Saturday, August 30, 2014

Church Sign in Town

                                                           A CLASSIC.

Church Sign in Town

*UPDATE*  Two weeks and it's still going strong.

Leviticus 28:28 (KJ--more or less-V)  "Thou shalt not have a sign at thy church without an editor, thus sayeth the Lord.  For if thy sign is without an editor, it shall be an abomination."

One of the Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth

Friday, August 29, 2014

If God is Outside of Time and Sees Every Event, Are Any Human Actions Free?

A colleague asks, "If God is outside of time, then does the current physics model mean that there is an "Elect" because God can see the whole 4-D picture?"

As far as I can tell the popular Einsteinian understanding of the universe as a four dimensional block (as opposed to a Newtonian understanding which holds space as absolute, the universe as three dimensional, and time as not being a fourth dimension) does not pose a special fatalist problem (with certain qualification that I won't get into).  A fatalist problem arises even if one thinks of the universe along Newtonian lines.  Here is a general fatalist argument involving a timeless God which makes no claims about whether the universe is a 4-D block or (only) a collection of 3-D objects (I'm taking the basic framework for Linda Zagzebski's book on the philosophy of religion):

Galileo's Conditions for Conceiving a Material Body

In Modern Philosophy yesterday we read a selection from Galileo's The Assayer in which we find the following statement on the necessary conditions for conceiving a material body:
Now, whenever I conceive of any material or corporeal substance, I am necessarily constrained to conceive of that substance as [a] bounded and [b] as possessing this or that shape, [c] as large or small in relationship to some other body, [d] as in this or that place during this or that time, [e] as in motion or at rest, [f] as in contact or not in contact with some other body, [g] as being one, many, or few--and by no stretch of imagination can I conceive of any corporeal body apart from these conditions.
What struck me at first as dubious is condition [c]--Galileo can only conceive of some material body in relation to some other material body. This means that Galileo couldn't conceive of the existence of, say, a single bar of gold.  For any body he can conceive it must be conceived in relation to some other body.  So he can only conceive of two bodies or more.

But perhaps the idea is that in order to conceive of a single bar of gold one must conceive of a left half and a right half of which the bar is composed--each of which the bar is larger than.

But what about a point particle, such as an electron which has no extension? Conceiving it would violate [c] as well as [a] and [b].  But electrons can be conceived.

Perhaps Galileo is confusing imagining or picturing with conceiving.  One can't picture an electron though one can conceive of an electron.

Alternatively--though I am sure this was not Galileo's view--a metaphysician of an empiricist bent could hold that the above criteria do more or less accurately provide the criteria for conceiving of a material body while being an instrumentalist rather than a realist about "material substances" such as electrons.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tactical Walls

Janet Mackie asks, "hiding your guns in...are you/they serious?"

Yes, apparently tactical walls is a company that makes tactical wall items for storing weapons. And, really, if you believe in a right to the self-defense of one's home as well as keeping weapons locked up from children, it's kind of a neat idea (with a GREAT advertising pitch to boot).  Moreover, it's a way to impress your friends who don't suffer from hoplophobia.

One of the liberal memes is to say that people without government sanctioned training should not bear arms in a "tactical situation."  What is a "tactical situation"?  Well, answering that is tricky (and a liberal secret).   The paradigm example of a "tactical situation" is where some  untrained crazy is firing off rounds at people he doesn't know.  In such cases where said nut bag is selectively capping citizens A, B, and C, the liberal idea is that the citizen who could stop the murderer should wait until the government law enforcement officers arrive--because, again, it is a "tactical situation."  In short: untrained civilians should NOT respond to untrained murderers.

Well, for those non-pacifist types who just cannot wait for a "tactical situation" to be resolved by their own tax funded officers arriving 5 minutes into a "tactical situation," there is now this option.  Homebuilders and homeowners take note:

Amy: "That's awesome! You totally need to get one of these.  The boys wouldn't get into it but you could get to it quickly."

Malea: "We need to get one of those....for maybe books."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This Has to Be the Work of Uncle Jeff

Sam (5-yr-old): "If I chew my fingernails will it hurt my wee-wee?"

Me: "No! (?!?!?)"

Sam: "Will it make it fall off?"

Me: "NO! WHY would you THINK that?!?"

Sam: "Well, that's what my cousins told me."

Group Work

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Animal Euthanasia and Annihilationism

If my dog would've lived another minute or two, I would have euthanized him.  "Big Dread" (or The Clean Cut Artist Formerly Known as Big Dread) points out that there is a seeming conflict between thinking one can euthanize one's dog out of love and an argument I gave against annihilationism here.

Whereas I see no formal contradiction, Big Dread aptly points out a tension.  If euthanizing one's dog who is suffering can be a loving action, then why think that God's annihilating someone cannot also be an act of love? 

