

Question for Sam: if our "Friend" is only imaginary, how can something be ethical? The existence of ethics presupposes a natural law in which we know what is ethical and non-ethical. The existence of a natural law presupposes a natural law giver- a creator god. If that's not enough, how in the random-chance-organic-not-yet-ubermensch-material-world (Nietzche's "hell," just a joke folks) could anything be spiritual.

But the delusion continues: "Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos." Isn't this just a bit of a paraphrase of what Sartre said? Sartre told us that he was giving our lives true meaning by telling us that we were nothing. Harris is telling us the same thing. He says we are nothing but random chance and isn't that beautiful? How much further away from human intuitiveness can you get? A person's worth is in the dignity of their lives, but without divine purpose a person's life has no more dignity than the scum in a pond. Both are random chance but only one has the misfortune to know it. If however we have a divine purpose we are inextrincably linked to the divine Itself and we have greater purpose, the cosmos then has greater purpose, than could be imagined.

Next Harris slams the bible and koran by saying "Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture." Isn't it interesting to know that this is false. What has the bible taught that cosmology disproved? The six days of creation in Genesis? Even Augustine at the end of his Confessions taught about the six days as being an allegory relating man to his place in the universe. Psychology? Freud's depression, caused partially by his fear of death with the thought of no afterlife, only upholds scriptures teaching of God love as a comfort to man. And I don't have the slightest what economics has to do with anything in his article.

The conclusion: "Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music." What evidence would suffice for someone who doesn't want to believe? Had Mr. Harris been in Fatima on the day the sun danced would he have thought it a "spell en masse?" Does Mr. Harris even think it prudent to believe his living room will light up with the flip of the light switch or that the sun will come up every morning? Be honest Mr. Harris, have you ever been to Iceland to know it exists or have you only seen a few pictures and heard about it back in your school days? What is sufficient evidence to you that Caesar lived or that Plato was a philosopher and not the alternate identity of a schizophrenic Socrates? Take the self-decevieing headphones off your dome and look at the evidence yourself, its there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reforming their own rainbow they ought!

Pioneer Press has an article about a Gay-Catholic rally at which "They wore green sweatshirts and green beaded strings to honor the day, and rainbow pins and shirts with phrases such as "Catholic. Liberal. Faithful." to honor their lives." Of course they did, honor their own lives that is. When your only concern is to prove your own greatness rather than Christ's you can never hope to find Him. How can you ever look at Him when all you want to do is say "Look at me, look at me! Ain't I great just the way I am?"

What is it that they don't get? How many people have an inclination to be alcoholic? According to Narconon over 15 million people are alcoholics. Do we tell alcoholics to "be who they are" and tell everyone else to "accept them for who they are?" Of course not. We recognize a problem with alcoholism and we try to help the alcoholic who has the problem. The Church has shown (as have numerous philosophers from a standpoint of natural law) that homosexuality is a disordered desire which in itself is not sinful but when acted upon is gravely sinful. Such was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Retired archbishop Francis Hurley spoke at the rally saying "It's not about being orthodox or not being orthodox, it's about being sensitively aware" Of what? I would think the good archbishop would want us to be "sensitively aware" of sin and of endangering our souls. However with workshops at the event like "Lesbian Nuns: Steps, Stumbles and Strides," "Breaking Bread: Lesbian-Gay Parish Ministry" and "Gay Men in the Priesthood and Religious Life," I get the impression that's not what he meant.

I hope these people can see the beauty in the true colors of God's rainbow in the truth of the Church and stop staring at the rainbow they pinned on themselves.

Church of the Warm-Fuzzies

Alive and Young has a great post on "The Church of the Warm Fuzzies." It's hilarious.

Speaking of which, I saw a church sign the other day while Amy and I were driving to Pflugerville which read "Jesus loves you just the way you are." I guess they must have forgotten to read that part of the bible where Jesus loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Little Mr. Sunshine

Its interesting to me how often Nietzche comes up in contemporary culture. Take for instance the movie Little Miss Sunshine. One of the characters takes a vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force Academy so he can become a pilot- only to later find out he is colorblind and turn his piloting and Academy chances to nil. This character's hero is Nietzche.

