Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Best Curt Jester Post Impression

B16: “You can’t slap my hands King Abdullah, I have cat like reflexes!”

King Abdullah: “Ah yes, but parochial school nuns with rulers have not prepared you for this smack down!”

Most Beautiful Thing I've Read in a Long Time

Why did I leave?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Christ is the Victor

It’s easy as an apologist to get burned out. There is a lot of ignorance, hate, and bad things happening. Sometimes there is a temptation in despair. We have to remember that the war has been won. Christ is the victor. So clear some room, play the music below, and shake what God gave ya.

Everyone’s a moralist

I have often had the thought that those that condemn religion due to it imposing morals are in fact being moralistic themselves.

Everyone who advocates sex education is advocating the imposition of a set of values, but only conservatives seem to realize it. In fact, they’re quite up front about it, while liberals like Daniel tend to believe in some imaginary demarcation between ethics and policy that exists only in their heads. (Mollie Ziegler)

Testimony of Gratitude

painted by Juan Sánchez Cotán, 1602

A few years back, the National Gallery held an exhibition of Spanish still-life paintings. One of these paintings had a physical effect on the people who sauntered in, stopping them in their tracks; some even gasped. I have never seen an image have such an impact on people. The painting, by Juan Sánchez Cotán, now hangs in the San Diego Museum of Art. It showed four fruits and vegetables, two suspended by string, forming a parabola in a gray stone window.

Even if you did not know that Sánchez Cotán was a seventeenth-century Spanish priest, you could know that the painter was religious: for this picture is a visual testimony of gratitude for the beauty of those things that sustain us. Once you have seen it, and concentrated your attention on it, you will never take the existence of the humble cabbage—or of anything else—quite so much for granted, but will see its beauty and be thankful for it. The painting is a permanent call to contemplation of the meaning of human life, and as such it arrested people who ordinarily were not, I suspect, much given to quiet contemplation.(Theodore Dalrymple)

The above quote comes from an atheist that makes some good points. I recommend reading the whole article.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bayes and God

I know a lot of my posts are just quotes of different ideas. But it at least puts them somewhere where I can find them.

3. He accepts without question Dawkins's arguments and doesn't mention that probability is a form of *logic* which governs our beliefs, it doesn't tell us what to start out believing. No one reading has any rational credence in flying spaghetti monsters or fairies, etc. so there is no appreciable decline in the prior of theism even using a form of the principle of indifference. (Trent Dougherty, at Prosblogion)

Did God commanded genocide?

A common method to cast doubt on Christianity is to proof text (in a fundamentalist type of way) passages that show that God commanded genocide or some other atrocity. I have never met a Christian who has interpreted these passages as such. Viewed within the context of the Bible, God is ruthlessly just but this must be learned first before his mercy can be fully known. Taken in isolation these passages do become problematic. I think that William Cowper’s poem "God moves in mysterious ways" speaks to this difficulty.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a better taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

Religion and Disadvantaged Youth

Hmmm maybe religion isn't all that bad.

The Role of Religious and Social Organizations in the Lives of Disadvantaged Youth

---- Abstract -----

This paper examines whether participation in religious or other social organizations can help offset the negative effects of growing up in a disadvantaged environment. Using the National Survey of Families and Households, we collect measures of disadvantage as well as parental involvement with religious and other social organizations when the youth were ages 3 to 19 and we observe their outcomes 13 to 15 years later. We consider a range of definitions of disadvantage in childhood (family income and poverty measures, family characteristics including parental education, and child characteristics including parental assessments of the child) and a range of outcome measures in adulthood (including education, income, and measures of health and psychological wellbeing). Overall, we find strong evidence that youth with religiously active parents are less affected later in life by childhood disadvantage than youth whose parents did not frequently attend religious services. These buffering effects of religious organizations are most pronounced when outcomes are measured by high school graduation or non-smoking and when disadvantage is measured by family resources or maternal education, but we also find buffering effects for a number of other outcome-disadvantage pairs. We generally find much weaker buffering effects for other social organizations. Rajeev Dehejia, Thomas DeLeire, Erzo F.P. Luttmer, Joshua Mitchell

A Darwinian society = fascist state

My favorite example comes from an interview Richard Dawkins, England’s most pious atheist and loudest Darwinian, gave to an Austrian newspaper, Die Presse (July 30, 2005), where he made this whopper of a concession: “No decent person wants to live in a society that works according to Darwinian laws. . . . A Darwinian society would be a fascist state.” With that move Dawkins has undercut his whole project, which requires that Darwinism be made applicable in all areas of life. His ethical critique of Darwinian dystopias itself testifies to man’s uniqueness, specifically his possession of a conscience independent of evolutionary forces. And once conscience asserts its independence, it’s but a short step to establish that the same holds true of man’s natural desire for God. (Edward T. Oakes, First Things)

This is a great argument.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Improving Pascal’s Wager

I think I got this argument from Peter Kreeft but I don’t remember which one of his books. For those who don't know Pascal's Wager it is an argument for believing in God. The basic argument is to look at the big scheme of life as a bet. If you place your bet on there not being a God and are wrong, then you are in trouble. If you are right you gain nothing. But if you place your bet on their being a God and there is in fact a God you gain eternal happiness. If you are wrong then you loose nothing.

The only logical bet is to bet on God. The logic behind this argument is strong but I never thought this argument was convincing for a couple of reasons.

1. The faith is not a saving faith motivated by love but only a cover your butt type of faith. This isn't a huge problem because in reality we probably all start our faith here and at least it gets us searching and listening for God to knock on the door.

2. The whole thing seems conniving and self-centered.

3. It does not really inspire people to change because the argument is based on a low self-centered motive.

4. It does not show what God to bet on.

But there is an angle that satisfies at least some of the weakness I found in the argument. There is an argument that has its core in Pascal's wager but is based on the higher and more altruistic motive of justice. If there is a God, justice demands total faith, love, hope, obedience and worship. If we do not worship and there is a God then we commit an infinite injustice against an infinite being. The only way to be just is if we worship. To be infinitely unjust, is to not worship.

Journal Question: You Da Man!

Today’s confirmation class question was, what Old Testament figure do you like the most and why?

I personally like the prophet Nathan because he used what I would call indirect apologetics to correct David. Here is the example that I am thinking of:

The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said: "Judge this case for me! In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him.

Now, the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man's ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor."

David grew very angry with that man and said to Nathan: "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this merits death!

He shall restore the ewe lamb fourfold because he has done this and has had no pity."

Then Nathan said to David: "You are the man! (2 Samuel 12:1-9)

If you don't understand what Nathan is talking about go read 2 Samuel 11

A Problem of Language?