Here is, then, an argument that annihilation can be a loving action:

1. Killing a dog is bringing about the dog's nonexistence.
2. Bringing about something's nonexistence is relevantly similar to annihilation such that there's no moral difference.
3. Loving is a moral action.
4. Killing a dog can be a loving action.
5. Thus, annihilating can be a loving action.

I accept 1.  A dog cannot survive death except by resurrection.  If a dog is resurrected it will have a "gappy" existence.  I also accept 2 and 3.  4 is the questionable premise.

Can I love my dog by killing my dog?

Spatulas and Semantic Intention

Backdrop: One-year-old James is in the kitchen about to wreak havoc

Amy: "No, no!  Quick, somebody get James!"

Sam (5-yr-old): "Yeah! He's got the spoonala!"

Me: "Spatula, Sam.  'He's got the spatula.'  [To Amy].  I'll have to blog about the 'spoonala'."

Sam (overhearing): "I meant to say that."

Me: "Of course you did.  You said it."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Paul Copan's Apologetic Response to "the Slaughter of Women and Children" Destroyed

Lydia McGrew puts the royal kabash down on Paul Copan's (and Copan-like) strategies for dealing with problematic Old Testament passages.

Dang.  I was kind of hoping his line of argument had promise.  Now I'm quite doubtful.  We're back, then, to the following options:

1. Divine Command Theory--  Here is Aquinas's take (though he's not at DCTheorist):  God commanded the killing of women and children in the Old Testament times.  BUT (contrary to McGrew) this wasn't a case of murder since implicit in murder is that it's an illicit killing.  But God commanded it making it licit.
There are problems with this view that I won't get into.  Suffice it to say, I think this is the least plausible option for reasons left unsaid.

2. The Biblical Writers Got it Wrong-- Here the Peter Enns's and Peter van Inwagen's of the world take refuge. If the writers can get it wrong about the sun going around the earth, one of the spheres of heaven flooding the whole earth, and so forth, why not think they could get some things wrong about God too?  Revelation is progressive and God meets people where they are.  The Biblical folk learned more and more about God, and revelation culminates in Jesus who gives us the fullest picture of God.  God IS love.  God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He wouldn't have commanded killing babies.  "YOU say an eye for an eye, but I say...."
I can't say I have a huge problem with this view.  Some innerantists won't like it but there is more than one way to be an innerantist.  Moreover as an apologetics strategy--"for all I know they got this wrong"--I don't think that it's necessarily a bad one.

3. Throw Up Your Hands View -- I like this view and recommend it to the reader.  Perhaps 1 is correct; Perhaps 2; Perhaps some unknown alternative 3.  Right now it is an utter mystery.

In conclusion, Lydia is spot-on when she says,

Philosophers of science are well aware that a theory does not need to have answers to all anomalies in order to be well-supported and rationally accepted. We have ample, to my mind overwhelming, evidence, quite independent of our response to the question of the Canaanite slaughters, that God exists, that He is loving and all-good, that His goal is to redeem mankind, and that Jesus is God the Son who reveals the loving Father to us. That means that we can handle points where we do not know the answer while still retaining a robust confidence in the truth of Christianity. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Revolutionary Justice: Levelheaded Remarks on the Ferguson Shooting

Victor Davis Hanson:

Certainly any time in America that an unarmed suspect is fatally shot by a policeman of the opposite race, there is a need for concern and a quick and full inquiry of the circumstances leading to such a deadly use of force. That said, there is something disturbing about the demagogic efforts to rush to judgment in Ferguson, Mo. While it is understandable to deplore the militarization of the police that might accentuate rising tensions on the street, and to note that a mostly white police force might be less sensitive to a majority African-American populace, there is as yet not much evidence that the antithesis — a more relaxed approach to crowd control under the direction of a sensitive African-American law-enforcement official — has so far resulted in an end of the street violence or of the looting of stores. Too little police deterrence can be just as dangerous as too much.

It is also an American tradition that those under suspicion are considered innocent until the evidence is gathered, sifted, and adjudicated. Instead, the officer in question has more or less been tried and found guilty by those on the street (some of whom are calling for his death) and the media who reports on them. The governor has been particularly demagogic in blasting as character disparagement the logical release of a video showing the deceased minutes before the shooting robbing a store and brutally intimidating a clerk half his size — a fact naturally of some relevance in the ensuing disputed events.

