Saturday, May 11, 2013
Here are a few items. He begins by describing a speech given by...
the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia to a group in Greensburg, PA. What I found fascinating about the Archbishop’s address is that he while he admonishes his audience to remain true to their Catholic heritage he does so on a Protestant foundation. In other words, he had to abandon Catholic teaching and Tradition on the issue of religious liberty and build his case on the work of the Protestant Founders of America.
His Excellency encouraged his audience not to “dilute our zeal as Catholics” and reminded them that they cannot “achieve good ends with impure means”...
Official “Church Teaching” on Religious Liberty: 1776-1958
At the time of the American Revolution of 1776 and through the period where the U.S. Constitution was drafted, ratified and implemented, the pope of Rome was Pius VI. Here is an example of Pius VI’s idea of “religious liberty” in the Papal States over which he presided:
…at the time of Pius VI came to St. Peter’s throne in 1775 and issued his order reinstating all the old restrictions, Jews lived in eight ghettoes, locked in each night behind high walls and heavy gates. Everyone was able to tell who was a Jew, because, in another sixteenth-century papal provision reiterated in the 1775 edict, Jews were required to wear a special badge on their clothes…Jews were not allowed to keep shops or warehouses outside the ghetto and their social isolation was to be strictly enforced.
If you were a Jew living in Rome at the time of the American Revolution, “religious liberty” meant being imprisoned, giving up your possessions and being harassed by the Catholic Church.
The pontificate of the next pope, Pius VII was marked by the struggle with Napoleon. It is interesting that Napoleon freed the Jews imprisoned by the Catholic Church after he invaded Rome at the beginning of the 19th century. Unfortunately the Jews were re-imprisoned by the next pope, Leo XII in 1826. One notable Catholic historian describes Leo this way:
Leo XII’s pontificate was an extremely conservative one: he condemned religious toleration, reinforced the Index of Forbidden Books and the Holy Office (formerly the Inquisition), reestablished the feudal aristocracy in the Papal States, and confined the Jews once again to ghettos.
Leo was followed by Pius VIII who lasted only twenty months who was in turn followed by Gregory XVI. And Gregory was no fan of “religious liberty”. Fr. McBrien once again:
Gregory XVI was as rigid in dealing with theological issues as he was in dealing with political ones. In his encyclical “Mirari vos” (August 15, 1832)…he denounced the concepts of freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, and separation of Church and state, particularly the liberal views associate with the French priest Félicité Robert de Lamennais…(Lamennais favored religious liberty and the separation of Church and state….
You see, according to the Pope, the type of system the Archbishop thinks is fundamental to defend the religious liberty of Catholics is actually heretical. If the Archbishop were true to his own dictate to remain true to “Church teaching” he would give up this talk of liberty.
And the next pontiff – the “pastoral” Pius X – was no different. It seems that this pope was so set against “religious liberty” that he refused to see the American President Teddy Roosevelt simply because the President was scheduled to speak at a Methodist Church in Rome. I have a hard time finding the “liberty” in that story, don’t you?
Benedict XV’s pontificate seems to have been preoccupied with internecine quarrels as well as with the events of the First World War. But his successor, Pius XI renewed Rome’s march against religious liberty with the encyclical “Martalium animos” which “forbade any Catholic involvement in ecumenical conferences.”[ix]
The last pope that I will mention brings us past the mid-point of the twentieth century; Pius XII. And I have to note him with a truly great sense of irony. You see, Pius XII instigated a “persecution” of leading Catholic scholars of the day including Henri de Lubac, who Archbishop Chaput quotes from to begin [this blog post]! And while it is true that John Paul II later raised de Lubac to the episcopate, the fact remains that he was first an example of the sort of religious intolerance which is the true legacy of Rome.
Read the whole article for fuller quotes and citations.
"Or to take another example, the physical evidence is that people can swim in water but that people cannot walk on water...I presume you would agree with this?"