Our ancestors tended to personify objects. At least this is my impression of our ancestors. Ships were referred to as women. St. Francis would be a prime example. He made poems about brother sun and sister moon. He preached to birds and admonished wolves. Our current culture seems to go the other extreme. It views things as mere objects or machines. Even other people are viewed in the context of what can it do for me. Here is a quote that I think is insightful:
...but the same problem applies to most of the technological changes we embrace and many of the material and spatial ones. The gains are simple and we know the adjectives: convenient, efficient, safe, fast, predictable, productive. All good things for a machine, but lost in the list is the language to argue that we are not machines and our lives include all sorts of subtleties—epiphanies, alliances, associations, meanings, purposes, pleasures—that engineers cannot design, factories cannot build, computers cannot measure, and marketers will not sell. What we cannot describe vanishes into the ether, and so what begins as a problem of language ends as one of the broadest tragedies of our lives. (by Rebecca Solnit)
So the question that comes to my mind is, why didn't our ancestor's have this problem of language? Or could it be because the concepts of sacred, soul, sin, and sacrifice were not then viewed as outmoded?

An Apologetist's Anthem

Well I wont back down, no I wont back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I wont back down

Gonna stand my ground, wont be turned around
And Ill keep this world from draggin me down
Gonna stand my ground and I wont back down

Hey baby, there aint no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I wont back down.

Well I know whats right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin me around
But Ill stand my ground and I wont back down (Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down)

Paris Hilton's Wager

Pascal’s wager is a well known argument that it is rational to bet on God because there is no possible payout with atheism. That is, until now. Paris Hilton has placed her bet on Cryonics. That is, she is going to have her body frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen in the hope that science will one day find a way to bring her back to life. What a great incentive for the people of the future to solve the problem of death. I sleep better at night knowing that the future has this going for it.

Paris Hilton wants to be frozen with her beloved pets when she dies.

The hotel heiress is keen to live forever and has invested a large sum of money in the world's biggest suspended animation cemetery, Cryonics Institute.

She wants her body to be preserved and then brought back to life, along with her favourite pets, including her famous Chihuahua Tinkerbell and new mutt, Yorkshire Terrier Cinderella.

'The Simple Life' star said: "It's so cool. Almost all the cells in the body are still alive when death is pronounced.

"And if you're immediately cooled, you can be perfectly preserved.

"My life could be extended by hundreds and thousands of years."

Earlier this week, Paris revealed her partying lifestyle left her feeling "empty inside". Link

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Abortion and Social Justice

My sister sent me this link. The article explains why this issue is so important from the point of view of social justice.

3. A third factor separating abortion from other justice issues is its legal status. Unlike other instances of massive killing of human life, like terrorism or serial killing, which stand clearly outside the law in advanced nations, abortion enjoys legal sanction. Pope John Paul wrote of the novelty of such “scientifically and systematically programmed threats” (“Evangelium Vitae,” No. 17).
4. A fourth distinguishing aspect of abortion is its arbitrary division of human beings into those worthy of life and those unworthy. Abortion deals not with the random killing of unrelated individuals, but with the circumscription of an entire class of human beings (the unborn) as non-persons, excluded from the basic rights and protections accorded to all other human beings.
If human dignity depends on anything other than simple membership in the human race — be it intelligence, athletic ability, social status, race, age, or health — we immediately find ourselves having to distinguish between persons who count and those who don’t.
5. Abortion even distinguishes itself from related questions of medical ethics, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide, by the absence of any possibility of informed consent. The status of the unborn as voiceless and most vulnerable adds a further dimension to discussions of the morality and gravity of abortion. Here the bioethical category of “autonomy” cannot be applied, since unborn children have no way of speaking for themselves.
6. Finally, abortion differs from other major social ills such as unemployment and divorce because of its relative invisibility. Abortion takes place behind closed doors, and is hushed in public. As in the case of slavery, ending the social injustice of abortion relies mainly on the courage and willingness of persons and institutions not directly involved in abortion to speak out. Rev. Thomas D. Williams, L.C.

Horror Movies and Indirect Apologetics

Fr. Erik Richtsteig, a priest that I personally know and love was recently on The Journey Home. It is an interesting show and can be seen here. Father Eric was born into a Mormon family and his conversion from Mormonism to the Catholic faith is the main focus of the show. An interesting aspect of Father Eric’s conversion was what I would consider a type of indirect apologetics. He talks about how the classic old time horror movies influenced him towards the Catholic Church. He explained that these movies always showed the reality of good and evil and that it was the priest with his crucifix that scared Dracula.

Fr. Erik has his own blog this is always fun to read. Orthometer

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Aged Lover

I LOATHE that I did love,
In youth that I thought sweet,
As time requires for my behove,
Methinks they are not meet.

My lusts they do me leave,
My fancies all be fled,
And tract of time begins to weave
Gray hairs upon my head.

For age with stealing steps
Hath clawed me with his crutch,
And lusty life away she leaps
As there had been none such.

My Muse doth not delight
Me as she did before;
My hand and pen are not in plight,
As they have been of yore.

For reason me denies
This youthly idle rhyme;
And day by day to me she cries,
``Leave off these toys in time.''

The wrinkles in my brow,
The furrows in my face,
Say, limping age will lodge him now
Where youth must give him place.

The harbinger of death,
To me I see him ride,
The cough, the cold, the gasping breath
Doth bid me to provide

A pickaxe and a spade,
And eke a shrouding sheet,
A house of clay for to be made
For such a guest most meet.

Methinks I hear the clark
That knolls the careful knell,
And bids me leave my woeful wark,
Ere nature me compel.

My keepers knit the knot
That youth did laugh to scorn,
Of me that clean shall be forgot
As I had not been born.

Thus must I youth give up,
Whose badge I long did wear;
To them I yield the wanton cup
That better may it bear.

Lo, here the bared skull,
By whose bald sign I know
That stooping age away shall pull
Which youthful years did sow.

For beauty with her band
These crooked cares hath wrought,
And shipped me into the land
From whence I first was brought.

And ye that bide behind,
Have ye none other trust:
As ye of clay were cast by kind,
So shall ye waste to dust. (Thomas Lord Vaux "The Aged Lover")
What does this poem have to do with Catholic indirect apologetics?

Our culture tries to deny the reality of aging which is really an attempt to escape the reality of death. The fact is that we all have a terminal illness. We are all going to die but there is good news. Christ concurred death and made death a new birth into eternal life. To someone who is unable to face the reality of death this is not good news but non-news. This poem faces the reality of aging and death.

G K Chesterton "A Ballade of Suicide"

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours on the wall
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me. . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall
I see a little cloud all pink and grey
Perhaps the rector's mother will NOT call
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way
I never read the works of Juvenal
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small
I think I will not hang myself to-day.(G K Chesterton "A Ballade of Suicide")

(Hat tip The Blue Boar)

What does this poem have to do with Catholic indirect apologetics?

Chesterton uses some humor in this poem to affirm that even a new way to cook mushrooms is a reason that life is worth living. Life is good. Modern man, with all his comforts and possessions seems to have a problem with suicide which is really a problem with finding meaning in life.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


... I coined the word 'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives – if the story has literary 'truth' on the second plane (....) – that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made. And I concluded by saying that the Resurrection was the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest Fairy Story – and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love. - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, # 89 (7-8 November 1944).

10 Typing Monkeys to the exponent power of 700

I found this article from Catholic Educator's Resource and I think it is interesting.

