Thursday, December 29, 2005

I've been reading a little bit of philosophy this week (Coppleston, I'm afraid). This, coupled with some recent comments by John Derbyshire on The Corner, reminds me of a thesis which I have long been convinced of. Let me explain briefly. Derbyshire has been responding to a number of emails from people about the subject of Intelligent Design. He has said publicly that ID has nothing to do with "science", at least the way he understands the two things. In responding to the emails he received about this, Derbyshire has stated that he has no training in, nor interest in philospohy. He has an interest in what scientists actually think and do, and based on that, thinks that ID is a side issue.

While I feel competely incompetent to argue about science/design/philosophy/theology issues (as they relate to each other), it reminds me of my thesis about philosophy as an acadmic practice. My thesis is that academic philosophers should be required to take on some sort of interest outside of philosophy proper with the idea of being able to make contributions to that field. While scientists (as one example) are certainly free to dabble in philosophy to their hearts content, I think it would still be valuable to the science community to have a very careful philosopher look at their field. It may often be the case that the conclusions scientists draw from their work are unwarranted, or that their starting theses are dependant on untenable premises.

The subject of cosmology/origins/design seems to be one particular area where I think a great deal of care and rigor would be valuable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I don't remember who I saw mention Pandora first, but I just got a nice surprise when my "Little River Band" station started playing Black Sabbath's Children of the Sea (with Dio on vocals). Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just didn't see it going with my soft 70's sounds.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This is why I love anthropolgy. People are endlessly fascinating. Especially weird people.
A page from Louis De Bernieres' lotest novel, Birds Without Wings. Perhaps some of you read Corelli's Mandolin? The narrative voice here, btw, is Turkish.

Ever since the year 1189 in the Muslim calendar, which was 1774 in the Christian, the Russian Empire had exercised a policy of religious expurgation every time that it expanded into newly conquered lands. In the Crimea, in the Caucasus, in southern Ukraine, in Azerbaijan, Kars-Ardahan and Laz, the Russians massacred and displaced the Muslim population, swamping the Ottoman Empire with refugees with which it could not cope. It is impossible to calculate the number of deaths, or to reimagine the manner in which these murders were perpetrated. It was a perduring holocaust, but, unlike the more famous one of the Second World War, it is uncommemorated by the world because it received no publicity at the time or afterwards. No monuments have been raised, no dates of comemoration have entered the calendars, no religious services have been held, and no hindsighted pieties have been repeated for our edification. The Russians replaced these slaughtered populations with Christians, preferably of Slav origin, but in the absence of Slavs, they made do with Ukrainians and Armenians.

It is curious that the Russians, calling themselves Christians, and like so many other nominal Christians throughout history, took no notice whatsoever of the key parable of Jesus Christ himself, which taught that you shall love your neighbor as yourself, and that even those you have despised and hated are your neighbors. This has never made any difference to Christians, since the primary epiphenomena of any religion's foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion's establishment are the intentions of its founder. One can imagine Jesus and Mohammed glumly comparing notes in paradise, scratching their heads and bemoaning the vain expense of effort and suffering, which resulted only in the construction of two monumental whited sepulchres.
Good analysis of Charlotte Simmons here.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I challenge you to find a stranger product desciption than this one. Ever. Anywhere. Or, for that matter, a longer one.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Call me strange, but I think this is a terribly important story for public education. If you were to eask the question of when the debate was which argued that coed classes are better than single sex, the answer is never. I don't think there's ever been an argument (other than cost or convenience) which showed some sort of advantage to coed classes, particularly in grade schools.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Weird bit of NBA nostalgia here. I very distictly remember watching this game on tv in my room, wondering just how high the score would go.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My churchmate and singing buddy, Daniel Carter, now has a blog it seems.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

If you are Scott Cunningham, you need to read this one, ASAP.

Monday, December 05, 2005

As Mark says, I think this is a very important article for presbyterians to consider.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

My friend Rance assembled this list of early Christian quotes about violence and the christian life. I hadn't seen a number of these, so I'm posting them here for your perusal:

Matthew 5:3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of
righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and
falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the
same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:38-42
"You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH
FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but
whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your
coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give
to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to
borrow from you."