"Steve, if someone water-skis then that is not contrary to the physical evidence – it is a completely natural event that we have all witnessed, and not contrary to the laws of nature or to physical laws."
"Or to take another example, the physical evidence is that people can swim in water but that people cannot walk on water...I presume you would agree with this?"
"But if someone just walks on water – that is contrary to the physical evidence – otherwise it would not be a miracle."
"So if someone said to you 'I saw someone walk on water today while I was down by the lake' you would be immediately suspicious. You would demand a lot of testimony before you accepted that something contrary to the physical evidence had occurred."
"Crude, I would think that all miracles are contrary to the physical evidence. If they were not contrary to the physical evidence then they would be (unusual) natural events rather than supernatural events – they would not be miracles, right? If this is not the case then how could any of these events be called miracles? The only reason they are called miracles is because they are flat out contrary to the physical evidence – we cannot think that there could be a natural, physical, materialist explanation for the event."
“Now, if someone just gets up and literally walks on water without any assistance from skis or a motorboat or some object of that sort, then that is contrary to the physical evidence…”
“That is the kind of walking on water that I was referring to, as I think is evident.”
“So if someone claimed that they had been out walking on water this morning then I, for one, would be very sceptical about the testimony, even if (perhaps especially if) they claimed to be an ‘occultist.’”
“If a miracle is an unusual natural event then I agree that miracles occur.”
“Generally, people mean that a miracle is a supernatural event. If the event is not contrary to natural laws then it is just an unusual natural event, which I agree happens. For example, coincidences occur all the time – in fact, if coincidences did not occur all the time it would require supernatural intervention to prevent them happening.”
“Go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours” (Mt 17:27).
“But as far as I can work out you seem to be suggesting that there is no difference between the natural and the supernatural, or do I misinterpret you?”
“If it happened it could be an remarkable coincidence (thus a completely natural event and not a miracle), or some magic trick based on deception (thus a completely natural event and not a miracle) or it could be that the person who made the prediction has supernatural powers that permitted him to make the amazing prediction (in which case it would be a miracle). Of course, the key word is 'if' it happened - the claim is based on testimony and the event is extremely unlikely to occur so anyone would be justified in treating the testimony with a pinch of salt, unless the testimony is so powerful so as to be extremely unlikely that it is incorrect.”
“If an event is contrary to the physical evidence (and to natural laws derived from the physical evidence)…”
“Regarding the ‘coin in the fish’ - if there was some intervention from a supernatural being that caused it then, if it happened, it was a miracle.”
“The reason people regard turning water into wine and people rising from the dead etc. as evidence that God exists, or that the supernatural, exists is precisely because these events are contrary to the physical evidence, and to natural laws readily observable to everyone. Without this distinction, I see no grounds for calling one event miraculous and another event non-miraculous. If you don't accept the distinction between what is natural and supernatural, then what are your grounds for calling one event miraculous and another non-miraculous?”
“The reason why these events are regarded as miracles by religious people is because they are contrary to the physical evidence, whereas, for example, getting up and going to the toilet to urinate is not regarded as a miracle, since it is a natural act that everyone observes regularly, and one that does not contradict any regularity of nature derived from constant and replicable observation of physical reality.”
“You might, I suppose, say that absolutely everything that happens in the world (including genocide, child rape, earthquakes, tsunamis and so on) is a "miraculous" act of God - this seems to be where your line of reasoning is leading you. But if that is the case, then me picking my nose is as miraculous as Jesus rising from the dead.”
“If you want to call some natural events miracles then I won't quibble over the terminology, although for the sake of clarity it might be useful to still distinguish between miracles that are contrary to physical evidence and natural laws i.e. those caused by direct supernatural intervention (we could call these supernatural miracles)…”
“…and these other miracles that are more like pre-arranged coincidences that could conceivably occur naturally without any pre-arranging by a supernatural entity (we could call these natural miracles).”