Stephen Hawking in his A Brief History Of Time taught the world that given enough time, monkeys hammering away on typewriters could type out a Shakespeare sonnet.
Let's consider a grab bag with the 26 letters of the English language in it. I reach into the bag blindfolded and pull out a letter. The likelihood that it will be 's' for the first letter of the sonnet is one chance in 26. The likelihood that in two draws I will get an 's' and then an 'h' is one chance in 26 times 26. And so on for the 500 letters. Neglecting spaces between the words, the chance of getting the entire sonnet by chance is 26 multiplied by itself 500 times. That number comes out to be a one with 700 zeroes after it. In conventional math terms, it is 10 to the exponent power of 700.

To give a sense of scale for reference, the known universe including dark matter and black energy weighs in the order of 10 to the power 56 grams; the number of basic particles [protons, neutrons, electrons, mesons] in the known universe is 10 to the power 80; the age of the universe from our perspective of time, 10 to the power 18 seconds. Convert all the universe into micro-computers each weighing a billionth of a gram and run each of those computers billions of times a second non-stop from the beginning of time and we still will need greater than 10 to the power 500 universes, or that much more time for even a remote probability of getting a sonnet; any meaningful sonnet. Chance does not produce intelligible text and certainly not a sonnet, not in our universe. (Gerald Schoeder, When Pigs Fly and Monkeys Type)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cuz it ain’t over tell Jesus returns

Well yesterday in my confirmation class we did the big picture view of salvation history. I showed them some of the basic covenants that God has made in history to bring humanity back to him. My journal question to them was what part did they now play in salvation history? They told me that this was a lot like the question, “What is your purpose?” but I told them that in this context that they would give me more profound answers related to their oath towards Christ. I told them that the story is not over and that the book of Acts was not really completed because the story is still going. When the story is finally told what part will you play in Salvation history?

Materialism's search for Magic

At times materialist's will make the charge that religion is just a belief in magic. To say that the human mind is non-material, in this view, is the same as believing in pixie dust. The ironic thing is that religion is what stops me from believing in magic and is what the materialist is in fact searching for. Let me quote C.S. Lewis to make this point.

There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique. (The Abolition of Man)

Materialist Philosophy

The major problem with this restrictionist philosophical method is that you end up being a Procrustes. Focusing on one part of the data at the exclusion of other parts means that you end up with a half truth. The cost/benefit is this, the more object knowledge you have the less subject knowledge, the more analysis the less syntheses, the more quality the less quantity.

For example, you can reduce music down to its objective elements. You can say that this song has this frequency and then this one and then the next. But by doing this you kill the existential aspect of the song. The subjective element is what makes music, music.

Soren Kiekegaard talked about how the more objective a fact is the less existential personal relevance the fact has and vise versa. The fact that 2+2=4 is highly objective but it has little meaning to me on an existential level on the other extreme my eternal salvation has a lot of existential importance to me but it is unprovable. A philosopher to sacrificing the intuitive (existential data) comes at too high of a cost. A philosopher is a lover of wisdom, as such a philosopher needs not to look for a wisdom to serve him/her but a wisdom to serve. The truths found by a restrictionist philosophical method are below man and are not worthy to serve. Link

Faith in Cutting Your Roots

There is much to be said for the claim that modernity is a kind of faith that depends on the very faith it had rejected. link

Faith in "promissory materialism"

But the materialists have two problems. Their certainty of victory is, for the moment, a leap of faith. There is no clear scientific consensus on how the brain produces the higher functions we call being human. And, second, the great mystery, the ultimate hard question, remains: How does matter produce mind, how can it? Irrespective of religious belief, immaterialism cannot easily be dismissed. What is the nature of what I am thinking and feeling now? To tell me that it is all a by-product of my brain is to tell me nothing. What I am is at least as real as the chair I am sitting on, and what I am seems to be immaterial.

Hard scientists and militant atheists tend to dismiss this as spilt religion or philosophical hair-splitting, a futile pursuit of an artifact of language. But all serious thinkers understand the problem. Most, however, will fall back on what the philosopher of science Karl Popper called "promissory materialism." We will, one day, find the material answers because, in essence, we must. There simply cannot be anything other than matter. Bryan Appleyard book review

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dreaming of Systems

Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her laws?
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be.

–T. S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rationalism and Fundamentalism are Mirror Images

I got this graph from this blog. I think this is a very interesting concept by Soren Kiekegaard. The graph shows an inverse correlation between certainty and personal importance. A quote from the blog explaining the graph...

On one extreme you have the facts of logic and mathematics; ultimately provable and objective, but not at all important to me as an individual existing human being. This is the realm of logic. On the other extreme is my eternal happiness; ultimately important to me, but not at all provable or objective. This is the realm of faith. (In the middle lie facts of science and history, childhood memories, and whether my wife loves me.) Link

I think this concept relates to rationalism. Rationalism tends to cut off or reduce the existential side of human life because it is uncertain. They are really acting like Christian fundamentalist who ignore science but they are its mirror image. They reject faith instead of science but both parts are true and important.

Nazi’s, Jews, and Catholics

The Catholic Church often gets slammed for not speaking out against Nazism during World War II. History is never as black and white as popular cultures likes to think. The Catholic Church did try to stay neutral during World War II. The Vatican was surrounded by Nazi allies and to choose sides would have made it a target. There was three options that the Church had. The Church could, 1. Choose sides and speak out against Nazism and be shut down and likely sent to concentration camps. 2. Take an official stance of neutrality but work behind the seen to help the Jews. 3. Do nothing and risk nothing.

So what would have happened if the Church would have taken option # 1 and publicly condemning Nazism? I don’t know if it would have saved a lot of Jews. The Vatican spoke out against the current American war in Iraq and this did not seem to impede the war. I find it unlikely that the Nazi’s would have shut down the furnaces of Auschwitz because the Catholic church condemned what they were doing. I do believe that this is the position that Christ himself would have chosen though. This would have been a hard cross to bare when it’s your own women and children being lead to the concentration camps. (3000 Catholic Priest were killed by the Nazis) If I was Pope during that time, and I’m glad I’m not, I don’t know if I could have chosen this hard road. I don’t think I would have the strength.

I believe that option # 2 is what the Catholic Church did. If you look for where the Catholic Church acted to try to help the Jews you will find some really admirable acts by the Catholic Church. (see this Jewish perspective) If your question is where did the Catholic Church failed to act, you will find plenty as well (another Jewish perspective).

If you look at option #3 it is really hard to say that this is what the Catholic Church did. The truth is that the Catholic did act and it did take risks to help the Jews although it could have acted more. Popular culture likes to believe that the Catholic Church did not act at all and this is simply untrue (as the first link above shows)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Apologetics Sabotaged

I had a discussion last week were I made some good arguments but I sabotaged them. At the end of my arguments I made a joke. I told the person the following...

The rest of what you wrote sounds like you're pulling numbers out of your arse. The last sentence should be read in your best Norse tribesfolk accent.

And this was his response....