If in fact the video has been doctored in the prior fashion of NBC’s selective editing of the Zimmerman tape or CNN’s distortion of the Zimmerman vocabulary, or ABC’s massaging of the video of Zimmerman’s wounds, then certainly disparagement is the correct noun; if not, the governor should be ashamed of himself.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Reader's Question about Transgender "News"

In response to the previous post Janet Mackiewrites:

I think the reason that Patriarchies world wide oppose gender equality (or what ever they would term "it") is because they need to preserve a  bifurcated world world of distinct opposites in which they define  themselves as the most valuable and therefor the most entitled to power, prestige and preservation.
A world of winners and losers, correct and incorrect, in which they "define" themselves as perfect and the "losers" are defined as throw aways to be taken advantage of by the winners.
If the world is seen as made up multiple continuum, if all humans all DNA are of value equally, then it can't be saint v sinner, male v female, winner v loser, correct v reject etc. can it? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

More Transgender "News"

I just happened upon this news propaganda about one of those nasty, intolerant schools that will not recognize the transgender status of a student (you know, the kind of school that the tolerant crowd will sue).  The author takes the student's side from the very beginning, referring to Brian--who has had no reassignment surgeries--as "Rachel" and using female pronouns throughout the article even though BRIAN is a MALE.  The report ends on a "cheery note" with "Rachel" hoping that this story can help at least one person.  I wonder if the USA Today writer wrote the article hoping to change at least one person's mind on the issue?  Hmmmm... I wonder.

I'm Already on the Wrong Side of History Regarding Transgender Surgeries

It looks like this issue is passing me by!  Yesterday it was reported that Oregon will become the 3rd state (in addition to Eleonore Holmes Norton's district) to pay for sexual reassignment surgeries.  And--taking time off from golf--Obama removed the 33 year Medicare ban on the surgeries two months ago.  No doubt soon it will be made a national issue where the alleged right to such surgeries is propagated while the duty to tax for them is not (or the tactic will be to note that the cost will be almost all costs are relative to the bigger government pie).

One wonders, though, whether government funded reassignment-reassignment surgeries (like the case of this guy) will also be in the conversation.  (I think I know the answer to that one). 

Other questions remain:  How old should one be to have the surgery? 3? 8? 11? 18?  If a child has, say, cancer, you take care of the problem right away!  If gender dysphoria is a medical condition treatable by surgery (rather than psychiatry and ministry) it should be able to be diagnosed--and the earlier the better one would think.

Another question: what if you were a female living inside the body of a male serial killer and you later had surgery to be a female? Should Donna take the rap for Doug who no longer exists?

Friday, August 15, 2014

On the Question: "How Does This Affect You?"

The previous post addressed one of the following questions by @TwainIAint (aka Casey the Communist):
 And how, exactly, does this affect you? Slippery slope much, Herr Philosopher?
I now will address the first question: How exactly does this affect you?  And I will begin by addressing what I think about "How does this affect you?" questions more generally when asked in a moral context.

Slippery Slopes and Transgender Propoganda: A Response to a Question

@TwainIAint, who on this blog is known as Casey the Communist Usurper, tweets the following in response to my most recent post:

And how, exactly, does this affect you? Slippery slope much, Herr Philosopher?

There are two questions here which Casey is asking.  I shall begin by responding to the second question regarding the slippery slope and in a separate post will address the first question.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Transgender Parents Speak Out About What Makes a Family

The press is on!  Unless there's a dramatic change in the way things are going, it will not be too long before there is a mainstream media push for government funded surgeries.  After all, it isn't fair to the poor that they can't change their bodies into whomever and whatever they want. (I do wonder, if there's a divorce, which one will get screwed out of custody: the one who now has the male parts or the one who used to?)

A few selections:
Bianca, 32, was born a boy named Jason, while her husband, Nick Bowser, 27, was born a girl named Nicole. They met and fell in love in 2009, before Nick’s gender transition, in Atlanta. (A person's sexual orientation is distinct from a person's gender identity or expression.) Eventually, they decided to start a family, and Nick, still physically female (though he would eventually undergo breast-removal surgery), decided to carry Bianca’s babies — something he described to the Mirror as being “an absolutely horrible experience for me” because he already identifed as male.

Got it??  So according to this report "he"--a man--carried a baby!  Is this the first case of this happening?? This IS a news story!
Still, Bianca said, they will explain the situation sooner rather than later, and they’re confident that their kids will be OK upon learning the truth. “If they don’t know anything different, and it isn’t presented as something negative, then there’s no downside,” she said.
That’s the right idea, according to parenting expert [COUGH, COUGH], author, and clinical psychologist Laura Markham.
Gender aside, the story of the Bowser family is fairly typical. Both parents struggle to balance child-rearing with work — Nick is a bar manager and Bianca is a popular Louisville drag performer known as Bianca Nicole — and with social time, much of it with childless friends who also work in nightlife. 
Ah, yes, the typical story of the Kentucky family whose male wife is a mother by day and drag queen by night.  I know that story well. I think we have a children's book with that same (old) story.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Borland Girls/Borland Cousins On Big Wheels

If this doesn't make you smile then you're a loser:

[Update: The "author" of the video that was once here claimed a copyright issue and wanted the video taken down.]