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this
darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly

I Peter 3:8-17
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly,
kindhearted, and humble in spirit; do not repay evil with evil or
insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were
called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But
even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to
make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the
hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a
good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered,
those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for
doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

Justin Martyr
And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are
to come to pass, He speaks in this way: "For out of Zion shall go
forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall
judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they
shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into
pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more." And that it did so come to
pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into
the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no
ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to
every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the
word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not
only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we
may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing
Christ. For that saying, "The tongue has sworn but the mind is
unsworn," might be imitated by us in this matter. But if the
soldiers enrolled by you, and who have taken the military oath,
prefer their allegiance to their own life, and parents, and country,
and all kindred, though you can offer them nothing incorruptible, it
were verily ridiculous if we, who earnestly long for incorruption,
should not endure all things, in order to obtain what we desire from
Him who is able to grant it. (First Apology 39)

Justin Martyr
And we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every
wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike
weapons, - our swords into ploughs, and our spears into implements
of tillage, - and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy,
faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him
who was crucified. (Dialogue with Trypho 50)

For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs
great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love,
simple and quiet sisters, require no arms nor excessive preparation.
The Word is their sustenance. (Instructor I 12)

And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our
founder, we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of
Jesus, to cut down our hostile and insolent wordy swords into plows,
and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in
war. For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn
war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of
Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those who our fathers followed,
among whom we were strangers to the covenant. (Against Celsus 5 33)

For the Christians have changed their swords and their lances into
instruments of peace, and they know not how to fight.

Nor an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, for him who counts no
man his enemy, but all his neighbors, and therefore can never
stretch out his hand for vengeance. (Proof of the Apostolic
Preaching 96)

Ignatius of Antioch
Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in
heaven and earth, is brought to an end. Therefore have need of
meekness, by which the prince of this world is brought to nought.
(Epistle to the Trallians 4)

How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract
guilt and pollution, can we put people to death? And when we say
that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder,
and will have to give an account to God s for the abortion, on what
principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the
same person to regard the very foetus in the womb as a created
being, and therefore an object of God's care, and when it has passed
into life, to kill it. (A Plea for the Christians 35)

But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may
turn himself unto military service, and whether the military may be
admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior
grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices
or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and
the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the
devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot
be due to two masters--God and Caesar. And yet Moses carried a rod,
and Aaron wore a buckle, and John (Baptist) is girt with leather and
Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred:
if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a
Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace, without a
sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come
unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit,
likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in
disarming Peter, unbed every soldier. (On Idolatry)

...we who hated and killed one another, and on account of their
different cultures would not live with men of a different country,
now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray
for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us
unjustly to live comformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the
end that they may become par-takers with us of the same joyful hope
of a reward from God the ruler of all. (First Apology 14)

Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus
Inquiry shall likewise be made about the professions and trades of
those who are brought to be admitted to the faith. ?A gladiator or a
trainer of gladiators, or a huntsman in the wild beast shows, or
anyone connected with these shows, or a public official in charge of
gladiatorial exhibitions must desist or be rejected. A heathen
priest or anyone who attends to idols must desist or be rejected. A
soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to
refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath;
if he is, unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. A military
commander or civic magistrate that wears the purple must resign or
rejected. If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier,
they must be rejected for they have despised God. (Hippolytan

For when God forbids us to kill, He not only prohibits us from open
violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but He warns
us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful
among men. Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage
in warfare, since his warfare is justice itself, not to accuse any
one of a capital charge, because it makes no difference whether you
put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the
act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. (The Divine

1st Council of Nicea
As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal,
having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned,
like dogs, to their own vomit... (Canon 12)

The whole world is wet with mutual blood; and murder, which in the
case of an individual is admitted to be a crime, is called a virtue
when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked
deeds, not on the plea that they are guiltless, but because the
cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale. (To Donatus 6)
What would it look like if Jackie Chan was a young Russian? (8 min video clip)