Thursday, November 26, 2015

Weight and Cosmic Love

This ring does not weigh anything,
the needle does not move from zero
and I cannot make it show
even a milligram.
Your husband must be alive—
in which case neither of your rings, taken separately,
will weigh anything—only both together will register.

Karol Wojtyla, The Jeweler's Shop, act II

What if it were a cosmic law, and not only a law of love, but a physical law that the each member of a couple separately lacks the significance of the pair together?

We cannot know directly whether unpaired charged lack weight. The problem is that electromagnetic forces are so large that only the smallest particles are tolerated to remain unpaired for any significant time, and these are too small to have appreciable weight. Put another way, the systematic uncertainties of electromagnetic forces so far dominate gravity as to make the latter completely negligible.

But are there indirect ways to know whether unpaired charges lack weight? What would the universe look like were this true? Would it differ from our own? If so, how?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Victim Rule: the Victim Rules

The inconsistencies of leftists leave sane people confused.

One rule that deciphers many of these: All victims are automatically innocent.

Thus women (who are definitionally victims of male oppression) cannot be guilty of a crime in aborting their unborn children, and blacks cannot be guilty of crimes against whites or any other race: that would be "blaming the victim"! On the contrary, victims are given free rein to do whatever they like with impunity.

This rule is a parody of Christianity, which is based on the self-sacrifice of the Innocent Victim, the Prince of Peace who now reigns forever. It's the secular world trying to make sense of, trying to incorporate on its own terms, the peace that passes all understanding. But while it succeeds in achieving a superficial sort of equality by "exalting those of low degree" (cf. Lk 1:52) often through the sophistry of "making the weaker argument the stronger," it cannot achieve an integral peace with roots reaching the core of reality.

René Girard, requiescat in pace.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Climate Science and Its Discontents

A few interesting links on the purportedly man-made climate change:

The first two aren't about the "science" so much as the behavior of its proponents that might make you wonder how strong the case is. The last one looks to be a very thoughtful consideration of the science, told from the perspective of a proponent of environmental regulation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Courage of Caitlyn

Although Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner's big coming out is buried under several layers of news-cycle by now, I don't think a post on his situation is out of place, seeing as he continues to keep himself in the public eye with a new "reality" television series.

The still quite-dominant liberal media persists in calling this very public "sex" change "courageous." But one has to wonder: on what basis? Is it because Jenner is going against public opinion? Surely that can't be it, when elite opinion is all lauding him! How can he be courageous for going against the dominant opinion when that dominant opinion is praising him for being courageous?

I say it is rather that Jenner is going against a higher authority: nature, his own created nature. Like the ancient gnostics: his is battling the wrath of the creator god to find the creation-transcending god: in the modern case, his own "sexual identity."


Really, Caitlyn Jenner is the victim of a much larger cultural problem: the misunderstanding of sex. The word sex has the same root as "section," the idea being that mankind is divided into two great sections, female and male. Only in the 20th century did the word take on the meaning of sexual intercourse, and from properly sexual intercourse, it was only a small leap to interactions in which only one of the organs involved was a sexual organ, that is to say, endowed with the proper procreative function. These days it's really a flattened sexuality that's people are celebrating: not a real sexuality at all, but only the firing of a bunch of treasured sensory neurons.

That's why I think a more accurate category for transexuals, homosexuals, and many other sexual deviants is hyposexual.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Absolute Time and Space

Currently we are being treated to a remake of Carl Sagan's classic series Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Interesting that with it's agnostic/atheist slant, it's on the Fox Network.) The latest installment explains Einstein's relativity. It's a good explanation insofar as it goes, but then we're informed that time and space are completely relative.

That's the usual scientific line, and there's something to it, but from a broader, fully human perspective, it's garbage.

Just from the point of view of established science, it's wrong. In fact Dr. Tyson's own narrative takes for granted that time is not relative: if time were completely relative, it would make no sense to quote an age of the universe. Or distances for that matter. Or even a speed for our galaxy or local group of galaxies.

The age of the universe is measured from the instant of the "Bang" (a misnomer since it wasn't an explosion in the conventional sense of a pressure wave expanding into anything). The absolute standard of rest is the frame in which the cosmic microwave background radiation is isotropic (not red- or blue-shifted in any direction). The proper velocity of our galaxy is relative to this frame of rest. These absolute measures are relative to the beginning of the universe, the creation.

Certainly in isolation the locomotion of matter has no absolute frame of reference, because there is nothing outside it. In concentrating on matter in isolation, physics as a methodological assumption neglects the absolute boundary or beginning: the horizon is the experimenter or observer.

The fundamental shortcoming of science that we always forget is that it flattens the universe beneath human power and takes matter out of its context, which is form—form imposed not only by human agency, but also given by nature and nature's God.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Darwinism and Amoralism

I went to a thought-provoking talk excellently presented by Professor Kenneth Miller, the Brown-University cell biologist who testified in the Dover trial on teaching intelligent design in public schools. As you may know, he's a Roman Catholic Christian, and the title of his talk was "Darwin, God and Design: Is There Room for God in the Evolutionary Process?".

