Category Archives: Religion

Why I Ran From the Atheist Crowd

Really I’m just using this as an excuse to put something out there. And what I am posting is a response to someone on Mr. John C. Wright’s site that answered me 11 days after my comment. I thought my response good enough that I would hate to see it lost in the sands of a retired blog post. Although I had to hold back because I don’t think my interlocutor is well versed in philosophy, history, theology, science, technology, logic or common sense.

First her first parlay was in response to this post

…and she writes:

Did you ever wonder why so many new, innovative, especially high-tech things that you find helpful in your life are created by teams of people who predominantly hold views opposite to yours, and find your views generally distasteful? Go to Google campus, or Amazon, or Intel, pretty much any high-tech producer – do you think you’ll find there mostly conservative crowd? Does it make you give up computers, cell phones, internet? Perhaps the whole “conservative” thing has its downsides?

To which I responded:

Hold it. Are you saying that if you hold, for instance that marriage is between one man and one woman, or that Christ died on the cross for man’s sins, that that man will be too what? Stupid, slow, uncreative, non-innovative to work in high tech, to acheive or excel in such a field? Are you attempting to establish some sort of causal link here or are you blowing gas? And what about that exceptions? Are they the ones that manage to hide their drooling in front of the high-tech lefty hero boss-boy? Or are they, somehow, perhaps miraculously, still able to perform despite their retarded ideas?

I had honestly thought after posting this that I had actually made of error in interpreting what her meaning was. Surely, Bob, you can’t think she would mean something like that? Perhaps she is merely asking why he doesn’t quit these other marvels of modern technology since such sectors are comprised of, she says, leftist and liberals.

I leave aside the fact that just because Jeff Bezos comes out for dumb idea #42 doesn’t mean the entirety of Google is behind dumb idea #42, nor necessarily the majority.

And everyone knows, should know, that businesses and corporations are hardly the test for any sort of stand on any social issue. They follow the breeze. If a majority decided to start putting minority X into ovens for extermination, you would suddenly see a bunch of brand new manufacturers of ovens. Introducing the Google 50,000 BTU Bone-Roaster!

They are no better than politicians – and no different in this regard.

Anyway, turns out I was wrong. My interpretation of her comment was right all along. You religious, you Continue reading

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Graves, Balls and Crosses

Finished Lafferty’s The Elliptical Grave on Tuesday. The whole focus of the book seems to even come at you elliptically – and at the last minute. It wasn’t until the final two chapters that it all came together. Before that I slogged through it for three weeks.

Because I thought there was nothing behind the curtain. Oh, there was something behind the curtain alright. A bet. That was what was behind that curtain. A bet of ultimate consequences.

This is one of those Lafferty books that I find slightly annoying in that, although I will want to reread it anyway, I have to reread it because I am sure I missed 99% of the fruit’s juice. He can throw so much indirection and misdirection at you (to say nothing of the constant word play) it is like coming into a joke at the punchline. You thought you were in a joke or a jest but only opaquely – and then the drum snap and the crowd laughter. Hold on! Back to the beginning.

If Lafferty were instructed to write the plain fact that a cat is on a mat, he’d entertain us for 40 pages and we still wouldn’t have a simple fact, but a multiplicity… a multiplicity that may involve a cat (a feline of some sort at least) and some derivative form of dorsal support. But the cat would have died and resurrected, or simply continued to decompose, or assumed a chair at the Institute for Impure Science and the mat would be constructed by St. Joseph himself (bonus points to whomever can guess the Lafferty reference there).

But once I got the hook. What a story! His stories are like the Spanish Inquisition – no one expects it!

Now to the balls and the crosses.

I was talking to suspected android/writing machine author (or time traveller, or possessor of the 48 hour day) John C. Wright the other day (actually he was talking, me and a few others were listening) about religion in science fiction (talk about an untapped field) and he mentioned G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross.

Few authors will get a pass to the front of the line. G.K. Chesterton is one of the few. I already own and am a HUGE fan of his books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, and I love his Father Brown stories. So when I heard mention this book about a duel (and one supposes debate) between a fledging secular atheist at the dawn of the 20th century and a Christian (I suppose a stand-in for Chesterton himself although I haven’t got that far yet) well, how can one resist that?

