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“Our brains are so big, we need spare brain-storage containers on our belts” April 30, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Cultural Pessimism, Liberal Hypocrisy, Mechanistic Relativism.
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From "Quality Control Alliance" (a notably anti-Christian blog): "Known side effects (of reading their brililant contributions) include thinking for yourself and taking responsibility for your own actions." (This blog contains much profane and repulsive material. If you really want to find it, Google it. I won't link it for you.)

From "WorldWideRant" a self-described atheist blog: "I can't believe I breathe the same air as these idiots."

From Harlan Ellison's "An Edge in My Voice", Donning Publishers, 1985: "I am 'merely' a Humanist. . .Whatever self-assertive aspects of my personality he finds threatening -possibly because he envies those qualities. . ." Another self-assertion of intellectual primacy. Read the book, it is chock full of them. Ellison is a noted liberal, self-confessed elitist and committed Atheist who wrote many articles and fiction starting in the '50s. . .and to the best of my knowledge is still kicking about today.

From Bisquik's site: "I'm a smart ****er." There is another one in there somewhere, but I haven't the stomach to look for it.

Then there is this table that supposedly shows that intelligent people voted for Kerry. Happily this was revealed to be a hoax. Click here for more realistic data.

These little bits are gathered after only 15 minutes of drifting about the foul backwaters of what passes for the Liberal Mind on the Internet. I'm sure that Al Franken from AirHeadAmerica (thanks Brian for the title!!) and Michael Moore regularly remind us just how intelligent they are (and how ignorant the Religious Right is), but I've looked at enough gibberish for one weekend.

At any rate, all of that silliness can serve as a (very) brief sample of the overwhelming, arrogant self-perceived brilliance of the American Left.

To quote from my second post: "(MRTs). . .are blessed with a complete lack of false humility (they wear their sanctimonious arrogance on their sleeves quite proudly)"

Now, if we were to look at this concept a bit critically, we would probably find that more people with advanced degrees tend toward agnosticism/atheism (this is especially true in today's theology departments at places like Stanford, Harvard, Seattle University and Princeton). There is no question that much of today's scholarship epitomizes the cliche, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". With one freshly sheepskinned, a person feels that he can question all the Big Issues, including the reality of God. And with their newfound "critical faculties", they find there is no scientific proof for God, and furthermore, since there is suffering, how can an "all-loving God" allow the Nazis, Asian tsunamis, George Bush and so on? So they reject God and all of his benighted followers. MRTs tend to be pedants suffused with confidence in their intelligence, but very little wisdom.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the MRT altar. When the atheist empiricists began pushing the scientific limits of learning, these people start to acknowledge that there must be some greater power that guided the creation of all of Earth. Among others, this list includes physicists Robert Russell, Galileo, Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking (he indicates that when we find out when the Universe started, then we will have found God) and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. (this also based on 15 minutes of Websearch). While many of these scientists claim a likelihood of a Presence, they do not necessarily (nor should they) ascribe a belief in the Triune God. But in the end, they are giving credence to Intelligent Design. (ERRATUM: Dawkins is a noted atheist, and he provides statements in the referenced source that suggest the possibility of God, while also explicitly denying the presence of God. So attaching his name to a claim of a "likelihood" of a presence of God may be problematic, since he himself seems to have not made up his mind)

So, in short, we might be able to say that the intelligent, especially the more arrogant and self-serving intelligent are unutterably opposed to God. But the really intelligent have to admit the likelihood of God. And in that intelligence appears to be the seeds of wisdom.

So, to briefly sum up:

The MRTs would have us believe that they are really, REALLY smart. So smart, they carry extra brain storage on their belts. (In the classic Dilbert comic, these people were rats who carried slabs of warm liver in their belts to make themselves look smarter. Hence the title of today's contribution.)

Because they are so smart, they KNOW that God doesn't exist. Smart, (or at least they THINK they are) but no wisdom.