“But in relation to this I would re-emphasise that remarkable coincidences occur all the time in our world, and about as frequently as one would expect, and they do not require any supernatural explanation - in fact, if remarkable coincidences did not occur all the time it would really amount to proof that there is supernatural intervention in our world, since it is to be expected that coincidences should continually occur in the world and it would require supernatural intervention to prevent them happening.”
“Is history replicable?’ No, so our knowledge of much history is fairly tentative, especially as we go further back.”
“But if a claimed historical event does not contradict any regularity of nature derived from constant and replicable observation of physical reality (e.g. The claim that Caesar crossed the Rubicon) then we have less reason to be immediately sceptical about the claim than if the claim DOES contradict any regularity of nature (e.g. a claim that Caesar turned water into wine, or a claim that he rose from the dead and so on).”
Friday, May 10, 2013
If you want some idea of how badly the Benghazi story is going for the left, read this piece by Salon. Notice how they have to frame the discussion (whether there's a "smoking gun" or "scandal", whether the evidence qualifies as "obvious", etc.) and how much they have to concede. Notice, too, that they'll criticize somebody like Susan Rice or "the Obama administration" without addressing the most negative implications for more prominent individuals, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
Winston Smith, 1984:
‘It was a common punishment in Imperial China,’ said O’Brien as didactically as ever.
The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then--no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just ONE person to whom he could transfer his punishment--ONE body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’
Bishop of Rome Bergoglio:
ROME, May 9, 2013 – There is one particular in the Masses celebrated by Pope Francis that raises questions that have so far gone unanswered.
At the moment of communion, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not administer it himself, but allows others to give the consecrated host to the faithful. He sits down and waits for the distribution of the sacrament to be completed.
The exceptions are very few...
Bergoglio has given no explicit explanation of this behavior since becoming pope.
But there is one page in a book he published in 2010 that allows one to infer the motives at the origin of this practice.
The book is a collection of conversations with the rabbi of Buenos Aires, Abraham Skorka.
At the end of the chapter dedicated prayer, the then-archbishop Bergoglio says:
“David had been an adulterer and had ordered a murder, and nonetheless we venerate him as a saint because he had the courage to say: ‘I have sinned.’ He humbled himself before God. One can commit enormous mistakes, but one can also acknowledge them, change one’s life and make reparation for what one has done. It is true that among parishioners there are persons who have killed not only intellectually or physically but indirectly, with improper management of capital, paying unjust wages. There are members of charitable organizations who do not pay their employees what they deserve, or make them work off the books. [. . .] With some of them we know their whole résumé, we know that they pass themselves off as Catholics but practice indecent behaviors of which they do not repent. For this reason, on some occasions I do not give communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it, because I do not want these persons to approach me for a photo. One may also deny communion to a known sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to prove these things. Receiving communion means receiving the body of the Lord, with the awareness of forming a community. But if a man, rather than uniting the people of God, has devastated the lives of many persons, he cannot receive communion, it would be a total contradiction. Such cases of spiritual hypocrisy present themselves in many who take refuge in the Church and do not live according to the justice that God preaches. And they do not demonstrate repentance. This is what we commonly call leading a double life.”
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The final prong in the issue of lying is the situational prong. Those who permit lying describe situations in which a lie seems to lead to good results. Here we must be careful. The mere attraction of a possible good outcome is not sufficient to ground a moral argument.
The ends do not justify the means.
God does not permit us to “do evil that good may come” (Rom 3:8).
The advocate of lying may say that the issue is precisely whether lying is evil in all cases. Yes. But an argument that depends wholly on looking at good results, if unsupported by other buttresses, is quite weak. It is weak also because, without exhaustive knowledge of a situation, knowledge that only God has, we cannot say for sure that there are no good alternatives to lying.
