Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Takes on a Common Theme

The first, from the ever cogent Mike Flynn, writing in response to this:

A physicist named Victor Stenger seems willing to contribute to the mounting pile of evidence that those trained in the metrical properties of physical bodies can't do metaphysics for dog barf. We will try to accommodate him.

Yes, it's the auld God-does-not-exist-and-I-can-prove-it foolishness through *Science!*

Believe it or don't believe it, sez I; but don't believe you don't have to believe it.

Like many narrowly trained, he extends his own tool kit into domains of discourse for which it is not suited, much like a plumber who comes to counsel your teenager on his anxieties. In particular, terms are always to be understood in the casual ways in which he understands them. Dr. Stenger would not tolerate this sort of thing if the subject were physics. "Dark Matter? Well, dark means it's not lit up, so if we shine a light on it, we should see it." This would induce a similar eye-rolling to some of the usages in the essay.

But in any case, said essay provides a number of tasty tidbits for our intellectual noshing.

A. Absence.

Lets start with his title: Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence. Apparently, he believes that believers believe this as an explanation for "why there is no scientific evidence of God." (Hey. It couldn't possibly be because God is not a physical body and his existence is not a metrical property. Could it?)

Later, Flynn writes:

The notion that the God supposed by the Christians wrote his "plan" down as a set of instructions, rolled them up and stuck them inside the ur-block, that these instructions must be physical, and so that there is no "room" for "God's Plan" in the initial universe simply misses the point. The God of the Christians is not "in" the universe any more than Shakespeare is "in" Hamlet.

The second, from a new blog called BadCatholic:

The most laughable statement I've heard from atheists - and that includes their origin-of-the-universe theories - is that religion is an opiate, a crutch, a delusion created by a bunch of saps looking for something to hope for, a celestial pie-in-the-sky. To this idiocy I can only offer a short transcript that, for good reasons, was never found by anyone, ever.

Caveman 1: Bro, these mammoths are frightening, and I don't know why it rains.
Caveman 2: Yeah, sounds like we need some supernatural explanation for natural phenomena for which we are not yet advanced enough to understand.
Caveman 1: Right. So we'll need a god...
Caveman 2: Nice.
Caveman 1: And let's have no adultery with beautiful women...
Caveman 2: Uh-
Caveman 1: And in with the concept of eternal, unimaginable torment-
Caveman 2: Slow down-
Caveman 1: And moral obligations, and no more of this survival of the fittest. We'll not be able to lie, or steal, or cheat, or masturbate-
Caveman 2: Are you sure you-
Caveman 1: Or eat too much, or drink too much, or be lazy, or be prideful...

And the third:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Why I Can't Make Mom Friends"

As someone with strong opinions on parenting — and knowing some folks with comparatively much stronger opinions on parenting — I found this way funny.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life Imitating Art


...reminds me of this (from around 5:03 to 5:38).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Protest the Pope" = Epic Fail

The Daily Telegraph's Damian Thompson:

Consider the failure of the “Protest the Pope” stunt yesterday. On a sunny afternoon, in a city of 10 million people, a crowd of fewer than 10,000 protestors followed the anti-Catholic bandwagon. Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Stephen Fry et al may regard that as a good result, but if (at most) one Londoner in a thousand takes to the streets to register disapproval at the use of their taxes to host the Pope, then I’d say the secularists have misjudged the public mood, wouldn’t you? And look at what a thin demographic sliver of the population they represented: mostly white, middle-class, metropolitan. (Needless to say, none of them could be bothered to make the trek up to Birmingham: the Pope may be the atheists’ Antichrist, but you mustn’t let your principles get in the way of a lazy Sunday morning cappuccino.)

Compare the protestors to the Catholics in Hyde Park: old Polish ladies, tweedy gents from the shires, African hospital cleaners, self-consciously cool teenagers, Filipino checkout assistants and, as one of my friends put it, “some rather tarty-looking traveller women who’d obviously had a glass or two”. They don’t call it the Catholic Church for nothing: if not a universal cross-section of humanity, it was a damn sight closer to it than the humanist smugfest.

Reading this, I couldn't help but recall Oscar Wilde's quip that the Catholic Church is "for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do."

Monday, September 20, 2010


If you are not yet a friend of mine on Facebook — or, if you are, but happened to miss the announcement last week — then you probably haven't yet heard:

Jocelyn and I are expecting our sixth child in April!

Prayers, as always, are much appreciated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Can Help the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, Part II

I mentioned last month that my beloved wife Jocelyn was training for a half marathon and was seeking pledges on behalf of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Black Canyon, Arizona.

I'm proud to say that Jocelyn finished the race with a time of 2:14:29. But more importantly, she raised over $800 in pledges!

Thanks to all of you who donated!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Pope, St. Hildegard, and Authentic Supernatural Gifts

Starting last week, and continuing this week, Pope Benedict XVI focused in his Wednesday audience on what he referred to as the "Exemplary Ministry of Authority" of the ever fascinating St. Hildegard of Bingen (whose story, like that of so many others, really throws a spanner in the works of the tired old narrative that the medieval Catholic Church was oppressive to women or something).

Anyhow, what particularly caught my attention were these words from the Pope's address last week:

The sign of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, the source of all charisms, is that the individual possessing supernatural gifts never boasts of them, never shows them off and, above all, demonstrates complete obedience to ecclesiastical authority. All gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit are, in fact, intended for the edification of the Church and it is the Church, through her pastors, who recognises their authenticity.

The converse, of course, is also true. Namely: if an individual who supposedly possesses supernatural gifts does boast of them, or shows them off, or, above all, fails to demonstrate complete obedience to ecclesiastical authority, then sure as shootin', he's a fraud.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm Not Exactly Sure How This Is Supposed to Inspire Kids to Want to Learn

I posted earlier this year about a message I was rather fond of that appeared on the sign in front of the grade school down the street from Haus Jansen.

But notice what's there's now:

A bit Orwellian, don't you think?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Oh. So. True.

I couldn't of have said it better myself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010