The answer to the question, in short, was No: God is transcendent, so it's wrong to think of God as requiring "space" (literal or figurative) in his creation. A great point that definitely needs to be made, but one that doesn't do complete justice to our Creator, I'm afraid. God is primarily transcendent, of course, but he's also immanent: the saying goes that he's closer to each of us than we are to ourselves, so it would seem he could act within us. Plus, there's plenty of "room" for divine action in the "randomness" of the mutation that Darwinism says provides the novelty for the natural selection mill. Randomness in modern science basically means, "We don't know." And this room is not a gap, as in "God in the gaps," because even if one came up with a story to describe the particular mechanical interactions that caused what mutations occurred (the kinds of causes modern science in fact uses to explain), it could not in principle eliminate all meta-stories about an intelligent agent coordinating and arranging apparently natural secondary causes (mechanical and otherwise) for a larger goal.1 Every scientific theory will always have boundary conditions but none will ever be able to fix those of the wild, wide world.

Be that as it may, that's not the main subject of this post. Mainly I wanted to discuss the problem of morality in the Darwinian account of nature. Dr. Miller admitted (1) that there is a continuity between apes and men in the fossil record and (2) that we can see in the human genome that we are still evolving. Primarily because of (1), it would seem that it's not clear to which creatures the natural moral laws applies. As Dr. Miller himself put it, if we came across a tribe of Australopithecus afarensis in some remote jungle, whether we should treat them as human or merely as a respected non-human relative is not clear.

Primarily because of (2) it would seem that the natural moral law is not fixed. If human nature is not fixed, then shouldn't the natural moral law that grows from that nature also be unfixed? If humans don't breed true, who's to say a human couple's offspring is necessarily human?

David Stove (an atheist), in his incisive, often funny, critique of human evolution, Darwinian Fairy Tales, wonders what natural selection can even mean with regard to man in light of the fact that the term was coined from "artificial selection," the process by which humans breed better non-human animals. (Is the way we humans pick our mates natural or artificial?) If evolution is a blind process, then why can't human beings lend an intelligent guiding hand? Why not engage in eugenics?


With regard to randomness, I've written in the past. A further point to be made is that Darwinism, child of the mechanical philosophy and its biological consummation, explains using only extrinsic causes. What's so often missed is the interiority of fully natural causation. Why couldn't the evolution of organisms be determined from within (intrinsically), by the natures of the organisms themselves, instead of by an abstract Nature? This sort of immanent intelligence would also show as "randomness."3

With regard to man, it first needs to be noted that the timeline of human descent relies on very little actual hard evidence: the fossils would fit in the back of a pickup truck.2 Archaeologists see a continuity of evolution, but based only on bones and some DNA. We don't have the living creatures to see. We see even in dogs vast differences in appearance within one species. We can also observe (say, between placental predatory cats and their marsupial analogues), similarities of form between two utterly different species. The bones are not the creature, nor is the DNA. DNA is simply a library of blueprints for all the proteins the body can possibly produce and of possible regulations for producing them; these possibilities only come to life when in the context of the proteins that limit the possibilities and actualize the cell, which is why proteomics is the big field these days. People talk about our sharing 96% of our DNA with chimpanzees. Yet beer is close to 100% water and manifestly not the same thing as water—try claiming to the judge in your DWI case that the beer you drank was the same as water.

The only thing that could truly delineate between man and his non-human ancestors is an examination of the full creatures, especially their behavior. Questions like, "Do they have language?", "What is their conception of time?", "Can they conceptualize the natures of things?", "Can they understand right and wrong?" have to be among the tests for humanity.4

Still, Darwinism admits of devolution as well as evolution (or rather abolishes species altogether). So while it is clear that demanding that each individual (esp. newborns, the ill, the handicapped) have such characteristics is unreasonable, it is not clear how one can preserve the humanity of everyone we regard as human without the assumption that species (or at least humans) breed true. More to come on scientific reasons this assumption might not be a mere assumption...


1. One questioner astutely asked Dr. Miller how his view was theistic not merely deistic. It must be admitted that there is a large gap between what Dr. Miller admitted as miracles (amounting to 'inexplicable' goodness in human action) and an event manifestly supernatural, like the Resurrection.

2. Cf. the October 18 NPR story "New Fossil May Trim Branches of Human Evolution" in which fossils of a mere five individuals are apparently upsetting established notions of the field. Also cf. reconstruction of a fossil tooth in Tom Weller's hilarious Science Made Stupid. (WARNING: This may be the funniest book of all time.)

3. As in Physics II.8.199b26-29:

"It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating. Art does not deliberate. If the ship-building art were in the wood, it would produce the same results by nature."

Aquinas comments:

"Hence it is clear that nature is nothing but a certain kind of art, i.e., the divine art, impressed upon things, by which these things are moved to a determinate end. It is as if the shipbuilder were able to give to timbers that by which they would move themselves to take the form of the ship" (Commentary on the Physics, no. 268).

4. But also, "Are they physiologically suited to such activities?" Swift's talking horses are clearly absurd horses for their supposed ability to carry things with their limbs. Cf. Erwin W. Straus, 'The Upright Posture', in Phenomenological Psychology, (London: Tavistock, 1966) 141.

David Stove, Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity and Other Fables of Evolution (Encounter Books, 2013), 232.