Yet, when you get out into the land of the REALLY smart (advanced physics, Ph.D evolutionary biology), you find that people are going back to believing in at least the possibility of God. (And doesn't that help define wisdom? "I know enough to know that I don't know everything". Sounds like these high-level physicists acknowledge their gaps, hence wisdom).

Because they are TRULY smart, they have to admit that God may well exist. Smart (and they KNOW they are) and having some wisdom.


Solving that “Catholic” probem April 29, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Catholicism.
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Excellent article on why Catholicism ranks above Evangelicalism. Read here.

Spoiled American Catholics April 28, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Catholicism.
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Read this right now.

Speaking of the tyranny of relativism. . . April 26, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Mechanistic Relativism.
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I was suffering from a post-migraine lethargy and was browsing at bloghogger.tk when the inimitable and iniquitous Bisquik made yet another snide comment to one of the contributors (the indomitable s4ntA), and my already tenuous temper melted away. So I wrote the following reply:

"Do not speak to us of "learning". You, who claim to be so skilled at reading and managing "nuance", of being open to all possibilities, shriek of hypocrisy in coming in here and claiming such things.

If they were true, you would be at least minimally open to perhaps learning something new in here. But you aren't. You have made it abundantly clear that you are not here to learn, but to either provoke, or "teach." (Since you already claime to "know it all") Then you have the gall to ask s4ntA, or anyone else in here, if they are willing to "learn" your jaded lessons. Try listening, for once in your self-absorbed, jaded life, rather than lecturing to an audience that has not paid tuition to hear your lectures. . .and if we had, would be demanding a refund.

This is made all the more intolerable in that Professor Contrabutor comes into our own spaces to lecture.

If any of us want to hear you lecture, Contrabutor, we need only visit your little alliterative nothing, where you can talk about. . .whatever it is that you talk about in there. More self-satisfied smirking at the dim-wittedness of the Right, how brilliant you are, and your various daily mundanities (haircuts, gym "visits" and sexual exploits).

Speaking of tyranny. . .the tyranny of relativism. . .

Fortunately, I managed to rein in my temper long enough to not send it. . .only to copy and paste it here. This will fit into a later post on the intellectual and emotional snobbery of the MRTs, but that is for later. In the meantime, I'm going to lay down and put a wet cloth over my eyes. My migraine seems to be coming back.

Malice in Wonderland April 26, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Catholicism, Cultural Pessimism, Mechanistic Relativism.

Read this and tell me you don't feel like you just got tumbled ass-over-teakettle down the rabbithole.

BTW: This link is NOT a joke. These demented, deranged ****s are for real, advertising a real "product". I don't often wish bad cess upon people, but with these two, I'm on the verge of advocating that their souls rot in hell for such flat-out evil.

Trebuchet April 26, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Humor.
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A medieval catapult device, used for laying siege to large cities. Nowadays, used for screwball mischief.

A useful device, I think, for the disposal of terminal MRTs.

The Repeating Sacraments from the perspective of the Psychology of Learning April 23, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Catholicism, Education.
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In teaching religion to high schoolers, I often get the questions put to me in some form or other: "Why does one need to go to Confession? Why go receive the Eucharist as often as possible?"

In responding to the last one first, there is a personal anecdote that I might share.

My brother and I were raised by a nominally Catholic woman and functionally atheist man. Mom made sure that we at least started in Catholic school. I entered during that period shortly after Vatican II where the Latin Mass had been disposed of and much of catechesis was grossly watered down, but daily Mass participation was strongly encouraged. Partially due to the daycare advantages that were provided, I was dropped off at church at 7:45 each day for an 8 AM Mass, with school starting at 8:30. Five days a week.

Most weekends I would pester my mother: "Mom, I've had two and a half hours of Mass already. Do I have to go for another hour this weekend?" Mom was adamant, and away I would go to Saturday evening Mass as well. Mass six days a week during the school year. For seven years.

My younger brother, who was possessed of a precocity that drove the nuns to distraction, was removed from Catholic school after first grade and placed in a public school alternative program for gifted kids. He went to Mass once a week.