God promises us that, in any trial, he will provide a way of escape: “but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13). We can take as an example a situation that actually involved Nazi soldiers. In the days when Holland was occupied by the Nazis, two of Corrie ten Boom’s Dutch nephews burst into the house because they were being sought for by the Germans to work in the German munitions factories.The family hid them in a hole under the kitchen floor, a hole used as a potato cellar. A rug lay over the trapdoor, with the kitchen table over the rug…The situation with Cocky involved special circumstances. The advocates of lying may always choose to say that Cocky was naive or over-scrupulous, and that God was merciful to her naiveté. But that argument cuts both ways. Who is naive? Is it Cocky or is it the person who does not trust that God can provide a way out for those who refuse to say untruth? The advice to trust in the Lord emphasizes trust rather than one’s “own understanding”
In both Mark (13:11) and Luke (21:12-16), Jesus describes a situation where Christians are on trial for their faith.17 Admittedly it is not exactly the same situation as when Nazi soldiers arrive at the door. And yet the two are akin. Both involve response to governmental authorities. And when the Nazis come, a Christian is figuratively speaking on trial with respect to whether he will continue in the Christian way or give in to the pressure from government. If we are in such a situation, it is wise to pray that God will give us an answer, even on the spot (“not to meditate beforehand how to answer”). Each situation may call for its own creative response.
But people can still have the feeling that there is no way out.
In reply, let me at least suggest that in some circumstances one might take the initiative in conversation. The manner of taking initiative is even suggested by what Jesus says about “your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:13).We engage them with the gospel. Soldiers and police are not merely faceless agents of the government. They are human beings to whom we can bring the good news of salvation.18 And this good news, which addresses the issue of the eternal destiny of the soul, is more important even than the preservation of human life, including our own.
I am not of course saying that this is the only way to answer, but it is one possible way. Maybe it will result in being carried off to prison and to death. Maybe it will result in the house being continually searched, so that it is not in fact a good place to hide Jews. But the house becomes a good place to witness to Nazis. Every time they come to conduct a search, one can follow them around, or at least talk to the one who is left behind to watch. They become a captive audience, in a way similar to how the soldier guarding Paul became a captive audience for the gospel. If one is imprisoned, as Corrie ten Boom and her sister were, one witnesses to the other prisoners and to the guards, as one has opportunity.
When the Nazis come, what is at stake is not only our life but the lives of those we may be hiding. Yes. But, especially in this extreme situation, I want to raise the question of whether truth is more important than anyone’s life. If the Lord tarries, we will all die physically—some sooner, some later. The sixth Commandment teaches us to value human life. But life in this world, valuable as it is, is not everlasting. Our life, what is it? “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas 4:14). By contrast, the truth abides forever (Matt 24:35).
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
So what is different? When no words are involved, physical actions have to be interpreted. They are potentially multivalent in meaning.8 Does the action of a player charging in one direction mean that he will continue to go in that direction? Maybe, but maybe not. A skilled opponent knows that the player may change direction, perhaps multiple times. Does an army moving back from battle engagement indicate a genuine retreat? Or is it something else? Who knows? The “obvious” interpretation may lie in one direction. But the interpreter must make the decision, and it is his decision, not a decision “dictated” by some intrinsic, inalienable meaning in the physical action itself.Words and utterances need interpretation too. But the interpretation is constrained by the regularities of language, the regularities in the meaning of words, and the regularities of personal communication. Statements can be true or false; by contrast, a football maneuver or a military maneuver is neither true nor false. The maneuver does not say anything, except to the extent that an interpreter reads in some significance and concludes that it “says” in a metaphorically extended sense that the participant has a particular purpose. Truth is not the issue in nonverbal actions.We can perhaps further explain the difference by observing that verbal communication has what the linguists have called double articulation. Words have both meaning and sound (or, in written form, meaning and spelling). Except for a few onomatopoeic words like meow, the sound has no obvious relation to the meaning. The sounds do not have an ordinary use by themselves, independent of a second layer of articulate meaning. By contrast, physical actions of moving or dribbling a ball have a certain physical meaning even before they are incorporated into a battle or a game. This presence of an underlying, first-order meaning to physical motions results in a situation in which any second-order meaning, such as attacking, feigning, retreating, and so on, exists in the presence of other possible human purposes, for battles or for gaming. Verbal communication, by contrast, has a meaning largely fixed by the divinely ordained regularities of communication, to which words and their meanings belong intrinsically.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.