Cure of Ars, I should prefer it if you no longer commented on my posts. There may be a place on Overcoming Bias for Catholics; but none for those who despise math they don't understand. Link

I originally was going to say that he was pulling numbers out of thin air. But instead, I went with a smart ass remark. This did a couple of things that were counterproductive.

1. The person did not have to focus on my arguments. He was able to exclusively focus on my smart ass remark.

2. A joke like this just makes someone defensive, in affect, putting more between himself and the truth. Apologetics is supposed to take away barriers not make them.

3. This gave the person the justification to ask me not to comment on his posts anymore.

On a personal level, I learned that I have a big ego. I need to become more humble if I am going to be a good apologist. So the question then becomes how do you become humble? I don’t think beating myself up or feeling sorry for myself is going to do the trick. I decided to do two things. I have decided to go to confession more often. Every Saturday I will be in the confessional at 4:00. I personally do not enjoy confession (hurts my ego) but it is the sacrament that I feel the most spiritual consolation afterwards. I also decided that I was going to increase the amount of time that I pray. Every night I will say a rosary. I am writing this, in part, so that I have a public commitment to do this. It’s now out there so no backing out.

Genital Mutilation: A White Wedding

I have had debates with people who believe that there is no objective morality and that no one culture is superior to any other culture. Slavery has been the example I have used to show why this is untrue. A culture that holds the intrinsic dignity of all humans is superior to a culture that enslaves a portion its population. This is really the ABC’s of morality. I think in the future I am going to give the follow as another example.

genital mutilation a white wedding

To me this shows how you have to be disingenuous towards your own integrity to really hold this view.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Journal Question (3)

Today’s Conformation class question is the following, “Why did God make you...what is your purpose?”

It was a good class today. We had a lot of discussion. Their answers to the journal question ranged from playing video games to making this world less boring.

I gave them the text book answer of to know, love, and serve God in this life and the next. I also gave the specific of how this plays out in my own life. I need to go shopping with my wife or I would go into details.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Divine Spark

There is just something about this performance that I really like. The music is beautiful but the playfulness back and forth and the creative interchange just adds another dimension to it. I don’t know how you can watch this video and not see the Divine spark in man.

The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade all the other people how good they are. It has been proved a hundred times over that if you really wish to enrage people and make them angry, even unto death, the right way to do it is to tell them that they are all the sons of God. G.K. Chesterton

Defending John Paul II: Time Magazine's Irresponsible Article

This is something that we need to be ready to give a response too. I have a feeling that it is going to turn into an urban legend. Here is a response by Father Jonathan Morris and another by Jimmy Akin. Here is the misleading Time article that is being addressed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Faith and Objective Scholarly Deliberation

I'm not in a writing mood. Just not feeling it. But here is a quote that is very interesting.

faith does not result from straightforward scholarly deliberation, nor does it come directly; on the contrary, in this objectivity one loses that infinite, personal, impassioned interestedness, which is the condition of faith, the ubigue et nusquam [everywhere and nowhere] in which faith can come into existence (29). Søren Kierkegaard, Postscript

Baby Got Book

I got this from my sister and it’s funny.

We both like the part where it says, "and if you're Catholic there's even more"

If you're looking to read more about why Catholic’s have a bigger Bible go here

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hypothesized Thor the thunder-agent.

An enormous bolt of electricity comes out of the sky and hits something, and the Norse tribesfolk say, "Maybe a really powerful agent was angry and threw a lightning bolt." The human brain is the most complex artifact in the known universe. If anger seems simple, it's because we don't see all the neural circuitry that's implementing the emotion. (Imagine trying to explain why Saturday Night Live is funny, to an alien species with no sense of humor. But don't feel superior; you yourself have no sense of fnord.) The complexity of anger, and indeed the complexity of intelligence, was glossed over by the humans who hypothesized Thor the thunder-agent. Link

Your analogy with Norse tribesfolk reminds me of the NRA slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. There are many different levels of causation. The gun can be said to be the secondary cause of why someone died. The person pulling the trigger would be the primary cause. The secondary cause of thunder is nature but the first cause that brought things into existence and created the system is God. Nature cannot be its own cause.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mr. Incredible, Edna, and Christ

Yesterday in my confirmation class as part of our starting prayer I had them make a prayer intention. One of the students could not think of one. I told him that there was so much to pray for and what other opportunity would he have in asking his fellow students to pray for something he hoped for. He finally prayed that he would get a “million dollars”. All the students had a little giggle at this. I told him that he should be careful in what he asks for. I explained that like in Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility”. I asked him if he was planning on squandering this money on himself or was he wanting to do the hard work of putting this money towards something good. I told him that one day he would have to make an accounting of what he did with the gifts that he had been given and that a million dollars would be a great temptation. (I am really blessed to have this person in my class. He is a pain at times, but his questions and challenges really livens up the class)

We all do this. We really don’t know what to ask of Christ. We are not that creative to ask for something really great and beautiful. This situation reminds me of Edna and Mr. Incredible over his super hero outfit. Mr. Incredible just wants the same old. Edna wants him to ask the impossible. But with no Capes!

May we ask for the cloths of Christ. But no million dollars! You might get sucked up in a vortex or something.

Hope is Rational

Once upon a time, I went to EFNet's #philosophy to ask "Do you believe a nuclear war will occur in the next 20 years? If no, why not?" One person who answered the question said he didn't expect a nuclear war for 100 years, because "All of the players involved in decisions regarding nuclear war are not interested right now." "But why extend that out for 100 years?", I asked. "Pure hope," was his reply.

Reflecting on this whole thought process, we can see why the thought of nuclear war makes the person unhappy, and we can see how his brain therefore rejects the belief. But, if you imagine a billion worlds - Everett branches, or Tegmark duplicates - this thought process will not systematically correlate optimists to branches in which no nuclear war occurs. Link

For hope to be useless, it requires the premise that God does not exist. If God exists, then the rational thing is to hope and not in just the improbable but the impossible.

As a Catholic, I am willing to abstain from food and sex at times. I even like to think that I would give my life for my faith. But you atheists are fanatical. Sacrificing hope is too hardcore. First you sacrifice faith, then hope, what’s next love?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Journal Question (2)

Today in our Confirmation class we talked about Divine Revelation. The question for my Confirmation class’s journal was the following:

What is the greatest truth that you know of that has been revealed in Scripture?

I think a lot of times we put the cart before the horse. We give answers to questions that students haven’t even asked. I think this takes some of the impact away from the answer. I believe that the right question is sometimes more important than the right answer.

What is my answer to the journal question? Christ, I also asked them to explain why this truth was the greatest truth. I’m excited to read what they wrote.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nightcrawler the Catholic (X-Men)

-Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler of the X-Men

-The Nightcrawler as a Roman Catholic Superhero FAQ

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

If you look at the Q&A section there are explanations for many parts of the Catholic faith. It is not a debate, but just a way to understand Nightcrawler from within his own faith. This is at least indirect communication if not apologetics.

Consciousness without a cerebral cortex

It’s bizarre how it’s ok to withhold food and water to a person who has a working brain stem but not much else. But to starve and dehydrate an animal without much more than a brain stem and this is considered cruel.