Think of it though. That was a new creature (pretty new, anyway) in 1905. Fresh and full of vigor, and full of utopian answers that were yet to kill millions upon millions of people. Although the French had the news.

Over a century before he and his brethren whittled down the edifice of Western Civilization enough where we can start to see the prayer mats our grandchildren will be kneeling – or bleeding – upon.

This should be a fascinating read.


New Acquisition

I’ve become kind of fascinated with the resurrection subject. Seems the most in-depth book I could come across is NT Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God (it’s a nice 740 pages in length as well!). Of course I should seek a case for the prosecution as well. Having a hard time pinning one of those down. And I have a hard time pinning down mature books on either side of the aisle. Seems all too frequent either one is written with the ease expected of an audience that is already on one side of the argument or the other.

Now a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for me to become interested in such a subject. But since I indulged in a philosophy for years from a woman who claimed to have come up with it in her first memory of herself…well, what’s a little resurrection?


FIRST THINGS talks PAST MASTER

The Christian online (online?) magazine FIRST THINGS, talks PAST MASTER, and DEAD LADY OF CLOWN TOWN, MANSIONS IN SPACE, and a few others.

Hey, they got the essential theme right!


How Long? Where are We Going? And When is it Coming?

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount Gustave Dore

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount
Gustave Dore

I am on the Beatitudes in my online catechism class now. I am not sure how long I should spend on such a thing. I could spend a day and answer the questions at the end correctly. I could probably answer the questions correctly without needing to read (or reread as I have read the beatitudes and some commentary on them before) the material. But these are things that men have studied and wrote about and applied to life’s various realities for centuries. When is it enough?

Of course just because you cover a subject once does not mean you cannot cover it again. I didn’t really mind finishing up Christ’s baptism in a day or so. A few points are covered in that event, but it is not essential. The beatitudes are quite important and I am not sure what I gain by a day’s study although it has already been more than that.

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I’m on Tales of Chicago of Lafferty’s Argo tale SPOILERS!!! – But not too badly now. I know the general theme, or at least one of them, of the whole tale as it was in the first book. But as far as narrative flow goes, this is a tough Lafferty read. Meaning I am not sure if all the events are going to be linked and sewn together in the end. We get a little taste of each of the characters and their lives after WWII and the second book follows the other life of a John Solli – Finnigan. He is the focus at the end of the first two books, but those endings are open-ended, they are not concluded, but pick up at a different point of a different life.

The third book, Tales of Chicago, that I am now on, so far hasn’t visited Finnigan at all, and I am not even sure if we will see him again. We have to see him again don’t we?

SPOILER!!! For those that may be reading and have travelled this tale (that would be very small window of people) I believe at least one of the themes is expressed by Mr. X to Abselom Stein at the end of Archipelago. I could be wrong, but the statements he make seem significant enough to be thematic.

writing

I also hope to be posting some writing here in the very near future. Huzzah!


Richard Dawkins Baffled by 99% of Reality

This clip is hilarious. I could also have titled this Stick to Your Profession. Forget about the first part of the clip where they ask a guy if he believes in the story of Lot and he says yes because Jesus believed it (I really don’t know how he knows Jesus believed it – did anyone ever ask Jesus, “Hey, you believe that story about Lot and his daughters and his wife turning to salt?”).

At around 1:48 a Jewish woman to Dawkin’s left tells him, according to her, what the moral of the story is. And Dawkin’s response is so typical of a certain modern mentality who thinks all truth as mere relating of facts.

“Why not just say “Argue about it?” he asks, “Why wrap it up?” Yes, Dawkins, perhaps we should just go through all poetry, all stories, all art through all of time and strip the plain text message out of it and we can dispense with the art itself.

Why write a story about never giving up and keeping your hope in X alive? Why not just say “Don’t give up.” You just saved thousands of words.

