March 31, 2007 § 10 Comments
I had an interesting discussion with Mark Shea about the terms “indoctrinate” and “ideology” in the comments at his blog the other day. I tend to be a bit nonchalant about the use of those terms, while Mark resists using them to describe positive and useful acts (as in “indoctrinate children into an ideology”). In the particular case in question I thought the objectionable thing was what was being taught to children, not how it was being taught.
But upon reflection there is probably more to Mark’s objection to ideology than just the fact that certain ideologies are false. Even true ideology has the tendency to place abstract truth above the actual incarnate world. And that is backwards in terms of priority, turning the truth into a lie: truth at bottom isn’t about What, it is about Who.
The Problem of Evil: Gratuity Included
March 30, 2007 § 67 Comments
Alexander Pruss at Right Reason adds an important point to discussion of the Problem of Evil.
Someone who asserts the problem of evil is asserting that God definitely must not exist, because God (if He did exist) would not allow certain things (call them E) to occur, and yet E actually does occur. Professor Pruss’ insight is that equating E to “evil” doesn’t do the necessary work in the inference. Rather, in order for the inference to work E has to represent gratuitous evil: evil from which no good comes at all, eternally. At least intuitively a perfectly good and omnipotent God would not permit things to occur when no good whatsoever comes from them and only evil comes from them: a perfectly good God would not (at least intuitively) permit gratuitous evil.
In an unrelated note on the same subject, a commenter is debating my position that the POE is self-negating. In my previous post on the subject a different commenter here took a similar position and I don’t think I addressed it as rigorously as it could be addressed. At issue is that both commenters seem to think that I am making a more general argument than I am in fact making. My contention is that any statement of the Problem of Evil is self-negating. My interlocutors have responded by claiming that the nonexistence of God is logically compatible with the existence of evil. That may even be true**, but “the noneexistence of God is logically compatible with the existence of evil” isn’t a statement of the POE. The POE is a claim that God definitely does not exist, inferred from the fact that evil things occur. It is not merely a claim that the existence of evil and the nonexistence of God are logically compatible.
** My inclination is to think that it isn’t so much true as incoherent, because it rests on the simultaneous premeses of existence and not-God; but it is either true or incoherent, it seems to me. In either case it isn’t a statment of the Problem of Evil.
There is no "Theory of Evolution"
March 22, 2007 § 23 Comments
The following are quotes from famous physicists about a body of research in physics called String Theory (well, the last is technically about an intellectual precursor to String Theory):
Actually, I would not even be prepared to call string theory a “theory” rather a “model” or not even that: just a hunch. … Imagine that I gave you a chair, while explaining that the legs are still missing, and the seat, back, and armrest will perhaps be delivered soon; whatever I did give you, can I still call it a chair? – Gerard ‘t Hooft
I don’t like that they’re not calculating anything. I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation — a fix-up to say “well, it still might be true.” – Richard Feynman
This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. Only technical details are missing. – Wolfgang Pauli, caption for a blank square
Does this sound familiar?
(Source: Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit)
I’m Not Kidding
March 20, 2007 § 2 Comments
…when I observe that the modern secular way of thinking inherently creates categories of subhumans which need to be gotten out of the way because they interfere with the triumph of the will in the form of the free and equal superman.
Different nations and peoples follow different specific paths at different times and in different contexts, but the general pattern is the same: freedom and equality for self-created individuals (supermen) is the ultimate end of politics; politics has no power to change nature, only persons; some persons stand in the way (or are perceived to stand in the way) of the ascendancy of the self-created superman; those persons must therefore be redefined as non-persons and gotten out of the way.
My issue isn’t with Germany per se — an admirable people with an admirable credulity and a methodically rational approach to things. My issue is with political modernism per se. Political modernism has murdered more innocents who have gotten in the way since the Yalta conference than the Nazis (or even all political moderns combined) murdered before. We have the conceit that we have transcended what caused the rise of the Nazi regime, despite the manifest evidence to the contrary: trash barrels full of body parts in every modern city, for one.
We haven’t transcended it. Transcending it would require repentance.
Suggested reading: What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany: An Oral History
March 18, 2007 § 12 Comments
One thing about those Germans: they are ruthlessly consistent. Once they’ve adopted the peculiarly modern idea that the sin-qua-non of public authority is to assure everyone access to equal freedom, they carry it out with a relentless efficiency unlike any other people.
It is the nature of public authority not just to tell people what to do, but to tell them what to do good and hard. If people don’t do what they are told there will be consequences, consequences enforced by the blunt instruments of police and military power.
If the sin-qua-non of public authority is to assure everyone access to contentless equal freedom, and literally the only thing public authority can do is order people around, this means that there must be – for the public authority existentially there must be – an oppressor-untermensch to order around. The oppressor-untermensch is whomever stands in the way of assured access to equal freedom for everyone. Usually that means some traditional category that persons fall into as an accident of history, with the further criteria that the untermensch must possess some kind of power that it is exercising to obstruct the treatment of every individual as a free and equal superman, a self-created superman unfettered by accidents of history.
The Jewish race didn’t work out very well as an untermensch category for those wackily consistent Germans, though, and now the new untermensch seems to be Christian parents, at least the homeschooling variety that constitute the “parallel societies” Germans have always found so terrifically threatening to the well-being of the Reich. Children of course don’t create themselves as free and equal individuals in an act of the unfettered will: parents, by accident of history, exercise power to shape children into persons who are not free and equal supermen, not products of their own plenary will and reason. And the herrenvolk can’t have that.
The good news is that when Germany needs some real estate to establish an institution for reprogramming the unenlightened untermensch, I understand that facilities are available.
Lent is a time for contemplation
March 16, 2007 § 8 Comments
Don’t Stand… Don’t Stand… Don’t Stand So Close To Me
March 8, 2007 § 3 Comments
I haven’t said anything about the ridiculous “science of the Jesus Tomb” hubbub, in part because it is too silly to dignify with a serious response and in part because there would be a kind of “fox guarding the henhouse” quality in any criticisms that come from me, in the case of any stray reader of mine gullible enough to think that there is any “there” there.
But you know when this fellow says that it is DaVinci Code style fiction pretending to be “scientific documentary” that the jig is up: the Principle of the Prophet Sting has come into play in the relationship between what passes for respectable intellectual atheism and titanic intellectual giant James Cameron.
(HT: Farrell Media)
The Battle of the Bands
March 5, 2007 § 2 Comments
…replaces the “War on Terror.”
This is what happens when a generation brought up watching Ralph Macchio duel by Stratocaster for his soul against Steve Vai is put in charge of a civilizational religious conflict steeped in history.
The most priceless quote: “…it was MTV that brought down the Berlin Wall.”
The most priceless fact: this is our government’s directly-enacted media campaign in the Muslim world, not some fruitcake Hollywood delusion.
The inmates are running the asylum.
(HT: Philokalia Republic)