It is possibly coincidence, but both of us retreated from the Church in our late teens, while I returned in my mid-twenties, and my younger brother is still away from the Church. My suspicion has often been that it was the repeated exposure to the Eucharist that has eased my road back to the Church. I was simply exposed to more grace than my brother.

But let's look further at these Sacraments from a behavioral perspective. Behavioral psychology (among other things) teaches that individuals will pick up a habit after 21 repetitions of the behavior in question. Various reinforcers (generally speaking, rewards) and aversive conditioners (generally speaking, punishments) can strengthen or weaken the target behavior one wishes to integrate into his life. Let's say that we have an adult who is in poor physical shape. He sees a behavioral dietician to assist him in getting in shape. The dietician arranges for the adult to work with him once a week; he will report to the psych how many times he has worked out over the course of the week and his diet. If the number of workouts falls below a certain number, the adult will be compelled to give up his nightly news fix (called a negative punishment) in exchange for another workout each night, so as to encourage the adult to workout. Also, if the adult reports that he has pigged on cheesecake, the dietician might assign additional workouts (called a positive punishment; though in some ways could be a positive reinforcer), along with an admonishment to avoid the cheesecake in the future. So is the good habit of eating well and regular exercise maintained and modified, with the reinforcer in this case being the improved health, energy and subsequent weight loss on the part of the participating adult.

Speaking as a psychologist, I believe that one of the primary reasons the Holy Spirit (though the Church) instituted these Sacraments is to build good habits. Reception of the Eucharist exposes the communicant to grace (positive reinforcement). But to be open to that grace, the communicant must be free of mortal sin. Freedom from mortal sin is obtained through Confession. If the state of mortal sin is present, the communicant is forbidden from Communion (in an academic sense: In most cases, the communicant will not receive Communion only if he chooses to hold himself out. Only in the case of obvious public scandal will the priest actually withhold the Host on his own hook). Refusal of access to Communion would in this case be a negative punishment.

(NOTE: "positive" and "negative" in the sense of psychology of learning has NOTHING to do with positive or negative "perceptions". They instead refer to either adding an element to the learning environment [positive reinforcer or punisher] or subtracting an element from the learning environment [negative])

Now, the Church goes to (or it used to) great lengths to educate the faithful on sin, and in this education it attempted to attach an aversive event (removal of access to the Eucharist) to undesirable (and in many instances, dangerous) behavior. But it went a step further. It allowed for consideration of and forgiveness of the dangerous behavior. Simple learning theory by itself does not allow for this. It simply rewards positive behavior and punishes the negative. The Church takes the opportunity to use the negative behavior both as a teaching moment and as a means of providing grace -forgiveness (positive reinforcer for seeking forgiveness)- as well as a simple behavior modification tool.

Enough meaningful exposures to the aversive event (possibility of no Eucharist), (21 exposures if the behavioral psychologists have done their sums correctly) leading to Confession and a true effort to reform his llife, and the penitent/communicant no longer engages in the negative behavior. Proper participation in the Sacraments (this means taking yourself away from Communion if you are in a state of mortal sin) improves your behavior for the better.

Now, the MRTs may be asking, if this is all supposed to be voluntary, why does the Church outright deny it from some, and speak in such condemning terms? The same reason a parent enforces principles of learning upon their children; left to their own devices, they will rationalize and outright lie their way out of responsibility. So too the Church instills in Catholics a (correct) fear and loathing of sin, so that they might at some point come to voluntarily seek to push it from their lives, just as the couch potato will (hopefully) get his lazy ass off the couch and take better care of his body, to his later gratification.

Remember too, the Church teaches this as discipline. Which was initially meant (and is still the #1 and #2 definitions on dictionary.com) the following:

  1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
  2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.

Discipline is not punishment. Discipline is self-control.

And when used as the Church teaches, the repeating Sacraments are fundamental tools -as explained in learning psychology- in instilling the discipline to lead those virtuous lives.