Self-awareness and other "higher" forms of thought may require cortical contributions. But Merker posits that "primary consciousness," which he regards as an ability to integrate sensations from the environment with one's immediate goals and feelings in order to guide behavior, springs from the brain stem.

If he's right, virtually all vertebrates—which share a similar brain stem design—belong to the "primary consciousness" club. Moreover, medical definitions of brain death as a lack of cortical activity would face a serious challenge. At the very least, physicians could no longer assume that individuals with hydranencephaly don't need pain medication or anesthesia during invasive medical procedures. (Consciousness without a cerebral cortex: A challenge for neuroscience
and medicine

The Probability of Religion

I read somewhere that 65.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot. I don’t remember where I read this because I only remember 37.3% of where quotes come from. I spent some time and researched this and the truth is that the number 65.4% applies to all statistics. But when referring to statistics that are present on the internet the number shoots up to 95.6% of all statistic which is significant. Now 7 out of 10 people who were willing to call themselves apologists agree that this statistic is important. And although I am not a huge fan of Donald Rumsfeld he said something very insightful in regards to this topic. He said:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

Now I am no scientist or statistician, although I was involved in a science fair once and the judges did say that my volcano explosion was the largest, but this is nether here nor there. The process of science is very messy. Here is an explanation of Why Most Published Research Findings are False which is very interesting.

There are an infinite number of false hypothesis and because of this the odds are that any given hypothesis is going to be untrue. My two loyal readers stand at two deviations from the mean which means that they get this or they don’t get this. The real questions is that if the null hypothesis is more likely to be the bull hypothesis then what does this have to do in regards to Papal bulls.

This truly is the bottom line. If the easy questions are so hard to answer then what chance do we have in any religion being true? My answer is a lot like St. Peter’s, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The probability is not good but where shall we go. I have a relationship with Christ and I trust him. He is my starting point and with this data it makes all things new. If science were able to totally understand my Catholic faith and it was able to fit within the scientific box then I would reject it as untrue. Christ is my alpha and my omega. My morning star. He is the way the truth and the life. He is the logos and my firm foundation. What statistic do I have to prove this? I have none.

Steve Ray and Indirect Apologetics

I got an email from the religious education director of my parish. She sent me this interview with Steve Ray in regards to his video on St. Paul. She told me that she thought of me when she read the interview. It’s a good interview so go check it out.

I have seen most of the, In the Footprints of God, videos and they are very good. The videos are perfect examples of indirect apologetics. Steve Ray, dressed as Indiana Jones, travels around the globe to find different historical places in the Bible. The videos give a solid feeling of how the events in the Bible are connected to real history. Along the way, Steve happens to do a lot of apologetics but this is not something that you really notice. I think this is the genius of the serious. Steve falling face first in a hole of mud to demonstrate why Mary needed a savior, even though she was immaculately conceived, is a example of doing apologetics without it really feeling like apologetics. I wish I had this argument and demonstration on youtube, it’s classic. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go buy his video on Mary)

Steve Ray is a first rate apologist and teacher. He explains in the videos many of the distinctly Catholic doctrines with clarity and common sense. I highly recommend the series.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Calling of Saint Matthew

The Calling of Saint Matthew by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1600

The following is written by Michael Morris

The scene is one of suspended activity caught in a moment of time. Christ’s sudden appearance was not anticipated by these men. The invitation to another life and another world manifests itself in one shocking instant. The frozen gestures of these individuals betray the gamut of human emotions that follow a challenge or command.

The bearded Matthew is set apart from the others. Wide-eyed, he is dazzled by the light. Even though his right hand remains firmly on the coin he has been counting, with his left hand he points to his breast as if to ask the beckoning Savior, “Who, me?” Soon he will rise from the table and follow the captivating stranger. Already Christ’s feet are turned as if to leave. The light behind him and Saint Peter, which they have introduced into the scene by their arrival, would seem to be miraculous, for it casts no shadow upon the defensive youth facing them.

It is Characteristic of Christianity that the weak are often chosen and made strong to fulfill some measure of God’s divine plan. The fact that Matthew, the most reviled of men, should be chosen to enter into the company of the apostles and be one of the four recorders of Christ’s life on earth is a testimony to the wonder of God’s love and the transforming power of grace. (Magnificat Vol 3, No. 7 / September 2001)

Click on the picture a couple of times to get a nice close up of the picture.

Objectification of Man: Muscle Dysmorphia

I’m am hesitant in posting this youtube video for a lot of reasons. The main reason is that I don't want to participate in freak show entertainment. I am really not wanting to go in that direction with this blog. I also don’t want to pull a Michael Medved, where I get the most extreme viewpoint of the opposing side and kick it around like a strawman. But with this in mind, I do want to post this video as an example of something wrong with our culture. Something that is ugly. The objectification of women has become common place but this phenomena has happened to men too. “These guys are machines.”

Warning: This video has graphic self mutilation and drops the F-bomb a couple of times.

NPR, Nazis, and Abortion

I listened to NPR on the radio today while traveling for work. The program talked about a photo album of Nazi officers who worked at Auschwitz. The photos showed these officers participating in normal activities. The photos are now part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The discussion was on how everyday people have the capacity for evil just like these Nazi officers. We have to be vigilant to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

So wake up NPR. The truth is that it is happening again and in our very own country. Abortion kills humans. The only difference between a Jew and a fetus is the stage of development. One day there will be the United States Abortion Memorial Museum and we will have pictures of people involved with abortions participating in normal activities. Pictures of NPR staff will be a part of the exhibit since they serve as the propaganda machine for abortion.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The argument from objective morality

This is an argument for God that I have not heard before. It has as its first premise objective morality and moves on from here. In a relativistic society this can be a rare starting point but it is still an interesting argument.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Problem with Polygamy

A symptom of polygamy is that you end up with too many males. Males without the domesticating influence of women leads to problems. Here is an article that gives some of the details of this problem. Boys Cast Out by Polygamists Find Help

Mr. Gilbert estimates that 100 boys from his school class, or 70 percent of them, have been expelled or left on their own accord; there is no way to verify the numbers. “There are a lot of broken-hearted parents, but you question this decision at the risk of your own salvation,” Mr. Gilbert said.

The problem of surplus males worsened in the 1990s when the late prophet Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’s father, took on dozens of young wives — picking the prettiest, most talented girls, said DeLoy Bateman, a high school teacher who watched it happen.

One male and one female marriage is the building block of society.

Journal Question

The junior high Confirmation class that I teach has started. After the opening prayer there is a journal entry that I have them write. So every week I need to come up with a journal topic. I figured that it would be interesting to put these questions on my blog. Feel free to answer the question in the comment section if you would like to share.

What is your earliest memory of a religious experience?

Here are a few of my earlier memories but I can’t remember which one is older.

My parents had a statue in their bedroom. It was a statue of the risen Jesus but the statue was supported by a wooden empty cross. I remember looking at it at night under the flicker of candle light. I was a little scared but at the same time I was at peace.

A religious sister stayed at our house for a few days. She gave me a rosary. I remember having a feeling of love for this lady who gave her whole life to Jesus. I remember going to the basement and praying with that rosary in my hand.