The fact that Neitzche is this character's hero doesn't make much sense in that the only parallel the character ever makes to the German professor is that he claims to "hate everyone," mimicking Neitzche's (and Sartre's) claim that "Hell is other people." Towards the end of the movie the character finally shows his love of his younger sister at a youth beauty pagent where he tries to protect her. Also along these lines, Neitzche probably would have seen the character's color blindness as a weakness and rejected the young man. All the while the young man may think himself as progressing towards being an "ubermensch," he finds himself falling far short.

In contemporary culture it seems that Neitzche is "in." I have yet to figure out how a philosopher (who was really a better philologist than philosopher) who believed us to be pointless accidents made of organic material is so popular in a culture driven by the importance of "me." Is it not a paradox to say that everything is about the individual but the individual is pointless in the end? I can, however, see his influence in contemporary society as the push for eugenics via stem cell research continues. Where Hitler left off with his scientific quest for the ubermensch, "progressive" politicians today applaude the advance of our own "superman" to come.

I suppose Neitzche got something philosophically right- his challenge that "if God is dead than why not [do as one wishes instead of the "moral" thing to do]?" Who's to say a thing is wrong if there is no such thing as wrong and right at all?

If God exists how can we ignore Him for the sake of politics? Isn't that what so many Germans did pre-Hitler?

Just a few thoughts I had after catching THIS story at Catholic World News about the Papal preacher denouncing Neitzche.

And, I enjoyed this post at the bottom of the article:
"God is dead- Neitzche...Neitzche is dead- God"
Worth a laugh I think.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Off for Spring-Break!

Amy and I are going wine tasting in Fredericksburg, TX. I know I haven't been bloggin much over the last couple of weeks, believe it or not however I've just been more busy working all the time than I was last week working and going to school. Go figure.

Before I go, here's your Philosophical Power of the week:

Saint Anselm
Nationality: Italian

Group Alliances:
"Scoundrel" Schoolmen
"Thorny" Theists
"Belligerent" Benedictines
"Sadistic" Saints

AKA: Handsome Anselm
Dancin' Anselm
Anselm of "Count 'n' Bury"
Anselm of Canterbury

Powers: the power to preserve rectitude of the will for its own sake

Weaknesses: vulnerable to Gaunilo's™ Perfect Island® attack

Notes: The manufacturing process has painstakingly increased the perfection of these toys by giving them the property of existence. A consequence of the toys' high quality is that they are so expensive that they can be paid for only with money that is both fully divine and fully money.

Friday, March 09, 2007

One of the coolest things I've ever seen!

The Beer Launcher via Catholic and Enjoying it is probably the coolest thing I have seen in a long time.

The Hole - video powered by Metacafe

Plugging our ears

Paul at Alive and Young gets it right as usual with his ad from God-

I use an mp3 player on my way to class fairly often just because I don't always want to listen to the next person over who's being way too loud about their weekend plans over the phone. I try to take the earphones out when there's silence around so I can enjoy it. I suppose I'm still guilty however of plugging up my ears.

Philosophical Powers Friday continues with a special I forgot to put up The Office on Wednesday edition!

So, for my recovery of The Office Wednesday here's "Dwight's Speech."

And your Philosophical Power of the week is: Augustine.

Augustine- 354-430

Nationality: from Numidia, a Roman province in northern AfricaGroup

Alliances:"Nefarious" Neoplatonists
"Thorny" Theists
"Sadistic" Saints

AKA: Bustin' Augustine
Cussin' Augustine
A-Gustin' Wind
Aurelius Augustinus

Powers: cognition aided by divine illumination; shape shifting ability

Weaknesses: inability to do anything that will earn the divine grace necessary to make up for original sin

Notes: These toys come with with a 224-page minicomic, Concussions of Saint Augustine, explaining the character's origin and describing some of his amazing adventures!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mahoney's Vibrancy Reigns

If only Jesus had thought to express himself "vibrantly" to the apostles through dance or some other gesture I suppose the Church would have really taken off. Oh, wait it did. I wonder why the liturgy being "vibrant" had nothing to do with it...