Haloscan Alert April 22, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Blogging.
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Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

So, Green Flash, thanks for the notice. That comment, since this is a newer blog (and I am not killing myself advertising it) has been lost from the blog, but not from where it counts (my memory ;))

The Tyranny of “Tolerance” April 22, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Liberal Hypocrisy, Mechanistic Relativism.
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From my "Materialist Reductionism" post, point #2:

MRTs profess a love for tolerance, yet curiously are functionally intolerant of religious affiliation

As a working example, one might visit here:

The world is absolutely rife with other examples. A perusal of Ann Coulter's Scandal or Stephen Carter's The Culture of Disbelief (the latter title is an excellent book and generally very balanced) will give the reader interested in further research on the topic (as if that were necessary) more than ample additional proof of the functional hypocrisy of the Liberal practice of "tolerance."

It is perhaps telling of the relativisitic tyranny that they are indeed tyrannical towards the expression of the religious in public life. Elimination of the Ten Commandments from public forums, withering attacks upon religious leaders that have the gall to make public pronouncements of moral rectitude, ridicule of a US President that not only encourages the formation of Christian "mediating institutions" ( search here for a working definition of a mediating institution) but also has the poor political judgment to profess that he prays for guidance on a regular basis and allowance for any type of free speech unless it comes from a religous background or violates the basic tenets of liberalism. (A little reflection shows that MRTs are no different than any other idealist group; Nazis, Communists, French Revolutionaries, all knew that pure application of their ideologies would result in Utopia; yet each ended in fantastic destruction of lives and livelihoods)

The two greatest Christian apologists of the 20th Century both hailed from England; the Anglican Clive Staples Lewis and the Catholic Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Chesterton in particular took great glee in pointing out the more absurd fallacies of liberal/Modernist thought. My favorite is his observation that the "freedom" to untrammelled pursuit of one's desires, instincts and pleasures free of any moral reservation was in the end not freedom at all; but slavery, one of a most insidious kind. Chesterton predicted (or more properly, simply observed) that if you took a man and removed from him the "shackles of restraint", he would then pursue most single-mindedly the most luxuriant sensations; drugs, sex, food, drink, material possessions, whatever the case might be. And the irony is that once the man sated himself. . .he was in fact not sated. He looked forward to his next "fix". And soon his day was consumed not with charity towards others, or work, or simple communion with nature. His focus became the next "fix." Both the anticipation of that fix and the fix itself became the poor man's preoccupation, then pastime, until it blossomed into a full-fledged obsession, one that in some fashion or other will lead him to destruction. One need only observe an unreconstructed alcoholic to observe this fundamental fact of human nature in action. Left to his own devices, the unrestrained alcoholic will kill himself, and most likely will be doing so while consumed with self-loathing, because he wants to stop but no longer has the will. He has become enslaved to his desire, in this case, booze.

Substitute whatever "fix" you like; material possessions, scientific discovery, sex, power, money, drugs. Chesterton's observation stands up.

Yet, this is the state that the MRTs wish for humanity in general; untrammelled access to their sensual pursuits. We will remember that the MRT connotes reality as only what can be sensed, hence their claim that they are not enslaved, they are merely "reveling in reality".

Hence their inability to follow their self-proclaimed adherence to "tolerance." Anyone who challenges the right to access to sensual pursuits is interfering with their actual goal. Their goal is not equality for everyone; their goal is equal access to "whatever feels good". As for those damned Christians that dare to stand in their way and hinder that access, well, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

"Reveling in reality" and damning those that reject their empiricist idealism will garner MRTs little more in the end than a barren wasteland, where the few survivors of their society pursue their own self-centered nigthmares and call them dreams. So has the bleak prophecy of Orwell actually come true in the MRT world; slavery is labeled as "freedom", tyranny is "tolerance" and "sensation" is "reality."