I remember going to a next door neighbor’s house who was babysitting me. I remeber hiding in the closet and flipping threw the pages of a children’s picture book Bible. I was fascinate with it. Something about those pictures of ancient events, which God was involved, intrigued me. (funny thing is, it was probably a book of Mormon picture book)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Harry Potter is the Devil....NOT

Growing up with my baby sister I learned one thing. You don’t argue with her unless you are clearly right because she will out last you. She will wear you down until you submit. She has the will and righteous anger of an OT prophet. Woe to those who cross her path. I love it. Here is a post by her where she rips apart the arguments behind an anti-Harry Potter opinion piece in a Catholic newspaper. I agree with her whole heartedly and so I decided to link her post here.

The Devil and Harry Potter

I love you my baby sister

Tabloid Apologetics

Debates can have the function of teaching but this is not the norm. The goal of winning usually starts to override the search for truth. The worst thing about debates is when it become about personal attacks and defending one’s own good name. This is what I call tabloid apologetics. To ridicule and sneer the opponent becomes a form of entertainment. The other side takes the higher ground and tries to show the injustice of the comments. Jumping from taunts to the moral high ground gains a lot of attention. If attention is what you’re after, then it’s a good strategy. The problem is that the person participating in these tactics begins to lose credibility. It starts to give a tabloid color to everything that is said, even good arguments. So if someone starts to do tabloid apologetics towards you, don’t defend yourself. Don’t document to the world the blow by blow details of how you’ve been wronged. Just take it like a man. Anything less is unlike Christ.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Making of Saint Michael the Archangel

I like to watch people make art. Correction, I like watching short sections of the process of making art. Watching someone spend hours cutting out a stencil would be like watching paint dry. This video shows an artist making a picture of St. Michael crushing the head of Satan. It’s fun to watch and the video cuts out the monotonous parts. The monotonous parts are probably what makes it art....I’ll move on....

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

Christian’s who have been secularized tend to have a hard time with the idea of Satan. This belief comes straight from Christ.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
To be ashamed of the belief of the reality of Satan is to be ashamed of Christ’s teachings.

Lost in a haunted wood

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
(W.H. Auden, SEPTEMBER 1, 1939)

only Supernaturalists really see Nature

The Englishness of English is audible only to those who know some other language as well. In the same way for the same reason, only Supernaturalists really see Nature. You must go a little away from her, and then turn around, and look back. Then at last the true landscape will become visible. You must have tasted, however briefly, the pure water from beyond the world before you can be distinctly conscious of the hot, salty tang of Nature's current. C.S. Lewis, Miracles
Another quote that is related to this idea of perspective which helps see the true reality of things is when G.K. Chesterton said:
The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age. Link

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

We have been given data that changes the perspective of everything. That data is Christ who makes all things new.

A Larger Evolutionary Based Morality

I am a little hesitant to post secular articles that are half-truths. It can act as an anchor to pull someone closer to the truth but it works both ways. It can frame reality as less than it really is but in that frame it still holds truth. I believe that it is important to understand where the other viewpoint is coming from. The following article actually puts morality into a bigger context for some atheist, and this is a good thing, although it is still an incomplete context.

Here is one quote from the article:

OK, so there are two psychological systems, one about fairness/justice, and one about care and protection of the vulnerable. And if you look at the many books on the evolution of morality, most of them focus exclusively on those two systems, with long discussions of Robert Trivers' reciprocal altruism (to explain fairness) and of kin altruism and/or attachment theory to explain why we don't like to see suffering and often care for people who are not our children.

But if you try to apply this two-foundation morality to the rest of the world, you either fail or you become Procrustes. Most traditional societies care about a lot more than harm/care and fairness/justice. Why do so many societies care deeply and morally about menstruation, food taboos, sexuality, and respect for elders and the Gods? You can't just dismiss this stuff as social convention. If you want to describe human morality, rather than the morality of educated Western academics, you've got to include the Durkheimian view that morality is in large part about binding people together. (Jonathan Haidt, MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION)

The article also has some criticism of Dawkins that is interesting and the author himself is an atheist.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Serving is a Supreme Art

My wife and I love the movie, Life is Beautiful. I think it contains a host of truths. Here is just one example.

At the end the uncle says “God is the first servant. God serves men, but he’s not a servant to men!”

This reminds me of the passage...

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

The world values power and not the servant. The truth is, you find the servant and you find the power.

Theater of the Word, Inc

This theater group looks interesting Theater of the Word, Inc. I have no personal experience but it looks like something that would fit into indirect apologetics. Hat tip to my mom who gave me a pamphlet with the info.

By the way, if you come across anything that applies to indirect apologetics, send it to me. If it's good I will put it on my blog. You can e-mail me at following with no spaces: cure of ars @hotmail.com

Apologetics: damned if you do...damned if you don’t

The studies in this article entitled Persistence of Myths has a lot of implications in regards to apologetics. It explains that by stating a faulty view, to correct it, you end up reinforcing it. This is because the more someone hears an idea the more it sounds true. The article then gives the following of how to counter this.

Mayo found that rather than deny a false claim, it is better to make a completely new assertion that makes no reference to the original myth. Rather than say, as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) recently did during a marathon congressional debate, that "Saddam Hussein did not attack the United States; Osama bin Laden did," Mayo said it would be better to say something like, "Osama bin Laden was the only person responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks" -- and not mention Hussein at all.

But sometimes it is not the best policy to ignore a faulty view.

Another recent study found that when accusations or assertions are met with silence, they are more likely to feel true, said Peter Kim, an organizational psychologist at the University of Southern California. He published his study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

So basically we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I would give examples based on anti-Catholic falsities but I don't want to reinforce them. I recommend reading the whole article to get the details.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Bias of Certain Doubters

I want to start with a question: why are atheistic philosophers so much more certain of their beliefs than theistic philosophers are? (N. B.: I’m talking here just of atheistic and theistic philosophers – not the man in the street.)
Mr. Gressis then goes on to give some good answers to this question. See the above link to read his answers. Below are some of my answers that I gave in the comments section. I like to get in over my head with people who are smarter than myself. Gives me an opportunity to learn and gain some humility.

I think one explanation is that philosophers, both theist and atheist, are a part of post modern academic culture and its biases.

1 People who are good at something tend to view it as the end all and be all. Post modern culture is good at science and technology, everything else is secondary. (Science can’t know God, therefor God is secondary and more likely not to exist.)

2. Our culture does not like uncertainty. We see ourselves as too smart for uncertainty. Science will sooner or later find all the answers and it is just a matter of time. Things of faith are uncertain and it requires the leap of faith. (Faith, viewed in this context is not a strength but a weakness.)

3. Progress (more like change) is viewed as the ultimate end. New things are good and old things are bad.. (Religion is old and therefore bad.)

4. Our culture looks for a truth to serve us and not a truth to serve (Jacques Maritain said something like this in a different context). (If there was a God it would demand that I serve him and not the other way around and this is not what we are wanting)

5. Left brain is valued more then right brain things. (God is not just rational but relational. Our culture is not comfortable with this and try to restrict it to our personal lives. It like we are autistic in some ways.)