All of art, of philosophy, of theology is beyond Dawkin’s ability to comprehend. He does not understand the basic functioning of the human mind. We are not moved by formula, nor by memes (which don’t even exist as he thinks they do) nor by mere plain injunctions.

I used to be a very staunch atheist up until a few years ago. I say staunch, but I was no creature like Dawkins who I find uncouth. But I knew never to argue outside my ken. I would never argue about the crucifixion of Christ knowing almost nothing about it theologically.

As Dawkins does at 2:57. This betrays a staggering lack of sophistication, reading comprehension and/or laziness. Dawkins trick is to always present the religious story from the point of utter ignorance and present that as the truth of the story. If you are going to argue against the story of man’s redemption through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, at least be familiar with the material.

People worship this Dawkins guy like some sort of atheist crusader hero. When I was an atheist, I considered this guy an embarrassment.

The Jewish lady at 5:55 explains why the Bible is not The Cat in the Hat. Dawkins represents the distortion, the temporary oasis from the real hardships of life that a good portion of westerners have been able to enjoy for so long.

Again demonstrating his complete lack of understanding of human nature at 7:25 he asks, “Why bother with the Bible at all when we can go straight to moral philosophy?”

We do not ingest morality from the philosophers. We ingest morality through art. Anybody ever seen a mother blundering through Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics when choosing how to instruct he son on right behavior? Or how about Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals? How about a little Hegel?

9:35 he begins to expound on the Ten Commandments, well, the first few anyway, and then has to have their meaning explained to him. I believe this man’s problem is arrogance. He does not even bother to know his material first. It’s not like this stuff flew off the shelf last Tuesday.

Again, you can disagree with the meaning of the commandments, but you have to get the meaning right first. There are philosophers that have objected to the actual meaning of those commandments. Dawkins, unable to see past his ego, presents his complete lack of comprehension as the challenge.

At 11:05 Dawkins, seeing he is not winning any points goes for the insult to the ancients. See, when I mentioned Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics I forgot to mention that Dawkin’s would not have meant that as moral philosophy. Those people were ignorant. No, what he would mean by moral philosophy would be something that is written within the last twenty years. Something with an eye to science, a bowed knee to science. He is deservedly booed for this remark.

I truly think the man is simply not worth listening to. I think it is simple rabble rousing and ego stroking. Listening to the piece you will here him waver repeatedly between the Bible is terrible, why read it. To he respects is as literature. To it was written by ignorant people so why bother.

The Jewish lady sitting next to him belts him a real good one at 11:50. At 12:35 he lists other people we could listen to such as Confucius and Buddha… eh… what? Did they not also live in the ignorant era? If we’re not going to pay attention to ignorant Jewish scribes, as he puts it, because they lived long ago, why would we listen to other people from just as long ago?

And who says a Jew or a Christian couldn’t get something from Buddha or Confucius? Apparently he’s never heard of Thomas Merton the Trappist monk.

If you want to hear real atheist arguments go read St. Thomas. Dawkins is just a fool. But a fool for the modern mind hence his drone followers.

In exactly the same vein, Neil deGrasse Tyson wants all you bitches to stop saying the poem Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to your kids – cuz that ain’t how the shit works, man. Get on the science train people. You’re going to permanently fuck your child’s brain if you recite that poem to them and not a scientific description to them from an astronomical textbook.

Just kidding. He does sort of say that, but only because I didn’t have the whole context of the interview. I don’t mind Tyson, he keeps his foot out of his mouth pretty well. His commentary on dark matter and the God of the Gaps is spot on.

 


Modern Translations

Last week, during my vacation, I made it over to Alleluia! Catholic Book Store in Kent and bought a little hand held Bible. As I’ve stated before I am turning into a little bit of a collector of Bibles. This one is the NAB translation. I also purchased one of those “read it in a year programs” that breaks down reading voluminous works as the Bible into small, daily pieces. I got as far as Joshua before in the OT (and through Acts in the NT) but life (if it be called) comes in, stirs it around, and three weeks later I’ve lost what I was doing. Companion to reading the Bible in a year in this thingamabob is, parallel, reading the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

So I’m reading Genesis (4:1) in the NAB translation and came across this verse:

The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain,

which, in the past was more commonly, probably universally, worded thusly in the English,

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain,

What is the next translational iteration of this verse?

