The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dennett v. McGrath

Alister McGrath has many books on my shelf. If you want to hear him beat down materialist-atheist Daniel Dennett then click here for a great audio file. Dennett is heralded as the new "Darwin's bulldog" along with his hero Richard Dawkins (author of The Blind Watchmaker).

The audio file is a debate between Dennett and McGrath over Dennett's new book Breaking the Spell which is a book about the scientific study of religion. Interestingly Dennett is trained in neither and McGrath has PhD's in both. I think Dennett is quite outclassed here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Augustine on Time

Skiing was great, Lack Placid was very nice. I look forward to spending more time in the Adirondacks.

This coming weekend I'm going to a Lectio at U.Mass on the Confessions. Part of what makes this a truly Great Book is that every time you read it you notice yet another Great Idea.

I'm responsible for a famous passage in Book Eleven. When I was translating it there was a certain passage that, though difficult and perplexing, was rewarding. Here's how I finally put it:

“But I was divided amid times the order of which I know not. And my thoughts, deep in my gut, are torn to pieces in divers confusions until I flow together in you, purified and molten by the fire of your love.”

As Augustine’s consciousness jumps about past, present, and future he cannot perceive his place on the ordered number-line of time.. I worry about the future lest I should make the same mistake as I did in the past, wait! What’s that up ahead just now, have I seen that before, alas, will it derail my plans for the future? Anxiety bats us around the time line like a ping pong ball.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gone Skiing

I'll be backcountry skiing in the Daks this week, so there'll be no new bloggage 'til Sunday at the soonest.

We'll be basing out of Lake Placid so I'll be reminiscing about the Miracle on Ice as I skate on the Olympic Ice.

This is the trail we'll be on most of the time. See you when I get back!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fall of Man: Literal or Metaphorical?

How can a Christian believe in an old Earth (more than 6,000-10,000 years) since this would imply that there was death before the fall of man and Paul says in Romans 5:12 that death came after the Fall?

The “one man” Paul speaks of is clearly Adam, so to know whether Paul is speaking of physical death or spiritual death we need to look back at the creation story (the one beginning with Gen 2:4). I think it’s abundantly obvious that this story is heavily metaphorical. First consider all the clear metaphor in the passage:

"the LORD God had planted a garden"
"the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"
"he took one of the man's ribs"
"the serpent said to the woman..."
"the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day"

Then there’s this:
25 "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
6 "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye"
7 "Then the eyes of both of them were opened"

Clearly the “sight” they got was not literal physical eyesight it was *spiritual* sight. In the presence of so much metaphorical language the context compels us to take the “death” of which Paul speaks as not *physical* death, but spiritual death.

Note also that the extensive curse does not explicitly mention death as part of the curse (though it mentions that they will die because it says they will toil until they die) nor is there any mention of the incurrence of physical death elsewhere. The role of the tree of life is speculation.

Of course, even if it were interpreted—contrary to context—as physical death, it could only be that physical death of *human beings* was a consequence of the Fall and that there was death of other plants and animals prior to this. I say this to re-emphasize that—from the point of view of logic alone—old earthers are not compelled to hold that there was human death before the human fall and thus not *logically committed* to reading these passages metaphorically as I do. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t, but logical points are important to me so I made it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Update: Dennett Denies Deception

Dennett has replied to aforementioned review and the reviewer has replied. Unfortunately for Dennett the review actuall looked up quotes. The exchange is here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Not-so-Bright Idea

Writing about Dennett made me remember to let you know about the lovely new movement of "the Brights". If I didn't know people who knew people involved then I'd think it was a hoax. About Camp Quest here I'm slightly less sure.

[Discussion between Notre Dame's Michael Rea and D.D. over brightness.]

Dennett part Deux

Now there's this. My main man Richard Swinburne takes him to task. Dennett's gambit is drippingly saccharine and (therefore) insincere. Swinburne doesn't buy it. He opens with a really nice summary of his apologetic strategy. He then excoriates Dennett for casually brandishing the "well there could be an infinite number of universes that exist uncaused" defense of atheism.

But that's not his main defense. His main defense is...Pat Robertson. That's right. Pat Robertson sucks, so God must not have created humans. Maybe I'll write a book called _The Problem of Pat_ on the model of C.S. Lewis's _The Problem of Pain_.

(Dennett, trying hard to look like Darwin)

Like others, I was struck by this remark from Dennett.

"we must set aside the traditional exemption from scrutiny that
religions have enjoyed"

Yeah! Nobody *ever* criticizes religion! What's the deal with that! Um, what millennium has he been living in?

Dennett comes off as knowing little more about epistemology than religion. I know some intelligent atheists (though not many who know much about philosophy of religion), but Dennett isn't one of them.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sex, Lies, and Audiofiles

I was just listening to Avril Lavigne's cover of Green Day's "Basket Case" which has this line.
"I went to a whore, she said her life's a bore."

I thought, "that's a good illustration that endless sex is not the good life. But then the objection came back "But she doesn't get to chose who she has sex with, the good life is having sex with whomever you want." "Oh, I said, so the rapist is the truly happy one."

So the best version of the life-is-sex theory is the version that says happiness is sex between desirous consenting adults. "So swingers are the happiest people?" Demonstrably not. So where's the magic number? One thing's for sure, monogamy is the simple answer. Not as in "simplistic" but in the same way that the hypothesis that the Earth revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit is simpler than the theory that the Sun revolves around the Earth in a pattern consisting of many epicycles. True, monogamy has it's problems, but, think about it logically, they are all inherited and multiplied in polygamy.

This is not intended to be the foundation on which the case for monogamy is founded, it's merely an observation inspired by some good music. For all that, I think it's worth considering.

Tocqueville he ain't.

Bernard-Henri Lévy took a tour of the States and found just what he was looking for.

His chronicle is scathingly reviewed by Garrison Keillor for the New York Times.

I think the most telling remark was that Levy's favorite thing in the States is Seattle's Space Needle pictured above and below. Boy, those French sure know high culture when they see it!

Scientific Study Conclusive Proof of Evolution

Sad but true. (link)

How long will it take for a cat to get bored of hitting a hammer?

Not as long is it will take you to get tired of watching it, but it's good for about 15 seconds of intertainment.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Top Allegiances

1. Truth-seeker
2. Catholic
3. Human
4. Ruralist
5. American

I recently had to change 4 from "Midwesterner" now that I live in upstate New York. However there is no significant difference between here and there (to my great surprise).

American being at the bottom of the list is not an expression of anti-patriotism. On the contrary, that American is even on this list is an expression of patriotism.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Matisyahu: Hasidic Jewish reggae artist

Yes, you heard that right, and righteous is his music. Learn about Matisyahu here.

You can listen to samples here or at their official site which also has videos and lyrics.

Dig it.