Monday, May 06, 2013
|a fledgeling oak tree|
In his first installment here, he is actually quite short of actual exegesis and relies more heavily on Aristotle, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and Dr. Edward Feser.
A couple of quick points he develops: First, what “Natural Law” is not:
1. Natural law is not mechanistic and exceptionless.
2. Natural law is not autonomous or independent in relation to God.
3. Natural law is not the ius gentium.
Second, what “Natural Law” is:
1. It is a divinely imposed order intrinsic in the beings that exist.
2. This divinely imposed order has “value” built in; “is” and “ought” are identical in it.
Given this conception of natural law, the main purpose of this series will be to show that Scripture assumes this concept reflects reality. To be more specific, I will attempt to prove the following proposition are supported by the Bible:
(N1) there is an objective order to the universe of the kind described above.
(N2) this order is objectively visible; it is there to be seen, whether one is wearing the spectacles of scripture or not.
(N3) at least some unregenerate people perceive see this order.
One might like to see more actual exegesis within an “exegetical case for Natural Law”. The fact that he is defining the term with sources outside of Scripture gives some cause to be wary, but they’ve been doing excellent work at The Calvinist International and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
First, a lesson I am slowly learning in my life is that it is much easier to disagree with an idea than a person who embodies it. As I continue to grow in my understanding of the place of homosexual Christians in the body of Christ, I feel that it is incumbent on me to listen to their stories and to learn to love better than I do.In Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul, I did some wrestling with the question of homosexuality. At the end, while coming to a traditional position about male and female as God’s intention for sexual intercourse, I left the door open like this: God can surprise us.In particular, I pointed to the issue of circumcision in the NT, where a clear commandment, pertaining to participation in the covenant promises of Abraham, was overturned. God told Peter, “I have made this clean.” At least in theory, it might not be the case that the Biblical stricture has the last word.Langteaux told a story during the podcast, relayed more briefly and somewhat differently in the book, about his own wrestling with God about homosexuality. He demanded of God to let him know whether it was a sin to be gay. As he sat exasperated, he opened his Bible at random. And he turned to Acts 10, Peter’s vision informing him that the old laws of kosher (and, by implication, circumcision) no longer applied.What it means to love our gay neighbor as oneself. The chapter argues that we advocate for civil equality and protection to secure the same freedoms and benefits for my neighbor who disagrees with me as I would want for myself.I suggested that we should be aware of the possibility that the Spirit might make such a demonstration today. We are dealing with a genuinely new moment in the history of the church: homosexual couples openly in committed relationships and striving to faithfully follow Jesus. The presence of this reality is something to be interpreted with care—neither hastily condemning due to a great confidence that we are on God’s side, nor hastily embracing due to the same.Most of us need to listen more. Those of us from backgrounds that are not affirming need to listen to the stories of gay friends, especially Christian gay friends.
Here's a post I wrote several years ago on the subject. I address the evidence against polygamy in the Old and New Testaments and early patristic Christianity. I also interact with some defenders of polygamy in the comments section of the thread. Some other topics related to polygamy are addressed in the comments section of the thread here. And here's something Matthew Schultz wrote.