Adam mounted Eve and ejaculated, and she…

or

Adam fucked Eve…

or

Adam got it on with his bitch… [this would be the hip version, for those that want a little urban mix in their Book]

or

Adam performed the act of coitus on Eve…

The man had intercourse with his wife…

Who did this translation? James Patterson? John Grisham? Such ugly language. I don’t mean offensive, but non-poetic, sterile. The television show The Big Bang Theory commonly has one of its characters refer to sex as “coitus” a clinical word lacking entirely in expression. The show has the character using that word as a joke because he is the type of character that would use such a word to refer to sex (a phenomena the character has not any interest in).

I brought this sort of thing up before when I saw that the expression “… the quick and the dead..” had been rendered “… the living and the dead…” That was the Douay-Rheims translation, and it is shared by most of the others.

But this is even worse. Intercourse is equally a clinical word, sterile in its physical description. It takes the subtly of the old translation away and replaces it with a compound word no poet would use unless under the greatest duress.

So why? Because people don’t understand what “knew” means? Learn. It is quite easy to infer what “knew” meant in the old translations. It is not the case the “knew” was a cover up because it is quite easy to infer as I said.

It seems only the KJV version is, so far, immune to such modern butchery of the language.

I also notice in Matthew 1, the NAB manages to not use the same language,

He had no relations with her until she bore a son,[l] and he named him Jesus.

It has a sort of “Clinton-esque” feel to it, “…I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” I suppose perhaps they thought using the word intercourse in regards to Mary would be in bad taste. I mean, I guess. Why wouldn’t they use the same ugly word as they used for Adam and Eve?

Also note that “relations” does not denote sexual relations specifically, so it is not even a good substitute. Did Joseph also not speak to her? No relations.

 

The KJV uses the term “knew” for both Adam and Eve and Mary and Joseph. One of affirmation of the act, the other denying the act. But it has a consistency of language that the newer translations violate.

 

 


How is it Wrong with God, but Alright Without?

It seems to me that if there is a God who puts an immortal soul into a human being at the moment of conception, intending the resulting person to be born and live a life in “this world,” then abortion is wrong.

I pilfered this quote from a discussion on abortion over at Strange Notions. I don’t participate over there as my days are only 24 hours long while everyone else seems to have upgraded to the 48 hour day.

Here is what I do not get about such an argument. On the one hand one of its unstated premises is: if doesn’t have a soul, you can kill it. Apparently it loses an innate right once deprived of this soul. If the whole of this creature is mortal, then it is licit to kill it. But, if God made a part of us immortal, then it becomes an evil to end its life.

It is one of those “ironic” positions (at least to me) where if I were a creature from a different realm altogether and I learned of this debate, I would be perplexed that those who deny eternal life propose the ending of lives. But those that believe in eternal life hold the killing of the mortal part of life to be a black crime.

I would, coming from another realm, expect the unbeliever to wail out, “no! you’ll end its life forever, you are wiping it out of existence before it even has a chance!” Surely if this life is it, if there is nothing beyond the cessation of organic processes that start at the moment of conception to death, one would (coming from this other realm) expect the unbelievers to react with horror at such a thing.

Instead you see doctors calmly snipping spinal cords and amputating limbs, you see “mothers” calmly putting Friday night behind them as they would the recycling.

You’d expect, again coming from that other realm, the believers to, perhaps, lament such a thing but not have it cause them too much grief. After all, the victims are immortal children of God, not all is lost. It is a tragedy, but not too much. If you took it far enough, coming from that other realm, you could reason that perhaps these young children were being done a favor – they got to go home to their heavenly father that much sooner. Indeed upon looking at much of this Earth that is strange and frightening, full of pain and evil and tragedy, you can’t say for sure whether or not a favor isn’t being done for them.

But then you see that the believers are actually where you expected the unbelievers to be. They, that believe in the ultimate transitory nature of this life and the eternity of the next, they are the ones bewailing the black evil of this deed.