Saturday, August 9, 2014

And ESPN Suspends ANOTHER One....

Max Kellerman apparently violated PCSPN's rule that one can talk about Ray Rice only if one throws the book at him, raises no questions about any possible mitigating circumstances ("what are those"?), or mentions slapping one's girlfriend (now wife) 20 years ago in reaction to her slapping him.

Don't liberals think that men and women should be treated exactly the same?  Don't feminists think chivalry an outdated relic of the "Dark (sic) Ages?"

Oh. Wait. I misspoke.

Liberals don't think.  They feel.

"Equality doesn't mean Justice": An Analysis of a Picture Going Viral

Have a look at this picture that has been circulating of which I do not know the origin.  What do you see?  What is this picture trying to convey?  What does it mean?

Having no knowledge of the origin, I offer my own interpretation in narrative form which I take to be a reasonable one (but perhaps not the only reasonable one):

Friday, August 8, 2014

On Why ESPN's Michelle Beadle is an Idiot

ESPN recently suspended Steven A. Smith, thanks in part to the following comments (below) by his apparently brainless colleague.  What did Smith do to deserve a suspension?  After going way out of his way to say that men should never hit women, he said (a) that women too should try not to provoke would-be-hitters, and (b) that nobody ever talks about this. That bit of OBVIOUSLY TRUE advice is what got him suspended (and now we see WHY no one ever says that in the liberal media!)  Here now is his colleague's idiotic remarks which provoked his suspension:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why Protestants Shouldn't Dismiss Purgatory

I've been reading Houston Baptist professor, Jerry Walls' book, "Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation."  It's his third book in his trilogy on Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory.  It's interesting in particular because Walls is a Protestant who believes in Purgatory (he gave a very brief argument for it in his book on heaven).  Ever since thinking through C.S. Lewis's thoughts on the matter--himself a believer in Purgatory--I've found myself inclined to believe as well.  (Aside: I don't know if I do believe, however, since it's sometimes hard to tell whether one is merely inclined to believe or inclined such that one is believing.  But if forced to choose I'd bet on it.  Have there been any Inquisitions for being inclined to bet on something?)

So I hope to post some of Jerry's thoughts on the matter as I get the chance.  But I'll begin by trying to show why I think an all too common Protestant objection to Purgatory is terribly wrongheaded, and why Protestant's shouldn't dismiss the notion in the way they often do.  Unfortunately, I have heard Protestant-Evangelical theologians, apologists, and Biblical scholars who should know better (and perhaps do!) make this very objection. 

The objection is that Purgatory is not mentioned in Scripture.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Five-Year-Old's Take on the Birth of Secretariat Movie Scene


Papa: Yes.

Sam: Do ALL baby's come out of your bum???

Papa: Yes.

Sam: Did James come out of Mommy's bum?!?

Papa: _____.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Who's Assessing the Assessors' Assessors?

Below the fold I've pasted Hales' excellent critique of accreditation assessment (mentioned in the previous post) just in case that essay is ever taken down or goes behind a pay-wall.

My Dim View of Accreditation and "Outcomes Assessment"

I can't see how any earnest educator can take seriously the accreditation process of universities with the proliferation of education jargon and pseudo-philosophical distinctions, for instance, between such things as goals, objectives, and outcomes--which apparently can't be well articulated by anyone promoting such distinctions; nonetheless, we're told over and over that here lies a very important distinction.  I, for one, will not pretend that we're doing something important as we conform our professorial practices to the will of the accreditation "experts."

In truth, accreditation doesn't really care a fig about (ultimate) goals and outcomes.  Accreditation doesn't care what my ultimate goals are (well, as long as they fit with the university goals--but those goals could be pert near anything).  If my goal is to have my students skeptical of the resurrection of Jesus by the end of the semester--GREAT--just make sure this (in some nebulous way) fits with the university goals and make sure to DO THAT.  If an intended outcome is that my students in my Modern Philosophy class learn about Winston Churchill--no one will raise a fuss--just so long as the students' learning about Churchill is an outcome fulfilling a goal for the course.  What the goals are isn't a focus; what matters most is whether one has a means-ends rational plan that is properly documented for the assessors.

Here is an example: I am currently redesigning my online Introduction to Philosophy course.  Presumably because of university assessment procedures, we are to document the matching up of all our assignments with the course objectives.  Every assignment must fulfill an objective in the course and this must be documented.  My first thought is: