Thursday, May 28, 2009

Andy McKee - Into the Ocean

I hope to create a life that is as beautiful to God as McKee's performance of this song is to me.

Literary Gaming

Dante's comedy goes pop...

Yes, in 2010, as the frankly mad-looking trailer for Dante’s Inferno has it, you too will be able to “Go to Hell”.

Anyone expecting a faithful interactive representation of the Commedia’s sorrow and pity will be somewhat taken aback. Made by the developers of last year’s outer-space zombie shooter Dead Space, the game recasts Dante as a muscle-bound anti-hero, carving his way through the Nine Circles with a scythe and a cross to liberate his girlfriend from Lucifer.

As he lies around, “punishing” or “absolving” the damned souls surrounding him, the disembodied voice of Virgil provides instructive quotations from the poem. The creators have even promised to recreate the topography of the Inferno, an uncannily good fit for the levels of a computer game. In short, it sounds like amazingly good fun. Tim Martin

Meaningful Work

This article really struck a cord with me.

A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.

Nor can big business or big government — those idols of the right and the left — reliably secure such work for us. Everyone is rightly concerned about economic growth on the one hand or unemployment and wages on the other, but the character of work doesn’t figure much in political debate. Labor unions address important concerns like workplace safety and family leave, and management looks for greater efficiency, but on the nature of the job itself, the dominant political and economic paradigms are mute. Yet work forms us, and deforms us, with broad public consequences.Matthew B. Crawford

Emotion and Rationality

Here is a quote in regards to an error in the economic understanding of rationality.

The word "emotional" has overtones of irrationality, but actually emotion is at once a form of telescoped thinking (it is not irrational to step around an open manhole "instinctively" without first analyzing the costs and benefits of falling into it) and a prompt to action that often, as in the case of investment under uncertainty, cannot be based on complete or even good information and is therefore unavoidably a shot in the dark. We could not survive if we were afraid to act in the face of uncertainty. Richard A. Posner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Washed Away

Some more old school for ya...

Money Quote...

Why we let them wash it away ?
Why are we allowing them to take what's good ?
why don't we teach our children
what's real ?
Why don't we collect and save what is real ?

Theology and Science Fiction

This is what I refer to when my wife complains about me watching Star Trek season 1 on Netflex.

Outgrowing God is indeed a favorite theme of science fiction and fantasy. Evolution/technology/aliens/time travelers from the future/computers/what-not are always just about to prove that God does not exist, life after death is a fantasy, the soul is a function of matter, man is but a sophisticated meat machine, Jesus never existed, etc. And yet the astonishing thing is that science fiction and fantasy are absolutely awash in theological speculation. Lots of it is pagan, in the Chestertonian sense. That is, it is an attempt to reach God through the imagination, hampered by the inability to conceive of something truly outside the created world. The result is a sort of quasi-supernaturalism that acknowledges planes of existence beyond the human, but refuses to entertain the notion of angels and demons.
Mark Shea

HT The Sci Fi Catholic

Law, Economics, and Justice

An interesting study...

The bottom line: students taught by economically-minded professors were both more selfish and more likely to see fairness as a form of kaldor-hicks efficiency. By contrast, students taught by humanists were more generous and also likely to see fairness as a matter of equity. Dave Hoffman

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Star Trek Gospels

Since the new Star Trek movie is out I thought that I would post this quote.

When I think of Luke, I think of the Dr. "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek. He seems like your archetypical family doctor: down-to-earth, sensitive, compassionate, and thoroughly human. Matthew and his Gospel seem more kingly, like Captain Kirk. John and his Gospel seem more prophetic and philosophical and mystical, like Mr. Spock. But Luke seems more priestly and more doctorly, like "Bones" McCoy. Matthew emphasizes morality and the will. John emphasizes wisdom and the mind. Luke emphasizes compassion and the feelings. To complete the Star Trek analogy, Mark is the practical engineer Scotty. Peter Kreeft

I have also seen the Star Trek characters connected to the Myer-Briggs personality types. I wounder if this fits with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's personality?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Equality, Sanctity of Life, and Atheism

To understand Singer, it's helpful to contrast him with "New Atheists" like Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. The New Atheists say we can get rid of God but preserve morality. They insist that no one needs God in order to be good; atheists can act no less virtuously than Christians. (And indeed, some atheists do put Christians to shame.) Even while repudiating the Christian God, Dawkins has publicly called himself a "cultural Christian."