Now, I did snip this comment out of its entire context, but it does illustrate the base set. No God, no immortal soul – why not? How does it become right sans God and an immortal soul? Where comes the right and dignity of man if it is bestowed on us as a litmus test, a state of function to get to and maintain (by death’s grip lest they pull your plug) and not from our existence in a certain class? Where comes it if it’s bestowed by the State as such an argument must reduce to?

You see, it makes perfect sense to me that it should be twice the evil in an atheist light. But when I say Man, and they say Man, I don’t think we are talking about the same referent. I don’t think the modern atheist (and I am not merely picking on atheists because I think modern man in general is affected by the same mental parasite) means anything more significant than a chicken when he’s having this conversation – perhaps less than a chicken – perhaps an egg – unless, of course, it becomes about his life, then the false abstraction would break.


Upgrade

verbum-foundation

I got a cool offer to upgrade my Verbum software from version 5 to 6 for really cheap (comparatively). Not only is the software an upgrade but they bumped me up from Basic to Foundations. It comes with a bunch of material not available in Basic.

I got 3 additional Bibles, a host of Greek Interlinears (if only I could read Greek), the Clementine Vulgate (which I just bought hardcopy last week), 11 harmony and parallel books, 6 additional Biblical commentaries, (I noticed with version 6 they took Catena Aurea off Basic and onto Foundations so I gained nothing there), 3 more patristic period pieces, 9 additional books on medieval  theology.

Deep breath.

Eighteen more modern theology books including Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Cardinal Newman that I almost bought at the bookstore the other day. Seven more books on biblical study, 13 more books on spirituality (some good ones too), a couple more apologetic specimens (although I don’t usually read apologetics) the church documents I don’t care so much about since that is all available online (but in the program they link to a bunch of other stuff via searches, etc) the reference material is too much to even mention but you can find it here.

It also sports 27 different research tools whereas the Basic had 8 or so. I don’t even know what some of these tools even mean. It also comes with videos by Catholic Answers (a radio/video show) which can be lively and entertaining (and it cuts out the meandering questions by the call-ins and gets to the point) and videos by Father Barron (I’ve seen most of those though).

The only disappointment with the upgrade is the lack of history books. With Foundations you get one history book. I like to have a bunch of different histories. Of course, one could argue, these would all be pretty conforming to a “Catholic” narrative. I would agree, but there is also the Protestant narrative. There is the modern narrative that says fighting the Crusades was wrong (I strongly disagree!). There is the Gibbon narrative, Christians brought down Rome. There are all kinds of “narratives” and I haven’t heard the Catholic one yet. And I think I have a pretty neutral source in Durant’s works. Plus, being a natural sceptic (and a bartender to boot!) I tend to check things through pretty clearly.

One pet peeve of mine is some people will hear some item of knowledge, so-called, and then go parroting it around as fact. In the ear, out the mouth, no processing in-between. I say so-called knowledge because if you haven’t processed it, cross-checked it, thought on it, I don’t consider it knowledge anymore than getting a parrot to say “the sky is blue!” is expressing the parrot’s knowledge.

The only drawback to the software as a whole is – who has the time (outside of a seminarian or monk) to make use of 1/4 of the material and resources? I did the upgrade, but if I used 5% of Basic I’d be surprised.


A Couple New Acquisitions / And an Unusual Rant!

TFB

[Heh, I slipped into a rant against mega-churches and prosperity gospel, but I quite enjoyed myself and am leaving it!]

I have had the digital copy for this for a couple of months and I have read the first couple of chapters. The problem was I find it really hard to study in the digital format. Nothing beats being able to shuffle quickly between pages. I also have his more advanced Theology and Sanity. I read a couple of chapters of that last year but felt I needed a primer first. I was really impressed with the scope of his thought, the logical clarity of it.

It was not what passes for “theology” nowadays

joel-osteen

You can get Tony Robbins

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for that and skip the God stuff if you are going to do something about getting that good life NOW that you know you deserve because… you know… you’re you… and you’re special because… you’re you…cuz’… ah hell, maybe your mother told you you were special, but maybe Dr. Spock Continue reading