The Christian tradition has made much of Adam…The levels of freedom (or lack thereof) that many of us experience with regard to the question of Adam as a historical person is inseparable from the theology that we see bound up with him. For some, to reject Adam as a historical person is to reject the authority of Scripture and trustworthiness of the very passages within which we learn of justification and resurrection.1 Others are concerned that to deny a historical Adam is to deny the narrative of a good world gone wrong that serves as the very basis for the good news of Jesus Christ. In short, if there is no Fall, there can be no salvation from it and restoration to what was and/or might have been.2 Even more expansively, Douglas Farrow concludes that “there is very little of importance in Christian theology, hence also in doxology and practice, that is not at stake in the question of whether or not we allow a historical dimension to the Fall.”3 High stakes, indeed. But I want to suggest that things might not be so dire. Specifically, I want to open up the conversation to the possibility that the gospel does not, in fact, depend on a historical Adam or historical Fall…Paul has an important story to tell. It is the story of God’s new creation breaking into the world through the surprising mechanism of a crucified and resurrected Christ…Recognizing this relieves the pressure that sometimes builds up around a historical Adam. Contrary to the fears expressed by Douglas Farrow, we can now recognize that Adam is not the foundation on which the system of Christian faith and life is built, such that removing him means that the whole edifice comes crashing down. Instead, the Adam of the past is one spire in a large edifice whose foundation is Christ. The gospel need not be compromised if we find ourselves having to part ways with Paul’s assumption that there is a historical Adam, because we share Paul’s fundamental conviction that the crucified Messiah is the resurrected Lord over all.Might it be possible that we could retell the stories of both Adam and evolutionary sciences such that they continued to reflect our conviction that the endpoint of God’s great story is nothing else than new creation in the crucified and risen Christ? For many, the cognitive dissonance between the sciences and a historical Adam has already become too great to continue holding both.8 We therefore have to carefully determine whether the cause of Christ, and of truth, is better served by indicating that a choice must be made between the two, or by retelling the narrative about the origins of humanity as we now understand it in light of the death and resurrection of Christ.The task of reimagining a Christian story of origins for our modern era has already begun…To accompany Paul on the task of telling the story of the beginning in light of Christ, while parting ways with his first-century understanding of science and history, is not to abandon the Christian faith in favor of science. Instead, it demands a fresh act of faith in which we continue to hold fast to the truth that has always defined Christianity: the crucified Messiah is the resurrected Lord over all. Belief in Christ’s resurrection was a stumbling block for the ancients, and it is a stumbling block for us moderns as well—and increasingly so as we learn more about our human story and the biological processes entailed in life on this Earth. We do not give up on the central article of Christian faith when we use it to tell a renewed story of where we came from. On the contrary, we thereby give it the honor which is its due.
On Creation and Killing Canaanites: One Simple, Hardly Worth Mentioning (but I feel that I should) ThoughtOnce we see that Yahweh’s actions toward the Canaanites are like that of the gods of other nations toward their enemies, the discussion cannot continue as before. A vital historical contextual factor is brought into our speculative theological and philosophical musings.We can talk about God’s actions toward the Canaanites within the parameters of the canon or carefully worded categories of dogmatics and systematic theology. But once we see that Chemosh, god of the Moabites, tells king Mesha (or better, Mesha tells us what Chemosh told him) to take Nebo from the Israelites and “put to the ban” the entire population–and that the word “ban” corresponds precisely to the Hebrew word for the same sort of behavior–well, it puts the theological and philosophical discussion on a whole different level.So, the question, “Why would God command the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites?” cannot be addressed in an intramural theological back-and-forth. It must also include this little bit of historical information: Yahweh’s actions are not unique but seem part of an ancient way of thinking.
The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing.The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.Suddenly I have a lot more money and a lot less time, which means I have a lot more in common with the typical working North American than I did a few months ago. While I was abroad I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending the day wandering through a national park or reading my book on the beach for a few hours. Now that kind of stuff feels like it’s out of the question. Doing either one would take most of one of my precious weekend days!The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is exercise. It’s also the last thing I want to do after dinner or before bed or as soon as I wake, and that’s really all the time I have on a weekday.
More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
Read the rest here.
Counterintuitive hypotheses are your trademark. What are the challenges?When I [Jaroslav Flegr] send papers to top journals, they’re often rejected out of hand by editors, without any formal review. The danger of making interesting claims—like when I said that Darwinian theory is not quite correct and can be improved—is that you won’t be considered a serious scientist.