Materialist Reductionism: A consideration of the basic objection of the Moral Relativist April 21, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Mechanistic Relativism.
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For purposes of discussion, empiricism states that nothing is known or knowable, and therefore, unfit for consideration in any realm of speculation, unless the construct in question can in some way be measured with our human senses.

In various tussles that I have experienced both directly and vicariously with elements of the Tyranny of Relativism, some common themes begin to play themselves out.

MRTs (Morally relativisitic tyrants):

  1. Exhibit a very strong attachment to scientific proofs and theories (this is the one we will get back to shortly). St. Thomas the Apostle (before he actually saw Jesus's wounds) would have been welcomed with open arms by the MRTs.
  2. Profess a love for tolerance, yet curiously are functionally intolerant of religious affiliation
  3. Are blessed with a complete lack of false humility (they wear their sanctimonious arrogance on their sleeves quite proudly)
  4. Are convinced that anyone with a religious affiliation is essentially a "thoughtless automaton"; one who has forsaken intellectual and critical faculties in favor of being led "by the nose" and allowing the Church (small "c" or large "C", doesn't matter) to tell the follower how to do EVERYTHING. In this, they epitomize the aphorism of Fulton Sheen who once said words to the effect of: "You will not find 100 people who truly hate Catholicism. But there are millions who hate what they think is Catholicism".
  5. In the realm of cyberspace, strawman arguments from MRTs are de rigeur.
  6. Only RTs wrestle with the "meaty questions" of life. (This could be categorized as both 3a and 4a). What these questions are is somewhat nebulous, but rest assured that only the atheist MRT may even consider the questions.

I might get back to 2-6 at a later date. For now, let us focus on #1.

From the Stanford.edu website:

"The Empiricism Thesis: We have no source of knowledge in S or for the concepts we use in S other than sense experience." (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism; Section 1.2)

"S" in this sense is an open-ended variable, but we can easily use "science", "daily experience," "law" or other concepts. In short, "truth", for empiricists, has tobe measured.

Some MRTs love to bait with challenges of concrete proof of faith; ONe may provide a proof that can be sensed.. (The Incorruptibles and Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz). The MRT then asks if the proofs offered in these books are offered in the Index Medicus. (Google queries will lead you to the NIH website). In short, are Cruz's contentions found in "legitimate scientific journals?"

Let us recall that such journals are by their very nature also empiricist; they are as hostile to the faith-based discoveries of Cruz as are the less-educated, self-anointed empiricists jamming cyberspace. The MRT establishes a neat conundrum. It would be as if Thomas told Peter, "Show me His wounds. But before you do, make sure that he has been examined by an accredited pathologist first. And that pathologist must be atheist." The rejection of the proof is of course automatic because either a) the source is not grounded in "science" ("They aren't in the ICD-9-M, therefore they are inadmissible, Your Honor"), b) it just might make sense, but because this forces a re-examination of all he has deluded himself into, it must be wrong [there is a c): If the RT is a lapsed Catholic, and the source is a Catholic, there is no way the RT will accept it (automatic grounds for dismissal. According to one notable MRT, Aquinas was a fraud and St. Paul was an a**hole)].

In their supposed never-ending quest for the perfect world sans religion, the MRT seeks refuge in empirical science and pats himself on the back that he is being eminently rational, avoiding all the irrational faith stuff. He also claims that the laws that he lives by are empirically obtained, and that in his battle with the "meaty questions" he is a modern Aristotle or Plato, redefining philosophy.

One question: How does one "detect" law with one's senses? Is history alone, (through our senses of sight and sometimes hearing) allowing us to determine the empirical truths by which we must live?

One then might ask of the empiricist exactly where these laws emanate from in the first place? That's a pretty meaty question right there, isn't it? And how does the empiricist measure that?

How does the MRT, in his slavish devotion to empiricism, obtain the sensorial truths that allow a society to function? How does one measure committment? Honesty? Fidelity? Charity? (These are all constructs championed by the MRTs, and ones they claim that they have more effective access to than us poor, deluded Christians). But how is that possible, in their empirical world?