But this position creates a problem outlined more than a century ago by the atheist philosopher Nietzsche. The death of God, Nietzsche argued, means that all the Christian values that have shaped the West rest on a mythical foundation. One may, out of habit, continue to live according to these values for a while. Over time, however, the values will decay, and if they are not replaced by new values, man will truly have to face the prospect of nihilism, what Nietzsche termed "the abyss."

Nietzsche's argument is illustrated in considering two of the central principles of Western civilization: "All men are created equal" and "Human life is precious." Nietzsche attributes both ideas to Christianity. It is because we are created equal and in the image of God that our lives have moral worth and that we share the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nietzsche's warning was that none of these values make sense without the background moral framework against which they were formulated. A post-Christian West, he argued, must go back to the ethical drawing board and reconsider its most cherished values, which include its traditional belief in the equal dignity of every human life.

What they haven't considered, however, is whether Singer, virtually alone among their numbers, is uncompromisingly working out the implications of living in a truly secular society, one completely purged of Christian and transcendental foundations.

Singer resolutely takes up a Nietzschean call for a "transvaluation of values," with a full awareness of the radical implications. DINESH D'SOUZA

Problem With Neurotheology

Here is a quote but read the full article to the point.

Skeptics used to argue that anyone with half a brain should realize there is no God. Now scientists are telling us that one half of the brain, or a portion thereof, is "wired" for religious experiences. But whether this evolving "neurotheology" is theology at all is doubtful. It tells us new things about the circuits of the brain, perhaps, but nothing new about God. Kenneth L. Woodward

Quantum Phenomena

Read the whole article but this is some amazing stuff...

Stranger still is entanglement. When two photons get "entangled" they behave like a joint entity. Even when they're miles apart, if the spin of one particle is changed, the spin of the other instantly changes, too. This direct influence of one object on another distant one is called non-locality.

These peculiar properties have already been proven in a lab and tapped to improve data encryption. They could also one day be used to build much faster computers. Some philosophers see quantum phenomena as a sign of far greater unknown forces at work and it bolsters their view that a spiritual dimension exists. GAUTAM NAIK

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

"It's realer than real, for real, for real"

De La Soul is one of my all time favorite hip hop groups.

Money Quote:

Or the chalk might outline ya one day
You oughta try steppin' outside you one day
You circle round yourself like you the answer
To the question of your inner son
But keep ya falsehoods to a minimum

Rest of the lyrics here

"pointers to God"

Collins says belief is ultimately a matter of faith—that God's existence can't, in the end, be proved by science. And yet he sees plenty of "pointers to God," natural phenomena that imply the existence of a biblical God. Here are Collins's "pointers":

  • There is something instead of nothing.
  • The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics, which make simple and beautiful laws.
  • The Big Bang: out of nothingness, the universe came into being. That cries out for explanation, since we have not observed nature to create itself . . . it causes us to postulate a creator, and the creator must be outside of time or you haven't solved the problem.
  • The precise tuning of the physical constants in the universe. If gravity was a little weaker, things would all start flying a part. You can see a creator in these constants. Francis Collins

The Deadliest Catch

The wife and I have been watching The Deadliest Catch to wind down the day. The series has gotten the two thumbs up. What makes the show fascinating is the type of people that have a calling to that kind of work. These fishermen are somehow able to give up control to the ocean. They are not normal. They work days with only a few hours sleep. They are constantly exhausted moving 800 lb cages in and out of the water. One false move and they are in the ocean with a high likelihood of death. You don’t last long in the cold water and survival highly depends on how well they work together. They do all this just to make a living. It takes a certain type of person to be able to thrive in that kind of environment and it shapes them all in very similar ways although I really can’t put my finger on how. I guess you can say that they are the salt of the earth type people.

I think by watching the show you can get a feel for what Peter and Andrew must have been like before they dropped their nets to follow Jesus. It also give some great insights into the metaphor of the bark of Peter. The ocean gives and it takes away. Maybe in some ways these men are more in touch with reality because the stakes are so high and they know that they are not in control, the ocean is.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rembrandt's Jewish Bride

(Click on Image)
She is weighing up the responsibilities of loving and being loved, of receiving and of giving. It is not by chance that her other hand rests upon her womb, since children are the ultimate responsibility of married love.