All these cultural tendencies bias philosophers away from theism.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Matrix Maxim

I was watching The Matrix and that cool Latin maxim Temet Nosce (or Nosce te ipsu) came up. It means, “know thyself”. I figured that this sounded wise so I decide to get scientific about it. I went down, forked out a few bucks and got a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan of my brain. So here I am........in all my glory. I am a little embarrassed to be so exposed. The ladies out there must admit that my brain configuration is breathtaking. I think this will be the wave of the future in online dating. Why go through all the hassles of dating when you can just know someone with a PET scan. This is going to revolutionize online dating.

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

There are times when focusing on one part of the data means that you know less about other parts of the data. For example the more object knowledge we have the less subject knowledge we have, the more analysis the less syntheses, the more quality the less quantity. To know me, is not to know an object, I am a subject. There is a part of me that transcends the physical world.

Strength To Doubt Or Believe

A new book of her letters, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light," published by Doubleday, show her struggling for decades against disbelief. "If I ever become a saint," she wrote in one letter, "I will surely be one of `darkness.' " ... "I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe," wrote Flannery O'Connor, the Roman Catholic author whose stories traverse the landscape of 20th-century unbelief. "What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe."

(Robin Hanson)Being proud of having the strength to resist religion in the face of social pressure is just as biased as being proud of having the strength to resist doubt in order to retain religion. Not everything is about your strength! Your beliefs should reflect the world out there, and not just inner qualities you want to show off. I will be proud of you if you can find the strength or weakeness, as the occasion demands, to just believe whatever the evidence supports. Link

(Cure of Ars)This assumes that we have enough evidence to make a conclusion. If you don’t know if you have enough evidence then other considerations should also weigh in. There can be virtue in perseverance, even in the face of doubt, if the possible pay off is high enough. No Guts No Glory

(Robin Hanson)Cure, we always have enough evidence to choose an intermediate state of uncertainty; you should choose the state of uncertainty that best corresponds to your evidence. I see no glory in adopting stronger beliefs than your evidence can justify.

(Cure of Ars)Sometimes we don’t have the luxury to choose uncertainty. To live a fully human life demands adopting stronger beliefs than the “evidence can justify”. You can try to fit your life into the tiny box of science but to me that is no way to live. It leaves no room for glory.

Making uncertainty home base is, in my view, escapism. It is to focus on the small questions at the exclusion of the big questions. With the only motive being that we can be certain in regards to the small questions. The big questions are really the question about meaning. What I am looking for is not a truth to serve me, but a truth that I can serve. Without finding a truth to serve there is no opportunity for heroism and glory. Mother Teresa found this truth to serve and persevered with heroism and glory. She gives witness to something that a lot of people don’t have and this bothers some people.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We’re no slaves to our senses

The fundamental mistake that Frith makes – and this is a common error – is to believe that agency or free will are products only of the human brain. The brain is necessary but it is not sufficient, and chasing agency into the brain will only yield disappointment or, in this case, a sense that agency is illusory. If agency is not merely a product of ordinary brains, then it follows that abnormal brains might not be the whole or only answer when there are psychiatric problems and delusions of agency such as in schizophrenia.

To his tremendous credit, Frith is ready to push neuroscience past the hype that can be generated by a pretty picture and into a deeper understanding of what makes mental function. For that alone, Making up the Mind should be read by anyone interested in understanding contemporary neuroscience. The idea, however, that the brain constructs the mind is incomplete, and the quicker we realise that, the quicker we will make progress in understanding both normal and abnormal minds. (Stuart Derbyshire, We’re no slaves to our senses)

Arrested Development - Tennessee

Lord I've really been real stressed
Down and out, losin ground
Although I am black and proud
Problems got me pessimistic
Brothers and sisters keep messin up
Why does it have to be so damn tuff?
I don't know where I can go
To let these ghosts out of my skull
My grandmas past, my brothers gone
I never at once felt so alone
I know you're supposed to be my steering wheel
Not just my spare tire (home)
But lord I ask you (home)
To be my guiding force and the truth (home)

The Natural Origins of the All Male Priesthood

The tradeoff approach yields a radical theory of gender equality. Men and women may be different, but each advantage may be linked to a disadvantage.

Hence whenever you hear a report that one gender is better at something, stop and consider why this is likely true — and what the opposite trait might be good for. LINK

This article written by Roy F. Baumeister is from a secular evolutionary perspective but I think it has a lot of truth to it. It lays the foundation for the natural basis of why the Catholic Church has institutionalized an all male priesthood. There is too much good stuff to quote so I will just let you read it and draw the connections yourself. I highly remcommend reading the article.

This is the authors conclusion of a male lead society...

Again, I’m not saying it’s right, or fair, or proper. But it has worked. The cultures that have succeeded have used this formula, and that is one reason that they have succeeded instead of their rivals.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

W.H. Auden - Funeral Blues

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

This poem does not really come to Christian conclusions. It does show some truth though. Death does not come naturally to us. It is something that we are all going to have to face. It is an edge that can inspire a leap of faith or despair.

Lessons from World of Warcraft

I have spent a lot of time playing the game World of Warcraft. One of the lessons this game has taught me is that human created meaning doesn’t amount to much if it is not grounded in a higher reality. I was all into the game, emotionally attached to the characters, struggles, and accomplishments. But the truth is that even though I assigned meaning to the game ultimately the game was meaningless. It was not grounded into a higher reality. Without God to ground the meaning of our human experience, life is just a large game of World of Warcraft but on a different scale.

Without God there is no hope for humanity and this is one reason why I choose to believe. This may not be the best, most altruistic reason to believe. But it is certainly a reason.


Here is a poem read by Argent over at the Here There Are Lions

It is a poem by William Shakespeare

I'm excited to see what she reads next.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

These Truths are Self Evident

I remember as a kid my father getting into a discussion about something religious with my uncle. I don’t even remember what the topic was. I do remember that they ended up agreeing to disagree. A couple of weeks letter my dad got a letter from my uncle. The letter was almost completely composed of Bible quotes. My uncle did not give any explanation for the quotes. Just that they had to do with their discussion. Reading over the quotes my dad had no clue what they had to do with the discussion. To my uncle, the quotes were self evident.

I think recently my blog has been a lot like this. I have posted cool things, but I have neglected to explain how they are related to apologetics. I am going to try to go back and remedy this. I am going to also continue to add new stuff at the same time.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The blob

Some personal truths can change or evolve but they do not have to apply to everyone.

I would agree that there is an element to morality that depends on the individual and her/his situation. There are three parts to morality. There is the intent of an action, the subjective situation, and the universal natural law. An action has to be good in all three areas for an action to be good. For example, I can do an action that is good according to the subjective situation and the natural law but with a bad intention, the act would be immoral. It seems to me that you are making all of morality fit into the subjective situation and the intention but your leaving out the universal natural law.