Now if Cardinal Mahoney would figure it out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cheap Seats Spelling Bee '97 Montage

Forest Ninja

I've been so busy lately I haven't been able to post much. However, enjoy this little gem.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday's Philosophical Power

384-322 B.C.E.
Nationality: Greek

Group Alliances:
"Angry" Ancients
"Vicious" Virtue Ethicists

AKA: Careless Aristotle
"Spare Us" Aristotle
Aris-Total Destruction
"Beware His Throttle" Aristotle
The Philosopher

Powers: walking

Weaknesses: some people think maybe he could have taught Alexander the Great a little more about diplomacy

Notes: The high quality of this product is ensured by the four causes at work in the manufacture of the toy: the plastic, the assembly line robots, the designers' creative ideas, and the profit from retail sales to spoiled children. Also, the following reasoning establishes that children will love the Aristotle action figure: All Philosophical Powers® figures are totally awesome. This toy is a Philosophical Powers® figure. Therefore, this toy is totally awesome.

Peter Denies Jesus

James Cameron-- actually zombie!

Get the scoop HERE.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Captain Planet's alter ego-- Al Gore

As I procrastinate tonight and put off studying Latin (did you know that the word procrastinate comes from the Latin word "cras" which means tomorrow?), I want to offer some deep thoughts:

1) You may think you're studying while listening to John Coltrane, but you aren't. You are lost in the Coltrane.


2) Captain Planet was an agenda driven, green mulleted, Al Gore superhero. For some reason it just hit me today that I could recall an episode in which Captain Planet stopped a group of "evil scientists" from conducting experiments on sheep in which they tested the ability of sheep to adjust to rising temperatures and more intense UV rays. Why were they doing these "dastardly" experiments? Because as we all know the ozone layer has a hole which evil people started and will continue to increase and because our global warming crisis is caused by evil people who don't care about anything other than burning fossil fuels just for the hell of it.

As it turns out, the hole that would give us all cancer wasn't possible:

"Well, what about that Antarctic "ozone hole?" First of all, it isn't a "hole." The "ozone hole" is a temporary, chlorine- enhanced thinning of the O3 layer over Antarctica during our (northern) autumn months. It requires the following meteorological ingredients: (a) a lengthy polar "night" -- i. e., a prolonged absence of UV radiation. This allows (b) the buildup of chlorinated compounds, unmolested by UV, in the (c) "polar vortex" -- a vast, self-contained whirlpool of air over the Antarctic region. The vortex largely isolates polar air from mixing with air outside the region, thus diluting the chlorine concentrations.

Now add (d) super-cold, high-altitude temperatures, which causes ice clouds to form in the stratosphere. The ice crystals provide surfaces upon which chemical reactions between chlorine and ozone can take place much more rapidly and efficiently than by mere mixing in the air. Finally, add (e) the sudden appearance of the sun after the long polar night. This adds high levels of UV to the chemical soup, which breaks down chlorine compounds into their constituent elements -- such as highly reactive chlorine monoxide. The chlorine monoxide -- not the CFCs themselves -- then reacts on the surfaces of the ice crystals with ozone molecules, breaking them down.

A few weeks later, as the polar weather changes, the vortex breaks up, allowing the infusion of outside air into this chemical "soup" -- and soon, all the reactions stop. Ozone is then rapidly and naturally replenished by solar UV action on oxygen, and the "ozone hole" quickly refills.

If ANY of these ingredients are absent, you won't have ozone depletion. And the ONLY place that has them all is Antarctica. Even the Arctic region does not have as well-defined and isolated a vortex, because mountains there break it up. Nor do the stratospheric temperatures there get as cold...which means you don't get an abundance of ice crystals to act as a catalyst for accelerating the chemical reactions."

And as for the global warming issue, well I guess we'll see how long that will stay on the agenda I suppose. I'll let it go with this statement from an NAS scientist after the release of their 2001 report on climate change:

"One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm. Two centuries ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was emerging from a little ice age. A millennium ago, during the Middle Ages, the same region was in a warm period. Thirty years ago, we were concerned with global cooling."


3) " Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."