Love binds, love weighs, love is the most serious experiences that we can ever know in our life. It is Rembrandt's awareness of this profound truth, and the glorious visual beauty with which he makes it accessible to us, that makes the "Jewish Bride" so unforgettable. Sister Wendy Beckett

Prolife Movement Weakness

In the Biblical story of David and Goliath, David initially put on a coat of mail and a brass helmet and girded himself with a sword: he prepared to wage a conventional battle of swords against Goliath. But then he stopped. “I cannot walk in these, for I am unused to it,” he said (in Robert Alter’s translation), and picked up those five smooth stones. What happened, Arreguín-Toft wondered, when the underdogs likewise acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? He went back and re-analyzed his data. In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win, Arreguín-Toft concluded, “even when everything we think we know about power says they shouldn’t.Malcolm Gladwell

The prolife movement is in the underdog position. As such it needs to acknowledge its weakness and chose an unconventional [indirect] strategy. The weaknesses as I see them and a quick answer….

  1. It makes us uncomfortable to make others uncomfortable. (blessed are those that mourn)
  2. We don’t want to look intolerant. (blessed are the meek)
  3. We don't want to be judgmental. (blessed those who hunger and seek righteousness)
  4. We don’t want to make people face hard realities and give up potential goals and resources. (blessed are the poor)
  5. We fall for the compartmentalization of separation of Christian ethics from government. (blessed are the pure of heart)
  6. We don’t like to fight. (blessed are the peacemaker)
  7. We don’t want to further hurt those who have had abortions. (blessed are the merciful)
  8. We don’t want to be hated. (blessed are persecuted for seeking righteousness for my sake)

The unconventional strategy should be to follow Jesus in the beatitudes without hesitation.

Divine Freedom

Friday, May 01, 2009

"So What'cha Want"

I'm feeling a little old school. Here is the money quote...

Let it flow like a mudslide
A when I get on I like to ride and glide
I've got depth of perception in my text y'all
I get props at my mention 'cause I vex y'all

So what'cha what'cha what'cha want (what'cha want?)?
A you're so funny with the money that you flaunt (that'cha flaunt)
Where'd you get your information from huh?
You think that you can front when the revelation comes?

You can't front on that!

Practical Romance

And the key thing is to be held to account for the risks and rewards of the romantic adventure. Chesterton writes: "If I bet I must be made to pay, or there is no poetry in betting. If I challenge I must be made to fight, or there is no poetry in challenging. If I vow to be faithful I must be cursed when I am unfaithful, or there is no fun in vowing. . . . For the purpose even of the wildest romance results must be real; results must be irrevocable." And marriage, he says, is the ultimate example of a real and irrevocable result. (BRAD MINER)

Evolutionary Pantheism

Nevertheless, if we develop Darwin’s insight, we can see the emergence of purpose, as of life itself, by small degrees, not from above, but by small increments, from below. The first purpose was the organization of matter in ways complex enough to sustain and replicate itself—the establishment, in other words, of life, or in still other terms, of problems and solutions. With life emerged the first purpose, the first problem, to preserve at least the improbable complexity already reached, and to find new ways of resisting damage and loss. Brian Boyd

There is a line with evolution where you are no longer doing science and enter the realm of religion. The above quote is more theology than science. The author is constructing a modern creation myth. Anthropomorphising evolution as if it has a master plan to create purpose to solve problems is a lot like saying that gravity wants to keep me connected to the planet.

It is essential to keep theology separate from science. There is a tension between the two points of view that makes it more likely to question. Giving the why questions the same answer as the how questions makes the world one dimensional. If evolution becomes the only reality then there is no need to question. Any question that is asked has the answer of evolution and because of this there is no longer any need to think or question.

Mathematic Agnostic

The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics creates many intriguing puzzles: Does mathematics have an existence entirely independent of the human mind? In other words, are we merely discovering mathematical verities, just as astronomers discover previously unknown galaxies? Or, is mathematics nothing but a human invention? If mathematics indeed exist in some abstract fairyland, what is the relation between this mythical world and physical reality? How does the human brain, with its known limitations, gain access to such an immutable world, outside of space and time? On the other hand, if mathematics is merely a human invention and it has no existence outside our minds, how can we explain the fact that the invention of so many mathematical truths miraculously anticipated questions about the cosmos and human life not even posted until many centuries later? Mario Livio