Natural universal Law is the one that trips everyone up. Though it is easy for one to recognize what a creator has created something for, many people tend to place an opinion on what is Natural as “good” or “right” and what is Unnatural as “wrong” or “bad”. The first thing I would suggest to someone, is to get out from under these judgments. Nature, by design, does not judge, it just has a responsibility to perform. Humans can hack some Natural Laws (we’re getting quite good at it). But instead of realizing that some Natural Laws inherently give room for such tampering and experimenting, some people feel that this is wrong and feelings are indeed subjective.

I agree that nature does not judge but there sure are consequence if you break natural law. You really can’t break natural law, you just end up breaking yourself on it. But there is room for our behavior because life is not all black and white.

Let me give an example using the three areas of morality that I gave in my past post. Lets say that someone breaks into my home and tries to hurt my children and wife. The natural law says that it is wrong to murder someone. It is also wrong to have the intent to do someone harm. But there is the subjective situation. In this situation it would be good to defend my wife and children. My intent is really not to hurt the person but my intention is to protect my family. If I end up killing the man who is trying to hurt my family, due to the principle of double effect, I would not be breaking the natural law. I did not murder the man; he died as a result of my defense of my family. I agree that this gets complicate but it is necessary when trying to be moral. Sometimes we are really unable to see the ultimate right path and we just have to choose the best we can.

Now if we say, “to hell with the natural law” you end up with a blob of a moral system. It would be like a human body without bones. There is nothing solid to support justice and goodness. The options are not an all rigid system, which your suggesting natural law is, verses a all subjective blob of a system with nothing solid to support anything. The human body has bones to support but there are also joints that allow the system flexibility. The same is true with morality. Because of this there is room for experimentation at times.

An important question that show the problem with the relative moral system was in my last post. Without an objective natural law, what high ground do you have to tell someone that they are being immoral? What Martin Luther King Jr. did for the U.S. would not have been possible without him pointing to the natural law. Or does might make right. Meaning the powerful get to determine what is right and wrong.

Notre Dame Football: Knute Rockne

... And that inner strength is what Notre Dame and the legend of Rockne are all about. You know, so much is said about Rockne's influence on his ballplayers, but actually he liked to talk about their influence on him. In his autobiography, he described his inability to sleep one night before a big game. So, he was up early in the lobby and saw 2 of his boys come down the stairs and go out, and then others came and followed them. And though he had a pretty good idea of what was going on, he decided to follow along. ``They didn't realize it,'' he said in his diary, ``but these youngsters were making a powerful impression on me.'' And he said, ``When I saw them walking up to the Communion rail to receive and realized the hours of sleep they had sacrificed, I understood what a powerful ally their religion was to them in their work on the football field.''

And after Rockne found -- here at Notre Dame -- his own religious faith, a friend of his at the University of Maryland asked him if he minded telling him about it. ``Why should I mind telling you?'' he said. ``You know all this hurry and battling we're going through is just an expression of our inner selves striving for something else. The way I look at it is that we're all here to try and find, each in his own way, the best road to our ultimate goal. I believe I've found my way, and I shall travel it to the end.'' And travel it to the end he did. And when they found him in the Kansas cornfield where the plane had gone down, they also found next to him a prayer book and at his fingertips the rosary of Notre Dame, the rosary of Our Lady. Someone put it so well at the time: Knute Rockne did more spiritual good than a thousand preachers. His career was a sermon in right living. Link

I got this information from the Blog Pro Familia

Here is his famous Locker Room Speech

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

This post gives a personal answer to how God comes to us and opens greater meaning in our lives. See Avery Cardinal Dulles quote on testimony.

Jane Austen

Austen was not an unthinking defender of traditional social order. Not uncommonly, her heroines are upwardly mobile, particularly through the agency of matrimony. Yet she sensed the corrosive effects of individualism, and her uncanny intelligence and attention to the details of social surface enabled her to give us one of literature's sharpest portraits of this emerging reality. That she also recognized the absence and failure of the Church in combating this decay makes her a public theologian to reckon with. Link

My mom and sisters are big Jane Austen fans and I think they would be interested in this article.

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

Secular society and some denomination put extreme focus on the individual at the exclusion of all else. As a Catholic it is not just me and Jesus but we and Jesus. The Catholic Faith is a family with the saints as our elder brothers and sisters. In many ways Jane Austen was exposing some of the problems with individualism. Or at least this is what the author is arguing.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Waking Life: The Holy Moment

Talking religion can sound cheesy, especially in our culture. It seems that most people need a few drinks before they can get past that. It’s strange how the cartoon element of this video makes it less cheesy and bypasses our cultural resistance.

I also like the element of someone watching a movie that talks about layers in a movie with a layer of cartoon paint over real video.

This video defiantly communicates the idea of being in awe with existence.

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

This clip shows that if you believe that there is a transcendent meaning to reality then life has a mystical quality. The ordinary is no longer simply ordinary.

Greatest Catholic Quotes of All Time (Almost)

Greatest Catholic Quotes of All Time (Almost)

How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

These quotes show that the Catholic faith has a long tradition that spans from the time of Christ tell now. It also shows some of the wisdom that the Catholic faith has.

Poem lyrics of Hymn by Edgar Allan Poe

At morn - at noon - at twilight dim -
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe - in good and ill -
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my Future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine! Link
How is this related to Catholic Apologetics?

It’s a beautiful poem that portrays how special Mary is. It shows that all generations shall call her blessed. It also doesn’t hurt that it was written by Edgar Allan Poe.

From ‘Christian Evidences’ - Robert Hugh Benson

NOW God forbid that Faith be blind assent,
Grasping what others know; else Faith were nought
But learning, as of some far continent
Which others sought,
And carried thence, better the tale to teach,
Pebbles and sheels, poor fragments of the beach.

Now God forbid that Faith be built on dates,
Cursive or uncial letters, scribe or gloss,
What one conjectures, proves, or demonstrates:
This were the loss
Of all to which God bids that man aspire,
This were the death of life, quenching of fire.

Nay, but with Faith I see. Not even Hope,
Her glorious sister, stands so high as she.
For this but stands expectant on the slope
That leads where He
Her source and consummation sets His seat,
Where Faith dwells always to caress His Feet.

Nay, but with Faith I saw my Lord and God
Walk in the fragrant garden yesterday.
Ah! how the thrushes sang; and, where He trod
Like spikenard lay
Jewels of dew, fresh-fallen from the sky,
While all the lawn rang round with melody.

Nay, but with Faith I marked my Saviour go,
One August noonday, down the stifling street
That reeked with filth and man; marked from Him flow
Radiance so sweet,
The man ceased cursing, laughter lit the child,
The woman hoped again, as Jesus smiled.

Nay, but with Faith I sought my Lord last night,
And found Him shining where the lamp was dim;
The shadowy altar glimmered, height on height,
A throne for Him:
Seen as through lattice work His gracious Face
Looked forth on me and filled the dark with grace.

Nay then, if proof and tortured argument
Content thee—teach thee that the Lord is there,
Or risen again; I pray thee be content,
But leave me here
With eye unsealed by any proof of thine,
With eye unsealed to know the Lord is mine. Link